JOHN ARCHIBALD looks forward to relaxing days on the riverbank hoping the brown trout will bite.
It’s early spring and you’re on the river bank for the very first time this season, the gurgle of your favourite river a balm to your tortured and deprived soul, as the brown trout fishing season begins.
You cast the first cast, a team of three small wet flies: a Greenwell’s Glory, a March Brown and a Black Pennel. A feeling of such contentment and joy overwhelms you that you feel fit to bust.
And you know what? You have a whole season of this ahead of you! Has it ever occurred to you how lucky we fisherman are? And especially we Bad Fishermen on whom no burden of expectation rests heavy like a stonking hangover.
There is no closed season for us. Instead there’s that part of the season where we actually do the fishing, and that part of the season where we daydream of what has been and what is still to come. So we are thrice blessed!
Call to arms
Preparing for the first fishing trip of the year always takes me longer than it should.
While good fishermen will have spent their winters productively tying new flies, returning their fly boxes and fishing bags to some semblance of order, maintaining their reels, cleaning their fly lines and generally behaving like class swots, I will have spent the winter deep in thought, reading old fishing mags and books.
As a result, when the call to arms comes, I am, year after year, caught slightly unprepared. There are gaps in the flybox where my favourite wet flies once resided.
That windy day on Glencorse Reservoir and the consequent mess of fankles took its toll on my stock of pre-tied leaders (yes, I admit it; poor eyesight and ineptitude now lead me to buying these rather than tying my own).
The fly patch on my fishing vest is crowded with now rusting flies. The leak in my waders that I promised to mend come the season-end remains unmended.
The pockets of my fishing vest have become a disordered mix of fly boxes and sandwich wrappers. All require attention prior to the off.
Lambs and daffodils
The water was chill and there was a cool breeze, this being the upper Tweed at Lyne Station, but there was a warming sun that reflected off the bright yellow of the daffodils; not the dwarfish, multi-hued narcissus that you may find in a suburban garden or flower pot, but the big, mono-coloured, masculine, ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ variety.
The lambing was underway, the fields full of gambolling youngsters, the urgent bleating of new-borns temporarily separated from their mothers and their milk punctuating the air.
I stood and watched, bewitched, as a lamb was born twenty yards from the far bank.
Across the green field lay lambs with their faces to the sun, front hooves tucked under their legs for all the world like teenage girls in front of a sunray lamp.
I offered up a prayer to the big man, if there was one – who was I to say? – but there’s no harm in covering the odds, thanking him for such bounty.
First fankle of the season
My rusty flies were complemented perfectly by my rusty casting. It wasn’t long before my ineptitude and the gusty wind contrived to produce the first fankle of the season, which was welcomed as an old friend, albeit one who is persistent and slightly annoying.
I was about to resort to the scissors when the fankle managed to unfankle itself, as these things sometimes do, mysteriously and without prior warning.
Then, within two casts, I hooked a branch on the far bank while marvelling at the next delivery of lambhood.
Several minutes of exerting firm pressure proved ineffective until eventually a knot went ping.
As my now flyless line flew back over my head, it was with some degree of pride that I noticed that the knot to the fly had held, my knotmanship prevailing over that of the anonymous leader tier.
The brassy day and the chill of the water contrived against me. “No luck” as we say, as if luck had anything to do with it. But on the walk back to the car I felt comforted, as if wrapped once more in the warm embrace of an old lover.
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