What does salmon fishing mean for me? What defines a good day? What epitomises a “Great” day?
My first days fishing after lockdown was special indeed. Firstly because, due to having surgery to receive two knew knees, I’d not fished prior to lockdown. Secondly, it's been the longest period id not cast a fly since I was 13 years old. Thirdly, I was going back to my favourite beat on the river; my old beat and where I spent so many happy days, Lower Pitchroy. I'd looked forward to this for 8 months and it certainly didn’t disappoint!
One of the most interesting things about yesterday was, it was the first day since I was 23 years old where my mind wasn’t on someone else! Because I had the beat to myself, and had paid to fish it, my instinct of, putting people, guests to the best places before me wasn’t there. My mind was totally on myself and my two dogs.
What does salmon fishing mean to me?
Because my business has always been about trying to put people onto fish, normally, it’s all about sending “ALL” my guests home at the end of the day with a smile on their face, ensuring that they’ve had as good a day as possible. However, for many people what epitomises a good, and “great day”, can be very different. For some it’s all about fish, numbers of fish and catching the most in their group. For others it’s simply enjoying the fishing and the wonderful nature found around the river. For
others is a good lunch with friends etc, etc.
For me, and with my ghillies head on, personally it's about working out what each person within the group wants from the day and doing my best to cater for all. There’s nothing wrong with any of the above, what floats my boat may not yours, being different is part of life! However, to keep harmony within a group, this is when, as a ghillie/guide or host, experience really comes to the fore, where the wheat separated from the chaff as it were. Catering for all, ensuring everyone, irrespective of their ideas, has a great time and goes home with a smile on their face.
But how about me as a fisherman? Yesterday I had a “great” day. I’ve seldom ever had a “Poor” day on the river, have had many “good” days and many ‘Great” days, so, what made yesterday a great one?
The “anticipation” of going back to a known and much-loved place. Arriving to find I was the only rod fishing the water. Seeing the beat at a wonderful height to fish given this time of the year. After talking with the ghillie, “knowing” I had a good chance of a contact or two from salmon. Getting to cast my new5-piece12-foot spliced cane rod, build for me by a friend and given as a birthday present and rigging it up with a 110-year-old Brass Perfect reel. Feeling the rod bend and the reel sing under the weight of an 11lb salmon. Seeing my two dogs more excited than me to see a salmon close-up on the beach for the first time and managing to knock it off as I was bringing it ashore. This was something that reminded me fondly of my first dog, Flash, doing the same to my father on the Deveron [My reaction was different], my father never liked losing fish. The event, nevertheless, reminded me of and filled my head with thoughts of my late father whom I’d spent many days with here. Having the pleasure of spending time with a great ghillie, someone who knows exactly how to deal with me, as well as all those others mentioned above. Along with the ghillie, thinking I’d have the first salmon in one pool and having salmon in almost every pool apart from this one [I love this about salmon fishing]! Catching all my fish on the same fly as I’ve caught all of them on that beat over the past few years, The Red Capper, a fly I originally tied with the hair from my last Cocker Spaniel. Fishing in a manner I seldom do with different tackle and finding it worked well. Without being overly boring, I could list many more reasons yesterday was such a wonderful day. I have to say, for me, I normally love having compony and sharing my fishing with friends or clients, but, entirely due to circumstance brought about by Coronavirus, yesterday was different and I suppose enjoying it for all the reasons above was what made it the way it was. I’ll remember this day and the fish caught for years to come. A real treat to fish the beat and be ghillied for as the only guest, something I’d done for
many guests in the same place over many years.
Roll on the next day and another outing with this cane rod. Playing fish with this was simply fantastic and took be back to my youth.