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Sage advice at season’s end

Remembering some sage advice as the season draws to a close


Making the most of it.
Making the most of it.

2019 wild brown trout season has come and gone and hardly seems like yesterday I was getting all excited about opening day.

It certainly passes way too quickly, and I must admit that I tried to make the most of every opportunity I had to get out there amongst the fish whenever I could. OK, yes for me that’s quite a lot, but you have to make the most of it, winter is long and plenty times before I have lamented at the fact I’d missed opportunities or wasted valuable fishing time.

My old fishing Mentor was my dad’s friend, Peter Middleton. Peter was ‘Master of the Unorthodox’, fishing in ways that you would consider were different or some might regard as wrong, but they worked and worked sometimes spectacularly. It was Peter who put me on the road of fishing this way, trying things, always thinking or looking to make the most of an opportunity but keeping your fishing simple at the same time.

“Don’t overthink it, son,” he would say, a mantra I still carry with me today and preach to everyone; keep your fishing simple.  Peter also said something to me that I regard as a bit of a fishing life altering statement, something that took a little bit of thought and with more depth to the meaning than you’d regard first.

“You’ll never fish the same bit of water twice.”  First time I heard this I thought he’d been at the whisky, of course you can as all you needed to do was to return to the said bit of water and fish it again next day.

But this stuck with me, and I started to look at this from a practical point of view; the light would be different, water height changed, fly hatches, time of day, your approach, and a multitude of other physical reasons as to why any given bit of water would be different than the last time you were there.

However, this still wasn’t what Peter meant, nor was it why he said it. Years later, when we met up in Orkney on the shores of Harray Loch I mentioned this to him and said the above, relating my interpretation of what he had meant, only for Peter to add that by this he had really meant that the water itself had passed, running and even still water having physically moved on. 

“Closer, but still not there yet son,” he said.

Finally, when back in Orkney the following year, sitting on the same bit of Harray shoreline but only this time on my own it clicked: you simply never get that time back, the fishing moment had passed and the opportunities that presented were gone. 

“Took you long enough”, he said when I finally met up with him again.

So, ever since then, I have looked to try and take the most I can from every fishing trip, irrespective of the weather, location, timing or any other variance that comes along. Fishing is all about the moment, whether it’s the joy of anticipation, the experience of the time spent participating, or the retrospective enjoyment of looking back and reliving these times (photos and single malt are excellent accompaniments for this)  After all, fishing’s such a personal thing to do – it’s your journey and experience. That said, it’s also a brilliant way to connect and share what’s great out there with everyone else. Anglers will certainly understand this.

Roll on March 15th next year and the chance to get back amongst the troots once more! Meantime, it’s fly tying, chasing rainbows, perhaps a bit of saltwater fly fishing or a bit of grayling; whatever the opportunity to wave a carbon stick about or prepare for next season by filling the fly box; I’ll certainly look to make the most of it, obviously without being neglectful to the rest of my family. Now that’s the bit of sage advice Peter never passed on, but it would have been very helpful if he had.

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