Wild brown trout hard won on opening day

April 3, 2015 at 6:58 pm

Whatever the weather, I was determined to fish my local syndicate trout stream on opening day, having spent the previous week in preparation and anticipation of the day, but I needn’t have worried, by lunch time the damp start had given way to weak sunshine and I arrived to the sound of a blackbird singing, while a woodpecker drummed away in the distant woods. The river was low and clear, despite the rains of late.

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I did not expect to see any rising fish so early in the year and tied on my Black Devil nymph, which has proved a successful season opener for me on so many occasions, it’s copper windings allowing it to fish near the bottom, where it may be mistaken for a caddis.

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Whatever it looks like to the fish it doesn’t matter, because third cast in along the bank, the leader shot forward and I was playing my first trout of the 2015 season, a pristine, perfect brown of about ten inches long, that dashed around the river, leaping clear of the surface twice, before sliding over the net.

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This picture does not do the trout justice, it’s red spots standing out bright against the green bronze of it’s body. The Black Devil is firmly in the scissors of it’s jaw, the barbless hook slipping out easily and the brownie returned in seconds.

My aim was to walk down to to where a smaller river joins, but could not resist a few casts at a cattle drink on the way down, but found it occupied by a big cob swan, that puffed it’self up, cruising up and down, claiming it’s territory.

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I was in no hurry to fish this spot and continued down and saw a fish rise in a channel of the gravel run off from the cattle drink. There were a few tan olives lifting off, but waded in to cast the Black Devil up to the riffle, seeing the rise again and casting well above it. There was a boil and the line darted forward as a small dace took the fly to tumble of the hook at my feet.

Next stop was at a small broken down weir, where the river creates a variety of small pools and runs. Wading out to the middle of the tail, I was able to cover most of the area, casting up under the lip, letting the nymph drift across fast and slack water. Watching the line, as it made it’s way past the resident tree, it arced upstream and I was into a better fish, that burst out of the river in a tail walking spray, frantically traversing the pool from  side to side, until as often happens on this shallow river, it bow waved past me to the run below, creating a slack line, which made full contact again with another shower of spray. The hook held and the trout began a zig-zag fight back to me, to lie on it’s side at my feet, a photo opportunity. While lining up the camera with my left hand, the trout got second wind, running up stream again and I snatched a shot.

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Lesson learned, I stuffed the camera back in my pocket and brought the brownie back under control, waiting for it to stop powering away upstream, allowing the 12 oz trout to drift back to my net.

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This was another fin perfect brown trout, these silver flanked fish a common variation on the Hampshire chalk stream.

I now made the five hundred yard walk down to where the feeder stream comes in, noting it’s coloured water being pushed to the far side by the clear flow from our river, the eddies and slacks looking like they held many trout, but the Black Devil was ignored, until a cast up and along the far bank in the dirty water, saw the line dart to one side. I was in again, the gold flash of another brown through the mirk indicated a 6 oz fish, which spiralled round then came of as it dropped back downstream.

Already satisfied with my afternoon, I made my way back, taking occasional casts from the bank, missing a few lightning takes, which I put down to dace, but also failing to get any response from a few of the deeper banker pools, putting on a heavier Gold Head Hares Ear at the last in an attempt to change my luck, but nothing.

Not far from the van, I spotted fish rising below the farm bridge and back tracked to get down into the river, wading up within casting distance of the rises and dropped the nymph in among them. It was taken on the drop, but I missed. The next cast must have dropped on it’s nose, as a bulge on the surface resulted in a hooked fish, a small dace.

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There were still rises below the bridge, all dace, two more hooked and one dropped called an end to it and my afternoon’s fishing. This is just the start of a what I hope will be a good season, the previous two were dogged by floods, but the two trout taken today were already plump, well mended fish.