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Jan Normandale, GFF columnist
Column November 2000
|Fly fishing Obsession, does it exist?|
"The final question is; should any man turn his back on ambition, profit, security, and a parking place in the city, just to pursue a fish!"
By Jan Normandale
So if this is a dangerous road we're travelling then we need to understand "our enemy".
Lets deal with titles that are readily available, one is a recent reissue from the Fly Fishers Classic Library in the UK although it is also available from used book dealers and probably for slightly less than the noted reissue. Sir Edward Grey wrote an acknowledged classic titled simply "Fly Fishing" published in 1899 and through many editions.
Nick Lyons Books reissued "A Summer on the Test" by John Waller Hills another book about one man's obsession; again this should be available as a new printing or as a used book. Published in 1924 there have been numerous printings and editions. This is a book about a man's home stream and his discoveries made while fishing over many years. It is full of insights that are unobtrusively slipped into the writing so if you want to read for the enjoyment of the sport it is there but you will be taken for a day's fishing with a man who is a master. He will show you things that took him years to distil into a lyric of summer fishing on one of the most important dry fly streams known to flyfishers.
John Voelker/Robert Traver wrote about brook trout, cheroots, whiskey in tin cups, fish lies, fishing friends, fishing cars, and all the sort of stuff that is no longer covered by Fly Fisherman or comparable journals. He wears old felt hats with snap-brims, has a fishing camp where there is no pate or Chablis. And guards its secrecy like a junkyard dog for himself and his friends. This is small trout from "cricks and beaver ponds" closed in by coniferous forests, not big fish and wide rivers with room for backcasts. So check out a man who defined warmth and curmudgeon at the same time depending which side of the line you were on. It's all in "Trout Magic" and "Trout Madness"
Nick Lyons is a well-known publisher and columnist. But before all those things Nick was a "man who had it bad". Just look at his books and the titles tell it all, "Confessions of a Flyfishing Addict" or "Fishing Widows". Got the picture? If you read him carefully and forget about his self-characterization as an enthusiastic bumbler you will feel the edge when he describes his compulsive fishing behaviour around his wife and kids. Just look at him in his Flyfisherman magazine columns that he wrote for almost 15 years. Stories about snakes caught while flyfishing, sliding down riverbanks in England while wading and almost drowning. Taking his wife on fishing trips that he should have showed her some mercy and let her stay behind in New York. Still Nick did all these things and we only know what he decided he could safely write about. What did ya leave out Nick? We want to know!
These are some of the writers who are on the brink or are genuinely possessed by the sport. You won't hear them say it, nor do they ever write that they have gone past reasonable levels of sport and pastime; but when you read these books, you will realize that they are junkies who have been consumed by an affliction worse than alcohol or women. A truly ruinous thing, this sport of ours fly fishing. You tell the world!
The Old Fly (I'm not like those guys) Fisher (really... I'm not... honestly...)
Oh BTW, the quote is from Middleton's "On the Spine of Time"