By NEIL WAUGH
Back when I was at university there was a certain segment of the sandals and pony-tail sector who wanted to get ahead of the curve.
I mean, it was all but inevitable.
Right there in the Little Red Book it said “the socialist system will eventually replace the capitalist system – this is an objective law independent of man’s will.”
Or how about: “all wars that are progressive are justified, all wars that impede progress are unjustified.”
Then there was: “revolutionary war is an anti-toxin which not only eliminates the enemy’s poison but purges us of our faith.”
But the most popular quotation of all from Mao Tse-Tung, the Great Helmsman and founder of Communist China, had to be “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
The great, progressive leap forward didn’t quite work out as my Uni looney buddies and their hero Chairman Mao predicted back in the 70s.
Now many of Mao’s little revolutionary textbook quotes are only comprehensible if you substitute “fly fishing” whenever “war” enters the conversation.
Try: “Fly fishing is the highest form of struggle for resolving contradictions.”
Or: “Fly fishing is the contradiction of politics.”
See what I’m saying?
Quotations from the Little Blue Book, on the other hand, have endured the test of time.
I picked up my copy of Brian Chan’s compact, blue-jacketed masterpiece – officially titled “Flyfishing Strategies for Stillwaters” – a few years back in a Kamloops fly shop. It was already into its sixth printing.
It is 78 bite-sized pages of wise advice on becoming a “proficient” stillwater angler.
“Trout feed heavily on certain stages of insect development at certain times of year,” the former British Columbia fisheries biologist writes.
“Having a basic understanding of lake biology and entomology will make you a more observant angler,” Chan adds.
“Watch for the dipping and swooping action of feeding swallows,” he continues. “Trout are probably going through the same motions below.”
But clearly the most compelling Little Blue Book quotation is: “Chironomids could almost be called a fisherman’s nightmare.”
I was certainly having flash-backs seated in my anchored pontoon boat, floating on the benign surface of Muir Lake – the intriguing prairie pothole that four progressive, Edmonton-area fishing clubs, after considerable political struggle and sweat equity, developed into a “quality” (no harvest under 20 inches) rainbow trout fishery.
A couple of guys wearing big, proletarian smiles at the boat launch reported there had apparently been a big bite before I arrived but after an hour of intensive angling I hadn’t touched a fish.
After rowing to the south bay with my fishing-dog-in-training Penny riding shotgun on a pontoon, I started with a Snow Cone Chironomid, switched to a Red/Black Leech and back to a black chironomid with a red thread rib. Nothing.
While trout eat cronies in all forms of their life cycle it’s the pupa phase that fly fishers focus on.
When the little bugs make their very slow ascent to the lake surface and are most vulnerable.
The preferred Muir Lake angling method, which Brian Chan and others revolutionized on the B.C. interior rainbow trout lakes, is to suspend a pupa imitation – little more than black thread wound on a Size 14 hook with a wisp of white gills – under a strike indicator. Then wait.
By now the wait was killing me.
There were swallows swooping overhead. A family of white porcelain pelicans foraged for sticklebacks along the shoreline.
I was about to snap their pretty picture when a sixth sense said something was missing.
My strike indicator, which had been bobbing unmolested on the slight chop, had vamoosed.
Stowing a Canon and setting a hook at the same time can be done. But it’s not recommended.
When the rainbow felt the steel it exited the scene. And the battle was on.
Eventually the trout submitted to the spine of the rod and slid reluctantly into my net – an 18-inch Muir Lake beauty.
Two more followed before the swallows departed and so did the bite.
Like Mao said, revolutionary flyfishing clearly is an “anti-toxin.”
Because of the objective law that states: indisputable political power only grows out of the bend of a flyrod.
This column originally appeared in the Edmonton Sun