Originally posted 10 October 2006
I suppose we all have our favourite stretches of river, some pool or riffle where we have caught fish before and fully expect to catch fish again. A place where, even on the hardest days our spirits rise at the prospect of a take or two.
My ‘spot’ comes at the end of a canal like glide that ends in an abrupt right angle bend. Here, the river shallows to become a short, shallow riffle before crashing into the submerged roots of a large alder, scouring out a surprisingly deep diagonal channel where it meets another large tree. It seems that every time I fish here, something memorable happens.
Early in the season I took several fish from just below the bend so I now approach this place with confidence. Access can be tricky as the river is bounded by high, slipery banks on both sides but, if you are careful, you can normally manage to get down to water level by putting your rod between your teeth & performing some simian acrobatics amongst the branches above a large mat of submerged roots which sag and sway beneath your feet. It was in this position that I found myself earlier this year. I was taking my time, carefully selecting the right nymph from a selection of a dozen ostensibly identical flies when I heard what sounded like a large dog running at full tilt through the trees on the far bank. I looked up to catch sight of a large brown thing seemingly suspended in mid air. Before I could identify the mystery beast it sploshed into the river and stood, staring right at me a couple of rod lengths away to be joined a second later by a second specimin of the same ilk. Splosh 1 was a Roe deer which I presume had been chased by splosh 2, a lovely buck. Both stood as startled as I for a second or two before high tailing upstream, through the riffle.
I’ve encountered deer at close quarters before, but never a Roe, and to stand, face to face with two such lovely creatures for a second or two. more than made up for them spoiling my chances at the ‘spot’.
The following week the whole performance was repeated with an Alsatian, a Collie & some sort of Terrier playing understudy for the deer.
The last time I was there, squatting on my mat of submerged roots, I paused to listen for the sound of running dogs, deer, whatever. The coast was clear. I flicked my nymph diagonally upstream into the base of the riffle. Heavily weighted it soon sank & the Claret Hopper indicator came quickly back diagonally towards me under a rod held high to avoid drag. When the Hopper was literally right under my nose I saw the largest Grayling I have ever seen rise vertically through the water. My heart stopped as she slashed at the fly and missed. Only then did she see me – I don’t think she was impressed with what she saw as she waved goodbye with a flick of her tail.