Living your passion from your couch
In collaboration with Émile David, passionate angler (and outdoor enthusiast!)
If you're like me, when you saw the snowbanks turn into torrents, you thought of the rivers swollen with water and the big hungry trout they contain. As you watched the ice patches turn into puddles, you imagined the big bass and walleye slowly awakening at the bottom of the lakes. You thought about how, like them, you would like to gently emerge from the torpor that’s pulling you deeper and deeper into the soft cushions of the couch, wrapping you up like a big pussy blanket.
Except here we are, you and I, sitting on the couch. Not just sitting, but confined to the couch. Then what's the game plan? Well, here you have the best bag of tricks: how to live your passion for fishing while respecting the measures that will allow us to get back on the water as quickly as possible.
Getting in the mood
The important thing is to keep yourself in the mood. Replace the now traditional morning countdown of the deaths and people infected with a reading, a movie, or a magazine. In addition to the classics, I recommend the sublime book Contemplation by wildlife photographer Jean-Simon Bégin, the ever-thoughtful Beside magazine, my No. 1 toilet top book Homme des bois by the guide Michel Therrien, and one of my favorites, the very relevant Zen and the Art of Fly Fishing.
As far as movies are concerned, the time is right to see A River Runs Through It, or to see it again. Even if, personally, this movie mostly makes me want to cry, it remains a great classic. The family friendly Fishalo board game is part of my standard of entertainment for all ages as well.
Learning how to tie flies. Or learning to fly fish, period.
Reading is great, but you're more of a hands-on type? That's cool. The time has come, anyway. I know we were saving this for retirement, but, as the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. So it's time to learn how to tie flies. "Yes, but I don't even fly fish, Émile, what’s the point? I'm not going to tie flies for fun?" Easy does it! Here's an indoor fly rod. The cat will freak and you’ll come out of the lockdown with a brand-new passion: telling everyone you're a fly fisher. Let's say you find that the current crisis is a good time to rethink our consumption patterns as a species: nothing more than a flexible rod of a just few feet and a long piece of wool will do the trick for starting to learn the movements and timing needed for fly casting.
Getting back to fly tying, the Quebec company Shor Fishing offers starter kits at very reasonable prices, as well as kits that include the equipment needed to assemble the most popular fly models. You can also follow their professional fly- tie-guy Benoit Farcy who, in the time of COVID-19, gives two live training sessions per week via this Facebook page. Benoit also broadcasts excellent tutorials every week on his YouTube channel.
Getting tied up in knots
Every season I have a buddy who shows me a chic new fishing knot, and every season I almost instantly forget how to tie it. Practicing your knots is therefore another excellent alternative to compulsively watching TV shows. Here are a few knots I'd really like to remember when I get back on the water.
- The rapala knot, is used to attach fish jigs, giving them more freedom of movement. I like to use it for flies as well. As a bonus, you have a little trick from Cyril, the fishing fanatic, in the linked video (in French only).
- The blood knot or barrel knot, is useful for joining two lines of different sizes, as long as they’re not too different. I like its very thin clean profile. It also allows you to add a fly, lure, or hook that naturally moves away from the main strand.
- The surgeon's knot also makes it possible to join two different lines. It’s simpler and much quicker to tie than the barrel knot. In my experience, it's very practical when the size and consistency of the lines are different.
- The turtle knot is just the sort of knot that I never remember how to tie. It’s really ideal for tying a beautiful salmon fly and making sure it stays proudly in the current.
- The bow is perfect to make the transition from laces to Velcro. So I've been told.
Elevating your game in the kitchen
A nice part of fishing is the preparation of the catch. To me, there's no better way to pay tribute to a fish than to cook it with tender loving care. Also, since grocery shopping is to be avoided, it's a good time to wind down last season's stash. To this end, I invite you to read Frédérique Naud's article on her favourite fish recipes and to watch Bravejack's productions on their culinary creations inspired by Sépaq's wildlife reserves.
Sharing the spirit
One of the great challenges in this time of collective confinement is to feel a connection with other humans. The number of people who have learned to do Facetime in the last month must be astronomical. And this is one of the positive aspects of the pandemic: out of necessity emerges human creativity, that non-perishable commodity that had been somewhat forgotten on the shelves and much replaced by the compulsive purchase of stuff. As for anglers, I'm raising my hat to Hooké, who has innovated by organizing live interactive happy hours on Facebook. Every Thursday (and sometimes on Sundays too, these days tend to look the same now anyway), Hooké's Facebook page comes alive with founder Fred Campbell behind the mainboard of themed episodes combining DJ sets, video, and live entertainment. All this with the participation of various characters from the industry.
Facebook thus seems to be rediscovering its essence as a tool for sharing and exchange with the various photographic challenges reminding us of better days. In these times of crisis, it's socially acceptable to share chains of messages and other challenges. I myself participated in the #bigfishchallenge which, as its name suggests, consists of sharing a picture of a big fish. There are a bunch of others that involve sharing fishing memories and more photos of impressive catches.
Dreaming a little dream
Okay, you miraculously managed to pull off a big productive day working from home? Or you're one of the indispensable people who fight every day to keep the world from completely falling apart? Or, like me, are you just struggling to keep from going cuckoo somewhere in your circular waltz between the kitchen, living room, office, and bathroom? By Jove, give your warrior spirit a rest. In the face of the crisis, many media and festivals are offering free access to their programming. This is the case of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) and Outside Magazine. Take a seat. Let your mind flow as you take in these polished productions, dreaming about tomorrow, outside, on the water.
That's where my list ends, but as I said earlier, this is a time when human creativity emerges and flourishes. I' m sure that many of you have found innovative ways to keep the flame alive during the crisis. I would love to update this article with these ideas, so please feel free to write me a private message on Facebook. In the meantime, the good news is that as an angler, you're supposed to have all the patience and resilience you need to get through this episode of doing nothing much. If not, now is the perfect time to practice.