The river looked much different today. Gone were the naked brown banks. The stark, angular trees contrasted less violently against the flat grey sky. A dusting of snow overnight had transformed my favourite small river. Every inch looked even more delightful than usual. The all too familiar trudge across the field was now a new experience. A heavy mist hung, obscuring any visual clues as to where I was. Only when I neared an landmark did it lazily ghost into view. It was quite magical. Eerie but comfortingly so. A picture postcard and one full of fish. Or so I hoped. You see even in these quite cold and daunting conditions, I still felt confident that if I found some fish the river would not let me down.I know I say this a lot but it really was an absolute privilege to be out fishing on such a stunning and atmospheric day. Naturally, it took me longer than usual to find my way to a swim and set up. Purely due to appreciating what my eyes were witnessing. Straight out of a movie from the 30’s with everything in soft focus. The river itself, which usually reflected the earthy colours surrounding it, now stood out. A defined green/blue against the crisp white hiding its banks. I was having such a fantastic time and I had yet to make a cast. Soon enough though, that moment came. It was time to see if I could catch the ‘cherry on top’. The first few runs through proved fruitless but eventually I did get my first bite. A fish I promptly lost. As I did with the second. And the third, and the fourth. In fact I lost eight fish in succession! I couldn’t believe what was happening. This wasn’t how the picture postcard was meant to pan out. A ninth bite, way down at the end of the swim now (not surprising really), and this time the fish stayed on. A small brown trout and my first fish of the day.
After the trout it was as if luck had flicked a switch. I took a dozen grayling without a single one being lost. All fighting terrifically on their way to the net. They were not huge fish, maybe 4-6oz each, but terrific sport on a Winters day. Even at this size they are already turning into beautiful fish. Sleek, silver grey flashes. A red and purple dorsal breaking the surface. Yes, beautiful fish indeed. For now though the fishing would have to wait. My hands were freezing and it was time for a much needed cup of tea and a slice of cake. Another excuse to simply enjoy my surroundings and rest the swim. A kingfisher flashed by on cue. I wonder if he had had any luck? The answer to that question probably lay in the birds name, I thought. Yes, he’d definitely caught a few.
And after finishing my tea I carried on in much the same vain. A few smaller grayling made an appearance before the fish began to get a little bigger. Maybe 8-10oz at a push; all immaculate fish. I couldn’t believe that I was still catching fish from the swim, considering the terrible angling at the start, and the amount I had taken since. There must have been a fairly sizeable shoal of them down there. Not doubt the cold snap had forced them shoal much tighter. There would be areas of the river with very few fish present. I had luckily dropped on a few and was glad I had made the best of it. Well, just about.
After fishing for around 90 minutes, the bites dried up. I pondered what to do over another cup of tea. It was definitely time for a move. To another swim and hopefully to some more fish. However as is often the case in fishing, plans never exactly play out as you hope they will. Three swims later and with not a single fish added to my tally, I was left scratching my head. Proof, I’m sure, that the fish really were shoaled quite tightly. With the light beginning to fade and the snow starting to fall once more, I decided to call it a day before I got well and truly soaked. But what a perfect few hours had just melted a way. Like the snow that fell on my jumper, and disappeared, as I made my way back across the field to the warmth of the car.
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Until Next time tight lines