The river had settled to it’s normal level and the day was overcast with a breeze from the west. Perfect fishing conditions. Rain was forecast for the next day and over the weekend. I visited all the beats to have a look at the catch returns but I had a gut feeling that the top beats would be best. Rotherbridge and Keeper’s Bridge had been fished over the weekend and that morning so I drove up the old railway line to Taylor’s Bridge. I wanted to revisit Perryfields as I’d seen some good fish there. Neither Ladymead nor Perryfields had been fished much since my last visit and nothing had been caught.
I decided to fish the south bank because the overcast sky would prevent shadows and the banks had recently been mown. I would have good access to the water along the entire Beat. Just as I got to the first pool a fish swirled. A good sign, I was confident that it would take my fly. I started with a Black Nymph then changed to a nymph with bright red hackles. After thirty minutes of intense concentration I gave up and moved downstream. The plan was to fish the Perryfields stretch on the south bank, then swap to the north bank and explore the pools downstream towards Keeper’s Bridge. I walked to the bend above Perryfields and then started fishing. I searched under the trees along the far bank with a weighted nymph.
Things were going well until I pushed a cast a little too firmly and tangled the leader around an overhanging branch. I pulled for a break and lost the entire tapered leader. It would have been a long walk back to the Land Rover for my spare reel so I tied a length of 4lb Stroft directly to the end of the fly line. Luckily the breeze was behind me and the weighted nymph helped straighten the improvised leader. I flicked the fly across the river under a tree and let it swing round in the current. Half way across there was a flash from a Trout and I connected with a little wild brownie. I unhooked it and watched the fish dash back into cover. Normally that Trout would have been ‘lined’ by my tapered leader. The fine line might have made a difference. The sun broke through the overcast and made my approach to the water more difficult.
I walked to Perryfields Barn and as I arrived, I heard a big fish splash just above the bridge. I crept onto the bridge and ate a handful of huge blackberries while waiting for the fish to rise again. It didn’t. I covered the pool above the bridge but I knew the Trout wouldn’t respond. I stayed on the north bank and went downstream. I thought the line of trees below the Old Riffle and the Wide Pool would produce a Trout. The breeze was against me but the sun was in my face and I didn’t have to worry about shadows. As I arrived at the Wide Pool a Trout rose in mid-stream. The cast was simple and the fish took the nymph immediately. The Trout jumped and dashed around the pool for a couple of minutes. I thought it was ready for the landing net. As I lowered the net onto the marginal weeds the fish dashed off upstream under the Alder trees on the near bank. I laughed at the Trout’s antics, the fly line was tangled in the branches and it looked like a lost cause. I gained a little line but the fish went on another long run. It paused and then surged further upstream. The belly of the fly line had left the reel. I resigned myself to losing the fish and eventually the line went slack. I reeled in and was surprised when the line tightened, it was still on. When I saw the Trout clearly, I realized it was foul hooked in the shoulder.
I released the Trout which recovered quickly. The hook had a couple of scales on the point. The riffle and the pools below it didn’t produce another fish. I was tired and dehydrated so I made my way back to the Land Rover for a bottle of Lucozade. I had intended to visit the big pool at Ladymead but I was exhausted and called it a day.
Using a 4lb bs leader had been interesting. It was difficult in the wind but I think it improved my presentation. I will have to experiment with my leader, it might give me an edge with spooky, end of season fish.