Feeling like a small boy released from school, I followed the path down the broken cliff by an enclosure for sheep. I could hear the stream in full spate tumbling in a succession of small falls and soon the path crossed it by a wooden bridge, nearly submerged in the peat-stained torrent. High up, the Pitchroich burn was flanked by alders and almost impossible to fish but, below, I could see the pool. At high tide it was very full and surprisingly calm, as pressures of tide and spate balanced each other. As I watched, a large fish leapt clear of the water, quickening my pulse. The pool was clear of trees, and even casting with an unfamiliar rod was not difficult.
Soon Tom's 'Teal, Blue and Silver' was curving out over the pool. The rocks at the edge of the pool were extremely slippery and I had to keep checking that my feet were firmly placed. Thus distracted, I missed a good hard take from a fish near the seaward end of the pool. But that was encouraging, for it showed I was doing the right thing. I fished more seriously after that, concentrating as the fly neared the end of its run, though I kept a wary eye on my foothold. Nothing happened for an hour, and it began to rain heavily again.
'Three more casts,' I said to myself and sent the fly over the spot where the fish had taken earlier. The line went dead and heavy and I thought I was stuck on the bottom. I tried to free it and I realised this was no snag, as the reel screeched and the sort of fish I dreamed of rushed seawards. Then it jumped clear of the water, a larger sea trout than I had ever seen, and I smartly lowered the rod tip to prevent the biggest fish of my life from breaking the cast. It ran back towards me and I hand-lined in as fast as I could, stumbling backwards and falling on my back. Scrambling up, I found that the fish was still on and reeled spare line in as hard as I could. Then he ran again, tearing yards of line off in a determined effort to reach the sea. Then, when the last of Tom's backing was showing on the drum of the reel, he turned again and had me frantically coping with yards of spare line as I fought to keep tension on.
But the fish was still on. 'I must have hooked him well,' I thought to myself.
The fight must have gone on half an hour, until the fish came towards me on its side, ready for the net. Only then did I realise that, in my enthusiasm, I had forgotten the landing net. If I was to get this fish at all it meant taking it in by hand. There was nowhere that I could beach it, but I manipulated the fish alongside a large flat rock, where I might just be able to hand it out. I knelt down and drew the great fish towards me. It was exhausted and lay within grasp. I lunged at the fish and my knees slipped, and in the instant I was in the turbulent stream. I was bowled head over heels and then there was an awful pain in my head.