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Mortality, and taking things for granted

We've never had a better start to the reservoir season



Life and the world will never be the same. Steve Parton has been my friend, confidante, engineering guru, source of (un)common sense and a rock of logic and sound information.

To think of a fly-fishing world without him is almost unthinkable. He was that person who just said as it was. No faff, no compromise. Get on board or get off. Your choice. Gosh! that was refreshing.

Steve loved to tease; he lived to challenge the establishment, and he adored to puncture the pompous. His telephone manner was, well, colourful.

Maybe it was the sum of all those parts which lead to him plunging his flies deeper than most and fishing waters how he felt, and quarrelled when people challenged his methods. It was his way (always within the rules) or no way at all.

Float tubes, rudders … if the water or management did not want them and enforced a ban on their use, Steve simply took his ideas to a venue and a management who did. Simple.

Above all he was deeply sincere, and never wavered from what he believed. A hugely intelligent man, he was moral, decent and just one of the most able angling brains we have ever produced. Throughout, he was a loyal and an utterly trusted friend. His funeral last week was testament to the huge affection and regard people from all facets of life held for him; angling, politics, golf, any area that he touched people came in droves to offer their last thoughts.

I think, too, that the day was a sobering underlining of our mortality and fragility. Certainly, the affect on me has been considerable. This new season matters more than those in the past. Things are not being taken for granted and the Fishing 4 Schools initiative I'm involved in has been made even more vital.

As a group (of anglers) we are getting older. So my evangelical thrust is directed to both doing it and getting others involved. No sidelines for me. Let me at it.

To which …

I think that we have seldom, if ever, had a better start to the reservoir season. My trips to Bewl Water, Pitsford and Arlington have been nothing short of spectacular. OK, at Bewl I began by having a thorough 'Battering by Ben' (Bangham) the hugely talented angling co-owner of Experience Fishing in Newbury. Ben reminded me of the effectiveness of an ultra small Booby on an intermediate line. I wanted to use a floating line and little stuff. The trout clearly had other ideas. The penny dropped, eventually, but drop it did.

At Pitsford  during the English Flyfishing Association's annual early season opener, some pulled Blobs. It happens (and works). However, a bulk 'twiddled' nymphs ( such a fabulous term, 'twiddling')  it was just lyrical nymph fishing; with some spectacular trout coming to the various boats. It was simply brilliant, despite me having difficulties landing 'em.

The great sport continued unabated on Arlington (see Brian Harris' piece in FF&FT last month. Sharing a boat with Shane Tibetts is a joy. Shane is one of our little gang fly tyers that try and meet every Tuesday evening under the pretext of constructing flies, and he is one of our more adept fly fishers. Shane proved conclusively that you can still catch fish on flies of yesteryear. He just hoovered up fish on a Green Tag Stick. Yes, I know, given that's the case I am going start entering my Peach Doll phase (which sounds a little dubious …).

Which brings me to the 'now' and to Rutland and buzzers. Rutland recently provided me with some of the best fishing I could ever have wished. I was wearing at least two or three layers more than is usual for the time of year.

The rivers here in the south are running weeks behind schedule, which gives me something discuss next time.

Must dash, I need to turn the heating on.

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