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Ronan's report

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

My Grandpa was a severe and taciturn old man. He had a moustache which, like the fore and middle fingers on his hand, were brown stained with nicotine. As a kid I was both scared and oddly fascinated by him. He managed, nevertheless, to teach me how to fish. He called me “Worm” right up to my twenty first birthday and, very shortly after that, he died.

In the fifty or so years that he fished his local river and its tributaries he never caught a trout over two pounds.


My client, a polite and elegant elderly gentleman, was a pass on from a guide in the north. We were told that he hadn’t had a terribly productive experience in the day or so he’d had on the northern rivers which had been blown out by heavy rains.

He only had one night in the area before he flew out. It seemed to us that a boat on a lake was the simplest means to get this man over some fish and, since I was groaning with hangover that particular day and plainly needed the air, I was generously volunteered to do it.

To the north east of town was a chain of three sizeable lakes. The two upper lakes were very prone to daytime wind and although the very highest lake contained some prodigiously large fish it was cold up there, even in the summer. In these conditions it was best tackled with heavy sinking lines and a selection of flies that faintly resembled nymphal rabbits which one could bang out as far as possible, let sink and strip back in the hope of snaring a very large fish. It was hard to get to though and it wasn’t a place, however big the quarry, that you wanted to find yourself in after nightfall if there was a flight to be caught the next morning.

The middle lake was accessible by a fairly decent track and we could even launch a boat without too much difficulty. Whilst the convection currents generated by the summer sun on the surrounding mountains made it blowy up here during the day, the wind fell with the sunset, the waves would settle and there wasn’t much in the weather to trouble a half decent caster through dusk and on into the dark.

Normally with clients we fished the lowest of the three lakes where there were predictable daytime olive hatches and we could take rising fish from the bank. If they weren’t fished out and our rods were up for a late night we would come up to the middle lake, late in the evening, when there was a phenomenal caddis hatch and big fish cruised closer to the surface after the easy pickings. It only lasted about three quarters of an hour though and it happened very close to the last of the light.


The lake had significantly calmed and the light was beginning to fade before the first fish rose. I put the boat half into some reeds and held it there while he knotted on a small Elk Hair.

Hatching caddis started to move in the open water making little zippy vees across the surface towards the shore. I suggested that he lob his fly a yard or two out along the reed line and let it sit. If he saw a rise anywhere near it just twitch the fly a few inches and let it stop, twitch another inch or two and let it stop.

A big fish sucked it down on the second twitch and took off at a very fair lick in the general direction of Argentina. I pushed out of the reeds to give him a bit of room as the backing knot whipped up through the rings and he struggled to get the fish under control.

“There you go...” I said, happy at a job well done.

As the fish took him deep into the backing for a second time he said

“Do you think its over two pounds ?.”

“Ummm….yep….I reckon..” I said,

Some considerable time later, I weighed it in the net, it was a tad over eight.

I took a couple of pictures of him with his big trout before we slipped it back in to the water. It was a long time ago now but I can still remember that his eyes never once left the fish and they seemed almost boy like in the flash against the black sky.

“I’ve never caught a trout over two pounds” he told me.

When I dropped him back at his hotel he offered me a truly colossal tip.

I nearly took it.

Hangovers can bring on bouts of painfully expensive sentimentality on occasion.

- Mark "Stoats" Surtees


Another great FP from Stoats! I'll be back one of these weeks.

Take Care and Fish On,

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