This year in Ireland we have experienced one of the driest summers on record. I stopped fishing in early June to leave the fish in peace. Probably like most anglers I have been obsessively checking weather forecasts and river gauges with little hope. A small amount of rainfall last week was enough encouragement to get out. I was so delighted to back on the river after exactly 2 months!
The early evening was very quiet, until a late hatch of olives brought about a rise of smaller trout. I didn’t bother casting to them. I spent most of the evening walking the river bank, waiting and hoping for a good fish to show.
As the sun disappeared I began to lose hope. The temperature dropped so fast that I could see my breath. The small fish stopped feeding. I had resigned myself to the fact that surface activity was all over for the evening. Most of the time instinct is correct, but luckily on this occasion I was wrong and at 22:40 on my way home, I heard a large fish slash at a sedge in the tail of a pool. I took a visual note of where I thought the fish had shown and got into position as quickly as I could. I stripped line off the reel and cast my large CDC dry fly. As soon as I tapped the forward cast away, I felt that lovely feeling of confidence that the fly was on target. I waited for a moment and the fish came up with a typical sedgy splash. By the time I dared to lift the rod, the fish had already realised its mistake and had hooked itself and tightened up any slack line.
As soon as I tapped the forward cast away, I felt that lovely feeling of confidence that the fly was on target.
The fish took off upstream and pulled most of my fly line with it. There were a few hairy moments in the dark. The banks of this particular river are heavily overgrown and I scrambled after the fish, taking a couple of leaps of faith that the vegetation underfoot was stable. I had to lie on my belly with a long bare-armed stretch through thick nettles and somehow managed to scoop the fish in the net! The McLean weigh net pulled down to 5lbs.
The pictures are terrible but it doesn’t matter. Taking good pictures of fish when on your own is difficult enough to do quickly in the daylight but is far more likely to put the fish at risk when fumbling around in the dark. So I got the fish back in the water after one quick shot and I was happy that the fish swam away strongly.
I’m writing this now with arms still tingling from nettle stings and fingers torn once again by trout teeth, and thinking that fly fishing for trout probably doesn’t get more exciting than hooking a wild specimen river trout in the dark on light tackle….well if they can’t be on a streamer, the dry will do I suppose!