|First exposure to fishing
Grandson on the Rye
I haven't written anything in a long time, simply because I had nothing original to say. Back in April I starting drafting a post titled "Delightfully Average", describing the wonderfully average spring we were experiencing in Yorkshire, a marked contrast to the predominantly very dry and cool seasons that have been a feature of the last decade. After re-reading the draft I decided that it was awfully dull, not least because it contained nothing much about fishing, and deleted it.
My spring was dull in salmon terms. Our scheduled week at Orton on the Spey coincided with Easter, and as the whole team are grandparents, we collectively decided that families were more important than fish and chose to forego the week. In the event we enjoyed a lovely family Easter, which confirmed the wisdom of the decision. As a result of the 'delightfully average' weather the Ure rose nicely over the weekend, so I started to get a little excited by the prospect of popping out for an early excursion to Sleningford after the season opened on 6th April (why the season opens on that day in Yorkshire I haven't clue, and nor seemingly does anyone else). However, by the time the last of the family had departed the water had gone, so reluctantly I stayed at home.
While the Ure maintained a nice flow during April there just weren't the lifts to stimulate the salmon to run. Then in May it started to dry up - just as it should - and the river remained firmly at MSL until a very wet July arrived, most of which we avoided by spending a couple of weeks in Italy, roasting gently at 35C. However, on returning in late July, an 8' spate, followed by a succession of smaller lifts in the 3-5 foot range, created ideal conditions for a punt at Thoresby for a summer salmon. Everything looked perfect, until burst of rain hit Wensleydale the night before, putting the river up a further 12" and filling it with mud. But it was wonderful to be out with a rod, blow the cobwebs out of my casting and appreciate the lovely surroundings.
Flesh Dub on the Ure at +24"
27th July 2023
The last time I fished this early was in 2012
So what has spurred me to write? Following the loss of the Spey week, the team directed me to find a late summer alternative. Ably assisted by the excellent Mungo Ingleby, I looked at all sorts of options, some with good fishing and inadequate lodges; others with good lodges and inadequate fishing; and one with a good lodge and acceptable fishing but an awful price gouging tendency (an incredible extra £90 per night to take your wife!), we finally found a solution. At the end of August we're going to the Tay, which I've never fished before, which makes it a bit of an adventure. As a result, the old anticipation of Just One Week has bubbled to the surface, inspiring me to put my fingers to the keyboard, while also intruding upon my sleep.
View from Summerhill
Coincidentally it's also the 10th anniversary of my post "D-14 The Countdown", which I wrote before our trip to Tomatin in 2013, which explains the title of this post. How the years have flown! I miss Tomatin and its wonderful atmosphere, but relish the fabulously happy memories that it gave me. The team is largely the same old friends. My enthusiasm remains undimmed and this year's Tay adventure has rekindled many of the feelings I expressed in that post in 2013. Despite the passing of the years, the excitement is still there.
Yes, I've cleaned and conditioned my lines in accordance with the established discipline. I do it every year, which probably explains why my lines last so long.
I no longer have to wrestle with the challenges of the flying Koma circlip. The Koma died and its Danielsson successor requires no maintenance whatsoever. While on one hand I'm deprived of the satisfaction of keeping something going, on the other, I'm spared what was becoming an uphill struggle. And my wife is delighted by the removal of the risk to her baking.
So what has changed over those past 10 years? Of course I'm older and slower, now well into my 70s, less energetic and more reflective. But beyond that, the big changes I observe have been:
|Tomatin House Pool 2021
Wading in trainers
|Spring on the Dee
a beautiful place to blank
|Vision XO 13' 6" #8 - Yar in Excelsis
Danielsson L5W #8/12
Fishing the Tay
Benchil and Pitlochrie are on the lower section of the river adjacent to Stanley. The lodge we have taken looks down Benchil from the top of the bluff on the west side the big bend.
This is big wide water, bigger than anything I've fished before, including the Gaula. A friend, who is a former Tay ghillie who returned to his native Yorkshire, gave me some sound advice on how to approach this challenge:
- Don't be daunted and strive to fish the whole of the water in front of you, because you can't.
- Focus on what's under the surface, not the scale of what's on top.
- Search for the rivers within the large river, and identify the channels, runs and lies.
- Fish to the lies that are within range and forget the rest.
- Good presentation of the fly will always trump distance, even on a river this big
Top Water & Stenton
(Map (c) Ordnance Survey 2023)