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Ronan's report


Sunday November 7th, 2010

I'm pretty sure that when we first came to view the house, I didn't notice the tiny burn running past the front door - honest.

I know there was still a fair amount of snow on the ground and I was concentrating on not taking the garden wall down as I parked the car. Also, it was property number eighty-three on our mammoth house-hunt across central and southern Scotland, so I think my eyes may have been slightly glazed over at that point, but I'm still stunned that it didn't register.

What did register was a lovely old farmhouse in a secluded valley, and within half an hour of some decent trout and grayling fishing.

On our second visit I did see the burn, but I didn't want to look too closely (beyond checking that we were way above any possible flood-line!) and get too excited in case the deal fell though. It didn't.

Now, aside from enjoying the space, the log-burning stove, and the changing colour of the heather, the wee burn is one of my favourite new things in this new country life.

In the summer, with the windows open I can hear it chattering by. I can almost guess its height from its tone. It's a tiny, windy little thing and the average depth is around 8 inches. I can jump across it in most places. But – and here's the thing – it's paved with tiny trout. If you stumble along its banks through marsh and tussocks you'll see dozens of tiny vees as the troutlets flee to the safety of an 18 inch deep pool.

Of course I've fished it. I thought about using my MPR, but settled for a little 3wt – which felt like using a 15ft double-hander for dace. The biggest challenge in casting here is actually hitting the water without the leader tangling the banks on both sides simultaneously.

Most wildlife around here reflect their surroundings and tend to be grass-green or any one of a hundred heather hill shades of purple, brown and yellow. Finger-sized brown trout parr, though, are fantastic creatures. Almost tropical in their markings, they look like they should live in one of Morsie's billabongs!

The burn is actually the beginning of something big: a tiny tributary of a small tributary of one of our major salmon rivers. I've spoken to a few locals who swear that come spawning time there will be a few sexed-up big-red hook-jawed fish-filled pools up here. The local farmer told me that in his ignorant youth he used to gaff them out – like pitchforking hay bales - and take them home for tea. God knows what they must have tasted like!

In a few more weeks, then, I'll pack a small rucksack with lunch and a camera, and walk the length of the valley to see if I can spot the spawners. The old season for salmon has almost finished here, and there's a real sense of things winding down for winter, so it'll be nice to find some big fish, laying down their own new beginnings in our valley.

Will


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