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Just Simple Pleasure

By Mike Pratt, UK

I had not expected to be on the river today, but as my old friend - the Professor - was away I fished his rod instead.

A pleasant bonus.

The morning gave every indication of being the fore-runner of a fine warm day, ideal for fishing.

When I arrived on the bank however, it was noticeable that the wind was very strong from the Northeast. This meant that things like casting flies upstream - as is a requirement of this beat - was not going to be too easy because the wind was blowing straight down the river. Why conditions can never be right for the would-be fisherman, I don't know. We don't ask a lot!

The pleasure of fishing on beats such as this one is not confined just to placing a fly upon the water and making contact with the odd trout. When I arrived this morning - a sunny, crisp spring day - I was greeted with the smell of new mown grass. The keeper had mown all the surrounding areas the day before - not only making it easy to move about - but scenting the air for this morning and creating an evocation of childhood days and haymaking. An added delight for the day.

As I had had no luck down by the Chestnut trees on my last outing here, I decided that I would start the day upstream of the Copper beech tree which, with it's fresh new leaves, is beginning to look in very fine shape. The river surface showed no sign of fish feeding or moving in any way. If it were not a contradiction in terms for a flowing river, one could say it was absolutely still. Although it might not be construed as being early, 10 o'clock, I have often seen plenty of movement at this time on other days. About 11 o'clock as the sun started to warm up the air a bit, one or two Blue-winged olives hatched - rather reluctantly I thought - and the odd grayling moved themselves from their somnambulance in a somewhat desultry manner in an attempt to intercept said flies before they could take to the wing. The grayling appeared a touch out of practice. Even though activity was now evident, there was none from any trout and I began to wonder why I had made the journey.

I determined that as there was nothing happening on this part of the river, except me getting frustrated, I would move down below the beech opposite the fishing hut and see if anything was happening there. There were a few more rises to be seen out near the far bank, most of which gave the splashy indications of small grayling getting their eye in. About threequarters of the way out there was a more positive rise to floating duns clearly showing the bulge of a trout's head as it sucked the fly under.

To put a fly to this chap was going to be a bit of a problem. Is it ever anything else? Well out in the river with a very strong wind blowing the wrong way. A couple of experimental casts downstream of where it was lying showed the problem was going to be judging what the wind "out there" was doing irrespective of what it was doing where I was. Nearly every time that I put the fly out in the right direction the wind took it at the last moment and deposited it well behind the feeding fish. If I allowed for this wind effect and cast well upstream, with a perversity well known to fly fishermen the world over, the wind left the fly alone and it landed too far upstream permitting the drag of the current to take over before it reached the fish it was intended to deceive!

As there was no other feeding trout within prospect, and little else to pass the time, I persevered with the attempts to get the fly in the correct place. I eventually worked out what the wind ripples on the river should look like when the wind was giving a slight stroke to my right side if I were to put the fly in the air without it being blown all over the river. That took some time and all the time I was concerned lest the flies should cease to hatch and the fish cease to feed. With a lot of luck and a modicum of skill, I eventually put the fly in a reasonable place and the trout turned a foot to its right and took it. With a certain amount of mutual surprise we joined battle for a minute or two before I managed to bring it to the net.

It was a most beautifully coloured and marked stock brown of one and three-quarter pounds. Its flanks were a golden pinkish hue with a metalic blue along the back all covered with clear black centred white spots and a few brick red spots along the sides. It was in excellent condition.

Although I saw a couple of other trout moving about in the stream, I did not see any taking up a station and start feeding.

After lunch I moved across to the carrier by the fishing hut where it was very pleasant in the sun and slightly more sheltered from the wind. I put a fly to a trout lying upstream of the dividing wall but it snatched at the fly, just made contact, frightened itself and shot off upstream after the manner of one in a hurry to get somewhere.

During the rest of the afternoon I saw no other activity on the river save for a pair of Tufted ducks disputing territory with an abrasive Coot, and a more delicately natured Grey wagtail demonstrating that its ability to catch flies was better than mine at using them. I also heard several Cuckoos in the vicinity.

At about 4.30 I moved upstream to fish off the old garden wall because I had seen some signs of activity out in mid-stream which looked as though it might be promising. About 20 feet out opposite the top end of the wall I could see what appeared to be a sizable fish feeding intermittently. The first time I put the fly to it, it came up, looked, and then settled back whence it had come. The second time, it came up and obviously having thought the whole thing out carefully, took the fly in a positive manner. I had a bit of a fight until bringing it to the net at two and a half pounds. On taking my fly out, I found that I was the new owner of a small Grey Wulff which this trout had taken from someone else at an earlier date. No sooner had I landed this fish than I saw another rising about 30 feet downstream. I moved down and put the fly over it and it took straight away - another fish in the net of the same weight as the previous one.

I am always surprised that one can spend a considerable time on the river bank with little to show for it and then in the space of a few minutes two large trout are in the net. After this little flurry of activity things settled down a bit and it was some time before I saw another trout feeding just upstream of the island point. Although I made contact with it, it was not a prolonged relationship and he soon made off to carry out more important matters.

It was interesting that although the wind was increasing in strength, and it was getting a bit colder there were many Mayfly hatching. Most were males but a fair few females were appearing. The trout were ignoring them, which was just as well as most were blown back onto the water by the strong wind as soon as they became airborne and it was a struggle to finally make it into the trees. It is good to see that the strong flow of water throughout the winter has not scoured the bottom too much and removed the Mayflys' habitat. It promises well for the next few weeks.

It was a good note on which to pack up for the day and wend my way home. ~ Mike Pratt

More Fly Fishing in Europe:
Zulu's - By Alan the Highlander
Teal Blue Variant - By Alan the Highlander
Green Highlander - By Alan the Highlander
North Donegal, Ireland - By Arthur Greenwood
Marble Trout in Slovenia - By Tomaz Modic
Red and Cinnamon Sedge - By Alan Goodwin
Rogan of Donegal - By Arthur Greenwood
Bug Tank Benefits - By Peter Lapsley
River Piddle, U.K. - By Paul Slaney
A Day on the River Test By Mike Pratt
Ladyís Fish Finder Fly By Mike Pratt
Cast Again? - By Mike Pratt
Just Good to be There - By Mike Pratt
Why Fish? - By Mike Pratt
The pleasure of anticipation . . . - By Mike Pratt
A Pleasant and Surprising Day - By Mike Pratt
Donít duck the issue! - By Mike Pratt
To Russia with Love - By Ron Gras
Just Simple Pleasure - By Mike Pratt
Rich - Beyond the Dreams of Avarice - By Mike Pratt
The Good Place (Ireland) - By Jim Clarke
The Elusive Lake - By Jim Clarke
The Big Rod - By Jim Clarke
The Bank Manager's Fish - By Jim Clarke
Catch and Release . . .or not - By Jim Clarke
Fish On Half a Rod - By Jim Clarke
Sockeye the Easy Way - By Jim Clarke
The Odd Couple - By Jim Clarke
Fly Fishing Scotland - By Franz Grimley
The Artist - By Jim Clarke
One to Remember - By Jim Clarke
The Italian Secret - By Ralph Shuey
Opening Day on an English Chalk Stream - By Roger Ellis
Kolpakova River, Western Russia - By Rob Merrill
Fishing in the Czech Republic - By Tim Baldwin
2004 Fishing Season in the Czech Republic - By Tim Baldwin

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