Shooting and fishing: You start on brownies in the river or burn

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I have decided that this year I will make a serious attempt to catch brown trout. I may change my mind tomorrow. But today it’s brown trout. Little fishes – be warned: but do not worry, unduly.

What brought this on was picking up, in a secondhand bookshop, Catching Trout by TH Barnes, published in 1944. I think what caught my eye was the linocut illustration on the cover – an unbelievably bored looking woman in a boat watching her male companion play a fish. (There’s also something wrong about the rod, which is very short, but that really is piscatorial pedantry).

This slim volume had been written for “young people”, as indeed is almost any book on trout fishing that I have ever seen; notably A Boy Goes Trouting by GPR Balfour-Kinnear – photographed pipe jammed into his moustache and wicker basket over his shoulder, published in 1959. Trout are for boys and salmon for grown-ups, which I suppose is right.

You start on brownies in the river or burn – these days in a stocked trout pond where there is more chance of catching something – and progress, if you haven’t been put off by lack of success, to salmon and sea trout.

I can’t remember when I last went out to deliberately catch brown trout in a river. They tend in the past to have turned up as a by catch, often the only catch, of fishing for salmon.

A wild three-pounder brownie then would be more than perfect, although I will really settle for anything that wriggles. The other thing that made me think I should go for trout and possibly pick up a salmon anyway, was taking Crumpet the cocker out for a walk on one of these unbelievably cold bright blue days.

There was just the hint of heat in the sun and sure enough, something was hatching out in the grass. Midge things were hovering. So if midge things are hatching in the sun up with us, something might be doing the same down on the river.

So rather than flogging away at swollen waters for spring salmon, I think a little nifty light-weight casting for trout with my son’s Traveller rod is the answer. (My brother’s children have made off with the family’s trout rods leaving me with an early Daiwa telescopic so soft it could be tied in a knot – another car boot sale bargain).

I am not sure I understand enough to fish with a nymph so will stick to a March Brown fly, it being March, and the Greenwell’s Glory invented by Canon Greenwell of Durham. It was made to his specification by a Tweed fly tier and came back after its first outing with more than 30lbs of trout in his basket. Of such things are dreams made.

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