First, thanks to the brilliantly attentive WordPress infrastructure people for the material that made up the previous post. It’s fun to think I’ve filled up 5 jumbo jets (big ones, mind) or whatever it is with people looking at my blog. But here’s the thing: I can’t let it go (2010), that’s the reality. And by it I mean the fishing, and so I’ll hold forth a bit longer – there is some concluding material to the last year of the first decade of the 21st century I still want to get off my chest.
Let’s not beat about the bush, 2010 was a superb fishing year. Quite apart from the fact a certain Scottish borders river beginning with T posted unfeasibly huge catches of salmon in the back-end (well done Mr Sidoli on the Lees, you can’t argue with 50 fish in a week, okay 23 in a day – especially if your week was flooded off for 48 hours), and even despite the fact I could ‘only’ manage 6 chunky Tweed sea-trout to over 5 lb and a salmon (C+R) at Birgham Dub during that river’s first spate of the year (in July this was!!), when friend Andrew N. pulled in five salmon on that second day (well done A, good job we were fishing as a team!) and despite the fact the River Nith was in dour, default mode all season and two weeks fishing gave Dad and I plus special guest off-road Charlie just one salmon and one sea-trout (tho we had chances for a couple more bars of silver).
Even Norway, come to think of it, was challenging in the last full week of the season with the lowest water levels since the 1960s for that time of year. It was hard, and I missed a decent take that could have given me my first E fish from ‘NFC Gaula’, and even hooked, played for 2 minutes then lost a salmon from the wires at Renna (fun tho). But three grilse saved the day and made the holiday, as well as some good late night banter with the residents of Tilseth House.
So what was so great?
When I told fishing pals I was going out to fish the Varzuga in May last year some looked concerned. I know, they thought catching large numbers of salmon on the Kola could ruin my fishing in Scotland, say. Or is that Planet Earth?
Well we hit the Varzuga, which is the most prolific Atlantic salmon river on Earth, on very good form. 220-odd fish fell to our five rods. Is that success? It felt good, very good. Afterwards, later on, folk who knew what they were talking about (step up Herr Raguse!) said, “You’ve fished in Russia, Henry, you know what I mean”. And I did.
Actually I participated in a debate on fishing success on Henry Awesome Gilbey’s blog (sorry Henry!) this week and as an antidote to The Numbers Game, told this tale of a chap I met on a T+S feature on the Nith a couple of years ago in hut at Barjarg. He, Brian, a part-time bailiff at Drumlanrig Castle, told me something that has lodged fast in my brain. “Henry, a good season for me is a season when I have caught a salmon.”
That’s it: one salmon, and it’s true isn’t it? When your line tightens, and a beautiful wild silver salmon pulls line through your fingers and, minutes later, you actually manage to grass the fish and celebrate your success (or the success of a friend or loved one) that is a special, special moment. Just the one fish, and it’s enough isn’t it? It may come in Norway. Or Russia. Or it may come in Scotland.
All right, sometimes you don’t get one, I fished for four years not that long ago without banking a fish. But the great thing about fishing is there are consolations. Friends, whisky or the cup that refreshes but does not enebriate (Starbucks?? Don’t mind if I do) are a massive consolation, and keep you going till you catch your next fish. So have a good year everyone, and if you fish, the tightest of tight lines, maybe 2011 will see you land that big one, or that first one.