Sunday, 1 January 2017

David Lambroughton Calendar

Every fisher needs a fishing calendar to keep track of time. There’s a whole year’s worth out there for fishing and you’ll need to write the days down so you don’t forget them. David Lambroughton’s calendar is simply the best on the market for fishers.

You owe it to yourself to send $18.99 to David for him to send one out to you. Visit, to take care of the details. David has this tendency to travel around the world looking for neat places to toss a fly. In the long run, I’ll be fishing some of those browns in New Zealand, too. I have taken images for glossy magazines for more than two decades, so I can tell how nice his really are, well composed, unbelievable colour saturation, some stunning fish and locales.

Look at the cover and ask yourself just how big was the fish that left its splash in the middle of the image, of a stream that has that Chalk Streams of England look written all over it. And the purist might point out that if it is ‘the take’ by the fish then it is the only true method of fly fishing: upstream, dry fly artistry mentioned in many Haig-Brown books, and other books of English back ground over the past century.

And the inside cover images are handsome flies in the Atlantic Salmon fashion, as in they don’t represent an actual bug, but are well proportioned colourful flies tied in the traditional patterns with the full panoply of a talented tier’s skills and longstanding classic materials. Should you ever have the good fortune of an extra hour or so in Campbell River, go take the tour of Haig-Brown’s house for the superb glass-cased Atlantic flies, tied, I think, in the Art Lingren style.

Such flies do work for summer steelhead as well, so have current use. The other book to pick up is Trey Coombs, Steelhead Fly Fishing that has colour plates of all the classic flies, as well as the fishing method still argued about today more than a century later. In a nutshell, greased line fly fishing results from when they used silk to make fly lines. To make them float, the lines were coated in grease. To make the fly track properly, an upstream mend was put in the line just after landing, to turn the fly so its tail passed down stream first, and sunk further. 

You will find a more lengthy explanation of greased line fishing in Coombs’ book as well as Haig-Brown’s A River Never Sleeps. The latter book also has a good list of historical fly fishing books for the well-stocked library. On the west coast, though, our fly fishing is mostly for anadromous species, meaning fish that spend part of their lives in saltwater and part in freshwater. This includes the five species of salmon, two species of steelhead, searun cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden Char and searun brown trout, of which there are very few.

We are very lucky because anadromous fish take several weeks to recognize real food when they change from salt- or fresh-water. That means we tie stimulator flies, ones the get attention and elicit a strike, but don’t actually represent any real food item.

But purist freshwater fly fishers, who fish for resident trout that spend their entire lives in freshwater, know the ticket to fish is a fly that resembles an actual insect that the fish feeds on, right when you are fishing. Hatches of May, damsel and caddis flies occur in the warm part of the day, the adults living only long enough to mate and lay eggs, and thus the images in the Lambroughton calendar have lots of sun, warmth and wonderful fish. And anglers getting around on their knees to stay out of view of their quarries, and tying flies on, brace yourself, hooks as small as size 16. I can hardly see a size 16 hook – my eyes having been the bane of my life since birth – so, I am pretty happy to be on the coast and fall back on having to tie stimulators on size 1 and 2 black salmon hooks. Oh, darn.

The February image features the low gradient trout streams of Sheep County. These are pleasant, small rivers that are set in rolling hills and grassy fields where sheep mow the lawn for you. You will see what a good, easy river looks like. Every hundred yards there is a run, corner, pool or combination thereof, and between them a riffle where you can easily reach the other side, unlike Van Isle Rivers that have sweepers, logjams and almost impenetrable bush to whack. 

One of my close experiences with the bottom of a logjam, here, came after a flood of Noah proportions. I put my foot on flotsam between two logs in a jam that was at least 20 feet high not giving it a second thought, and the next second was on my back down an eight feet deep hole looking back up through the hole to where I had just tread. I learned a valuable lesson: as flood waters recede, all the flotsam slowly comes together, and as the water departs, come to rest up against one another, support one another, and thus when the water is all gone, look like level ground. Not so. Now I always test with a toe before putting weight on the crud.

A lovely brown in the March image was taken in the water. I have done the same for a very long time, because, as David mentions, it is kinder to the fish to keep it in water, not dry ground, gravel, dirt, etc. where it can be injured. It is the zen of getting older and not wanting to change the karma of nature. 

Lambroughton makes a good point: getting yourself a back-pack inflatable craft that you can carry anywhere, dramatically increases the amount of fishing water in a day. And remember, in BC that means avoiding all the bushwhacking. He has a Waterstrider and I have a Watermaster. I suggest you pick one up. You and a buddy leave a car at the top, a car at the bottom and just drive between cars. An example on Van Isle is the very long drift between the Roberson Creek Hatchery at the top end to the Provincial Park just before Stamp Falls. If you don’t stop, you go over the falls and are never seen from again.

June has a good example of cutthroat trout residence: wood, logs, overhanging trees, a deep crease and slower water. And look at the generic rubber legged Elk Hair Caddis. This habitat is the exact opposite for steelhead which prefer rock, absolute heads of pools, tailouts and straight line runs with rock, not wood. The cast pattern is different too.

And the Lambroughton calendar has a typical occidental west coast summer steelhead river for July. He does make the same point on their residing in the absolute heads of pools, in that oxygenated water where the river tumbles in.

The very pretty Mataura River image shows ultra-clear water and the middle of a warm autumn day. It makes the point that the connoiesseur can take a day with only a few memorable trout. On north Van Isle, I once had a trip made by a 9-lb summer doe that took my fly in the first five minutes of a weeklong trip.
As for fishing in New Zealand, do recall that it is summer in December, so you can have the best of the summer here and then make it extend all year round going there. And do put that on your Lambroughton calendar.

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