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ROCKIN' WITH THE FISHIN’ MUSICIANS

Hall of fame guitarist Eric Clapton is one of several notable rock musicians who enjoy fishing when not touring with band mates. So, who are your favorite fishin' musicians?
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.

As it turns out, Old Slow Hand is as good with the long wand as he is with an axe.

On August 5, guitar hero Eric Clapton landed the biggest salmon of the 2016 Icelandic salmon season according to Morgunbladid newspaper. The Hall of Fame rock star, described by the newspaper as “a passionate angler who travels to Iceland every summer to fish in Vatnsdalsa River in North Iceland,” caught the 41-inch salmon while fishing with fguide Sturla Birgisson.

“The fish took the bait around 9.30 am in Línufljót, but was landed around 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) further down the river just over two hours later,” Birgisson told Morgunbladid. The guide reported that Clapton fought the fish for 2 hours before releasing it. Clapton was casting a Night Hawk size 14 fly at the time.

According to the guide service report, Clapton made a cast in the Línufljót (or Linesriver in English, a popular pool along the river) and tempted the big salmon to take an initial roll on the fly. Not hooking up, the rocker counted to 20 and cast again, this time hooking up with the estimated 28-pound salmon which took off down river through four different pools with Clapton following on foot (and in waders) the entire way.

In his book, Clapton: The Autobiography, the legendary guitarist describes a love of fly fishing that goes back to his days as a kid growing up in Surrey, England. “Fishing is an absorbing pastime and has a Zen quality to it,” Clapton writes in his autobiography. “It’s an ideal pursuit for anyone who wants to think a lot and get things in perspective.”

According to Men’s Journal, during his busiest tour schedules, Clapton would even request booking only hotels near fishing facilities where he spent hours alone on lakes, rivers, and streams fishing before gigs. He jokingly called his 1986 U.S. tour a “fishing” tour, telling Larry King in a 1998 interview “We would only play places near water, all across America.”

The Vatnsdalsa River where Clapton caught and released his trophy salmon is about 24.8 miles from the ocean and is split up in three main beats. A pure catch and release fishery, approximately 50% of all caught fish weigh-in over 10 pounds and have spent two or more years in the ocean before returning to the river. Every year, anglers there catch salmon in the 22- to 25-pound range while fishing with local guides.

Clapton has been a regular on the Icelandic fishing scene since taking his first salmon trip there more than 15 years ago. "It’s the thing I look forward to every year,” he says in a video feature promoting Iceland as a destination. “In August we go out there and fish and I take my family and…I look forward to going there because I can forget everything.”

While salmon fishing in Iceland sounds like a remarkable getaway don’t think you have to travel thousands of miles into the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans to meet up with a famous musician. Closer to home readers of The Fisherman Magazine are just as apt to bump into hall of fame rocker Roger Waters of the band Pink Floyd fluke fishing out of Shinnecock Inlet on Eastern Long Island, working over a bunker school off Cape Cod with G Love of Special Sauce fame, or even by chartering a striper trip out of New Jersey with Dean Ween of the 90’s alternative rock band Ween which is now touring the United States.

Other “sometimes” local notables from the music world spotted in recent years fishing regional waters include Jimmy Buffett (Coral Reefers), Bruce Springsteen (E-Street), and Les Claypool (Primus). Meanwhile, fans of the underground 80’s and 90’s alternative scene who might remember college new wavers Screaming For Emily can always talk about the Raritan Bay bite with the band’s keyboardist/vocalist next time they’re traveling past the Tackle Box; just don’t expect to see Phil Sciortino, Jr. in goth gear when he’s talking shop about the local bite!

Hey, day jobs and night jobs tend to intermingle a bit when you’re born to fish, forced to work, and still willing to rock around the clock from time to time!




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