Trout School – a book review

Trout School – a guide to flyfishing for trout on lakes.

My old hunting and fishing partner of 20 years ago, the late John Banovich, enjoyed fishing at Georgetown Lake with a couple of his old cronies. He would talk about catching big rainbow trout, theorizing that they were from a stocking of Kamloops rainbow trout, or “Kamaloops,” as he’d call them.

I don’t know if those rainbows he caught were actually from the Kamloops strain or not, and it’s a good question as to whether even a fisheries biologist could identify the strains of trout after the fish had been in a lake for a couple seasons.

In any event, Kamloops, British Columbia, is renowned for the large trout that live in some 100 lakes in that south central region of British Columbia.

Those large trout in the Kamloops area are also the topic of a new book, Trout School, Lessons from a Fly-Fishing Master, by Mark Hume, a Vancouver B.C. outdoor writer and journalist. It’s published in Canada by Greystone Books.

The book tells the story of Morris “Mo” Bradley, a now-elderly gentleman, who grew up in a coal mining region of central England, where, not too long ago, boys were expected to go to work in the coal mines as early as age 9 or 10. Mo went into the mines when he was 15 and worked underground for ten years. Through a lucky encounter, he got a job in a local auto body shop and quickly demonstrated a talent for the work.

Throughout his younger years, he learned to fish for the rough fish of England, and gained a reputation among fellow anglers for his angling skill. Still, trout were just a dream. “All the trout water was owned by his lordship,” he’d recall, though he also confesses that he was an accomplished poacher.

In 1965, when he was 28, he read a magazine article about the big trout in Kamloops B.C., and he went home and told his young wife, “We’re going to Canada,” and initiated the process to immigrate to Canada, where anybody could fish for big, beautiful trout, not just the wealthy.

In the mid 1960s, Kamloops was a cattle town with a population of around 10,000 people, though it has had dramatic growth since then, and is now a city of over 90,000. Mo quickly got hired at a local body shop and then got connected with the local fly-fishing community, and soon started studying the area lakes and their big trout. He started doing some guiding, sharing some of the techniques he developed from studying the aquatic insects in the lakes.

I have to confess that when I started reading the book, I was somewhat disappointed in that there wasn’t anything to learn about fishing trout streams and rivers, which is my main angling passion. Then it hit me; this book would have everything to do with fishing Georgetown Lake, or the Clark Canyon reservoir.

The book has a lot of information about fly-fishing for trout in lakes, with the aquatic insects that fish feed on, especially chironomids, along with lake-based mayflies, caddis and other insects. It includes illustrations of specialized flies that Mo Bradley uses or developed, and instructions for tying the flies.

The author, Mark Hume, along with his family, were good friends of Mo, and in a foreword, the author’s daughter, Claire Hume, recalled frequent phone calls with Mo booming out, “Get up here!” when a hatch was starting.

Mo is now in his 80s, and in recent years he has lost much of his eyesight, so his fishing is now quite limited. Still, he can still tie flies, and with the help of friends, he still is able to occasionally go fishing.

As for those Kamloops trout, there’s a sidebar in the book describing the Kamloops trout as “so distinct in its appearance and behavior, it was once considered a separate species,” though scientists later decided it was a local variant of the rainbow trout family.

This book tells you how to catch them. If you like fly-fishing for trout on lakes, this book is for you.

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