It has been a really special few days up at the Nith. I really wanted to go ‘Into The Wild’: I needed it, and helped by some equinoxial quasi-gales and wild and random cloudbursts feel I got it, so much so that it is a bit tough being back in civilisation. I feel like Ernie Shackleton returning from one of his Antarctic adventures and trying to adapt to civvy street. I’m clumsy, slightly irritable, I’ve forgotten how to operate basic items like toasters and showers.
It may be that driving through last night without sleeping much has made me like a biscuit tin short of its full complement of wheat-based snacks. To wit: forced south on the M6 because the Penrith A66 eastbound was closed and I had to join the 66 at Brough having taken a detour south via Tebay. It went on from there: I took a long detour for an unplanned first visit to Catterick garrison town, and finally got in the sack back in Cambridgeshire at 4am, where I had a useful but inadequate 3.5 hours’ sleep.
On top of this it is funny how a few days sleeping in your car can make you like this but it’s been a good do and not just the fish, a nice 8lb hen salmon which tugged back on a Green Flamethrower. It was the same fly that has caught me salmon in Russia and looked just perfect for the high water conditions last night at 6pm on a final final trip to our lower beat.
It was so satisfying too. Already aware it was getting dark at about 5:30 I had quite hastily grabbed rod and reel and slung together a leader on the end of an intermediate Rio AFS shooting head. Thence a shortened length of Versileader which I just found hanging out amid the contents of my Karrimor fishing bag, figure-of-eighted to some strong leader material originally looped to the Rio (I always go strong when the water is coloured – why wouldn’t you?).
Then the walk down to the beat, forced on us by ‘events’ (that’s all I’m saying). And there I was at the top of Howard’s boyz’ manor. But his boyz had long gone, saying there were no fish in the stretch (which may have been true three hours previously).
The rain started to fall, the wind was picking up and I was having fun using that southerly wind to send the line flying across the big holding pool. It felt like I was getting into something of a rhythm and once again I marvelled at how good these Rio shooting heads (or any shooting heads) are.
Towards the tail, the line pulled up and momentarily I thought, bottom? Then in the classic way, the bottom pulled back. Fish on and I played her pretty carefully.
No net of course, but a shingly albeit steepish bank let me guide the 8 or 9lb salmon, hooked rather lightly with a barbless double in the right hand upper scissor, in to the side, take a quick photo and return her to the dark oily waters of the Nith as a glint of setting sun came through the trees.
My work here, I said inwardly, is done: mission accomplished, and I went home.
AND FINALLY: Some of you may know I have written a book about salmon fishing. It is being published in February 2019. I have just had some very good news about it all – yesterday in fact which helped in giving me the confidence to go off on a dreich afternoon and catch a salmon from a seemingly fish-free river, if truth be told*. The good news is that I have in my hand the final proof of the book and the jacket/cover, which I saw and approved separately yesterday, looks very nice indeed to me too, true to the book and to White Owl Books, the imprint of publisher Pen & Sword Books Limited. Thanks to my production editor Janet and Emily my SWFC-supporting marketing executive, who is currently attending the Frankfurt book fair
Anyway please now visit my designated BOOK LAUNCH page here. More about the book anon. Tight lines – Henry.
*So is this the virtuous circle about writing a book about catching salmon? The confidence that takes root in your Mojo-based ‘chakra’ when you hear positive pre-launch news then feeds into actually catching salmon. As may have happened to me yesterday, out in the field, on the banks of the Nith.