25 April – River Tavy

Last week had been set aside for day trips to the beach, carp fishing and visits to the moor. The weather had been kind but I was exhausted by the merry making. The good weather persisted and by Monday morning I was keen to visit my favourite Beat on my favourite river, the Tavy. I chose Southwell I from the rod cupboard, it would slow me down and ensure a relaxing afternoon.

The Defender rattled and banged down the rocky path, the state of which seemed to have deteriorated since my last visit a month ago. I watched the river as I set up my rod. Olives were hatching and the surface of the water, in the slacks and eddies, was covered with clouds of midges. I thought I saw a mayfly but it was probably a large olive. Anglers describe olives as, large, dark, blue winged etc. which I find unhelpful. Larger than what ? Darker than an ordinary olive ? How confusing. The weather was warm and overcast and an upstream breeze helped with presentation. I sat on the rocky river bank, back from the waters edge and flicked the nymph into the head of the top pool. The rod gave a little kick as it unwound and presented the fly perfectly. Fishing the pool down and across, exploring the crevices and pots, took about half an hour and I was surprised not to get a take. The fish were not rising despite a constant procession of duns floating downstream.

Top of the Beat

I moved down the river, fishing the pools and riffles methodically, until I reached the Defender when I took a break for a drink and slab of fruit cake. The hatch continued and I studied the river carefully, looking for any sign of a rise in the broken water. Nothing.

Low water

I fished the long run under the near bank and the wide flats, trying different sizes of nymph and different weights, but arrived at the fishing hut without troubling any trout. As I sat at the head of the pool choosing a fly, a fish rose in the bubble line about 20 yards downstream. It rose several times in the same place and I decided not to approach the fish as there was no cover and the water was crystal clear. I tied a size 12 brown nymph on the long tippet and cast into the main flow. The line swept downstream and the trout readily took the fly. It was a beautiful little fish which made the entire trip a success. I packed up my rod and went for a walk.

I returned to top of the Beat and sat on a patch of coarse sand watching the water. A fish rose in the shallows where the midges were buzzing just above the surface. It was a splashy rise and I thought it might have been tree debris. The sun broke through the overcast and the little fish rose continually. I crawled to the rivers edge and peered into the water. There were no buzzers or nymphs to be seen. I turned over a few stones but they were bare. How odd. Next time I must experiment with a dry fly.