Saturday, April 04, 2009
Turning up late to the party - fly soup - a blank avoided - sika deer.
The High Priestess very kindly offered me a couple of hours out this afternoon and I wasn't going to refuse - even though the day has been chilly and very windy. I know a place where the river flows far below in a steep sided, wooded valley; a place where the wind would be barely noticable and where I might, if I broke every speed limit on the way, just catch the back end of the day's large dark olive hatch.
As it happened I was an hour too late. I suspected I would be as recent hatches hereabouts seem to have kicked off quite early and been more or less over by 1pm. When I reached the water's edge at about half past one there were plenty of duns around, but they were nearly all airborne and careering along on the breeze into the bankside rhododendrons and hawthorn. Nothing was rising that I could see, but the evidence suggested I had just missed a very good hatch. When I examined a large eddy of foamy scum in one pool, I found an insect soup of tiny midge and crippled olive duns. If you click on the photo below to enlarge it, you'll see what I mean - the area shown is probably a foot square; multiply that into an area approximately 20 square yards and you'll appreciate that the flies stranded in that foam must have numbered in the thousands.
Even so, I still had the task of trying to eke out a fish or two, so I set about the riffles with a brace of small olive nymphs. In the summer-low, clear water, going was hard and I held little hope of success. Sure enough I struggled, but a pair of brownies in quick succession was some reward for perseverence.....and the day was such a typically bright, breezy spring day that I couldn't fail to return home refreshed, having witnessed the flowering of the season's first anemones and primroses, the blazing blue dart of a kingfisher at work and late on, a close encounter with a group of surprisingly inquisitive deer. They were sikas I think, and they stood on ceremony not 50 yards away for a a good minute while I gratefully took some photographs.