Fishing Lines: Where to go boozing with George Bush
Sunday 06 August 2006
What would you ask George Bush Snr if you bumped into him at Nimmo Bay Lodge in British Columbia? You've probably only got time for one question before two men the size of Clydesdales pound you into a pulp for daring to talk to the former president.
Would you ask searchingly about his son's plans for Iraq? His views on Bill Clinton? Why he didn't grab Saddam Hussein when he had the chance? Thud! Time up.
The correct answer is none of these. Ask him how they're biting, or his recommendations for the best steelhead fly, and you'll probably be boozing with him until dawn. George Herbert Walker Bush, you see, is a very keen angler and a regular at the lodge, one of the world's most exclusive fishing venues. For star-spotters, four days at Nimmo Bay, which can accommodate just 18 people in nine luxury waterfront chalets, is probably better than being a postman in Hollywood Hills.
Most of the clientele won't worry overmuch about the cost (a mere C$7,895 (£3,700) for four days, and that's not including taxes, tips and fishing licences, though you do have use of your own helicopter). But for people like John Fraser, former speaker of the Canadian House of Commons, and Sir Richard Branson, it's ever tougher to find exclusive, out-of-the-way places where almost everyone else is as rich as you are.
It is not for oiks like me. A round of drinks at Nimmo Bay probably costs more than my car is worth. Tips to the chefs, pilots and guides for helping you catch the five salmon species that inhabit the 35 rivers spreading through 50,000 square miles of wilderness will total more than the GDP of most African countries.
I learnt about it at the CLA Game Fair, which took place last weekend in Hampshire. Strolling down Fishermen's Row, and debating whether to make a fool of myself in the casting contest, I spotted the most beautiful leather Gucci rod container on the Hardy's stand.
Putting on my I'm-an-eccentric-millionaire look, I asked the price. Turns out you can't buy one - unless you fish at Nimmo Bay. Hardy's have built special rods just for Nimmo Bayers, and these come in the Gucci cases, with even an aluminium case to protect the leather one.
Craig Murray runs the place. He looks like a linebacker and has a handshake that would crush coconuts. He probably built the wooden chalets with his teeth. Dealing with billionaires daily, he could see that I was a no-hoper. But he still told me all about the fishing (30 salmon or more a day), whitewater rafting, killer whales, bears, whale-watching, caving, the food (the lodge has its own bakery) and the views from 7,000ft.
It sounds idyllic. I'd love to go, if only to experience just once what luxury on this scale is like. But Nimmo Bay is only open for five months (May to September, my busy months) and travel is by helicopter, so you are limited to 25lb of baggage. What sort of allowance is that? My rod tube (plastic, not Gucci) probably weighs more than that.
Shame, that. I just know George Snr and his boy would love to hear my plans for world peace.
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