I had been due to go boat fishing but unseasonable gale force winds had forced the cancellation of the trip out of Minehead. So it was plan B; fishing In Wistlandpound Fly Fishing Clubs Floating line competition.
On arrival at the waters edge I tied on a Montana nymph with a black pennel on a dropper. A strong wind from left to right ensured that the flies were swept around nicely as I kept the line tight with a figure of eight retrieve. After two or three casts came that pleasing tug on the line as a energetic rainbow grabbed the point fly before leaping from the water a couple of times before being coaxed to the waiting net. Three more followed within the hour to complete the four fish limit.
Fellow club member Matt Kingdon was fishing further along the bank and I encouraged him to try a cast from my location. Sharing the successful fly pattern Matt was soon into a trout and we talked at length for the remainder of the competition as Matt built his limit bag that eventually beat my bag by a couple of pounds.
I had found the fishing very easy being in the right spot and choosing the right fly I guess!
A few days later and I trek north to Northumberland with five of my colleagues at South West Water. The Water Industry Game Fishing competition is an annual event that is hosted by one of the fourteen or so water companies on a rotational basis. I have always relished this outing on several levels. The comradeship is undoubtedly top of the agenda with lasting friendships forged over the years. It is also takes us to fish locations across the country at what is undoubtedly the best time of year. The fishing is quite often challenging as it proved on this occasion.
The nine hundred mile plus round trip took us through a vast swath of this green and pleasant land, hedgerows of white may blossom perfumed the air, fields of yellow rapeseed pleased the eye with fresh lush green growth bursting all around.
We stayed for two nights in the village of Stanhope in Weardale through which flows the River Wear a delightful river that boasts a run of both salmon and sea trout. Locals in the pub told the familiar tale that stocks were a shadow of days gone by. A deep dark quarry further up the valley apparently held huge brown trout that were seldom caught. I walked the riverbank a couple of times during our stay, once in the early evening and then again early in the morning before breakfast. Birdsong reverberated all around and spring growth and flowers decorated the valley. As an angler I gazed into the water hoping to glimpse a fish, I imagined casting and drifting bait, lure or fly to the waiting fish. I pondered on the fact that I could live for a thousand years and still not cast in a fraction of the waters I would wish to cast.
On our first night we shared a takeaway Indian meal outside the pub as swifts gyrated high above emitting their thrill distinctive summer cry. The locals were a friendly bunch welcoming us into their community. Across the road was an old church originating from Saxon times. Within the graveyard between leaning tombstones rabbits grazed creating a timeless scene; I always relish the history and timelessness of such places.
And so to the fishing well it was hard going. Derwent Reservoir is situated in the North Pennines and as such seems to be windy on even the calmest of days. On the both the practice day and match day the wind blew hard. This is not normally a problem as regards fishing but combined with bright sunshine and a recent rise in water levels fish proved hard to find. On day one we all struggled but most managed a single fish. Mine coming at 18:00 after close to eight hours relentless casting.
Competition day is what mattered though and when I caught a rainbow of 1lb 5oz after only five minutes I thought my day had come. Six hours later and I had not even had another pull! The fish though brought valuable points at the weigh in and to our surprise we secured a creditable forth place and a pleasing trophy to take back and parade at head office.
What a contrast from home and away. A ten minute drive an hours fishing and four trout, a nine hundred mile trip and two days traveling for two trout in fourteen hours fishing. Good job fishing is not measured in fish alone. As I said earlier friends, places and sights add up to the experience. In addition we saw a grouse on the moors and an osprey gliding across the lake.