Hugh Falkus was like the Don when I was learning to fly fish. In one of his films, he meets up with the actor Michael Hordern (the voice of Paddington Bear) to fish for sea-trout in North-West England. In one palpable scene they sit patiently to wait for the sun to leave the water, to be ready for darkness and the "magic time" when these trout start to move. You can almost feel their impatience to cast, but they hold back.
It was dead when I arrived at the salt marsh last night. The tide was well on its way out and at eight-thirty o' the clock the sun was still on the water. It was light late last night. And I knew it was dead within a minute, because this is the kind of skinny water where catchable fish show themselves, often in numbers, slashing and gulping bait at the outflow channel. I made some practice casts to no fish, which were most obliging, then walked inland to a secondary funnel to see if no fish were there too. You know the places. There are a thousand along the CT coast - bridges that compress water and bait. Striper hang-outs, basically.
The water was glass calm, but I made some more casts because I was there. It was mildly educational to recalibrate the length of my casts to the fly-catching Fragmites on the far bank; the plus side to the bright gloaming. But these are the excuses we make when we know we're wasting time, and I perched myself on a rock at water's edge, smoked a cigar and pretended I was having the most fun listening to the spring evening, watching the moon rise, and sending insulting texts to my house-bound friends. Too lazy to haul myself home, is the truth.
The first bait-inhaling pop of a striper no more than 15 feet away confirmed my angling genius for cleverly biding my time. Where there had been nothing, in the next five minutes every bass in the neighborhood joined the feast and I moved into position to do some proper fishing. A 16"er on my first cast was followed by a 25" and a few more smaller fish, all by dapping 10' of fly line to a floating shrimp. No monsters, but it's all relative in skinny water. I caught or hooked most of the rises I covered, settling down after each fish to rest the water and await the next customer. It's rarely as predictable at this spot, and sometimes the bass are fussy to the point of refusal, but last night they ate, my patience rewarded.
Walking out through the mud I thought of the Falkus film and the way it should be done, and how it means more to me to be fortunate than to be right.
English Jonny's calculated patience pays off
The film that stirred the memory is worth a look, if you haven't already.