I reckon we all get lumped with a piece of this particular pie. The evidence was there for all to see today; a bright, mild day of birdsong and warm air, has brought people out of their winter stupor and everywhere I went I saw freshly mown lawns and got stuck behind long queues of slow moving day trippers. Certainly from a personal point of view, I finally felt able to breathe again. This is a wonderful time of year, with everything to look forward to and nature’s signs of growth and renewal becoming ever more apparent. Butterbur is poking its head from the sand, the snowdrops are dying back and the curlew’s sad call withers away on a breeze which smells of grass and damp earth.
Today, the opening day of the new trout season, will likely be my last fishing trip for a few weeks. Baby is due in the next few days and I will have more important things to worry about. Mindful of this, I set out earlier than would normally be recommended in March, slipping into the water shortly before 10am and intent on being well prepared for a hatch of spring olives, should they choose to appear.
An initial prospect with a pair of nymphs brought the first trout of the new season - only small, but a bright little fellow nonetheless. He took a weighted pheasant tail and for all his meagre eight inches, left me feeling very happy.
Just before noon, a trickle hatch of olives began and one or two fish rose to eat them. One of the fish in particular was pushing a lot of water around as it swirled at the duns and I reckoned him to be large. I tried him with a snowshoe hare and rose him once and missed. A second offer came visibly short – characteristic of a fish made wary by previous experience - and a third attempt put him down altogether: a good opportunity missed.
That was about it for rising fish. In contrast with last weekend, the warm, bright conditions were more conducive to the olives getting off the surface and I saw many more in the air than on the surface. The whole emerge, dry wings, take off process was lasting just a few seconds and I didn’t feel the fish were keying onto the duns as they just weren’t staying put for long enough. With this in mind, I changed tack and put up a long leader with a trio of spiders, and set about fishing down through the popply water and current creases with an elevated rod and large hanging loop in the line. Pleasingly, this worked a treat and another three trout (best around the pound) and two grayling came to hand over the next hour or so before the hatch failed completely and interest dried up.
Even so, that was more than enough for me after such a long, cold, barren winter. This sudden springing to life of our waterways never fails, is so predictable in its occurrence, and yet is always a revelation to the winter-worn angler; a relief almost, proof that our beloved river has once again made it through to spring after weeks of sub-zero temperatures, bank-high floods and grit salt runoff.
With little else doing, I rested for an hour in our fishing hut. It is a lovely little hut, with all the accoutrements one would expect of a fishing hut: last year’s calendar marked up with date of first sandmartin, swallow, swift etc; a gas stove; numerous pheasant tail feathers and the skulls of assorted dead animals. As I sat there with a cup of last night’s parsnip soup, with warm sunlight slanting through the window and daydreams of the season to come, I was a happy man indeed.
Here’s to the new season. I hope it brings you all many happy moments!