Good afternoon everyone – it seems time to post again now that it’s March, and suddenly everything seems to be moving just a bit and there’s even some fish news on the grapevine.
What has been happening? It has been a time of big numbers, that’s what. The day after my last post I celebrated my 48th birthday. Sixty of you are now following this blog – thanks – and 180 of you have now liked my Facebook page Salmon Adventure – a sort of Californian-based cousin of this blog dedicated to increasing the personal fortune of Mark Zuckerberg (not really).
When an economist talks about numbers he’s talking about the economy, when a weather professional talks about numbers then he – or she – is talking temperatures and in this regard we Britons have the smug anticipation of at least three or four days of warmer weather before normal service resumes. And it’s started already (the spring weather).
How do I know this? Because I have just taken the Tube two stops and walked across St James’s Park en route to Farlows for a very quick visit. Deliberately chosen for that This is Spring moment. Okay, it’s still a bit early but many of the daffs were showing yellow but not yet blooming – apart from a solitary precocious bed as I approached the Mall which really were almost out. As usual the park was full of our society’s power-brokers – MPs, smartly suited men, and women, as well as joggers and tourists.
Then over the Mall, past a couple of fluo-coated Police on powerful-looking motorbikes to the other Mall, Pall Mall (what does Pall mean, anyone?) and it was great to talk to Brian and Sean in Farlows. Sean showed me a new spring tube-fly get up with rear dangling barbless single hook.
And then it happened. Brian gave me some good news about salmon. The fish are running in Scotland, and running hard, he said. They are being caught (plenty in Loch Tay) but the rods are not out there fishing for them (that old fishing thing). Those that are have been connecting with some fantastic springers into the twenties of pounds. Still a bit worrying – the numbers are not huge, but it could be 2015 will a much better year for fishing. This news adds to the reports I have heard elsewhere and all in all has cheered me up considerably as nothing would please me more than Scotland – and the rest of the Atlantic salmon fishing world’s ‘could do better’ countries – recovering at least something of their glory this season.
Call of the Wild
If you conduct an images internet search [that’s five words – but less displeasing than ‘Google’] for The Call of the Wild you get an extraordinary array of covers of Jack London’s famous book. It makes you realise how phenomenally successful the book was, and London in the early nineteen-noughties, as it were, was a huge literary celebrity in America, with a huge earning power. But it’s fascinating how the cover images themselves revolve around a powerful yet similar theme of a wolf in a conifer-strewn snowscape, sometimes howling at the moon, sometimes doing a ‘White Fang’ wild pose with other pack-members. Pages of images of wolves come up, but I like this rather more subdued book cover thumbnailed here.
So this all jumped out at me as I researched something at work not unrelated to one of London’s other bestsellers, The Sea Wolf. And of course (fishing link alert!) the call of the wild is very much what salmon fishing is all about – for me at least: Scotland, Canada, Russia, Norway – all these Atlantic salmon countries are wild and beautiful:
Finally, a small yarn – something that happened to me yesterday lunchtime as I went to buy a red nose for my daughter Pippa (don’t ask, it’s very important to her and my quest was not the easiest ever but led me to a Sainsbury’s ‘Local’ – yeah, right – about a mile-and-a-half away down the Fulham Road). In fact I then went beyond there until I was at the bus stop opposite the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and there was a very long bus queue (you know, the bit before they all then come at once). Nevertheless a red plastic seat suddenly came free as a smartly-dressed lady got up and I sat down next to a very Jack London-esque looking man – as it happened – whom my subconscious suggested wouldn’t have looked out of place driving a team of dogs across the Yukon snowlands. Now I don’t want to be flippant about the predicament of this chap because he was clearly a homeless person as he seemed to have his wordly possessions piled into a large trolley, his matted hair and worn skin was that of a long-term rough-sleeper and he exuded a robust ‘outdoor’ aroma (not totally overpowering but not great either) that had probably driven the previous incumbent of my bus-shelter seat away.
But then a paradox. I don’t know whether it was the fact we were in an upmarket section of SW3 but he did seem to have a bit about him. A pristine 35 of whisky emerged from a tatty coat, and was opened with relish in the now springlike sunshine. Then appeared a functional but rather nice-looking cigarette case, stocked with 30 or so pristine smokes, one of which was soon ignited, between civilised sips of the Scottish liquor. For a few precious minutes at least, this Chelsea wanderer was less down-and-out, more down and hanging in there – if not a bit better than that.
As the warming anticyclonic atmosphere continued to filter up from Spain into our capital’s winter-chilled streets, he looked happy enough, and we exchanged a brief smile of shared humanity, well kind of an amiable look of recognition anyway, before the looming shadow of my No. 14 bus announced my lunch break was over.
Tight lines everyone. Don’t forget to send me some fishing pics/stories (not just salmon, sea-trout and trout too) and I’ll blog them here if I can.