2 May – River Tamar

All morning I battled with three tech companies’ help desks, a completely inappropriate term, over software complex enough to baffle NASA scientists. By lunch time I’d lost the will to live. There was only one solution, go fishing.

The Defender rattled and smoked a bit. It cheered me up, old engineering beats high tech every time. I chose to cross the border into Cornwall. The drive towards the Tamar Valley in bright sunshine, past woodland carpeted with bluebells, made me smile. It was a gorgeous Spring day and I was looking forwards to a relaxing walk along the river. The fields were lush, the grass calf high, liberally dotted with flowers. The cows and their new offspring were grazing in the adjacent field. The river level was slightly up and the water had a green-brown tint. The scene was set for a perfect afternoon.

As I walked upstream to the first of the salmon croys, I saw a mayfly rise from the shallows and flutter upstream. The first I had seen since last May. It was a good sign which boosted my confidence. A dead tree, washed away by the recent spates, had anchored itself to the bottom of the ladder and my access to the pool was blocked. Nevermind. I walked to the top of the Beat and climbed down the Ladder of Death onto the rocks. The masonry had been rearranged during the winter and I found a comfortable seat on a large rock with a slightly dished top. Perfect.

I flicked the Red Tag into the back eddy only ten yards away, preparing to cast across the riffle. It was immediately seized by a trout which battled beyond its size in the faster water. I was more surprised than the fish which was in perfect condition and swam away upstream into the glide. My first trout of the season.

I covered the rest of the riffle and the bubble line, far down the pool but only had a tentative nip which was probably a grayling. I saw a rise upstream but ignored it. It was way out of range, near the far bank, across fast water. Another rise about ten yards upstream, close to my bank, signalled the start of a feeding spree. The fish were taking Hawthorn flies but during a frantic hour of casting and changing flies, they rejected my offerings and eventually went down when the upstream wind eased.

I waited, sitting on the rock, resting the fish but the rise was over. My way back to the Defender was blocked by a large group of cows and their calves drinking in the stream. I confidently shooed them back into their field until I saw an evil looking bull in their midst. I retraced my steps and waited patiently until they had watered and wandered off.

That small wild trout and the feeding spree, signalled the start of the performance, my previous trips had been dress rehearsals. Next weekend I hope to be chasing mayflies and big brownies.