I’ve done very little fishing since my last report, having been on holiday in France. However, as Mrs Marriott will never tire of telling you, fishing is never far off my radar. Consequently it didn’t take me long to discover that the Aude, a beautifully clear limestone river, ran straight through the little town of Quillan, where we were staying with friends. As I sipped my Muscat avec glace outside the Palace Bar, my eye was drawn to a sign on the bridge stating “Parcours – No kill”. Intrigued, I wandered over to take a closer look and there below me were two fly fishers plying their long leaders, as Frenchmen are wont to do. In the little square adjacent to the bar was a
tiny fishing tackle shop, so next I popped in for a word with the charming lady owner, whose English turned out to be significantly worse than my French. I introduced myself as un pecheur a mouchea truite Anglais, which I thought was pretty impressive. Unfortunately this turned out to be the limit of my conversational ability so thereafter we communicated via a combination of sign language and Franglais and got on famously. I spent a few euros on some local flies for my collection and picked up the details of the local guides. I have long since put out of mind any thoughts of sneaking off to do a bit of fishing when on holiday with my dear wife, although it did occur to me that today I might return unencumbered, so to speak, for a proper fishing expedition.
By strange coincidence I then met the President of the local fishing club at a Bastille Day street party, who, in a spirit of fraternite brought on by total inebriation, insisted that I should come fishing with him the next day. Unfortunately the copious quantities of wine consumed by both of us over the evening meant that this was never going to happen. Just before I get off the subject of France, poor Andrew Coombe emailed me from hospital to say that he had suffered a ruptured appendix whilst fishing in the Dordogne. I’m not sure if he’s back home yet, but let’s wish him a speedy recovery and give thanks that he was lucky enough to have been taken Ill in France. Just before I went away I spent an afternoon with our own Dear Leader at Netherdale but the fish were not cooperating in the stifling heat of the day. We cut our losses at tea time and arranged to meet the EHK for a take-away Chinese at the Locked Bridge. Batteries recharged we set out with renewed enthusiasm, John heading downstream for Twin Pools whilst I got in just above the Hut. I decided to keep things simple and experiment with my new Tenkara rod. I had on a small Klinkhamer which I fished dead drift over the usual lies. Several fish came over, had a look but turned away at the last moment. As I reached the streamier water at the head of the pool I started to work the fly by vibrating the rod whilst holding all the tippet off the water. This imparted an almost imperceptible tremor to the fly bringing an instantaneous response from the fish. Whereas before their attentions had been noticeably diffident, now they were nailing the fly with absolute confidence and each one was securely hooked. This is the sort of minor tactic that I am hoping Ishigaki – san will be able to impart to us when he comes to our third annual Tenkara Day on 8 September. I will be sending out application forms for this event very shortly. Like our recent Oliver Edwards’ Masterclass, it will be a unique opportunity to meet one of the foremost practitioners of the Art.
I had an email from Paul Brown whilst I was away, telling me he had a taken a very satisfying fish from Duffers on a tiny AB Midge which he had tied on one of the Stuart Crofts fly tying days earlier in the year. They seem an age away now, when we thought the winter would never end. The fish was a very tidy three pound brown but unfortunately the resolution of his photo was too poor to reproduce it here. An invitation from Richard Ward to fish his private water at Duck Holds Wood came just before going to press. It was a very oppressive and humid evening and I wasn’t surprised to see flying ants covering my windscreen as I made my way home. This of course guaranteed that these tasty
morsels would be nowhere to be seen by the time I got to Haddon. As I sat in queueing traffic on Ecclesall Road, the ants became more numerous and a swirling column of swifts proceeded to feast on them. I wondered how many other commuters were aware of this annual event taking place above them. As expected, there were no ants in evidence on the river but plenty of caddis. The Elk Hair and CDC pattern with the orange tag brought up fish after fish, mostly beautiful wild rainbows and the odd grayling.
Later, as the colour drained from the trees and the bats came out, I changed to Richard’s PPS Spinner in homage to the man and in the expectation of a BWO spinner fall. Fished in the riffles, this simple pattern was clearly what the fish wanted and I added a few more to my total before darkness fell. Sublime! If the fine weather continues we can expect more of the same over the next month or so, but I imagine low water will make fishing a chore during the day. Small nymphs on a long leader, or a tiny beetle pattern, keeping well out of sight, may be the best bet. Otherwise, concentrate your efforts on early morning or late evening sessions. Low water means low oxygen levels so be aware that fish can be easily distressed if played over – long. Get your fish in as quickly as you can, unhook smaller fish without touching them, and please give larger fish plenty of time to recover before releasing them. The C&L Tourists are off to Iceland this weekend! I’ll let you know how we got on in my next report.
P.S. Stuart’s Midnight Bug Hunting Session will take place at the Locked Bridge on 31 July from 10.00 p.m. All are welcome.