Wild trout switch to the dry fly

April 27, 2015 at 9:26 am


Two days after a visit to the prolific urban river 15 miles to the north-east of my home, I was heading the same distance, but to the south-west to my syndicate held river for a comparison, a hot spring day, cooled by a strong breeze, giving way to perfect conditions for a memorable evening rise.

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The river level was down on last week, but plenty of oxygenating water still rushed over the stones. Swarms of black hawthorn flies drifting across the meadow, encouraged me to ignore the water’s edge and cut a diagonal directly to my intended starting point, at the confluence of a smaller stream on a bend of the river. In seasons past, this spot has held some of the better trout, but today the surface was untroubled by rising fish, despite the free offerings drifting downstream. To make a comparison with the urban river, my Black Devil nymph was tied on and prospected throughout the pool to no effect and I moved upstream, where the flow pushes over clean gravel runs.

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The only way to fish this section is in the water, searching out the deeper pockets, many trout lying hard under the banks. Getting down into the river, I made repeated casts along a deep run, increasing the range a yard at a time, bumping the nymph along the bottom, where it was seized with a jerk forward of the leader, the strike sending a powerful little wild brown cartwheeling across the surface, that ran full tilt past me, before being netted.

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Only yards upstream  a smaller brown darted from the cover of a weed clump to hook it’self in a boil of spray. The river was waking up. Pausing to look upstream, there was a rise, then another. Fish were mopping up the hawthorns, while grannoms and a few tan olives were lifting off. Nowhere near the activity of the urban river, but activity with a small “a”. Sticking with flies that have worked for me so far this year, the Black Devil came off and a Tan Emerger went on, the leader greased close to the hook, while the floatant was rubbed into the body of the fly for extra bouyancy in the riffle.

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This is a fast and furious form of flyfishing, casting and recasting to actual fish, or to likely looking holding areas, often takes coming out of the blue, the trout missing the fly as many times as I failed to make contact. Rises were increasing, but only three remained on the hook long enough to be swung in, and as they say, were mostly small stuff.

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Above this fast flowing beat, the river slows over flatter ground and has become silted, changing it’s character and once again rising fish were absent, so I continued up to the next set of shallows, where once again there were the tell tale rings of rising fish.

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Back in the river, I waded within casting range of the slowly spreading rings, a fish obliging first cast, tumbling back toward me on the strike, confusing it’s silver flanks with those of a dace as it rolled on the surface.

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Another measured cast toward a dimpling rise did produce a dace, that caused as much commotion as the previous silver trout and once again confusion reined, until the fish was safely netted.

urbanfieldsportsman 012Despite the disturbance, fish continued to rise and I took another three before I’d put them down, the best fighting all over the river like a rainbow before it slowed down enough to net.

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Further up at the mouth of the pool, I could see the steady rises from two larger fish and eased my way closer, but they had stopped once in casting range. I presented the emerger in all the likely places and up among the tree roots, but was unable to tempt anything into taking. I considered changing to a Hares Ear nymph, or a shock tactic larger dry fly, but felt that I’d had a rewarding couple of hours and would leave these fish for other members to catch.

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Walking back, past another fast gravel run, fish were rising along it’s length, as eagerly as on the urban river and I could not resist a cast, or two, hooking another hard fighting silver brown from the middle of the river.

urbanfieldsportsman 009I have yet to tempt the much larger trout to my offerings, but hope that as the season progresses, the mayfly will bring a few out of their hiding places. By now it was well past tea time, but at least I’d missed the queues of the rush hour and would have an easy drive home.