On a recent trip to the Tasmanian Highlands, JD and I were having a great time fishing the Nineteen Lagoons. The area was quite busy for this time of year, probably due to a week of uncannily fine weather in the low to mid-twenties. It was rare to have a lake to yourself. On the more popular waters, it was the norm for fellow flyfishers to leapfrog around the banks, allowing adequate room to maintain your ‘beat’.
It’s like a gentlemen’s agreement, considered law amongst us. Some anglers bypass without making eye contact, some offer a discrete nod of acknowledgement, whilst others are up for a lengthy chat to exchange recent findings, or even a tip or two. Anglers’ tales can be fraught with exaggeration regarding fish numbers, size, gear, etc. So, what should we believe?
One day, a group of three flyfishers leapfrogged us and we exchanged some friendly banter about the fishing. Nothing out of the ordinary really. Collectively, all we’d managed were donuts, so there was no peacocking about exemplary abilities to fool trout. They walked on and chose to fish a couple of hundred metres away. The gentlemen’s agreement held strong. As JD and I continued combing the banks, I looked over to see one of the group landing a nice brown. Sound has an amazing ability to travel over water, and I could clearly hear the group conversation. The successful angler announced that his fish was caught on a red spinner; something I hadn’t tried yet. I thought good on him – well done.
JD and I continued fishing and we both hooked fish on a red spinner after trying a couple of other presentable but evidently not palatable options. After a while, the group finished up and walked past us, with the successful fisher eager to tell us about his success. The ‘gentleman’ told me he caught his trout on a black spinner. Knowing full well he’d told his counterpart the successful fly was a red spinner, I continued the conversation, seeing how believable it was.
Ultimately, this angler left me pondering the psychology of flyfishers who offer false information. What are the intentions of doing so? Is it common? What’s in it for them? Is it about maintaining some sort of a lead by offering a red herring?
The fact is, we are all there to enjoy the experience; it’s our raison d’etre, it’s what we love, and if we can find happiness catching a fish, then we have achieved our goal. Happiness is something we all chase. However, the act of giving happiness to others can provide the greatest reward. When it comes to flyfishing, helping another angler catch a fish can be even more fulfilling than catching one yourself – well, sometimes!
In any case, it’s interesting to ask ourselves the question: what advice would you have given on the day, red spinner or black spinner?