The top Beat is a jungle, very few members fish there. The river is shallow and in places, quite swift. The fallen trees, high banks and bushes demand accurate casting. A 10′ rod and telescopic landing net handle are essential.
I arrived at the top of the old railway track and stood watching the river for a few minutes. The watery sunshine enabled me to see the sunken branches and streamer weed. There were no flies hatching and consequently, no fish rising. I walked past the big pool and settled down on the grass to watch a stretch below a tunnel of alder trees.
The upstream breeze enabled me to flick a nymph under the trees and work it back towards me alongside the streamer weed. After several casts, just as I was lifting off, a small wild trout grabbed the fly but I lifted it out of it’s mouth ! It was good to have contact with a fish so early in my walk.
The sun broke through the overcast and almost immediately, mayfly started hatching. The air was full of duns fluttering upwards into the security of the tree tops. For the first time this season I saw swallows swooping over the river, snatching wayward flies unable to cope with the breeze.
I walked slowly upstream, pausing at every opening in the vegetation, waiting for a trout to reveal itself. A big fish splashed at the duns floating past a partially submerged branch. I had a dead overhanging tree on my left, a tall bush to my right and a limited drift. The first mayfly imitation was ignored completely but the fish continued to rise. The second imitation brought the trout up but after an inspection, it swirled away. I was surprised, I had expected a confident take. The fish had obviously seen better.
I swapped the fly for a white, neoprene bodied mayfly with a generous hackle. It landed perfectly, the trout rose and gulped it down. I made the connection but the fish leapt out of the water and threw the hook. A long distance release. Shame, it was a very nice trout about three pounds.
The sun became more intense and the mayfly continued to hatch. I walked upstream, pausing at the gaps in the trees to watch the sandy patches where, in previous seasons, I had caught a trout. I turned back before I reached the very top of the Beat, I was tired and the sun was draining what little energy I had left.
I saw a trout rising in an impossible lie, the overhanging bushes left no room for an overhead cast. A bow and arrow cast was the only solution. My 10′ rod and 10′ leader were two feet short. I edged forward onto the very lip of the high bank and stretched my arm as far as possible. I avoided hooking my finger as the line pinged out, the fly dropped in exactly the right place and was immediately seized. I held the fish tight and encouraged it downstream where I could clamber down a tree trunk to the waters edge. It was about two pounds and dashed away from the landing net, a little embarrassed at it’s capture.
An early meal at the Black Horse in Byworth was a fitting end to a memorable day.