Saturday, July 21, 2012
It's been a strange few weeks: frustrating and not particularly successful, and reward for my slightly increased fishing effort has been small. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one has to be the weather. I won't bat on about it here, but as anyone who fishes the north of England rivers will attest, the last eight weeks have been an almost total waste of time.
Once the solstice has passed and August approaches, I always begin to feel slightly panicky about the onset of autumn and the end of trout fishing for another year. The flyfishers' hourglass is fast emptying and with sport currently at the season's summer low point, it's difficult not to feel like the key opportunities have already passed. Granted the dog days are here, trout activity is at a lull and the going can be tough; but notwithstanding that, I always find at this time of year that other, non-piscine factors inexplicably kick in to make the late July and August period less than satisfactory. The last fortnight has provided ample demostration.
Last week, Rob and I enjoyed a fine camping trip up to north Skye. It was a great experience for me, being the first time I have stayed away on a fishing trip since the kids were born. The landscape of Trotternish is like nothing I have seen before and I spent the whole time gawping at the stunning scenery (see photo of The Quiraing at top). We spent two days fishing Loch Leathan under the shadow of The Storr, and under cloudy, wet fly skies. The first day in particular was excellent as the tail end of the mayfly hatch treated us to some classic top of the water sport - big waves and small brownies crashing after the flies like things possessed. We were surprised and disappointed though, to return a smattering of slightly bigger trout which appeared to be stockies. I think we both initially refused to acknowledge this: surely the Portree AA wouldn't besmirch the waters of the Storr Lochs by throwing in farmed fish? A conversation with a local fisher at the end of day two confirmed our worst fears - 1000 stock fish had been introduced a few weeks previous - sacrilege! To say the wind was knocked out of our sails would be an understatement. It was a huge let down after travelling over 400 miles to catch wild trout. If there is any consolation, it would be that such specimens were in the minority, the bulk of our captures being bright, wild little fish along these lines:
No matter, we both had a fine time and a great crack. But next time it will be strictly wild fish only.......
The last week or so has been spent with a keen weather eye, waiting for an opportunity to pounce on some local river trouting once more.....an opportunity which has just failed to materialise. After heavy rain on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, but with a dry spell forecast, it looked like our rivers would be fishable in time for a Friday evening session. However, another mini lift on Wednesday night put paid to that fantasy and I was forced to look elsewhere.
In the end I decided on an evening session at Malham Tarn. Warm, overcast skies and a 5mph wind forecast from the SE promised much and although I would only have the last few hours of the day at my disposal, I packed the outboard and all my stillwater gear into the car before work and spent the entire day dreaming about big wild brownies chasing my wet flies through a ripple.
When the moment finally came and I motored out from the boathouse in short sleeves and excitement, all was well with the world. As little as ten minutes later, the hex of midsummer had struck once more: the Tarn dropped dead flat calm and stayed that way for the next hour or so, until I cursed into the sky and made my way back to dry land. Last time I was here was opening day this season and a 20mph blow out of the east made it impractical to fish with only electric outboards permitted. Last season was a similar story for me: out of half a dozen visits, one was too windy to fish and three treated me to an entirely useless flat calm. An unlucky run? Surely it's not to much to ask for winds in the normal range of speed just once in a while.....
There was one last throw of the dice. I had in the car, my waders and a 7' #4 brook rod. A little over half an hour away was a small tributary beck which I have access to. The main river was very much out of order (unless you like dangling salmon flies downstream), but maybe this little tributary would be running clearer?
I wasn't in the best of moods by now.....and regular visitors here will know that pissing about on small streams isn't really my scene (piscatorial paedophilia, a mate of mine dismissively calls it). But hey, any port in a storm and even if it meant a brace of 12" fish at best, it was always going to be a more attractive proposition than tying the line around my toe and floating aimlessly upon Yorkshire's version of the Sargasso Sea. And that is how in the matter of an hour, I went from targeting some of the biggest trout in the north, to some of the smallest......
As it turned out, even the feeder beck was coloured and only just fishable. I plopped a dry fly into the few back eddies and flats that I found and returned a number of tiny trout. And they were tiny: immature things if truth be told and I took neither pleasure nor satisfaction from their capture. It was an entirely ignoble enterprise and I soon trudged dejectedly back to the car in a dark frame of mind and ready to kick any cat which might come my way. I've decided to post the photo below, although I'm not sure if this is a good idea - I've heard you can get arrested for this sort of thing.
Quare times indeed. It's stopped raining now and as I write, the sun shines brightly outside. A dry spell is on the cards and maybe, just maybe, one of my local spate rivers will finally calm down and clear. Maybe the same will happen to my life too, and some semblance of routine can be restored after a summer of upheaval.
Crap Ghillie: Denson on the oars.