After Paul's Vortex about the trip and Al's excellent account of events up in Scotland, the ball was in my court to account for the last leg of the trip. Here's what followed after Scotland:
After we left Helen and Al (whom we owe great thanx for putting us up and for putting up with us for 3 days – thank you so much, Helen & Al) we decided to drive down south of Glasgow to fish the Clyde on our way back, on Al's recommendation (can't believe that we actually took his advice again). I wanted to pick of something for my girlfriend, and Helen knew a great store in Dundee.
And although Helen's directions were clear and concise, and considering the fact that the store was right in the neighbourhood where we drove around for an hour, trying to find Al's place 2 days before, it's even more amazing that it took us half an hour to find the store.
Lars: Paul, have you got any idea where we are?
Paul: No Lars, I don't even know where we're heading!
Lars: Why don't we ask someone?
Paul: Because then it wouldn't be an adventure!
And consequently we spent another half hour finding our way out of Dundee too. But in the end we managed to hit the right road and when Paul put the pedal to the metal, I'm pretty certain that even Michael Schumacher would have been jealous of the speed we were travelling. Go Pink Flash!
We arrived in Abington in the late afternoon and grabbed one of those terrible, terrible sandwiches you can get on the road. Let me elaborate on that subject for a second. Imagine this: You've been driving for hours, you're hungry, you're thirsty and you decide on a sandwich. The sandwich is labelled “Bacon sandwich”, which basically sounds fine. And then, as you order it you are asked if you want it heated and because you're tired (and foreign), you miss the real question and just answer yes. Then they nuke the whole thing in the microwave for 2 minutes on full power. Now, all this might be fine if the sandwich was good, but I tell you this: Steer clear of “Bacon Sandwich”!!! A piece of white bread and 6 slices of roasted bacon, that has been in the bread for so long that they're completely soft and quite unappealing. And after the warm-up, it's even more un-appealing... The World's Worst Sandwiches are served along the Scottish and English motorways. In the hotel in Abington we bought the licenses and with the help of a friendly local, we found the river.
Exactly where we parked the Pink Thing, there was a beautiful little pool and a couple of fish were rising steadily; I was quite anxious to get to it. But as true professionals, we sat on a bridge, eating some chocolate before getting to it.
In the first pool there three fish rising steadily to small olives (about size 18), and I decided on a strategy and a fly. The biggest fish of the three was rising at the head of the pool, and consequently I decided to see if I could catch the two smaller ones rising below him, so that they wouldn't bolt up and spook him when I tried to wade into position. I picked off the two small ones and on the first cast to the better fish I actually managed to hook him. Being the conscientious flyfisherman that I am, I decided to perform the very difficult and partly secret art of the LDR (Long Distance Release, which is the casting instructor's term for loosing the fish).
Paul had ventured upstream and I found him in a large pool, where a tributary met the Clyde. Paul was on his way downstream again and I stayed, watching the pool. About 10 minutes after Paul had left the pool, fish started rising. I picked off a few smallish trout, but in the middle of the pool a larger fish was rising. It was late evening and he was picking of small sedges. I moved slowly into position and I tied on a small Web Wing/CDC Sedge. The cast was uncomplicated and straightforward and the first cast was short, but on the second, he took the fly. A decent fish he was (a two-pounder, I reckon), which I also LDR'd for some reason. I suppose I'm rusty and probably struck too quickly.
That's two good fish lost :-(
A local guy had seen me playing and loosing the fish, and we were chatting (well, technically I suppose we weren't really chatting. Although I think my English is pretty good, this guy was Scottish and I hardly understood a word of what he said), when I saw a big, deep wave moving up through the riffle below the pool. I asked the local if there were seatrout in the river at this time of year, which he said there wasn't! That meant BIG trout. I quickly entered the pool again and stood waiting. About 5 minutes later the fish had entered the pool and was rising – it was an amazing experience. He was really big, but unfortunately he only rose 3 or 4 times before deciding to move on.
By now, Paul had arrived again and I told him about the big fish. With the resolution you'll only ever see in a professional AAPGAI-instructor, Paul tied on a black Woolly Bugger Goldhead and began fishing the pool from the head. We saw a big boil right under the opposite bank and just before Paul made his cast, I realized that it wasn't a fish, but an otter.
Paul wasn't successful with the Woolly Bugger, and it was late and we still had Yorkshire to visit, so we decided to call it a day.
The drive down to Yorkshire was smooth. Whatever you might have heard, Paul is an excellent driver, especially when you consider that the UK has decided to drive on the wrong side of the road. I don't know, must be some kind of mass-delusion that this should be a good idea! Paul actually drove all the way and I managed to catch some shut-eye. Well into Yorkshire, and not far from Bainsbridge, where we were to pick up our licenses, we drove into a large parking area at about 3.30 am. We ate some chocolate, finished the whiskey and went to sleep. In the morning (at about 11 that is), I imagine the locals must have had the shock of their lifetime. Let me paint you a picture: A large parking lot, overlooking the beautiful hills of Yorkshire. A foggy and rainy morning, about 8 cars in the parking lot, one of them Pink and small. Windows of the Pink Thing are all damp and out step two guys... I hesitate to think what they thought...
Anyway, we found Bainsbridge and bought licenses and breakfast at The Rose & Crown from a most annoying bartender who spoke very loudly and kept rambling on about football - as if anyone cared. In the pub there was on old map, and unfortunately for Paul, I noticed there were the remains of a Roman fort in the village, which I just had to see. It was located on a hilltop, nothing left but the mounds, but the site was classical and had wonderful view.
On the recommendation of Oliver Edwards we went up to something called X Cottage, where a farmer at the cottage kindly let us park The Pink Thing. He also kindly offered to dig us some worms, because he thought flyfishing was only for guys in Pink Thing's [I think what Lars is trying to say here is that the Pink Think is gay – Paul]. We respectfully declined, but he made it clear that only worms would ensure our success. A short walk and we were on the river. And the Ure was a great experience. We were supposed to meet up with Ollie, but he was unfortunately engaged elsewhere with an entomology-class.
Right where we entered the river was a good-looking pool and we decided to fish the water since nothing was apparently hatching. Paul with the dry and I with an Oliver Edwards Hydrosyche larvae. A few hours later and further upstream, we were into a great hatch of small olives. And fish were rising. We caught several fish, smallish though, and I even picked off a couple of grayling too. I spent half an hour in a promising pool with a Waterhen Bloa on the point and an Early Brown on the dropper, just because I felt I ought to fish these flies, now that we were there, on their home rivers in Yorkshire.
It was getting cold and we were terribly hungry so we decided that we'd drive down to Bainsbridge again to see if we could find food (which we couldn't) and afterwards fish upstream from there. Paul suggested, after I had fished through a promising run with the nymph, that we walked upstream together, taking turns on rising fish. And this was when two very different approaches of riverfishing became apparent. Paul with his extensive New Zealand experience and me with my “small-river” experience from home. Paul's approach is completely opposite to mine. Paul decides on a dryfly, walks along the bank until he sees a rising fish, and then gets right in there. No hesitation, no contemplation, right in. Three casts and if the fish doesn't take his fly, he's off to the next fish.
I see a fish and I usually sit down, observe for a little while and decide on a fly. Then I tie on the fly, apply floatant and degrease the leader and so on, all in my own time. Then I watch the stream and the fish, looking for any special tricky seams and currents that might call for some science-fiction presentation-casting, and once I'm happy that I think I've taken everything into consideration, I make my cast. Now, if the fish doesn't take on the first two or three casts, I wait. I can happily wait for half an hour until the fish shows itself again. And I've caught enough grayling to recognize their rises, and if it's a grayling, I usually won't have to wait long.
I won't be the judge of which method is better, because I think we caught the same, but it was interesting, because our approaches are so different. Oh, and Paul quickly got enough of my waiting and walked further on!
I had come to a small, slow run with a mirror surface and three or four fish were rising, and from the sipping sounds the made, I knew they were grayling. I made quite a few casts that weren't successful so I knew I had on the wrong fly. I sat back and waited for the fish to begin rising again, and I had decided on a small CDC-emerger. And that did the trick. After 10 minutes I managed to hook this little beauty of a grayling.
Since we didn't get any food in Bainsbridge we hadn't eaten in God knows how long and it was getting late, we decided to head home.
Once again, Paul drove all the way (this time not too far, though) and we stopped once again at one of those horrible motorway-cafeterias. This time I think we managed to get some of the World's Worst coffee – and as hungry and tired as we were, we weren't exactly picky.
I think the drive back to Essex was 3 or 4 hours, but since Paul drove all the way, I'm not entirely sure. All I know is that we arrived in the middle of the night, and I went directly to sleep.
At about 10am Jon Allen and a mate of his, Derek, arrived for a shootout, and later came Pete Sutton. I had met Jon before, but it was great to see Pete in real life after all the chats and discussions on the Board.
So that's it, really – thanx to Paul, Al and Helen for a wonderful trip – I really enjoyed it. And thanx to Jon, Derek and Pete for a great Shootout..! Watch out for them Viking Killer Loops next time guys!
Lars Chr. Bentson