I got many things from my visit to Draycote Water – English flyfishing’s phoenix from the ashes – last Thursday, one of them a clear understanding of the lengths to which busted angling cheats will go to avoid acknowledging a fair cop.
New Draycote manager Ifor Jones deserves all our best wishes, as one of the country’s best waters embarks on the next phase of its story, having been written off by many after Severn Trent closed it for development work, two years ago. One of his staff, Des, was reminiscing about some of the things they’ve both seen at other waters they’ve managed, where some of fly fishing’s more shadowy patrons displayed a chutzpah in inverse proportion to their integrity.
I heard about the occasional boat that would drift brazenly in front of the lodge with a slick of bread crumbs streaming out behind it and of the customer known for being forever “snapped off” by several fish over his bag limit: a suspiciously recurrent excuse that was eventually scuppered when they discovered him handing the ‘escapees’ to his wife, waiting for him by their car in a bay concealed from the lodge…
Taking the biscuit well and truly, however, was the inveterate lake-drainer they finally cornered after several months’ detective work, his pockets stuffed with trout pellets. Bang to rights? You wouldn’t think so to hear the case for the defence.
“Oh those,” said the fisherman dismissively, when presented with the damning evidence. “I’ve always got some of those on me. I wasn’t fishing with them.”
Of course not. We all know trout pellets make the perfect snack substitute for the dieting angler.
Let’s hope Draycote’s returning clientele are above such shenanigans. Or that they at least have the decency to come up with a better excuse.