Fish, bikinis and Southern discomfort

scof-shen-369x480Nice piece of journalism in the latest Southern Comfort on the Fly (page 100) even if the pictures make uncomfortable viewing, particularly when you’re in an office like this particular reader, surrounded by numerous other angling journalists, all of whom now think I need help.

David Grossman – oh, the irony! – has gone straight for the shock jugular in ensuring he’s heard on the growing number of catch shots online involving young women in swimsuits. Some of the words are NSFW and I’m assuming the call on the confederate flag bikini was made before last weekend’s goings-on in Charlottesville, but his point is heartfelt and articulately argued.

“I’m not saying it’s wrong to appreciate the female form or take a wild ride on the interwebs for spankable material. But that’s called Pornhub, not Instagram. For the women out there who really fish, who like many men have devoted their lives and careers to our quirky pursuit, it kinda sucks to be reduced to likes on social media when professional fly fishing opportunities arise. Sponsorship deals, ambassador programs and advertising seem to be leaning towards likeability over substance, and the women who aren’t willing to fish a flat in a g-string for the sole reason of revving our tiny lizard brains are being left out.”

Occasionally, this frontier presents itself when I’m considering re-blogs to the Trout Fisherman tumblr page, but I guess I’ll just carry on applying the same acid test. If I suspect that the fish and its procurement were not the principal drivers behind the image in question, it won’t make the cut.

Disregarding all photos of women anglers not clad in unisex waders and fleeces, after all, feels like it would be a different kind of unfairness.

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When the conversation flags at the pub this evening…

Not really on-point with a fishing blog, save for the fact that the man who said it was a keen angler, but this fascinating interview with the late American writer, outdoorsman and one-time hell-raiser,  Jim Harrison, throws up one of those trivia gems whose repetition  would make any of us sound like a real man of the (outdoor) world…

“Here the Harrisons started telling me about the rattlesnakes. At the dawn of creation, Mon­tana received a generous helping of them. Until recently, an ungodly amount of the serpents considered the Harrisons’ prop­erty home turf… In 2003, one rattler, startled by Harrison’s beloved English setter Rose, reared up and nailed the dog. Rose lived but was so neurologically damaged that Harrison had no choice but to put her down. This was war. On one sanguine afternoon, Harrison shot twenty rattlers. The creatures kept turning up until he hired a local snake guy to find their den, which was gassed. The snake guy filled two barrels with dead rattlers. The thing with rattlers, Harrison said, is this: you have to kill the alpha male. If the alpha male leaves the den and does not return, he will not be followed. Harrison smiled as though this had all sorts of other implications.”

Fasting: an end to slim pickings?

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Pic courtesy of bark via Flickr

Most of us have a standby fly rod. Now it looks as though a rod you can stand behind undetected may be more to the point

I thought this look at flyfishing’s correlation with fasting might be a rare dip in Gink & Gasoline‘s high quality output but damn it if they haven’t got me thinking again, with their reflections on how positively the body compensates to a short period of digestive abstinence.

“My initial theory was this. If I am hungry when fishing, my natural predatory senses could be enhanced. My body needs food and my mind could be sharpening my senses to help me provide it, helping me spot fish and focus on catching them. After doing some reading, I think there’s merit in that idea but there may be more going on…”

A roll-call follows of feel-good, natural, legal substances released by the body when external substances disappear. You could get quite excited about the idea, until you remember that you’re reading this less than an hour after a rather good lunch.

Then again, if a ‘big-boned’ bon viveur like Ernest Hemingway can rhapsodise about the beneficial effects of writing on an empty stomach, in his excellent book A Moveable Feast, who am I to say what going lean and mean might do for your catch rate?

But this is not an undertaking to be, er, trifled with. While I know I write mainly for the Common Sense Generation, there should be moderation in all things and mention it to your doctor first if you have any existing medical conditions etc. You know the drill.

The steamy quest for Cumbrian sea trout

English: A 60cm sea-trout caught (and promptly...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, so I’m sure it can get quite lonely in Cumbria’s open spaces, but is this really how sea trout fishing begins to feel to those who fish there? Or is it simply the presence of the BBC that drags everything into trouser territory?

For 13 minutes of Radio 4’s Night Fishing documentary, in which Grevel Lindop celebrates the life and work of local poet and angler Tom Rawling, against the backdrop of a night fishing session on one of Rawling’s old haunts, it is captivating fare.

Thereafter, things take a bizarre turn, as the angler accompanying Lindop through the nocturnal gloom alludes to a sensual dimension to the pursuit of their prey. As if relieved to discover that the drive north from London hasn’t been a complete waste of time, the presenter pounces on this titbit like an owl on a rat.

“That’s fascinating, because in the poems, Tom Rawling often talks about the sea trout as being female and there’s very much the sense that fishing is some kind of courtship…or seduction…”

Like two adolescents whose guard has dropped while sharing a copy of Razzle, there’s no stopping them now:

“She’s calling us…luring us back to the water…”

“Mmm, tempting…”

“The catching of the fish is the marriage.”

Her virgin scales cling to my hands…

All of this triggered by the quite preposterous statement at the 13:55 mark – “It’s almost a sexual thing, I think – flyfishing at night…”

I’m sorry, I’ve had some wonderful evenings with rod and line but never have I been even remotely tempted to draw this analogy. There are some things you say when you’re fishing with your mates and then there are things you say when fishing with a Radio 4 microphone under your nose, and this, I would suggest, is a Category 2 statement.

But then it could just be me. Why not make the same point next time you and the gang are wetting a line, with darkness closing in around you? Do let me know if the conversation goes any differently from this…

“I don’t know about you guys but this is starting to feel like a sexual thing.”

[SILENCE]

“You still there?”

[AN OWL HOOTS]

“Guys…?”

Man losing interest in porn movie aroused by arrival of Izaak Walton

I used to keep a tally of Headlines I Never Expected to Write in a Million Years. I stopped at 22.

A film director takes his parents to what is labelled a ‘secret feature’ screening at a film festival in the States. He anticipates some harmlessly entertaining movie that at least approximates to family viewing. What he gets is Nymphomaniac: Volume 1.

“That’s the movie with real sex and penetration.” His words, not mine.

Cruelly delighting in his discomfiture, entertainment magazine Vulture collars the embarrassed director’s mother afterwards, to get her verdict on Nymphomaniac‘s finer points.

And the money quote – “My husband Steve was pretty reluctant to stay for the movie. But when we got to the part where the older gentleman [Skarsgård] pulls out the Izaak Walton book and they start comparing graphic sex to fly-fishing, Steve leans over and says, ‘This looks interesting. I’ll stay awhile.”

Is that Theodore Gordon book really yours…?

I had the pleasure of Len Hird’s company when fishing in County Durham a fortnight ago. Sadly, the Bishop Auckland & District Angling Club chairman is not an entirely happy soul.

Seems he has made the fatal error which genuine book lovers make only once – lent one of his prized fishing volumes without making a note of the recipient – to someone who is either a very slow reader or else has overlooked the purely temporary basis of the transaction.

Len is now without his book and, more pertinently, without the faintest recollection whom it was benefited from his kindness. The culprit should be in no doubt, however: this particular gap on the Hird bookshelf has begun to rankle greatly.

After promising to try and jog some memories via social media, in fact, it occurs to me that Len’s case is perhaps best made by the distinguished actor, Mr Liam Neeson in the following clip. Replace the words “my daughter” with “The Complete Fly Fisherman – the notes and letters of Theodore Gordon” and you have a fair warning as to Len’s current frame of mind where his pride and joy are concerned.

And don’t even think about being as lippy as the guy on the other end of the line…

Latest Angling Trade focuses on writers’ trade

Trade mags aren’t normally known for their liveliness, whatever line of work you’re in but Angling Trade seems a cut above the norm.

Their latest issue gratifyingly widens the ambit of the brief to consider the role of angling writers in promoting the sport and how their relationship with editors and publishers can be mutually improved (pp44 and 48). Hats off to Ben Romans for being big enough to start one of the articles by recounting a tale against himself that is one of every editor’s worst nightmares. There but for the grace of God…

“Motivated by my mistake, I talked with other writers and editors about what’s lacking in publishing relations today, and what the protocol should be—notions to help writers, editors, photographers, and publishers (new and old) get on the same page…”

Angling businesses generally, meanwhile, would do well to study Geoff Mueller’s piece on the use of social media (p32), which spells out a simple home truth:

“The formula is this: promote fun and do not over-inundate your audience with a deluge of “buy me” messaging—even when a sale is the ultimate goal…”