20 September – River Tamar

The Defender electrickery foiled any plans for long, offroad forays into deep valleys and forests. A completely flat battery and dead dashboard brought its efficient Swedish counterpart into play and distance was therefore no object. A relaxing drive across the border into Cornwall and a not so relaxing walk across the fileds, found me on the banks of the River Tamar. I had the Beat to myself.

The river was a little coloured and at its normal level. It was overcast and warm, perfect fishing conditions. I started at the bottom of the Beat and walked slowly upstream looking for fish. Most of the rising fish were under the trees along the far bank, well out of range. Occasionally an acorn plopped into the river, I was familiar with the noise and ignored it. A lone kingfisher zoomed upstream and a buzzard mewed high above me near the cloud base.

I didn’t fish any of the slow stretches, I could see the rocks and boulders on the riverbed but no fish. I climbed down the ladder at the first riffle and perched on a large rock. I had just enough room for a side cast both upstream and downstream. I chose a weighted GRHE nymph and scoured the pool methodically for about an hour without any response. The pool below the riffle was the only deep water in the middle of the Beat and I was convinced that it held fish.

I’d caught a couple of grayling in the pool on a previous trip and I thought a change of fly might help. I chose a heavy wet fly with a red tag, which would sink quickly in the fast water and would be more visible than the drab GRHE nymph.

I worked the fly down the bubble line and soon had a positive take. The snake-like wriggling and thumps on the rod told me it was a grayling. The fish was in pristine condition and departed at high speed. It was satisfying to have changed tactics and been rewarded so quickly. I imagined a small shoal of grayling in the slow, deep water waiting for tasty morsels to drift past. The fish had taken my fly about twenty yards down the pool. I threw a loop across the current and fed out line until the distance seemed right. A couple of drifts later I had a very solid take, the fish stayed deep and was obviously much bigger. I eased the grayling towards me but the hook pinged out just as I raised the rod to grasp the fish.

A few minutes later, as the fly drifted through the same part of the pool, I had another violent take. Another long fight, with the fish staying deep in the fast water, resulted in a big grayling which came safely to hand. I was in the zone but the takes petered out. Twenty minutes later I had a tap on the rod much further down the pool. Either the fish had moved downstream, out of reach, or the shoal had been spooked.

I walked upstream to the next riffle where the water was faster and shallower. I immediately caught a very small grayling. I knew that I wouldn’t catch anything else, so I climbed back up the ladder and wandered downstream. I dabbled a fly in a few deep runs but with little conviction. I had caught sufficient. It had been an excellent afternoon.