Since 2008 I’ve fished with Steve Rhodes many times, sometimes in company and sometimes just the two of us. “I’ve seen Steve in very different angling contexts – teaching 80-year-old ladies who have never held a rod before; catching specimen grayling on up-to-the-minute nymphing techniques; fishing traditional ‘over-the-front’methods for brown trout from drifting boats; long-trotting and Wallis casting; engaging in deep conversations about angling history; finding the best pork pies (angling lunches) in Yorkshire…or possibly, in England. I’ve watched as the company he co-founded has burgeoned and I’ve also seen with great pleasure the testimonials he and his colleagues have collected from anglers who have written from home and abroad after enjoying a guided day’s fishing in his company. I’ve also been a keen reader of the Go FlyFishing UK website, which has grown into a real angling resource. Throughout, Steve has offered to me, as he has to many others, angling friendship, fun, laughter…and a great deal of sheer instruction. His scrupulous courtesy and integrity are by-words which it’s probably unnecessary to add – but I shall add them anyway. The days I’ve spent with him are among my fondest recent memories – despite the fact that he almost invariably catches more fish than I do or ever will.

 

When my dear Mum turned 80 (sorry, Mum, ‘turned 30’ was what I meant to write) I wondered what I could get her as a special gift. Since Mum is a Yorkshire girl, whose heart is and always will be in the Dales, I thought I knew what might provide her not only with a happy day but also with a set of fond memories. I phoned Steve. Without hesitating, Steve said ‘Yes, of course…’ and a cunning plan was laid. Mum knew nothing of it until I tucked her into the car and drove her in the general direction of the Dales. Steve was waiting for us. He courteously helped Mum into the 4WD – she took to it as to the manner born, I noticed – and drove us both to a favourite reach of one of the Dales rivers, where he proceeded to give Mum a most effective casting lesson, then escorted her up and down the river bank as she tried to deceive a trout in dead low water. Eventually, Steve worked so closely with Mum that he helped her stalk and rise a magnificent trout to the dry-fly. That fish didn’t stick, alas, but the sight of Mum’s face just after the take – yes, I saw that trout rise, Mum – and Steve’s beaming smile will stay with me as long as I live. As I drove Mum home I asked her how the day had been. ‘Oh Chris,’ she said, ‘it was…. Now then, it was wonderful. I felt…. I don’t know quite how I felt, except I felt so…alive and engaged with it all. And weren’t the Dales looking lovely? And Steve was…. Well, he was such a gentleman.’

I couldn’t put it better myself.”

 

Chris McCully

March 2013