The Tweed, Coldstream, Scotland/England border
Aug 26, 2010
Rod had to take a leak, so convincing him to stop along the banks of the River Tweed was a cinch. The Tweed, for at least part of its journey, forms the border between Merry Old England and Grumpy Olde Scotland. And even though Scotland is, indeed, grumpier than England, I tend to like Scotland more. Sure, the food is just as horrific and the beer just as crummy, but Scotland is funnier, more scenic and the whisky is, well, it’s Scotch, fay fook’s sake. Sounds great, huh? In fact, you may even be thinking of thumbing it out to the Boise airport and booking a cheap flight to the highlands. Well, think again, Angus. Scotland is expensive as fuck. There’s no fishing on Sunday and if, unlike me, you actually get around to fishing, be prepared to take out a second mortgage on your home.
We were heading north, up to a gig in Edinburgh, and I hopped out of the car on the English side of the Tweed and high-tailed it down a path toward the water, camera in hand. I had just crossed a gate and was 25 yards from the river when I came up short. Ay! Fay Fook Sake. Wha thay bloody fook? But there it was, the sign that confirmed my worst fears regarding fishing in the UK — all that permitting, private water, upstream, dry-flies-only-on-days-ending-in-y business. There it was — finally — proof!
Like most right-thinking individuals, I cannot abide the notion of “private water.” The phrase kickstarts my inner anarchist, compelling me to jump fences, deface signs (BWTF stickers are great for this, btw!) and pontificate on the internet. My indignation springs, I guess, from my general anti-authoritarian mindset. However, this was the first time I’ve been confronted by a sign marking that strangest of UK fishing regulations: beats.
This was, to me, an entirely new sort of outrage/affront/injustice and I rolled its sour taste around on my tongue. Fishing a “beat” is absolutely foreign to the constitution of a Western angler. We are built to ramble. We are inclined to strap on a pack and load it with water, cans of Rainier and beef jerky and get the fuck away from the assholes fishing right next to the road, at the boat launch or any of the various “idiot holes” found so easily along American fly water. We love taking off into the outback for the mere fact that 1) we can. 2.) well, what the hell is around that corner, anywho? 3.) i am not the type of angler who’s gonna be seen fishing with the likes of the fucking rabble. Sorry, it’s just my issue, man.
Needless to say, I was hopped up and I fairly stomped the rest of the way to the river, high off the delicious self-righteousness of it all. There she was. The great river. So much history, so much tradition. So much of our sport flowing inches in front of me. I could smell it all, mixed with the water, the grassy bank and the trees spilling pollen. She was much broader than I had imagined, but we were by the coast. It was an impossibly scenic river — castles, old rowboats, a stone bridge. Off in the distance, two old dudes sat in a boat, rods in hands, waiting. Directly in front of me, ya know– in the good water — a fish jumped. Fuck.
What were those dudes doing sitting in the goddam frog water? Just what the fuck are they thinking? I dunno. I never know. Yet every time I see a dude fishing the frog water I think, “What the fuck are you thinking?” It’s like driving down the road and seeing a cow and not thinking “cow.”
The fish that jumped right in front of me was, of course, nice and big. I am certain I would have caught it if I had actually been fishing the Tweed, which I was most certainly not. I walked back up the bank, past that stupid goddam sign, got in the car and drove over the river and back into Scotland.