25-26 June – River Walkham

25 June – The Village

I wished the little fish ‘Good Morning‘ from the top of the cutwaters, they were regularly dimpling the surface inspecting floating debris, testing to see if it was food. That might be why I miss so many fish. The forecast decreed temperatures in the high twenties, much too hot for fishing, followed by thunderstorms.


The rain arrived at 8:00pm and I popped across to the flats above the weir with just my rod and a small box of dry flies. The fish were rising and I had high hopes. Each time I presented the fly, upstream, the Trout melted away. Even a fish beside the near bank, close to a bed of weed, disappeared. I persisted until the rain became to heavy to see the rise forms. It was a quick evening experiment, perhaps I should have used a lighter tippet.


26 June – Dartmoor

It was an overcast morning with a gentle southerly breeze, there would never be a better day for visiting the moor. My last two attempts to fish the upper reaches of the Walkham had both been abandoned. The first because I hadn’t found the Beat and the second because of freezing fog.

This would not be a leisurely stroll, the Beat was deep in the moor and miles from the nearest road. I took the bare minimum, a box of dry flies and a few nymphs. No landing net, the fish would be small. I stupidly decided to wear wellies, big mistake. I also forgot to take a flask of water. I did remember the map, my phone had a compass and OS grid references.


I walked uphill for nearly an hour, the top of the Tor was only half way to the river. The fog cleared as I contoured around the clitter and scrambled down into the valley. There were Sky Larks everywhere and a pair of Buzzards wheeled on the thermals generated by the warm rocks.


I sat on the soft dry grass beside the river and relaxed. The gruelling two hour climb and descent had taken all of my energy. The valley ran north-south and the upstream wind helped with presentation. I experimented with various dry flies and nymphs in the first pool to get the hang of it, nothing responded.  I worked my way upstream dropping a nymph into pools and had a couple of tweaks but I was too slow to connect. I came to a shallow flat and as I crouched down, I saw a Trout turn, it hadn’t seen me. I flicked a sedge into midstream and the fish immediately rose. I missed. I missed it again five minutes later when it rose under the far bank.


Further upstream I saw a fish rise just below a narrow riffle. The presentation was good and the fish responded. Twice. I missed again. I made a note of a rock on the far bank for my return journey. I walked upstream, occasionally checking the weather behind me, I didn’t want to get caught in fog or rain. On the way back I stopped at the rock, the fish obliged but I failed to connect. Again.


I packed up the rod and carefully chose a route back along a boundary wall, climbing the Tor once again. I stopped frequently, taking in the stunning scenery and the cloudscape while watching Bodmin Moor on the western horizon for any signs of bad weather.


It was a tough walk out. Nearing the summit I had a second wind but I still struggled to make it back to the car. I had a long cold drink and sat in the soft leather drivers seat with the aircon on maximum blast for thirty minutes before I felt I could drive home. I had walked about seven miles over rough ground which is surprising at my age. I probably won’t do it again. Particularly in wellies.