Creating Memories

Given the awful wet winter followed by enforced late start to the season, like many, I’m unsure how the fly fishing will unfold. So far, I’m pleasantly surprised by the quality and quantity of trout.

There has now been several days of rain, flushing the river and providing a much needed top up. In the early afternoon sunshine the river looks magnificent and ready for us.

A friend and I are looking forward to a day picking up trout on dry flies and spending time on the river in beautiful countryside. The river is at a perfect height with just enough colour to help us stay hidden. We could do with a little more cloud cover, but none the less, we are both surprised by how quiet the river is – the fish just aren’t playing ball.

With very few rises to cover, we prospect the many likely runs, back eddies and overhangs where trout like to hang out.

A few trout make some half hearted attempts, but this is one of those day’s when nothing sticks. A couple of smaller fish and one decent brown take a pheasant tail in some of the deeper pockets but the dry fly fails us. I don’t think I’ve peered so intensely at the river, searching for the faintest sign.

A cold beer lifts the mood and we set about enjoying the river. Perhaps a shift to another beat will bring more fortune and an evening rise.

A short drive, more searching…same outcome.

In the fading light, watching a gorgeous pool, I spot just a few bubbles directly in front of me, a few inches from the far bank. The fish (if it’s a fish) is in a small gap between two overhanging branches. A roll cast and shooting some line might work, together with a slice of luck. The fly bounces off a leaf and lands perfectly and for a few seconds is still, in the absence of a current.

The trout does not rise so much as suck the fly under with hardly a sound. I tighten and the pool erupts. Despite my best effort to knock him off with the net, eventually I have him. A lovely wild brown at 16″.

Memories are made from days like this.

A lovely afternoon on the river, friendship and good conversation, plus a cast that I probably couldn’t make again if I practiced every hour of every day. When people ask what it is about fly fishing I love, these days I can only manage a smile.

Mr Notherone

Into the Darkness…

I’ve never been afraid of the dark, but the pulse quickens and I can feel a little extra surge of adrenalin as the light fades. The feeling of splendid isolation and standing in a river in beautiful countryside, is disappearing with the fading light. Replacing it is a slight sense of anxiety and a growing desire to make tracks.

Being a short drive from the river, I often take advantage of evening summer fishing and there can be no better time to attract trout to fluff tied expectantly on the line. The famed evening rise, whilst no guarantee, is also no myth.

In a frustrating hour of stealth fishing and creeping up the slow glide, I discover that the fish are not sacrificing themselves as readily as I hoped. In the equivalent game of ‘jumpers for goalposts’, they would have grabbed the ball and gone home for tea.

I manage to catch a couple of juvenile brown trout, demonstrating their urge to feed is not yet tempered by experience, but the more wily fish ahead of me are proving elusive. I try several of my confidence patterns to no avail and with each fly change, it’s becoming more difficult to see to tie the knot. With a great deal of effort and a good measure of luck, I manage to get a small gnat attached to the tippet.

At least in the middle of the river I can flail the rod around with abandon, confident that no one can critique my technique and I’ll not catch a tree.

Then one of the wily trout foolishly strays within my limited range and a minute later rises for the gnat. It’s a short and confusing fight before he’s unlucky enough to swim into the net. My net is fifteen inches long so I can just see that the fish is bigger, by perhaps an inch. A nice result.

As he slides away, I notice that I can barely make out my exit on the bank. The water that is thigh deep suddenly feels much deeper.

I lose the line of the path a few times during the walk along the river back to the car. Why does the darkness amplify sound so much? I hear an owl, followed by a dreadful screech and conclude that some poor creature is being torn apart.

It’s a quick change and my kit is less than carefully placed in the back of the land rover. As I pull up out of the field and onto the road, one glance in the mirror confirms there is no hoard of the undead following me. Must have got out just in time…

Mr Notherone