Welcome to Week XLIV of 'Fishing Parkland Shorelines'. Like most of us I am a novice fisherman, loving to fish, but far from an expert. In the following weeks I'll attempt to give those anglers who love to fish but just don't have access a boat, a look at some of the options in the Yorkton area where you can fish from shore, and hopefully catch some fish.
With a growing interest in all things related to fly fishing, I have spent a considerable amount of time on the Internet looking for sites of interest.
On one of the surfing expeditions I came across the Flatland Fly Fishing Club (www.flatlandflyfishers.com ), a club based in Regina.
I never really thought about Regina being the centre of fly fishing, anymore than Yorkton, or for that matter most of Saskatchewan, but I know there are fans of the sport.
And as fans, a good way to get to know the best places to fly fish, the best techniques to use, the best flies, and even how to tie them, would be through a group with like-minded members supporting each other.
With the City of Yorkton looking to stock a pool and manmade stream area associated with the discharge water from its new water treatment plant with trout, it had me thinking at some point it could be the catalyst for some sort of fly fishing group in the city.
So I fired off a few questions to the Regina group, and group member Kyle Chow was good enough to respond.
Chow related how and why the Flatland group was launched.
"In the fall of 1985 a group of anglers interested in fly fishing organized themselves into an association," he wrote. "The new group chose a name indicative of their locale and the Flatland Fly Fishers came into being. Our immediate area lacks the pristine mountain trout water setting one would normally associate with fly fishing, yet our Saskatchewan based organization has remained active and continues to attract new memberships."
The group has four main focuses; preservation of our waters, conservation of our fish stocks, educating its members with sportsmanlike ethics, and promotion of the sport of fly fishing.
But why fly fishing as opposed to a more broadly based angling organization?
Chow said fly fishing holds a special place for its practitioners.
"There is a certain mystique in the pursuit of trout rivaled by no other fish species," he said. "The challenge of enticing a wary trout to take a fly you had created is both exhilarating and fulfilling.
"Although the fishing can be viewed as a sport on its own, we believe fly fishing is an intrinsic component of sport angling as a whole. Therefore fly fishing for trout is not the only quarry we pursue. Many fly fish for any species found in Saskatchewan such as; Northern Pike, Walleye, Bass, and Carp just to name a few. We are not elitists, but simply recognize that fly fishing provides increased angling opportunities and another method of fishing for the angler."
Chow said much of what the organization is about comes down to preserving the fish resource for current and future fly fishermen.
"With additional potential to harvest fish comes the responsibility of conservation," he said. "We are strong proponents of 'Catch and Release' angling, and direct our conservation efforts at improving fishing opportunities for all anglers and not just Fly Fishermen.
"As a member of the Saskatchewan Fly Fishing Federation we have a unified voice for fly fishers to lobby government and other interested parties to promote the development, enhancement, conservation and preservation of sport fisheries in Saskatchewan.
"The Flatland Fly Fishers active involvement as cooperators with the provincial government, under the fisheries enhancement programs, is reflected in the number of projects we have undertaken.
"The scope of these projects range from an aeration unit on Oyama Reservoir to water level control structures on Besant Creek.
"The intent of both of these projects is to reduce the effects of winter kill and establish viable fisheries.
"More recent efforts include cattle fencing on Swan River and stream deflectors on Scissors Creek which are intended to eliminate habitat destruction caused by erosion.
"Our organization enjoys the reputation of being active within the community. We have volunteered instructional demonstrations to such groups as; the Boy Scouts, Big Brothers, the SWF Women's Outdoor Weekend program, and the Canadian Sportsman Show. The programs we offer to our members are directed to all skill levels."
Given that only Lake Trout among trout species are native to the province I was curious what special challenges trout face in terms of the Saskatchewan sport fish industry?
"Like all fish species, changes to habitat due to farming practices and fisheries legislation has an impact to the survival of trout fisheries as a whole," said Chow. "Sport fisheries as a whole, adds financial revenue to the Saskatchewan economy. Our attitude towards sports fisheries must change as it is quite evident in the lack of fisheries legislation to protect our fish stocks compared to our neighbours to the east."
Certainly the ideals of the Flatland Fly Fishing Club are admirable, and when you look at their website and see resources such as information on tying a number of common trout flies, information on filing for Master Angler Awards, and a photo gallery, the group is clearly worthwhile. Hopefully one day Yorkton might have something similar.
Of course it is also good to sometimes dream beyond local waters.
And when it comes to dreaming why not make it a big one? So it was with a ravenous appetite, that of a northern pike on a red and white spoon, that I read 'The Trout Diaries: A year of fly-fishing in New Zealand' by Derek Grzelewski.
To begin with Grzelewski is an outstanding writer. He takes you inside the experience of fishing so that you can nearly feel the tug on the line every time a hungry trout obliges with a bite. I suspect he could make catching perch at Cutarm Creek seem like the fishing adventure of a lifetime.
That said, in 'The Trout Diaries' Grzelewski has one of the most compelling storylines a writer of fishing stories is likely to get to work with.
The author is out fishing one day and he runs into a fisherman he occasionally meets over the year. The man was dying, and he had decided he wanted to go out on his own terms, he wanted to go out fishing. He had gone so far as to organize his affairs and hit the road to fish his last days. He even carried a letter explaining what he was doing should someone find him dead on a trout stream.
The meeting left Grzelewski with some questions I suspect many fisherman would ask themselves.
"But what if there was no more time, no next year, future season, better weather? What if, as in Henry's case, each day, each river, each cast or fish might be the last one? What would that do to the way I fished? The way I lived? These thoughts were not morbid but sobering. They put my days on a river into sharper relief, gave them a kind of carpe diem intensity," he wrote.
So Grzelewski did what writers do, he turned the questions into fodder for a book.
"Where would I go, what would I do, I asked myself, if, like Henry, I had this one season to fish? It did not mean I'd fish all day, every day, confusing as it were, mileage with meaning. I learned long ago that the hours we put in to an activity do not always translate into the intensity of experience. Nor is the size or number of fish caught a qualifying factor, This was more about collecting trophies of a different kind; sensory snapshots of unforgettable fish, moments of riverside magic like the single trout on the nameless creek I hooked and lost with David, moments that never fade from memory; the kind of trout experience that puts a goofy smile on your face or makes your eyes glaze over into that thousand-yard stare every time you think of them," he wrote.
And the diary which Grzelewski created is one which is filled with Grzelewski's renewed wonder at places he had fished before, and places always dreamed of, places which I admit I have little idea how to pronounce, (and they say Saskatchewan is a hard place name), but I can tell you they are places I would love to cast a fly one day.
I doubt I'll ever wet a hook in New Zealand. It is a place too far as they say, even in the jet age.
But thanks to Grzelewski I have visited many of the prime trout rivers as he went on a year long fishing odyssey.
The author shared the trout, the scenery, the people in near equal parts, painting pictures that brought smile upon smile to me as I read on cold January nights.
And as you might expect, such a pilgrimage had its effect on the author as well as the reader.
"The rivers have a way of drawing us in and holding us in their grip, both through their physical attraction and their mesmerising allure. If you've fished them long enough and with enough intensity you will know this to be true …. Rivers sharpen our perception, refreshing both body and spirit, washing away the grime of mundane existence. If they get deep enough into your blood, they begin to define your philosophy as well. Shape your dreams, determine the kind of books you read and the issues on which you are prepared to make a stand and fight for.
"In time, you may notice, as I have, that you are a different person from the one who stepped into a river long ago, clumsily waving a stick, hoping to catch a fish. But then, rivers can cut deep gorges and wear out entire mountains, dissolve and shape the rocks which are soluble, move those which are not. Why should they not be able to do the same with human minds and spirits, sculpting lives and characters, ideals and dreams?" wrote Grzelewski.
Oh yes, and the fisherman who was dying, well in spite of a prognosis to the contrary, he was still alive and fishing as Grzelewski's year came to an end, which might reinforce what fisherman already know, a day on the water is good medicine.
So too is 'The Trout Diaries' an excellent elixir to fight off the cold of a Saskatchewan winter.