Fly Fishing Music: “Fairbanks” by Stephen Young & The Union
Stephen Young and his band, The Union, hail from Dublin, Ireland. The band’s bent is folk/rock/blues influenced Americana, deep in songwriting and story. Since 2008 – when the group formed – they’ve attracted critical acclaim and a strong local following. They regularly entertain patrons at various Dublin watering holes – Whelan’s, The Sugar Club, The Academy, Cobblestone Pub, The Spirit Store, Crawdaddy . . .
About 30 miles north of the pubs of Dublin, the River Boyne flows into the Irish Sea. The Boyne is 70 miles long and drains some of Ireland’s fertile plains. The river is premium wild brown trout water and one of the country’s primary game fisheries. Much of it is privately controlled by leprechauns, who require permits . . . just kidding. Sorry. I meant, much of the river is controlled by private clubs, which do require permits.
Fly fishermen have targeted the trout in Ireland’s rivers for hundreds of years. “The brown trout, or Breac Donn as it’s known in Gaelic, is native to these lands and can be found in almost every river and lough in the country,” according to site The Flies of Ireland. Breac Donn are challenging, selective targets, though. Not a whole lot has changed since 1899, when Lord Viscount Grey of Fallodon wrote the following about Ireland in his book Fly Fishing:
There were trout visibly and audibly rising, which had never seen an artificial dry fly . . . They were evidently also big trout. There was splendid sport to be had, and reputation and glory to be won in catching even one of them, and yet so shy were they . . . For two days they defeated me utterly. I walked and knelt and waded and laboured and perspired under August sun without success.
It would be hard to top a day on the River Boyne, targeting big, spooky, indigenous browns, followed by an evening in bustling Dublin listening to Stephen Young and the Union live. Here is “Fairbanks” from the band’s debut album, Wilderness Machine.