Continuing from Wednesdays success I fished another river on Thursday. Arriving in the morning the river looked pristine; during the short walk upstream I spotted a few fish, nothing big, but it's always encouraging to see some. I arrived just down from the pool I planned to start on. Tackling up it was disappointing to find my French leader missing, I was planning to fish a mayfly nymph with it. With that option now ruled out the standard five foot furled leader was reattached, upstream nymphing it was.
|Ephemera danica nymph|
With a mayfly nymph already tied on a bow-and-arrow cast flicked the fly upstream of the fish although I wasn't really expecting anything. The fly slowly sunk as it drifted towards the trout, it turned and looked at the fly; it repeated this once more and then refused to inspect the nymph any more. I began trawling through my fly box, a pheasant tail nymph failed, a gammarus pattern failed, even the legendary JP pupa failed. Running out of all options I even tried a Mohican Mayfly which surprisingly caused the trout to rise up and have a look. Eventually the fish spooked and disappeared leaving me to enter the river. I saw a the occasional mayfly dun emerge and a rising fish inspired me, despite it being early still I left the Mohican Mayfly on. It wasn't until I reached the pool did I catch a fish, nothing big, but a plump little trout was welcome; another fish fell to the mayfly by the time I left the pool. Before I moved on a female tufted duck plopped into the river on the far bank and immediately flew off when it saw me.
|First of the day|
I could see a fish rising ahead of me, it moved a lot of water without the splashing often associated with smaller fish. Another fish was rising below it and I was fortunate to catch that and quickly pull it down to avoid disturbing my intended target. After a couple of casts the fly was taken with purpose, I knew then it was a good fish. Lifting in to the fish, it shot downstream towards me and the woody debris to my left. Unable to prevent it from getting underneath, I stripped in the line reaching the furled leader with probably no more than six or seven foot of line out. Keeping the rod so low the tip was under water and using as much side strain as I dared, I was thankful for the 0.15mm tippet. Patience won the game and the fish saw my way of thinking as I eased it out from under its shelter. Continuing the fight in open water ahead of me it became one sided and the trout was safely in the net.
|A menacing looking brute|
|A proper handful|
|Baetis scambus - Small Dark Olive|
A little further up I caught another good fish, it too tried that same trick as the previous large fish heading for more woody debris; not quite as big as the other trout but a lovely fish regardless. I didn't catch any trout over twelve inches last year with an average size of eight to ten, it made a pleasant change to latch on to a few decent sized fish.
|Tufted duck nest hidden so well I nearly stood on it.|
The trout from earlier this morning had slipped my mind, until I saw it again whilst walking the bank. Creeping up the bank it was still holding station behind its rock. Peeling off a little line it only took one cast, I watched the trout drift up to met the fly as it gently departed the fly from the surface film - epic stuff to watch. I firm lift and the fish was on, it left me surprised as it powered off, turning out to be much bigger than I thought. The trout was a peculiar looking beast, pewter with a hint of yellow, a small number of very large black spots and a mouth like a conger eel. I released the fish triumphant, it may have taken me two attempts but I at least I caught it.
|Time to kill after leaving the river I went and had a look another.|
|Where the the frustration began.|
The wind from earlier had dropped allowing me to using the Lexa. We slid down the bank at the bottom of a long glide, there were several fish rising all the way up. A few mayfly spinners were in the air but overall there wasn't much activity. Hoping the trout wouldn't be selective and wanting to continue the mayfly theme of the day I tied on a spinner pattern.
And so my problems began. Fish after fish was either missed or hooked and quickly lost. I think I lost around five fish, some of them substantial. I struggled to control my rage and frustration at constantly failing to hook these fish. I can only put it down to the fly, a spent spinner pattern with foam wings tied on a longish shanked hook; the fly is pliable in the hands but something was preventing the hook gaining hold, probably the wings - back to square one with that fly.
After fishing through the glide and round into the pool I admitted defeat and allowed Tom to fish. He had a Mohican Mayfly tied on from earlier and as he had good results into the evening a few days ago with this fly, why not keep using it. Fishing up some good runs and pools there weren't any fish showing and Tom didn't manage to tempt any. We moved on to a deep pool on a tight bend. Tom ever the gentleman was adamant that I had to catch, especially with his tally being on three.
|Moser's Balloon Caddis - a variant of course.|
Several leaps and powerful surges followed as the trout resisted the efforts of the Lexa to control it. Once in the net Tom reckoned it was a fish he had caught previously in the week, a quick reference against the net was made and I worked it out to be seventeen inches, I was happy now.
|A welcome capture|
Friday marked the last of my three full days of fishing, I was completely knackered and I really struggled to get out of bed, even for some more fishing.
Friday was planned at the beginning of the week, I was going to fish with Steve Morrison, but as he was car-less I had to chauffeur him around. Our plan was to fish in the town and try and catch an urban lump. The forecast for the day wasn't great, a strong Westerly and rain expected, we still stuck with our plan. On the drive to Steve's the rain started, and continued through most of the morning.
Arriving at the river we used the shelter provided by an enclosure with some benches to allow us to get waders and jackets on without getting too wet. The eight foot four weight was dusted off because of the gusty wind and to cover most options I set up a klink and dink, size 12 klinkhamer (new Partridge sizing) and a size 12 cream JP Pupa with a standard copper bead. The water had a slight tinge to it, although we could still see far enough down; an outflow was discharging the rain water from the drains and coloured the river heavily downstream so we headed up. To cut a long story, it rained all morning, Steve managed a trout and a grayling and I caught a single trout. We left to fish club water further downstream not knowing if the river conditions would make it possible.
Thankfully the river was in much better shape this far downstream. The direction of the river also meant it was an upstream wind, I however stuck with the four weight as it was already set up. Walking down to the very bottom of the beat we spotted several good-sized trout that were generally holding mid-water, we also spotted the occasional rise on the walk down.
|Ephemera danica with its imitation the Mohican Mayfly|
Whilst Steve had been fishing, I had heard and seen a fish rising behind us where I had just been fishing. After Steve lost his fish I went back down to try and tempt this fish again. Steve heard fish rising even further down and went of to investigate. After a ridiculous number of casts to a fish that kept moving, it finally took my fly - at the same time Steve was playing a fish and I could hear it jumping around. Then came the cry that fisherman, and women know only too well, the sound you make when I fish comes off - it was to be our soundtrack of the afternoon; Steve had actually lost three fish altogether whilst he was below me. My fish stayed on and was almost a replica of the first, I worked hard for that fish.
|A hard won fish.|
Exiting the river where I had caught my last fish I began walking the bank ahead of Steve, he told me he had seen some fish rising further up. After he joined me we saw a fish rise, a quick cheeky cast from high up on top of the bank produced another fish which Steve netted and released for me. The next pool was the one I had wanted to by-pass directly to.
Steve's turn, and we had high hopes for this pool, we could see two substantial fish rising subtly and with purpose, showing their tails as the went back down after raiding the surface of its goodies. Steve was pulling line off his reel when he made a short cast to get the fly line beyond the tip, as the fly landed on the surface a small trout instantly took and was on briefly before shedding the hook, it gave us a chuckle, it was barely a couple of yards in front.
Fishing properly now, Steve searched the pool, the Mohican floating beautifully as its wing sailed upright down the current. A hefty fish took the fly and shot of as if propelled by a motor. The fish was instantly recognisable as a fish I caught in April but looking far fuller in the belly. This fish measured sixteen inches and still held its lovely reddish golden brown colour.
|The same fish when I caught it six weeks ago looking a little leaner|
|Trophy shot, 17" of wild brown trout perfection.|