The Tale of the Glasgow Fish

The Tale of the Glasgow Fish

Scott Loudon | Thursday, 14 January 2016

For some people catching a trout in an urban environment is quite appealing thanks to the romanticism of escaping the city and being lost in your own little world of running water and aquatic animals sipping flies from the surface. I was one of these people for a short time and thought I'd share a story from a good number of years ago.

The River Kelvin in Glasgow flows right through the heart of the city's westend so as you can imagine not only does it come equipped with some difficult access, running water and trees it also provides the occasional (ok, fairly often) shopping trolley (that's a cart for the Americans reading), a rogue pair of boots that makes you wonder how the chap that left them forgot them, sometimes a jobby or two after a spate (that's a number two in Scottish) and of course the other sanitary delights that an unmapped sewage overflow pipe can deliver after a storm.

Aside from the urban gems above it is also a lovely little river flowing through parks and when it's on it has good insect life, lovely wild browns and stocked ones unfortunately and most impressively a run of Salmon off the main river, the Clyde. I have caught them so I can vouch that they do exist and are not just some chinese whisper being passed around the fly fishemen of Glasgow.

As you may guess one day I decided I'd get out on a nice muggy evening in the early summer hoping for long daylight hours and a pleasantly warm evening to kick the insect life into overdrive. The river was quite low when I arrived and much to my amazement was relatively clear, not NZ clear by any means by a see through tea rather than a thick mud. I tackled up with a dry, I can't remember which but it's not crucial to the story. The aim of the game was prospecting as not much was doing. I picked up a small trout or two along the way until I came across that little movement of something in the water. You know the kind that catches your eye just in the right way that you can't help but immediately identify it as a fish. Lying dead centre stream in a flat with the ever so slight hint of a riffle to it. Maybe two or three feet deep.

"That's a bloody good one too," I thought to myself.

Naturally the minute you spot a fish, the legs lead you into a crouch, your heart races a little and you start to concentrate. All these things happened. And then I cast. Wasn't great but wasn't bad by any means, I dropped the fly a foot or two to the side of the fish. As I intensely focussed on the fly, then the fish, then the fly, it swung out to side but alas nothing. He was still there though. I cast again, this time way off the mark. But the fish remained. I was quite confident by this stage comforted by the fact it hadn't spooked. Next cast was bang on the money but still the fish just ignored it, effortlessly moving side to side slowly holding position in the river. What did this bugger want? I proceeded to try a few flies but all to no avail and all without spooking him. Admittedly, as you've probably heard in the rumours about the city, the fish have to grow up tough in Glasgow.

About 20 minutes later (time flies when you're having fun!) I eventually conceeded that I wasn't going to beat this fish, climbed out the river and proceeded up the river bank. Much to my amusement was the realisation that all this time I'd been stalking and casting to a light colour plastic bag stuck to the bottom and not a fish at all!

No matter how 'on it' you think you may be in this game there's always something to pull you down a peg or two. I suppose that's half the magic of it.

Here's to this strange game we call fly fishing!