Sunday, July 17, 2011
Back to the beginning......
I can't remember exactly what I had in mind when I started this blog in the summer of 2006. My son George had recently been born and great changes were afoot in the Eastham household. Where previously I had been able to fish nearly every Saturday while my wife was at work, suddenly the weight of adulthood and responsibility came to bear heavily on my shoulders. No longer would I be able to (nor want to) tear around the British countryside in search of new and exciting fly fishing opportunities. I'd had my time of freedom and greater, more rewarding, more challenging times awaited. That's not to say that I gave up on angling - far from it; the need to escape the pressures of modern life became, if anything, greater than ever before. It was just that every window of fishing opportunity now had to be carefully considered and planned. An embarrassment of temporal riches had collapsed beneath the weight of paternal responsibility and my piscatorial emphasis required a shift from quantity to quality.*
I can't be completely sure, but I think that may have been one of the reasons I started this blog. As a substitute for fishing itself? A means of wringing as much as possible from each snatched session? A result of the new-found introspection that comes with fatherhood? Possibly. At the time, it was ostensibly just a migration of the fishing diaries I'd kept for years, from paper to laptop. Looking back now, I think there may have been a bit more to it than that.
There was another significant factor which influenced the decision to commit my thoughts to cyberspace. Inspiration at the time was pretty thin on the ground, but there was one site which stood out. It was notable then as being one of the few fly fishing blogs around at the time, and it is notable to this day as a shining beacon upon what has become an ocean of mediocrity. Alistair Stewart's The Urban Fly Fisher blog (originally Urban Fly Fishing on the Kelvin), was the first of its kind in this country. It has deservedly received awards, plaudits and media recognition, and there are few fly fishing bloggers out there today who do not owe a debt of gratitude to Alistair for providing them with the inspiration to have a go themselves; I certainly do. And the fact that we were able to meet up this week made my normally solitary evening session all the more memorable.
For once, the river was quite kind to us. A warm sunny day gradually gave way to one of those summer evenings which we anglers dream about - all long shadows, warm air and delicately rising fish. The sport may have been compressed into a couple of short hours before darkness forced us home, but when it arrived it was steady enough and we were both able to return some nice fish. Insect activity was low key with only a few longhorn caddis seen all evening, plus an odd dun of the yellow may and pale watery. When the fish did start to rise, it was to tiny stuff trapped in the surface film. Exactly what, I didn't bother taking the time to find out.......and the exercise proved unnecessary in any case as emergers in the #16 size class were all that was required to elicit the desired response. It was leisurely going - taking turns to target feeding fish as the light faded; and Alistair was duly rewarded for his excellent casting and presentation when a cracking brownie of 2lb 5oz (shown at the top of this post) sipped down his cdc pattern, followed shortly after by a fish only slightly smaller. Meanwhile I seemed to be attracting the grayling with two successive fish around the 2lb mark surrendering slightly tamely to the net. In between were a number of smaller trout for both of us - in all a pleasant evening's action.
The highlight for me though, was getting to finally meet the chap whose superb writing I have followed for so long. Strangely, by the end of the evening I felt like I had known him for years. But then, such is the personal nature of the fly fishing blog that in a way, I sort of had. Alistair made an observation that the process of blogging has allowed him to fish with so many different people over the years who he probably wouldn't have otherwise met, forming some strong friendships on the way. I know exactly what he means. Fishing may be a largely solitary undertaking, but this branch of our sport also has a habit of throwing up thoughtful, generous people with whom it is a pure pleasure to spend a few hours in the joint pursuit of angling fulfillment and I count myself lucky to have met a few. Yes, Alistair was spot on and I owe him much for leading by example and unknowingly encouraging me to start this humble project. Because whatever my intention was in the first place; or for whatever reasons I continue to plough on churning out the same old, same old; I can rest easy in the knowledge that my fishing life is all the richer for the people I have met.......and that, for the time being at least, feels like ample justification.
*don't get me wrong here, I accept - and am very grateful - that I still get out plenty........it's relative - I used to get out a lot!