Spring has sprung…
I eventually managed a fishing trip out on Saturday 19th May 2012; everyone who’d fished the weekend before had reported blanking and it was clear from a number of reccy visits that there was very little fish action up until recently but I couldn’t hold off any longer and thought I’d give it a go. My reasoning was as it was a little milder, the river had dropped slightly and was running almost clear for a change, the fish had to start switching on properly at some point.
After various domestic and garden tasks I eventually got out about 11am; whilst it was true that it was a little milder in terms of air temperature, as soon as I waded ankle-deep I realised that the river was still cold for the time of year. I started out well by rising a little brown to a CDC shuttlecock I’d tied in the week. The fish was in a likely spot that I knew they usually hide under in a deep tree routed pocket near the M5 Motorway bridge. This early result was encouraging and when I spotted a good rise some 60 metres ahead, in a 2 to 3ft deep run that is usually reliable, I thought my luck was in. Unfortunately though, the rising fish didn’t reappear again, I was hopeful that I could coax a reaction and induce a take but when I got within striking distance I didn’t have any luck despite inching the fly out carefully over the area, increasing the distance and systematically searching the likely positions. Reluctantly I gave up on the spot after a while and continued on through a very lengthy deep section that requires careful deep wading, as the water is almost mill pool calm, the extra depth means the water is slow and fish lurk in the depths but from previous experience I know that stealthy work can sometimes result in a fish being coaxed into action … but not on this day unfortunately … I spent hours working hard but with no real activity or payback for the effort. This was a little frustrating, as like most anglers, I’ve waited patiently for the season to get into gear properly and this was beginning to hark of wasted time. In hindsight the deep slow water and densely foliaged setting is not quite up to temperature yet, previous successes have been later in the season when things have warmed up well. I might even conclude that the fish move into this section when water temperatures are higher, as a shady deep watered respite from warmer weather (a theory that will be tested more as the season unfolds).
I decided a change of scene was in order and I upped my pace, not stopping for the faster sections and marching on through some testing but sometimes fruitful spots to get to a more reliable stretch of water. I’d moved on to the weir section, which is in a place we know locally as John’s Field, things are usually rock solid in terms of fishability. The river is less densely foliated here and of varying but reliable depths – not too deep or shallow, there is a lot of bug life about and fish are usually always available; if they’re not feeding here then there’s little chance anywhere. The beat didn’t let me down, it felt warmer here and more light was coming in, flies were rising more freely and I could see some good takes along the stretch in front of me. Casting at the opposite bank from the weir itself is where I’ve caught my first fish of the season in two earlier years, I might name the spot ‘old faithful’ as I’ve had many fish here over the last few seasons. I was a little off the mark though and missed a couple of rises from the first few casts but I saw this as a good sign, fish were still feeding well in this river after all, I was beginning to doubt the season would ever get going from the couple of hours I’d spent earlier. The signs of activity honed the senses and lifted my spirits, getting me back in the zone and just then I managed to take a good-sized OOS Grayling under a tree. Someone needs to tell the local Grayling when it’s not their time, as they always seem to be up for it in their off-season. My eye was back in now though, I was pleased with what I thought was a skilful catch, winkling a fish out by laying a delicate line out gently; firing a side cast very low under the tree that often acts as a fly magnet as well as good cover for fish. Settling down after releasing the fish, it was encouraging to see a few more rises ahead but these were also in tricky spots; some were under overhanging foliage and others were right up against the bank. I decided super stealthy tactics were in order, so put on 1KG Stroft tippet and some of my finest fish fooling flies.
Things weren’t quite going my way though, as I continued to mess about for perhaps half an hour, duffing the opportunities given me. I’ll use the excuse of not being out for some time to account for my cack-handedness; rather than give up on this location though, I rested the water for a few minutes and changed flies to a Paraloop Emerger, before getting back on the case and eventually fooling a good brown from under a bush. With a little more effort another came in quick succession, nudged out from under the far bank and I was happy that the instincts and skills were now safely back in tune. By now it was 2.30pm and although I could see good rises ahead, they were still a little infrequent and it was clear that the fish were still in a fickle mood; unfortunately though my Guideline waders had sprung a leak somewhere on the left side below the knee. Somehow I hadn’t noticed that my left foot had lost all feeling until now but once acknowledged, it’s difficult to ignore the weird feeling that your foot has been replaced by a non responsive stump, it would have been nice to stay on and fish for a while longer but the run I was in required deep wading for some distance and climbing out up tree roots at an exit point much further on. Good sense prevailed over valour and I turned back, walking just a few yards and exiting up the weir before crossing a field and chatting to one of my syndicate buddies en-route for home. I could have pushed on but sometimes less is more, I was happy to have worked hard for the few fish I fooled and can now look forward to the easier sessions that are likely to follow over the next few weeks. It was good to have got back in the swing of things and it looks like the spring has finally sprung for trout fishing after a painfully slow start to the season.
Tight Lines, Splash