I’ve always been a bit of a nomad. Started traveling at the age of 22 and never really stopped. Put a footprint down in a couple of places, but never got tied down for too long. Travelling to fish rivers and lakes, while living out the back of a truck, for the best part of quarter of a century was a good life. If you’re going to live on land then that’s the way to do it, I think. But it’s a step up to live on the water.
I’ve been living on water now for about 5 years. Started out in a 12 ft tinny and have since progressed to the 26’ Battleship. The Battleship is a new level of comfort because it has its own roof. No more do I have to search for the shade of trees if I want a break. No more do I have to quickly assemble the boat tarp - that Lars says looks like a condom - when it rains. Instead I can just sit back and enjoy the full panorama, in all its weathers.
I’ve always needed a view. When you spend your life living outdoors, travelling and fishing the world’s most beautiful places, you tend to expect to have a stunning view when relaxing. And that view does not include houses, but rivers and mountains and sunsets and forests and beaches... stick me in a city and I feel like a prisoner.
Here my view is unbelievable right now. Steep hills (mountains? I don’t know, maybe ‘mountainous’), jungle, lake, stumps. It’s extraordinary. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever lived. And at night, lit up by the moon, or the incredible star canopy that comes without it, or the thunderstorms that come crashing through, it’s hard to beat.
Christianity and all those monotheistic religions come from cities. It should be of no surprise that those who live in the natural world are animist. Giving sacrifices to the Moon Gods.
I’ve had nice views before, loads in New Zealand, Australia, Montana, in fact anywhere through the Rockies both above and below the border. My log cabin in Hungary - I bought that land for the view. But living on the boat is something else.
During the heat of the day, I sit at the stern under the roof, with the odd dip into the lake. At night, after dinner, I sit on top of the roof! I have accuracy rings if I want to practise my casting. I have a lumiline If I want to play. Full flytying kit (Richard left enough materials on his last visit to open up a small tackle shop!). And if I ever get bored of this view, which I can’t imagine happening, but if it did happen, then I can simply move the boat!
It’s an excellent life and I look forward to sharing it with some of you when you come over. But in the meantime I fully intend to enjoy every single moment.
AND THE SHOW GOES ON
We have two really incredible contributors from the USA on Sexyloops at the moment. I’m talking about Andy Dear and Gary Meyer. Sometimes I feel humbled slotted between their two FPs!!
Andy’s “why we fish” series conclusion followed by Gary’s porch philosophy - just incredible writing. I think when you start to look at fly fishing and in particular how it shapes you, you can see that it makes you a philosopher!!
And of course it does. Long term fly fishers all have one thing in common: we spend a lot of time on our own, outside, fishing. We like our own company and our own thoughts. I realise that there are FFers who only fish with others, and that’s cool, but that’s not really “the real deal” for me; just another side to fly fishing.
The real deal is not only getting away from the “normal” humdrum, but getting away from everyone else too and spending time doing the thing we love by ourselves. And while I obviously enjoy fishing with friends and particularly my wife, I will always need time which is just me and the fish and nature. Because that’s what truly defines me.
It was great to see Andy mention the great Mel Krieger in his finale. Mel said something that I took to heart - it doesn’t matter how old you get, you will always be a better fly fisher (or words to that effect). You see, for him, you never peak. Of course if we live a very long time then we might lose our agility. Certainly I can’t imagine going hard in the NZ mountains like I did when I was 20-40, not when I’m... 80? :))) But as a fisherman I’m sure I’ll be better when 80 than 40. Experience is one of the major, if not the major, learning forces.
As a fly caster, for some reason I am better now, despite turning 50 at the end of this year, than at any point before. I cast further, more accurately and with more control. I cannot explain that, only that it must take many years to figure it out and then master these skills.
So right now, at 49 years old, I am at my peak. But I’m sure that next year, and for a very long time to come, every year will see me climb to a higher peak. That’s really heady stuff, and Mel was the guy who first opened my eyes to it.
Here’s raising a glass to Mel and every other fly fisher out there. Always forever learning. And may we all find ourselves on a river somewhere.
A FP Writers fishing convention. Now wouldn’t that be something! Talking of which, if the World Championships get postponed this year then undoubtedly so too will the Sexyloops Meet. I think it’s highly unlikely that we can run this meet. But I will make that decision after Sweden makes theirs.
This year I suspect most of my time will be spent working on rod sales, fitting out the Battleship and going fishing. I think we are probably going to have to keep our heads down for a while. But we shall see. Stay safe. And if we do all die from this fucking virus then I’ll see you in Valhalla.