I always try to get out as close to the start of the season as possible, but truthfully, I’m not that keen on March fishing. Usually I’m in the process of thawing out from a few recent grayling trips, but this year (and last) the winter was a washout.
More likely it’s because March fishing can be difficult. Rivers wake up at different times; there can be prolific hatches in March, but often it’s a trickle of Olives, Browns or the Grannom Sedge. Blink and you can miss them.
Sometimes in March I sit on the bank and stare at the river wondering what to do. Usually I want to fish a dry fly, if only to cast a line again, but I know it can be fruitless. I may have fished nymphs for grayling over the winter, so want a change. Should I throw a small streamer at the undercut bank opposite…who knows?
At first glance the river can look lifeless but look again and there are signs of spring everywhere.
A dipper is here today, picking at the stonefly and caddis larvae. A good sign that things are warming up. I recently learned that dippers have a third, transparent eyelid called a ‘nictitating membrane’ that they can close, enabling them to see underwater. Peel back a layer of the natural world and under the simple, satisfying veneer, it is staggeringly complex. Equally staggering is that a plethora of people would rather sit indoors and watch Love Island than sit where I am sat…watching spring unfold. Even the sheep this afternoon are keen to explore the stranger in their field.
I’m later to the river than I hoped and may have missed a more obvious hatch. I could probably find more fish targeting the deeper holes with something heavy, but it’s been nearly five months since I cast a dry fly and I also have a new line to try. I dismiss fishing a dry dropper as I want to see how the new line performs with just a small dry, so on goes a size 18 caddis.
It takes about an hour before I see a fish rise ahead of a fallen tree branch. It’s a straight forward cast but although I feel the take it doesn’t stick. The second small trout gets all the way to the net before slipping the hook and although it’s rewarding to connect with a rising fish, I feel that I might have to be content with just a few hours on the river. Thankfully a third fish of just over 12″ is fooled and it’s great to see a fin perfect brown trout in the net again.
Time to make tracks.
Last week I had my Covid 19 vaccination and was surprised what a good mood it put me in. Optimism is fully restored. I really like the new fly line too, next time out I’ll try it with my other four weight, but most of all I relish being back on a river.