3 May – Keepers Bridge

Gales and torrential rain were forecast for Bank Holiday Monday evening and the river would be unfishable for the rest of the week. I planned to fish before the bad weather arrived. I’d rescued the Defender from storage in the barn but it was full of precious things ready for the journey West and therefore remained at home. I knew where to fish, the pools from Keeper’s Bridge to the New Riffle would give me a chance of a Trout whatever the wind direction.

The bluebells in the wood beside the river were past their best but the white buds of the wild garlic were just starting to open and soon the whole valley would smell like an Italian kitchen. At Keeper’s Bridge the breeze was downstream. An Alder tree had fallen across the river and provided excellent cover for the fish. The bright sunshine was behind me and I crawled into place on the damp grass. Southwell IV and the Rio Small Stream line were a perfect match. The main body of the line suited the width of the river and the long rod enabled a roll cast to the far bank. I fished hard for twenty minutes with a weighted nymph, anticipating a thump on the split cane at any moment. I was surprised and slightly puzzled not to get a take and moved a few yards downstream.

The streamer weed waved in the current a couple of feet under the surface and I flicked the nymph into the end of the fronds. A golden flash deep down resulted in a brief contact, I had lifted the rod too quickly and messed up the first take. Again. I wondered if the rod was jinxed.

The wind got stronger as I worked my way downstream. The river had been purged by the winter floods but some of the old fish holding features were still there. The New Riffle looked perfect but the fast water and downstream wind whipped the fly round too quickly.

I had a few casts in each pool on the way back upstream but the wind made it difficult to get a line out. In the shelter of the old railway embankment and tall trees, I settled down beside the First Pool to explore the long weedbed along the near bank. After a few minutes a fish rose under the nymph and as it took, I lifted the rod. Too soon. Again. I was a bit miffed. Moreover, I had run out of toffees.

Dark clouds and gale force, blustery winds signalled the end of fishing. I pondered on my amateurish attempts to catch a fish all the way home. I had been too keen to christen my new rod and rusty at the start of a long season. Things would improve.