For two weeks it had been very hot, 35 degrees at noon and an uncomfortable 20 degrees at night. This morning, the weather finally broke but the gently falling rain failed to penetrate the ground, it had all evaporated by lunchtime. We needed a thunderstorm not a shower.
The rolling Surrey countryside had looked like a desert, stressed trees shed their leaves and the fields were a uniform caramel colour. A hosepipe ban was in force. On returning to Devon it was nice to see Dartmoor looking green-ish, speckled with purple heather and yellow gorse. The streams on the moor had not dried up, the water felt cool and the moss was green.
Rain in mid-week bodes well, wild swimmers and spaniels stay at home. Mostly. I planned to walk the banks of the River Plym to check the water level and the trout. Of course, I would also take a rod. At the weekend I had watched fish feeding in the River Walkham where the water temperature was 14 degrees and children playing in the weir pool stirred up a continual supply of nymphs.
The trip did not start well, four children and a large dog were playing near the top pool and I fell over while setting up my rod. The wet rocks were slippery. I started with an upstream nymph but the fish were not impressed.
I moved down the river slowly, dropping the nymph into pools and behind rocks. I felt sure that I would eventually get a response. A trout splashed at the nymph as I lifted it to the surface and I swapped to a size 14 Adams. It was a good imitation of the midges skittering around just above the surface of the water.
I dapped the tiny fly behind a rock. A trout shot up to the surface and seized the fly but I was too slow. I rested the fish and tried again. The same fish rose, grabbed the fly and rejected it, all in a few milliseconds. I was too slow again.
I persisted with the dry fly, rising three fish, all of which I missed. I had a couple of takes on a nymph lower down the river but I left the river without banking a trout. Nevermind, the scenery and riverscape were beautiful.
As I drove home, torrential rain hammered on the roof of the Defender and the footwells started to fill. Water dripped out of the fuse box and my boots became waterlogged. I finished the trip with a glass of wine to celebrate the downpour.