Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre
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Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre

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The Kilmore Fly by Arthur Greenwood

The dry fly sat proudly on the stream, sparkling in the autumn sunshine as it travelled down the run. A splash was followed by a glint of brassy flank, and the fly disappeared below the surface. The angler smiled quietly as he played the trout on his cane rod and unhitched his net Once landed, the fish was unhooked and gently returned to the river. As he sipped it back whence it had come, the angler looked up as a voice from above him on the bank said:

"I suppose that's another one to the Kilmore Fly, Thomas?"

"It is indeed, Jamesie," replied the angler, straightening up and hitching the fly to the keeper ring on the old rod. "A great way to end the season, I think. Give us a hand up this bank, Jamesie. These old bones aren't as sprightly as they once were"

Jamesie's eagle eyes sought the butt of the rod as he tried for a glimpse of the fly pattern which had eluded him for years, but the old man's right hand covered both fly and handle as he was helped up the bank.

'Did you get a fish yourself, Jamesie?" asked Thomas

"I did not. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what they were taking. Would you not give me a look at that thing, for pity's sake?" complained Jamesie.

"Sure, I've told you before, it's only an old brown thing that my Da gave me when the old Queen died, and he told me the dressing and said not to show it to a living soul. If I let you see it, sure it wouldn't work any more," smiled Thomas.

"That's the magic that's in it, you see. Ah, sure you'll have the fly yourself, all in good time."

With this cryptic remark, the two men made their way across the field to Jamesie's car. As they packed up, Jamesie watched as the old man carefully removed the little brown fly from the leader and slipped it quietly into a special box of its own.

'That's a rare sort of a box for a fly, Thomas," remarked Jamesie.

"Well, to tell you the truth, Jamesie, it's not a fly box at all. It's the box that had Martha's engagement ring in it! I bought the ring in London when I was on my way home from the trenches after that unpleasantness in France. I suppose you might say it's a special box for a special fly," smiled the old man. 'Now, will you drop into the house over the winter and we'll tie a few flies for the next season?"

"Of course I will," replied Jamesie, who secretly had not given up hope of sneaking a look at the fly which seemed to take fish every time it was tied on. The invitation might be an opportunity to do so.

Yet as the winter wore on and the snows came, Jamesie was disinclined to travel far and he contented himself with the usual tinkering with rods, reels and other gear which afflicts most anglers during the close season. It was March before he remembered his old friend and the proposed fly-tying session. Martha answered his telephone call.

"Ah, he's not well at all, Jamesie," she told him. "He hasn't been out of bed for a fortnight Will you come over and try to cheer him up?"

"I'll see him at the weekend," Jamesie replied. "tell him to set up his fly-tying kit."

Snow still lay on the hills as Jamesie drove the 40 miles to Thomas's house. It was cold for March, too cold to bethinking about trout, although that was the way Jamesie's mind was working as he planned the season ahead. Perhaps the old fellow could be persuaded to tell him the dressing of the Kilmore, and Jamesie could help himself to a slice of the action in the months to come. The chill wind whistled through his coat as Jamesie stood on the doorstep of Thomas's lonely farmhouse high in the hills. Martha slowly opened the door.

'I'm glad you've come, Jamesie," she whispered. "I don't know what to do. He's passed away, you see. This very morning." And she burst into tears.

Jamesie brought the frail old woman into the house, and called for the doctor. He busied himself throughout the day with the arrangements for his old friend's farewell, and agreed to return to help with the funeral and wake.

That occasion proved to be a trying time for the widow and, after all the mourners had gone, Jamesie made a cup of for her and they sat together in the silence of the otherwise empty house.

'You've been a good friend, Jamesie," Martha said. 'I know that Thomas relied on you these past few years for his bit of fishing. Did you know that he wanted you to have all his bits and pieces of tackle?"

Jamesie couldn't believe his ears. So that was what the old fellow had meant by his remark at the end of the season!

"Aye, it's all above there waiting for you, I gathered it together yesterday," she said. 'I'll be glad to see the back of that stuff it reminds me too much of him. Help me upstairs, now, and we'll have a look at it"

On the floor of an empty bedroom was a motley collection of rods, boxes and bags. Jamesie rummaged about, looking for the little red box which he knew contained the one item he coveted above all else. It was nowhere to be seen.

"Was there a little red box amongst all the stuff, Martha?" asked Jamesie anxiously.

"There was, surely," replied the old lady. 'Sure wasn't it my own engagement ring box that I haven't seen these sixty years? I was so glad to find it after all this time. There was an old bit of a brown fly in it, I threw it in with those others into that shoebox there."

Jamesie looked with horror at a large box containing literally thousands of assorted dry flies, mostly brown in colour.

"I suppose they'll keep you amused for a day or two, Jamesie?" asked Martha.

"For years, Martha, for years, sighed Jamesie quietly.

 

 

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