The mixed up weather conditions conspired to keep me away from the river bank this week, heavy showers and thunder storms coming out of nowhere, whenever my fly fishing gear was in the van. The roads were still running with rain water from the latest offering from the gods, when I set out from home at about 7 pm. Beyond the black clouds, a gold line of clear sky was showing through and I drove west toward it, in the direction of my syndicate trout river.
I had no idea of the state of the river following the downpours and was prepared to turn round, then head back home, if it was flooded, but apart from an increased pace, it was running clear. Welcomed by bleating sheep, I walked the 600 yards to my preferred stop, where the river forms an S bend as it drops over a ford. This has been a happy hunting ground for me in the past, where fish can be seen dashing back from the shallows into the deep pool above. This evening there were no signs of fish, despite hatches of blue winged olives climbing free of the surface and the occasional mayfly.
The river was as still as a mill pond, undisturbed by rising fish and I cast a small Black Klinkhammer further and further up the pool with no response. I repeated the process, this time with a Flashback GRHE drifted back, with the leader greased to within two feet of the nymph. Not a twitch. There is something wrong with the river this season, dace and small trout are usually the curse of this pool, but 30 minutes of trying produced a blank.
Gathering up my gear, I continued my way downstream, flicking the nymph up into every likely run. Again not a twitch of the line to show the slightest sign of interest from a trout, or any tell-tale rises on the surface. A drift along the side of a tree on my bank was routine, casting more in habit than expectation, when a buzz of the leader was followed by an underwater bulge. The trap was sprung and my rod lifted to feel the full weight of a very good fish, which powered off upstream, scything through trailing branches in it’s path and I lowered my rod tip to the surface to avoid being snagged. I did what I could to slow this charging fish, a silvery flash making me think it was an escapee rainbow from upstream, the manic tumbling convincing me that the fight would soon be over in favour of the trout. The hook held and the trout turned back, the now revealed brownie running past my outstretched net to the dark water below me. A surface roll demonstrated weakness and I put pressure on to pull the two pound trout over my net, lifting it clear in one swoop.
This well conditioned 18 inch brownie, with just a hint of gold on it’s flanks, had been hooked in the nose, the barbless nymph falling free in the net. When checking this against my images of others caught this year, I’d landed this one a few weeks ago a hundred yards upstream, no doubt dropping back to what it thought a safe home. I continued downstream to the end of the beat, then turned and made my way back up without another touch, the brief encounter worth the effort as the storm clouds gathered once more.