Trout stream season opens with optimism

April 10, 2017 at 1:36 pm

River trout fishing is very limited in my area and joining a syndicate fishery within 15 miles of my new home several years ago was a dream come true. The tiny chalk stream held a head of wild brown trout, backed up by a yearly stock of triploid infertile browns, while with other trout fisheries upstream, the occasional rainbow trout added spice to life. The wild brown trout population was so prolific, that a few years ago the bailiffs decided that the annual stocking of triploids was unnecessary and missed a year as an experiment. This was a costly mistake. An increase in pike, mink and fry eating Canadian signal crayfish resulted in the collapse of the wild fish stock. With no large stock fish available, the predators turned to the wild fish. That was the theory, backed up by some of the worst returns ever and members walking away with their cheque books. The 30 member limit with a waiting list, dropped to two thirds last season and judging by the sparse numbers on the working parties it could be lower this season.

Prepared to give the syndicate another chance, I arrived on a bright spring morning for a brief visit last week to see how the river had fared over the winter, finding it unseasonably low and crystal clear, barely rattling over the stones.

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I had taken my rod, but there was no time for a proper session, intending to cast my Black Devil nymph to test out some of the gravel runs that had been modified by the winter floods. Walking downstream my shadow fell across the shallows and a trout swirled, darting for the cover of a bush. This was encouraging, as were several bare patches of gravel, evidence of wild trout spawning redds.

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Continuing downstream I could see one of the bailiffs applying weedkiller to an area badly affected by Himalayan Balsam last year and watched while he continued his work, deciding to turn back, as I had little time to fish, let alone stand chatting.

Stopping for a few casts between bankside trees, an upstream stab of the leader was a definite take of the nymph, but I was too quick, or maybe too slow, whatever, I missed it. A heart quickener no less and again encouraging, although I failed to get another response from that pool.

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Within sight of the road, I paused for a few casts where the flow pushes into a deep pool, making a long cast upstream to allow the nymph to trundle along the gravel, before it sank into the deeper water, retrieving line as it came back to me, keeping sight of the greased leader for any movement.  With the end of the fly line approaching the top eye, I lifted the rod to recast and a big brown trout came up from the depths like a Polaris rocket and grabbed the nymph, diving away, pulling the rod down, while stripping line through my fingers. It flashed gold for a few seconds, black spots clearly visible, before the barbless hook lost its hold, leaving me stunned by the sudden activity and staring at a slack line.

Excitement over, each pool was search in the hope of a repeat, when this time I would be ready to respond in the manner of an experienced trout angler, rather than a star struck novice, but second chances are rarely offered on the little river.

Below the road bridge a fish was rising to small patches of surface scum, but could not see what it was, while illuminated by the bright sunlight, several 4 inch trout moved in and out of the shadows beneath the road. There is hope for this fishery yet.