28 March – River Walkham
The River Walkham is my home river but I don’t fish it often, casting from the garden seems like cheating. In the summer I greet the little trout each morning and watch them feeding, they are part of the family. I had never fished two of the Walkham Beats. I eventually found the gate giving access to one of the upstream Beats and wandered down the side of the valley, through the woods to the river. Wow, I should have visited earlier, it looked lovely in the watery spring sunshine. It had been hot over the weekend and the fish had retired to the shelter of the tree roots and deep pools. I saw one fish but it saw me first and did a vanishing act in six inches of water ! Sedges and Blue Winged Olives filled the air and I decided to stick with a GRHE nymph, as usual.
The water was crystal clear, pouring directly off the moor. No run-off from agriculture or sewage outfalls polluted the little river. The deep narrow valley kept the sun off the woodland floor and the riverscape looked a bit bleak and wintery. I walked to the top of the Beat and fished back down. The woodland and river banks had not been ‘managed’ and it was tricky to find space for even a roll cast. Buzzards mewed high above the tree canopy, a wren fussed about beside the river and a kingfisher zoomed downstream. I saw another fish, slightly smaller than the first, but it arrowed away upstream into a culvert. I will return when the water is warmer.
29 March – River Tavy
It was a grey day but by early afternoon the mist had burnt off. My favourite Beat on the River Tavy beckoned. The river is wider than the Walkham and there are no casting restrictions. I knew exactly where I would start to fish, the riffle below the bend with the dead tree. It was a bit chilly and occasional drops of rain threatened to develop into a shower. The rocks were cold and the exposed algae and weed mimicked the smell of the seaside. The river seized my nymph and quickly put a bow in the line. Mending the line and hanging the leader on exposed midstream rocks enabled me to search the deep runs thoroughly and I was confident that I would get a take.
Some of the dead trees had been knocked over by the winter gales, they reminded me of the dinosaur skeletons in the Natural History Museum. The thin rocky soil prevents deep rooting, rain and the strong winds funneled up the valley had taken their toll. I searched among the stones and rocks under the exposed root ball but there were no treasures.
I fished all the runs and pools to the best of my ability and was slightly surprised not to catch anything. Even the big pool under the oak tree failed to produce a fish. Nevermind, it had been a good afternoon.
30 March – River Tamar
Rain was forecast, then snow later in the week. It was a bit misty and cold when I arrived at the river, the border between Devon and Cornwall. As I crossed the fields I wished I’d worn a heavier jacket but the sight of the river warmed me. A snipe rose from the rushes in the ditch and went jinking-off across the field, not happy with my intrusion. The work party had trimmed the trees and strung a new fence along the river bank. The big river required a good double-haul just to reach midstream.
I walked half a mile to the top of the Beat and fished the slow glides down and across with a nymph. The big riffles demanded a heavier and brighter fly so I swapped to a black and silver spider for those stretches. Blue sky and bright sunshine at lunch time produced a good hatch of Blue Winged Olives and midges.
The newly installed fencing required a high back cast. I retrieved all the snagged flies. At the bottom of the Beat the water flowed evenly and the trees along the far bank threw a shadow across the river which made watching the leader a lot easier. Without warning a fish took the nymph and lifted my spirits. I bullied it away from marginal debris, admired the little fish and returned it in a quiet pool. It was a very silver fish with large eyes, possibly a sea trout smolt. My first fish of the season.
I caught a trout on my first visit to the Tamar last season. As I wandered back across the fields to the car, I resolved to spend more time in Cornwall.