Trout stream sport against the odds.

September 19, 2015 at 11:18 am

On my return from the Isle of Man, with it’s rivers packed with healthy wild trout, signs of continued heavy rain while I was away, drew me back to my small syndicate chalk stream, where I hoped for a redeeming few hours fly fishing, before the end of the season. I should have known better. Running through arable land for most of it’s course, nitrates and abstraction from farm boreholes have done their worst this season, the lack of flow has resulted in hard packed gravel beds festooned with furry sludge. Walking down river from the road, I could hear only the barest trickle of water over the stones and on rounding a bend found that the farmer had been busy cutting trees again.

dace 006

This time it was a stand of mature oaks lining both river banks, a tunnel of trees that had kept trout safe from herons and cormorants, while providing challenging sport, were now gone, reduced to saleable logs. The reason? Fear that they would blow down onto his barn. We have the fishing rights, but they have to give way to the working farm.

I had intended a few casts at the cattle drink, but the field opposite was full of bored bullocks, which looked my way as I approached, some following along the bank and decided to push on down past a stile before fishing, but the sight of a rise in the next pool down stopped me in my tracks. Before I had reached the tail of the tree lined pool, the fish had risen again and I pressed myself against a tree, making a side cast to the spot with a dry sedge. Up it came and the rod bent into a fat young brown, which raced round the pool, before coming to the net.

dace 057

As I climbed the stile, I could see fish rising in the pool below, which is protected by high banks and a tree canopy, the only approach being from the river and walked down looking for an entry point, finding water shallow enough for my wellies, where I’d needed waders earlier in the season. Wading up toward the deep pool, I responded to a rise beneath an overhanging branch, setting the barbless hook into a six inch brown. A depressing start to the evening, was already baring fruit, catching on the dry fly is always a pleasure, whatever the size of fish.

Within casting range of the rises, I missed the first two offers, but the third resulted in a shower of spray and a deep fighting fish, that dived back into the pool, not a trout this time, an equally hard fighting dace.

dace 002

The river is full of dace this year, where trout aught to lie, this pool having provided some of my best fish over the years, it having been named Dead Cert by previous members for it’s reliability. I continued to fish and the dace obliged, hoping that a decent brown would get to the fly first, but dace like these are still worth catching.

dace 005

The cattle had now followed me across the river at the cattle drink and the river changed colour, halting the rises.

dace 003

The bullocks were now crowding the stile and decided that retreat was the safe option, continuing downstream to a bridge, before making my way upstream again. The cattle had decided to cross back, muddying the river again. I’d had some good sport and resolved to return before the end of the season.