Way back, way, way back before the invention of impermeable groundsheets, I took part in the 10th Rochdale Scout camp in Criccieth. Most notable for the food we had, or rather didn’t. After we had been there for a couple of days and acclimatised ourselves to the rain, sausages, eggs and constipation, we decided enough was enough. To hell with powdered mash and burnt baked beans. No! We were going to feast. Tonight, we would provide the food. And what was it to be? A whole Salmon. In fact, the biggest salmon we had ever seen. Two of our intrepid gang had gone ‘exploring’ in the area and had returned with tales of a ‘massive bloody Salmon’ they had found lurking under a huge rock in the Afon Dwyfor – a majestic strip of river that runs past Criccieth to the coast.
Like ancient hunters, we prepared. Something primordial was sparked off in us as we sharpened spears, made arrows and went about weaving nets made of string. Later that afternoon, away we went, like an ancient hunting party.
Our intrepid duo were right. Sure enough, in one of the deep slow moving pools, if you hung upside down and put your head under water (Incidentally, I don’t recommend this or condone subsequent actions. All I will say in my defence is that it was 1973) there was indeed a ‘massive bloody salmon’ exactly as described. Our plan of attack was cunning and considered: scare it out into the shallows with sticks and spears, then ‘catch it’ with our (now rather pathetic-looking) nets ….. and tonight we shall feast!
Well, part one of the plan went surprisingly smoothly. Within a few minutes we had the most enormous fish, at least 40 lbs in weight, splashing around, fighting for life, while we stood with dropped jaws, transfixed by the beauty and sheer power of the monster we had unleashed. So much so, in fact that we failed to notice the two dark green Land Rovers that had sped onto the fields adjacent to the river bank. Before we could utter a word, and in a scene reminiscent of the closing sequence of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, we were bundled into said vehicles and after the briefest of interrogations, driven back to our camp. It was during the course of this short drive back that I noticed, for the first time the signs along the river bank ‘Private Land’, ‘No Fishing’, ‘Poachers will be prosecuted’
We got off with a caution, scotch eggs and mushy peas.
© Andy Daly 2010