I had an after-work visit to my therapist yesterday. She soothes my furrowed brow and washes away the cares of a complicated life but sometimes I come away thinking ‘what was she trying to tell me?’ Not this time though; I left with the clear and resounding message ‘you’re not very good at this; are you?’
I parked by the bridge on the A38 and, as I always do, peeped over the parapet to see what’s happening below. Immediately I saw two large dark shapes streaking off down-stream – Bugger! We’ve had a little rain over the past few days so I was expecting at least a tinge of colour, but the water was low and gin clear. I scanned the river bed and my eyes came to rest where the side stream joins the main river by the northern tunnel – a shoal of Grayling. 30, possibly 40 small ladies of about 8 to 10 inches moving as one body but constantly changing their position in the shoal. Wonderful.
Sometimes these after-work excursions have an element of pressure about them as I’m stealing time between work and home commitments but this time I had nowhere to be, no-one to see, so I could afford to take my time. Nothing hatching and no sign of fish moving so I went exploring the deeper channels with a pair of nymphs. All of the usual places proved fruitless but somehow I didn’t get frustrated and I moved up to the shallower section just below the tunnels where I made the decision not to fish blindly but to practice my fish spotting skills in the sandy, gravelly channels between the waving weeds.
I spent the best part of an hour searching for a sign; a flash, a shadow, an unusual movement – nothing. So I returned to the bridge to see if the Grayling were still in residence. Of course, they weren’t. I can only assume they had a prior engagement – either that or the local kids had been throwing stones at them again.
So what did I learn from my unsuccessful foray? I need more practice.