6 July – River Rother

The crystal clear water in the Itchen and the Dartmoor rivers had demanded the most perfect presentation. Even with a delicately presented upstream dry fly the Trout had proved ultra fussy and they were quick to reject anything that looked suspicious.

When I arrived at Keepers Bridge I smiled at the green tint in the water and the leisurely way the current rolled around the bends. The river was in no hurry. The margins of the river were decorated with shoulder high sedges intermingled with highlights of colour from the wild flowers. It looked perfect. There were a few Mayfly hatching and the occasional sedge but at 3:00pm on a bright July afternoon, the fish were not going to rise. Late in the evening perhaps but it was too early for a dry fly. I chose a weighted black spider and decided to work methodically through the pools that always hold a fish or two.

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It was good to be able to explore the water down and across the current, the pace was slow. Not the frantic retrieve necessary to keep in touch with a nymph in a tumbling moorland stream. I felt that I was in control and that I could work every clump of streamer weed and the deep runs under the banks. I started in the pool below the first Alder tree which has always been very kind to me.

The ground was warm and rock hard. It was easy to shuffle along on my backside down the length of the pool covering every inch of water. At the end of the pool I lifted the fly from behind a sparse clump of streamer weed and a good fish followed it up. There was a satisfying thump on the rod and battle commenced. As usual the landing net had failed to keep up with my progress down the pool and I encouraged the fish to swim upstream. As I turned to pick up the net I allowed a little slack line and the fish was away. My fault.

I started to fish the Sandy Pool about half-way down expecting to find a fish in the tail of the pool. The take came under the far bank and the fish summersaulted across the pool. I played it hard, not wanting the barbless hook to drop out. My landing net was at hand and I made no mistake. It was a lovely Trout, golden orange and fin perfect. It swam away from the net strongly. I fished the long straight pool and saw a good Sea Trout leap vertically from the water. It was not interested in my fly but I thought I would rest the fish and try again later.

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I walked upstream to the Old Riffle and put a fly in all the usual holding places but there was no response. I returned to the Sea Trout but it didn’t take, it may have continued its journey upstream.

I’d caught a Trout and was satisfied. I might have caught another if I’d stayed on for the evening rise but I was content with one fish. I would be able to face the wild brownies on Dartmoor reinvigorated.

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