Having splashed out on a new fishing rod last week at the CLA, it was time to give it a run for its money in the Galloway hills above Newton Stewart. By comparison to my old 10′ #10 rod, the new 9’6″ #4 Greys is extremely whippy and delicate. Even a soft breeze will bend it, and in terms of handling, it makes everything I’ve fished with so far feel like a telegraph pole.
I don’t know anything about fishing equipment and to be perfectly honest, I don’t really care. It gets very technical, and for someone like me who rarely catches anything, models and manufacturers of fishing equipment represent a huge amount of knowledge that I simply do not have time or patience for. If you’re not careful, you start to follow brands and buy kit for the trendy label, and before you know it, you’re little better than a golfer.
Fortunately, I have fish-obsessed friends who tell me what I need, and I have to take their word for it. I didn’t think that the shift to a lighter rod would make a huge amount of difference, but a very knowledgeable fishing pal insisted and I came home with a reedy little rod and a slight sense of cynicism.
And so it came to pass that on my first cast (in fact, before my first cast, as I was still spooling out line), I felt a snag. The flies were ten feet out from the edge of the deep, granite-sided loch, and I assumed that I had caught some weed. But then there was a second tug and a plop. Over the next few minutes, I found myself locked into a titanic struggle with a wild brown trout which skittered over the surface, then plunged deep down into the dark water. I felt every nudge and wriggle, and the rod nearly bent right over on itself. Breathless with horror, I felt like the light equipment was going to snap at any second, particularly when I got a good look at my foe and found that it was unquestionably the biggest brown trout I had ever had in my life.
All the splashing brought the dog, who saw the moment as an opportunity to retrieve. In an attempt to stop her from diving in amongst the cast, I slipped on the granite and fell in up to my armpits, still playing the fish and swearing mightily. When at last the deed was done and the monster was landed amongst the asphodel, I had my highest hopes confirmed – it was a brute of 10.6 Oz; well built and with a sloping forehead like a mature fish. It may sound pretty small beer to most, but when you are used to catching tiddlers, this fish was a marvel. And what a fight he had given on a light rod, which I then hugged to my chest as the best thing to come out of the CLA.
When the delight had subsided, the rain started to come on. A party of hinds materialised from the deep grass and stared at me through the rain, and a velveteen stag tipped his chin up and peered disdainfully out from the shelter of the heather. Buffeted by the wind, a single black throated diver fought a passage against the low cloud. It was time to head downhill for a steak, and the two hour trudge through the heather back to the car was made light by the memory of a big trout and a light rod.