Monday, 16 March 2009


The season is underway... No fireworks and fanfare, just a quiet few hours on the water.

Sunrise and the view from the bridge, before the first cast of the season is made.

The start of the new season coincides with the end of the fiscal year, a time when, this year more than most, the relentless chasing of revenue occupies every waking hour between Monday and Friday and typically encroaches in to the weekend, too. After a few days without rain, water levels were at status normal and despite a chilling breeze and a late night on Saturday, I simply couldn't let another Sunday morning pass without commencing the '09 season.

Expectations were realistic, rather than elevated. Early season provides opportunities to catch early season trout, albeit without the carnival atmosphere of late April and May. And so the approach was relaxed, contemplative and calm. The banks are more exposed at this time of year, the lush growth of Spring yet to really kick in. And so the form of the river is clear to see, exposed and less characterfull.

Arriving at a familiar pool, it was good to lean back against the bank and observe the water as preparations to fish were made. In the absence of surface activity, and in keeping with seasonal tactics the season opened with a steady search of the water with a #20 biot-bodied nymph. It was slow going, but the rythmic roll-cast, dead-drift prospecting came very naturally after a five month break. I'm not a great nymph fisher, it is a skill I will develop in time. I rarely have the sense of control and insight that I enjoy when fishing on, or in the surface film. And so I was satisfied to spend a couple of hours keying in to the season, just easing in to the experience of time on the water, rod in hand. Working downstream towards the throat of the next pool I hooked up, three, maybe four seconds later and the trout slipped the hook. Cool, the river still holds fish. It was a fitting introduction to the season and a stark reminder of who has the evolutionary advantage. I didn't see the strike, I haven't developed that sense of the sub-surface world in it's multiple dimensions. But it was thrilling to feel the fizz and spark of a wild trout on the line...

The season, like all new seasons, is full of expectation and so it was time to focus, to maybe get serious in the interests of bringing a wild trout to hand and marking the occasion of a new season. Getting skunked is no longer part of the game.

Heading towards a favourite pool, I ran through the approach in my head. It may be early season, but the sight of a small, fully emerged olive sailing by provided hope, it alighted the surface without interference or threat from below - I guess some of them have to make it.

It was so good to see the pool ahead of me, I haven't visited this spot during the Winter. Where, at the close of last season the water's surface carried the spent foliage from upstream through a feeding pod of trout, the surface and surroundings are now bare, stark and still.

The banks, bare of vegetation and the familiar, overhanging branches that mark the location of swift summer sport are naked but for the early buds of Spring growth. And then, exactly where expected the surface is broken by a trout sipping at the surface. The feeding trout shares my easy-like-Sunday-morning mood. It may be cool, early season but there are trout high in the water column and I am keen to exploit this surface feeding and launch the season.

The close season was spent tying multiples of proven patterns, and experimenting with the tiny stuff (sub #24 micropatterns). I don't intend to return home without bringing a trout to hand and so I gain an immediate advantage and select a fly that will "catch any trout, anywhere..." the Roy Christie designed (and in this case, tied) Reverse Parachute Emerger. This is a fly design of genius proportions, almost unfair in it's proven effectiveness at taking selective trout.

This early in the season, my casting is off the mark, so any advantage is welcome. It will be all too easy to put the lone, feeding trout down with a clumsy presentation. A few practice casts, downstream of the main target are made and I'm keyed in - now more alert and focused. A careful reach cast drops the fly 18" inches upstream of an earlier rise, the flow is incredibly slow and the surface like glass. It is easy to see the small fly at distance and right on cue, it is gently sipped from the surface. Lifting in to the strike, the hook is set and a lively. 8" trout is brought to hand and released.

There's time to fish on for an hour, but I take a few mintues to sit back and take it all in, reflecting on that first trout. There's no rush or urgency this early in the season. So I head home for breakfast with the kids, looking forward to sharing a few, embellished stories over fresh eggs and bacon.

It was good to have the best dry fly ever created in my box, to get things underway at a tricky time of year.

I'm braced for a blinding season.

This is just the start...


marc fauvet said...

great post Andy !

practice cast and the reach mend. signs of a thoroughly thought out approach. fantastic !

i just KNOW you're gonna have a great season.
enjoy it bro.


Andy Baird said...

Cheers Marc, wonder where I got the idea of a reach cast from... ;)

Man, it works like a dream!


marc fauvet said...

i just learned a bunch of really simple casts that will help a lot on your little streams.
we'll go through them at the Gathering. can't wait !