Alastair Robertson: Still hooked on the joys of fishing

Considering our fishing efforts have been pretty feeble this year, things have begun to look up, if rather late in the day.

Alastair Robertson. Picture: Donald MacLeod
Alastair Robertson. Picture: Donald MacLeod

Not exactly the half a dozen sea trout a night we used to get back in the good old days without, it seemed, even trying. But hey ho, a fish of any sort is a fish, even if you have to put it back.

Anyway, some friends who have a beat discovered that one of their regular tenants had died off at short notice, so there was a spare week.

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The beat is much enhanced by a particularly well appointed fishing hut covered in entertaining ephemera from down the ages, including a glass case containing three mackerel feathers, a lead weight and several large treble hooks with the instructions “In case of emergency break glass”. I can’t say I haven’t been tempted over the years in endless low water when fish are stuck in a pool. However “ripping” is really a poacher’s game or for the unscrupulous owners of rubbish beats trying to get the numbers up before flogging it on.

After a rather lazy start armed with small children and barbecues, we arrived on the first day to find the expert part-time ghillie and grass cutter had been down all the pools, landed and returned two grilse, and pulled a couple more plus a stale sea trout then announced the best of the day was probably over. Thanks.

So while some of us played with children and sneakily threw stones into the deep dark and unfishable pool in front of the hut – “Oooh look that was a big one!” – two of the party went off to fish and a couple of hours later reported two fish, one of eight pounds and another of seven, both boringly returned. But photos had been taken and we all rejoiced.

Fired with enthusiasm I went off with Waffle, the working cocker, who as usual set off for the far bank, decided the stream was too big and started paddling back towards me upstream, making little or no progress straight through the bit I was trying to fish. Bored with my waving and attempts to shout quietly she went off to dig for mice and chase ducklings instead. Back at the hut we had had another fish. This time a five pound fresh run sea trout, which I am delighted to report was a “bleeder” – declared too damaged to put back. We filleted it, rolled the two sides in oatmeal and put it on the barbecue. There is nothing better.

Back home the daughter’s boyfriend managed to get a fly, attached to his jumper, stuck in his scalp as he pulled the garment over his head. It was snipped off with a pair of Maun parallel pliers. Scalp rather bloody. Jumper fine.