Updated 2000-03-05
Swedish version


The Duffer on the Dove (a raid South of the Border)

By Bill Drew


I accepted the invitation to fish the Dove with alacrity. I may be ignorant but even I had heard of Izaac Walton and Cotton. I was to tread where the fathers of modern fishing and writing had walked and perhaps even catch the distant descendant of a grayling which they had grassed. Better still this was to happen in October at a time when my local rivers were closed as King Salmon took ascendancy. I did not know what to expect but the differences between my everyday fishing and Dovedale were stunning.First we had to pay to park. Now I know that I can be cautious with cash or miserable as my teenage daughter would say. I have been known to spend half an hour and a couple of pounds on petrol to avoid paying 40 pence on parking. Call it principle or stupidity (my wife prefers the latter) but I believe that free parking and free speech are the basic rights of all Brits.

Shaken I strolled to the river. Everywhere there were people. Adults, toddlers, grannies, dogs, courting couples, people engaged in heterosexual and non heterosexual hugs and cuddles. Call me a bumpkin but I felt crowded. "Be sure to check behind you when you cast in case you hook a walker" advised John my generous host. Now I fish to get away from folk and there were more people about here than a Saturday in my local High Street. I was shocked. By chance I discovered the price of my gifted day ticket which enabled my to fish. Gobsmacked at a day rate which almost exactly doubled the price of my local season ticket I leaned against a lovely limestone wall and waited until the dizzy spell passed. Then I saw the river I was surprised. I can describe it. Pretty, yes even beautiful, but it was small, narrower than the tributaries far less the main body of my local River Tweed.I felt a little superior. It was not to last. John began to cast a line and immediately I knew that I was in the company of a vastly more proficient angler. This was a little hard for me to take. Fishing alone throughout most of the season .I had begun to convince myself that I was pretty competent. I took a rapid re-evaluation of my ability and my confidence wilted. Throughout the day it flagged further when passing ramblers slowed to watch the Duffer snag his line in the bushes, curse (quietly) as fish spat out his dry fly and even whip crack a fly off the end of his cast. "Is that meant to happen", a passing golden curled infant darling asked his mama. Tears of tiny terror seemed to well up for no apparent reason when I turned and and gave the nipper my best attempt at a smile. Another child lost to the world of angling.

Just for the record there was one other minor and insignificant difference between the Dove and my local waters. The Dove was awash with fish. Whilst the odd trout meandered about in the Yarrow and the Ettrick this was a veritable Grand Central Station for fishy bretheren of the trout and grayling variety. Not that I could spot a tenth of them but my fishing host had "The Eye". "Trout behind that boulder, pod of grayling cruising to the right", he would say, and he was right. Apart from the sipping trout and grayling I of course saw nothing. Totally relaxed John was by this stage holding fish spotting lessons for passing urchins, catching substantial fish every now and again for demonstration purposes and slipping them back in a jiffy. I of course caught nothing. I did miss a rising fish which had taken pity on me. As I trotted up for a lunch rendezvous with at least something to mention I saw a party of schoolcildren waving farewell to a returned two pound brownie which John had inadvertently added to his tally.

Now a better man would have glowed with pride for his chum, laughed at his own failings and even asked for some tips. I am not a better man. I am a pretty low down nasty type of chap. As I opened the sandwich bag John landed the two pound plus grayling which he had been stalking. "Well done", I cried."I hope you lose a winning lottery ticket", an alternative evil voice shouted inside and I slumped to the ground a beaten abject figure. What made it worse was that John was the perfect host. I could hardly grumble as I sipped some river cooled wine and munched on a home cooked chicken and hand made chutney cob could I? Worse the fellow was English. I suppose ther was a sporting chance of that since we were actually in the heart of England. None the less as a proud Scot. I was in a state of shock. Everyone knows the tale of how God was describing Scotland to the Archangel just after the creation."Well I have given Scotland beautiful Mountains Rivers and islands. Fish in the streams and sea, coal in the rich earth and fertile valleys and plains everywhere". "Is that not a little too generous", said the Archangel. "Ah", said God, "Wait until you see their neighbours". John decided to take me in hand and pointed out some beuatiful spots. I could almost smell the fish swarming in them. I caught nothing. I touched nothing. Occasionally I checked to see if I had a fly on the line. As we slipped away from the path (M25) the river became even more stunning.

© 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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