Getting dead fish through customs

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Pic courtesy of Tomás Del Coro

It’s an aspect of fishing that I’d file under More Hassle than it’s Worth, personally, but I was nonetheless intrigued to read about Jordan Rodriguez’ adventures in getting 15lb of trout fillets through 1,600 miles of airspace and the attendant personnel.

‘The fish had frozen solid, so I removed the bags from the freezer and packed them into the lunch pail cooler—my new personal carry-on item’.

Were Jeremy Clarkson & Co all about angling, not automobiles, you just know this would be a challenge right up their alley. Four dead Kamchatka salmon each – heads, tails, the works – now see how far west you get before being led into an interview room by unsmiling security staff…

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Frandy uncovered

Issue 487 of Trout Fisherman, out on August 17, will include a feature on Frandy Trout Fishery in Scotland. As promised in that article, I have set out below some pictures of the southern shore at the time of my visit, which we didn’t have space for in the magazine.

With water levels being low when I was there, you will note that they provide an idea of the terrain over which you are casting when normal levels  apply. Without always knowing why, I’m intrigued by this kind of revelation, although that may just be me…

Top-left and bottom-right pics are of the bay to the west of the lodge (ie on the left as you walk out of the building) just before you reach the neck, where the fishery turns and narrows. The remaining pictures show the shore as you walk towards the dam at the eastern end.

Salmon fishing – be prepared for deep-pocket water…

Just had some ads for salmon fishing courses sent to me.

Three days on the Tyne – in February – for 100 pennies shy of a grand, per person.

Four days on the Tweed in August, £1,399.

And then I had an email offering me a week’s five-star accommodation on the Greek island of Kos for £579. I won’t be going there for the time being, either, but it was at least nice to be back on planet Earth.

The steamy quest for Cumbrian sea trout

English: A 60cm sea-trout caught (and promptly...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, so I’m sure it can get quite lonely in Cumbria’s open spaces, but is this really how sea trout fishing begins to feel to those who fish there? Or is it simply the presence of the BBC that drags everything into trouser territory?

For 13 minutes of Radio 4’s Night Fishing documentary, in which Grevel Lindop celebrates the life and work of local poet and angler Tom Rawling, against the backdrop of a night fishing session on one of Rawling’s old haunts, it is captivating fare.

Thereafter, things take a bizarre turn, as the angler accompanying Lindop through the nocturnal gloom alludes to a sensual dimension to the pursuit of their prey. As if relieved to discover that the drive north from London hasn’t been a complete waste of time, the presenter pounces on this titbit like an owl on a rat.

“That’s fascinating, because in the poems, Tom Rawling often talks about the sea trout as being female and there’s very much the sense that fishing is some kind of courtship…or seduction…”

Like two adolescents whose guard has dropped while sharing a copy of Razzle, there’s no stopping them now:

“She’s calling us…luring us back to the water…”

“Mmm, tempting…”

“The catching of the fish is the marriage.”

Her virgin scales cling to my hands…

All of this triggered by the quite preposterous statement at the 13:55 mark – “It’s almost a sexual thing, I think – flyfishing at night…”

I’m sorry, I’ve had some wonderful evenings with rod and line but never have I been even remotely tempted to draw this analogy. There are some things you say when you’re fishing with your mates and then there are things you say when fishing with a Radio 4 microphone under your nose, and this, I would suggest, is a Category 2 statement.

But then it could just be me. Why not make the same point next time you and the gang are wetting a line, with darkness closing in around you? Do let me know if the conversation goes any differently from this…

“I don’t know about you guys but this is starting to feel like a sexual thing.”

[SILENCE]

“You still there?”

[AN OWL HOOTS]

“Guys…?”

Reflections on Scotland Pt 1 – good job I skipped the mayo…

Idéogrammes Ju-Jitsu

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back at the office after my annual week-long pilgrimage north of the border to garner features for the following 12 months.

As ever, it was a joy, the scenery and noticeably down-tempo mood a welcome contrast to frenzied England, but there was a lesson to be learnt from my visit to a pub in Crianlarich at the end of Day 1.

Understandably not spoiled for choice at 9pm in a remote Scottish village, I was nevertheless cheered to find two pubs still open for business, particularly when I noted that one of them was called The Rod and Reel.

Human nature, isn’t it? Imagine, you’re hungry and thirsty and find yourself on a road with a sport-themed pub on either side. One of them is called The Trout and Damsel, the other The Ju Jitsu Arms. Assuming you’ve only ever worn pyjamas at bedtime, which one are you going to head for? Exactly; you’re an angler.

So it was that I entered The Rod and Reel and was gratified to find that the staff would at least enquire if a sandwich could be made available for me, even though the hour for serving food had just passed. How nice to see people willing to go the extra mile in pursuit of the tourist dollar, I remember thinking. Cheese and tomato would be fine, I assured them, once one of their number returned from the kitchen.

Not long afterwards, four slices of un-toasted bread arrived, each pair separated by a generous, if rough-and-ready sprinkling of grated cheese and some random fragments of tomato.  Credit where it’s due, a napkin came with it. Triple-ply.

“That’ll be £7.90, please,” said a voice that I eventually had to accept came from the same universe as my own.

Fortunately, I’m covered by my employers’ evening meal allowance. I can dine on either filet mignon or hay of an evening, as long as I eat only so many pounds’ worth of either. Tired, famished and with the fight beaten out of my by a long day behind the wheel, I shelled out, ate up and left The Rod and Reel, Crianlarich, for the first and last time.

And the moral of the tale? Ours is an evocative sport, whose charms resonate beyond its boundaries. Walk into a bar with a fishing theme and you can be forgiven for imagining yourself safe in the bosom of kindred spirits. This is not a universal truth, however. Now and again, you will have stepped merely into the clutches of modern commerce, where it’s not rod and reel you find yourself hankering for, so much as shin pads.

Caveat emptor. And never pooh-pooh The Ju Jitsu Arms.

Surrey/Sussex visit – the good, the sweet and the disproportionate

Great trip down south last week, although Surrey and Sussex are not quickly negotiated by car, given the absence of motorways.

In Brighton on holiday two months ago, I caught up with some friends who have now retired to Bexhill-on-Sea and who surprised me by telling me how relatively cheap properties are down there, given the fact that there is no way of getting to London quickly, close though it looks on a map.

So a fair bit of rubber was burnt as the editor drove us from the M25 to Brighton and back again. Well worth it, however: after an excellent Q&A session with the members of the Fly Dressers’ Guild’s Sussex branch last Thursday night, we fished a local fishery on the Friday morning (to be featured in our November issue) that boasts perhaps the most palatial lodge I have seen to date: licensed for alcohol and offering a coffee and walnut cake to match the best. You know you’re somewhere that’s a cut above, when the magazine rack alternates Trout Fisherman with Vogue and Interior Design…

And the object lesson for any trout lake whose own lodge is still at the planning stage – you start with one of these beauties and then build around it…

Our overnight stop gave us the chance to walk around, though not fish, a delightful syndicate water. Look, but don’t touch, as it were. You might as well salivate impotently, as we did…

[click images to enlarge]

As for the ‘disproportionate’ bit, hats off to management at the hall where we were entertained by the Fly Dressers of Sussex. As a way of stopping people from absent-mindedly making off with the toilet key, this  really was something else…

Trout Fisherman Scottish Tour 2012 – Day 5

Those two blank days are thankfully becoming a distant memory, as my local expert does me proud for a second consecutive day, this time in a hill loch near Glasgow.

* It’s not all shortbread and tartan hospitality up here. My man bemoans a town gone rotten as he drives through his childhood stamping ground – pointing out some rather smart local authority housing designated for those in need of a second chance in life, most of which he claims has been trashed inside by the recipients. This social unrest has spilt over into the surrounding countryside, where an uneasy stand-off apparently exists between fishermen and those who would plunder their waters. One person brave enough to point out the error of their ways had a machete waved at him for his trouble, I’m told and there’s a geographical teaser that must be addressed by anyone who reports poachers while at the lochside – “As soon as the bailiffs turn up, you have to be certain you can reach your car before the poachers do…”

* While all this is hearsay, I’m reminded with my own eyes – sadly on numerous occasions around just this one loch – how oblivious some people are to beauty. There has to be a certain nihilistic streak in anyone who can remain so unmoved by Scotland’s rural landscape that he can just walk away leaving the likes of this behind…

* If only humans would take their cue from the ruthless efficiency of the animal kingdom. Either the local Satanists’ association had to abandon a meeting in a hurry or the scavengers up here don’t hang about…

* My companion today is a match fisherman, which is good on two fronts. Firstly because he is bursting with tips and secondly because nothing renews your resolve to stay a pleasure angler than several hours of hearing about every stunt, ruse, dodge and fast one that certain people will pull to take a pot home with them. Ah, the rancour. Count me out.

* Finally, this being Scotland, you tend to get a better class of roadkill in these parts. With a large lorry in front of me, alas, the thing was concealed to the point where I had no time to avoid it but the sound of a dead deer’s limbs clattering the underside of my car will take some time to leave me.