Friday, June 27, 2008

High, mucky water and another valuable lesson learned...

I stood on the bridge in the rain this evening, looking down on a heavily peat-stained river which was running 18" above it's normal summer level. When I looked back at the club car park and saw it was crowded with four vehicles belonging to salmon anglers tempted out by the recent spate, I very nearly climbed back into the car and buggered off home.

Then I reminded myself that an opportunity to go fishing shouldn't be so easily passed up by a man with a young family and full time job. And anyway, if you don't ever fish in adverse conditions, then you never learn anything about the differing moods of your river. I psyched myself up for the challenge ahead and pulled on my waders.....

Half way up the first pool, I was seriously doubting that I'd made the right decision. A fine, misty, but wind-driven rain was lashing into my face and running down my collar and sleeves; the line was sticking to everything and I couldn't see my boots in knee-deep water. My chosen method was short-line nymphing with a trio of flashy bugs and it just wasn't looking like being successful. For the second time, I nearly called it quits.

Then I remembered the Rivers National Final at Witton a few years ago, when some of our top competition anglers - the likes of John Tyzack, Andrew Dixon and Jeremy Lucas - battled against each other and a horribly out of sorts River Wear for a place in the England team. The river was like chocolate milk that day - yet some of these dedicated anglers still caught fish by adapting their tactics to suit the conditions. I tried to do likewise now.

Next pool up, I concentrated my efforts very hard on the very edge of the current seams and the pockets of calmer water adjacent to them. It took a bit of juggling of flies to get the correct balance of weight and mobility, but eventually I was rewarded with the strong kick of a good grayling, from a piece of slack water not two feet from the bank. She took a shiny gold tungsten bug and totally altered my outlook. All of a sudden the rain and my stiff shoulder were forgotten!

Next came a pair of trout and then, in the next pool up, another nice grayling.
A further grayling followed when I found a couple of fish rising to a sparse hatch of B-WO's later on and managed to tempt a rise to the snowshoe hare emerger.

That was about it. The salmon anglers hadn't had much success (although our water has yielded three fresh fish so far in June), and I had fared only marginally better.
So was it worth it? Yes I think so. The adverse conditions forced me to think a little harder about what I was doing and the water I was fishing and I learned never to write off the chances of sport, so long as some concentration and thought is applied to the task in hand.

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