Updated 2000-01-03
Swedish version

Duffer Reflects on the Horrors of Summer.

By Bill Drew


Have you noticed how noisey a trout can be ?

   For supposedly silent creatures of the deep their sipping sucking and splashing seems almost sinful. For a duffer like me this din is of course a godsend. It proves that fish do still exist as the dismal days of August trundle troutless to a close. I had followed the best of advice. I fished only in the evening, 8.30 onwards. Since early August. I had caught nothing. The odd parr on wet or dry was thankfully released unharmed, otherwise nothing. I mean undisturbed, not a knock nudge or missed rise. Blankness. My early season smugness was severely dented. The contemptous rise of the odd brownie had been most welcome despite the fact that it confirmed my lack of skill. It had given me something to aim at even if I occasionally felt like lobbing a half brick to stun the beasties into submission. I scanned the fishing press for tales, tips, hints and "how to catch em stories" for the perplexed summer angler. A sort of Samaritans service with moral support and suggested ways around my problem was called for. The answering silence was deafening. How to catch dace, tips on Irish loughs or caribbean bone fishing seemed to abound. Brownies in low water - forget it. I think I did spot something on ultra-realistic size 38 midges tied on microdot but until the superman specs arrive I continue to struggle to see a 16 or 18. In the dusk I usually see nothing. Not only a duffer but half blind one to boot!!! I was not desperate or depressed. The river was always worth a visit. The sage at the tackle shop in Galashiels said that a river is like a favourite piece of music. How many times can you hear it before you begin to lose enjoyment in the experience? The fishing widow who resides at the same address as the Duffer proved herself a philistine by suggesting "Twice" as the answer to this question. For me of course the answer was, "Never." I visited new stretches, and,tinged with insanity, flat glides where no trout had ever been seen, angling deserts, as I searched for success. Nothing.

   Now I like the sun , holidays and blue skies as well as the next man but who thought of putting them in the midst of the fishing season? Filled with such musing I revisited my most fished stretch of 1998 for the first time this year.I must admit shamefaced that I had abandonned this particular beat of the Tweed this season after being lured to the delights of the Yarrow valley. On my return the undergrowth was tellingly rampant No wader had tramped on the bank for a month or two by the effort it took to even reach the river. A steep slope with trees grimly struggling for a footing define the opposite bank. A brook runs hidden to gurgle from this hillside passing through a generous farmyard and depositing assorted goodies for our fishy friends. A straight stretch which seems to exist out of time because of a half hour hike for access, the flow is surprisingly strong. Well filled thigh waders and stumbling returns to shore can testify for that. It is a trouty place and I love it. Wearing newish breathable waders I entered the water to spot nothing except the odd splashy fingerling breaking the surface. The better fish had always lurked near the opposite bank out of reach of my skill and thigh waders. To think that some people say that trout have no cunning !! Suddenly like a pointer dog I was all attention . A goodish fish had commenced to feed on the surface. An excited cast a quick piece of skill and I had missed it and sent it to safer waters.  "Dearie me", or words to that effect were forced to my lips. The fates then decided to smile on me. Steady and regularly fish began to tuck in. With luck and occasionally some skill a number (modest forbids to to say how many) fish were hooked on the dry fly and released. A 1lb beauty and a 1/2 pounder were the best of the day, wild and fierce in the fight they were part of a golden moment.

   Now I can, based on this sole success, reveal how you too can have joy in the dog days of summer. Do as I did and go out when the water was low the sun was high and the noon temperature was at its highest. Forget conventional wisdom because the trout have been reading the same text books. I call my method, "Fishing for Fools". Let those who know better tell you differently. You know my way makes sense, that is if you too are a Duffer at heart. Bring on the next heat wave and let us enjoy the full horror of summer.

© Bill Drew 2000


This article has also been published in the UK Flyfishing Magazine: FISH AND FLY: www.fishandfly.co.uk



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