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by G.E.M. Skues | Aug 27, 2020 | FISHING, FRESHWATER
Mr. Theodore Castwell

An enchantingly beautiful chalk stream, perfect cast after perfect cast, big trout rising to the fly each time it alights on the water…
For Theodore Castwell, it seemed that St. Peter had indeed given him very special consideration.

Mr. Theodore Castwell, having devoted a long, strenuous and not unenjoyable life to hunting to their doom innumerable salmon, trout and grayling in many quarters of the globe, and having gamed much credit among his fellows for his many ingenious improvements in rods, flies and tackle employed for that end, in the fullness of time died and was taken to his own place.

St. Peter looked up from a draft balance sheet at the entry of the attendant angel.

“A gentleman giving the name of Castwell. Says he is a fisherman, your Holiness, and has ‘Fly-Fishers’ Club, London’ on his card.”

“Hm-hm,” says St. Peter. “Fetch me the ledger with his account.” St. Peter perused it.

“Hm-hm,” said St. Peter. “Show him in.”

Mr. Castwell entered cheerfully and offered a cordial right hand to St. Peter.

“As a brother of the angle––” he began.

“Hm-hm,” said St. Peter. “I have been looking at your account from below.”

“I am sure I shall not appeal to you in vain for special consideration in connection with the quarters to be assigned to me here.”

“Hm-hm,” said St. Peter.

“Well, I’ve seen worse accounts,” said St. Peter. “What sort of quarters would you like?”

“Do you think you could manage something in the way of a country cottage of the Test Valley type, with modem conveniences and, say, three-quarters of a mile of one of those pleasant chalk streams, clear as crystal, which proceed from out the throne, attached?”

“Why, yes,” said St. Peter. “I think we can manage that for you. Then what about your gear? You must have left your flyrods and tackle down below. I see you prefer a light split cane of nine foot or so, with appropriate fittings. I will indent upon the Works Department for what you require, including a supply of flies. I think you will approve of our dresser’s productions. Then you will want a keeper to attend you.”

“Thanks awfully, your Holiness,” said Mr. Castwell. “That will be first-rate. To tell you the truth, from the Revelations I read, I was inclined to fear that I might be just a teeny-weeny bit bored in heaven.”

“In h-hm-hm,” said St. Peter, checking himself.

fisherman art

It was not long before Mr. Castwell found himself alongside an enchantingly beautiful clear chalk stream, some 15 yards wide, swarming with fine trout feeding greedily; and presently the attendant angel assigned to him had handed him the daintiest, most exquisite, light split-cane rod conceivable – perfectly balanced with the reel and line – with a beautifully damped tapered cast of incredible fineness and strength, and a box of flies of such marvelous tying as to be almost unmistakable for the natural insects they were to stimulate.

Mr. Castwell scooped up a natural fly from the water, matched it perfectly from the flybox, and knelt down to cast to a riser putting up just under a tussock ten yards or so above him. The fly lit like gossamer, six inches above the last ring; and next moment the rod was making the curve of beauty. Presently, after an exciting battle, the keeper netted out a beauty of about two-and-a-half pounds.

“Heavens,” cried Mr. Castwell. “This is something I like.”

“I am sure his Holiness will be pleased to hear it,” said the keeper.

Mr. Castwell prepared to move upstream to the next riser when he noticed that another trout had taken up the position of that which he had just landed, and was rising. “Just look at that,” he said, dropping instantaneously to his knee and drawing off some line. A moment later an accurate fly fell just above the neb of the fish, and instantly Mr. Castwell engaged in battle with another lusty fish. All went well, and presently the landing net received its two-and-a-half pounds.
“A very pretty brace,” said Mr. Castwell, preparing to move on to the next string of busy nebs, which he had observed putting up around the bend. As he approached the tussock, however, he became aware that the place from which he had just extracted so satisfactory a brace was already occupied by another busy feeder.

“Well, I’m damned,” said Mr. Castwell. “Do you see that?”

”Yes, sir,” said the keeper.

The chance of extracting three successive trout from the same spot was too attractive to be forgone, and once more Mr. Castwell knelt down and delivered a perfect cast to the spot. Instantly it was accepted and battle was joined. All held, and presently a third gleaming trout joined his brethren in the creel.

Mr. Castwell turned joyfully to approach the next riser round the bend. Judge, however, his surprise to find that once more the pit beneath the tussock was occupied by a rising trout, apparently of much the same size as the others.
“Heavens,” exclaimed Mr. Castwell. “Was there ever anything like it?”

“No, sir,” said the keeper.

“Look here,” said he to the keeper, “I think I really must give this chap a miss and pass on to the next.”
“Sorry, it can’t be done, sir. His Holiness would not like it.”

“Well, if that’s really so,” said Mr. Castwell, and knelt rather reluctantly to his task.

Several hours later Theodore Castwell was still casting to the same tussock.

“How long is this confounded rise going to last?” inquired Mr. Castwell. “I suppose it will stop soon.”

“No, sir,” said the keeper.

“What, isn’t there a slack hour in the afternoon?”

“No afternoon, sir.”

“What? Then what about the evening rise?”

“No evening rise, sir,” said the keeper.

“Well, I shall knock off now. I must have had about thirty brace from that comer.”

“Beg pardon, sir, but his Holiness would not like that.”

“What?” said Mr. Castwell. “Mayn’t I even stop at night?”

“No night here, sir,” said the keeper.

“Then do you mean that I have got to go on catching these damned two-and-half pounders at this corner forever and ever?”

The keeper nodded.

“Hell!” said Mr. Castwell.

”Yes,” said his keeper.

Editor’s Note: Reprinted from The Essential G.E.M. Skues, ed. by Kenneth Robson, by permission of The Lyons Press.
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