2 thoughts on “Catching Escaped Atlantic Salmon in Puget Sound

  1. A little story from Britain about escapees and bag limits.

    A long time ago, in the very early 1980s, I met a grand old English gentleman named Bertram Hoare, quite by accident, as I was walking in from a morning’s mahseer fishing on a southern Nepalese river and he, ramrod-straight backed, old-world military moustached and clearly still very fit and active for what I was soon to learn his eighty years was getting down from the “howdah” on a riding elephant’s back after his own morning of spotting and photographing tiger and one-horned Asian rhinocerous in the terai grasslands.

    “Ah! An angler!” he excalaimed on seeing me with aq rod and reel. “Might we have a chat before dinner tonight…?”

    We did.

    Which duly led me to discovering that he was a Hoare of the great British banking family, of the magnificent Stourhead Estate and Gardens in Wiltshire and once numerous and extensive other “bits of Wessex” that included the occasional chalkstream, a man who, coming from such a great family and being, I very soon learned, a truly great dry fly fisher, as a boy and teenager before the First War guided such angling luminaries as G.E.M. Skues and J.W. Hills on his branch of the family’s water in Hampshire when they came to stay as his parent’s house guests not far from modern Basingstoke, Hampshire.

    “You must come down and fish when we’re both back in Britain, Paul.” he said. “My Club has some of my family’s former waters on one river. There is also a bit of Test that Hills adored and valued far above the well-pounded fleshpots of William Lunn’s Stockbridge…”.

    My God, I thought, I’ve walked straight into a walking-talking piece of British fly fishing history.

    So we met a couple of months later for a day on his Club water, a small Hampshire stream controlled by an equally small, little-known, by-invitation-only Gentleman’s Fishing Club founded in the late 19th Century.

    Bertram outlined outlined some “How we do things here” stuff to me on arrival.

    “Dry Fly Only, of course … Nymph is permitted after July 1st, though I never use the things… I would ask you to return all small brown trout to medium-sized brown trout that look to be wild fish, though the rainbows that we stock to provide Club Members with something to take home and put on the table are fair game, of course…”

    “What is the policy about killing fish … the daily bag limit on the fishery, Mr Hoare…?” I asked tentatively. “I am not much of a freezer-filler, myself…”

    “I rather thought that when I first met you, but today I would say that’s it is, say, a bare minimum of a thousand. Rainbows that is. There was an escape from a farm upriver last week and our stretch is overrun by them….”

    Such a dry, old-fashioned, understated, English Edawardian sense of humour and wit.

    So we fished together that day and I took a very restrained forty of fifty rainbows.

    He clearly liked what he saw and handed me a handwritten letter over dinner at his home in the upper Test Valley that evening. It was addressed to “To Whom It May Concern” and read something along the lines of “This is to introduce Mr Paul Boote. Please offer him him every courtesy when met on the river over the coming weeds as he is very kindly helping us with our escaped rainbow problem. Bertram Hoare, Chairman.”

    I was told to show the letter first to Mr Lailey, the Club’s bailiff who lived in an old millhouse at the lower end of the fishery, then carry the letter on person whenever I came down to fish in the coming weeks.

    Those coming weeks saw me fill many a plastic agricultural fertilizer sack with Upstream Dry Fly and Nymph-caught rainbows. I must have had a thousand or so.

    Several weeks later Mr Hoare sent me a letter of thanks and asked me to come down and have a day with him on his holy of holies, fished only three days a week by just two rods a day, bit of the Test, where stocked or great-escaped rainbows, I very quickly saw, were definitely not a problem. What a day I had, fishing in Hills’s footsteps on Butcher’s Mead and wild Chilbolton Common (the latter producing a huge, wild 7-pound brown for me on a dry caddis in skinny water that looked only capable of holding tiddlers yet held a monster rising beneath a grass overhang on the distant far bank). The long day ended with another late-evening dinner cooked by Bertram’s wonderful lady housekeeper and companion in his old age, Eve, and a “I rather wondered, Paul, if you would care to become a member of our Club…”.

    I told him that I would (but managed not to punch the air and yell “Yeah! Not half!”).

    Good luck with the Zoo Fish, guys.

    1. I say! It all seems so unfair.
      Well, if you are in the right spot at the right time…. good on you.
      Nice story and thanks for sharing.

      D.L. Smith
      Washington State

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