That Time of Year
I’ve not been fishing much lately due to an over packed diary, the summer season is always hectic for your average architect / father / school governor come fly fisherman … many things need to be wrapped up before even beginning to imagine getting away on holiday. This time last year I was dreaming of Sewin (Sea Trout) and went on to catch some in the Teifi whilst on holiday in west Wales, this year we have two trips planned, one to Scotland and the other to the French Alps. I will be away for a while but keep an eye on the blog as I’ll aim to capture my travels and report back when I can; in the meantime, some memories from yesteryear:
Sewin fishing is a vampire like past time; creeping around late at night like a poacher, feeling like you’re up to no good, every sound heightened – ready to jump out of your skin. Unnatural sounds split the thick silence, perhaps a sheep adjusting it’s slumber and leaning on it’s night time tin shelter or some other strange sound that makes the mind jolt mentally like an electric current has been applied. Creeping around with your nerves on edge is not natural for your average 40 something, every small event is magnified, resulting in an inner lightning flash of adrenalin which courses through the veins; somehow your trepidation and instinct to remain quiet means you still maintain the control of a viper, the energy is internalised as you’re keen to become part of the darkness and not to allow the mental fireworks to become visible physically.
Seemingly insignificant daytime issues become disproportionately acute under a night sky; I recall feeling uneasy wading chest deep in the darkness with the sound of rapids behind me, the water pulling at me like the Earth pulls at the moon, a constant reminder of the power of gravity and water, intimidating the psyche in a way that feels of greater magnitude than when experienced in daylight … the ears, imagination and other senses take over as the key sensory input whilst you get used to casting with very little visual feedback; an odd sense of excited alertness takes over you, a mix of slight uneasyness but focussed excitement and control over the fight or flight mechanism, you can understand why people get obsessed with Sewin fishing, as it’s almost like some form of performance enhancing narcotic has been introduced into the system.
The occasional views of full moon soon felt like the face of a welcome friend as it peered out from behind the tumbling clouds, the increased brightness allowing me to see the line sparkle across the surface and judge the distance of cast that I was putting out – according to the book I was reading back in the coziness of the holiday cottage just a few hundred yards away, moonlight is supposed not to be ideal when Sewin fishing but I was more than happy to see it on occasions as it is an able accomplish; sometimes the casts were working out well, other times the line was around my thighs, an alternative form of feedback telling me I’m not retrieving fast enough in relation to the current; even when retrieving correctly, fishing with discipline was key, keeping your house in order is clearly a priority whilst night fishing; the spare line catching round the scoop net would hinder the cast when putting the line back out and was an unwelcome frustration in the blackness which demanded a different net set up, just one example of a number of small tweaks that were necessary to avoid making a hash of things in the dark.
Somehow, by the end of the second late night, I suddenly heard the splash of a good specimen somewhere nearby; a different mindset took over, as I stopped thinking too much about the process and sensed where the fish was, by some fluke of nature I managed to gel all the recent experiments into a whole, resulting in the indisputable feel of a powerful fish on the end of the light blue intermediate sinking line; for a moment the fish demonstrated, vicious flashes of silver crashing through the surface … an impressive spectacle for my eyes only, the Sewin smashed in and out of our two worlds aggressively but in vain, as by now the fish was securely hooked by the specialist fly I’d selected after receiving plenty of good advice from more accomplished night prowlers, I used a big long fly with blues and blacks in it, tied on a large barbed black hook with a small trailing treble masked in the long hair, this was coupled with a heavy leader that would have pulled a dead sheep out if I’d of snagged one by accident, the quarry had little chance of breaking off and my line retrieving left hand was on autopilot.
It felt other worldly when somehow I managed to pull the fish into the net, although to allow myself some credit, I’d done my research, persisted in the long hours around midnight without a hint of a fish for some time and tackled the proceedings with a constant open mind, reviewing every action as I went along … it was seriously satisfying to achieve my aim and the feeling when all the little decisions came together to capture the somewhat elusive quarry that I’d read so much about was simply magical!