Life is full of little twists and turns and sometimes a series of events all seem to drop into place perfectly into a perfectly formed, completed jigsaw.
Something like this has happened over the last few days to me. I was at the hotel talking to some early season salmon anglers who turned out to live just where my parents do. No big coincidence there but next day I was at the hotel ahead of pruning some of the banks when Nick the hotel owner showed me a copy of a book they had left behind for him to read. It turns out that one of them had “liberated” it from a hotel he was staying in while on a trip to San Francisco.
The book, called Where to Fish, is a 1953 edition and just inside is an advert for the hotel where we are based: the Fox and Hounds. It even says that it was possible to get a train from Waterloo Station in London direct to Eggesford. This probably doesn’t either sound much or mean a great deal either but Eggesford Station is now just a little provincial station where a 2 carriage train stops once an hour.
So this is a nice little start to things. Next though,yesterday Emma and I decided to take the train from Eggesford to Barnstaple instead of making the drive in. It is a great journey for the fly angler as the train follows the Taw all the way. I think it was a little embarrassing for Emma as I jumped from side to side of the carriage as the river turns and twists its way to the sea. It was great to see the water I work on from a different perspective and further down the river I even saw a couple of anglers out on the water.
We did a little wander around Barnstaple and decided to head back. We quickly darted into WH Smith as I like to keep up to date with the fishing magazines and as we walked out of the door I saw a little section of local books. The cover of one had a guy fishing on the cover so I called back Emma and popped back in.
I flipped open the cover and saw that it was a collection of essays regarding fishing trips a gentleman had made over his fishing career. The one that caught my eye was 20 odd pages about fishing the Taw at the Fox and Hounds. At over 200 pages and in hardback the £2.99 seemed pretty fair and made it even cheaper than all the magazines, so I bought it.
When we got home I sat down with a cup of tea and opened the book at the Fox and Hounds chapter. The next spooky bit was the the writer first visited the hotel in 1953, the same year as the book I picked up the other day.
I have to be honest and say when I bought the book I was guessing it was going to be one of those “it wasn’t like that in my day” sort of affairs, but it wasn’t. It probably won’t mean much to most people but I read the chapter intently as it describes the fishing down all of the beats. It was so nice reading about pools that I have come to know so well and see how the writer used to fish them. I even picked up a tip on how he used to fish one of them!
I don’t think I would have noticed this book unless it was placed right by the door as I hardly ever go in the book section at Smiths.
The writer, Peter Harvey, was born in 1921 but the book was published in 2006 so I have contacted the publisher to see if they can try and put me in touch with him (if he’s still alive as he’d be 90 now) as I would really love to talk to him about the times he used to fish on the water so my fingers are crossed that he gets my message. I’ll keep you posted.
The book has some other sections about his fishing experiences so I’ll have a read of those too. It probably won’t mean a lot to a lot of people but just in case it does here are the details.
So, there are just 11 days til the trout season starts…getting excited?
Fly Fishing in Devon – The Devon School of Fly Fishing Fly Fishing Tuition,Guiding and Fly Fishing Lessons