Trout river saves best till last.

September 21, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Due to the last visit to my syndicate water being cut short by foraging ruminants, I was keen to return the next day, but then it rained. Not just a shower, or two, but real rain, for days. At last some pace on the river, with a bit of colour to it. With a busy week, I was only able to slot in a couple of hours after an early dinner, the sun already low in the sky at 6 pm. Once bitten, twice shy, I gave the farm fishery a miss and parked at the lower end, where my only company would be the less attentive sheep.

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With little time to spare, I hurried down to the main feature of this section, an S bend, where a deep pool has formed,which gives way to a fast, shallow run at it’s tail. There was a gentle upstream wind, ideal for the dry fly and worked the Dry Sedge up the pool, the flow just right, giving minimal drag to the fly. OK, there were no rises, flies lifting off, or Daddies skating across the smooth surface, but a fish can often be tempted up to take and enjoyed ten minutes watching the line unfurl from the cast, the fly dropping with the merest dimple, anticipating a casual interception each time. Nothing.

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At this stage, I was convinced that there were no fish in front of me. I could see the gravel, where the tail rushed over the shallows, so any fish should have seen the fly, while I was far enough below that, to be out of their sight. Time to get out the box of nymphs, a size 14 Flash Back Gold Head Hares Ear falling to hand. The Flash Back nymphs work well in coloured conditions and my choice was borne out, when a bulge appeared beneath the surface, as the line drifted back toward the shallows. A sharp lift of the rod set the hook into a good dace, which tumbled across the surface, before being swept downstream into the fast water, soon to be skating on it’s side to the net.

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My next cast must have landed right on the nose of another fish, which took on the surface the instant the nymph landed. I missed the take, a decent size whatever it was. What a contrast, from nothing on the dry, to all action with the nymph. Tugs, swirls, fast stike, or slow, I missed them all. Probably a shoal of dace in this fast water down the middle.

I cast far up into the pool over the deep, slow bend. Halfway back, the leader disappeared into a tunnel, I lifted and felt the dull kick of a good fish, an instant later seeing the full shape of a large trout, as it launched vertically clear, it’s rudder like tail skimming the surface, before it crashed back in. I was as surprised as the trout, watching it spiral round the pool, leaping again, before heading upstream taking line. I followed, then realised that my landing net was still on the bank below the shallows. Giving more line, I backtracked, scooping up the net in my free hand, promptly slipping over in the muddy wheel tracks of a tractor, where it had crossed the shallows. I did not deserve this trout, which was still busy trying to escape upstream, but managed to keep the rod high, scrambling to my feet, bringing my emotions and beating heart under control.

The fight was now on my terms and I countered every run, it’s final burst taking it over the lip of the tail, but it was on the surface and the force of the current pushed it closer to my outstretched net, a boot full of water worth the sight of a fin perfect wild brown trout.

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What a beautifully marked fish, it’s big jaw a sign of spawning duties to come. After such a battle, there is always a reluctance to return the fish immediately, just wishing to admire it’s perfection, but after a quick photo session, I held it facing upstream in the edge, until it pulled free of my grip to swim back to the pool.

I had no desire to fish after this and anyway clouds had moved over the sun, bringing twilight suddenly. I had a long trek back to the road, a gate and a fence to climb; it was time to go, probably being my last session on the river before the season ends.