Their arms hit a perfect rhythm – each casting a short line and retrieving it with practised ease through the peat-stained waters, their traditional wet flies cutting through the waves to good effect. Every now and then a feisty Heilan’ troot would slash at a fly and become hooked. With well–accustomed ease, yet perfect respect, the trout would be played on the light fly rod before being brought to the side of the drifting boat and released to fight another day.
The sky was ideal for such fishing. Overcast but dry, the soft light was just what they wanted, the wind strong enough to put a good chop on the loch and to push their boat nicely parallel with the bank in a perfect drift. It was a ‘purple perfect’ day to be afloat on such a splendid Highland loch.
The loch was long and with steep sides, clad in bright purple heather and deep green bracken, with rocky outcrops and the odd gnarled and stunted Rowan. The air they took deep into their lungs when rowing from drift to drift was pure and fresh. The water, despite being late summer, was cool. All was well with the world and the two angling friends sat in quiet and satisfied contemplation. They didn’t need to talk on such a purple perfect day. They just kept on casting and catching, lost in the timeless pleasure that the pursuit of wild brown trout can bring.
Many’s the time both their rods would be bent into fish, each new hook-up greeted with the catchphrase “ah, here’s a better fish,” only for this to be quickly followed up with “ah, no, just another wee one – but don’t they scrap well…I could have sworn that one was close to a pound…”
No other boats troubled the loch, they were kings of all they could survey – they didn’t have a piece of paper to say they owned the land, but as the late Norman McCaig had previously asked – “who owns the land?” They certainly felt they owned the loch. It was theirs for the day and it was being generous, offering up its finned and brightly spotted inhabitants with a wonderful regularity.
They had breakfasted well in the hotel and would soon be lunching on one of the many pretty little islands which dotted the large loch. Each sprouted the last remnants of the old Caledonian forest; all ancient and very noble fir trees. Blaeberry plants carpeted the surface where the pine needles had not shut out all other flora and the occasional stand of bracken offered cover from the wind.
They pulled hard on the oars against the now strengthening wind to make landfall on what they considered to be the most hospitable island. It had a short stretch of sandy beach onto which they drew the clinker built boat before unloading their gear and moving to a small dip in the ground that took them out of the worst of the wind. A purple perfect location for a brew up courtesy of their faithful Kelly Kettle. The ready fuel that the pine cones and heather stalks provided, meant that within minutes their water was boiling and their tea infusing. Their lunch was a good one, with plenty of freshly baked bread, cold meats and strong cheese, washed down with the kind of wonderful tea that can only be brewed using clear Highland water. They discussed the wonderful fishing and the flies that had done the damage. In truth they both knew that on a day like this it didn’t really matter what flies they were using, the trout were up and hungry, feeding and being extremely obliging whatever the colour and pattern of fly presented to them. They both laughed when it became apparent that, having experimented with numerous flies throughout the morning, they were both fishing purple patterns. These unusual creations from their fly-tying vices were certainly doing the job today and they laughed when the coincidence of purple flies having a ‘purple patch’ on a purple perfect day became clear. Ah, yes life was good.
Time wore on, and they had a wonderful afternoon’s fishing to look forward to. They packed up the remnants of their lunch and disposed of all signs of the kettle’s scorch marks on the soil before returning to their beach come temporary harbour. To their horror they saw that their boat was no longer there but drifting serenely off down the loch. They confirmed in their mutual glance that they clearly thought that the other had secured the boat by its anchor rope.
Then it dawned on them – on this otherwise purple perfect day – they were marooned.