|Perch on a pretty, lily covered pool: nice, yes, but it ain't no fly fishing!|
So, on Saturday evening having crossed the Wharfe on the way to visit the girlfriend I decided that something needed to change. The river looked in reasonable fettle for the first time in quite a while, and as such I decided to launch an attack the following morning. Thunderstorms were forecast, but weren't due to hit Ilkley until around lunchtime, so there was still a window of opportunity for some early sport - what could be better? Well, as it turned out a number of things (white water rafting in particular springs to mind). I arrived early to find the river having taken on the colour of a strong cup of cocoa and as high as I've seen it all year - a wormer's water, and me decked out in my thigh waders and armed with a poxy 8' fly rod, suddenly felt somewhat daunted by the task of having to find fish in such conditions.
|Swollen river... dry fly anyone?..|
I walked the banks in search of some reasonable water out of the main thundering torrent, eventually coming to some borderline passable slack water tight to the near bank. Here I set up with a heavy nymph and set to the task of working my way carefully through every inch of calm water and every possible eddy and lie where fish could be seeking refuge from the main current. I must have spent at least two hours moving from place to place doing this, but in my head I knew that my efforts were futile. It wasn't so much the height of the water that was the problem, but the colour which was just too much. When stood in about two feet of water I had to squint very hard just to see the outline of my feet on the bottom - goodness knows what it was like for the fish living down there, suffice to say I would have had to bang them on the nose with my fly to provoke any sort of response. Certainly it was more of a day to be using something that the fish could sniff out, as proved by another angler fishing maggot feeder who was picking off a steady stream of small brownies.
|Heavy nymphs seemed like the only option..|
|Creeping up the overgrown little sidestream.|
|The most welcome fish in the world - a hard earned brownie to a Mary Copperhead nymph.|
As I moved further into the interior, I could hear rumbles of thunder in the distance and ominous black clouds were looming ever closer behind me, but for now I ignored them as the immediate weather remained warm and virtually windless. I came to an area where the stream ran very deep and slow, the bottom an impossible entanglement of sunken tree roots. I found a place to perch and waited. Sure enough, within a few minutes I had seen several rises, one of which had the slow, confident air of a very hefty fish. I removed my nymph and added a section of fine .11mm tippet to the end of my leader, tied on a tan klinkhamer pattern and degreased everything thoroughly. The cast was flicked onto the water and I didn't have to wait long before I got a solid take. Unfortunately it was far from the goliath swirl of a big trout that I'd been hoping for. Instead what I got was the fast, sudden sip of a six incher which skittered around the pool briefly before I brought it to hand. A diminutive but beautifully marked specimen - better than nothing I suppose, and a brace of fish somehow always feels infinitely better than catching just the one. Still, I couldn't help but feel that the greedy wee blighter had cheated me out of a shot at something far more dramatic!
|A wee fly-snatcher!|
|Coming home to a flooded cellar - not what I had in mind! The video below shows just how heavily it was raining at the river, too!|