Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Doldrums

January and February truly are my own personal dead zone, two months of the year with so little to offer that I often think if they could be omitted from the calendar altogether (and my life be consequently shortened by some 10 years), then it wouldn't be too bad a thing. True there might be some opportunity for winter walking, a spot of fly tying, maybe a few hours' grayling fishing; but these are poor substitutes indeed for a glorious spring day on the river, an overcast, muggy day afloat, or a still summer's evening amongst falling olive spinners.

Even the fly tying is a struggle at the moment. Spare time is short and what little I have had recently, has been spent attempting to come up with a pattern for the Fly Fishing Forum's nymph competition in which 50 or so members have contributed an appropriate fly which will next week be voted upon by the public. The top ten will then be assessed by a panel of four experts to arrive at a winner. Whether or not my humble effort ends up in the running remains to be seen, but the competition is strong and I'm doubtful. Whatever happens, I'll post the offending article here when it's all over and done with.

In the meantime, I sat down today with the intention of knocking a few flies out, but found inspiration to be lacking. I could of course have concentrated on replenishing stocks of established favourites for the coming season, but I just didn't have my 'production line' head on. When I buckled down to create a few early season river midge patterns,  I just couldn't seem to get going and the exercise quickly became a chore - the season just seems so bloody far off!

Green Midge
Hook: Varivas 2200 #18
Thread: 14/0 sheer
Rib: olive Pearsalls silk
Dubbing: fine olive
Wingpost: TMC aerodry
Hackle: olive grizzle

There is much to look forward to though, and I would rather it were mid January than mid November. My river fishing was a little neglected last season as I spent an increasing amount of time messing about on boats. I noticed it on some of the occasions I fished dry......and found my technique sadly lacking. Fishing is like anything else - it requires practice to attain competence. River fishing in particular requires the angler to 'keep the eye in'. The range of techniques which a successful river fisher might deploy over the season - or even during the course of one particular day - is such that it is easy to become rusty if any of the various disciplines are allowed to slip to the back of one's mind. Dry fly (both upstream and down), wet fly(ditto), upstream nymph, short line nymph, duo, trio, streamer. These are all techniques in which a river angler seeks to become proficient to help maximise the chances of a consistent success.

This is I think, what I love most about the challenge of running water. Every session presents a little puzzle which must be solved if optimum sport is to be enjoyed. Some anglers decide what method they will fish before they even reach the water's edge. But the better ones look for clues given by the conditions, weather and - most importantly - the fish, before even stringing the rod up; maybe after a good half hour's walk along the bank. Even during the course of the session, it will likely be necessary to change tack at least a couple of times as dictated by the stage of the hatch, the type of water being fished and so on. One minute you could be casting a tiny dry fly on a long leader to a finicky rising grayling; the next could find you, heart-in-mouth, as a 2lb trout comes charging out from behind a boulder to attack the streamer you had the temerity to tweak through its territory. 

The river fisher's world is dynamic and varied and great satisfaction can be derived from approaching something like competency in the different skills required. This can only be achieved through time and effort, as I was painfully reminded on a few occasions last year. I intend to rectify that over the coming season.


Stuart said...

Great blog Matt. I'm with you on the fascination of river fishing. I keep meaning to give stillwater fishing another go but on every occasion I can fish, I just find I'd prefer to be on the river.

Keep up the good blogging!


Flyfishermanrichard. said...

I'm exactly the same right now Matt, I should be tying flies but lack the inspiration.

I'm off to a spot of Grayling fishing tomorrow, as this mild weather has thawed the rivers some.


Bolton Fly Tyers said...

Thankyou for adding us to your blogroll.

Hope you can come to the Beehive on tuesday to see Stuart Crofts talking about caddis flies