Tales of Fur, Feathers and Fish (or old blokes in funny hats)
To most people fly fishing evokes images of crusty old blokes, in tweed jackets, fishing on trout streams with tiny little creations of various furs and feathers. Waders, jumpers and beanies also come to mind with snow covered peaks and frost on the ground. It is a curious sport and even though the type of fly fishing, I personally pursue (salt water flats fishing) could not be further removed there is still an element of eccentricity which is hard to explain. If one set out to design a harder way to actually catch fish, fly fishing would just about be it. It seems, having now been on a few overseas dedicated fly-fishing holidays, to actually be a pastime largely undertaken by older guys and less about actually “catching fish” and more about just being there and the “hunting” element of seeing, stalking and the delicate quiet presentation of a fly to a wary fish in shallow water in the hope of actually catching the fish, just to let it go again.
Fly casting is more akin to golf than any other sport I have undertaken. The enjoyment of the great cast in difficult conditions a bit like a pure 4 iron to a small green. You may well “miss the put” and in many fly-fishing situations not get the bite, but the enjoyment of the cast is something you really have to experience to understand. As we travel on the boat more and more, while fishing is an everyday event, I really don’t need to catch many. A nice Coral Trout, Barramundi of sweetlip will always be on a plate in the fridge and who needs frozen fish when fresh is an easy option so fly fishing, enjoying the moment, the experience, and spending time exploring little bays, beaches and reef flats will become a large part of my daily routine. All about the fishing and not the catching.
I have just spent 2 weeks in Kiribati on the coral atoll of Kiritimati (Christmas Island) with a fly rod in hand and managed the Christmas Island “Grand Slam”. A big bonefish, large Giant Trevally, a trigger fish and a milkfish, each different, each with a different technique and set of challenges and even with a different weight fly rod. Again, a bit like golf each target has a different tool from 6, 8, 9 or 10 weight rods but wading on a sand flat with a fly rod has become, not only an obsession, but the most peaceful way I know of passing time on the water.
Anyone with a love a spending time just beachcombing, observing the ebb and flow of tides over shallow beaches and with fishing as a love really should buy an outfit or better still take a lesson from a fly-fishing coach. Again, a lot like golfing, it is better to have a lesson with a “pro” to learn the basics of grip and swing. The takeaway the “shot making” and all the little nuances so that you ultimately start with sound fundamentals and can practice with a solid foundation. Some of you will hate it, because you don’t often actually catch many fish but some of you may just come to understand the simple poetic beauty of fly casting in the salt water tropics.
If you do get bitten by the” bug”, having now experienced it at its best in both the Bahamas and Kiribati, fishing for “Bones” (Bonefish) may just be the greatest and most revered experience of a lifetime on the water. Later this year we are taking a full month to cruise up the coast and it will include 2 days on a reef atoll which I am reliably informed has abundant bonefish. To fully explore and then write about a bone fishing destination in Australia will be ground-breaking and cause a significant ripple through the Australian fly-fishing community and you will hear about it first in October on Bait to Plate.