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Started by JMiller, May 21, 2015, 14:11:52 PM
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I recently returned from a 12-day trip to England and (a little bit of) Scotland, and along with a few fishing photos, I brought back nearly a thousand of the obligatory pictures of my family standing in front of castles and statues, and all sorts of great memories to go with them, but I'll stick to the bits from my trip you all might find relevant in this report, at least as much as I can, so bear with me. It will still be long.
The impetus for going on this trip was not a desire on my part to fish in the UK, but rather the need for my in-laws to visit and connect with their ancestral homeland, visit village churches and graves, and finally see where they came from as they're getting on in years. I was simply tabbed to bring along because I had once, about 12 years ago, spent some time in Australia and had driven a little. So it was assumed that I could safely, and in good humor, chauffeur clan Thornthwaite in a van from London to Edinburgh and through every tourist trap in-between, on the wrong side of the road. This was a little bit of a mindf*ck at first, but not all that difficult a transition, except maybe the 5 lane roundabouts on the big motorways, which were pretty much the only places people honked at me for not knowing what the hell I was doing. Luckily we had a GPS and nobody really cares if you bust crazy U-turns in the middle of traffic in England, so we got where we were going with only a few minor mishaps and disagreements. The seven of us left Nashville and flew in to London from NYC with two toddlers. I'll save you the explanation on this, but will just say it was not a very pleasant voyage. But the youngest finally settled down as we got near Heathrow. Here he is looking for Julie Andrews on top of a cloud.
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To tell you the truth, if I had been blindfolded and not told where I was going, you could have convinced me that I was in Abu Dhabi, Shanghai or Berlin once we left the airport. A huge city like that is pretty much the same to me on any continent. We did see the historical sights though, which were impressively old. The Tower of London, for instance, was built in 1089 and has been in continuous use in one capacity or another since that time. Think about that.
We took a riverboat tour on the Thames.
Saw Big Ben and all that from the London Eye. Medium and Small Ben still unaccounted for.
The Kids enjoyed the "Big Ferris Wheel" as they called it. I asked around about why it was called the "London Eye," but nobody seemed to know.
The history and all that was great, honestly. And we had an excellent tour guide. But seriously, f*ck London. Way too many people in too small a space. I was so glad to get out of the city and see the actual country.
Before we left London though, I was somehow able to break away from the group for a day, since I had months before booked a day through Orvis, on the River Itchen in Winchester, which was just a quick morning train ride from the city. It did not disappoint. In fact, it matched exactly the pastoral ideal I had in my mind.
The chalk streams in the South of England are as clear and technical as you would imagine they would be, but it was cool to make long, delicate casts with dry flies to rising trout the way it's ideally supposed to be done for once in my life. What I found the most satisfying about the whole trip to Itchen was catching a brown trout in its native range, and also adding a new species, grayling, to my life list. Come to think of it, I don't actually have a physical list that I keep, but maybe I should start writing one down if Im going to refer to it as if I have one and before I forget what's on it.
The brown trout in the River Itchen were the most beautiful I'd ever seen. Most of them are stocked, but I was advised that a few sea trout and Atlantic Salmon move up this river, and that there are still some wild, stream bred browns.
I don't consider myself a great caster. My guide Brian insisted on me demonstrating my ability to cast before we went and scared off all the fish. Predictably, this made me nervous and I casted poorly, but he said it looked good so we went fishing. After a while, once I had a hang of how things are done the proper way, I recommended Brian do some fishing as well. He happily obliged, and at 70 years old, easily outcasted and out fished me.
I hadn't packed a lunch, but the man gave me half his cheese and chutney sandwich, as well as made me coffee in the little Orvis hut. I gave him a pint of Wild Turkey.
He could've just been trying to pump me up, but he said this one looked like one of the wild, native fish that still call the river home.
We did catch some good ones.
And again, I can't overstate how pretty these fish were.
Every time I stopped fishing long enough to look around, I felt as if I were in The Shire. I was told Roger Waters held a beat just upstream and that George H.W. Bush had once fished the beat I was on. The day wore on, I began to feel a little regal myself, and I was hoping it wouldnt end.
But it did, and soon I was back to the traffic and real life.
A few days and many castles and statues later, I was taking a leak at Windsor Castle when this big may fly landed on the wall next to the urinal. Somehow that moment encapsulated my entire trip, or maybe my entire life. I am perpetually distracted by fishing.
Then I saw this three-eyed raven, so I decided to follow it North of the Wall and do some fishing up in the lake district.
There are plenty of places to catch trout up this way, and even Atlantic Salmon if it's the right time of year, but I have always been fascinated with Northern Pike, and I couldn't pass up a chance to get after them across the pond.
First though, I wanted to explore the area a little bit with the little time I had. Most of the rest of our trip was centered around cities (which I don't care for in any country Ive been to yet) but the little town of Keswick where we stayed was also home to the highest peak in England, Scaffel Pike, so I got up early one morning and hiked through 500-year old, stone sheep pens to the Summit at just over 3,000 feet. Not real high by our standards, but above tree line the whole way.
The crag in the pic above had to be 5 or 6 hundred vertical feet. Just a bit of snow was left from the long winter. The cliff was called "great end" which I thought an effectively ominous name, potentially an accurate prediction for some.
As I kept passing sheep and avoiding sheep shit on the trail, I couldn't keep the story from Almost Heroes out of my mind.
When I finally got to the top, I was the only one there. A little eerie actually. The giant cairn marked the summit, prayer flags whipped in the wind, and I could see for miles. How 'bout that selfie?
The coast, Keswick, and the lake, Derwent Water where I would fish for pike the next day were all visible from the top of the mountain.
We fish hard. The wind was brutal. It was brutal all day and coming from different directions, changing to spite us every time we'd find the lee side of an island. We did ultimately catch some fish though. The pike were healthy and beautiful.
I think this was my best one. Maybe 36 inches, but I saw her hit my fly at 75 feet out and she gave me all she had. Just the highlight of the trip as far as Im concerned.
It is an irony that I live so close to musky water and basically ignore them, yet travel across the ocean to fish for pike, but to me they're beautiful fish and I've always held them in the highest esteem.
Anyway, she still swims.
And you couldn't have picked a more beautiful place to chase them.
After Keswick and the pike, I was satisfied, on cruise control the rest of the trip. We went to Edinburgh and saw a bunch more old statues and castles. A sweet museum and a lot of great food and beer. Being numb to the castles by that point though, the coolest thing I think I saw up there was this old defender.
Then I headed home.
Random Cultural Comparisons and Thoughts:
- British Beer disappointingly sub-par, Scottish Beer muy bueno- The UK population age better and are decidedly less obese than Americans overall- It gets light at like 4:30 am and doesn't get dark until 9:30 pm, but nobody gets going until 7 or 8 a.m. and they're done with their day by 6. Shops close, everything except a few restaurants. It seems to me half the day is wasted, but maybe as an American Im just overworked and used to society catering to my consumerist whims.- Edinburgh is the type of city where a man could un-ironically wear a scarf- Kids in the UK have no access to water to fish as far as I can tell, especially in the south, since all the rivers are owned in beats. Not sure how they breed fly fishermen there. Im glad that's not a worry we have here in the states- I am now officially broke and will be eating peanut butter for the next 6 months to pay for this trip
So. Fucking. Jealous. bd;0
Damn man that is so awesome! y; My wife and I are just at the beginning parts of planning a European trip to celebrate her doctorate. I found myself wondering if I would be able to sneak in any fishing. This only makes me want to do it more.
meh. ok i guess
Not my cup of tea, but looks like you made the most of it. Excellent salvaging of a trip with the inlaws.
You win. Awesome trip.
Good times. I'm sure that won't be soon forgotten.
Badass. Let's see some beer and likker porn too.
That was fuggin' great.
Big time jealous.
We honeymooned all over Scotland for 10 days. Fukking awesome country. And people.No fishing was done. Seafood was eaten, gardens seen, losts of old, really old stuff. Castles? Aye.Just no fishing.
Well played old chap.
Carry on. Except that part about you going to Austria. Fuck the dingoes.
Superb report. I'm speechless.
i love me some mix bad trips. awesome pikefish