Go on then

1981: The adventure begins.

I said I’d do it a few posts back: Here’s my first-ever salmon caught on the Lower Brahan beat of the River Conon when I was 14, in 1981. The 7.5-pounder took a Blue Charm fly I tied the evening before, on a 13 ft Hardy split cane rod. John Ward of Sheffield invited me and my schoolfriend and future best man, also Henry (pictured with me with his first fish too). John also very kindly let me fish his sydicate rod on the Derbyshire Derwent for trout through the 1980s.

It was the day after Charles and Di’s wedding. We had fished the day before (Henry had a good take from a fish but I was blank) but not the day of the wedding because the female element (basically Henry’s mum) wanted to watch it on the telly rather than driving all over the Highlands to take these precocious lads fishing.

But it was all worth it the next day – a scorcher, right at the end of July. Henry scored first with his 4 lb grilse (taken on his 12 ft “school” carp rod used as a fly rod – “Perfect” said the gillie!) and it spurred me on. I set a few trends for my future fishing life, striding purposefully to the Cemetery pool upstream on my own where I thought (wrongly, as it transpired) Henry had had his fish, when the miracle happened and the fish took in fast water. I played it for getting on for 25 mins until the gillie, John McKenzie, finally turned up and firmly pulled the fish in and tailed it then whacked it on the head. Henry’s mum turned up and danced on the bank.

Me? I just stared and stared at the fish until the others pulled me back to the hut for lunch. Things would never be the same again.

John Ward took this pic of the Cemetery pool the following week. I was standing on the stones; the fish took just the far side of the stream.

(Thanks, Hak, for scanning the pics.)


About henrygiles

Born to fish forced to work and fish
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