Heavy overnight rain promised a rise in the level of the Dartmoor rivers. I wanted to end the season on my favourite river, the Plym. The autumn scenery in the valley would be beautiful, catching a trout was not important.
As I crossed the bridge I was surprised to see that the river had not risen, if anything it had dropped. I started in the bridge pool with a few practice casts. After retrieving my leader from a tree and replacing the fly I made my way upstream.
I heard noisy children and dogs upstream. At every pool I checked the sand for paw prints and coloured water. The river appeared to be undisturbed. The scenery was a distraction, I spent more time wandering through the woods than fishing. Young pheasants scurried through the undergrowth ahead of me, it felt like a day beating rather than fishing.
I reached the middle of the Beat without troubling any trout and decided to press on until I reached familiar territory below the next road bridge. I scrambled over rock outcrops and around riverside trees looking for grey shadows in the deeper water but the sea trout had continued their journey upstream to the spawning grounds. A young buzzard landed in the top of an oak tree directly above me, scanned the ground, saw nothing and moved on.
I eventually reached a clearing in the woods that I recognised. The silica on the coarse sandy beach sparkled in the sunlight, paw marks and footprints were everywhere. I broke my rod down and walked slowly back downstream. I’d had a lovely walk in the autumn sunshine which I would remember through the long winter evenings.