6 June 2013

Rainbows at the end of the storm

The weather forecast for Friday had looked grim throughout the preceding week; unusually, and unfortunately, it failed to change even a little bit. There seemed little doubt that our fishing weekend would start amid the sound and fury of some hellish weather.

The plan was to stage a repeat of last October's fishing weekend, but with two crucial differences: first we would reverse the order of things, with coarse on day one and fly on day two; and second, we would work harder at keeping hangovers to an acceptable, or at least fishable, level.

Given that our coarse fishing plan was for tench fishing on Lemington Lakes' Sunset Pool, the savage north-north-easterly which built steadily through the day could scarcely have made life tougher. Not only did it make presentation difficult, but of course it put the fish right down.

Instead of watching a tiny peacock quill trembling and dipping on a warm, calm pool, we were forced to resort to beefy bodied wagglers, deep-bulked to combat the wind and tow. 

It worked, after a fashion, with both of us finally bringing a small tench to the bank. But over a comfortable brunch in the unbuffeted warmth of Lemington's remarkable cafe, we both agreed that it was time to bow to the inevitable and abandon our float / tench plan for the day.

Out instead came the rod pod, two specimen rods, buzzers, bobbins and all; and we cowered under our sole surviving brolly waiting to see whether flat method feeders piled with groundbait, hemp, 'deads' and corn could help us unlock the hitherto quiet Abbey Pool.

A skimmer came first, then a good common carp which escaped at the net. The bream got bigger though, the biggest approaching five pounds, and for a while it was a fish every ten minutes - welcome action on such a miserable day. 

It would have been easy to be disappointed, but the day hadn't gone so badly. I'd promised my friend tench, and he'd hooked one; over brunch I'd suggested that a change of plan might bring us better fishing, and it had; we'd been blown to pieces (quite literally, as both umbrellas eventually bit the dust), but the rain could have been far worse. 

So now it was over to my friend who would guide me through the next morning's fly fishing at Busheyleaze near Lechlade.

Which, it turned out, was to be conducted in calm, warm and sunny conditions. Part of me was gutted that
this had not been our tenching day; another part massively relieved that I would not be trying to cast a fly in anything like the previous day's gale.

Last October had been my first introduction to this noble art, and I'd been quietly pleased with my progress given my normal  cack-handedness with this kind of skill (like learning to drive, it brought to mind the old game of trying to pat one's head and rub one's stomach at the same time). I'd not caught anything on that occasion, but at least the line and fly had found the water in approximately the prescribed manner.

I'd expected to be rusty this time around, and I was. But with a little bit of perseverance, some time watching those around me, and some helpful advice from both my friend and a passing angler, I soon found myself back to, or perhaps even past, the level I had achieved last October.

With one very important difference - I caught, and caught well.

It undoubtedly helped that the fish had been pushed into one corner of the lake by the strong winds of the preceding 24 hours; my friend's considered choice of fly also appeared to give us the required 'edge' on the day. Inevitably, it was he who found the fish and led the way, bagging three feisty rainbow trout in quick succession, each approaching a couple of pounds.

I was still plugging away, trying to ignore the fact that after eight or more hours or cast, retrieve, cast, retrieve, over the two trips, I still hadn't  felt so much as as a knock. And then, there it was. A knock, a take, a sharp strike and a fish on - a feisty rainbow of 4lb 3oz (a big fish for this water) which ran and ran, tail walked and ran, and ran some more before finally succumbing to the net and the priest.

My first fish taken on the fly, my first played on the 'pin', my first rainbow trout and my first fishing kill. Although I finished the day in fine style with a full bag of four fish, it was that first one which really felt like the significant milestone on my angling journey.

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