Thankful for small mercies

August 16, 2013 at 10:37 am

Recent heavy rain drew me back to my syndicate water this week, after a break of nearly a month. On my last visit, the river was desperately low, but plenty of wild browns were feeding.  One look at the river this time dashed any hopes of a busy session, bare stones visible, where a few months ago a wading stick was needed.


The stream was carrying a fair amount of colour, as I walked downstream searching in vain for rises and visible trout. I tied on a size 18 Gold Head Pheasant Tail nymph, dropping it into known banker pools as I went. With no luck and faced with crossing a meadow full off frisky young bullocks, I opted to pass through a copse on the other side of the river. This was new territory to me, but on a recent work party we had cleared the banks of dead trees, stinging nettles and Himalayan balsam, giving access to the river. This area was also devoid of rising trout, but there was good weed growth, creating several encouraging runs through the otherwise slow moving water and all else having failed, decided that wading was now a safe option on this once deep, high banked section.

Going through the motions of short casts to likely spots, then wading up a few paces and trying again, I disturbed a good fish, that made off upstream creating a V shaped wake, but could not see if it was a chub, or trout. More importantly, why had it not taken the nymph presented in front of  it’s nose? I was shaken out of my gloom, when the leader darted forward and the resistance of a small wild brown was felt, fighting for all it’s seven inches could give. Another twenty yards upstream and I was in again, when a similar sized trout popped out from a weed bed and dived away with my nymph. At least these faster runs held some small, but feeding fish. Further upstream I stopped at a deep, tree covered pool, isolated by stoney shallows.

I cast to the head of the pool, where the flow passed close to the tree roots and felt the take from a trout as the line sank into the centre of a bulge beneath the surface, my nymph firmly set in the jaws of a diving wildie, that fought round the pool, before coming to the net.

This plump brown rounded off my visit to the upper reaches of the water and with the afternoon changing to evening, I decided to return to my van and fish the river a mile downstream, where I knew of a fast flowing runoff. Earlier in the year this was too dangerous to wade, but now offered sure footing.

This section looked very fishy and I was soon missing short stabbing takes, as the nymph was swept back toward me. One fish hung on long enough to set the hook and a small dace was tumbling in the stream.

A six inch brownie followed and as I moved up to the bend, some better dace. This was addictive, these silver fish just plucking at the nymph, sometimes chasing it downstream. I lost count of the number hooked and returned at my feet, the larger fish dropping down the run, putting a bend in the rod. I’d worked my way up to the tail of the large pool above and began dropping the nymph into the slower water, another dace, then a swirl indicated the take of  a trout, which exploded out of the shallows, cartwheeling across the pool, before seeking deeper water. This was a pound plus wild brown, but fighting the flow and the rod it was soon drifting back toward my net, only to bounce off the tiny barbless hook as it crossed the stones. How annoying! Casting further up I missed another trout, probably down to the quick reactions needed for dace, it was on long enough to see the spots, then it was gone. My last fish from the pool took in the shallows and was a rare roach.

I was now late for my tea and made my way back to the road, but stopped to fish another pool, where I could now wade due to the low levels. This had been a favourite in past years, but winter floods had deposited deep mud at the edge and I’d been passing it by, now it was possible to wade.

With no sign of rising trout, the nymph was prospected around the pool, bumping a fish on the take under the trees, before another obliged with a long pull of the leader in the run and a scrapping ten inch brown was soon in the net.

This lively trout was enough for me and I headed home, no rising fish to be seen, or larger browns netted, but plenty of small fish action and my dinner waiting on the table.