Time, life’s precious commodity evaporates as the season progresses springtime merges delightfully into summer as the evenings lengthen and wild flowers come and go. The yellows of early spring fade away and the bluebells blossom soon to be followed by the foxgloves. The angler’s path is lined with these colours as he walks beside the water.
My own springtime is predominated by fly-fishing for trout and salmon on both rivers and Stillwater’s. On Saturdays I fish a mid river beat on the Torridge and enjoy my first success of the season with a sea trout of around 3lb. Fresh in from the sea with sea lice upon its flanks it gave a spirited tussle before gracing the net for a few moments. I had of course been hoping to connect with salmon but with the river running quite low a good run has not yet entered the river.
The reservoirs always provide some good sport with rainbows at this time of year and I have had successful sessions at both Wistlandpound and Clatworthy.
Highlight of the spring has to have been the trip to Draycote Reservoir fishing in the annual Water Industry Game Fishing Championships. This weekend is always an enjoyable excursion shared with friends some new, some old. With teams from all over the UK the event is very competitive and the standard of angling at a very high level.
We stayed in the affluent little village of Dunchurch; you can tell its affluent because the bus shelter is thatched! The competition is held in early May as hawthorn blossoms and the English countryside is at its best. On practice day I rise early and take a walk alone around the village strolling through the churchyard savoring the timeless atmosphere. Wood-pigeons perch cooing upon the tombstones as generations of the birds have undoubtedly done. I observe how the gravestones are older close to the church with the recent additions situated a good distance away.
On practice day we circumnavigate the reservoir trying our luck at various points. Buzzers seemed to be the winning tactic an enjoyable way to fish that does require a degree of concentration. The swifts swooping to and fro above the water during our visit are a pleasing sight that indicate summer has truly arrived.
Practice day is always a relaxed affair without the pressures of competition day leisurely lunch, time to chat and take in the view.
Competition day arrives and after registration and a team talk from Captain Ray we are all dropped off at our respective sections by Garry our ever-reliable team chauffeur. There are fourteen of us in each section and I am fortunate to draw number 3 giving me a good option of locations. I have a place from which I caught two trout on practice day in mind and its there that I head.
Time always drags as you wait for the klaxon to sound indicating the competition start. I set up two rods; one with a floater and a team of three buzzers the other a sinker with a small black and green lure. At 10.00am I send the flies out into a gentle ripple and allow them to sink; I then keep the line tight watching the indicator at the lines end. On the second cast I get three takes that I fail to convert. Then on the third cast comes that all-important solid connection. A minute later and that all-important first fish is in the bag. For the next two hours I work hard concentrating on the indicator as each cast is fished out. For a while its neck and neck with my neighboring competitor, trout falling steadily to both our rods. By 11.00 I have six trout; by half past I see the Welsh representative walking to the steward with a bulging limit bag of eight. The takes are in decline but I manage to complete my bag by midday to gain a four-hour time/weight bonus. Its now time to relax sit back enjoy lunch and hope that my teammates have scored as well.
The competition ends at 4.00pm and there are plenty of anglers cuing at the scales. I am confident that I have done well in my section but not sure how I have fared overall. All but one of our team has landed fish so we should have scored a few points and with my bag I know we will not be last.
Presentation time arrives and it is great to receive a trophy for coming third overall along with a quality Grey’s rod and a bit of cash.
Our team comes a respectable seventh out of fourteen. To end an almost perfect day team member Jim Coburn wins a bundle of top of the range tackle in the Wateraid raffle. Next year we aim to win! Whatever happens so long as we get there it will be fun.