Having returned from a short holiday in the Channel Islands the night before, a day of household chores left only the evening for a return visit to my urban trout stream, before the last of recent spring sunshine gave way to cool, wet weather. Waiting until the worst of the rush hour traffic was over, it was well past 7 pm by the time I parked the van in a side street.
Bank side growth was already luxuriant compared to three weeks before and looking downstream, when I arrived, clouds of small flies were drifting across the river, while the occasional mayfly was lifting off. Surprisingly, only a few rises were apparent and felt that the main evening rise had been missed.
Hedging my bets, I tied on a Mayfly Nymph, greasing the line to a foot of the fly, before walking 300 yards to the bottom end of this fishable stretch, where the river then disappears from view behind houses. Without waders, I was limited to casting between the gaps in the trees, so kindly planted by the local council twenty years ago, to improve the appearance of what was an open, but very easy to fish bank. In the first gap, the nymph was ignored, but at the second, a cast up to the edge of faster water, resulted in a bulge beneath the surface and an explosion of spray, as the hook set home. These trout are already in top condition, but my 9 ft rod No 7 rod was designed to cope with bigger fish than this and the first of the evening was soon in the net.
As always, this plump wild brown was held upstream, until ready to swim off, during which time the surface of the river became dotted with rising fish, as mayflies began to lift off in numbers, some trout leaping clear of the water to intercept them. Casting to individual risers, the nymph was now ignored and I tied on a buoyant Hairs Ear nymph, rubbed with floatant, that sat on the surface for only seconds, before it was snatched by an eager junior brown.
Weed growth had increased and trout were stationed between the beds, eyes toward the surface, moving up to inspect the menu offered to them. With the sun gone from the river, I watched my emerger drift down within range of a brown, that moved forward and sipped it in without fuss, turning back down, as I lifted the rod. Perfect. The rod arched over, at the instant of contact and a spirited 9 inch trout was zipping all over the river in response.
I moved up again to an open bay before the factory, this whole section being full of rising fish, although I couldn’t see what to, but stuck with what worked, the emerger rubbed with floatant.
Conditions were now just right, no wind, a steady flow and plenty of trout to cast to. I spotted a better fish, only for a seven inch interloper to pounce, causing my intended target to jump clear, as I struck, splashing the small one across the surface. A longer cast to the base of the laurel bush, a ripple of a rise and I was playing another hard fighting brownie, that bored straight for cover along the opposite bank, playing this fish on the reel, all the way back to my net.
The mayfly season has only just begun on this river, but the trout are already barrel shaped and fighting at full power. Once this one was returned, I turned back, the light was fading and I wanted another shot at that better trout only yards downstream. Circling round, I could see the fish in a channel between weeds and made a cast a few feet above it. A determined rise and like magic it was on, fighting in mid water, then turning to run beneath the the overhanging tree to my left, dropping my rod tip to the surface to avoid snagging the branches, it emerging along my bank to run upstream again, before coming to the top and my net.
At twelve inches, this was the largest brown of the evening and certainly the hardest fighting, the shame being that I release all my trout, while many others do not and I wondered , if it would survive to grow much bigger. This should have been my last fish of the evening, but a final cast could not be resisted, as I walked back to the van, a steady riser falling for my fly.
Due to the low light, this image is not the best, but included it to show the variation of trout colouration, this one a multitude of red and black spots. Considering the evidence of well trodden banks, pointing to other angling activity, ten trout in around 90 minutes from a free fishery cannot be beaten.