Down by the river
Fly-fisherman talks about the finer points of casting

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Kakisa ( May 19/00) - If you wanted to find Mac Stark last week, your best chance would have been at Kakisa River or Redknife River.

Stark spent a splendid week of vacation fly-fishing for grayling on those rivers. With only the sound of rushing water and birds singing, it's something he thoroughly enjoys.

"It doesn't get any better than this river. When the fish are here it's a magical place," he said from the Kakisa River last Thursday afternoon, where he had donned his hip-waders and cast a line.

He had spent nearly four hours fishing that day, but on Wednesday, when he had hooked some whitefish, he said he had racked up a total of 14 hours in the river, where the water level was unusually low.

Early May marks the beginning of the grayling's month-long run while they spawn, he added. Being early in the season and still quite cool, he said he had caught some one-and-a-half to two-pound specimens, but last year he'd seen them as large as three-and-a-half pounds.

Regardless of the size, he throws them all back. Stark, manager of the Northern Store in Fort Providence, is an advocate of catch-and-release fishing even though this is the first year in a decade that it's permissible for a fisher to keep one grayling.

Low stocks had previously forced the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to prohibit any sort of grayling catch, he said.

Despite that, Stark said with a good camera there's always the option of having a fibreglass mount made of a trophy fish.

"We encourage people to take lots of pictures and let 'em go," he said.

The fish, it seems, can hardly resist the realistic flies that Stark uses on the end of his line. They closely resemble stone flies, which are part of the grayling's diet, he said.

"The idea is to have (the line) totally slack. Then get (the fly) right down on the bottom so it's bouncing on the rocks," he explained, adding that he catches five times as many fish with flies as he does with a spinner or spoon.

The popularity of fly-fishing seems to be growing, according to Stark. He said he was among eight or nine other people on the river Saturday. But on Thursday, he was all alone, almost. He said he saw four eagles and two hungry black bears.

"It's been a good day for wildlife. It's pretty spooky, though," he said.

"It's nice to have company, but ... that's the chance you take for the fun of (fishing), I guess."