Swing the Fly Issue 2.4 Spring 2015 - Page 70

was increasingly determined to get this dance down.. "Slow and easy, it's not a contest." "Keep yer hands up and the rod tip away from from yer head.. " "If you cross the line, you'll hook your face!" And the best was, "Yer grippin’ the butt too hard."


An hour passed and Mike had been able to successfully throw fifty percent of the casts. The repetition

was good for his aching head and his deep seated sense of determination kicked in, making him forget about the time.

"OK lad, come with me, we'll take a walk and I'll show you the double Spey." The mile and a half walk to beat #9 followed a walking path laid out by years commuting sheep and wading boot. Cam offered a flask to take the edge off. "More faeries piss?" asked Mike jokingly. "Ha, no. You and the ghillies had yer way with it last night. We won't be seein' that again.. Cam slowed. Ok, this is my favorite run on the whole river. There are a lot of different Spey casts. The Snap T, The Circle Spey, The Snake roll and yer Skagit casts… but for this river and for you to be able to pay that sizeable bar bill, all you will need is that Single and a Double Spey cast, which I'll show you now…

Noon. The Half Assed McNab

With the lesson done, the two men finished a pint of Old Jock while the pub made up a lunch of a ham sandwich, a meat pasty, salt and vinegar chips, an apple and two tenants lagers to keep Mike going for the rest of the day and evening. Cam turned to Alastair. "What are we playing for?" Alastair took down the bar tab off the wall where it had been pinned the night before with a throwing a dart. They read it over. It was more of an invoice than a bar tab. "Looks like the salmon will be worth about 270 pounds."

"Jesus, that’s what I paid for the car," Mike sighed.

Cam pulled a headlamp and a tin Wheatley box out of his pocket. Here, you'll want these. A few Willie Gunns, Stoats tails, shrimp tubes and a Garry Dog or two."


Thanks said Mike and with that he adjusted the collar of his coat, pushed open the door and stepped out into the wind. He pulled off his borrowed 15ft Bruce and Walker Spey rod from the rod stand and turned to the dogs and said "Time to see if I learned anything.”

11:45pm Closing Time

Mike walked into the pub to a cheer from the ghillies and their clients. Cam and Alastair were the bar drinking and waiting.

He looked out across the room and with a look of humility and grace, said.

"I need to settle a bar tab."

The afternoon and evening of stalking wild Scottish Salmon with a Spey rod was an experience that, in the end, Mike kept to himself. He would not describe what he went through. Not to the ghillies who waited til last call to find out if he caught the salmon. Not Chick his old friend or even his father got to hear about it. He kept it to himself, partly because, this small quest, to catch a salmon in order to pay a debt, turned out to be too intense and hard and special and personal to share with anyone else. The day was filled with any number of small moments of realizations about himself, his lack of experience and

The memory of the day, like a snapshot, he needed to keep to himself, because he feared that if he talked too much about it, it simply would lose its meaning. Sure, he didn’t catch a salmon. He was cold and tired and wet and needed a drink. But he was satisfied. The other reason he never said anything was that, as it turned out, he never got the time to.