All in all fly fishing for trout is not really an earth shattering pastime.
Apart from the various cross-country hikes required to gain access
to some of the more remote mountain streams it's a fairly sedate
affair. Not too much to disturb the tranquillity of the scene.
The occasional - very infrequent - trauma of a four pound trout
on a one pound tip, but not much else. A shoe full of water;
a tangled leader; a hook in the finger; a dropped box of
flies - open, of course; the wind knot discovered as you see
the 'big one'. Just the normal, everyday events. Except . . . Well . . .
It shouldn't happen, but it can happen; well it does happen.
In fact it did happen. To me.
There were the usual water fowl about; Coots upstream arguing
amongst themselves; moving on to their next dispute before settling
the one they had just started. Do they ever stop quarrelling?
The odd Mallard and Tufted duck skulking in and out of the waterside
vegetation, some with young in tow. A pair of Grey Wagtails hunting
flies for their young and a vivid flash of bright blue as a Kingfisher
rushed past. But, although the day was a lovely summer day, there
was no definite hatch occurring and the Mayfly were very few and far
between. In spite of this the trout were on the move all the time,
searching for the larger flies.
The day did however, provide me with an experience which I don't
particularly wish to repeat, although it was exciting at the time.
I was fishing up-stream of the Copper beech tree on the island,
almost opposite the keeper's cottage.
I had spotted, close in to the bank up-stream of the point, what
looked to be a fair size trout lying at the tail end of a clump of
ranunculus weed. I cast several different patterns of fly to it
with little reaction and had put on my own size 12 'Perseverance'
pattern. (A small Grizzle hackle at the eye, a gold body, a large
Badger hackle at the bend. It sits up high on the water) When put
to it the fish moved on two casts to inspect this offering; on the
second opportunity, turning and following 4 or 5 feet down-stream
before returning to its station behind the weed.
I thought that if I cast slightly further up-stream than is usual
it might give this diffident character a little more time in which
to ponder upon the mouth watering morsel that I was presenting to
him. Nothing ventured . . .
The fly landed on the water some 12 feet up-stream of where it was lying.
As soon as it touched the water there was a great splashing take of
enormous proportions and I was into - a duck!
An unseen Mallard had shot out of the reeds and taken my fly from
The initial reaction is of sickening dismay. All sorts of horrible
thoughts crowd the mind, not least where the fly might be. Then,
the world went mad.
Now, this was a wild duck, and I do mean wild - really wild. Not
just upset. And when a wild duck decides to put the brakes on - leaning
back with those two webbed feet straight out in front and wings
flapping - it's like having a very large trout indeed on your line.
It soon became apparent that wherever the fly was lodged it wasn't
having too much effect upon this birds desire to fowl (sic) up my day.
Now, landing a wild duck which luckily had little predilection for
flight is, I would subscribe, a dying art. It is not something which
features with any great prominence in the modern angling journals.
The stalwarts of yesteryear? Yes, they would doubtless have taken
it all in their stride, but for the present day tyro certain questions
needed very quick answers. How do you play a duck? Do you keep the rod
tip up? What do you do if it takes to flight, play it like a kite?
There are no dimly remembered library references to call upon here.
No way. You are on your own.
One thing that the duck catcher has to contend with which the trout
catcher does not, is the vociferous nature of his catch. Not only
is it distracting, not to say disquieting, it appears designed to
attract every other duck within a two mile radius to come and join
in the festivities.
It eventually took me about five minutes to bring this concatenation
of bad tempered beak and feathers to the bank where, with help from a
friend who had appeared, puzzled by all the noise, it was netted.
We could see now that the fly, thankfully, was caught in the hard
tip of the beak. A deft twist with the surgeons artery forceps which
I always carry with me (well, you never know) soon had it released
and the duck sent on its way, muttering darkly but none the worse
for wear just as the keeper appeared mentioning something about
'green peas and orange sauce'.
The trout for which I had gone through these nerve wracking moments
had moved not one inch from it's position whilst all was happening
about it. I put the fly over it again. ~ Mike Pratt