The best way to visit a country, for us fly fishermen, is to walk along the river and meet the locals. What about following Stephen Haggard, back to Wales? [vimeo https://vimeo.com/128390246]
In the late 60s my father gave me a stuffed trout in a glass case for my birthday. Then I was a mad keen coarse angler, and though my father didn’t know the difference, trout weren’t my quarry. But the gift proved prophetic, and I took up fly fishing in 1979. Now I live in California and chase trout in many lovel parts of the world.
So, the trout regards me now from the bookshelf. He, or she, asks “why am I in this box?” It’s a good question. The case is lovely, bow-fronted with an elegant curve to the glass and neat gold border, the background is realistic and well-preserved rush and sedge. The inscription says; ‘TROUT – Gwendreath Fach Wht. 1lb 9ozs.’ So it’s a good question, why is he in a case? It is a very fine fish, the fins full and youthful, the flank gold with black and red spots, the back blue and olive. Sixteen inches long, it is a very good trout, but hardly exceptional. But the angler thought he was, because he so loved his little river in Wales, Gwendreath Fach, that he memorialized what he believed was the best he could do there. I’ll take ‘Spirit of Place’ as the reason for the Trout in a Box.
Our trout was caught on May 3rd 1914, so May of last year was the centenary. I travelled to Wales at the end of April, met with local anglers in their pub, to try and track the trout. I fished the little river a hundred years to the day, to see if I could duplicate the feat. And now we have a film about how obsession with trout doesn’t have to involve the biggest fish, the spirit of a place can mean just as much, or more