Fishing this week has been an evening only activity, the beautiful bright hot sunny weather during the day has made fishing any earlier a nonsense. It’s been at least 6:30pm before it was reasonable to even consider casting a fly upon the water, a couple of times I’ve had to leave it until 7:30pm which means only two and a half hours of fishing before it was too dark.
Its been quite puzzling. For some reason there has been very little surface activity, and whilst some Mayflies have been seen – they haven’t been in any signficant numbers. Correspondingly there hasn’t been a spinner fall, just occasionally you see the odd lone female returning to the water. I spend quite some time crouched on bankings or stood in the river margins, just watching the river, and I’ve not yet seen the dancing columns of males of previous seasons. In a casual chat with the Riverkeeper this week he commented that he’d seen Mayfly hatching on the surface but pinging off into the air within a second or two, their wings dried and opened by the warm dry air. As a result the trout had the sense not to try to pursue them.
To anyone unacquainted with the river, it would seem that there were no fish in that stretch at all, but,…on a nearby bridge support, hundreds of Baetis are crawling down to lay their eggs, and lurking around the pillar, in about half a metre of water, partially under the bridge, circle several large trout, waiting, like Nile crocodiles for supper to deliver and present itself. There is one fish of at least a couple of pounds that bosses others away and then returns. Creeping to forty or fifty feet is as close as you can dare go, and then bounce a nymph or fly off the bridge, even on 7x tippet , this makes them sidle away into the deeper mid stream water for a few minutes. Instantly, smaller and less cautious trout and grayling quickly take their chance at snatching, almost grazing them from the stonework, but they’re soon removed by the return of larger brethren. Just one or two more casts in a ten minute period, and they’re put down for quite a while. Instinctively the fish know that the flies will be there much longer than a clumsy scary intruder downstream. After a few more grayling – a couple of which were good rod benders, I put the hook in the keeper ring at 9:30 and just sat and watched as night descended. A good evenings fishing.
I clambered up through the reeds and yellow iris that line the banking to be rewarded with this exquisitely beautiful view as ground mist formed right over the watermeadows that line the river for as far as the eye can see.
This river, and this valley never ever disappoints me – to come fishing on this river is always an uplifting experience. Being a member on this river, an SSSI, makes me feel like one of Gods chosen people, it gives me access to not just the river, but the meadows, hedgerows, and banks. So far this season, camouflaged by standing in the reedy margins, I’ve had privileged close up views directly into the lives and behaviour of voles, moorhens, countless warblers, barn owls, sparrowhawks, buzzards, weasels, even a couple of deer coming to drink within forty feet of me. The highlight this week was a noisy screechy family of Kingfishers which held my attention for twenty minutes as I watched them fishing the shallows near the cattle drinker. Its all so very far removed from the industrial northern city I grew up in. As a Junior Mixed Infant, Miss Wilcox, the only adult, used to crocodile thirty of us onto a public bus for an hours ride, in order for us to visit ‘the countryside’ a large country park, Lyme or Tatton, where we’d search for ‘things’ for the classroom nature table. Dead birds weren’t allowed, nor were squashed frogs and toads, Miss Wilcox placed great emphasis on catkins, leaves and coltsfoot, but there were a few of us that she always kept a sharp eye upon, we always ended up wet, so even at that age, staring at the denizens of streams and ponds held a fascination that developed right into adulthood. From the sluggish and musty smell of factory polluted rivers and canals where only rats seemed to live, to the fragile crystal chalkstreams of Southern England – some journey. You don’t have to catch fish large or small to have special days on this river.