My daughter is first off the mark. She delights in pinching and punching dad and I can’t help noticing her punch is getting stronger. I take her for a sports trial in the morning and I plan on a couple of hours on the river this evening. She’s nervous, plays well, and I enjoy the morning with her.
It’s another day in our current heat wave and we have no rain to speak of for weeks. So much for my little rain dance last weekend. With river levels this low, the trout will seek out the oxygenated water, lay low in the margins or hold in deeper, cooler pools.
This beat, three miles above Usk, is a lovely place to spend a few hours. It’s a long track down to the river and I’m surprised to find no other cars at the bottom. A fine Summer evening, and I’ve got a mile of the Usk to myself. As I ease myself into the water, there’s a huge splash near the bank below me and I turn just in time to see what looks like a good fish, bellyflop back into the pool. Encouraging. A few clouds roll in, and the evening will be a mix of bright sunlight with overcast intervals.
There are small and frequent rises all along a food seam where some faster water trails away. I work my way upstream and one by one the trout hit my dry fly. I’ve struggled at times this season with the dry. Not so much hitting the hook up, but rising fish have ignored fly after fly as I hunt for the right pattern.
Not this evening. I start with a tiny Klinkhammer pattern and straight away I get a take and a lovely little wbt is to hand. Several more follow to the same fly. Unusually, I’m on my game and I’m 100% on hook ups, not even a long range release!
I notice a larger fish about 40 feet directly upstream. I creep up and after several reasonable casts, fail to get a take. I guess maybe he’s onto something different and there are little midges everywhere.
I look for one of the smallest black patterns I have. It’s probably technically a Griffith’s Gnat, size 20. Second cast and I’m in, but rather than the thump I’m expecting, a relatively modest 12″ brownie comes to the net. He has a nasty looking wound on the flank and probably thinks he’s down on his luck, but I get him back in the water in a few seconds. Unsure if this is the larger fish I think I see, I cover the same water, pick up a couple of smaller fish, but no sign of Mr Big.
My best fish of the evening also falls to the black gnat. It’s a well marked 14″ fish that literally jumps into the net. I hook him directly across stream and he immediately runs below me. With a size 20 hook and 010 tippet I adopt the ‘gently persuasive’ rather than ‘full on bully’ approach.
Two hours on the river, 9 fish and a very pleasant evening. This is why I love fly fishing the Usk.
On the short drive home, there’s an interesting sound from the Land Rover. More like a transmission problem than engine, is my gut. If you drive an old Defender, these things become expected and nothing to worry about. After all, a worrier doesn’t buy a Defender.
It’s a Sunday to remember for all the good reasons. Let’s see what Monday (and the rest of July) brings.