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Night Hunter

It's early evening as I'm writing this and the air is full of anticipation. I know I'm going to catch fish – well, as much as you can know these things, but anything could happen. Two evenings ago I experienced one of the best rises in years. Last night there was pretty much nothing moving upstairs but after dark I had some great fishing with the lure. Unfortunately the sedges were attracted to my baldhead and I had to fight them off. Lesson learned: always wear a sarong when fishing, even at night.

Hang on, let me mention something else here: I will more likely than not have this place to myself. I certainly hope so. Of course I may have company but it's unlikely and even if I do they'll be gone by the time darkness closes in. And I'll almost definitely catch a 4 lb brown. Probably more. In fact one four-pound brown would suck and I'd wonder what had gone wrong. More likely I'll catch four or five of them and if it's good and I actually get it together, maybe another four or five. There's a reasonable chance of something bigger but it's not very likely, not here. I'll definitely catch some rainbows and some smaller browns too. Sounds exciting, doesn't it?

Of course I'm not sure exactly how I'll catch them. It may be dry sedges, static or skated, a large dun pattern perhaps or else a black woolly bugger. Maybe a bit of everything.

Having written all this I will of course blank. And then I'll blame you.

There's something quite addictive about this sort of fishing. I grew up on it back in the UK, where I was allowed to fish at night… or at least no one said I couldn't and so I didn't ask. And I've always got agitated as the evening gets near, ever since I can remember. My whole life I start to itch… shit it's 8pm… must go (and I need to tie up a black woolly bugger; I can do that down by the water, with the streamside kit I'm now carrying around)… arrgh 8.15…


OK Paul-dude goes fishing, yeah cos 'go fishing' stories are real interesting-like. You know the sort of thing: “I took out the size 12 hare's ear nymph I had tied earlier using flat gold mylar ribbing which I had found in a dressmaking shop for 50p in 1972 and made my first searching cast paying particular attention to the water closest to the bank, bollocks bollocks bollocks bollocks…”

It began at the car park when some people pretended they didn't see me, so already I knew it was going to be one of those evenings. “Did he say hello to us, Mum?” “Just ignore him dear, he's a flyfisherman. And probably gay. Most of them are.” “But why's he wearing tights?”

There's a part of the dam I always peer over, and no matter which part I peer over, there's always a fish directly below me – and I'm sure it's the same one. Of course he doesn't like my baldhead suddenly appearing above him like that and so he buggers off. And of course I always cast at him anyway. Tonight I showed him the woolly bugger, just to show him what he was missing.

I wandered down to the river and it was quite misty. Now nobody likes good bit of mist more than me; “Give me mist”, I say, “and lots of it, but not while fishing”. Morning mist is different of course; morning mist can be quite good, always assuming you know where you're going. Evening mist just doesn't do it for me, sorry.

Nothing was rising – see? So I sat on a rock and tied some fluff. Before the Sexyloops' Streamside Kit was invented I'd have simply hung around in a disinterested sort of way, pretending not to be bothered one way or the other. That's always important when waiting for a rise, I find.

I tied up three woolly buggers, one deer hair sedge and a brown non-descript dun using flat gold mylar for ribbing which I had found in a dressmaking shop for 50p in 1972. At the age of 2.


Streamside kit rapidly contained, I tie up a leader using a tippet of 2.3m of .205 bollocks, using the two dries (sedge first, non-descript 1972 bargain hunters delight second). FIRST CAST - fuckall. Second or third cast, the non-existent hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and I strike. Sing it to me fatboy. I land the fish after an almighty struggle; the reel screamed at least five times and the fish may or may not have jumped heroically.

It looked like an eel and I return the anorexic 3lb rainbow (yeah I know I said this river was heaving with 4lb browns, but what can I say? I lied). And I carry on…Not much happens and it dawns on me that not much is going to happen either and so I walk on up to the lake.

The boulders are large with interesting leg size gaps in-between. I don't want to use my headlamp – you know, because you're not supposed to – but I don't want to break my neck either. So I use my extra-sensory powers and hover down to the water's edge. I'm wearing a sarong on my baldhead, because the last time I fished here 3,421 sedges tried to shag me.

I don't know about you, but whenever I fish a new location my optimism immediately fully restores itself; okay the river was crap, but the lake is going to be electric. That's obvious and the fact that this has only occurred once in my entire life does nothing – absolutely nothing – to dissuade me of it.

There's some kind of weird back-eddy thing going on and the fish are often laying where the currents meet, but you know that, I'm just telling it the way it is. The dry fly disappears… well actually I only assume that the dry fly disappeared since I wasn't paying attention and the first I know about it is that I'm playing a fish. It's a two-pound rainbow. Yes I know it's not 4lbs and I know it's not a brown. That's the last time I ever write about what's going to happen before it actually does. Probably.

I think about adding an extra 15cm of tippet to alleviate some small drag problems which may be occurring but that would make me a wanker and so I don't.

Further on, I notice a fish rising, possibly to an insect. And so I throw him my two dry flies. He eats one of them proving indeed that he was a fish. This fish is also a rainbow completely discrediting my status as someone who knows something about anything... hang on… I cleverly catch a rainbow – a very rare occurrence on this stretch – which I put down to the fact that my fly was tied using flat mylar which I had discovered purely by chance whilst making short silk dresses suitable for evening wear around the house.

A kamikaze sedge flies into my right ear hole and for the next five minutes I shake it around back and forwards, bashing the side of my head violently with my right palm. That seems to do the trick and I switch to the black woolly bugger and cast it 123ft into the darkness. I know it was 123ft because I have marked my flyline in 6inch increments, which by the way is the length of my John Thomas. A four-pound brown trout (thank fuck) connects with the lure and gives a 'wonderful account of itself'. Jolly good show, I think, and return the blighter to fight another day, only the (now stupid) fish turns around and swims the wrong way up the bank. He then jumps around madly on the rocks for 5 seconds, does three summersaults, two back flips, dives back into the water and takes off into the darkness.

Nothing much happens after this and so I go home.
Thank you,

Related links: Vortex archives

Essential Bush Skills

The start of any flytying good flytying sequence involves squirting The Light of Apgai on your polyprops
Both alarm and curiousity set in when the polyprops start melting
Putting the lid back on the jar to stop *that* happening again
The flytying proper is underway
Notice the composure, that's true class that is
A difficult bit, you can tell that from the vacant expression
Essential bush skills: the third hand
Notice my hat here, it's quite daring
Snip, snip
I'm not quite sure what I'm doing here, but it's cool
Trimming an oversize hackle that appears to have become trapped in the whip finnish manoevre
Delicate precision work, the hallmark of any good flytyer
A sexy catch...

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