The temperature was over 80 degrees and the southerly wind blew thunderclouds across the English Channel. There was no point in fishing until late afternoon, I would become dehydrated and tired for the evening rise.
I had tied a few Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear nymphs to replace those lost in the trees. I used fine copper wire for the ribbing as it’s not so flashy as gold. Hare’s Ears are not part of my fly tying kit, I used rabbit instead. The fly should be lightly dressed and fuzzy with loose guard hairs to simulate the nymph’s legs and breathers. Definitely no brass or tungsten bead, the ribbing wire is sufficient weight.
I met my guest, Johnathan, at The Badgers and we drove to Keeper’s Bridge. The middle beats had been very productive while I was on holiday in Dorset and I hoped that we would see a few good Trout after sunset. At this time last year I needed a jacket while fishing at the lakes. The river was high, coloured and unfishable.
I went upstream, Jonathan went downstream. I started just above the farm track, in the shade of an Alder tree. I allowed the nymph to drift down and across a gentle flow. I saw a vague shape wander down the middle of the pool and turn towards me, it looked like a good size Trout. I cast above it and as I drew the fly towards the fish, it rose up in the water and I saw the white of it’s mouth opening. I lifted gently and surprised the fish which hung in the water for a couple of seconds then shot into the tree roots. After much pulling and rod bending the fly came back. How do they do that ? It’s tree hugging tactics suggested a Chub, Trout splash about before they run. The pool was toast but I heard a fish rise downstream, near the drainage ditch. I moved down, flicked the fly across the pool and had a take just as I was starting to lift the rod for the next cast. It was a Trout of about two pounds which had been hooked right in the tip of it’s upper jaw.
My confidence was growing as I sat down beside the tail of the Sandy Pool. While I checked the tippet and nymph for damage, I saw a fish rise. It splashed again, upstream near a tree branch. A minute later it rose in the centre of the pool. It was probably a sea trout making its way upstream. I had a swirling rise from a good fish but I lifted the rod too soon.
I moved up to the pool with the overhanging tree and a bush on my right. I cast at an angle and at the last moment, flicked the rod to bend the line around under the tree. One particularly good cast landed the fly well upstream and close to the near bank. A fish took the nymph and immediately dashed upstream. It kept going, paused and then went on another long run. I resigned myself to losing a good fish, probably a three pounder. I put an alarming bend in the rod and the fish turned, it came back down the centre of the river. As it passed me it jumped clear of the water and I saw it was a sea trout between one and two pounds. Then the hook fell out. Rats. I laughed and sat down behind the stinging nettles to contemplate. Was it the fish I had seen earlier?
It was incredibly hot and the insect repellent wasn’t doing what it said on the tin. I found a breeze and strolled back towards Keeper’s Bridge. A fish rose below the Sandy Pool and took my nymph on the second cast. I lifted too soon and the fish dived away in disgust. At 6:00pm we retired to the shelter of the trees beside the old railway bridge for a drink and to compare notes. Refreshed, we returned to the same beats for the evening rise. Lots of fish were showing around Keeper’s Bridge so I swapped the nymph for a size 14 Adams and covered several fish. The presentation was not good enough. The fish saw the tippet.
Eventually, under the big Alder tree, a fish swirled at the fly but I was looking at something else. Below the bridge several fish were rising to midges. My Adams was inspected and consistently rejected. I tied on a parachute ginger sedge and had a good take but failed to connect. Jonathan caught a nice trout on a large black dry fly. I missed several more takes before we adjourned to The Badgers for a life saving pint of Fuller’s. A taster for tomorrow’s family gathering at the Griffin Brewery, Chiswick.