Country mouse on salmon fishing

The fishing gods were not on our side last week, when eight of us made the annual pilgrimage to the River Findhorn near Inverness. The previous week, salmon had been caught by the dozen, but the level of the water fell to a depth that put the fish in a surly mood, and only six were netted.

There is often a touch of luck in salmon fishing, and last week was no exception as the least competent fisherman, myself included, were successful, but the experts failed. Nothing compares with the moment that a salmon snatches your fly. It’s like the opening bar of Beethoven’s Fifth, three sharp tugs and then a longer pull. Totally addictive.

But, although the salmon largely failed us, nature did not. I finally got to see my first red squirrel and then, like buses arriving, saw dozens; dippers and wrens kept the river bank alive with chatter; on the leaf, litter was lit up by bright yellow chanterelles and, high in the sky, a peregrine could be seen harrying the pigeons. It was a perfect way to relax and, as every fisherman knows deep down, fishing has never been merely about catching fish.