Starting the season in May is interesting. Strictly speaking I manage one short session in early March, but with a gap of some ten weeks there is a strange lack of acclimatisation. The cold wet March and April days where trout are reluctant risers, rivers are pushing through and fish are tempted by nymphs or wet flies, are absent.
Dry fly only anglers may not feel the same, but to those comfortable with flicking a pheasant tail upstream, this is a shock to the system. It’s not unpleasant though.
Early season days of casting rustiness and knot fumbling, I associate with damp, cold afternoons and wobbly legs that are still finding themselves as the current tries to push me over. Today my early season clumsiness is basking in sunshine, a gentle breeze and plenty of trout sipping surface goodies.
After casting to and catching the first fish I see, confidence is up as I approach the second. It’s an easier cast but I snatch at the rise. There is nothing like the tug of thin air to bring the angler down to earth.
It’s hard to be disappointed though, there will be others and the river in the middle of May is a wonderful place to spend a few hours. A pair of geese with three goslings in tow are working their way up the margins and a dipper is gathering his fill from the abundant larder at his feet. However, the kingfishers I watched for hours last year are missing. Hopefully they are still on the river.
The best trout today is a surprise. Having caught a couple in the pool below, I wade upstream where there is a faster riffle at the head before a deeper channel opens up. As I’m studying the channel for a sign, I think I see a disturbance in the shallow riffle. I cast the fly for a short drift and I’m in. The fish dives for the deeper water and there is a moment when he nearly makes it to a tree stump.
He’s feeding in no more than 8″ of water, taking his pick before the other trout downstream in the pool. He slides back, none the worse and now I know where to look for him next time.
When I leave the river, I edge my way around a field that is being ploughed. The farmer has left just enough space for me to get the truck though. As he waves, he’s still more than half the field to plough and it occurs to me that I’ll likely get my dinner before him. Some days just keep giving.