Monday, probably my last visit to the river this season. It’s Half Term and my diary for the last week of the season is full of Grandchildren and shooting. Pheasants that is, not children.
It was a very cold morning with a strong North East wind and a heavy overcast. The Autumn colours looked a bit tired under the grey sky. A watery sun appeared occasionally but it didn’t warm the air. Where to fish? I went through the options on the drive to Coultershaw. Rotherbridge seemed to be the best bet. I would fish the pools downstream until I reached the weir. There was always the chance of a fish there. It’s also a nice walk.
By the time I arrived the sun had broken through the overcast and it was bright. The wind was blustery but upstream which helped with presentation and minimized drag. I looked upstream from the middle of the bridge and saw a big Trout in midstream on a patch of sand. I marked it and went back to the Land Rover to set up my rod. I tried the fish above the bridge but to no avail.
I crossed the bridge and looked under the trees. There was an enormous Trout just under the bank on my side about ten feet away. I could see it’s fins clearly. It was a dark brown colour, almost black. It looked like a Sea Trout about six pounds. I watched it for about five minutes and then got my rod. I could flick a fly over the fish but there was a dead Cow Parsley stem on my left hampering the backcast. I snapped the plant stem with a crack. The fish heard the noise and disappeared. I cursed.
I cast to a smaller fish which took the Black Nymph and charged downstream. I netted and released it without much fuss. I rested the pool for a while and another fish swirled. I cast upstream of the fish and it took confidently but came off after a few seconds. Two casts, two takes. Casting into the jungle of Willow and Alder was a challenge. The fish were feeding under the branches and in the main current where the leaf debris and buzzers were drifting downstream. I had to cast over my left shoulder and curl the leader around an overhanging branch. The fly landed in the branches several times but a twitch of the rod made it plop into the water amongst the fish. I only lost one fly !
My Black Nymph looked a bit tatty after being chewed by two fish so I changed the damaged tippet and the fly. I tied on an unweighted Pheasant Tail nymph and greased the leader. The fish were taking sub-surface and the weighted Black Nymph was sinking too fast.
I crossed back over the bridge and saw a fish rise under the big Alder tree. It was moving up and down the main flow, regularly taking buzzers. The next time it rose I presented the fly accurately and the fish was hooked. It fought well and I bullied it over the dying Potamageton fronds into the net. It went quiet after that. The fish were rejecting the Pheasant Tail so I changed to a lightly leaded Coachman. The white wing attracted the Trout’s attention.
Coachman – before and after a Trout
I moved downstream and covered a fish under the far bank. It took the fly and when I got it in the landing net, I saw it was an unusual colour. It also had a curly dorsal fin. I needed to use the artery forceps to remove the hook from the left side of it’s throat. It swam off from the net into the weeds. Two hours later, using a different fly, I hooked and landed the same fish. It didn’t fight much. The colour, dorsal fin and hook mark were confirmation. Does that count as one fish or two ? On the way back to the Land Rover I looked for the Monster under the tree. It wasn’t there.
The afternoon was a great success. The weather had been kind, I had the river to myself and the fish were free rising. A fitting way to end the season on the river. The lakes are open until the end of November. I will have time for a couple of trips after visiting Wales.