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Archive for April, 2013

For my birthday I fished a renowned early season sea trout hotspot, the Totnes Weir Pool. I had a day ticket and a night’s accommodation at the Sea Trout Inn, Staverton.

On the road across Dartmoor we passed an old yellow minibus parked in a lay-by. The black calligraphic letters on the side spelled out the name of my old school. Fifteen years ago, on the same trip, I had begun the love affair with Dartmoor that saw me pack up a perfectly sensible life in London and come West. As a sign of what might be in store that night, good or bad, it felt like powerful medicine.

What could go wrong? Well, pretty much everything as it turns out. Rain had the river out of sorts, I fished it anyway but no fish were moving and I had the place to myself. I like having places to myself, but this is a spot were queues aren’t unheard of when the going’s good.

In the afternoon, while I waited for night and the tide to fall, I went for a walk to relieve some of the nervous tension. The lane I chose took me past a churchyard full of daffodils and down to an old stone bridge over a stream next to a railway line. The wind would have tugged gently at the pages of my book, if I’d been carrying one. A whistle made me look up to see a steam train chug around the bend in the track along the tree line of a small wood. Smoke billowed, the whistle sounded again, and I decided that I must have fallen through a wormhole.

From a fishing point of view, Dartmoor is that little bit harder than the lowland rivers, most of it fits into two categories. There’s the classic ‘pocket water’ of pools separated by rapids, and smoother runs over gravel with trailing weed growth. The water, usually, is crystal clear and that, together with the high, open banks, makes staying hidden difficult. Regardless, the scenery is worth it. The sweeping landscape is impossible to truly capture in a photograph. There’s always the chance of seeing a Kingfisher or Dipper at work, and I’ve flushed the odd pair of Snipe from the marshier sections. In Spring, the cuckoo can be heard and in Summer flocks of Swallows patrol the sky above the grasses, on the banks you might see Otter tracks. And then there’s the simple pleasure of eating a sausage roll next to a stream under a clear sky in the company of Chaffinches.

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