The previous evening had been spent with Neil, planning our June trip to Scotland. We both bemoaned our lack of success in the latter stages of winter as the once plentiful Grayling had evaporated; leaving a desert where earlier I had seen shoals of 60 plus on the fin by the tunnels.
“I’m fed up of chucking bugs”. We both were. We were both hungry for an opportunity to cast a dry.
I had no intention of fishing the following day but, the morning started full of promise. No wind, overcast and mild, with occasional brighter patches. “If it stays like this ’til lunchtime, and we get a hint of sun there might just be a hatch big enough to spawn some surface activity” I thought. So I loaded up the van and headed south.
Promise started to fade about half-way down the Motorway – dark clouds gathering over the Cotswolds and spits of rain garnishing the windscreen did nothing to maintain my early optimism but, ‘hey, I’m halfway there – might brighten later’.
I parked by the railway bridge and sat smoking and drinking tea, watching the clouds, wishing them gone; but, after an hour it became clear that the day would continue to be an unrelenting grey. More bug chucking then.
I started below the aluminium bridge in water that was startlingly clear. The ranunculus has already taken hold in the riffles that were opened up as part of last years habitat improvement program – fish spotting would be easy – except that there weren’t any!
The Training Pool proved fruitless, as did the section above the cascades, despite the fact that there were one or two olives coming off – I found myself doing the sort of fishing that I hate, step-and-fling, step-and-fling, covering all of the likely spots like an automaton – going through the motions with no real hope or confidence. I should have stayed at home.
And then I saw a rise. A confident rise, about seven yards upstream in a back eddy where the current cuts sharply across stream and collides with the roots of a large alder. Twice more I heard the rise while I was changing my leader & fly and then..nothing. I waited a good ten minutes and never saw the fish again so I put out a speculative cast, a back-hand, across the chest, over the left shoulder affair which, to be honest I made a complete Horlicks of. Instead of landing a yard or so upstream with enough slack to counteract what would be horrific drag it landed bang on the money, in the exact spot that I’d seen the fish rise.
I didn’t have time to formulate the disappointment in my mind as a brownie intercepted the fly as it touched down – head and shoulders out of the water – a gluttonous take.
It’s so long since I have seen a trout, close up, in the net that I had almost forgotten how beautiful these creatures are. I had no camera to record the event and my powers of descriptions fall very short of the required standards. Suffice to say that my hands were literally shaking as I eased out the hook and felt the un-nerving pulse of life as the fish regained its strength and finally kicked away, down to its refuge, no doubt to sulk for the rest of the day.
I carried on, up to the railway tunnel, still speculating but, speculating with expectation now but a chilly downstream breeze had sprung up from nowhere and any realistic possibility of surface action had gone. Time to pack up and reflect on the day.
I’d taken my first brownie of the season, albeit 2 days early. I had seen only one fish, made an awkward cast and, ultimately netted it. At other times this may have seemed to be a disappointing session but, for me, on that day, it was a roaring success.