I’m amazed. This time last month I thought that I was preparing for another eight weeks of cabin fever, the onset of withdrawal symptoms and the real probability of driving my dear wife bonkers.
I really thought that my right knee replacement would take that long before it would carry me to the river. Not to be; less than four weeks down the line it has mended so well that I have the go ahead to haunt the waterside again.
This stroke of good fortune is due to a number of factors. My surgeon has clearly done an amazing job, I have exercised diligently and the care and support that I have received has been second to none. Above all though, my lifelong attention to athleticism has served me well.
I have been down to the lake and established that I can still remember one end of a fly rod from the other. I’ve practiced for an hour or two and am satisfied that I can still put a fly where I want it to go. In fact, I’m all ready for the off. Then it rained and all the rivers in Ryedale went all mucky overnight. I took it all in my stride though, didn’t stomp and swear or spit the dummy out; I remained absolutely calm and phlegmatic.
Alright, I’ll come clean; I did take a sandwich and a flask down the dale and I did sit on a rock for an hour simply watching the swirling cocoa cascade through the riffles, rocks and runs. I hoped that I might catch a glimpse of a passing insect that would give me clue about fly choice once the river returned to the colour of fine Yorkshire bitter, a sure sign that fish will be on the fin.
For an awful long time I saw nothing; the air temperature was a mere nine degrees and the water felt cold to my exploratory fingers. I fondly wished that I had brought a pork pie along, just to aid the concentration obviously. Sandwich box and flask were empty and still not a sign of movement in or around the water.
The wild primroses were apparently convinced that spring has arrived; their beautiful butter yellow heads, determinedly brightening the otherwise sombre day, seemed to be trying to lift my spirits. Even the bluebells appeared to believe that spring was threatening to stir the countryside; a pale blue wash was just visible in a few of the sunny glades.
For a brief moment, the clouds parted and allowed a fleeting glimpse of the sun. In appreciation, the daffodils seemed to smile reassuringly.
A large dark olive dun skittered over a small riffle and took to the air unmolested. Moments later one of the smallest sedge flies, a grannom, performed a hop skip and a jump across the dead slow water just downstream of a small cluster of stones. I probably inclined my head slightly in the direction of the nearest clump of primroses; they were right as usual. I had all the clues that I needed.
If I bring nothing else to the water when conditions improve, I shall certainly bring the hare’s ear and golden plover fly. It is a perfect imitation of an emerging large dark olive and also simulates the hatching pupa of the grannom.
So, there’s the plan in place, all I need is for the river to clear a bit and for the water temperature to rise. Please keep your fingers crossed and I will, of course, keep you posted.