The BBC weather forecast predicted a southerly wind veering around to the north by noon. I chose to ignore it in favour of ‘looking out of the window’. The topmost leaf on the willow tree was not moving and a soft rain fell vertically. Good fishing weather.
I had cleaned my fly line and glued a new leader into the tip of the line. Where should I fish? Yesterday, Rotherbridge looked uninspiring but the top beats looked great and I had seen a good trout rise. There were no cars at Keeper’s Bridge and I decided to start on that beat. The water was a little coloured by the run-off from the overnight rain. I got tangled in a tree before the first cast. Oops.
When I eventually got the black nymph in the river I worked it down and across, concentrating on the leader. There was no response above Keeper’s Bridge. I moved down to the new riffle. The water was fast moving in the centre of the river leaving a slightly slower channel along the near and far bank. At the end of the first cast, a small trout splashed but did not take the fly. I searched down and across and took a step after every couple of casts. Just like salmon fishing. About half way down the riffle, just after I had put a mend in the line, there was a savage take and a large angry trout burst onto the surface of the water. It shook itself, jumped and thrashed about. Then it used the strong current and moved downstream to the end of the pool. I followed. Without the landing net. I subdued the fish but it was hard to bring it back upstream against the flow. I beached the trout and lifted it out by hand. Then I put it in the landing net to recover.
The fish was 3lb and bore the scars of several encounters with cormorants. I felt a bit sorry for the trout. It had survived the winter, predators and was obviously hungry. After it had recovered, I dropped the edge of the net and let it swim back into the pool. It looked about 4lb in the water. I will recognize that fish if we meet again. I walked downstream to Rotherbridge and missed a take just below the big alder tree. It felt like a small wild trout. Half an hour later I returned to the riffle. I had four more takes but couldn’t connect.
I went back to the Land Rover and drove to The Badgers for a pint. It had been a successful day. A good start to the river season.