Well there’s only 2 days left until the end of the trout season in our local rivers, and it gives me a chance to reflect on what has been another strange angling year.
Just to prove that fly fishing is not too easy, all of the flies that caught really well last year were average this year (the black-arsed fly may as well have stayed in the box) whilst some old classics (such as the Greenwells Glory) caught steadily all year! It’s just been a really, really strange season, the only thing that’s been constant is that the weather has been variable to crap, and that there’s been no consistency to how the river has fished.
Every year I look back and think ‘what could I have done differently‘ and ‘what should I have remembered‘.
I should have remembered that the old maxim of ‘if the fish are taking then they’ll take anything‘ is (to be frank) complete bollocks. There was a particular time towards the latter end of the summer when John and I threw the contents of the box at a great number of rising fish – to absolutely no avail (if I recollect I caught one of them by giving a fly a mighty twitch as it went over the fish’s snout), whereas another time I caught a bagful on a newly tied concoction whilst John couldn’t get a sniff. So, whoever penned that phrase – get back in your box!
Another point of reference has been presentation. Small fish are fairly easy to snag if you have the right fly on, but the wary old grand-pappy won’t touch anything out of the ordinary. Line drag – forget it! Leader visible on the surface – forget it! Fly landing with a splash – go home now! So I have made a point this season of trying to present the fly in as favourable a way as possible. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s made an improvement on otherwise blank days.
Movement. Not me – the fly. How many times this season have I induced a take by twitching the fly as it’s moved over the danger area? A hell of a lot, that’s how many. In fact I would say that nearly 50% of my fish this season have been as a result of imparting some movement into the fly (probably an exaggeration, but it seems that way). Whether the fly has been dry or under water, the aggressive nature of the trout has been proven time and time again.
Size isn’t everything, but it sure makes a huge difference. The best Grayling that I have caught so far came this season to a size 18 GRHE tin-head nymph, in some very fast and turbulent water. Also, on the other hand, 2 weeks ago I caught a nice trout on a size 18 dry fly, and extricated from it’s scissors a size 12 Klinkhammer which looked the size of a small submarine. As the season has progressed though, it has generally been the case that the large flies have been useless and the smaller flies have worked. I suppose that’s only to be expected as the trout have become more fly-savvy.
Variety is the spice of life. This season I have fished spots that I have never fished before, and it’s been a very worthwhile experience (no haven’t been down to the Dart or the Test) – I have fished runs and swims that I’ve previously ignored, usually to some quite good results. Also the regularly fished areas have been more ignored and left alone. Ok – I have travelled a little further, climbed about a little more, but generally had a far better time of it.
Patience really is a virtue. My pal John usually after a few hours has a good rest and gets his head down for a half hour. Whereas me – I stick at it and ring the changes, and sometimes it’s had some quite satisfying results. I reckon that I’m probably up on John with fish per trip, and that’s not that I’m a better fisherman (John will do me on the dry fly every time) but that I stick at it and change flies and tactics more often.
What’s been my most memorable moments this season (river only)?
Undoubtedly the best bit of fishing I’ve done was a moment in the middle of July (in fact I think that I wrote about it here). One chance at a nice trout, a difficult cast with a large dry mayfly, landed perfectly, sipped down like it was the tastiest mayfly on the river, and a fine trout on the bank.
Also (and this has happened a few times) my eyes adjusting to the conditions so well that I have seen the trout rise through the water to have a look at the fly before taking it as naturally as you like (also a few that have had a look and thought ‘nah – I don’t like that flavour‘).
Worst moment? Easy – and eyes again! Not too long ago when John and I went down the river in the evening. The light was poor and (as I seem to be getting worse) I couldn’t see the fly, the fish, or in some cases it seemed even the river. This particular evening was a bit of a watershed for me, as for the first time I actually wondered how long I would be able to fish for before I become as blind as a bat!
All in all, once again it’s been an enjoyable and different season. Once again I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my fishing (most of the time), enjoyed John’s company (all of the time) and been as competitive as the next man (again all of the time). I see each fishing trip as a challenge, not against John, but against the conditions and the fish. More often than not the fish have risen to the challenge whereas I have not – there has been the odd occasion where I have won.
And so the trout season is coming to an end. The nights have drawn in (19:14 and dark outside), the days have become colder (although a balmy 24 today – yes 24 – at the end of September!!) and I have been unable to wet a line for weeks.
The Grayling season is kicking in (I have made myself a personal challenge to get into some more Grayling this winter) and (he says with mounting excitement) it’s nearly SALMON TIME! Yes folks, my annual trip to the Tweed is only a couple of weeks off (in fact I nearly sneaked in an extra couple of days next week, before I realised she-who-must-be-obeyed would probably do her nut), so I will have to make do with my fantastic 3 days and 4 nights of salmon fishing fun at the end of October.
And so it has started, the anticipation of the winter fishing, the lure of the salmon in Scotland, and the planning and booking of next year’s trips.
I just love this sport, in fact strike sport, I just love fishing. Until next time…..