Royal salmon fishing on the Thurso, Scotland


[Music] Wednesday morning and the last day of the
Ferrari Macnab – We’re staying at the world famous Ulbster Arms on the banks of The River
Thurso – Before breakfast Chris takes me down to the bridge for a bit of a pep talk and
to enjoy the views of this famous stretch of water so often enjoyed by Royalty – And the line will come round onto the dangle
and there is a back eddy where the line will go slack and the line starts coming towards
you naturally. There’s also some advice from Dougie reid
who has been fishing this water for 40 years…I then get a crash course in casting – and cue
the Rocky-type monatge of me getting stronger – casting longer may be not.. lets get on
with it and head to our beat,,, lucky number 4! We are quite optimistic this morning. The
weather is lovely the water is in great condition and I think over 20 fish were banked yesterday.
There is quite a lot of positivity. There was somebody who was fishing this week who
had never fished before and caught their first salmon. So it can be done. Whether the gods
are smiling on us today we will have to wait and see, but we are going to give it a good
go. Although it looks cool we leave the ferrari
plus rod on the bank near the hotel…I wonder what would happen to it of we did 200mph with
that strapped to the bonnet??! Like a boxer about to enter the ring – my
trainer and manager man handle me preparing me for the first round. Tentativley I creep
out into the river – fish are jumping all around me and within 15 minutes I get a take
– what a moment !! – Wow……..No!………I just had a take……I
could actually cry now. What if that is it. What if that is the only fish that comes anywhere
near all day. I am actually shaking. Despite all the advice to wait when you get
a take my years of trout fishing meant I snatched at the rod – and my salmon has gone…. It is a long way to be here. But it all feels
worth it now even without landing anything. I think it is a pretty special place to end
the film. I don’t know why I am saying that. It is 10 o’clock. Another 7 hours fishing. Half and hour later Chris shouts to us that
he’s in – he thinks it’s about 6lbs – what a moment – it’s so exciting – people try for
years to catch salmon…Chris takes it in his stride Well done. I want to weigh it. Cock fish. What did I
say it was, a guess? 3 or 4 lbs. Hook in the mouth. Hook’s out. 4.5 – 5 … 4.5 not a bad guess was it? Can I touch it before it goes back. Notice the cape on its nose there. That is
where it has been in the river long the cock fish tend to get a cape, hook. It is bleeding
a little bit, nothing bad. What I will do is put it in the water. Working it backwards
and forwards to get water through its gills. And he will let you know when he is ready
to go. That is what I am doing now. A lot of people
put them back having fought them for 15 to 20 minutes and recover it for 10 seconds and
then let it go because their hands are cold in the water or something silly. Fish welfare
is the priority. He is ready to go. There you are. He’s swam away. That was good. Worth the journey for something like that
then Chris. Yes, all good. Just got to get you one now. Fantastic, absolutely fantastic. We have seen
a lot of fish moving up and you know both flies are fishing over the top of fish and
you are in with a chance and sure enough Chris said he has missed one and then 3 casts later,
2 casts later bosh straight in. So fantastic. First wild salmon I have seen banked. Just
makes me hungry to get involved. I too head back into the water and a change
of fly – then incredibly – I’m in… This time I make no mistake. Coming up stream. My heart is about to come
through the front of my chest here. Have you noticed how the normal drivel that comes out
of my mouth has stopped. I’ver never been so focused in all my life.
The guys on the bank want me to describe what’s happening but I just can’t… Ooh – feel the tail slap the line can’t you? After 10 minutes of terror Chris nets my fish,
and what a fish … and I’ve done it – 3 species in 3 days, from one end of the country to
the other… in a supercar. I can’t believe it. There we go just in the
bottom of the mouth. Here it is. My first ever salmon. Here on the river Thurso. Beat
4. The Ferrari Mcnab we have done it, I can’t believe it. 3 days ago didn’t give us a hope.
I’ll keep hold of it for a while. I think it will be quite tired. We see the salmon safely back into the water
– no trophy for me just the memory of a knee tembling moment that will stay with me for
the rest of my life…something I’ll tell my young son about when he’s old enough to
understand. Relief and torrential rain pour down on me….I
hooked a salmon and now salmon fishing has hooked me – I’m straight back in the river. For the next few hours Chris, John, David
and I just grin at each other… then Chris says he has a surprise for me – a chance to
fish on the Thuro’s private beat with Head ghille Dougie Reid – What a privilege and
what a place! So what is a full spey cast then? Well it’s a double spey swing….swing and
swing. But I am only half doing it. I am not doing it the proper way. Spey fishing is merely
done in the rivers, spey casting. We are fishing quite a special beat on the
river today. You are, you are on the private beat. Which
belongs to Lord Thurso. The Queen Mother used to fish it when she was alive. She came up
here every summer and stayed at Castle of Mey and the Thurso was her little treat and
she used to love fishing. And Prince Charles still comes and fishes it. It is a beautiful spot isn’t it. It is a lovely spot. The private beat is unique
on the Thurso. The rest of the Thurso is quite open and flat. This bit is lovely. Dougie is another one who still gets the salmon
shakes after all these years. It just makes your knees tremble and I still
get that feeling. Even today after all those fish. Even after all the fish I have caught. I don’t
know how many fish I have caught over the years. I never kept count, but I enjoy it,
I love it. At the begining of the 20th century the river
was damed which meant the water levels and the fishing could be maintained for longer.
It also meant there was a huge obstacle preventing the salmon from reaching their spawning grounds,
so a fish ladder was built at the same time. So these amazing fish have already had to
swim over 20 miles to get from the sea to here. They get here. They have got the fish
ladders built in here to protect them from the flow of water and allow them to get up
stream and into the loch. Their journey is not done here they still have to go all the
way up into the hills behind me to get to their spawning ground. They are an amazing
fish. On the way back to beat 4 for a few final
hours fishing we see a scottish red stag – our cornish red was only 48 hours ago but we’ve
crammed so much in it feels like a week. We may have completed THE Ferrari Macnab challenge
but there’s somewhere we feel we need to be in order to complete THE journey – John O’Groats
half an hour north of here. Again there’s a fuel stop to keep the V12 singing along
as we head for the UK’s northern coastline. The weather remains dry and bright, the Ferrari
looks fab next to the famous sign post. I feel exhausted but so chuffed. So many people
have helped me with this mad event and I still can’t believe it has actually worked out. So here we are John O’Groats, the end of the
line for us after 3 amazing days. We have done 1500 miles, we got our 3 species. We
have done the Ferrari Mcnab and the best news of all. I have just been told it is 755 miles
to drive home and I can’t wait. [Music]

local_offerevent_note September 30, 2019

account_box Gilbert Heid


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