2018, silence remembered

No form of fishing offers such elaborate silences as fly-fishing for permit. The most successful permit fly fisherman has very few catches to describe to you. Yet there is considerable agreement that taking a permit on a fly is the extreme experience of the sport. Even the guides allow enthusiasm to shine through.

Thomas McGuane – The longest Silence

Travelling to a hotel at Dublin airport by bus was a journey I can recall without any serious event or indeed concern. Even though there was snow on the ground I had seen worse but then, as I approached Dublin and disembarked at the airport things were definitely changing. Much faster than I realised. I hauled my wheeled baggage through the snow for five minutes, made a dramatic entrance through the foyer in a flurry of cold wind and banging doors and stumbled into an unexpected crowd of people – all trapped in a long queue trying to book rooms. Flights were being cancelled at an ever increasing rate. I didn’t register any anxiety regarding the fact that I was flying to Belize the following morning via Amsterdam.

Suffice to say that this seemingly inexorable invincibility and belief continued as the weather worsened, I survived a ‘lost in a whiteout’ experience on the way back to my hotel having met and drank with my fishing companions in celebration of our pending angling future and success.

Standing at the foyer door of the hotel the following morning as temperatures plummeted and snow fell like I NEVER saw it fall before, I looked forward to the routine and excitement of airports and their cadences. Apparently we were now flying straight to New York, I never felt the true impact of what this meant, but Atlanta was apparently on our list for a non scheduled stopover. This of course kept us in line for our destination but also allowed us time to contemplate and create new plans for things like having a ‘rare auld time’.

Spencer proved to be excellent exponent of this philosophy and immediately fell in love somewhere over the Atlantic.

We were the second last plane to leave Dublin that day. The airport closed for three days 40 minutes after we took off. Invincible!

Spencer got badly sunburned on day two – he remained on MOTHERRR for a day, recovering by way of air-conditioning. This left me to fish with my guide Jose to fish for the longest time for the greatest challenge.

They’re running hot to the boat Jim, fifty yards at 11 o’clock and closing.

Jose never raised his voice, even when I eventually spotted the fish, twenty of them, at 20 yards and going past the bow. I never even got a cast off. I marvelled at their speed their meticulous formation held in perfection as they traversed the reef on a secret mission.


We sped over shallow water, close to giant starfish, ray, reefs, stopped and drifted. And in the midst of the drifts I found the impossible silence as Jose majestically polled the boat over the flats and through heart racing locations where we met the fish, again and again.

It was always the gentle sound of the wind, the flap of shirt collar, the hiss of line through the cast, sometimes the clink clink clink of small waves against the hull. A pelican fishing.

Fish Jim..came the voice, do ya see um?

With some instruction and help, but now more frequently than not, more like encouragement, in the silence, came the activity of the cast, the retrieve, and most of all in the silence sometimes too came the sound of a fly reel emptying at speed, creating, in the silence, a frame of mind I can never forget.


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