Sunday, 22 February 2009

More uplifting fishing

Continuing on from that positive note yesterday I was amazed to find that 4 days of last week were booked up for tuition. This is unprecedented in February which is traditionally quiet due to the cooler weather. However this week we have been blessed with mild temps which coincided with my second father and son team of the year taking to the water. Tim and Harry spent a couple of days at Exe Valley and left fully fledged fly fishers keen to return for some river action. At just 12 years old Harry did the younger generation proud by listening intently and learning to cast in just a few hours resulting in some fine fish such as these.

A couple of days later Tim Watson arrived for his regularly early season tune up. Now more than capable of chucking 25 yards+ we got right down to the more advanced elements of fly casting, looking at drift, loop control, haul timing etc., all with the aim of improving distance, accuracy and presentation. After lunch and a serious shopping spree that has added a Hardy Demon Rod to Tim's already impressive arsenal we embarked on a few hours of Spey Casting using on of the Hardy Swift Double Handed Rods. These are incredible blanks and much fun was had as we got through plenty of Switch's, Snakes, Double Speys and Snap Ts, all in readiness for Tim's trip to Inverness later this year. It is well worth learning to Spey cast (essentially a change of direction roll cast) with single handed rods too, believe me once you have learned you will never look back.

"Morning Nick, just a quick thankyou for a great day yesterday. Learning lots of new stuff is always great fun, and making improvements on the old stuff very satisfying!" Tim Watson, Devon, 2009.

As always Tim, my pleasure and it is very cool to watch you casting developing from season to season.

Continuing on the uplifting theme I sat in front of the box on Wednesday in awe. I refer to the mind blowing new BBC production "Nature's Great Events" that Henry Gilbey (currently getting very excited in France!) mentioned in a recent post. The most recent episode charted the 3000 mile journey that half a billion Salmon make to swim up the rivers of British Columbia and Alaska. Their journey provides food to millions of animals and incredibly they are also responsible for the richest temperate rain forest in the world, although you will need to watch if you want to find out why. Perfectly narrated by David Attenborough, it was jaw dropping, spine tingling viewing, the kind of programme that you just don't want to end. I learned a ton of stuff from it too, like the fact that iron particles in a Salmons brain help it to navigate back to the river mouth that it originally used to enter the sea and that they can sense a single drop of freshwater in millions of litres of saltwater. But above all I realised just how hardy these fish are.

The incredible close up footage showed some unbelievable scenes as the Salmon clattered their bodies relentlessly upstream towards their original place of birth. Many do not make it falling foul of predators such as Grizzly Bears (look out for the scene when a fish clouts a bear in the ear ... very funny!) and suffocating in times of low water. But a huge proportion do succeed only to spawn and then die, unlike our own Atlantic Salmon that in some cases make several visits back to their place of birth. The Pacific Salmon species featured were Coho, Chinnook, Sockeye, Pink and Chums but even so the footage would still be applicable to our Atlantics. And this got me thinking. There is so much written these days about the benefits of catch and release while others (old fashioned in their view, in my opinion) say that all we catch should be killed. Recently in Trout & Salmon magazine there has been debate regarding this and a point of view raised that many of the Salmon we catch & release die or fail to spawn. In my view this is man once again believing that we are totally responsible for all the changes in the world. We are mere pinpricks on this earth. Witnessing those Salmon quite literally battle their way to their home river to survive I am more convinced than ever that so long as we treat our captured fish with enormous respect that they will go on to spawn and protect our future sport but most importantly continue the survival of the species.

You must watch this programme! BBC - Natures Great Events - The Great Salmon Run

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