1st SeptemberI had been on a 'recon' trip to check on a small urban river that had a large fire with possible hazardous materials next to it. This small river was especially important as it contained Grayling, a fish that is so easily killed once the water is affected by something or another. The river was on it's arse and with 2 other fly fisherman in front of me (bank holiday Monday) i didn't expect much but i had half a dozen Grayling and a dozen trout, but most importantly, the Grayling were alive, even this years hatch.
Today was a much a fishing trip, in fact i had planned to go the day prior but at 5am i sensed rain and not long after it did, i'd already tucked back in bed before i saw it. Thankfully it wasn't as heavy as expected so today was still on the cards. After a long walk with mist on the ground and my breath in the air i heard the unmistakable sound of the river tinkling along. It was really low, the first trout i spotted was in no deeper than 4 inches of water that was usually a nice holding spot.
It was all about the tactics now, i had been fishing french leader alot lately with much success but the stillness combined with the shallowness meant even that method was to heavy so i opted back to a klink and dink, still using the french leader and bow casting each time. This allowed accurate casts in the confined space and minimal disturbance on the water. The klinkhammer would latch on to any surface current and drag the nymph along with it allowing it to keep moving across the bottom.
All well and good but finding 'deep' water was tough, the bottom pools were silty and motionless, even with the flies jigged through nothing was taking but further upstream in the streams of ranunculus the water was much clearer and moving, quite slowly i might add. However it was a whole lot shallower here so i had to scout out deeper sections, these would be a foot at most, but i had to, the problem with fishing a narrow stream in clear shallow conditions is visibility. With the river being so slow the fish did not just sit facing upstream either, they'd swim back and forth hunting their own pools. So i was easily spooking fish 20 feet away.
I managed to find some high nettles concealing a pool and first cast i hit into a fish. A roach! a nice one too and my first of 2016 believe it or not. I hadn't fly fished the canal this year so my tallies were low in the course fish department. I had forgotten how bloody slimy they were, climbing back up behind the bush i waited for the pool to calm and continued fishing. I could see them now swimming back and forth, perch roach and the occasional chub, they all looked pretty fat. After a few more casts i was in to another roach this was a big old fat roach, equally slimy to and that was soon followed by another. A large chub swam through but it had seen me before i had seen it and it continued through at pace. The fish went quiet then, still there but not touching anything, they stopped following the fly as it landed and i opted to continue on to the next pool.
About 2 miles upstream i came to a deeper section, still strewn with weed and narrow, walking slowly i saw a tail just above a piece of plyboard. It didn't look anything special but it was a fish. The bow cast landed a little short and the tail disappeared, then whack, something had smashed the nymph, the fish must of turned after it and it was a good fish. Back and forth it went, with no real current to fight it had energy to burn, near bank and far bank, under trees, brambles and a plank of wood. The line held strong and the hook stayed in even with the manoeuvres i had to pull to untangle from trees and brambles. It began to tire so i entered the water and with it's last fighting breath it swam into a bunch of nettles. What a bastard. The stings and itchiness i can still feel now were easily worth it.
I have been looking at measure nets and this one would of made a great fish to christen it but i'm still waiting for end of season sales. But by rule of thumb, my inner elbow? to my middle finger tip is 18inches and well, it was longer than that. The size 18 (small flies in clear water) firmly in his top lip (like all my catches funnily enough) King of the stream.
I had pretty much come to the top of fishable water, it barely becomes a trickle a couple more hundred metres up but i continued on, casting as far as i possibly could with trees above and vegetation on both sides. Then a loud slap of a tail hitting the water as another trout hammered my fly. It wasn't as big but it was still a good fish and equally fat. It had the same complications as the other trout only it didn't fight for as long and it came to the net wrapped up in river grass.
I hoped for another trout and felt a slight knock on the fly only to find a small roach had fancied a go, this was followed by a 5th and final roach, the smallest of them all.
It had been a productive day and in tough conditions, low water, high visibility and a hot sun. Strangely i saw very little fly life in the air, i had expected some rises but the only fish to break the surface were roach, but with the season coming to a close i had opted for trout, last years tally was 220 and todays total brought me to 210. 4 weeks left!