Andrew Flitcroft looks forward to a bright new season – which begins with good news for salmon-fishers
Andrew Flitcroft has good news for salmon-fishers
THAT’S IT… I SNORED THROUGH The Queen’s Speech, the mince pies are finished, the Christmas tree is blowing around like tumbleweed in the backyard and if gout has anything to do with rich living, I’m due a bout. It’s time to think about my NYRS again. Between you, me and the wife, they are a bit of a no-no in our house. We think about them for a day or two and then come to our senses. In all our married years we’ve never kept a New Year’s Resolution, at least not one requiring extensive physical exertion. I often think a new pushbike might swing it, but the best place for a MAMIL (middle-aged man in Lycra) to ride a bike near me is Rutland Water and how can I be expected to cycle around Rutland Water, with any degree of safety, when my legs are going one way and my head looking the other? That ten-pounder I’ve been yearning for is bound to be waving at me with a mouthful of corixa. I also fear Lycra or Spandex would cause my wife distress. I’ve also wondered how I’d strap a five-weight to it … the bike that is. I didn’t perfect it in my youth with a cheap Shakespeare rod so I’m not sure my Sage and I would survive a forward summersault now. That’s why my NYRS are always fishing-related. This year I want to catch more trout and I have two big incentives – I have two new rods to christen. Buying a new rod or a piece of kit is normally a good antidote to the dour days of February when the long winter break has taken its toll, but these purchases were early lapses. Turns out, that’s a good thing because the desire to use them has already got me through the New Year. One is a Sage Dart, a 7ft 3wt beauty over which I had sleepless nights after casting it at an autumn trade show. I rarely feel that compelled. I just had to buy it: it is the perfect tool with which to make the accurate casts needed to catch the tricky trout on my local stream. The other rod is almost life-enhancing. It’s a Scott G2 9ft 5wt. I’ve always wanted a Scott. Oh, what a lovely handcrafted finish. But the looks are not the reason, although it did make parting with the cash easier. No, it’s the soft action that swung it and the fact that this model will soon be replaced. This G2 is one of the only rods that will protect my 7X tippet when that 6lb Corrib caenis-feeder heads for the horizon. Seeing a beautiful leopard-spotted giant in the net will be one 2019 wish fulfilled. This year I’ve been fortunate enough to wangle an earlier week on the lough. I’ll try to rehearse playing big fish on the G2 at Rutland in early spring so that I’m ready when I’m on the big stage. Another find was a spare of my favourite dry-fly reel. The original Waterworks ULA Force with its fabulous design and low-inertia drag has been my rock on stillwaters for the past 15 years – I challenge you to name a better reel. Believe me, to find a second-hand one has taken a long time – for it to be in mint condition was remarkable. So, Santa came early. What now? Well, given that I’ve blown my budget, I mustn’t get carried away. As my 2018 salmon season didn’t get off to a good start and was only salvaged with a token brace at last knockings, as I mentioned earlier I’m going to do more trout fishing this season. I’m not talking about trout in the flatlands of Rutlandshire; I’ll be targeting the wildest trout of northern England and the Borders. I’m definitely thinking Clyde. That bit where it snakes west from under the M74. And I don’t want anyone telling me it’s no good, because in my dreams it’s bouncing with flotillas of large dark olives and there’ll be fish rising on every bend. I’ve flies to tie, but first threads and tinsels need taming and reuniting with their bobbins after a season’s benchtop chaos. Once I’ve picked the feathers out of that lot I’m ready to replace my reels’ backing, something I promised I’d do last year and didn’t. Buying Gel Spun is so expensive, and not very exciting, but I might regret not getting that job done. And when my chores are complete, I’ll be as ready as ever for the start of the season and the renewed hope that brings. Please let it be a better year.
IT IS WITH GREAT sadness that I report that author and fisherman Peter O’reilly passed away on December 6. For many years, Peter wrote the Irish Fishing Reports in Trout & Salmon, which were hugely respected and fastidiously researched. He also wrote several wonderful books about fishing in Ireland that remain as popular and informative today as they were when first published. The number of UK anglers that continue to travel to Ireland to enjoy its wonderful fisheries are his legacy. The world of fly-fishing has lost one of its true gentlemen. Tributes to Peter can be read on p72.
The Environment Agency has announced new byelaws that will end the killing of salmon in drift nets and coastal T&J nets on the north-east coast of England. The new byelaws will come into force on January 1, 2019. This is an important step in tackling the international decline in wild salmon numbers, which are currently among the lowest on record and are below sustainable levels in many rivers. We will publish full details of the byelaws next month.
“The new byelaws will come into force on January 1, 2019”