A hard frost gave way to bright sunshine today, but a gusting wind from the North East kept temperatures down, while out of that wind, the sun was warm enough to think that spring had finally arrived in early April. With the afternoon free, I had a dilemma, shooting, or fishing? No problem, do both. My 7 ft flyrod was already set up in the van and decided to do a drive by of my urban trout stream, on the way to one of my rabbit infested permissions. If the river was too high and coloured I would continue on my way, if not I’d give it an hour. Along the roadside the river looked perfect, clear and bright, with just enough weed cover.
I prefer to wade this river, but today’s fleeting visit meant wellies, so chose to fish the recreation ground, where I could get down into some shallow water from one of the many gullies worn into the banks by stick retrieving dogs. Even through my boots, the water was cold and with the biting downstream wind making casting difficult, I felt self conscious, as I searched out the water with my heavy bead head nymph, getting more than a sideways glance from the walkers enjoying the bright sunshine. Under tall trees, an obstruction was forcing the river over to my bank and this could have had a sign over it saying “holding spot” and my second cast along the riffle brought a golden flash against the gravel, the drag of the line hooking and turning a weighty trout.
I had too much slack line out and the brownie rolled slowly in the shallows, with me rod raised, stripping line until contact was made and battle commenced. It bee-lined like a torpedo into the heart of the snag, taking me by surprise, my rod was pulled down to the water and I should have been broken, but it turned and zig zagged down the far bank searching for cover, before halting it’s run in the deep pool below, where it brooded, hugging the bottom. I had now recovered my composure and met every run with pressure, until it made it’s way back upstream just below the surface, not as big as I first thought, about a pound, but a worthy opponent all the same. Once in the net, the barbless size 14 hares ear nymph dropped from it’s jaw, the heavily spotted brown, grown fat no doubt on a winter diet of bread thrown to the ducks.
Ten minutes recovery time later, he swam off to fight another day, hopefully to my rod and not to any of the fishmongering worm and maggot fishermen of the summer months. I had been on the water for less than 30 minutes and could have been on my way, but the river upstream looked promising and was worth a few casts while it’s banks were deserted. In summer the shallow water attracts wading dogs and children, while a tree offers a rope swing for the more adventurous pleasure seekers.
Keeping to the shallows, I made short line casts up and across towards the opposite bank, or to any deeper pockets mid stream, missing a short stabbing take, then surfacing and losing a small brown of a few ounces. Keeping a tighter line was the answer and a 4 oz brown was dashing all over the shallows, before dropping back to be dwarfed by my net. Another small one lost and another netted, these trout certainly work for their living, or is it that I’ve got too used to catching roach. My hands now were very cold and I’d proved a point to myself, that there were plenty of wild trout to be had from this gem of a river.