The weather was once again kind to us during the last few days of the season, allowing us to send it off in traditional style. We had a reasonable amount of rain during the penultimate week, sufficient to give the river a flush through and to leave it at a very fishable height during the dying days.
My last day was on the 5th, when we foregathered with the President at the Lock Bridge for bacon sandwiches and a good natter before heading off in a variety of directions to bid farewell to the trout until next March. I made my way up to Beat 6, noting along the way a profusion of caddis in the bankside fringes. I managed to catch one and popped it in a small test tube. It was one of the cinnamon sedges, identified later by Stuart Crofts as Limnephilus lunatus. Needing very little prompting, I put on my favourite Light Tan Klinkhamer (known disparagingly by the President as “that Dutch fly”) and concentrated my attentions close in, under my bank. This elicited a very quick response from a nice brownie of around a pound and three quarters, already colouring up in its spawning livery.
Also on the wing were several stone flies (Needle & Willow Flies) and, when Stuart caught up with me later near the Ram Dam, he pointed out the very prominent egg-balls on the egg laying females, something that had escaped my notice in the past. Other flies in evidence were the Autumn large dark olives, together with small spurwings and pale wateries. Lest you think I am some sort of entomological genius, I should point out that it was Stuart who caught and identified these insects, of which otherwise I would have remained blissfully ignorant! Another useful tip imparted by our resident entomologist and Sous-chef was that the small spurwings tend to be found in the margins and in slower pools, while the pale wateries are more likely to be found in the faster runs.
Time had flown by so we strolled back to the Hut in the pleasant Autumn sunshine for a late lunch, copious red wine and more nattering.
The closing day celebrations wouldn’t be complete without two long standing traditions. The first is the firing of Don Stazicker’s heavy duty spud gun. This came about through Don having too much time on his hands and access to the internet, where he found the plans for this home made weapon of choice for all middle aged small boys. Basically, take a plastic pipe about a metre and a half long with a bore of about 5 cms, at the base of which attach the outer casing of a plastic Thermos flask. In the handle of the flask fix a switch that produces a spark inside the flask. Take a ramrod and force a Maris Piper potato down the pipe, unscrew the base of the flask and spray a small amount of Right Guard anti perspirant into the chamber. Screw the base back on, press the switch and if the air/propellant mixture is right there will follow an enormous bang and said potato will be fired hundreds of yards into the air. The sight of otherwise sensible grown men clamoring to have a go is unbelievable!
Tradition number two is the singing of the Closing Day Hymn, words by Dr Smith to the music of St. Clement (The day Thou gavest Lord is over), followed by the Duchess of Devonshire’s Fruit Cake, Wensleydale Cheese and a cup of tea. All in all a marvelously bonkers way to end the 2013 Season.
I’ll continue to send reports over the winter if there is anything to say but meanwhile, make the most of the grayling while they are at their peak. Don’t forget to check with Chris before fishing – we try to limit the grayling beat to 4 rods to avoid over crowding.