19 May – River Tavy

The Tavy had dropped a little and looked perfect, the trout would be hungry after the mini-spate. I decided to spend more time watching the water and less time prospecting. Sitting on a warm patch of coarse sand beside the top pool was relaxing. The occasional mayfly hatched from the shallows, Blue Winged Olives drifted past and the dense clouds of midges hung over the water when the breeze permitted.

There was no sign of trout, in the broken water it was difficult to be specific about any surface movement. The pool was deep and rocky, four to five feet of water rushed around submerged boulders the size of dustbins. The crevices held trout but they were not rising. A long leader and a weighted GRHE nymph was the answer. I had a tap on the rod first cast, along the bankside drop-off and a gentle pull on the line second cast. Slightly further down the pool in slack water, a trout grabbed the nymph and went airborne. It looked like a sea trout smolt which I released without touching the fish. I wished it well. A good start to the day. As I stood up to walk downstream a fish rose only a rod length from me. I sat down and drifted a dry fly over the fish but there was no response.

I remembered a day last season when the trout were on the shallows intercepting emergers and adults in the faster water. I sat on a rock and watched a glide in midstream which ended under trees along the far bank. A small fish rose out of range downstream. A good fish rose opposite me only ten yards away. I dropped a parachute GRHE above the rise and the rod hooped over. The fish took line downstream and then upstream. It fought like a 2lb-er but it shrunk as I drew it nearer. It was my best fish from the Dartmoor rivers, about 1lb and fin perfect.

I sat on the short grass beside a pool and watched the river. Fingerling trout were darting around in the warm, shallow water. A big shadow passed across me and I looked up to see a buzzard drifting down the tree line along the far bank. The hot sun and dehydration got to me and I left the river. The Defender carried me out of the valley despite the state of the track which had washed out during the recent rain. The steep slope, pot holes and rock outcrops tested it to the limit.