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Beware Buck Fever When Fishing

Spotting a big trout can be an instant adrenalin overload - clouding judgment and destroying hand-eye coordination.

There you are quietly walking along the bank of a river, Polaroid's scanning the water –and you spot him. Must be 10 pounds at least, definitely 10 pounds, not 4.5 kilo – that would sound too small. He sits there, slowly moving slightly to one side or the other to pick up some morsel.

trout illustration

Then it starts – buck fever. The symptoms are very evident. Out comes the fly box, and it drops, spilling the flies. How on earth can trout see nymphs in flowing water, when you cannot see them in the grass at your feet?

Finally you find one and tie it on. Despite the fever raging through your body, you test the knot, which slides undone. This is the same knot you have tied four hundred trillion zillion times, at a conservative estimate. The knot you can tie behind your back, with cold and wet hands, in the dark.

Re-tied, you move into position behind a bush to screen yourself from the fish, and plan your cast.

It is not a long cast, maybe only 10 metres in all, to land the nymph 7 metres above the fish. Plan decided, you slowly stand up and swing the line out, a couple of false casts to lengthen the line, and then into the final back-cast.

Eyes riveted on your cast target you swing into the forward cast, but come up in a dead stop. You just knew the blackberries would get you didn't you? Well, you would, if buck fever had allowed you to note their presence.

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Out you back from behind your cover and try to pull the line from the blackberries. The nymph too deep in the thorny clutches is sacrificed. With another nymph tied on, you test the knot. Failed again. Not the knot this time – but the leader.

So you replace the leader which in its blackberry-thorn-nicked state would have probably lost the fish anyway. Bent-backed, you return to the bush and peer over it. Where’s the fish? Gone! Damn, and worse.

Standing up, and moving from behind the cover of the bush, you spot the fish moving back into its lie at just about exactly the same time it spots you. It bolts for the deep cover on the other side of the river. This time the fish is gone – for good.

Furious at yourself you look around and easily work out a much better casting position, with clear room for the back-cast, and cover from the fish – and a much better drift line too.

One of buck fever's more insidious side effects is short-term blindness to all that surrounds the sufferers. Something along the lines of – there are none so blind as those who will not see – springs to mind.

There is only one cure for buck fever and that is to come to a dead stop. Stop whatever you are doing, take 10 deep breaths, and think about what you are doing. Then look at the fish, and forget the 10 deep breaths you just took, and enjoy.

In this over-shackled world of ours, an occasional adrenal-burst is just great for the system.

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