Sec­ond sight

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - Readers' Stories - By Dr David Rain­ford

MY MOST MEM­O­RABLE fish is nei­ther the largest, nor the great­est fighter, nor the most dif­fi­cult, but with­out doubt is the one which gave me the great­est plea­sure. John and I had fished to­gether for the best part of 40 years. I was very much his ju­nior in age and he was into his 90th year when we made our last trip to­gether. At that stage he was pretty lame from a mis­spent youth play­ing good-class rugby and lat­terly had de­vel­oped se­vere sight im­pair­ment. None of this blighted his en­thu­si­asm to cast a fly and as usual on the Sun­day morn­ing, I drove us to the lake and set him up sit­ting com­fort­ably on a shoot­ing stick in his favourite spot. He was a beau­ti­ful caster and there were no ob­struc­tions for him to avoid, so plac­ing 20 yards of line straight out in front of him took lit­tle ef­fort. The weather was per­fect, warm with a slight breeze and over­cast sky. Midges were hatch­ing and danc­ing on the wa­ter and so I tied on a size 14 Buzzer and wished him luck. I be­gan fish­ing be­side him and was soon into a nice rain­bow. Hav­ing landed it I then checked on John, who had not had a touch. As we all know, the wily trout will of­ten suck in the fly and eject it quickly with­out giv­ing any in­di­ca­tion of his pres­ence. So, I stood be­side him with my po­laroids on scan­ning the wa­ter. His cast had landed about 15 yards from the bank and I spot­ted a large fish cruis­ing up­wind to­wards us about 10 yards out. I whis­pered “John, slow fig­ure of eight and stop when I tell you.” As his fly reached the line of the fish, I whis­pered “Stop” and the fly slowly sank a few more inches below the sur­face. The trout moved to­ward the fly and opened his mouth. “Lift the rod!” I cried and then he was on with the fly firmly in the up­per lip. John played the fish beau­ti­fully and after about 10 min­utes brought it to the net. It was a won­der­ful deep-bel­lied wild brown of about 4lb. As I re­turned it to the wa­ter, the smile on John’s face had to be seen to be be­lieved. “Come on then,” he said, “off to the pub for a pint. My round.” That was the last time we fished to­gether as he passed away the fol­low­ing week­end. I am sure he died a happy man with the thought of that fish in his mind and a smile on his face. The rea­son why this was my most mem­o­rable fish was that I didn’t catch it; I merely loaned my eyes to my old friend to en­able him to catch it and the plea­sure of that last morn­ing to­gether will be with me for­ever.

John and his last trout.

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