Now conservationists, noting that the nutria population has diminished from five million in 1957 to 2.5 million this year, are worried. Save the nutria, they cry. Trapping has been banned in St. Bernard Parish and parts of Plaquemines Parish.
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The chalk streams of England have produced their own mythology, their own poetry and some of the world's best
sporting prose. They have also hatched a race of angler-entomologists who, seemingly, would rather tie flies than catch fish and who have lost normal fishermen in a maze of semiscientific doubletalk. You would think that a chalk-stream trout not only could tell the difference between the first and second instar of a dark-olive nymph but also who tied its imitation.
An iconoclast of such theories is Oliver Kite, a retired soldier who specializes in fishing with nymph imitations. He has written a book about it (Nymph Fishing in Practice, Herbert Jenkins, Ltd., 21 shillings) and lectures on the subject.
"If you make a toy mouse, so exact that you can't tell it apart from an ordinary mouse, and put it in front of a cat, the cat ignores it," Kite says. "But if you take a twist of wool or a bit of paper or something on a string and twitch it in front of a cat, the cat is onto it in a second."
Moral: the action of the lure is what counts.
For a day's fishing, he goes on, you need carry only two flies—an Imperial dry fly, on a size-0 hook, and an unnamed nymph nonimitation, which consists of a size-0 hook with a bit of gossamer copper wire tied about its shank. That is all. No fur or feathers for Kite, who has reduced the whole sport of fly fishing almost down to the casting of a bare hook. If the trout are surface-feeding, use the dry; if under the surface, the nymph.
The flies must be used with skill, however. Kite does 75% of his fishing with the nymph, which is why friends call him a nymphermaniac, and has put in 10 years studying the action of the many varieties of nymphs. Once he knows which variety the trout are feeding on, Kite imitates its characteristic movement, and another trout is on.
Where do you get that gossamer copper wire? You find it in the coils of very old radio sets.