It’s strange reading this as I don’t think I ever met John Cathcart but we fished many of the same rivers and knew some of the same folk.
Part of the delight of On the Beat is the detail of how a local Scottish angler fished. Cathcart was no purist, he used spinner and bait, and even manufactured spinners, but his preference for fly is clear. During his fishing life rods, lines and flies changed radically; this is exactly where to find what that meant to a regular, local angler – more than we might think.
His early experience with a white PVC line proved it caught him more fish, and his use of a length of silk line between the PVC floater and nylon leader (long before sink-tips were commonplace) proves that he thought about his fishing.
Through his stories and reflections, it seems to me Cathcart reflects changing realities. Over the course of his fishing career he landed “in excess of three thousand salmon”, but his stories are not about great fish won and lost. Rather, he weaves together biography, family, friends and places into an enjoyable read.