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Ronan's report

Sunday July 31st 2011

I don't mean to get heavy or anything (hey, we could all do to lose a few pounds), but sometimes putting on some weight is inevitable.

Take Thursday night for instance: A muggy, wet evening, with the river in good nick. It was one of those evenings when the rain seems to hang in the air, not falling but just suspending in the atmosphere, gradually soaking into your bones. If this was a John Geirach book there'd have been a cosmic BWO hatch, and subsequent epic spinner fall.

Not on Thursday.

In fact, for me, not this season. If there have been any cosmic hatches on the rivers I've fished, they've happened when I was elsewhere, or maybe just around the next bend. Even when I have seen good numbers of insects hatching there has been a conspicuous lack of fish feeding on the surface.

So my river fishing lately has been mostly wets (spiders) and nymphs. And getting down with weighted nymphs has worked best.

Thursday night found me on a new stretch of river looking at a fast-ish, deep run that just had to hold some good fish. The combination of roily, fast water and poor light meant that spotting anything was out of the question. So it was all about methodically combing the run, working upstream with a short line and heavy flies.

I started out with a tungsten-headed bug and small nymph on a dropper, but as the water rose above my waist it became clear that something more substantial was needed to keep me near the riverbed. So two tungsten nymphs and a couple of split shot plunked out into the flow.

Not enough! I needed to get down through about 5ft of speedy flow, and quickly, to get any meaningful drift on the short line I was using.

OK. Three medium split shot, two tungsten beads, one damp fisherman. And a partridge in a pear tree. I think it was the pear tree that did it. At last I could feel the occasional tick of the gear hitting bottom.

I soon got into the rhythm: Swing, ker-plunk, lead the flies downstream, tick - tick - tick, lift, swing, ker-plunk.

Just coming to the top of the run and it was tick - tick - tick, lift, Boom! A sudden hauling weight as a big fish intercepted the fly and headed back to whence it came.

And such a weight! Not the jab-jabbing of a small trout, or the tiny fibrillations of a months-old salmon parr. Just a heavy dog-on-a-lead pull as a big fin, raised, attached to a heavy fish, turned broadside to the flow.


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