Syndicate trout stream rewards persistance

May 18, 2019 at 11:34 am

Following up on my visit to a free urban trout stream, where the mayfly were just beginning to fly, I was encouraged to take the ten mile drive to my Hampshire syndicate chalk stream. The sun was shining and a light upstream wind was ruffling the surface, when I arrived after 3 pm.

Walking upstream it looked perfect, but something was missing, flies and rising trout. I had hoped to start with the White Mayfly, that I had used on the urban river, but was not so sure, deciding to make my way up toward the wier, before changing to a nymph.

This is what I found, when I got my rod down from its rack in the garage. A mouse had eaten the cork of the handle. Although off the ground, the mouse must have considered that it was worth the climb, only eating into one side, where my fingers wrap around. Maybe the floatant grease that I use had permeated into the corks, making a tasty mouse snack. The positive side is that I now have finger grips in the handle!

Without waders, I kept well away from the bank, pausing to study the river ahead, spotting a single rise 50 yards upstream close to the opposite bank. It rose again as I neared the spot, a raft of branches that had collected at a small bush. Another rise coincided with the first sight of a white mayfly lifting off from the surface. Casting was going to be difficult from this high bank, with trees hanging over the water, but a mayfly disappearing in a swirl ahead of me spurred me on. Sitting on the bank with my legs over the river, I made side casts up to the spot, but the upstream wind caught the leader each time, swinging it back over to my side. Mayfly were still lifting off, but a vertical cast saw the fly line land heavily ahead of the fish. It stopped rising.

The artificial was soon waterlogged, sinking on landing, so I got up and moved on, making false casts as I walked to dry it out. There were still a few Mayfly about and another rise a 100 yards ahead saw me approach with caution. Here cattle had broken the bank down and was able to stand at water level to cast, although once again overhanging branches called for a side cast.

The trout was rising every few minutes on the outside of the bend below a willow and I edged closer, increasing the length of my casts, being frustrated each time that I had the range, to catch on dead, long grass and cow parsley along the bank behind me. Plenty of time, mayfly were still coming off and the fish was still plopping away. Retrieving the fly for the second time, I went grass cutting, reducing the obstacles by hand, then inched back to my rod to start again.

The artificial was regreased, rubbed between my fingers, recast and ignored. The wind was still blowing the fly away from the bank and I aimed further in, watching it float down dangerously close to the bank. The trout took in a side swipe and I was in! An initial boil and it bolted upstream, stripping line toward the bend. Side on it was a long fish and not stopping, testing the rod as it bent to the butt. Against the pressure it came back, giving repeated, but shorter bursts of power each time. Standing at the tail of the pool, I bided my time, until it was ready for the net, drifting it across the shallows to be scooped up.

Not a wild fish, but a well conditioned stockie 17 inches long, fueled by a regular supply of Mayfly. After returning to the river, holding its head facing upstream, it kicked away to swim back to the pool.

I was content with this brown trout, walking back to the road, not being tempted by the few fish now rising to another Mayfly hatch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild trout ready for Mayfly bonanza on urban river

May 15, 2019 at 7:09 pm

An ankle injury had kept me away from the river bank for over a month, but using my landing net as a walking aid, I was able to cover the short distance from the car to the bank of my urban trout stream this week. Arriving after 7 pm, the sun was close to the horizon as I made my way upstream, disappointed that there were no fish rising.

Although it was bright sunshine beyond the trees, in the shade there was a chill downstream wind and assumed that this was keeping the fly life down. I decided to start off with a size 14 unweighted Gold Ribbed Hares Ear nymph, casting along the edges of the weeds and close to my bank, the nymph just hanging in the surface film. After ten yards, a swirl, followed by a tightening of the leader, saw an automatic response as I made contact with a seven inch parr, that tumbled across the surface and came off the barbless hook. Oh well, that got my heart thumping, raising my hopes of better fish to come.

Moving up to open water below an overhanging laurel, the nymph now waterlogged, failed to get the attention of any more trout, wherever it was cast. Seeing a small rise alongside a weed bed, I tied on an Elk Hair Emerger, rubbing floatant grease into the fly, before casting above the bed. A pound trout appeared from nowhere, took one look and dashed off in the opposite direction. My other were casts ignored. This is free, unmonitored fishing and I got the feeling that these fish had been covered too many times already, my usually successful Emerger, not cutting the mustard this evening.

I decided to backtrack downstream along the road, where the sun was still on the water, seeing that Grannom flies were scudding across the surface, a rise further down among the trees confirming my choice of the Orange Elk Emerger. All I needed was a place to cast from the high bank, my sore ankle too unsteady to be climbing down to the waters edge.

I stopped at an open bank covered with cow parsley, where reeds and wild watercress grew out into the water. It was difficult casting from this point, but this was my only option, the overgrown bank making it difficult to control the line. I had brought my 7 ft 3 Weight rod, where my 9 ft 5 Weight would have been the answer to cope with the bankside vegetation. A month before, only the occasional daffodil would have been present.

White Mayflies had begun launch into the air and like a switch, the apparently barren river came to life with fish rising in front of me. A few casts with the Emerger were ignored, but a last minute grab of the Mayfly box, when leaving home, was now to pay off as I rooted through it to find a white Mayfly.

Tying this monster on was easy compared to the smaller flies earlier. Rubbing it in with floatant, saw it sitting high and proud on the surface. Not for long. It had drifted only a few feet, before it was engulfed in a splashy take. The strike was absorbed by the line caught in the watercress and I missed my chance. Maybe a small fish. Watching for the next rise, I made a long cast upstream close to the far bank, this time seeing a deep bronze flank roll over the fly. Yes! I was in, the short rod bending double as the trout bucked and dived in the clear river. The hook held and I stripped back line as the trout ran downstream past me, boiling on the surface. “Stay down!” I pleaded, fearful that the hook would shake out, but no, the gods were on my side this time and with the landing net at full extension, the wild brownie was scooped into the net.

About 12 oz, this beautiful trout was already deep and round, the early feast of Mayfly a healthy boost to its diet. Holding the trout upstream in the landing net for several minutes, I waited until it was ready to swim off, before turning the net over, watching the dark back disappear beneath the cress. The sun was now touching the fields across the river and I was glad that I had put on a sweat shirt as the breeze had transformed into a downstream wind, dragging the fly across the surface seconds after it had dropped onto the water.

As the last of the sun sank beyond the field, the wind dropped enough to allow the fly to float down to the surface close to my side, being taken aggressively in an instant by an 8 oz fish that boiled on the surface, as I frantically tried to free the flyline from the cow parsley along my bank. Soon the leader was caught in the watercress and the trout gone. Untangling the line, the Mayfly was still in place, deciding to call it quits for the evening.

I had hoped for more fish, but it was good to get back out on the river with a fly rod, the adrenaline helping me to forget the pain in my ankle for an hour, or two.

 

Positive signs for 2019 trout season

March 25, 2019 at 5:35 pm

A good turnout of members on my syndicate trout stream this weekend, was a sign of optimism for the coming 2019 trout season on April 1st, following two bad years on the north Hampshire fishery.

In 2017 the landowner diverted the river to build a new bridge, the flow reduced to a trickle, leaving trout stranded in shallow pools open to predators, such as mink and herons. This was done without consultation with the anglers, who could have mounted a rescue operation. Many trout and coarse fish were lost.

Last season we enjoyed a long hot summer with associated low river levels, after a cold wet spring. Trout were hard to reach, seeking out deeper water under banks and trees, many members not returning to the water once the Mayfly were over. Even the chub and dace were scarce during the summer months on my few brief visits. The last fortnight of September gave me hope for this year, when I caught a couple of ten inch wild browns from both ends of the fishery, plus losing a very large trout two weeks running from the same spot.

This was the last trout of the season for me, bright silver like a rainbow.

During autumn and winter, the mixed fishery is fished by coarse anglers, who reported many juvenile trout taking their maggot baits and judging by the redds created by spawning trout, observed on the working party this January, trout stocks should soon regain previous levels. 

Work on the river has involved the creation of berms to speed up flow, while intrusive willow has been cut back and overhanging trees trimmed.

This clump of willows claimed two of my best brown trout last year, the deep pool now accessible from the bank, avoiding the need for a tricky upstream cast from the tree shrouded river.

Here’s hoping that the 2019 Whitewater trout fishing season puts a few more wild browns in the net.

 

Trout stream work party feeds optimism

January 13, 2019 at 7:23 pm

The January working party on the Hampshire syndicate trout stream, that I fish, has often been flooded off, but this year the river was running clear, as I joined several members walking up to the weir to begin cutting back willow and alder, in an effort to aid casting.  It was encouraging to see several trout redds, where spawning trout had cleared  shallow troughs in the gravel to deposit their fertilised eggs.

This stretch had not been trimmed for a couple of seasons and last year had proved almost impossible to fish, due to branches hanging low over the river, while trout rose unchallenged by anglers’ flies.

The chainsaw saw plenty of action removing a fallen tree, while a couple of pole saws trimmed back overhanging branches along a 200 yard stretch. A fire was started to dispose of the cuttings, a strong wind bringing it up to furnace temperatures in minutes, as a constant supply of cuttings were ferried along the banks to its central point.

 

Calling a halt after three hours for a tea break, plans were discussed for further work parties following on in the next few weeks, more trimming back down to the roadside on this stretch, while flow deflectors were earmarked for improvement and repair. Ranunculus weed, transplanted last year, was also seen to be growing well on the gravel runs, the long fronds acting as a haven for nymphs and young trout alike.

Two years ago the landowner diverted the river to build a new bridge, without consulting the anglers, reducing the flow to a trickle and many fish were lost in this and the stretch down stream. It appears that nature is already repairing much of the habitat damage and with more sunlight now able to reach the riverbed, fly life and weed growth will improve, much to the benefit of the anglers.

Wild trout season closer

September 27, 2018 at 11:17 pm

Despite commitments all this week, I was able to take advantage of late September sunshine for a last chance trout, from my syndicate trout stream. Despite days of rain over the weekend, the river was licking over the stones, when I arrived late in the afternoon, clumps of ranunculus weed exposed on the gravel runs.

Walking down to a once productive S bend, I got into the river to wade up through the shallows toward the upper pool, seeing the tell-tale V from a fish that had been browsing the shallows, watching it dart back into the deeper water.

Leaving my van in a layby, I had stopped to look up and down the river, searching for signs of rising fish, but despite the air being full of wheeling Daddy Long Legs, or Crane Flies for the educated among us, there was zero surface activity. Keeping my rod set up in the garage, has the advantage of more fishing time on the bank, the van allowing rod and landing net to be ready for action.

The size 18 copper headed nymph would do to start. If the Crane Flies began scudding across the surface raising a few fish, it would be an easy swap.

Heavy vegetation growth at the edges, was compensating for the lack of water, speeding up the flow as it was funneled toward the shallows and I made a series of casts, moving steadily upstream, as the nymph fished deeper water, lifting it clear of the gravel to keep it bouncing along the bottom.

Ten minutes into the exercise, the leader held for a second, then dropped back, only to veer off to the right. The sharp upward lift of my rod was automatic and a silver flash broke the surface, then dived back to the pool for a short lived tumbling fight, before racing off downstream into the shallows for a more equal battle, a nice dace skimming on its side over the rapids, straight to my hand.

Holding this dace still for a photo, said it all about the strength of dace, size for size they beat many other coarse fish in the power stakes.

Crane flies were launching off from the grass banks of the river, some dipping the water as they fought to gain height, but no fish responded to this easy meal and I continued working my way upstream, keeping in close to the bank and fishing the nymph out and up in a continual search of the bottom.

Casting alongside fronds of sunken weed, the leader stopped. Raising the rod to clear the obstacle, there was a boil as the line shot forward and another silver flash clattered across the surface, pulling the rod tip down. This was no dace, although small, it arrowed upstream into the deeper water, the 7 foot rod bending to the butt, before springing a silver trout to the surface in a shower of spray. Quickly netting the fish, its purple sheen made me think that it was a young rainbow, but the large dark spots said brown trout.

This was the last fish of the evening and the 2018 river trout fishing season for me,  a season that has continued the steady decline of a once fine wild trout stream. This two year old wild brown trout is evidence in itself, that the species can self generate, although it must be looked upon as a rare survivor.

 

Trout from the jungle

September 9, 2018 at 8:01 pm

Following up on a recent visit to my syndicate trout stream, I was back again for more punishment this week. The farmer has enclosed the river in electrified fences to keep his cattle out of the river, which in turn has made fishing from the banks extremely difficult and often painful, as I found out, when the aluminium handle of my landing net made contact with the wire, while trying to stand on the thin strip of bank between the river and the fence. The intermittent shock ran up my arm, leaving me with the feeling, that I had been hit on the left elbow by a hammer. Not pleasant, when stalking a visible trout. Add to this the untended banks and overhanging trees, that require cautious and accurate casting to avoid snagging the fly. Summer working parties were promised by the bailiffs, but never arranged.

This is a typical, once productive series of pools, that is now unfishable with a fly rod. An hour with a brushcutter would transform this bank. Wading my way through this jungle, I found the room to cast, seeing the leader jag upstream and struck, dragging a minnow clear of the water.

A few more casts and the same result, another minnow. That pool could once be relied upon to produce a few dace, maybe a chub and even a trout, but now it seems to be minnow alley. I moved on.

Wading up through shallows, I made casts toward the tail of this pool, where in low water I have often had a trout. A sharp tug saw an instant response, but the nymph flew back into trees behind me. I was able to pull the branch down with my landing net and retrieve the nymph. Moving further into the pool, I searched the area with the size 18 copper headed spider, inducing movement, lifting and dropping the rod top as I brought the line back. The line went solid and a flash of gold ahead signaled a brown trout beginning an explosive fight in the clear water, as it dived for roots. It was not big, but having been catching roach of the same size recently, more powerful by far. My net was ready as it ran round the tail of the pool and I scooped it up.

A true wild brown trout of about 10 inches long, a rare sight these days on the river. The hook had dropped out in the net, being just in the tip of the nose, the trout probably activated more by curiosity, than hunger. Stepping back into the trees, I held the trout upstream in the shallows, until it kicked away.

With confidence boosted, I made my way downstream again, intending to work my way up through a section not fished this year, but found the river choked by reeds.

I continued upstream again, until I reached the pool where last time I had three perch, but this time the total was one small perch lost as I lifted off. Upstream, between the trees, a trout was rising noisily, splashing at unseen flies. Wading beyond my waist, may have got me within casting range, but the chances of extracting what seemed to be a very large fish from among the roots and fallen branches seemed very remote and I climbed back out. From the stile, I could look down into the deep pool, but the trout failed to perform, invisible in the shadows.

Time was getting on and a final dabble in a fast flowing run-off saw the leader stop and I lifted a small dace clear of the river. Close to the road, a pound plus brown waited in the stream for offers of food and I negotiated the electric fence in an attempt to make a cast, getting an electric shock and catching my line in an overhanging clump of vegetation. This is where I came in. The trout swam to safer water and I went home. Time is running out on the season. Last year I had 18 trout, compared to only a few this.

 

 

 

 

Low water trout stream rare visit

August 26, 2018 at 6:12 pm

It is months since the last visit to my local syndicate trout stream, a Mayfly imitation still attached to the line, from when I had left the fly rod leaning against the wall of the garage. The heat wave, plus almost total enclosure by the farmer of the river with electric fences and barbed wire, did not inspire me to bother with the ten miles drive, while more rewarding coarse fishing was available on my doorstep.

With only six weeks of the trout fishing season left, I had not had my money’s worth out of the river this year and with an afternoon free, loaded my waders and fly gear into the van. Recent rain would have increased the flow and I was quite optimistic that a few trout might be rising. Parking the van, first impressions were not good, an electrified fence stretching across the opening for the gate. Treading the wire down with my waders to enter the field, I could see the fence ran along the top of the bank for 300 yards to the next gate, making fishing from the bank impossible, passing under, or over the wire, leaving less than a foot, or two to stand on. Stealth would not be possible on this once productive beat. This field was always used for arable crops, the bank being open, but the farm has switched to beef production, the fence to keep the young bullocks from falling from the steep banks into the river.

Through the next gate, there was more barbed wire along the high bank, before I reached the cattle drink, where the cattle can pass between fields. Above this point is a long pool, from which I circled well away from the bank, as fish often lie in the shallow water close to the opposite side. Entering the water from the gravel dam, there were no signs of rising fish upstream of me and I tied on a size 18 Copper Head Spider to bounce along the bottom of the pool.

Casting up and across to a drainage pipe, the line set in a bow as it drifted down. Lifting off there was a tap on the line. Missed it. Probably a small dace. I cast again, even a dace would do to start my session. Lifting off, tap, tap, strike! The rod doubled over as a good trout gyrated around the pool on a tight line, throwing up spray. I thought it was beaten, but one look at the landing net, sent the trout off upstream toward tree roots, pulling the rod down and the small barbless hook free. Curses.

At least there are still a few trout in here. Wading in further, I cast up among the trees. Tap, tap. Missed it. In again, another tap. Strike. A tiny chub had taken the spider.

Time to move. Continuing down, over a stile, I entered a cattle free zone in the copse, the banks lined with Himalayan Balsam. When I first joined the syndicate, the bailiffs used to organise balsam pulling sessions, the members keen to help keep the banks clear, but now with the membership in decline, the upkeep of the river too has spiralled down. Clearing my way through the tall, sweet smelling plants, I reached a point where I could get down into the river, wading up to a deep pool named Dead Cert, where once an hour spent fishing into the trees, would usually be rewarded by a trout, or two, plus big dace and chub.

Casting into the deeper water to my left produced nothing from where trout and dace would often lie and I continued slowly up above the hop bush over the river. From here I could cast among the roots of the trees, allowing the spider to drift back to my position. With the leader greased to within two feet of the fly, I watched for any movements. It slid sideways and I lifted feeling the weight of a small fish. Definitely not a trout, hugging the bottom, a perch popped up on the surface.

Oh well, at least something was working. With a cold wind blowing, there was no surface activity, or any sign of rising fish, I stuck to working the pool with the nymph, another slow pull on the leader, putting a bend in the rod, a bigger perch coming to the net.

A couple more casts and the line straightened again with yet another perch, that dived deep on its initial run, then gave up the fight, drifting back to the net.

There was probably a shoal of stripies down there, but I was here for trout and headed back over the stile, trying my luck in various pools on the way back without a touch, ending up at the cattle drink. It was now spitting with rain, but sheltering beneath a tree, I covered the pool, another sharp take meeting resistance as a small dace took the nymph.

The rain was increasing and I made a break back to the van, passing again the electrified fences and barbed wire, this once delightful little fishery now resembling a prison camp. That lost trout has raised my hopes for more to come this season. At least it had not been a complete blank.

 

 

Mayfly trout stream washout

June 3, 2018 at 10:36 pm

Thunderstorms were forecast across southern England this week on the first day of my three allotted syndicate days, but when none had arrived by lunch time, I took a chance and headed west, hoping to find the mayfly still being gorged by trout. Leaving home it was hot humid sunshine, but the nearer to the river I got, the darker it became. I decided to walk halfway down the river, to then wade back, but a look at the sky told me that I was on borrowed time.

Nothing stirred, my hoped for mayfly were missing, as a massive black cloud moved across from the south. I pushed on downstream, looking for trout among the weed beds. The heat in my waders was building and sweat was dripping down my neck, then as the sun came out, my polaroids began to steam up. I took them off and continued downstream, where a few mayfly had begun to lift off. All was not lost.

Entering the river was a relief, the cooling water having the desired effect of clearing my heat daze and rounding a bend, a rise beckoned me upstream. There was plenty of room to cast and with no wind, the line dropped ahead of another splashy rise. Ignored, I cast the small white mayfly again, watching it disappear in a ripple, tightening the line into a small wild brown that darted left and right, before dropping off as I lifted it from the water toward my hand. Once cursed by these small trout, I now welcome every one as a sign of the river’s recovery. Further up, another rise encouraged me to work the water a yard at a time, in the hope of raising another fish.

 

 

Then the rain started, just a few drops at first, then a cloudburst as a clap of thunder echoed across the pasture. I waded back down to the cover of an alder, tying on an unweighted flash back Hares Ear, while I waited for the shower to pass. This has proved a good alternative to a winged mayfly in the past, greased with floatant, it sits in the surface film like an emerging mayfly nymph. Soon it was dryer out in the diminishing rain, than under the tree, as heavy droplets fell from the leaves. Once again nothing was showing, just the occasional mayfly shaking free from the bankside vegetation, that skidded across the surface.

Again I prospected for takes along this fast shallow section, pausing to concentrate on a deeper glide of gravel and crowsfoot weed. I did not see the nymph sucked from the surface, only to react to the line shooting forward, feeling the surge of a good fish, as it stood on its tail to erupt on the surface. A brief run upstream bent the rod to the water, it springing back as the trout turned, running down behind me. My longhandled net was not to hand and holding my rod high, tried to steer the thrashing fish down toward it. Second sweep, the silver trout was in the net.

This had been an epic battle, controlled by the trout, with me on catch up trying to take the upper hand, expecting the barbless hook to come free at anytime.

No sooner had I unhooked the fish and held it upstream to recover, than the rain began in earnest, getting heavier by the second. With a peaked cap, jacket and chest waders it was bearable, but the river was being hammered and it was not a difficult decision to call it quits.

By the time I had returned to the road, my jacket and shirt were soaked through, but this time the waders held in the warmth from my lower body. While putting my rod away, another member came trudging up the other side of the river, he too had taken a chance with the weather and lost. As we talked, the clouds parted and bright sunshine beamed down, a signal for the mayfly to hatch, that persuaded my companion to pick up his rod and head upstream for some more punishment, while I headed for home.

 

Trout stream hots up at last

May 20, 2018 at 5:53 pm

Reports of a few fish being taken on mayfly, saw me arrive with some optimism at my syndicate trout stream this week. A continued dry spell had warmed everything up, causing shoots to sprout with avengeance, the trees now full of summer foliage, while the adjacent fields were getting an early hair cut, as a tractor cut fresh grass for hay making.

A few mayfly were lifting off as I walked downstream looking for rising fish, but had to travel half a mile before a ripple from the bank below me indicated a feeding trout. I crept past and waited, Yes, another discrete rise sending out a ripple.

Having seen a white mayfly drift down to be ungulfed by the as yet unknown fish, I searched through my artificials and found a small bodied version to tie on. During winter work parties, we had removed many of the small overhanging saplings, to allow casting along this bank and keeping the rod flat to avoid overhead branches, tried to get close to the fish. Naturals were coming down steadily now and the trout was moving around taking two or three at a sitting, then moving back to the edge. Waiting for a lull, I flicked the fly close to the bank and the fly was gone, lifting into a good trout that ran to down my right toward some weed. Keeping a tight line, I let the 7 foot, 3 weight rod do the all the work, as it bent double. I wanted this fish, but did not want to give it line. Last week I had done just that and lost one. From high on the bank, I had a good view of the fight, waiting for it to slow down showing its flank, before pulling it across to my extended landing net.

The fly was well hooked inside the top of the mouth, but pushed out with forceps, an 18 inch overwintered stockie. Held upstream for a few minutes, it soon recovered to swim free.

I had been waiting for a decent trout since the start of the season and encouraged, decided to walk further down to the confluence of a smaller river. This was coloured and turned back and entered the river a few yards upstream. I do not usually venture this far, but the river here has character, rushing over stones and deep pockets.

With trees behind and above me, casting was not easy, but there were rises to my right in the fast water and cast the mayfly to the spot. The mayfly was ignored, while smaller flies were still being taken. I tied on a size 16 deer hair sedge, ideal for this rough water and recast. It ran down 18 inches then, splosh, the fly was taken by a juvenile trout, which launched into the air and came off. Others were still rising and a positive take made sure of another small wildie, that zig zagged about putting a bend in the rod.

The mayfly hatch seemed to be over, but plenty of smaller flies were being taken, as I waded up round the bend away from the trees, allowing me to cast at will to at least a dozen fish in the next 50 yards. This is what I joined the syndicate for, freestyle fishing, reading the water and always watching for a better fish. On a welsh stream these small browns are the norm, but here I have had some much better fish emerge from the depths in the past. Wading up a bit at a time, most rises were covered, some reached my hand, others shed the barbless hook, the best of about 8 oz, slipping through my fingers as I attempted a photo. A very pretty fish.

Reaching overhanging alders, I had seen an occasional rise and watched as a mayfly drifted into range, seeing the red spots of a trout as it took. Edging closer, the white mayfly was again tied on and I tried a cross body cast, up and across to it. At last I got it right, a foot from the opposite bank the fly drifted down. A splash and it was gone. There was too much slack, I missed it. Not to worry, I’ll be back next week, the mayfly should then be ready for Duffer’s Fortnight”

Urban trout river confidence booster

May 9, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Following my inability to catch trout on my syndicate trout river, I drove this week to the urban, roadside trout river 15 miles north of my home, just to prove to myself that I could still catch on the fly.

Parking in a residential road, I walked upstream from the bridge to a green above a bus stop, where a cloud of tiny flies were hovering above the surface, being mopped up by waiting trout.

The river here is clear, and I watched a dozen trout of various sizes rising to the minute flies. Impossible to match, probably needing a size 24 hook, I tied on a size 16 Sedge and waited for an individual trout to rise. My first cast to a better fish was intercepted immediately by a fingerling that gyrated off the hook, but not before it had spooked my target trout. Drying off the fly and applying some more floatant, I kept lookout for another substantial rise, seeing a trout dive back to the cover of a weed bed. A few casts later, I got it right, the trout rose and dived back again as the hook was set in a fountain of spray set off by the cartwheeling trout. Not big, maybe over half a pound, but still putting a good bend in the rod, the brownie rushed from bank to bank, until on its side ready for the landing net.

A beautiful wild brown trout, I was sorry to see that it had been marked by the line, while twisting in the landing net. Unhooked in the net, I carried the trout back to the water holding it upstream, until it swam off. Working up toward the overhanging laurel, I hooked and swung in a parr of 6 inches, that had again made a splashy take for the fly intended for a better fish. False casting got the Sedge floating again ready for another target trout. The smaller fish were attacking the soup of small flies, while their elders were looking for something bigger to eat. A successful cast and the fly was swallowed down by a larger rod bender, that fought hard along the opposite bank, before coming to the net.

This fat wild trout was soon returned to swim again, followed up by yet another junior cousin from under a tree on the far side. I then noticed a hatch of Mayfly skimming off the surface, one being taken with a plop. I did not think that Mayfly would be on the menu today and had none with me, but a search through the flybox found a size 14 Yellow Humpy, a big bouyant fly of Mayfly proportions. First cast saw a take that lifted a four ounce fish clear of the river, before dropping off. Next, I watched a broad back rise over the fly and struck, hitting into solid resistance, while the trout sat there shaking its head, before charging upstream beneath the laurel with me in hot pursuit, landing net in hand. Keeping the rod low, I began to retrieve against the reel bringing the pound brownie over to my side, only to give line again as it ran along the edge. This was the trout’s last gasp and it rolled over and drifted back to my net.

Facing toward the sun, the reflection of this silvery brownie washed out the bright red spots along its flanks, but it was a fine fish all the same and quickly returned was the best fish so far. At this point the rises stopped, somewhere upstream a lawn was being cut along the river and grass cuttings began to cover the surface. This was my cue to walk back down to the bottom of the stretch, where the river curves away through trees and behind gardens.

Following the river back upstream, the grass cuttings were beginning to clear and a few trout had started to show again, but here there are trees spaced along the bank; also being open, the wind was gusting making casting difficult. Excuses, excuses. The line was being dragged away down stream each time, giving only seconds before it had to be lifted off and cast again. A fish rose two thirds across and I made the cast, getting an instant response that saw a 6 oz brownie jump clear of the water, these well fed trout fighting all the way to the net.

The time was fast approaching 5 pm and every man and his dog would soon be out on the roads going home from work, two hours had flown by and I had proved to myself that it is the syndicate river that is at fault, not me.