The Daddy long-legs skitter over the wet grass as quickly as they are able some attempting to take to the air as best as they can like heavily loaded cargo planes lifting slowly off of a runway.
The air is cool but it promises to be bright. It’s September and the last day of the fishing season and I am treading the well worn path to the river one last time.
As has been the case everywhere, the season has sucked and not in a small way either.
Back in March at the very start of the season we had rain and more rain. Opening day was like many days that followed – totally unfishable.
There were those that said all the rain would be good and keep the river topped up.
They were wrong.
The moment it finally stopped there was just a brief moment of stability in conditions and then the height of the river dropped like a stone.
Hatches became confused and fish likewise. As the temperatures continued to rise they ended up taking shelter in the fast, oxygenated water at the heads of the pools bunched up and nervous.
Not quite shooting fish in a barrel but close.
It didn’t feel right and so I left them alone.
Recent rain has meant a little more water and the warmth has now left us. Mornings are cooler and it feels as though the odds are back where they should be; in favour of the fish.
My set up is a dry and a nymph. A searching method that allows me to cast a fly line seeking out the riffles and runs for a trout.
The take is an enthusiastic one. The trout either rises to the dry and misses it or my fly was too big and it had attempted to drown it. Perhaps it was me who missed it and I am just a little rusty.
I shoot the cast into the same spot already knowing the trout will be gone but do it anyway just in case.
I fish the pools systematically, drifting the flies then lifting and casting into a new spot. Each cast feels good and the conviction that a trout will eat the fly stays strong yet nothing happens. I console myself with the fact that it is early on a September morning and once the heat of the sun has cut through things will change.
The pool in front of me looks a cert, a banker. The river takes a gentle right to left turn with the main flow hitting the far bank and then bouncing out into the middle into a short, knee deep, even flowed run. Surely this time.
I change the weight of the nymph after half a dozen casts to a slightly heavier one just in case the fish are skulking in the depths. The next few drifts are good ones but no trout.
I tip my cap to the pool and it’s inhabitants as I walk on.
At the next pool I have to cast off of my other shoulder and over to the side so that the tree branches hanging over the head of the pool can’t snatch my flies.
I’ve swapped back to the slightly lighter nymph and make my first cast. The dry dips and I strike. The fish is small, yet fights hard never accepting defeat only appearing to do so when it is resting in the partly submerged palm of my hand.
I always admire every fish I have caught no matter the size. Each one is different, each one is beautiful, each one is special.
The trout slowly swims from my hand and then puts on a sudden burst of speed as it heads to the safety of the deepest part of the pool.
I smile, snip the flies from my leader and wind my line onto the reel.
One is enough for me, it is all I needed.
I can now walk away and wait patiently until March when the time comes again for me to stand here once more.