Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Staying Positive.

Ullswater can be a stunning place, as this February snap shows...
The Cumbrian trout season opened last Friday, and true to form when I arrived on the banks of Ullswater (sort of my local when I'm up here) at around 7 a.m. I was met with a mixture of sleet, rain and a howling wind... yeah. Not ideal. But March is an unpredictable time of year and you simply have to make the best of the conditions you're faced with. At least that's the way I rationalised it in my head as I rigged up my rod, gritting my teeth in the icy spring air. A legered worm was the method for the day - the fly seemed pointless given the conditions, and really I only planned to fish a couple of hours to appease the gods of the water. I punched my bait out hard to reach deeper water, set the rod down and began my long, chilly vigil.

Come opening day, conditions weren't so pleasant - I took this shot during a rare break in the wind and sleet.
The depressing thing about fishing a long ribbon lake like Ullswater in bad weather is that you can see the next squall or snow flurry coming from upwind about 5 minutes before it hits you. It's useful in the sense that it gives you time to wrap up and prepare, but it taints even the sunniest spell with a sense of futility as all too soon you see the next wall of black cloud bearing down on you. In normal circumstances this just adds to the drama of the place, but on a cold, biteless March morning it saps one's morale at a rate that cannot be stemmed even by the liberal application of tea, whisky and cigarettes. Today was certainly one of those days, and it wasn't long before I grew weary of the site of my stubbornly static rod tip. I couldn't believe when I checked the time that it was barely past 8 a.m.. A bus was due shortly and I was sorely tempted to catch it, but I talked myself around - a couple more hours, make the trip worth it at least. Stay positive. Rebait, recast, keep hoping. Stay positive. Turn your back to the wind (and was that hail now?). Pull down the hat. Turn up the collar. And for God's sake, stay positive.

Still time dragged on in this manner as I refused to accept the likelihood of an opening day blank. Surely there had to be something out there looking for a spot of breakfast? I was sure the wind had eased off, and perhaps the temperature had risen a couple of degrees, but maybe that was the contents of my now empty hip flask talking. Still, I could have sworn that I had a rattle on my rod tip just as this change  in conditions was coming about... hmm, perhaps not. I tightened the line and waited. A few minutes passed, then all at once the tip sprang abruptly straight and I struck into a definite solid resistance. Not a leviathan, but after the dismal start to the day, the pulsing of the rod as the trout finned determinedly out in the deeps felt positively miraculous. Soon it was on the bank - a stunning opening day brownie, slim from the winter but wonderfully marked and fin-perfect.

Against the odds: the first of the season.
After performing the necessary (I do like to keep the odd fish, and the first takeable fish of the year tends to find its way to my pan) and stowing the prize safely in my bag I checked my watch - half past nine. Time for another fish before my next bus, maybe? I hooked up a new worm and sent another prospecting cast over the ledge. This time the bait had barely settled before I had another thumping bite, and soon another sprightly, golden trout lay on the bank. Funny what can happen when you force yourself to be positive...

The fruits of a positive mental attitude: a brace of opening day Ullswater trout.

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