Following last months article on the Salmon fly 'Garry', my planned trip to the fly's place of origin was - 'long'.
The town of Kelso, situated on the Scottish borders is 450 miles from my home in Devon, but with the prospect of a couple of days Salmon fishing on the Teviot, balanced with the historical aspect of visiting the birthplace of the Garry Dog salmon fly, I was undaunted.
Seven hours of driving went by smoothly enough and once settled in the Ednam House Hotel on the banks of the River Tweed, the aches and pains of the drive soon vanished.
Sadly, the First Minister of Scotland decided to ban all indoor drinking on the day of our arrival so, if I was to enjoy a wee dram, it would have to be outside in the gardens. (Fail No1). We were kindly offered blankets and a hot water bottle by the hotel barman, but being of a 'hardened' nature I politely declined and sat in the gazebo wrapped in my waxed jacket and bush hat. For the next 7 evenings, a friend and I, refusing to be beaten by Nicola's ruling and the Scottish temperature, sat outside and had our drink(s) whilst waxing lyrical about how we would soon be pulling monster salmon from the river.
The following morning I visited Sprouston, a small village a few miles outside of Kelso where Garry the 'actual dog' had resided in the 1920's with his owner Katharine and her father the Revd. David Denholm Fraser, without whom the Garry Dog fly would not exist.
I had photographic evidence with me, showing a sign commemorating his contribution to salmon fly fishing hanging on what I assumed was the church wall. Sadly my 360 degree walk around Sprouston church (twice) revealed nothing, it then dawned on me that the photo showed the sign attached to a rock faced wall, Sprouston Church is rendered. (More research obviously required). With little time to spare, I had to sadly abandon my search for the elusive sign (Fail No 2) and get back to the task in hand - fishing.
Author at Sprouston Church
The Fishing Gods, Garry the Dog and the Revd. Denholm Fraser were obviously rallied against us, and an earlier deluge of rain a few days before we arrived, was reflected in the condition of the river. By the first fishing morning, the Teviot had transformed into a muddy, deep and fast moving river that was not conducive to good fishing or wading. A cast into the river, which was running at about 8 knots, would last for about 8 -10 seconds before a necessary retrieval was required. A full 6 hours later, casting a heavy 15 foot rod and reel produced some very weary arms and a tired body that climbed back into the car with nothing to celebrate. Hopefully day 2 would be better.
The following morning we tackled up in the small parking area and tramped down past Kalemouth bridge looking for suitable fishing spots. A number of salmon were seen leaping from the river, good 6lb plus fish, and the omens looked good, disappointingly, the end result after many position and fly changes delivered the same result as the previous day. I even tried a Garry Dog in the vain hope that a desperate salmon would take pity on this poor man, but alas, it was not to be.
The River Teviot and the surrounding areas are very beautiful and although the fishing did not bring the required results, it was nice to get away from all the restrictions that we had suffered since March, albeit for a short duration and of course being able to visit the birthplace of the Garry Dog salmon fly.
As a nice surprise, whilst sitting on the river bank on the first day, pondering how best to tackle the river, I was curious to see a wake heading directly towards me at speed? A large salmon, a ships torpedo - no, a fully grown otter going about his business and heading straight to me at about 15 metres distance and oblivious of my presence. I stayed a still as I could hoping that I would have a close encounter with a beautiful animal that is rarely seen, at about 10 metres it spotted me, looked me directly in the eye for a second or two and dived, not to be seen again. The only highlight of the trip, but nonetheless a welcome one.
A return trip next year is on the cards, if only to land that king of fish and of course nail down the actual location of that sign. I think after 900 miles driving, I deserve something.