Modelling is not normally part of my fishing trips. Our catwalk would follow the edge of the wood and the backdrop would be the towering pine trees high above the river on the valley sides. The weather would keep dog walkers, stone throwers and the paparazzi away from the Tavy. Heavy rain was forecast for dusk but I could fish and pose for a couple of hours before then. The soft drizzle wafted down from a pale grey overcast, perfect for fishing but tricky for the photographer. I was ready to go long before our appointed meeting, full of enthusiasm and confidence.
Several days earlier the Defender had rumbled along the minor roads westward and squeezed into its new home, my garage in Devon. I chose a low gear and let the old truck find its own way down the steep, rocky track to the valley floor, it looked at home among the primeval woodland. I was confident that we could climb back up the track. If the Land Rover electrickery behaved itself.
The scenery was stunning. We both felt privileged to be in such an unspoilt environment. The deep sides of the valley and the tall trees sheltered us from the gentle breeze. It was silent, warm and overcast, perfect. The soft rain was barely noticeable but I wore my lucky hat anyway. I also found a few toffees in the bottom of my bag, it was a sign from Izaac that everything was well.
The river was dropping after heavy rain. The crests of the broken water were pale cream and the deep water, the colour of Fuller’s London Pride. The river rushed past ferociously but there were plenty of slacks and back eddies to explore.
The fast coloured water was not the place for a nymph. I chose a traditional fly, the Teal, Blue and Silver tied on a small, long-shank hook. I started near the top of the Beat and swung the fly through the slack water behind a big rock. My first cast produced a heavy take and the rod bucked as a green plastic bag fought to escape. Great rod bending material for the camera. I’d underestimated the current, down and across lasted about five seconds. I moved upstream to a wide riffle that looked like a kayak slalom course. After a few casts I moved downstream and found a long deep run under the near bank. I got into a rhythm; cast, mend, hang and take a step. I was hopeful of a take and enjoyed searching a seam only a couple of rod lengths out. I was oblivious of the long lens recording events.
I had saved the best pool until dusk, the light was failing as I crept out to the end of a rock pier. I had a hundred yards of deep, slow moving water with the main current running along the far bank. I rolled the fly into the current and let the line stream out. I retrieved the fly slowly allowing it to sink into the slack. Every cast I extended the line and worked the fly further into the pool.
A good take made me laugh nervously. I’d hooked a fish for the camera, excellent. I preyed the fish would stick and cautioned against premature celebrations. Inevitably as the Trout came to hand it got smaller. It was a beautiful fish which showed signs of migration, the lack of colour and dark fins suggested a Sea Trout smolt. It was a plump fish which was keen to get back on it’s journey to Plymouth Sound. It was a good time to leave, we were both in good spirits having achieved our respective goals and the Defender fired up at the first turn of the key.