Storming brown trout

June 18, 2016 at 7:59 pm

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Latimer Park Fishery Rainbow Reward

June 10, 2016 at 9:45 am

Knowing of my hard time trying to extract trout from the syndicate trout river, life long friend Peter, invited me to fish with him on a guest ticket at his exclusive trout fishery,  Latimer Park, this week. The crystal clear river Chess was dammed in the 1750’s to power a mill owned by the Cavendish family, who built the original mansion at the top of the hill, but today all that remain are two lakes, the upper Great Water and Lower Water, both stocked with rainbows. Atop the hill is now the mock Tudor hall built in the 1800’s with views along the Latimer Valley sculptured in typical Capability Brown style.

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Arriving after 10 am, the car park was almost full and Peter was apprehensive, that the fishing would not live up to my expectations, but the further we walked along the bank chatting to the regulars, the more optimistic he became. Despite the sun beating down from a cloudless sky, reports were positive and we crossed the upper weir to an empty bank, setting up between two trees.

On our side, the wind was blowing from left to right, ideal for a pair of righthanders and we were soon casting to the edge of surface weed, where we could see moving fish. Peter was first in, only to lose it seconds later, next cast it happened again. With my leader greased to within a foot of the Gold Ribbed Hares Ear, I watched a rainbow approach the nymph, it’s gill covers move, then it’s head move, as it sucked in the artificial. Before the line moved, I struck and felt the weight of a good rainbow, that charged off towards the upper weir. I’d forgotten how powerful these rainbows are in this shallow lake and used the palm of my hand to slow several runs that this first fish made.

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Under club rules this 19 inch fish was killed, the 3 rd and last can also be taken, but fish mongering was not the aim today, although catching fish was. A longer cast meant watching the leader and a twitch of the line met the solid hit of a strike, with another rainbow boiling on the surface, before running off. Now Peter was into a good rainbow, keeping this one on the hook all the way to the net. My fish took longer to land, being a deep fish of at least 3 lb and 21 inches long.

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After this one was returned, I reached for an iced drink in my bag, the sun was blazing down causing me to overheat and stripped down a T shirt, before continuing. It wasn’t long before the leader moved again and the rod was bent double countering run after run. Each time the net came out, the rainbow made off at warp speed in the opposite direction, but the barbless hook held, the Hares Ear firmly wedged in the scissors of it’s jaw.

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Even deeper and 20 inches long, this rainbow never stopped giving it’s best, propelled by a full tail, speeding off like a torpedo, when returned. A surface scum had begun to drift down wind and the takes had dried up, so we picked up our baggage and moved further down the bank, where the lake widens out, giving more open water on our side. Line twitches indicated more takes, but we failed to hit most, a smaller rainbow being my last on the bank.

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The shadow of my camera hands, shows how intense the sun was beating down and after this fourth rainbow was returned, we packed up, making the long walk back to the clubhouse. Pete had banked three fish and dropped several, giving plenty of sport in two hours of fishing, being pleased that I had enjoyed my day in this leafy part of England.

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A small rise brings a big surprise

June 4, 2016 at 10:25 am

A couple of days of heavy rain had coloured up my syndicate trout river this week and I didn’t know what to expect, when I parked up at the bottom end of the fishery this week. From the road bridge, the water had a hint of colour, but mayfly were lifting off, although unusually no fish were rising above, or below the bridge.

I opted to fish upstream and climbing the stile was met by a wall of freshly grown ferns, stinging nettles and young Himalayan Balsam, all untroubled by human feet.

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Wading my way through this chest high undergrowth, the tree lined bank opened up to reveal a short clearing, where I stopped to study the surface. Mayfly were coming off in a steady stream, while grannoms and other flies skittered over the surface, all the ingredients for the river to come alive with rising fish, be it dace, chub, or trout, but nothing stirred. There was a strong north, upstream wind blowing, rippling the surface and beneath a bush, I thought I saw a rise in the surface disturbance. Waiting and watching for a few minutes, the ghostly image of a good trout appeared for a second to top and tail then disappeared again in the ripple.

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I guessed that this fish was feeding on mayfly nymphs, ignoring the flies drifting by on the surface, but decided to try some casts with my attached elk hair emerger, the wind aiding a soft landing each time. Third cast the fly landed to drift a foot, then submerge in a tiny ring. An instinctive lift of the rod connected with solid resistance and the trout launched it’self in a vertical jump, to fall back with a crash that sent it speeding upstream round the corner out of sight, but not sound, as it tumbled over the surface in the shallower water. Pushing the rod out over the river, I stripped back line, bringing the boiling trout back into view, watching it turn to run down the opposite bank. Thinking that I had it beat, I tightened the line with the landing net ready, only for the brownie to rush away upstream, with me following in pursuit. One last lunge for the corner bush sapped the two pounder’s reserves and it casually swam into my lowered net, the fly firmly set in the tip of it’s nose coming free once the pressure was off.

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A strong well proportion trout, more silver than brown, this fish was content to sit in my net facing upstream for ten minutes before swimming free.

I continued to explore this overgrown half mile of fishery, which is neglected by the governing club, making my way to a copse, where I had cut a path through on my own private working party during the winter months. Then a tree lopping exercise along the bank had exposed a fishable few yards and was please to see that it had survived the early summer growth.

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A perfect ending to this tale would have been another trout on the bank, but despite ringing the changes with dry fly and nymphs, the evening ended without another offer and a question mark over the shortage of fish.