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Annan Salmon School - Day 2

Blonde on blonde

Wednesday evening: Time to catch up on events from Salmon School. Yesterday morning we were greeted with the news that the overnight rain had put up the gauge at Kirkwood to 4 ft 6in. The rise was a big one but then we heard from the rods at Jardine Hall that the water there was up, but clear. This meant that any tributaries coming in below Jardine were colouring the water at Kirkwood and this effect was likely to lessen as the day proceeded. In fact, the rainless day caused a drop in river height of about 1.5 inches per hour and the river clearing rapidly. As each hour passed so the river became more and more fishable. We surmised that the fish would be running up the slacker edges of the insides of the bends, especially at Stone and Boat Pools, but wading was out of the question, so everyone was instructed to adopt a spot clear of clinging vegetation and make their casts from there before moving to find another clear spot.

This works well and we see the occasional fish to keep our spirits up. In the afternoon, Dave hooks a fish in Goslings, which is now also looking fishable. He hooks it very close to the bank on a Wet Cel II and a Blue & Black tube. Unfortunately, the fish, which is about 6lb, spends all its time fighting in the redds at the side and after two minutes it thrashes itself off the hook, just as Dave realises that he needs help with landing it. That night, Blue & Black flies are mass produced at Dave's vice in the dining room. The gauge records a drop of a foot during the day, but it finishes with a heavy band of rain moving in.

After supper, I demonstrate a hair-wing tube, various tube mounts, and I'm also challenged to construct a fly from various hair samples taken from Rachel and Michelle, the cooks, and also a squirrel from Kirkwood. I go for a blonde/dark/blonde banded wing effect and, in keeping with the trend, I tie a blue hackle on it. We call it the Jardine Ladies, and Anthony Potter will be using the fly at Jardine tomorrow.

Wednesday: The heavy rain overnight has put the gauge right back where we started on 4ft 6in. With a sense of deja vu we start fishing the pools in exactly the same way as yesterday. Today, the river drops more slowly, but it is of a good fly-fishing clarity. We're not seeing as many fish as previously, but Dave inspires us all when he hooks a grilse of about 3.5 lb from close into the bank at Boat Pool, from a gap in the trees. It has taken not the Blue & Black fly, but a nameless gold, yellow and black tube that he "won in a raffle". Suddenly, the Stone Pool is vacated and the top pools of Boat and Goslings become well populated. It's a beautiful, mild autumn day now with plasant sunshine and life couldn't get better. But it does. Especially for Dave. After lunch, he casts his special fly into Stone Pool and connects with a good red cock fish of about 7lb. This puts up a great fight, again close to the bank and is eventually netted by Glynn. Suddenly, everyone is fishing down the Stone Pool!

Now with some of the pools beginning to come into good ply, I think we could easily get a third fish for the day, but the salmon don't think so.

Up at Jardine, we hear that the Jardine Ladies has indeed taken a fish - but it is a brown trout.

Hopes are high for tomorrow, especially if the river continues to fall. However, a band of overnight heavy rain is predicted by some weather forecasts. Fingers crossed ...

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