The tour is over. Three months. More than 50 gigs in the UK and Europe. Not one river fished. Not one line cast. Not one trout grabbed up. Not a single salmon molested. Fuck. This here’s the final installment of FUKRIDF. If you’re up for this sort of misery, we’re most likely headed back in April for a whole new batch of not fishing. So what’d I learn? Well lots, really, like when you’re not fishing and being forced to watch other guys fishing one has the opportunity to practice patience. So there’s that.
I also learned that Black Bottle, a blended Scotch, is mixed only from Islay malts! For half the price of an Islay single malt, it’s pretty goddam excellent. Check it out, holmes!
A bit of a history lesson if I may: A long time ago, well after the Romans were like, “fuck this place, man,” some British dudes were like, “wouldn’t it be a cool idea if we got together and claimed all this land for ourselves? Lord Mountbaten said, “Hey, fuck that, Im’a claim nobility and take all this land for me!” So he ran some solid gangsta shit and thus it came to pass that Mountbaten became the landlord of Southwest England. What this means for anglers is that if you’d like to fish Thee Olde and Faymous Rivere Test, you’ve gotta pay the man — Mountbatten. For the Test is, without a doubt, his river. He owns it. He runs it. His posse strung the razor wire and patrols that shit like Silvio patrolled the Bing.
All this would be fine if the Test were just some dottering and middling English trickle, but alas, from the side of the road, behind the barb wire and just out of the way of the attack hounds, Lord Mountbatten’s river looks like a pretty great stream. The Test is only about 40 miles from start to finish and it’s upper reaches are chalkstream and jammed with big fucking brown trout. I saw them as I stood on a bridge, trucks, tour busses and bikes whizzing on by. Upstream they were rising to tiny white mayflies even as a goofy lab splashed around in the water. From the looks of it, the Test is jammed cheek to jowl with trouts. You can’t catch a fish in the test, maybe it’s time to take up bowling.
There they were, dozens of trouts, all locked up, guarded and patrolled by a bunch of Royal dicknobs.
So let’s just say you’re feeling flush, or a wave of Anglophillia washes over you (Mountbatten, was after all, grandson of Queen Victoria, uncle of “Phil the Greek, a.k.a Prince Phillip and mentor of the current Prince of Wales, whose name I have forgotten.) well, it’s gonna cost ya, pal. In the UK they don’t use dollars, they use these things called pounds and to fish the Test is up to around 650 heavy-ass pounds per day. In American, that’s about 1000 bucks. Yeah, I know — a straight G — fuck that.
As mentioned, cross a bridge over the Test and you can see big browns down there swimming around. Take a walk down a riverside paths and you can scope the quaint bank-bound fishing huts. Linger for a bit streamside and the goddam history of the place is palpable. There are no dirtbag fishermen on the Test. There is no sleeping in the back of the truck. Hanging around the parking lot crushing beers, spitting dip and chewing jerky as the sun sets is probably a rather rare occurance. Lordy, what a waste of a perfectly good river.