It’s hard not to get into the ‘hows and whys’ of the current state of female-representation in the world of fly-fishing without necessarily touching on some divisive issues.
Instead of skirting around these problems, I’m just going to wade straight into them and hope that the fact that I survived (sorry, I meant enjoyed) a Couple’s Fishing Holiday is enough to prove that I’m not a raging misogynist and all-round bad egg.
Now, if you’re wondering what a Couple’s Fishing Holiday entails then I’ll enlighten you. In many ways, it’s a lot like a traditional couples holiday. It’s a short-holiday, perhaps 3 or 4 nights tops, that takes you and your wife, as well as a good friend and their wife, to a secluded place somewhere romantic, where you can spend the days and evenings together in peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Destinations for your average Couple’s Holiday could be some luxury villas in the South of France, or perhaps a weekend break to the Black Forest in Germany. Now – a Couple’s Fishing Holiday is just the same plus you have the added bonus of being able to catch some fish as well.
It should probably go without saying that a holiday such as this one might not hang together that well if you don’t all get along. If you don’t get along with your mate’s wife or, worse still, your wives don’t see eye to eye at all, then there’s a chance that the whole thing could be a massively awkward waste of time and money.
Luckily, my wife and I are as close to besotted as a couple could be with my pal Gerald and his missus. We all love to cook and we share a passion for the outdoors, but this holiday was the first time that we’ve attempted to mix our friendship with fly-fishing.
Our destination was Langmere Lakes, a purpose-built holiday park that features five decent sized fishing lakes offering a variety of coarse fish, including carp, roach, rudd and perch. As with many well-established fishing lakes, there are a number of larger fish swimming through the murky waters of these lakes, including carps in excess of 20 lbs.
As the fishing lakes at Langmere operate on a catch and release system, there was unfortunately no opportunity for us to catch and eat our dinner, so we brought enough food to feed all of us for the weekend and prepared for a long weekend of fishing. Up until the start of this weekend, my wife had very little fishing experience. She had a dim idea of what it was about, but always felt it best to leave the details up to me. The more weekends and holidays that I began to disappear off fishing though, the more curious she got about it. Gerald’s wife was similarly curious, this lead to us organising the holiday together.
The close proximity of the well-equipped lodges to the fishing lake meant that it was really easy for us to get fishing early on in the day and the variety of the lakes also meant that our wives could spend some valuable time getting to grips with the basics, before they felt comfortable moving on to the bigger challenges that Langmere had to offer.
The lodges themselves provided a great place for us to relax in the evening, there was even a wood burning stove (wood pellets could be bought on site) to keep us all cosy at night!…
Whereas our first few trips to the River Annan had been hampered by our own rookie errors, the third time that we made the journey up North to our veritable mecca of fly-fishing was a far smoother, if not slightly more expensive, experience.
Before we’d embarked on our first fly-fishing holiday, I’d unfairly aligned the sport, with skiing and golf, as one of many upper-class hobbies that I was simply destined not to experience. All of us had come from working class backgrounds. Growing up on the grubby council estates of 1980s Essex, I’m always overcome with a feeling of pride when I think about how far us lads have come from there. My idea of leisure time growing up largely consisted of booting a tired football around and breaking glass windows – so it’s not hard to imagine why I thought fly-fishing in Scotland was perhaps a past time that I was not destined to enjoy.
Regardless of these pre-judgements in my mind, we made it to the River Annan, three Essex lads very much out of our own depth, struggling to land trout during the day and get some sleep in our poorly constructed tents by night.
Things have changed somewhat since those early days. We learnt these important lessons the hard way on our first few trips, allowing us to enjoy our later ones much more:
You only fish as well as you eat, at least that’s what we discovered on our third trip up to the River Annan. On our first trip we were subsisting off tins of beans and cereal bars, by the third trip we’d wised up and started eating out most nights.
There are a good variety of well-reviewed hotels around the local area, all of which offer great dinner menus. Whilst you might end up spending more money, we’ve found that a decent meal in the evening will guarantee that you’re on the top of your game the next day.
Although it might be tempting to knock back a bottle of wine (or two) with each fancy dinner that you consume, no one likes to spend a day hung over on the river.
When you’re fly-fishing you have to have quick reactions and sound strategy, you’ll have neither of these if you choose to over-indulge on drink every night at dinner. We’ve found that a couple of glasses are the upper limit of what you should drink if you need to be up early the next day.
Catching a monster 25lb trout is really much easier when you’ve had a good night sleep. On our first trip we really struggled to sleep each night, mostly because we’d completely failed to pitch our tents properly.
We had no trouble sleeping when we stayed at the spectacular Auchen Castle this year. Each night might have cost the same as half a year’s stay at a campsite, but the treatment we received from the staff made us glad that we’d spent the cash.
As with most things in life, the more you spend, the more you will get.
Obviously, it might not always be possible for you to spend exorbitant amounts of money on food or lodgings, but it is these touches of luxury that make the holiday that much better.…