The month long heatwave, searing southerly winds and 40 degrees, finally petered out and I could consider fishing. The River Walkham was low but lots of little trout were dashing about below the weir, feeding in the cloudy water stirred up by noisy children and dogs. The occasional showers had been absorbed by the parched stony moorland and none of the water had reached the rivers. Cattle and Dartmoor ponies gathered around muddy water holes, the high moor looked like the African bush minus elephants.
I waited, impatiently, until late afternoon before heading across the border to the River Tamar. I was confident that the wide, tree lined Beat would yield a trout or two and possibly a grayling. I walked upstream, pausing at each gap in the trees to watch the water. Nothing was rising but there were plenty of upwing flies hatching and millions of pond skaters in the margins.
I noticed a very skinny fox creeping around among the rushes and stood perfectly still, waiting to see if it would pounce on something. It eventually saw me but was undecided about the threat level. I did a star jump and it trotted away behind a hedge. A couple of cormorants became airborne and were reluctant to leave the area, circling the river a couple of times while I waved my rod and cursed them. Not a good start to the evening.
I climbed down to the waters edge and sat on a rock while waiting for the thermometer to register. It read 17 degrees, slightly less than I expected. The water was flowing well and the riffle sent a bubble line towards the far bank with a nice back eddy on my side. As I flicked the nymph around the top of the riffle an occasional mayfly hatched from the shallows above me and struggled to gain height in the downstream breeze. There were a few swallows hawking the river but most of the mayfly made it to the leaf canopy. A few olives also hatched but the fish refused to rise.
I spent about an hour exploring the pool below the riffle but without any sign of a fish. The rocks and sunken branches provided good hiding places but the little trout inhabited an area just below the cormorants perching tree and the rock I was sitting on was liberally splashed with white. I concluded that they had all been eaten or frightened away and climbed back up the access ladder.
Once again I descended to water level and sat on a flat rock in midstream. I trundled the nymph down the bubble line and around in an arc before lifting and presenting the fly in a slightly different drift. I had four takes, missed two, and had two slack line releases which were down to my poor line management. I was rusty after four weeks absence from the rivers.
I walked downstream to a wide, tree lined area where all of the river was in dappled shade. I saw a fish rise and hid behind the trunk of an oak tree. I rolled the nymph slightly upstream and as the tip of the fly line landed, a good fish departed in a swirl and cloud of silt. My best chance of the evening and I had botched it. Nevermind, I consoled my self with cod and chips from the local chippie.