Friday, 5 June 2009

Sea trout and Salmon Fishing at Newton on the River Lune

River Lune May 28th 2009

I had received a lovely invite to fish on the River Lune from Rob and Annie Rusby and although I have a lot of things going on at the moment, the temptation to go got the better of my conscience. I managed to get off straight after lunch and arrived at the fishing below Kirkby Lonsdale at 3.00pm. As the Rusby's were delivering wine and not arriving until 4.30pm I elected to fish the top most pool Coneygarth, as I had plenty of time to walk up there, and the two labs Tia and Bolly would get some exercise. A quick look at the river revealed a nice water of perhaps a foot above summer levels with a good tea coloured stain to it.

As I had been invited primarily to fish for salmon I put my salmon rod up and after some deliberation elected to put a fairly bushy size 8 cascade double on. However remembering successful times for sea trout later in the season in the past I decided to add a dropper and try to cover all eventualities. The wading is very easy in this pool and I do not think that the bottom is rocky or weedy so I felt it was worth the risk of fishing two flies. Having added a smaller thunder and lightening type double as a dropper I set of.

The afternoon had got even better, it was warm still but some cloud had come over and I walked upstream with some optimism. The pool has a fast running neck which runs into a widening main pool which continues on for some distance gradually getting slower. On this height of water the pool was still a good 200 yards long. I went in just below the neck and was relieved that by tapering my leader and using different sized flies they were turning over perfectly even though I was spey casting rather than overhead casting as I wanted to fish fairly square. After about a dozen casts I got a take as I was stripping near the end of the swim. It dashed of and I thought sea trout immediately and after a brief fight I beached a nice 2lb sea trout on the large cascade which I returned. As I continued down the pool I caught a further 2 sea trout all on the cascade of a similar size and was starting to regret not fishing with my sea trout gear as the fish were outfaced by the 15ft salmon rod.

I then went back to the top of the pool and as the water was clearing rapidly and had fallen back a little I started higher up the neck in the much faster water. I was rewarded with three more sea trout in quick succession and a feeling of pleasure and elation at seeing and catching so many sea trout. The last few years have been increasingly tough for catching sea trout over the whole country and it would be fantastic if there is a recovery in numbers. I returned all the sea trout but would have been tempted to have kept one but did not as I thought that the law prohibited taking all migratory fish until June 15th However on catching up with Robert and Annie they asked if I had kept one and I said “no its illegal” Robert informed me that it was legal to keep a sea trout and that the laws just apply to spring salmon. I disagreed and several friends in the hotel later agreed with me, but a quick google in the morning proved us all wrong and an apology to Robert was due.

Sadly the clearing of the water and a slight drop in temperature signalled the end of the sea trout though Robert did catch a 2lb plus brownie which the water there is stuffed with. We rounded of a special afternoon for me with a meal back home at The Tufton. I owed Robert a favour so I did the wines out of my own cellar. A 1997 Alsace Pinot Gris, Grand Cru as an aperitif and to go with various starters. A 1998 Château Corbin-Michotte to complement the local racks of lamb. Definitely the highlight of the evening the Corbin was judged blind by Robert and he placed it initially as an older wine of perhaps Figeac or Ausonne class in St Emillion. I was delighted as I have several cases of it and have much pleasure in store. With cheese and putting the world to rights we enjoyed an old favourite from Beaune, Phillipe Dufouleurs 1997, Cents Vignes. A perfect end to a wonderful day.

Sea Trout Fishing
Salmon Fishing
Vintage Wines in Cumbria

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The Nut Tree Inn Murcott near Bicester

Surfing round the internet for somewhere special to eat the Oxford side of the Cotswolds I was delighted to find the Nut Tree with its recently awarded Michelin Star. In our old farming days we used to visit the Nut Tree quite regularly, as it was about an half an hours drive from our farm near Tring and had a deserved reputation for excellent steaks. It was run by a very genial mine host who got on well with my father and I have happy memories of some enjoyable times there.

It was with a sense of anticipation and slight trepidation that I drove through Murcott to the pub as my last visit would have been all of 25 years ago and I often find that revisiting places after such a gap often gives a slight feeling of disappointment that things are not as you remember. However for once in my life it was better than I remembered. A lovely, picture postcard, thatched building, very nicely kept up with a friendly feel on entering. Two ducks were waddling gently out the door as we walked in and with a smile we elected to sit outside on the back terrace as it was a perfect afternoon.

A one choice luncheon menu was incredibly priced at £17 for a Michelin star production but as nearly always happens I suspect, we ended up choosing different dishes off the full menu to try and fully sample the food. For starters we shared some Seared Scallops with Lemon Curd, Caviare and Fennel that was simply fantastic. The superbly cooked diver caught scallops with the sweetness of the lemon curd and the crunchiness and flavour of the fennel, was a truly winning combination. Weirdly we felt that the caviare was not needed and we would rather have had another scallop! I have an army friend who's dictum is “time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted” and I had read the website and picked up on the passion and reputation for pork dishes so we had the Pork Terrine. Again this was extremely good with a true depth of flavour that went perfectly with the Alsace Pinot Blanc that we had chosen. The wine list was not huge but adequate and the mark up perhaps not unreasonable.

For main course we had Slow Roasted Belly of Pork that really hit the spot, a real favourite of mine. A Salmon Fishcake with a Gratin of Spinach and Tomato Butter Sauce that was bursting with flavours and every morsel was cleared up! For a sweet we shared a soufflé of lime and coconut with some mango sorbet that was just sublime. My bill came to £82 and compared to what you can spend to sample Michelin star food, extremely reasonable. The service was unhurried, efficient and friendly, always a winning combination. I will definitely return given the opportunity and do not intend to leave it another 25 years and we would both thoroughly recommend it to anyone going down the M40 or anybody lucky enough to live close by. It would perhaps also be a good idea to pay a visit before the prices go up!

Restaurants in Cumbria