I am all for tradition. Its our roots after all. Nostalgia and all that. But today I came across the worst sort of tradition. The encounter was with a couple of individuals that (amongst many words a little strong for this blog) I could only come to refer to as a miserablists. I know miserablist is not a word in the dictionary, but it should be, there are too many miserablists around these days.
The first miserablist in question had arrived upon the other bank of the stretch of river we were fishing, obviously hoping to have a cast. But, before we could exchange pleasantries the gentlemen then disappeared inside his fishing hut, reappeared momentarily and then he was gone again. I think he was hiding.
Meanwhile a guest who I have been guiding for many years was grinding out cast after cast, hoping for a last minute Salmon. I use the word "hope" because we should always really be "expecting" a fish, but in the current low water, hope is nearer to the truth. Meanwhile my other guest (the daughter of the Salmon angler) was flicking a nice cast upstream, around 50 yards down the pool. The fishing was slow, although the consistent aerobatics of several Salmon waiting for some fresh water maintained our enthusiasm. Everything was peaceful although we were all wondering what the stranger hidden in the hut was up to. We did not need to wait long to find out.
There was a commotion and a man burst from the woods. The angler in hiding appeared and exchanged a few words with the man, there was some general nodding (in our direction) and then the man from the woods set off towards us. Clad from head to toe in Tweed, sporting a tie and a flat cap we could tell from his body language that he was not about to enquire if we were having any success.
No good afternoon either. Instead there followed a barrage of "rules" and "in all the 70 years that I have been fishing", topped off with "what do you expect, your wearing a baseball cap and shades!?" In essence we were made to feel that somehow we were not quite adequate. I guess that Tweed blokes plummy accent and the arrival of an interpreter in the form of a lady with an equally plummy accent did not help. Over his bellowing I doubt he could hear anything which his interpreter or I were saying. Or perhaps he just didn't want to hear. He was after all a miserablist himself. My guests found it highly amusing and we dined out on it for the remainder of the afternoon. The fishing being slow it did make for some excitement.
But this encounter left a sour taste in my mouth, not only because I pay good money to lease the beat but more importantly because there is no room for this kind of behaviour. It does fly fishing no favours. I am not saying for one moment that those who wear Tweed all behave in such an ill mannered or ill tempered way and of course I understand that the sport that I make my living is steeped in tradition. However the kind of jobsworth I had the displeasure of meeting this afternoon personifies an element of fly fishing tradition that I hope disappears sooner rather than later.