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Archive for March, 2013

Remembering old lessons

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your notice that, since the trout season opened on March 15th, it’s been cold enough to freeze the balls off a Polar Bear. Under normal circumstances I would have been tempted to stay indoors, but the start of the season is not a normal circumstance and I had to go out.

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Dartmoor, I was reminded on discovering I’d left my jacket at home, is that bit colder than the rest of Devon. We know that the season comes to an end early, with the month of September being generally slow, but it strikes me that it starts late as well.

On the upside, its rivers run crystal clear not long after a flood when most would still be coloured with mud. At least that means the fish will see your fly, even if they choose to ignore it. And for the most part, they did with one exception.

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I worked my way up the East Dart, having re-learnt that the West Dart is slower to start, and covered many pools and runs that last year I know held fish. Whether the floods of winter have driven them out or they were still asleep I couldn’t say, but they weren’t coming out to play. Optimism and confidence are fragile things, made brittler still by the biting cold, and I was on the verge of packing up (I’d already switched from upstream drift to downstream swing) when a plump little trout snatched at my nymph. We danced for a while in the current before going our separate ways, in my case back to the car.

What counts as having caught a fish is as complicated as losing your virginity. There are all manner of caveats and conundrums that can plague the overly analytical (of which I’m one), especially when you were always going to let them go at the end. The true moment comes when you no longer care and I was happy just to know that a) the river wasn’t completely empty, and b) I haven’t forgotten how to do it. Long-range catch and release is the purest form you know.

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ImageLast Saturday was a momentous occasion, or perhaps you didn’t know? It saw the great and the good of the fly fishing world descend on Roadford Lake for the inaugural South West Fly Fair. All told it was an interesting experience, I enjoyed the Spey casting demonstrations and a chat with Dom Garnett, whose book on fly fishing for coarse fish is out at the moment. But most of the time I found myself dreaming about the start of the new season and wishing I could just have a quick cast on the lake…

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