Two days into a fishing trip that was not producing. My fishing buddy and I were both “not feeling it”.
We checked the weather, cloud, wind and humidity and water levels for the last day. We decided to bail on that catchment area and try afresh in a different river on our cross country trek home. We were tired and a little disillusioned from two hard days fishing with little action despite “perfect water”. He reckoned we might have a shot on river “X” . He had put in the hard yards on this one, solo over the years and we had fished it together with success on a few occasions. I had not made it there in a couple of years but had seen his photos and been on the phone when he called me to tell me about his frustrations and red letter days too.
He checked the map, crossed it with wind direction and water levels and headed for a particular area of the river. Parking up we jogged over to the bridge to assess the water. It was high and it was very breezy. I had a new trout spey rod that I was trying out and a new line to try swinging streamers. He lined up two rods, a streamer set up and a 5wt dry fly rod. I looked at him… Like for real.. dry fly in that wind?
We started upstream, crossed two fields and he gave me the premier water and he wandered further upstream. I started swinging. Super feelings with the new rod & line, great coverage, super optimistic. Fishing hard as we say. He came back down and had no action either.
“Humidity Ted, they aren’t going to chase”.
He climbed up onto a rock outcrop and watched me fishing down the pool. I got a bang at the end of the pool, an ambitious 12 incher came to hand. A reward for perseverance, more luck than anything. I had to concede that.
Check out the far bank he said, olives and the odd mayfly coming off. They were too, sporadic but bobbing along like sailboats in the breeze rippled water.
He told me about his idea, a feeling more like. There is a turn, a bend further downstream below the next bridge that should be sheltered from the wind. Those olives might be on the menu in such a place even in high water. That was his reckoning. We trekked back to the road, crossed it and downstream across fields, stone walls and barbed wire.
We got downstream of the turn and I saw the small slick sheltered glide running along the far bank. It looked fishy. I covered it with my set up and no pull on my first 4 casts. He watched me and the water like the proverbial hawk. There he is he said, pointing with his head at a subtle rise just shy of the far bank and leapt straight into action. He slid under the wire down to the river to the edge of the bankside vegetation, downstream of me and the rise that had occurred. I stopped every thing to watch as he lengthened line downstream . He turned his torso and cast quickly and accurately.
” Short” he said, “a rangefinding shot”.
He went again, lovely turnover, his F fly landed well, 6 inches of drift and the water burst asunder as a big trout took the dry in spectacular fashion. I was awestruck. Like a magician pulling a llama from a hat or something, I stared at him as he bent into that trout.
He had called it, he had believed, he had known, he had made it happen. A masterful display of experience, observation & skill.
I grabbed his landing net and got on netting duties. He played him robustly and fast, steering the fish into a position in a gap in the bankside. I got the net under him and we got him out, that dry fly welded in the scissors, a picture perfect wild brown trout.
We shook hands, hard. Both of us bursting with adrenaline and joy.
“Right”, he said “let’s get this lad back, I know another spot and it’s your turn next”