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carpe diem

 

carp on the fly

Every so often I am reminded that even fish are subject to cultural relativism and historical prejudice. Allow me to explain the thought. It is somewhat odd and unreasonable that certain species of fish are viewed by fisherman as trash fish in certain parts of the world while in others reign as the supreme sportfish. There are several examples of this. Perhaps the most notable is the common carp, a fish introduced in the 1872 from Germany by J.A. Poppe from Sonoma, California who imported a mere five specimens to rear in his pond as a cheap and fast-growing food source that, like most invasive species, got out of control and eventually managed to  establish itself in virtually every water system in Continental North America. It has always been perceived a  trash fish, a bottom feeder unfit for both human consumption or sport, its primary use by importers intended as animal food and fertilizer. While there has been some changes in the mindset of anglers in last decade or so (perhaps as a result of globalization and the internet) , and the acceptance by a few «early adopters» that the carp is indeed a worthy sportfish, there are still very few North American anglers that target carp, which is really quite a shame since most of our waters hold healthy populations of carp that can weigh upwards of forty pounds and that can pull like a Kenworth semi truck, testing both anglers skill and equipment. Truth be told they can really put a bass to shame in terms of fight and stamina their only apparent shortcoming is that they do not leap out of the water when hooked, preferring to vaporize the drags pads of your reel with each blistering, bonefish-like run that seems to never end. Yet mention in conversation that you are a carp fisherman and you immediately raise eyebrows and are perceived as somewhat eccentric and odd. Until recently there were very few carp clubs dedicated to this fishery although there are now several hundred across the country. Read More »

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The Rod

The man largely responsible for my introduction to the world of fly fishing was none other than Paul Bean, a fly tier of great international renown whose exquisitely crafted flies  – sporting names like the Princess Diana, Lady Rosalyn, or Redford – graced the walls of such sporting luminaries as Prince Philip, former first lady Rosalyn Carter, as well as actor Robert Redford. As one would expect, these are not your normal, everyday store bought flies that one could order online, say at a Cabela’s or Orvis, or find in any fly shop. These were commissioned flies by wealthy patrons directly through Paul and sometimes waiting periods could be up to a year. What made Paul and his flies unique was that they were perfect artistic recreations of old British Atlantic Salmon patterns dating back centuries, researched himself through archival information found within the dusty shelves of old and forgotten librairies in English Counties, and that he was probably the only human being alive that possessed this wealth of self-taught knowledge.  The flies are fully functional and you can fish with them but most of them lie protected as both works of art and as investments behind ornate glass frames that hang on study or office walls, often accompagnied, like Paul was during most of his life, with one of his wife Maureen’s beautiful watercolors depicting scenes of the salmon fisherman’s life. These creations were labors of love and often required hundreds of hours spent hunched over a table in his workshop, seeking for universal truth in the perfection of a salmon fly. He only cranked out a handful of these precious creations each year and despite prices in the thousands of dollars they were always quickly scooped up by discerning collectors across the globe. Read More »

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