Trouting For Old Blokes
Trout & Salmon|December 2017

Jon Beer fishes in Holmfirth, a Yorkshire town made famous by a trio of bumbling retired men.

Jon Beer

THE WORLD’S LONGEST-RUNNING sitcom takes place in a small town in West Yorkshire. In this oasis of northern nostalgia three of the older sort of bloke enjoy a carefree second childhood. For most of the episodes the three characters were Compo, Clegg and Foggy. Foggy Dewhurst, the driving force, the man of ideas; Norman Clegg, the voice of moderation and restraint; Compo Simmonite, the unrepentant clown. At one time, in the long distant past, Clegg and Compo had been classmates in the local school. Now they are retired and, for the best part of three decades, pass the time in unlikely misadventure in the lanes of the surrounding moors, in the café, pubs and ginnels of the small town and in the little river that once powered the town’s mills. The little river is the Holme (pronounced “Home” incidentally). The small town is Holmfirth.

Which is where we fetched up that September morning. There were three of us. At one time, in the long distant past, Paul and I were schoolmates. Even at school, Paul was ever the voice of moderation and restraint. I, alas, was the unrepentant clown. Now we are both the older sort of bloke. You can see where this is going, can’t you? But my carefully crafted analogy stutters hereabouts. Lynva is clearly not the older sort of bloke: she’s not even a bloke. But she is undoubtedly the one with the ideas – and the driving force. That’s why we were here on that September morning.

It had begun, for me, a few weeks before, on a boat on Coniston Water. We were fishing for char. Bill Gibson had offered a day’s traditional char fishing in the Wild Trout Trust charity auction. Bryan Russell had won it and invited his sister, Lynva, to share the day. I was along for the ride: I’ll go char fishing any time I get the chance. Bill had set up the poles to either side, rigged the arcane char tackle and set the 16 baits winking through the depths. And then there was nothing much to do but row and listen and watch and wait. And, as we waited, Lynva told me about Holmfirth, where she lives, and the little River Holme. And for that story we went back another nine years – and turned to Bryan and another Wild Trout Trust auction.

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