(see also the album track from Husker Du's 1987 album "Warehouse: songs & stories")
When time is limited and fishing trips are possibly weeks apart, it's tempting to remain on familiar water where contact with wild trout is almost certain. This Saturday started out that way... with an hour on several pools featured here previously. It's still early season, trout are low in the water column, surface activity, both fly and fish is limited and days are punctuated with unpredictable rainfall that can wipe-out dry fly fishing in a matter of hours, for several days- all typical enough for this time of year.
The preceeding week had seen little rain - whilst I worked in London. Regular SMS reports from Cal confirmed low, clear water and increased surface activity back home. I had to make do with purchasing a few hooks from Granger's in S. Kensington and reading Ed Engle's "Fishing Small Flies". The rain commenced almost as I touched back down, undoing what sounded like perfect dry fly conditions and thereby delaying plans for time on the water. After only light drizzle for a couple of days, conditions started to improve and I headed out - just a couple of miles from home. I expect the fishing to be slower at this time of year, so rather than thrash familiar pools that will liven up within a few weeks, the search for somewhere new and unknown got underway.
So I walked, and walked... heading out past the upper reaches of a local stream. The furthest run of pools I fish regularly are maybe 1 1/4 miles either side of convenient and safe parking. Heading south, the landscape opens up and the stream is a little wider, certainly deeper and less interesting. There must be some large trout along this length of water, but finding them in largely characterless, albeit very scenic habitat isn't something I'm drawn to. Moving North however, and the landscape and stream becomes more diverse - more interesting. Long, wide and shallow stretches of water open up before the stream narrows, turns hard and back on itself, and even at this time of year, darkens with thicker brush and the emerging, Spring canopy.
Walking maybe 2 1/2 miles from the car, the relative peace of open countryside and quiet water shifted towards greater velocity and volume. Beyond a flat glide of water and obscured by trees the pool above came in to view. Pictures so often fail to capture the reality of a scene, and the images above and below may appear unspectacular, but this newly discovered pool is something else.
Firstly, there is a grand scale that is hard to sense from the pictures. The sheer, clay-red rock face that forms a backdrop to the lower and upper pool sections is maybe 60-80 ft high and very unusual within this rural setting and rich in varied flora, adding a depth of character that I hadn't expected to see here. At the throat of the lower pool, there are numerous and varied features. The far bank holds deeper water, the nearside is shallower and the current in both cuts back against the main flow passing centrally through the pool. Large, smooth boulders break the water in to multiple channels, some with amazing pace and force before opening in to a wide and smoother pool.
Beyond the lower pool, there's a narrow and deep run of glass-smooth water gently ushered towards the lower pool by the curved and sheer incline of the rock-face. It's smooth but there is real pace on the water. The whole place is so very un-typical of the area, uncharacteristically dramatic and it's a thrilling find. I must have spent 40 minutes or so just taking it all in before fishing the side channel of the lower pool with a single #20 olive emerger and taking two trout to just a touch over 12".
So I plan to keep this new found pool in reserve, and wait for later in the season and lower water when I expect it will offer some spectacular dry fly fishing. There's such a variety of water across the 300 yards between both pools, enough for a couple of hours of thoughtful, measured fishing.
As and when the conditions and opportunity align, I'll report back with more. There could be some larger trout in these pools...