Bucket List

How Small a Trout Every Day in May Challenge.

Bucket List.

I suppose that a bucket list on an unashamedly fly fishing orientated blog should be filled with exotic locations and massive fish. I am just not sure that is it for me.

Yes the Kola Peninsula would be pretty cool, there is obviously the prospect of massive salmon, the excitement of flipping over the waters in Cold War helicopters apparently piloted by men who consume more high octane fuel than the engines. But I have this sneaking suspicion that I may have to rub shoulders with a lot of people I wouldn’t really get on with. A destination more frequented by the “A” list on a financial scale than the “A” list on the fishing front, and anyway I have been told by others who have done it that it is really all a little too easy. Plus I really prefer to target fish that are eating flies and not simply attacking them out of some sort of annoyance. I suppose I am being picky but I don’t think this one makes my list. (Although invitations are of course most welcome).

There is Alaska, a short season of incredible bounty but I suspect that I would be the one wanting to head up some feeder in search of grayling on a dry fly when everyone else wanted to be bait fishing for King Salmon. The diversity certainly appeals and the idea of being able to select species to target in the same way that one might select wine from an abundant cellar. Plus it would be pretty neat to fish and watch bears doing the same thing at the same time. But I am still not entirely sure.

I would love to cast to bonefish on a Seychelles flat, having never done such a thing I suspect that flats fishing for bones is one area where one combines the skill and delicacy of casting at a target with the adrenaline rush of an unstoppable first run. Most fishing seems to be one or the other, all about the take or all about the fight, bonefish seem to offer both in one convenient package so that would be up there on the list.

I think that Lapland would be pretty cool, without grayling in our home waters they hold special appeal, one always wants what one hasn’t got and I suppose that is part of the point of a bucket list in the first place. Plus it has the apparent advantage of being a little less famous and therefore not as crowded with the bling merchants. I rather like the idea of fishing with people who love fishing, not necessarily those who want to show off their tackle. Yes I think that Lapland sounds pretty neat.

A boat trip to Bassas da India would be an adventure, with nowhere really safe to anchor, fish of a size too big for your dreams and possibly too scary for your nightmares. I have friends who have been there and I am not sure they will ever be quite the same again. They have developed the thousand yard stare and seem to have radically revised their opinion on what constitutes a big fly.

Norway, now there’s a place, most famous for its salmon I have watched a good many video clips of some exceptional trout fishing in this neck of the woods and like Lapland it seems to have maintained a rather more parochial outlook than some more famous destinations. Yes I would tick Norway.

Having visited New Zealand once I would love to go back there, I loved the scenery and the people and of course the fishing. I like the idea of disappearing into the backcountry and hiking into the fishing. The allure of large trout in tiny rivers appeals tremendously although timing has to be right if one really wants to enjoy dry fly action and that would be the goal. There is little that sets my heart racing more than watching a fish inhale a dry fly. No reason to belabour the point, a fishing trip to New Zealand for fly anglers is pretty much the same as a visit to Mecca for the followers of Islam. A rite of passage I suppose and I am pretty sure on everyone’s list.

Still perhaps one should include some monsters. Tarpon on fly has to be exciting from what I can see and the possibility of watching some massive fish in gleaming armour inhale a fly next to the boat simply has to get any angler salivating. To watch a fish bigger than you are jump clear of the water at the end of the line surely must be on every angler’s list at some point. Yes I think I must include tarpon on fly .

Staying with monsters there are the King Fish, plentiful in some parts of our warmer oceans and even on the flats. Vicious brutes that snap tackle and pull anglers into the water and they love flies. A sortie after GT’s would make the cut for sure.

Whilst at it, what about Milkfish, not a well-known species but tricky to hook and harder to land, they could be the ultimate fly rod species and I am pretty sure would give those Ponoi River salmon a run for their money in a head to head battle for supremacy.

There is of course the Permit, even now a fish that has proven better than most anglers’ efforts and one which was almost uncaught until Del Brown came up with his innovative merkin. Anglers have been known to cry over permit, both the ones they lost and the ones they caught and the fish surely is worthy of inclusion.

But hang on a moment, I live in Africa, what about fishing for tigers during the barbel run on the Okavango River? There is chaos when this occurs, the birds go crazy and the noise is apparently deafening. The tigers run up behind the barbel scoffing all the bait fish scared out from under the papyrus and what fish tigers are. Fish apparently assembled by a committee, including an artist, a fighter and a homicidal war mongering maniac. The first to add the red fins and the racing stripes, the second to pack on muscle bulk and raw power and the third to assemble that gin trap jaw with teeth that have no business in a fish in the first place. Plus it is relatively close, so that has to be on the list.

Or Tasmania, it so happens I have an open invitation to go there, the idea of sight fishing for large trout in the shallows of the dams, something for which the place is legendary. Well that has to be included surely.

And America, those famous rivers out West in Cowboy country, I would really like to test my mettle on some of the better known waters, if only to gain a personal comparison. One might have to contend with onerous visa applications, strict airport security and be prepared for a nation whose only compromise in terms of decimalization has been the popularity of the 9mm bullet but it must be worth a visit. The density of the hatches and the opportunity to drift boat down a wide river hold a lot of appeal. The chance to fish legendary spots like the Henry’s Fork or the Frying Pan, places which if you are a fly angler you can’t escape, the waters of legend are more than likely worth the effort.

I could keep going, as the T shirts say “So many fish and so little time”, but you know what? Although I would never give up fishing whilst able to do so there isn’t one of those venues I wouldn’t ditch for the simple joy of having someone special who would miss me when I was out and be pleased to see me when I got home.

I don’t expect I would sacrifice all those dreams but a few would be more than negotiable. And therein lies the rub with such lists, sometimes we simply need to first accept and cherish the things which we already have. The fishing on our doorsteps, the love of our family and friends. I suspect that whether fishing or not, the people with whom we share our time are more important than where we share it.  Sure exotic locales, tropical islands, the prospect of casting on the Dark Continent or choppering in to a remote water in the antipodes all hold appeal, but I can’t escape the notion that if you are doing things half right then Dorothy was correct “There’s no place like home”.

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One Response to “Bucket List”

  1. Anticipation | The Fishing Gene Says:

    […] day on one’s blog, a challenge from the guys at “How Small a Trout” I wrote a piece entitled “Bucket List”. The titles were preordained by the organizers and were random but for a very much fly fishing […]

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