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Ronan's report


Wednesday 18th May, 2011

Those amongst us exiled in towns and cities find comfort in magazine, book or blogosphere where we can take vicarious pleasure in the experiences of others better placed to exploit their proximity to more rural or generally fishier environments. We enjoy reading pieces that bring us to that familiar moment when the angler finds a precise and personal connection with nature. It is not surprising really since the vast majority of anglers, in this country at least, are based in urban communities. Here amongst the blaring brick and concrete there is not much hope of hearing the call of coot or curlew and the crystal beck babbling down from the high fells through banks of spring primrose and cowslip is a very far off vision indeed.

We should take care, however, because it is also true that the reality frequently falls a fraction short of the experiential perfection proclaimed in print. A passage in a book or magazine might represent a real world time span far shorter than the minutes that it takes to read and the author has liberty and license to trim the truth and introduce the necessary whimsy to satisfy an audience craving another heady hit of piscatorial sentiment.

Even so, like glossy top shelf magazines, the stories are never as good as the real thing, and so, when the real thing actually turns up with all its imperfections and it all happens to you and only you, it is as well to settle down for a while and savour the moment, the better to recall it during tedious weddings, difficult conversations with bank wonks or perhaps on a long and awkward suburban commute.

Here is a true story…..


Sunny days, however pleasant for non-anglers, can make life difficult if you are after trout. Persistent periods of low rainfall and cloudless skies bring rivers early to their summer bones and the fish seek cover from the sun. After a particularly trying morning in these sorts of conditions I knew that I too would have to seek cover and thus find some fish.

Some way below the ancient stepping stones the stream splits in two. On one side of the river there is a public footpath, on the other, over the far side of a little wooded island, there is a deep run, perhaps 10 meters long, lined with bushes, branches dragging in the current. It is only possible to fish this run by wading up from where the two channels rejoin and tucking in beneath the over hanging trees on the island side of the run. In big water it is pretty well inaccessible, in low water it is riverine perfection and, once in place, it is not a particularly difficult cast to get the fly to drift down the run and there is always a rising fish to be had here…always.

On this day there were three, the second fish went sixteen inches, a genuinely massive trout for this particular river and I memorised every spot on flank and fin before returning it to the water.

In spring the island is a shady sea of Bluebell, white Wood Anemone and golden Celandine. Sitting beneath the new leaves, half in half out of the water, waiting for the run to settle after releasing the fish, it was not hard to imagine dryads and naiads dancing here amongst the flowers in the dappled green and the warm sun and, when the third fish began to rise again, I felt momentarily drugged by the sheer unalloyed technicolour joy of it all.

Sadly, these sylvan reveries were broken by a small wet boy pointing in my direction and shouting to his mother on the footpath.

" Mum….MUM" he yelled

" Look…..LOOK….I can see a tramp having a POO…."

Way it is…..

Stoatstail


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