Small river trout opener.

April 8, 2013 at 11:45 pm

It’s now official, March was the coldest since 1962, a year when the local canal froze solid and became my new cycle route to work. This March had heavy snow and rain, resulting in floods that covered the fields of my little syndicate trout stream, but by the first week of April, the river was back between the banks and running crystal clear. My first session with the fly rod was planned for Thursday, then squalling snow showers put paid to that. Friday already had a visit to Shropshire planned, so an early start, business completed before lunch and home by 2 pm, gave a slot to wet a line before teatime.

A weak sun was forcing it’s way between the clouds, as I made my way to the river through corn stubble, the bitter North East wind cutting through four layers of clothing and curbing my enthusiasm, before I reached the bridge. The retreating floods had left a film of mud over the banks and was ready to turn back, when I spotted the shape of a good fish in the lea of a recently created sand bar. A weighted size 18 Hares Ear was already on my made up rod, a nymph with rubber legs, a relic of my Colorado fishing trip last year, this being flicked up above the waiting fish. The wind took the line and it was several casts later, before I watched the gold head drift down to the left of the dark shape, which moved forward, then disappeared in the ripples of another gust, the leader stopped and I lifted on instinct. Nothing. Missed it. The shape was gone.

I made my way downstream, not attempting to fish the tree lined pools along the way, only stopping where the river takes a turn and the far bank trees gave protection from the swirling wind. This pool has given up a lot of fish to me on warmer outings and I was optimistic as I slid down the bank into the shallows and waded up to take advantage of the bankside cover.


There were a few pale olives emerging from along the edges of the trees, but no sign of interest from fish and I prospected around the pool with the nymph, the leader greased to within two feet of the fly, making repeated casts in anticipation of a take. I didn’t have long to wait, before the floating leader skated upstream and the rod tip arched into the first fish of the day, the silver sided trout leaping clear on it’s first run. A small rainbow? Too small to be an escapee from upstream, it leapt again, red spots: it had to be a brown. The wildie fought round the pool, testing my seven foot rod and was soon head up and in the net, the barbless hook dropping audibly from it’s jaw. A big tail had provided the power for it’s fight, but the slim body told of a hard winter endured, although this sleek indigenous brown trout swam away like a dart, when returned at my feet.

No other takes came, not even from the usually resident dace and I climbed out to make my way back upstream, being blasted by the relentless chill wind by the time I reached the small weir, which appeared to have lost some of it’s rocks in the floods, these now filling the once productive pool below, creating a shallow run.

There were still no signs of rising fish, as a hatch of flies took advantage of the bright sunlight to drift lazily across the surface unmolested, while I tried without success to entice a trout from among the rocks and eddies. It was while drifting the nymph Czech style down the run, that the line bumped and straightened with a three ounce juvenile brownie frantically fighting for cover among the rocks. I lifted it out, only for the hook to lose grip and junior make a rapid retreat to the centre of the pool. Cold and hoping for better things next visit, I phoned my wife to arrange an early tea.