The question is not how to fish, but why you do it. The author and his fishing buddies do it out of necessity. It’s more important than life and death to them to escape the human world, step in to water and wave a stick. Left on the shore is their misery and worries. Standing in the water they find freedom, healing and occasionally a fish.

Battles are lost and won with tongue in cheek and always celebrated with mountains of cake and an endless stream of fresh espresso coffee. To the band of brothers it’s more important who you fish with than how big the fish is; except for the ones lost.

You may not learn a lot about catching more and bigger fish, but reading these stories is like holding a mirror up in front of yourself getting a little wiser. The small why is a big one.

  • This artickel is written by Danish photojournalist Søren Skarby

You have to admire people that work. And not only work, but do it day in and day out without weekends, holidays, leave of absence or other of mankind’s inventions, laws and regulations. Mr. Murphy is one of the very few. I can’t believe that he has never ever taken a day off or even packed sunscreen and bathing trunks and escaped to the beach. That would never happen. Mr. Murphy is a guy with incredible high work ethics, he has a law to uphold. No doubt about that.

I went to my beloved channel with the sometimes pretty strong tidal current. The evening before I was sitting tying very small critters. Well for saltwater they were small. Deep down at the bottom of a drawer I had found three short double hooks size ten. Those are the meanest hooks I have ever laid hands on. That’s not the right expression. Don’t ever lay hands on them. If you touch them the wrong way, you’ll need surgery to get them out of your finger. The Bricklayer, calls them Velcro made of steel. They stick to everything they get close to. With all the care I could establish I created three gammarus in my vice. Not the most complicated flies to tie and the hooks only scratched my fingers a few times. In other words they cost me very little sweat and a bit more blood.

The water looked like thin hot chocolate. Sometimes in early spring we are having loads of cold-water algae. The radical use of fertilizers by farmers in my flat country takes its toll. Fortunately the algae die when the water temperature reaches seven degrees Celsius, but it’s a pest until then. I comforted myself with the thought that the strong east bound current would flush them out. Everything else was hunky-dory. The sun was shining from a blue sky; what could possibly go wrong except from the wind? It was…. My Icelandic fishing buddy, The Nerd, has named this kind of weather “no wind from different directions”. But it was all directions to be fair. The landscape rises around the channel, it’s like standing in a tunnel that makes the wind curl and twist like a ballet dancer on acid. My limited casting skills were tested to the core and a bit beyond. I was more occupied with untying knots and more knots on the tippet than actually casting and fishing. Even the running line was making knots. When the fly at last was in the water I didn’t feel even a single take.

I felt like somebody was looking at me. You know the feeling of eyes burning into your neck. When I turned my head Mr. Murphy stood on the beach. All dressed up with suit, tie, bowler hat and a briefcase in his hand. He had a small curl in the corner of his mouth but didn’t wave. After all he’s got a reputation to take care of. I sighed and heard the sound of my confidence plunge in the water and saw it drift away with the current. Time for coffee and a snack.

On most fishing trips I’ve got one of those modern gas powered boilers with me, coffee that has been stored in a thermos for hours is undrinkable if you ask me. I produced the boiler from my backpack, started it and found a cup. Two actually. There’s always four cups in the bag. You’ll never know who you meet on the shore and the least you can do is offer them coffee. So I asked Mr. Murphy to join me for a cup. He looked at me and shook his head in disbelief. I’ll bet that no one has ever done that before. That lit a hope in me. Maybe that was the way to soften him a tiny bit. You get a long way with a little kindness. So I continued by opening a chocolate bar, breaking it in two and asking Mr. Murphy if he wanted some. If there was a small sign of a smile on his face before, it was all gone now. Keeping up appearance he displayed the classic stiff upper lip, as if he was saying, “How could you?”.

It became the strangest coffee break I’ve ever had. I was sitting down dressed in waders, wading jacket and a cap. Mr. Murphy was standing up in a perfect city dress, his tailor had done an excellent job. The only thing missing was a black umbrella, but since there was blue sky, it made perfect sense. In the beginning I tried to start a conversation, but he didn’t even mumble one word, instead I paid attention to the coffee, snack and the water. The current had stopped and would begin to be west bound in half an hour or so. I wondered if that could make the algae vanish. When I looked in the direction of Mr. Murphy again, he was gone. It took me a bit by surprise, but maybe all the hospitality was a bit over the edge for him. Every man has his limit.

There was no current when I waded out again and the algae were still there. But there was a difference that was a big revelation. The casts were straight, as in really long and straight. To my bewilderment the fly kept on landing at the exact place I wanted it to. The feeling of those long precise casts was a catch in itself. I picked up my confidence that was still floating in the water. Then came what fishing is all about, a take. The mean little hook stuck to the trout the first time it touched it. We argued a bit over the fact that we wanted to go in opposite directions. I won the argument when the fish landed in my net. Not the biggest sea trout in the world, but an absolutely decent dinner for my daughter and I.

I decided to call it a day. Packed up the gear and walked back to the car. On the way I thought of what the biggest achievement of the day was. Catching a trout or making Mr. Murphy take the rest of the day off? I think it was the latter.