5.45am Friday 15th January. Peering from the condensated bedroom window, I eventually see a pair of lights shining down the lane and I know that the time has come. Pointon and I are about to embark on our first angling expedition of 2010.
The weather websites had promised various conditions ahead of us, everything from still, bright, sunny days, to full on, 4omph winds and drifting, freezing snow. We'd been in touch with our guide, none other than England Rivers Champion Mr John Tyzack, and between us we decided to go for it, pack plenty of warm clothing, plenty of tackle and plenty of beer tokens. Lets face it, we thought, with Tyzack's talent, and TV's rising star Pointon as part of our team, we were sure to land some lunkers and have a laugh along the way....we weren't to be disappointed.
So Glen and I headed up the M6, and stopped for a 10 part breakfast in a small cafe in Tebay. What would the conditions be like, we thought, how would we cope with the icebergs, the slippery banks, the freezing weather, the driving sleet and snow? Who would catch, would we catch, would Woody down too much scotch and have to bow out on the Saturday morning session?
We would rendez-vous with Tyzack and his friends, Andy and Rich just outside Langholm. It was obvious we were all keen on getting tackled up and into the river as soon as possible, all knowing that, whilst we had at least two full day's fishing ahead of us, we had a lot of big water to cover.
We made our way North to Denholm where we purchased our Hawick rivers day tickets which would allow us to fish the Teviot. John had explained to us that the fish would be hard to find given the size of the river, but when we did find them, they could be of record breaking size.
Arriving at the car park, we donned our waders, neoprene for me today, fearing the cold, and went to have a look over the bridge at the large, and powerful river below. Pointon immediately became rather animated, jumping up and down in a broad potteries accent, expletives pouring out of his face, occasionally interjected with the odd, "Salmon", "massive", and "fag". We'd seen a large fish downstream of the bridge, and above it we'd seen a huge Salmon flashing on it's side with another large male fish just upstream from it and we presumed that these would be spawning. They were huge fish and it gave us that feeling electric feeling that every take could be a connection with a monster fish. We were clearly about to enter a watery world much different than our comparatively smaller streams of the Dove, Wye and Churnet.
Upstream from the bridge, Tyzack and I got into the river. I was quite nervous at first given the power of the river but John was building my confidence, making sure that I was well within my comfort zone at all times. I'd borrowed a 10ft 4wt Streamflex and JT showed me how to rig up for a 3 fly, Czech nymphing set up and the principles of how to fish it and I quickly started to become comfortable with it. He's an excellent tutor with amazing attention to detail, frequently offering correcting advice and observing every aspect of your technique, without making you feel nervous or under pressure. John had a take early on and landed a Grayling of about a pound, about ten minutes later, I hooked into a similar sized fish and faster, shallower water.
We were a little surprised to be finding fish in faster water and we worked our way upstream and fished a new swim. Things were quite tough and takes were few and far between especially given the surprisingly good conditions of the river, running a few inches up and very clear.
A few minutes later there came a shout and JT was into a good sized fish from shallow, fast, water. Glen and I congratulated as he landed this superb 2lb Scottish Lady. "Come on Woody, let's get you a fish son", said John, and he explained where he'd seen the take, on the far bank on a sharp bend on this large, Scottish river.
I'd made 2 or 3 passes with my flys and I'd got that electric feeling that any second now, my indicator line would dive under water and I would be into the fight of my life time...and with that, all I could see was ivory Grey's Platinum and she was on. Shy at first but then the fish had realised that all was not as it should be, and it was lunging head down for the gravel.
John walked to the bank and put down his rod and waded back through the water to guide me through landing this lovely fish. "That's a good fish Woody!", he shouted as he got nearer to me, giving me more and more encouragement all the while , he new it was crucial for all of us that I landed this fish to grow my confidence and to beef up the team spirit. He grabbed my arm so that all I needed to think about was landing that fish, worrying about wading and playing at the same time would decrease my chances of landing this beautiful lunking Lady.
"Well done Woooooddddyyyyyyyy!!! You ****!" Shouted you know who, and I was chuffed to bits. Pointon got his video camera out and made me wear one of those Scottish hats with red hair attached and set me up good and proper, much to the amusement of the rest of the team over beers later on that evening in the bar.
Glen's weighing net came in handy and we soon discovered that the fish was 2lb 2oz, a personal best for me.
We fished the same swim for a little while longer but it began to look like JT had found a pair of fish in that swim and we'd landed both of them so it was time to move on.
Andy had taken 6 or 8 further upstream and Rich had managed a couple but we all agreed that it was tough so we decided to jump in the cars and to move on to another stretch of the Teviot.
It was getting late but we had time to try out a few more swims, and we fanned out along a large stretch. There were many places that you'd put money on striking into fish but it was just not happening and I started to wonder whether, as JT had told us, that snow melt and road salt may be affecting the fishing. However, even though conditions were hard, the combination of JT's excellent guiding and the amazing surroundings made it all worth while.
We called it a day at about 4.30pm, made our way back to the digs in Kelso and headed for the pub. We had a right good natter, a few games of killer, and it wasn't long before the ale started to have the desired affect on Pointon and his legendary social etiquette started to kick in. He was rubbered and had us all in fits of laughter with his reminiscences of incidents involving everything from a meeting with Spongebob Squarepants, an instruction to pass wind, how to rewire a brothel and I don't think any of the group, myself included, will ever, ever forget Glen's description of his new passion of playing the trombone, please email him for more details.
That night was sleepless for a number of reasons. Snoring, farting in a Potteries accent, farting in a Manc accent, Pointon snoring, Pointon talking in his sleep about Tyzack's style of fishing, Pointon snoring, Pointon's alarm clock at 4.30am, Pointon Snoring, Tyzack beating pointon with pillows trying to stop him snoring, and Pointon snoring.
Yesterday the big thaw happened and we headed home, every river in the Borders of Scotland being near enough over the bank and unfishable, but we'd had a great time, some lovely lunking Scottish Grayling and a really good laugh along the way.
Please don't laugh too much at the video of me that Pointon will inevitably post on his blog.
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