Yesterday afternoon brought on a stuttering hatch of blue winged olives. An occluded sun and low river didn’t promise the best of conditions. The Usk is an early river; July is a dead beat month. The surface was an oily film covered with seed heads and deitritus. Midge buzzed and the odd mayfly hatched. Sedge flitted, rising and falling in the bankside willows.
On occasion a fish would erupt from the water taking a mayfly or sedge. Infrequently, a hatch of a tiny olives, with three tails would promote the trout to rise. Three or four trout would quietly break surface for a few minutes. Then all would go quiet.
In the early evening these three tailed flies hatched more frequently, trout rose more often and the first chances were given.
A size 20 emerger with light olive/yellow body and CDC wing secured the biggest.
It rose confidently pushing a Queen Mary bow wave in front of of it. Three casts were made. The first short, the second to its right the third a linear dream. Straight over its head. Seven feet of nylon ahead of it, thirteen feet behind it. Not a hint of drag. 6X. I have long ago given up 7X; they rise, you strike, you break. The head broke surface; broad and long. Steady and slow.
A week ago I had seen and felt the line move twice following the rise of two good trout . Too slow I had missed both. Tired? Off form? I don’t know.
But this time I hit early. I worried that I hadn’t let him turn down.
Once when salmon fishing I hooked a snag on a deeply sunk fly. I let out slack and moved below it pulling hard. The snag moved …it was a salmon. Immovable, solid.
This time was the same. I thought I had struck bottom, a stray log, a boulder in the stream. But of course I knew. I had seen its head and shoulders; watched the water balloon as it rose and seen my tiny fly vanish.
I am not a tackle fairy. Over the years I am much criticised for the quality of my kit. But I have a Danish dry fly reel. I think it is the best. Gives line free of drag but allows pressure from the hand.
The fish took twenty yards in a rush. It kited below and crashed into fast water. It boiled and bored. It forged and fought. It rushed and ran. Struggled and strained. A tiny barbless hook. Three weeks earlier another had defeated me. I was certain this was to be the same.
Impossible to draw him up, and knowing the result if I tried I went down. That she (for he was a she) fitted in the net surprised me. Pristine with bright yellow side and tiny spots I knew she was still young. The hook was well found and took forceps to extract. Barbless but not without a deep hold.
The remains of the evening were sublime. I tie many and different patterns. Flies that caught so many a little while ago are no longer used. To repeat the same episodes of success with the same flies leaves me wanting something. As when cooking, it is not the following of a recipe that gives satisfaction but creating something new.
Now that the fish were eating the imago a new pattern went on. Ribbed with wire its body sank. Its wing was of cdc and a touch of elk. No tails.
The trout were large. They seemed unable to refuse. It was 22.30 when I finished. How many? How big? It is difficult not to want to measure an evenings fishing in these terms. I know few were under two pounds, the count was large. But the flies success was the rush.
Will it work again?