Our small campsite has a beck running by it, so we can brew up and watch the trout at the same time. Millions of insects hatch from the water on a summer's evening and many settle on the alders, rowans, birches and oaks that line the bank. The flies attract a lot of birds including flycatchers and redstarts, while swifts, swallows and martins swoop along the valley to catch the bigger caddis and mayflies. Grey wagtails, sandpipers and dippers bob on the beck-stones as they search for insects in the water. It's pretty idyllic - except for the midges.
I would say that the insect life is positively "prolific" but our fellow campers; English, Dutch, French and German; have other descriptions. You don't have to be a linguist to understand expletives. To most people the flies are "a bloody nuisance".
|Alex working upstream.|
It's a bit of a walk; too far to go in waders, so we carry them with us through the village and across the fields to the river-bank. Leaving our shoes amid the wild garlic we ford the river and carefully approach the junction pool which is just below us.
The pool is deep and black, but it has shallow rapids at the head and a long shallow glide at the tail. We sit high on the bank, well back from the water, to look for fish. The beck falls over stones into the deepest part of the pool, right opposite us, but it's more of a drip than a trickle and it hardly ruffles the surface of the pool. All the same, there are fish there, making little dimples in the surface. If you hadn't fished here before, you would think that they were minnows or maybe infant trout, but it's impossible to tell how big a fish is unless one shows its tail.
The pool may look black, but the water is really very clear and there is no breeze. Stealth will be required and we will need to use fine tippets and small flies. But which flies?
|Stealth and patience!|
Alex has a prefered way to fish for wild trout. He looks for a fish that is consistently rising in the same place and he stalks it from downstream. Once he is close enough, he pays out some line and makes a few practice casts, well short of the fish so as not to spook it. These fish are most often in a tricky spot, under trees, close to the far bank. They are usually confident fish, having been holding the same spot for days. As long as you are careful, you can cast at the same fish for hours trying different flies until you get a result, or until you give up.
|Every fly in the box, and no fish!|
The second method is to start at the tail of the pool, casting up and across in an attempt to find fish that are not fixated on the mystery fly. We covered the whole pool, taking a step upstream after every cast. There were fish in the shallows on our side of the pool too, but we only found them when they shot off into the depths as we approached.
Today, the last resort will be to walk back to the village pub where we can gaze at the stuffed trout on the walls and plan for the next day.
By chucking-out time we will have hatched a cunning scheme.
To be continued.....