Kite was no chalkstream expert when he arrived to live in Wiltshire in 1958 on the banks of the River Avon but as an Army officer he had the run of the extensive waters which were under the care of one Frank Sawyer. They became, at least to start with, friends living in cottages opposite each other on Netheravon High Street. But was Kite a protégé or plagiarist? Subsequent to the Trout & Salmon column I received a letter from a man, now in his eighties, who had been an under keeper to Sawyer and knew both men.
He writes: “I have read Kite’s book [Nymph Fishing in Practice] and it is obvious to me that he methodically picked Frank’s brain and used this information for his book. I remember trying to get Frank to criticise him but he never would; he just smiled and changed the subject!”
You could argue that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but there is no doubt that there was some kind of falling out, at least on the basis of the story related to me by writer and journalist, Brian Clarke. Kite made a healthy living from his TV work, so much so that he bought himself a shiny new Jaguar car. History does not relate whether it was a E or S type, but it was enough to enrage Mrs Sawyer as, each morning, she stood at her kitchen sink to look across the road to see the Jaguar parked in front of the Kite’s Owl Cottage whilst she and Frank eked out his meagre river keeper wage which would have been under £10 a week.