I love it when a plan comes together.
I had spent a good deal of time planning my first visit to the river. I had a pretty clear idea as to how the first day might unfold. I knew that things were rather early this year.
Did you notice how early and prolifically the blossom arrived? Well, the same seems to be the case with aquatic invertebrates (that’s a posh name for flies).
I knew that the large dark olives were early and that the blue winged olives and the upright olives had appeared roughly ten days previous to last year. However, what caught me completely by surprise was the emergence of the occasional mayfly in May; we normally expect them in early June.
The plan involved my arriving by the river a little after noon, which would maximise my chances of witnessing a diversity of fishy food floating down the stream.
I chose the upper reaches of the River Rye for my first sojourn of the season, for no other reason than that this part of the valley is just beautiful.
I was actually ready to leave for my riverside spot when the telephone rang; a call from the Western Isles reporting sightings of monster brown trout in some of the lochs that I will visit later in the year. These conversations are not to be rushed, so I was a little delayed.
I had one foot in the car when my wife appeared. Are you familiar with that female frown which speaks volumes? That one eyebrow raised, pursed lips look that spells consequences?
“There are maggots crawling from under the door of the fridge,” I was coolly informed. “You need to do something.”
At this juncture, I should explain two things; I need maggots when I go coarse fishing and I have my own little fridge in the shed, specifically for bait storage.
Actually, it wasn’t me who unplugged the fridge by mistake but I decided not to argue the case; it just didn’t strike me as the best thing to do given the hands-on-hips, head slightly on one side posture that I noted as I scuttled up the garden path.
It was well into the afternoon by the time I had repatriated all the little rascals, including the ones heading for the onion store.
Eventually, I was leaning over the bridge, perusing the river; I knew that the plan had come unstuck.
Most of the flies had finished their hatching for the day. There were a few mayflies meandering over the river but it takes time for the fish to cotton on to the fact that they are edible.
There was not a fish to be seen; it really did not matter though, I was here, sitting on the river bank and the late spring evening light just lifted my spirits.
As I sauntered upstream, I saw a few trout deep in the shade of the bushes, gently sipping on tiny black midges. I indulged myself in a little smug smile, sat down below the skyline and opened the fly box.
I needed a tiny black fly for the fish to see with something pale for me to see. The white wing of this fly is made from the foot of the snow shoe rabbit and I knew that it would shine like a beacon, even in the deepest shade.
Plan B was in place. I popped the fly into the space between branches and water. Within moments a little trout had attacked it, graced my landing net for a moment and then swam away confused.
Time to return home to face the music and the maggots.