Getting Wet

Contributed by Donald Walker (copyright)

I've been quite successful fishing locally in the Eden but I must confess I've mainly fished worm rather than fly. It's also fair to say that many fly fishermen look down on worm men, claiming that fishing with the fly is the pure way, and some even say the only way. Not holding this view myself, I feel there is room for both methods. However, I do have all the tackle for fly fishing, I have even got a comprehensive fly tying outfit, although I have never actually tied a fly.

In a season I usually start off with worm, then as my garden develops and I cannot dig for worms in it, I go over to fly. I would probably benefit from going on a course for both fly tying and indeed fly fishing, for my trouble is, I don't really know which type of fly to use, so my success rate is low. Perhaps it would improve if I were to stick to fly only, but I do like catching fish and worm seems to work very well for me.

I have three tales for you today of fishing in the Eden system, and I'll start with the time I was fishing just below Swingy bridge at the bottom of Bollam Lane. I'd been fishing for half an hour or so when I hooked a large brown trout. I could tell it was large by the way it kept charging off. I was concentrating hard on getting this fish to my net, when a voice from the other side of the river observed that I had a very nice fish on. I continued with the give and take when suddenly I became aware of someone standing behind me. I looked round to find the man had crossed Swingy bridge to come and speak to me. "Shall I help you land it lad" he said. Well this fish was quite a handful so I gladly agreed. Now landing a fish this size needs a bit of care. Fish are easily scared and when he lunged at my fish I got the distinct impression he was trying to scare it, so much so I had to tell him to take it easy, put the net into the water and I would steer the fish into it. Finally it was in the net and the man asked me if I had my camera with me so that I could take its picture before I put it back in the river. I said there was no question of me putting it back in the river, it was tomorrow's lunch, and with that I tapped it on the back of the head. The man then said, "Actually, I'm the water bailiff I'll have to see your license" There was nothing wrong in that department but I still feel that he would rather I had put the fish back in the river.

A few weeks later, not 10 yards from that very spot at Swingy bridge I had a lucky escape. It had rained hard the previous day and I always try to go fishing when the river is higher and the water is coloured. On this day there was a fair flow and I'd been fishing in the Stenkrith area when I decided to move downstream to Swingy bridge. I got into the water to wade to a favourable spot when I stepped into a deep hole that wasn't there before. Suddenly I'm waist deep and my waders filled with water; I lost my balance falling backwards into the water. My word it was cold! I struggled in the fast flow to regain my feet, my waders were so heavy being full of water I couldn't lift them. There was no one about to help me. However, using my rod to help me I managed to struggle slowly to the bank. I was so cold I got uncontrollable shakes and decided to go home immediately. My wife had always wanted me to have a mobile phone and this incident was the decider for me to get one. If it works from Stenkrith I'll have one I said. It did of course so I'm now mobile. Thou' would it work if I fell in and wet it through? Later in the year I was fishing the Beliah, mobile phone in my pocket. I had actually, forgotten to set the key lock, a crucial factor in this last tale. The phone rang in my pocket and I answered it to find it was my wife June." Oh thank God, are you alright," she said.

Somewhat mystified by this worried concern I asked for an explanation. She said I had rung her earlier but had not spoken and all she could hear for 2 or 3 minutes was rushing water. Thinking I was in some sort of trouble she was just about to send help, when the phone cleared and she was able to ring me. What I must have done is leaned on the phone when scrambling about on the bank, and it dialed the last number I had used, which was my home number. Then further scrambling had pressed it off. We laugh about it now, but my wife had had quite a worry. I always use the key lock now, lesson learned!

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