I cannot abide garden centres, although the farm shops which frequently accompany them are very satisfying places.
Conscious of my distance from all other humans, I queue with the hundreds of other escapees. I am able to take advantage of a seat and in the morning sun, my mind begins to wander.
Peering over the bridge the river is as splendid as I’ve seen, perhaps made more so by my time away. From here the water looks clear but on closer inspection there is an algae washing through. I’m surprised I’m not in more of a rush and a little downstream I sit and admire. Obstacles I knew have gone and new ones have taken residence. The water is the perfect height.
A size 16 deer hair emerger is enjoying a coating of floatant as I watch for a third rise. There are trout showing but many are subtle. Today I will only try to catch those who show themselves.
There is tremendous satisfaction in spotting a rise, casting and fooling a fish regardless of its size and my first success is small, beautiful and had thankfully rehearsed his part in the script. Laying just off a faster current and sheltered by a fallen branch, I watch him take two good size duns before landing a gentle cast.
A few more follow, without quite the same precision and then I net a lovely 16″ brown trout on the same fly.
Of course I miss a few (I always do) and given this is the first dry fly day of the season I decide it’s nothing more than rustiness. Like a darts player missing a double to win. No nine dart finish for me today.
The afternoon gets warmer and although there is a good trickle of flies all day, there are a few more intense hatches. The trout are slow to respond and I suspect they are gorging on emergers unseen. As I move up river, there are just enough showing to keep my interest.
Late afternoon I meet two other club members who have enjoyed a similar day and we exchange a few stories with some liquid refreshment. It’s great to have some adult face to face conversation with people outside the family and a surprise how much it’s missed. Keeping six feet apart, we decide to stalk a few more fish together and it’s not long before we each demonstrate that we’ve still much to learn!
“Young man” (I love that)……”Excuse me….excuse me, young man”. The lady behind me in the queue is trying to get my attention. “Sorry to disturb you” she say “but if you don’t move up, you might lose your place in the queue”.
This is my problem with garden centres, everyone is so nauseatingly polite.