A major highlight of my guiding career…..
Written- 23rd April 2023
Lets go back to a week on Saturday, Saturday 15th April. Our client & friend Simon Godfrey was up for two days guided Spring Salmon Fishing on the Whiteadder. He had booked this over a year ago so he was incredibly excited. I had been keeping him posted with recent catches so he knew there was a good few fish around.
Simon had never fished for salmon before but had fished for rainbow trout on southern lakes and reservoirs so could cast a fly rod to quiet a high standard. He landed a lovely fish on the Friday morning in the long stream, a lovely fish of around 10Ibs which gave an incredible account of itself on the single handed fly rod. The pressure was off and he was smiling from ear to ear and so was I, Its always a special moment to share when someone catches there first Salmon on the fly. Massive congrats Simon!
We started early on the Saturday Morning, fishing the top half of my stretch down to my corner pool without any success. We made our way down to the little glide which is a pool which changes year to year due to gravel movements after large floods. To be honest, its not a prolific pool as we have only landed a handful of fish from it over the years but its a perfect place for a salmon to rest before it tackles the rapids above which last for over 100 metres.
First run through, and mid way down the pool swinging a 3/4′ willie gun copper tube tied by Michael Currie on the 10ft Sage R8 the line was pulled vilently from Simons hands and a fish erupted below the surface mid river. We were on!! but at this stage we didn’t know how big the fish actually was. We both got a shock at the take and Simon was soon bent double into the fish. The fish stayed in the small pool for a good five minutes and didn’t show itself so at this stage i knew it was a decent size. The fish then came to the surface and rolled over and its tail broke the water. That was the moment i said to Simon ‘this is a big fish, take your time’
The next moment of the fight is something i wont forget in a Hurry. Iv caught a few thousand Salmon in my guiding career and landed some hefty ones and experienced some great fights but what this fish did next was incredible! The fly line whistled through the water, and travelled upstream at some serious speed as the salmon then ran up into the rapids and continued to travel upstream at speed. The fly line left us and the backing started to leave the reel at pace ….. I couldn’t believe what i was seeing but at the same time i knew that if we didn’t chase after this fish and shorten the distance between us and the fish, we would be loosing the battle and loosing the fish!
At this stage we had one option, to cross the rapids and run upstream too the fish! and thats what we did, after falling in twice trying to do so at the same time as keeping the rod high and trying to get as much line back onto the reel. We were now carrying a extra 5kg of water in our waders so running was tough but we managed to somehow get upstream of the fish and get our first proper glimpse, a huge chrome bar sitting midstream, by far the Largest Spring Salmon i had seen in my fishing life. I couldn’t believe what i was seeing but at the same time i was trying to plan where to land it. We were both shacking at this point! This fish didn’t want to be landed and within a few seconds the fish turned and decided it wanted to head back down the rapids to the pool we hooked it in. The fight was on again and we did exactly what we did before but went downstream, crossing over the rapids and trying our best to stay in touch with the fish and not fall in the river again!!
We did it, rather wet and exhausted but the fish was under control and back in the little glide pool. I think at this stage the fish knew it was beat so after another few minutes of holding deep and using its weight in the current Simon managed to lift its head and i managed to net the fish head first as it came downstream on the surface!
We both shouted at the top of our voices!!! ‘YES, WE DID IT!!!’
This was by far the biggest Spring Salmon i have landed with a client in my guiding career and too land it on a trout rod made it even more incredible!! We both shared a few hugs, got a few pictures of this magical fish and got it straight back into the river. It didn’t take long before the fish kicked its tail and it swam hard from Simons hands back into the pool to where this story first began.
A moment and fish i certainly wont forget in a hurry. Once again Simon, a massive congrats!!!!
James Armstrong- Owner & Head Guide/ Chasing Fins