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Getting ready for the new season

Work-outs, fly-tying, gardening and brownie points in the bank are all part of the closed season's waiting game

The things we do in the winter: a garden feature from the sea earns multiple brownie points.
The things we do in the winter: a garden feature from the sea earns multiple brownie points.

Why is it that the run-down from the end of the season towards Christmas passes so quickly that you don’t seem to notice the fact that you’re bereft of wild trout fishing, but then the bit from January to March 15 seems to take an eternity?

Or at least it seems this way for me. Maybe it’s the lengthening daylight, maybe the preparation jobs you do; sorting waders, cleaning lines, tying flies (OK, admittedly I do this all the time), maybe even the fact you can now begin to start planning in earnest for the coming year's trips?  Personally, I’m beginning to think it’s because you can actually ‘feel’ it coming, excitement growing like a wee boy at Christmas, hardly able to sleep on March 14.

On reflection it might simply be the fact that I fish so hard and often throughout the wild trout season that I’m actually quite glad when it ends, so I can catch finally have a wee bit of a rest and catch up on everything else without the fear of missing out on a great weather day, or of guilt at postponing something because the ‘draw’ of 'the troots’ is just too strong (although I’ve still to cut that bloody big hedge round my garden).

So what’s on the agenda to fill in those weekends before the big curtain-raiser?

Tying events; always a great social occasion and this year I'm booked to appear at a few locally, as well as the Glasgow Angling Centre Spring Opening weekend and the Scottish Fly Fair, so that’ll account for a big chunk of time. Then there’s getting fit: yup, early year is gym time, preparing for the physical challenges that lie ahead, tramping over the wilds (although I’ve still plenty excuses on tap for not working out – from sore back through to 'too busy').

Or there’s beachcombing, wandering our shores in search of suitable driftwood for fly stands or (as was the case last weekend) something more substantial to act as a bit of a garden feature, which was why I ended up knee-deep in the waters of a small burn trying to roll half a ton of tree-root out the surf and up the beach.

I took it as a challenge. It seemed like a good idea at the time, get past the stream, haul the thing out the breakers and carry up the beach. First obstacle was overcome by a leap over the stream, which took me back to youthful days when this was done for fun. No fun, just a sore back on landing.

Next, rescue the tree remains out of the sea. Now, soaking timber isn’t light, so all I could do was roll it up away from the waves. My timing was out, feet slightly wet. Obstacle three, get it past the burn. Great idea was to roll it into the stream and then use it to help me cross before hauling out and rolling it up rest of beach. The first part worked, but then I fell in trying to haul out, and ending knee-deep in the stream wasn’t on the agenda.  Feet now wet, my determination was higher than ever. I forced the damned thing up the beach, called a friend who’s got a wee pick-up and together we managed to man-handle it into the back before carting off to my garden, waiting on a final decision on where best to put it. (The last bit of this had to be done with head torches on, because it was now dark).

So, major ‘brownie points’ gained, plus the addition of two smaller ones the next day, and a serious work-out completed. On reflection, I think I’ll stick to walking the dogs up the hills next time. At least this doesn’t put your back in danger, or run the risk of somebody calling the coastguard because "there’s strange lights dancing about on the beach".

The things you do to keep the peace and get a wee bit of fishing.

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