Wednesday 12 July 2017

Raring to go - slowly and carefully

Dreams of the Gaula

Three weeks ago I was lying in an MRI scanner feeling very sorry for myself whilst the radiologists had a good look at my lower spine.  I could neither stand nor walk, and the medical opinion was that going to the Gaula this year was completely out of the question.  My morale could not have been lower.  Losing the best of the trout season was bad enough, but the prospect of losing all of this year's salmon fishing was devastating.  But amidst my misery I was grimly determined to get better.

I don't know how it happened.  The day after my last post I spent a very pleasant afternoon on the Rye, catching 5 nice brown trout including this thumping fish of 4 3/4 lbs.  As the afternoon progressed I experienced increasing pain in my right leg and difficulty walking.  Over the next 3 weeks it got ever worse despite the concentrated attentions of a physiotherapist, until it was blindingly obvious that there was something seriously wrong.

The MRI scan confirmed that notion: I had 2 prolapsed discs in my lower spine pressing on the femoral and sciatic nerves; and a displaced and damaged vertebra lower down.  Any one of those 3 would stop you in your tracks: all 3 at once had the back specialist sucking his teeth.  He estimated that it would take me 3-4 months to get back on my feet; reckoned that my salmon season was a lost cause; and warned that the shooting season might go the same way.

I spent many hours lying on the floor with a kilo of Captain Birds Eye's finest peas for company; took handfuls of very big pills; and slept whenever my leg allowed.  I made all sorts of unmanly whimpering noises and garnered lots of sympathy.  It was very unpleasant.  Meanwhile outside it poured with rain: we had double the June average, which generated some good spates in the Ure and allowed my friends to start catching Yorkshire salmon.

And a miracle happened.  Within week of the MRI scan I stood up without support; a week later I walked 1/2 mile; and at the end of the third week back specialist expressed amazement and the GP gave me the green light for the Gaula.  He said that I wouldn't be able to cast as far or as frequently as normal.  While I might hurt myself, I would do no permanent damage, which explains the suffix to the title of this post - slowly and carefully indeed.

So today I prepared and packed my kit.  Laying it all out like this helps me to avoid forgetting anything by checking against last year's photo. I'm taking 3 rods: the 13' 8" Cult; the 13' MAG; and a new addition, a Vision Tool 11' 6" #8 close quarter rod (I'll write about it in due course: it's the perfect size for the smaller sections of the Ure).  The 3 reels are the Vision Rulla, Lamson Guru and Danielsson L5W (a perfect balance on the short Tool), all loaded with Rio Scandi floating heads.  The 5 extra heads are Guideline medium and slow sinkers; a 550 gn Skagit; a 50' Mid-Spey; and a spare Scandi #8, which can be used on any of the rods.  Three spools of Seaguar - 40, 30 & 23.5 lbs; two sets of polyleaders; my standard fly boxes, with one of Norway specials; and all the usual tools, glues, bits and bobs.

The clothing will be totally different this year.  Last year we had blazing sun, temperatures in the high 20s and no water.  This year we have plenty of water (it's raining), clouds and temperatures of 12-14 by day and as low as 5-6 at night, which calls for the Ninja pyjamas.

Gaulfossen flow rate July 2017
There's loads of water as you can see from this shot taken tonight from the flow recorder on the Gaulfossen rapids.  Above 180 m3/sec the salmon cannot run into our beat above the rapids, but by Saturday the river will be back into its normal range.  I'll have no excuses and no grounds for complaint.  I've been truly blessed with an extraordinary recovery and now with perfect water on a beautiful river.  If I have used up all my luck and blank, so be it, because I've been lucky beyond belief.

Patrick and MCX are on their way: bring it on trolls!


  1. Best of luck Michael, you deserve it. Look forward to reading about your success in due course.

  2. All the tight lines you want...
    I look forward to your happy report next week.
    Delighted that you are fit..... ish.


  3. Jeff and Nick,
    Many thanks for your kind comments and wishes. Let's hope that I catch something!

  4. Michael. You may recall that we were in touch a few years ago, I was claiming a prize on the basis that I was guilty of all 7 deadly sins. Your advice, I am sure, was the main contributor to me having a cracking few days on the Tyne last September. I look forward to reading about your Gaula trip, as will many others.