Last week Dartmoor was dry underfoot but a couple of wet days had coloured the rivers and washed the dust from the air. The uniform grey overcast and occasional drizzle encouraged me to leave home mid-afternoon rather than wait until the evening. I had two options; explore the true right bank of the River Plym below the rock face, or enjoy the scenery of the middle Tavy. A swollen river would be difficult to cross and I therefore chose the Tavy. The steep rocky track was slippery but the Defender lurched and clunked it’s way down into the valley. The misty rain hung in the tree tops and the light was flat, perfect fishing conditions.
I walked to the top of the Beat armed with Southwell II and a few weighted nymphs. The river level was up slightly and the water had a pale brown tint. The rod matched the Rio line perfectly and I soon settled into a rhythm, drifting the nymph down and across. A few Olives hatched, their ascent was laboured as they struggled to gain height in the dense humid air. Sedges zoomed around the bracken tops. A young Dipper flew up and down the river, undecided where to dip. I missed a take and moved down a few yards. I felt at ease on the river, I’d fished the Beat several times and knew the productive riffles and pools.
A long stretch of shallow, broken water produced a fish. Water that I would normally walk past. I concentrated on similar stretches as I moved downstream, missing a few takes and catching another, slightly bigger fish. I thought that the deep pools would hold a few fish but the heavy fly failed to provoke a response. A fish thrashed at the fly as it landed but it didn’t connect. The brownies seemed to be holding in the streamy water looking up for Olives. I only had nymphs in my pocket.
I’d tied a few nymphs with slightly less lead wire and a sparse, pale cock hackle to imitate a drowned adult. It looked perfect to me but the Trout were not impressed and ignored my best efforts. I wondered if a smaller fly might be more successful and resolved to order some size 16 hooks.
A few Sea Trout splashed about in the long, deep pool below the hut. I knew that the chances of hooking one were very low and ignored the distraction while exploring the throat of the pool and the back eddy along the far bank. When their migratory friends are active, the resident brownies seem to keep a low profile and I was not surprised when my fly was allowed to drift downstream without being intercepted.
I fished for about two hours, working hard, occasionally sheltering from the heavier showers under ancient Oaks. Crawling over the wet granite boulders eventually wore me out and I returned to the cottage to dry the soggy tackle and relax with a gin and tonic. There’s time for a couple of trips to the river before the end of the season in Devon.