4 August – River Tavy

Heavy rain was forecast over the weekend and it had been five weeks since I last waved a rod. Moving house, lazing on the beach and carp fishing had diverted me from the rivers. I also had a rod to christen.

I wanted to explore an unfished stretch of the River Tavy The beats upstream had tempted me on several occasions but somehow I had never made it to the lower beat. Devon lanes are narrow but the track into the valley was daunting, the ferns and nettles brushed both sides of the Defender like a car wash enhancing the patina of the bodywork. I wound up the drivers side window after getting whacked in the face by a bunch of ferns.

As soon as I saw the beat I regretted not visiting it earlier in the season. The riffles and long deep pools, hemmed in by mature trees, were spectacular and sure to hold a few Trout. The forestry plantations on the skyline and the sheer rock face along the north bank enhanced the unspoilt wilderness. A Buzzard flew overhead, startled by my presence it dropped a young Pheasant. The dead bird fell head first, wings folded, into the river and drifted downstream. It had looked like a small, brown Osprey plummeting into the pool but never emerging. The Buzzard’s lunch was swallowed up in a big riffle and with a plaintiff mew, the big bird departed to resume the hunt.

I started with the recently restored Pezon et Michel and the Rio Small Stream. It was a perfect combination and long casts curled out towards the deep midstream channel. The taper of the rod loaded the cane in the middle and the steep reduction in the tip section reduced the rods ‘floppiness’. I prefer the Southwell compound tapers, his rods are lighter and more refined.

There was a tap on the rod. I lengthened the cast slightly and a small brownie seized the nymph. I worked down the long pool and missed another fish. There were thousands of trout fry in the margins, gathered in shoals, mainly over the coarse sand. Easy pickings for the Kingfishers. It dawned on me that my sparsely dressed GRHE nymph looked remarkably like a pin head fry and that trout rising to Blue Winged Olives would be unimpressed.

I climbed out of the deep rocky valley and wandered further downstream where the valley floor was wider and the pools bigger. The river margins were mainly rounded granite stones mixed with slate, not the best footing for a stealthy approach. A long run below an island produced more takes and another, slightly bigger, trout to the nymph. I left the rest of the Beat for another day. The following morning the heavens opened and clouds of rain blew across the valley. Perfect timing.