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Over the last few weeks John Gross chairman of Lureflash, Fishing Republic and Yorkshire Game Angling has been out fishing at some of our favourite venues with Peter Hampshire and myself. John is a UK national accredited fly fishing instructor and it is a joy to watch him in action. Peter himself is a very experienced fly fisherman, as I have mentioned in these pages previously and the only area of this form of fishing he needed some tuition in was fly tying. I had to return to the UK unexpectedly leaving John and Peter to there own devices for a couple of weeks, Peter had entertained and John was anxious to show his appreciation. He presented Peter with a Lureflash fly tying kit and the offer of instruction of how to go about this difficult art. Now the story goes that they were travelling in Peter’s car discussing the fly tying and John noticed that tied around the interior mirror of Peter’s car was some shiny gold banding that Peter’s grandson Lewis had used to wrap his Christmas present with and had insisted that he kept it as a momento. John explained how even that could be used to make flies, so off they went to John’s house and started tieing these works of art using the gold tape. I arrived back in Spain to the news that we were going to Jan Keijsers Hondon Trucha facility to catch Black Bass on the fly. All very exciting the fact that Jan had stocked his lake with these large mouthed creatures famous for there vicious take and then the fact that John and Peter would be using the hybrid flies they had made. Now I could tell, even over coffee on the way to the lake, that a very competitive spirit had emerged between these fly fishing aficionados and the talk was of nothing else but who would catch first and the most on the Christmas fly as it had become known. I thought it best to watch and learn from the battle that commenced, the whoosh of fly line streaking back and forth through the air was music to my ears, the rods flicking so accurately, the fly landing with precision on the water far from the side. This is what fly fishing is all about to me. It is a constant participation form of fishing. You are in control all the time.
Peter was sweating in the fierce heat of late morning casting out relentlessly, retrieving at varying speeds, trying everything he knew to entice one of these marvellous creatures to take the bait. John on the other hand was casting out then laying his rod and reel on the floor until his fly and line had sunk right to the bottom. He explained that the fish were on the bottom and not feeding from what he had seen so the fly would have to be presented right in front of their faces to encourage them to take it. When he eventually picked up the rod and started the slowest retrieval of line I had ever seen it became apparent to me he had faced a similar situation many times before, all over the world. It did not take long before his rod was arched with a hard fighting Black Bass on the end. His calmness amazed me as I went for the camera, even telling me not to rush as he would play the fish until I was ready. Peter was devastated and did not want to even look over our way. He was now on a mission to catch the most having lost out on the “first fish trophy” part of the day.
After two hours John had caught four Bass with the Christmas fly and sportingly offered to swap places with Peter who was still on a blank. This they did and in less than two minutes John was playing another Bass. At this stage I thought Peter was going to throw his rod and reel in the lake shortly followed by himself. John’s display of excellence went on until Jan and I had to physically stop them fishing, Peter was a very good loser and echoed words I have spoken many times “you cannot buy experience” It had without doubt been a pleasure to witness a display of this standard in very difficult conditions where the fish were just not feeding and being on hand to watch John Gross work out the behaviour of the fish and then how to catch them.
My suggestion was to put the Christmas fly into production as a Bass special which started another jovial but loud discussion as to who held the rights to the design.
I am sure this story will be told around the world at many a post fishing session drink on John’s travels and it is something Peter Hampshire will never forget either especially as he has to explain to his grandson where the ‘lucky charm’ gold present wrapping has gone. Copyright © Gary Smith