A River Runs Through It: the IF4 returns to Waterloo

Apr 12th, 2018 Armchair Fly Angler, Film & Cinema Rob Reid 6 min read

Unless you’re a fly angler, you probably don’t know that Southwestern Ontario is an oasis of piscatorial delight for those who cast fur and feather. The Grand River’s tailwater attracts fly anglers from far and wide in pursuit of hatchery raised brown trout. The Canadian Heritage River boasts a variety of sports species including smallmouth bass, steelhead and pike. The Maitland, Saugeen and Bighead rivers…


Elusive Silver Trout Under the Frosty Moon

Nov 1st, 2017 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 8 min read

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me, Thinks these dark days of autumn rain Are beautiful as days can be; She loves the bare, the withered tree; She walks the sodden pasture lane. Her pleasure will not let me stay. She talks and I am fain to list: She’s glad the birds are gone away, She’s glad her simple worsted gray Is silver now with…


Good Day to Live

Sep 16th, 2017 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 13 min read

It is utterly soothing to fly fish for trout. All other considerations or worries drift away and you couldn’t keep them close if you wanted. Perhaps it’s standing thigh deep in a river with the water passing at the exact but varying speed of life. You easily realize this mortality and it dissipates into the landscape.      — Jim Harrison What did I know…


Getting It Right

Sep 10th, 2017 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 7 min read

Tonight my bag is packed Tomorrow I’ll walk these tracks That will lead me across the border. . . Where pain and memory Pain and memory have been stilled There across the border. . . For what are we Without hope in our hearts That someday we’ll drink from God’s blessed waters. . . And eat the fruit from the vine I know love and…


The fish that flew away

Aug 25th, 2017 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 6 min read

Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. . . .                                              — The Second Coming by W. B. Yeats He was perched on a limb, high in a bank-side tree when…


Trout Quintet: Music to My Eyes

Jul 4th, 2017 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 11 min read

Steve Raymond is a gifted fly fishing writer living in the Pacific Northwest. A retired manager at the Seattle Times and an editor of a couple fly fishing magazines (Flyfisher and Fishing in Salt Waters), he’s written 10 non-fiction books including a Civil War history and nine angling books. A fisherman primarily of trout, steelhead and salmon for more than half a century, Raymond’s fly…


A River Runs Through Tom

Jun 3rd, 2017 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature, Tom Thomson, Visual Arts Rob Reid 42 min read

Tom Thomson went missing on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park on July 8, 1917. His body was recovered on July 16, 1917. To commemorate the centenary of the death of one of Canada’s great national icons, I am posting a blog each day throughout these days of mystery devoted to the painter’s life, art and legacy. The eighth instalment, A River Runs Tom, is an account…


Balm for a Winter’s Sorrow

May 16th, 2017 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 8 min read

But ain’t life a brook Just when I get to feeling like a polished stone I get me a long drawn look It’s kind of a drag To find yourself alone                                              — Ain’t Life a Brook by Ferron May you cast your fly…


A River Runs Through It Again: the IF4

Apr 12th, 2017 Armchair Fly Angler, Film & Cinema Rob Reid 8 min read

Although he never played the sport, my dad loved baseball. He not only watched it religiously on TV, he coached a very good community industrial fastball team in our hometown of London, Ontario for many years. I was the team’s batboy for a few years while attending senior elementary school. I even got a team jacket commemorating a championship season. I wore it as proudly…


Call of the Canoe

Apr 3rd, 2017 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature, Visual Arts Rob Reid 6 min read

Those who glance at a map of southwestern Ontario might conclude — erroneously as it turns out — that Waterloo Region neither hears nor heeds the call of the canoe. Situated equidistantly between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, the region appears landlocked. Take a closer look and a different topography emerges, as you follow the historic, heritage Grand River and trace its watershed boasting myriad…


Reluctant Master of Fur & Feather

Nov 10th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 11 min read

I joined KW Flyfishers in 2008, a year after I picked up a fly rod for the first time. Like the great Groucho Marx who famously mused, ‘I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member,’ I’m not by nature or temperament a joiner of clubs. Nonetheless, I take deep delight in this particular organization, having served as a…


Passion & Remembrance: Women on the Water

Nov 9th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 17 min read

With few exceptions, fly fishing has been an Old Boys’ Club. Not any more. Increasingly women are discovering the joys of what is variously referred to as a sport, a pastime, a recreation, a passion, an obsession or even a contemplation (with a nod to Sir Izaak). Before proceeding I’d like to touch on a few of the exceptions to the fly fishing rule. This…


September Trout

Oct 14th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 8 min read

I was recently purging my electronic archives in honour of autumn cleaning when I came across the earliest personal essay I wrote celebrating my passion for fly fishing. I was still working as an arts reporter for the Waterloo Region Record at the time. Reading it after a decade evoked pleasing memories which I’d like to share. I’ve added some current reflections for context in…


Music of Rivers

Oct 3rd, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature, Celtic World Rob Reid 10 min read

Fly anglers and writers — not to mention fly angling writers — are fascinated by the evocative relationship between music and rivers. I’m no exception. One of my favourite fly fishing writers, W.D. Wetherell, who is also an accomplished author of novels, short stories and non-angling essays, reflects on the music of rivers in a chapter titled Symphony in Vermont River, the first volume in…


Last Cast: Thoughts on the Closing Season

Sep 30th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 9 min read

Like most kids, I grew up associating September with new beginnings. From elementary through high school and from university through graduate school, the month was the threshold we crossed to a new year — with all the excitement and expectation that passage entails. As an arts reporter on daily newspapers for more than three decades, September marked the beginning of a bustling autumn of entertainment…


Bassin’ on the Grand

Aug 20th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 7 min read

Inch for inch, pound for pound, the gamest fish that swims — Angling pioneer Dr. James Henshall’s enduring observation about bass in his classic The Book of Black Bass, published in 1881 Mention the Grand River over a frosty pint in a local pub and most fly fishermen assume you’re talking about the stocked brown trout fishery in the tailwater between Shand Dam at Belwood…

Me holding a 15-inch bass

Fishing Dogs & Pleasing Poppers

Aug 11th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 9 min read

My fly angling buddy Dan Kennaley has a fishing dog. His nine-year-old golden retriever Maggie spends hours trying to catch minnows in the shallow waters in front of the cottage Dan shares with his family on a postcard lake in Muskoka. Exercising the Two Ps of Fly Fishing Maggie’s methodology is a model of patience and persistence. With the exception of her wagging tail, she…


O Brother, How I Love Those Fishless Nights

Jul 21st, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Single Malt & Food Rob Reid 6 min read

If you play hockey and don’t score any goals, you lose. If you play baseball and don’t hit any runs, you lose. If you play basketball and don’t shoot any baskets, you lose. If you play football and don’t score any touchdowns or field goals, you lose. However, if you fly fish and you don’t catch any fish, you still win. ‘What?’ the competitive sceptic…


Casting Lines on the Waters of Friendship

Jun 27th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 10 min read

And each year on the river, once or twice, I will meet men and women with a fire of generosity in them, of love for others that God required old prophets to have. — David Adams Richards In contrast to family, we choose our friends — at least according to the old adage. I don’t know whether he chose me or I chose him, but Gary Bowen…


Where Trout Rivers Flow Both Ways

Jun 10th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 14 min read

The river flowed both ways. The current moved from north to south, but the wind usually came from the south, rippling the bronze-green water in the opposite direction. — Margaret Laurence Like the river in Margaret Laurence’s 1974 novel The Diviners, the trout rivers of Roscoe, New York, flow both ways — at least symbolically. This ‘impossible contradiction, made apparent and possible’ is the result…


Cradle of American Fly Fishing Endlessly Rocking

Apr 28th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 10 min read

the best fishing is done not in water but in print — Sparce Grey Hackle One of the highlights of more than three decades of writing about the arts for daily newspapers was reviewing the opening week of the Stratford Festival. While nothing could draw me away from that cultural privilege, a thin shadow of regret fell over opening week festivities a few years ago…


A Cinematic River Runs Through Waterloo

Apr 13th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Film & Cinema Rob Reid 8 min read

A cinematic river runs through Waterloo for the fourth consecutive year with the return of the International Fly Fishing Festival. Founded in 2011, the festival — popularly known as IF4 — grew from a handful of screenings in western Canada to more than 100 screenings across the country and the U.S., as well as internationally. ‘We’re truly international,’ confirmed Jennifer Bird, publisher of Fly Fusion,…

Algonquin - Homage to Tom Thomson by Ken Danby

Land of the Canoe

Apr 8th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 8 min read

I haven’t done as much canoeing as I would have liked over my six and a half decades on the planet. For example, I’ve never gone wilderness-tripping. However, I have canoed since camping as a youngster. My partner Lois canoed growing up during summers at her family cottage on Lake of Bays. For a couple of years she owned a yellow canoe. As an avid…


Wild Speck: A Poem

Jan 21st, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 1 min read

                         — inspired by Ted Hughes’ poetry collection River God’s final judgment on humanity’s terrible desecration of Holy Earth will be to call home brook trout, his loveliest of creatures, as punishment.                            — Rob Reid  Fish hits, living, split-cane stick lifts to…


Tom’s Top 10 or Reluctant Recommendations from a Fly Fishing Pro

Jan 18th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 4 min read

He didn’t want to do it. He rejected the bait for as long as he could. But finally Tom Rosenbauer succumbed to constant harping from listeners to his Orvis Fly Fishing Guide podcast for a list of his favourite fly angling books. I found the 11 January 2016 podcast posted with Phil Monahan on Twitter and gave it a listen. The New England-based fly angler/author needs…


Poet as Savage Angler

Dec 14th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 8 min read

I imagine this midnight moment’s forest: Something else is alive Beside the clock’s loneliness And this blank page where my fingers move.                               — The Thought-Fox Ted Hughes wrote with his penis as much as with his fountain pen. It was both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness, which cast the…


Joy of Fly Fishing

Sep 19th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 8 min read

One of the deepest pleasures afforded readers of fiction is discovering a writer through synchronicity, as if you were destined to find a specific writer in the dense wilderness of literature. It’s a gift bestowed on readers by inquisitive literary gods. This happened to me most recently with a couple of writers born and raised in Appalachia, where they continue to live and write —…


Raymond Carver as Angling Poet

Aug 31st, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 21 min read

Raymond Carver was celebrated as one of America’s best short story writers before his death from lung cancer at the age of 50 in August 1988. He was also an accomplished poet who published eight volumes of poetry in his lifetime. During the last five years of his post-alcoholic career, he oversaw publication of three major collections — Fires (1983), Where Water Comes Together with…


Fireside Fishing Anthologies

Aug 29th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 19 min read

There are few things that give one more pleasure on a winter’s night than a good work on fly fishing.                            — Theodore Gordon writing in his last year for The Fishing Gazette The anthology is a time-honoured form of outdoor sports and angling literature. Fireside or bedside collections have been common and…


Commedia dell’angling

Jul 29th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 7 min read

The late Paul Quarrington lived large. He had many passions encompassing writing, music, sports, partying, cigars and fly fishing. He wrote hilarious accounts of his piscatorial exploits in two wonderful memoirs — Fishing with My Old Guy and From the Far Side of the River, both published by Greystone. He also wrote my favourite hockey novel, King Leary. I wrote a review of Quarrington’s From the…

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Friendship, Wild Specks & Sweetgrass Synchronicity Reprise

Jul 24th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 13 min read

Dan Kennaley is the closest person I know to a Renaissance fly angler. He’s been fly fishing for more than 30 years, travelling regularly to such legendary destinations as Algonquin Park, the Catskills and Adirondacks. He fishes mostly for trout and bass, whether wading streams and rivers or paddling canoe, inflatable pontoon and float tube on lakes. He’s an accomplished fly tier who has designed…


On the Water

Jul 24th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 6 min read

Ponds and rivers have inspired some of America’s finest nature writing. Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek readily come to mind. There’s also accomplished New England poet Donald Hall’s Here at Eagle Pond and Seasons at Eagle Pond, among many others. Guy de la Valdène’s On the Water holds its own…


Size Really Does Matter

Jul 19th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 6 min read

It started with a short, sharp email transmitted by a cell phone. ‘Give me a call.’ The email came from Dave Whalley, former professional guide and past president of KW Flyfishers, the local fly angling club based in Waterloo Region, which straddles the Grand River, a designated Canadian Heritage River. The subject line was promising: Fishing Tomorrow. When I returned the call, Dave asked if I…


Sweetgrass Synchronicity

Jul 11th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 9 min read

I’m lucky. I’ve caught sufficiently few fish to remember the ones that mattered. The first was a 42-inch, northern pike caught on light spinning tackle for small-mouth bass. It was on a modest, sausage-shaped lake not far from Marten River. I was in a 14-foot, aluminum boat with a guide who was raised in Cambridge, Ont. before succumbing to the allure of Northern Ontario, and another…


Casting on the Rivers of Paradise

Jul 2nd, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 2 min read

The passing of Ian Colin James  on June 29 is sad news for all fly anglers. An agricultural graduate from the University of Guelph who lived in London, Ont.,  James was a big man with a huge appetite for life. I was privileged to spend a day with him on the Grand about a decade ago. He taught me a great deal — not always…


Our Man in Montana

Jun 25th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 10 min read

Pour a Drink, light a fire and turn the page. I have a story to tell.                                       — Keith McCafferty from Cold Hearted River One of my greatest regrets is not taking up fly fishing earlier in life. I came to the deeply pleasurable pastime after leaving 50…


Around the Next Bend

Jun 16th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 4 min read

As an avid armchair angler who read about fly fishing long before I ever worked up the courage to try it, I never leave a fly shop without perusing its selection of books. On a visit to Hunter Banks, the first-rate fly shop in the heart of downtown Asheville, N.C., I noticed Around the Next Bend, the fourth book by Jerry Kustich, the former Winston bamboo-rod…


The Allure of Bamboo

Jun 16th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 9 min read

I didn’t have much interest in reading about bamboo fly rods until I purchased one. Now I have three. Although two rods were commercially manufactured half a century ago (by Montague and Granger) and the other was made by an unknown rod builder, the trio cast well on the water. Catching my first trout on two of them was absolutely thrilling — especially for an…