Caught by the River

The Inchbeg Fishing School

12th February 2009

The River Field


from Hannah Hamilton;

The Inchbeg Fishing School was started by my father, Jack Hamilton, in 1996. Jack grew up just over the road in the house we currently live in, and fished these waters every day as a boy in the 1930s. It was always his dream to own The River Field, as it is known, and when he moved home after 40 years in England, he finally bought it. He and my mother, Kathie, cleaned up the field over the course of a summer: they pulled sacks of refuse out of the bed of the river by hand, peeled back the overgrown banks and planted 500 native trees including ash, oak, sally, birch, lime and beech to provide a habitat for local wildlife and to get to work on our carbon footprint!

The school was opened to the public and it became a success with both tourists and locals, especially primary schools who were keen to learn about our indigenous wildlife and the effects of river pollution, a cause my father was passionate about.

The school was his pride and joy, however in recent years his health has failed him and he is no longer able to do what he loves. I intend to re-open the school for the 2009 season as a not-for-profit enterprise, and donate the proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Society.

For further information please go to the website.


It was in this field that I learned to fly fish, under my father’s strict instruction. This, he informed me, with an elegant crack of his 12 foot split cane salmon rod, was an art form, and one to which all fishermen aspire. I was taught to tie flies in the dark. I learned to anticipate the rise and select the appropriate fly (sedges and green olives the favourites, black gnats after 10pm). I perfected my cast and put my own spin on the motion (born of necessity, I did not have my father’s biceps) that allowed me to present my fly to the fish with the finesse of a silver service waitress, anywhere at all on the river. He said that was the mark of a good fly fisher. I took his words seriously, and practiced casting onto a rise in a deep hole under a tree on the other bank with the wind against me till my hands filled up with welts.

Summer nights by the Nore. The swish of a cast. The cold rush of water around my legs (we never did care much for waders). Diamond stars in a pitch black sky. The splash of sprats jumping. The deep tantalising gulp of big trout rising. My rod. My daddy. And me.

from River Man