Yesterday was the longest day, the Summer Solstice. It was also the hottest day of the year. The BBC ‘officially’ declared a heat wave after six consecutive days of temperatures over ninety degrees. Much too hot for day time fishing. Overnight the weather had changed to thunderstorms and hail. A midday temperature of only seventy two degrees was less debilitating. The strong westerly wind tried to cool things down but failed.
I had been disabled for a few days by the heat and an insect bite that had made my rod hand swell up. A late evening session on the river searching for a big brown would be a great end to the week. When I arrived at the river I went to see the work the Environment Agency had carried out on the fish pass. The trees around the fish ladder had been cut down to protect the concrete structures.
I fished the weir pool with a weighted nymph but after thirty minutes I’d had no response so I moved up to the long straight. I worked a weighted Black Nymph down and across the long straight and it wasn’t long before a trout took the fly. It flashed at the fly before the leader moved and I lifted into the fish. It came unstuck after a few seconds and was probably foul-hooked. I fished the rest of the pool but had no takes.
I walked and fished all the way to Rotherbridge but I didn’t see any trout. As I was sitting on the grass wondering whether or not to walk further upstream, a trout rose under the big Alder tree. I cast a dry fly over the fish but it showed no interest. I persevered but to no effect. I walked downstream to where the tree line started and found two good fish taking flies under the trees. I sat down and shuffled forwards so that I could see the nearest fish clearly. It was moving around and sipping down midges. Luckily there was a clear slot in the trees and I flicked my dry fly through the gap to land near the far bank. The trout found the fly and took it without hesitation. I returned the fish and then looked for the other trout but it had disappeared.
That fish boosted my confidence and I continued downstream, keeping well back from the river, looking for rising fish. I saw two or three fish rising in the middle of a tree tunnel. Moreover, the stinging nettles were head high. I used the landing net to press some of the nettles aside and crushed the stems underfoot to make a little nettle cave. I had to cast with my arms held high.
I lobbed a dry fly over the nettles but I couldn’t see where it landed. A fish swirled and I lifted the rod. It was hooked and while I struggled with that trout another fish continued to rise under the trees. I returned the fish in another pool and crept back into the nettles to see if the second fish was still rising. It was still there but a bit further down under the trees on my side of the river. I threw caution to the wind, cast a long line and let the fly swing across the current. The trout rose to the fly but I was impatient and I lifted too soon. I expected to see more rising fish as I walked back to the fish pass but there were none. A small fish rose at the end of the weir pool but it was not interested in my fly. It was a cool drive home, thankfully.