November 4th, 2002
Our Man In Canada Archives
Heat is Where the Home Water Is
By Jim McLennan
I don't think anyboey feels sorry for me when it comes to
fishing, for I've certainly done my share. In fact I've
probably used up several other peopl's allotments of "trips
of a lifetime." The memories of fishing trips are one of the
most important parts of the sport for me, but lately though,
I've been thinking more about the idea of home water.
It started when I spent a couple of days with me friend Bob
Scammell, fishing his home stream - a tempermental brown trout
creek in the foothills of western Alberta. Over the last 20
years I've fished and hunted with Bob dozens of times. He has
been both friend and mentor to me, and is regarded by many as
the dean of Canadian outdoor writers.
The first day started with Bob showing me the location of a big
brown trout. His directions were anything but vague: "he lives
under that dead spruce branch hanging out over the water. Not
by the green branch, and not by the stump. Under the dead branch."
When I'd caught the fish and we were admiring its gold sides and
orange spots Bob said, "I haven't seen this guy since last fall.
He's wintered well."
The rest of the trip went pretty much the same way - Bob predicting
with great accuracy where the fish would be, what they would take
and how big they were. Some of them had names. He possesses
the kind of understanding that you simply can't get by fishing a
stream once or twice, or even 10 or 15 times a year. Bob began
fishing this water 30 years ago and now spends more than 50 nights
a year in his cabin on the banks of the stream. It's not the only
water he loves - he has favorites all over the province - but when
he's on his home creek he never wishes he were someplace else.
When you have a piece of home water, you can afford to ease up
in your single-minded pursuit of fish, and that allows you to
notice some of the other things that go on around a trout stream.
Bob has certainly kept track of his brown trout over the years,
but he's also kept track of some of the other things. He knows
when the wild roses will bloom behind the cabin and when the
stoneflies will emerge in the bouldery pool upstream. He knows
when the whitetails will sneak into the hayfield across the creek
to feed, and which fallen log the cock grouse will drum on. I
don't know is he get a bigger kick out of fooling a big trout or
find a big patch of Morel mushrooms.
One of Bob's passions is studying the correlation between the
blooming of wildflowers and the hatching of aquatic insects on
the stream. This started as a way to get an idea of what bugs might
be around so he could have a better chance of catching a fish, but
it has since become an end unto itself. Bob has been noting the
hatching and blooming dates and photographing the insects on
the corresponding flowers for the last ten years or so, and the
results have become a book called
The Phenological Fly.
I'm envious of Bob because of his trout water of course, but
I'm even more envious of his deep understanding of the stream
and the land it flows through. Through his initial fascination
with fly-fishing, he's attained a rare degree of intimacy with
the small part of one ecosystem.
Fly-fishing can do that. It can show yo things you didn't
know you were interested in. Some times it shows you
things you didn't know existed. Bob started out as most
anglers do - as a guy with a dream of catching a big fish.
But along the way he got sidetracked into a greater understandin
of how the outdoor world connects with itself. And he's
richer because of it.
Credits: This article is from the Canadian magazine,
HomeWaters. They are a new Sponsor here on FAOL,
and we appreciate use permission!
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