Some people say that you should never go back...
(I remember one particularly harrowing experience when returning to Lyme Park as an adult I discovered that the council had replaced the huge super-scary slide I'd ridden as a child with a much smaller less-horrific
But I digress. Recently I've been doing quite a lot of exploring, and have discovered a great many new (to me) rivers and streams. It's always exciting and rewarding when another trout-filled jewel is found, but then there are other occasions when I just want to go and fish somewhere more familiar. A few days ago I went back to one of the streams I used to fish as a young boy. Back then it was worms and a float, but there had been trout a-plenty. Would they still be there? And would I be able to get them on the fly?
The first job was to find it again. It was never the most accessible of places, but add about 40 years of neglect and huge balsam infestation, and it was touch and go... But at last I was in the water and could get a look around. It still looked fishy and judging by the lack of tracks through the vegetation, I'm guessing it's not fished very often these days! On with the French leader and double nymph rig, and away we go... I could string this out and pretend that I didn't start catching fish straight away, but that wouldn't quite be true. First cast into a likely looking pocket produced the twin flashes of a double hook up. How's that for starters?
OK neither of them was exactly monstrous (!) and the smaller one was dangling in the air for most of the scrap while I maintained tension on the (slightly) bigger one, but you can't argue that it wasn't a spectacular start to the session. And I had one next chuck too. A bigger fish this time. A proper handful of wild brown trout.
That pocket fished out, I picked my way upstream casting into every piece of slightly deeper water or anywhere there was structure of any sort. Trout came from literally everywhere you'd expect them.
Any boulder, weedbed or tree root, held a fish. Every deeper pool held several. The water was nice and varied with pocket water, slower glides, weirpools and gorges. I fancied the weirpool up ahead, but I had a deep slower section immediately in front of me and it would have been rude not to give it a few casts en route...
So in went the nymphs and with no appreciable flow to animate them, I gave them a bit of my own by moving the rod tip and imparting a bit of life... The old JT jiggle! Bingo - a ripping take straight away.
I'd been catching some lovely trout up to this point. All good hard-fighting wild fish, but nothing over a pound or so. This one was something very much bigger. After a quick shake of the head it screamed off upstream heading for the sanctuary of a fallen tree. Sadly for me (luckily for the fish) it made it and smashed me up. Now that was another surprisingly large fish in another small stream (see the previous news item "Small Stream, Monster Trout" if you don't know what I'm on about)...
A couple of nice fish towards the head of this glide including this one. Just check out the spots on this beauty! And then I had another double hook up. What is it about this season? I've had more this year than I can ever remember. Two fairly substantial fish though, and we parted company when the dropper knot snapped and both fish got away. Hey ho... That's fishing. The weir pool was fast approaching and unless it had silted up down the years, it should be the deepest pool on the stream and hold the biggest fish. I always used to get a decent fish from the weirpool, even as a kid... Hopes were high.
Hopes were even higher when I got up close. No siltation and it was still as deep as ever. I was supremely confident as I pitched the nymphs into the tail of the pool. Nothing for the first few casts. Strange. I kept casting nearer to the white water but still nothing pulled back. I cast tight to the left and right banks, into a back eddy and close to a wall respectively, but still no takes. Why not? Maybe this was the answer? A little mink on the left hand bank above the back eddy! If there had been anything in the weir pool before it was now probably eaten or scared stiff!
I went on upstream towards the top boundary where a big stone bridge crosses the stream. Above the bridge there used to be a sign - Private No Fishing. I had always respected it and it was still there, so my last few casts were made alongside the bridge. I was expecting one last brownie to finish off. Imagine my utter
amazement when the indicator ticked away and shortly afterwards I netted this! Only a bonus grayling! I didn’t even know there were any in here. Where were his mates? Why hadn't I touched any other grayling in amongst all those (40+) trout? Who knows? And quite frankly, who cares? I reeled in and headed back to the car.
Never go back? Whyever not?