One line from a nursery rhyme ingrained on my memory from an interminable march north to fish the Tummel below Pitlochry one spring. Three year old and Five year old enthroned on the back seat insisted upon the tape for much of the drive. Somewhere around Shap my wife and I were in open rebellion and were arguing with the tape. The Cuckoo was not an effing pretty bird, was of questionable moral code, and had few friends; we only herald its appearance for one brief moment of the year before it drifts into the background to continue its sordid life! The Muffin Man who lives in Drury lane also copped some verbals around Ecclefechan. We stayed in a nice house on a hill above the town, but as with so many of our Salmon trips north we didn’t catch many fish. The highlight of the week was a drive along Loch Tay, that I have fished a few times and from which I once miraculously hauled a 21lb Salmon, before cutting round the side of Ben Lawers to drive down Glen Lyon. At one point we stopped for a potty break and the chosen spot was one of the most stunning places that anyone can have chosen to open their bowels, Five year old daughter wasn’t at all impressed by the four thousand foot peak that formed a back drop to a steep sided valley with twinkling stream and occasional signs of habitation, she just tinkled away loudly listing Pokemon, oblivious to the hundred or more Red Deer who had popped their heads over the brow at the sound of Pikachu and Bulbasaur.
Here no cuckoo “singeth” or “flyeth” but with twenty degrees forecast for the weekend it can’t be far away. The ink black flowers on the sedge in the fringe have popped out and the balsam poplars are starting to smell. A Cetti’s Warbler has turned up, they must have “bolt on app thingies” attached to their voice box because they are significantly louder than any other warbler, and sometimes don’t sound off until you are almost upon them. Ducks are paired up and there is a great deal of rape and pillage on the water. A pair of Swans are also gliding around, looking for a spot to nest. This time two years ago an Osprey stopped off on its way North, no surprise visitors so far this year although there are reports of a White Tailed Fish Eagle cruising the south coast, I think even my decaying eyes could spot that one if it turned up in a tree round here.
Much of the week has been spent getting ready for the start of our Trout Fishing season which is just under four weeks away. I have split a couple of telegraph poles down the middle and am halfway through replacing the bridge that was squashed by a an Ash Tree last October. I have also been patching up a weir, part of which blew out just after Christmas. There has been a weir on that particular spot for a very long time, with old piles in the river bed and bank, and heaps of broken staddle stones thrown in behind. The Ranunculus is pushing through in most places now, although I don’t see there being any to cut in late April other than the bit on the top shallows that flourished mid winter. Mid day hatches of fly continue to increase with most fish, bar the spawning Grayling, showing some interest. There is very little fungus on the Brown Trout in the river, although this may come on as the water temperature rises a few more degrees. The Fish in the hatchery are now an inch long and, with the river water as clear as it currently is it may be possible to get them out into the stew pond earlier than usual, too many suspended solids in the water and fish reared on crystal clear spring water inevitably pick up gill problems. Several new seats have been put up along the river carefully sited to give a vista of open water that can be observed for any sign of rising fish, although a call for cushions has fallen on deaf ears and been discretely ignored.