Angling Notes: A strange fishing day

A beautiful fish on a small sedge pattern at Inchicup; novice angler and savvy fishermen

Apart from regularly hooking themselves, fishermen often hook old boots, fence posts, cows and other animals. They don’t mean to do it; it just happens. Occasionally it happens in a way that is quite out of the ordinary.

In 1910, a man fishing for trout on the river Test below Winchester in Hampshire, caught a tree. He'd been trying to execute a particularly long cast to a rising trout under the far bank and in the traditional way – something to do with the triumph of experience over hope – his back cast wound itself neatly around the outstretched branch of a willow.

The fisherman was cross and rather than try to extricate his tackle carefully he gave an angry pull and the line snapped, but unusually his cast with three flies attached fell from the tree on to a duck that had been quietly snoozing the afternoon away.

The duck felt the coils of line land on her and panicked. She leapt into the river, shook herself indignantly and swam off downstream. The fisherman looked on with some concern as his cast had three flies with their three sharp hooks attached, but there was nothing he could do.


Then, as he watched, he saw the unmistakable gloop of a rising trout right behind the duck. It was without question a big trout and it had taken one of the three flies left dangling from the duck’s neck.

There began one of the oddest battles ever witnessed on an English river. In its attempts to shake off the hook, the trout dived and leapt, sometimes pulling the duck’s head under the water, sometimes half yanking the duck into the air.

Each time the duck felt a pull from the trout it panicked and tried to fly away. This half pulled the trout out of the water, but the trout was too big for the duck to carry off.

As the duck tried to take off, the trout felt a greater pull and, panicking in its turn, tried to reach the bottom of the river. The duck was immediately half submerged.

The tussle seemed to go on for ever, with the fisherman transfixed by the unprecedented sight. At one moment the trout would be gasping, its head in the air; the next the duck would be half drowned in the river.

Eventually, the line between the duck and fish got caught in an overhanging branch and both duck and trout lived to fight another day.

  • Edited extract from Tom Quinn's book Fishing's Strangest Days, published by Portico, an imprint of Anova Books.

Catch of the day

On Sheelin, there was a noticeable swing from dry to wet fly and although each day brought its own set of challenges, some lovely catches were recorded. Cian Murtagh topped the pole with a beautiful fish of 5lbs on a small sedge pattern at Inchicup.

Fresh southerly winds stirred the lake into action and some fish were caught on olive patterns in the wave. The Telephone, Red Tailed Peters, Cock Robins, Claret and Green Dabblers all moved fish with a Yellow Telephone fly as a top dropper producing the best results.

The weekend weather pulled the plug for most anglers with strong and gusty winds and continuous rain made things grey, bleak and most uninviting, according to Brenda Montgomery.

Fionn lands perch

My grandson, Fionn Evans (11), enjoyed a spell on the river Flesk in Killarney with his dad Simon last Wednesday where he caught quite a few small perch. (No doubt following in the footsteps of his dad and grandad!).

Quick thinking at Dún Laoghaire

Dún Laoghaire inshore lifeboat rescued an angler who slipped and fell into the water at Dún Laoghaire’s west pier last Tuesday. Luckily, the man was with a group who alerted the lifeboat.

The crew brought the man on board and returned to Dún Laoghaire Harbour where he was transferred into a waiting ambulance for secondary medical assessment.

RNLI coxswain Mark McGibney, said: “The outcome of this incident was a positive one and the group of anglers with the man did the right thing by calling the Irish Coast Guard and asking for help.”