Monday, 22 September 2008

Rutland writings

Harry's Tatty Jack
 The annual PAC visit to Rutland took place today and Harry and I, having learned from our excursion last year, stopped off for breakfast on the way, thus missing the mad rush and the lodge prices.

I had to laugh again at the sight of Neville running in his over trousers in his usual manic attempt to be first off the quay and onto the water. Why he thinks it’s so important to be the first away is beyond me, but if it keeps him happy…

Harry and I found some interesting features again, on a different arm to last year, but even though some of the lumps and bumps on the bottom looked very fishy, nothing was tempted from the water. I did have a follow from a lovely looking Perch over some tree stumps. The water was clear enough to see the fish flaring its gills as the Ernie lure reached the surface, before sinking away, fading into the depths like a spectre in the mist.

The day was much better than the windy, rainy day we experienced last year, but it was still a day of changing weather. Cloud, sun, showers, but not much in the way of wind was the order of the day and it wasn’t until late in the afternoon that we encountered a fish.

We were drifting slowly along when Harry quietly said “I’ve just had a follow, Mike.” We continued to drift over the spot and a while later Harry was into a fish on a spring dog copy. It was a tatty looking jack, and it just about destroyed the cheap lure, which probably is a moral in itself.

And that was it. Others caught, but most didn’t; there were two twenties and a handful of doubles and jacks, but the real fish defeated us again.

Still, there’s always next year.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Scottish Magic

Some of my fondest fishing memories are inspired by various sorties into Scotland, and in particular, the Scottish Highlands. I have seen so many wonderful sights there in the past, so many pleasurable little events that seem to occur on a daily basis. The wildlife is more predominant and much more accessible than in Kent, the roads more sparsely filled with cars, rivers and lochs less fished and much wilder, but catching anything large is much more unlikely.

This trip proved to be just as enjoyable, with just as many sightings and breathtaking moments, some wonderful walks and hikes, but certainly the fish proved harder to come by.

My fishing in Scotland is predominated by catching trout in the summer and pike in the winter months, although, in the future, I may wander into the mysteries of salmon fishing and the expense involved with trying to catch the fish that I’ve seen on many occasions in my times by Scotland’s myriad rivers.

Staying in Abernethy, it seemed churlish not to fish the River Nethy, unfortunately, both my trips resulted in two blanks with only one lost fish and a wasp sting to show for my efforts. Incidentally, I have only ever been stung by a wasp once before in my life, and that was on the beach in Deal when I was twelve; this week I was stung three times on three different occasions, reacting quite badly each time with two swollen arms and a lumpy thigh. Including the bee sting last year, I have now been stung four times in 12 months. Perhaps global warming is effecting even the smallest of insects, turning them into grumpy, malcontent beasties with a grudge against us all.

Which reminds me – we took the Mother in Law along this time too.

I managed to winkle out a small trout on the river Beuly for my nine year old nephew Harvey to inspect while we were having an alfresco lunch on the bank in bright, warm sunshine without a breeze or a ripple on the water. That was another wonderful part of this holiday – the weather! The rest of the country was languishing in days and days of unceasing rain, but we had warm, dry and settled weather for the most part, and the few showers we had occurred over night.
I had another smallish trout in a remote stream in the middle of Sutherland, about twenty miles south of Tongue, again whilst having a picnic lunch and a brew from the Kelly Kettle. I just had to show the Mother in Law and Franc the beautiful colours and markings of a true wild trout. A few minutes later we were awed by the spectacle of a Golden Eagle soaring over our heads just a few miles further on. What a wonderfully wild sight that was. The King of British birds just a few hundred feet away from us, wings spread riding the mountain thermals in search of hares, rabbits and other small mammals. Just about the only time the use of the word ‘awesome’ is eminently justified.

One, misty, autumnal morning during the fortnight, I fished the Spey near Broomhill and managed a more respectable fish that provided supper for my wife later on that day, after a boat trip on a local loch provided a couple more for the Mother in Law. It was whilst fishing the Spey and the Beuly that I caught sight of the Salmon heading up river and showing themselves tantalisingly to me on their way. The best glimpse I had was of a fish porpoising out of the water in silhouette just 10 yards from me as I looked upstream into the sun.

My loch trip provided a mixed bag of weather conditions; sunshine and flat calm, a wind change, stormy overcast skies, but, fortunately, no rain. If anything, I could have done with a more consistent breeze and without the change of wind direction. Even so, I caught 8 lovely trout, two of which I took home for supper as I previously mentioned. These fish are mainly 4 or 6 to the pound, but with the occasional half or three quarter pounder showing. There are monsters in here, there are always monsters; that’s one of the reasons we fish – the dream of a leviathan – yet it doesn’t matter if the fish are all small. Fishing is not just about the catching, it’s about the space, the nature, the dream. Fishing, for me is a multi faceted enterprise – I hesitate to use the word ‘hobby’, it seems an inadequate concept – and I love its complexity, its simplicity, its frustration and its joy. But best of all, the most enjoyable, the most fulfilling, the simplest and the most satisfying part of all my fishing is when I’m fishing in Scotland.