Half an hour before sunrise; -4c and bone dry. On the Cotswolds side of the valley the dawn was a perfect, cloudless Homeric rosy-pink, rising to a powder blue canopy before descending into a bruised pink/purple/grey smudge over the Forest of Dean. Here and there it was torn by cotton-wool contrails spear-headed by impossibly bright diamond points of light, reflected back from the planes leaving this perfect scene behind.
The working day behind me, I once again blessed the early start that granted me freedom before the rest of the silicon slaves, destined to serve Mammon for at least another couple of hours. I made a quick get-away.
The temperature had risen into positive figures and the sky was still clear blue, save for a few altocumulus and wind-shredded contrails. The water had fallen a foot since I’d last fished and it was much clearer and much more inviting. I made my way to the spot where I had hit a shoal of Grayling a few days before, but the #12 Copper John had lost it’s magic so I swapped it for my go-to fly – a #14 GHRE. I moved a few yards upstream and took 3 small Grayling from the tail of a pool before sitting down to take in the scene.
Last year’s hogweed stalks are still standing, defiant and brittle and the Nettles are just beginning to show through. I watched a flock of Long Tailed Tits carrying out a detailed study of a Hawthorne, inspecting each bud for signs of bursting, almost as if they are looking for reassurance that spring is finally on the way. There was a hatch of tiny brown flies [about size 22] which I couldn’t identify – March Browns? I really don’t know as my knowledge of entomology is about as good as my knowledge of applied quantum physics – something I need to work on this year [the entomology not the quantum physics].
Despite the hatch, there was no surface activity so I plodded on with the single nymph. The river is narrow here; only 10 or 12 feet wide. I was kneeling in 4″ of water, drifting the nymph along the far bank where it is 5 or 6 feet deep. I missed a couple of lightening quick takes and hooked and lost a couple more before being rewarded with a lovely brace of 8″ Grayling.
All in all, a very satisfying couple hours for early season, though I’m slightly worried that I saw no evidence of trout.