Looking isn’t the same as seeing…

It is extraordinary how an obsession forces attention to detail. I think of myself as a bit ‘big picture’ and not good with detail. I don’t enjoy the nitty gritty and I usually rely on those who do.

With fly fishing though, I’m increasingly peeling the onion and discovering new hidden layers of things to think and worry about. Fishing isn’t on the agenda today but I find myself with an unexpected hour to kill and as I have to virtually drive past the beat, I make a twenty minute detour!

I was on the Usk yesterday for a very early pre-breakfast session and although I catch a few, I struggle in the low clear water and strong downstream breeze. Today is a little more overcast and I’m now on a different beat, lower down the river valley and enjoying the humid late afternoon.

If fishing mirrored the rest of my life, I’d just jump in the river and start fishing. I don’t understand why it is, but I have more patience on the bank than in all other situations put together. Although I can see no fish, I’m convinced that if I sit and wait for long enough something, somewhere will rise. So I sit and wait.

I love watching rivers. If I’m minded, I can look with an intensity of concentration that usually eludes (thanks Mr P) me in other things. When I spend time on the bank with someone who doesn’t fish, I’m always surprised by what they don’t see, even when looking at it. Looking isn’t the same as seeing.

I notice a small dimple where none was, about twenty five feet from the bank and a little upstream. It’s not easy to spot as it’s in the middle of a ripple created by a stone, exposed by the low water. I’m tight against the bank with no back cast, so a make shift roll cast sends a size 18 Adams on it’s way.

The take is gentle and then the trout does some spectacular aerobatics before giving up. Not big but beautiful.

A glance at my watch reveals time has flown by and I need to make tracks. Spotting a hard to see trout is satisfying, but it also makes me wonder how much I miss when I’m just looking rather than seeing.

Mr Notherone

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