16 May – River Walkham

Monday, rain, no spaniels. Definitely a fishing day. I left the cottage in the rain, confident that it would ease off and to give the Defender a wash. As I walked down the side of the valley, through the woods, the rain stopped but every gust of wind shook the tree tops creating a mini cloudburst.

The upstream breeze helped me work a nymph through the first pool but I wasn’t happy with the presentation. I wondered if I had lined the trout and put them down.

I walked to the top of the Beat through the bluebell woods. Keeping off the path and well back from the river soaked me to the waist.

The top pools and riffles meant crawling around under the tree tunnels. The long rod helped me roll cast and dangle a nymph behind rocks. The water was very clear and quite deep, the weighted GRHE nymph trundled around nicely but there was no response from the trout.

Millions of midges were hatching and buzzing around in clouds over the river. The tiny flies gathered under the far bank where the air was still but I couldn’t find a rising fish.

I climbed over boulders and weaved around the bankside trees, keeping well hidden, expecting a tug on the rod tip at any moment but something was not right and the rod stayed straight.

I had nearly reached the weir when I heard a trout rise. I stopped and watched from behind a stand of mature trees. The water flowed slowly over a long, shallow pool. A fish rose close to the far bank under a mist of midges. Several other fish rose further down the pool. At last, a fish to target. I flicked a small black gnat across the top of the pool and it was taken but the fish slipped the hook. Nevermind, that was progress. The other trout moved further down the pool where I couldn’t reach them.

Further downstream I found another rising fish. I stood behind a tree trunk and gently cast the fly upstream, I saw the fish take. It was a very dark fish which had the cheek to snag me in the tree roots. I eased it out and quickly returned the angry little trout to the river.

Mill Leat

As I walked back up the path out of the valley, I was tempted back into the woods by the Mill Leat. I saw a couple of fat little trout in only 6″ of water. I made no attempt to hide and they darted off upstream, disappearing in the weedless, crystal clear water. How do they do that ?

The walk out, back to the Defender, was glorious. The dappled sunlight on the freshly watered greenery highlighted the leaves and the various coloured woodland flowers. I hadn’t seen anyone all afternoon. No cars, people or spaniels, excellent.