The Duffer and the last trout of the season.
By Bill Drew
It was September the 25th, the last Saturday of the season of 1999 and I was on the water. Two weeks had passed since my last outing and the prospects were poor. Cloudburst and downpour had turned the tributary into a spate river and the main Tweed was down right dangerous. I had done my family duties.. household chores hockey watching of daughter son to hairdressers and the day was mine. The week had been spent at driving wheel or desk and I needed a slug of the countryside.
I arrived at one of my favourite spots and saw that no cars were in sight. After hiking to the river I was stunned to find a fellow fisher at my selected spot. He glowered when I proposed starting at the head of the pool which he had passed through and remarked that he had to leave in fifteen minutes. He was fishing the perfectly legal maggot and had caught nothing but parr all day. "No decent fish in there he growled". It was a moral dilemma. To tell him of the two pounders I had seen in the glow of the evening, the salmon which lay beneath the slab of granite opposite and the goodsized returned brownies which had given me sport all year? To agree enthusiastically with his pessimistic view? I chose a middle course mentioning regular rises in the past and sighed with relief when he eventually left.
Now he had been trotting a maggot, which seemed fair in the torrent which thundered past me. But what a maggot! It must have had boa constrictor in its DNA. Surely any self respecting autumnal trout would have swum 10 yards to devour such an offering. My chances in a bright sun in the afternoon with wet or dry fly were obviously minimal. I did not give a monkeys. The day was mine andfour months of desolation before the grayling season began stretched before me. I may have caught my last trout of the year but I was happy. Within fifteen minutes I had hooked and released a 1/4 lb brown trout. I had added some pinched lead shot to a weighted copper headed hare lug grub of my own dressing. I was content. I moved down stream noting that the reliable foam track to the right of the pool was devoid of life and had tempted no takers. I hooked and lost a 1/2 lb fish, which dug into the strength of the current and shook me free.
I mused over the year as I covered a spot where parr are the usual residents. Better than last year with a little more skill but so much to learn but The line screamed, so did I and a superb brown trout broke the surface tossing my brilliant hare lug nymph in its mouth. He was a good fish. No he was a bloody good fish for this water. One pound plus and on my 8ft rod he felt like a grilse. He dived to the bottom and used the current. I could not move having already waded to my limit and wary of new depth and danger in the spate. We battled for over five minutes as the 2lb line and the conditions gave me few options. Then he rushed at me and past and then repeated the tactic. I brought he to the net twice and both times he was off with new vigour. Finally he was led towards me and I saw him. Bigger, bonnier, brighter than any other fish that year I could count his red spots and see that he was plump and golden. He was the last trout of the season and then he was .. gone. I made no sound. I was too stunned and awash with disappointment.I finally said aloud, "But I had him " I even momentarily tried to convince myself that I had "released" him, but I had not.
My last trout of the season was a quarter pounder but I know where his father lives. If fishing were only about success it would not be about fulfilment. My friend Joe fishes in Colorado and tells me of the 14 inch rainbows and cutbows and brownies which leave the arm aching at the end of another successful day. I long to share that experience. For me however my own small glen and the Tweed valleys have a special magic. I am looking forward to the first trout of next season. As for the last trout of next year only time and my imagination can limit what he will be.
© 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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