Well its almost time for my first trip out in 2015 but first a wee important post.
I am a Fisherman and Photographer.
Last year Jim Simpson died aged 8o
Although I hadn’t seen him for almost 37 years, Jim Simpson has been in my thoughts almost every fishing day of my life. After my Dad, and my Grandpa James King and later on Tricia’s Dad John Malley, Jim Simpson was the most influential male adult to me as I was growing up. I say Jim but it was always Mr Simpson I never called him anything else.
He taught me how to fish….hallelujah. Its hard to imagine what would my life be like now if as a 13 year old boy I had never picked up a fishing rod, it is quite a scary thought. Mr Simpson, (I hope I can now call you Jim) Jim also taught me how to make photographs …..hallelujah again, I had been given two of the most wonderful gifts.
I was brought up in the concrete jungle that was the new town of Cumbernauld in the 1960’s. Jim took me out into the countryside. He taught me all about the brown trout that resided in the small Lochs and rivers in the Campsie Hills and more importantly, how to get them out of their natural environment without too much fuss. Carron Reservoir, Johnnies Dam, Banton Loch, Birkenburn Reservoir, Loch Coulter, all fantastic fishing waters from my teenage years plus so many wee unnamed burns and streams.
Occasionally we would venture further afield to places like Killin, to fish the hill Lochs there. Lochan na Lairige, the Rivers Lochay, Lyon and Dochart the massive Loch Tay as well. We camped in the wild, Jim, myself and his son Alan. Jim taught me about geology, plants, birds, insects, all with such patience and like a sponge I greedily soaked it all up. I remember a casting competition on Hogganfield Loch, he said he wanted to show off his protégée, not that I was that great but I was getting there. Up to Portree in the north of Scotland to fish the wonderful and seemingly never ending amount of hill Lochs there. A summers fortnight there with the whole family, Jim, his wife Helen, his daughter Elaine and son Alan and me the hanger on, the long haired novice fisherman / photographer, wonderful, wonderful memories.
He taught me how to tie flies, I still have some bits and bobs he gave me so long ago, a bit of Moleskin, 2 Hares ears, the odd starling wings, so sentimental now and so hard to use in case they run out. He introduced me to classical music and radio 4 on the long drives to and from the waters.
Another milestone in my life, he taught me all about photography. Many Saturdays out of season were spent taking and processing photographs in his work place in the basement of Templetons Carpets, a beautiful brick built factory in Glasgow. Eventually I went on to College in Glasgow to study photography something he told me was very proud of and I couldn’t have managed my final exams without his papient help.
In 1977 I moved away from Glasgow to live in Edinburgh and I never saw Jim again. Every year my partner Tricia would say are you going to see Mr Simpson and I would say definitely this year, this is the year we will meet up again. Time however marches on, life gets in the way of so many things. It is something I will always regret, the chance has gone,….. I never did go back to thank him for everything he did for me, to let him know how grateful I was. Basically he was instrumental in making me the person I am now. My life would be so, so different if he hadn’t given me those two precious gifts, fly fishing and photography. I would never have met Tricia if I hadn’t gone to the same College where she was also studying photography
Recently Jim’s daughter Elaine had been in touch with me to see if I would like to have a few pieces of Jim’s fishing gear, would I?…what a wonderful surprise, I was very touched by the offer. She told me of his recent life, the ups and downs, also that he died just 7 weeks after Helen died, it was very sad. All the stories that I had lacked and of course she gave me the precious fishing tackle, rods, reels, a handmade fly wallet, some fly tying gear, a wonderful collection of memories, which I will always treasure and of course I will use this coming season.
So a new fishing season starts.
On Sunday 29th March 2015, my first trip out, I will get out onto Coldingham Loch and armed with one of Jim’s fishing rods, a couple of his hand tied flies and before I make my first cast, a wee nip and I will toast Jim’s life and thank him for everything from the bottom of my heart.