Every year conditions permitting my mother Mrs Wildgoose (85 and a Tweed fishing legend) and I go to Lower Makerstoun for three days in September.
We started our trip with enthusiasm, glad to be back on the river and enjoying catching up with our boatman Colin Pringle, Colin Nichol and Ollie, I even mentioned that a 30lb salmon was a long term dream of mine.
However the weather had different thoughts and a downstream wind made casting and presentation of our lines rather tricky. By Friday evening and no fish to our rods we felt deflated and considered leaving early, but, as we had made the effort travel to Scotland to fish we decided to cast our lines on the last day.
The river was in fine fettle, clearing and running at 10” on the gauge. Mrs Wildgoose was not feeling 100% so Colin Pringle suggested we fished the Doors Pool from the boat as it was our best chance of a fish.
This pool offers anglers some excellent taking spots with deep shelves in the middle giving much needed rest for running fish to “chill”. At the end of the pool lies a stretch of rapids which which I belive is the steepest drop on Tweed and treacherous for canoeists.
To fish this pool effectively the skill of the good oarsman is required to gently ease the boat down through the pool to cover the hot spots. Sure enough it wasn’t long before Mrs Wildgoose got a take and a hook up with an 8 pounder. Colin our boatman rowed the boat towards the “netting spot” with caution, as he didn’t want the salmon to head back down stream towards the rapids. The activity of my mothers 8lb salmon stirred other fish in the pool as it came to the net.
We set off again and half way down the pool there was a long pull of my fly. My heart raced and seconds later I was rewarded with a large splash of a fin and a fleeting view of a sizeable fish disappearing back into the depths of the pool.
We continued to fish the pool down to the lower sections to rest the area where the fish had taken. I decided it was time to change my fly to a cone head Tosh and joking with Colin I touched the fly and said “pheromones!”
Starting at the top of the pool we worked our way towards the large fish, casting and altering my retrieve to a couple of inches at a time, and then BANG the fish hit my fly.
Whether it was the previous one or not we shall never know, you could feel it was a big fish from the outset and it was certainly not happy to leave its lie. The fish felt as if a large dog had taken my fly, running and shaking the fly like a dog with a toy.
The fish held its own in the deeper water, boatman and angler fighting to gain control. Colin commented “she is a stubborn hen” and I retorted “Its one stubborn hen against another” as my biceps began to ache.
Half an hour of “giving a little and then reeling in a little” the fish began to surrender. Colin was gradually steering the boat towards the netting spot, easing up at times so I could regain control and tension on my rod and line.
I stayed in the boat and stood up to haul the fish towards Colin who was ready with the net and after losing sight of it for a couple of heart breaking seconds I brought it to the surface and Colin skilfully scooped it into the net . YES we had it as I punched the air and shouted for joy. I felt as if I had won an Olympic gold medal!
The victory was even sweeter as my mother watched the battle from the car, it meant just as much to her as it did to me. We measured the fish and both Colin’s were happy to conclude that it was indeed 30lbs – A fish of a lifetime – caught on Lower Makerstoun
Rod used the Shakespeare 6 piece 14’9″, it fits into a hold bag and has already saved me money on British Airways flights! The line a Rio shooting head attached to a sink tip, 17lb maxima and cone head Tosh.