April shennanigans

April has been a very mixed month of a few glorious highs sprinkled sparsely amongst a shower of blanks. I’ve been too busy to make posts for each of my outings, so I’m going to blurt it all out here in a wonna or a twoer.

moon

Back on the 7th I went down to a nice bit of water known to produce the odd monster. I was hoping for (April) March Browns. As I crawled up to the water I immediately spotted a couple of wonderful swirls. Adjusting my gaze above the water’s surface I quickly made out ranks of tell-tale zeppelins fluttering upstream.

The slightest upstream wind warmed my neck, and that feeling of infinite possibility crept out from its winter hibernation. The sight of rising fish in spring always convinces me that having a six month closed season is worth it, if only for the heightened sense of joy come April. Senses dulled by months of time away from the water find themselves jolted back to life. Memories and feelings thought passed forever return with renewed vigour. What a great time of year.

shuck

I stealthily stumbled down to the water’s edge and tried to take in the sight of multiple rising fish before me. Which to choose?

shad

I decided that the most steadily rising fish, twenty yards upstream, looked the most temptable. I began a slow waddle through the thigh-deep water, suddenly more afraid than ever of spooking my newly-reacquainted adversaries.

flower

I paused and prepared to cast by letting the current pull out a long loop of line downstream. As I looked around to check the line for tangles a fish swirled aggressively in the seam just off to my left, barely five yards downstream and across from where I stood.

shads

Gift horses in the mouth and all that, I decided to have a speculative chuck. Two drifts produced nothing more than a nice V-wake as my DHE dragged downstream. I tried a third cast, incorporating a ludicrously over-exagerated upwards motion to try and produce a parachute cast. The fly and cast landed nicely and started to slip downstream. As the cast neared the point of no-drag-free-drift return the fish came up and engulfed the fly. By some twist of luck or ironed-in instinct I struck nicely and the fish was on.

st1

As fly-angling readers will know it can take a trip or two to really get back into things after a winter away from all things fishy-tailed. This is particularly true for playing hooked fish, which can be an art-form in itself. The recently-attached fish paid no ounce of thought for this as it screeched off across the river at full pelt. There was little need to put the coils of loose line back on the reel as within moments they were distinctly straightened and heading for the far line of trees. I tightened up the reel and tried to lever the fish back in my direction. This succeeded in transmitting a message to the fish that the only route of escape was upwards, which was exactly where it headed, twisting and turning in the sunshine.

st3

Some moments passed, and as I started to get control of things I got a good look at the cause of all the trouble. Hmm…distinctly silver flashes, but was it just the light? I finally slipped the net underneath the water and drew the fish over the rim. Glory hallelujah, it was silvery all right. Long, slightly lean, full-spotted and shimmering with blue-silver energy, it was unmistakably a sea trout. I popped off the handle of my weigh-net and the scales drew down to just a smidgen over 4lb. Regular readers may know that I’ve been on the hunt for a sea trout for some time, and have failed quite miserably to ever catch one using conventional wisdom. Well, there on that beautiful spring morning, March Browns a-buzzing, I caught my first sea trout, with dry fly and floating line. Not the worst start to a season I’ve ever had.

tail

I had a good look at the fish as I cradled it in the current. Despite its silvery sheen and keen battle-spirit, I guessed that it was a kelt. Its lower tail was quite badly torn up, which I thought may have been due to spawning frolics. But who knows? Maybe it had just had a run-in with a seal on its way up the estuary. Whatever the case, its short visit to have a chat with me opened a little jar of happiness by that quiet riverbank.

3 comments

  1. alan atkins’s avatar

    Congratulations Mike, quite an achievement !! It ‘s definately a sea trout but hard to tell if its a kelt or not wihtout examining for gill maggots and having the fish’s dimensions inrelation to its weight. The ragged tial fin could be a give away, but as you said the fish could have had an encounter with a seal on its way to the river. It also depends on where you caught it, as some rivers have early running sea trout, however, there will stillbe kelts about and sea trout kelts will mend even better than salmon and actually start feeding agin before making a break for the salt again. I now that sea trout can be targetted with the dry flee on the Annan and the Nith but on most other rivers if you catch one on the dry then it will be by accident, but what a wonderful suprise. That’s a good sea trout in any one’s books and i’m sure it gave you some fight. Next misison to get one at night?!

  2. mike’s avatar

    Hi Alan, thanks very much for the kind words and for posting some interesting thoughts. Although I didn’t make specific mention of it in the post, I did see this fish rise multiple times to March Browns. If you think that’s interesting, just wait for my next post…! 😉

  3. alan atkins’s avatar

    Mike, i’ve had a sneek preview via Alistair, but will be keen ot hear it from the horse’s mouth as it were. The sea trout will be in the river i fish over the next couple of weeks. The council ( in their wisdom!) have taken the governments’ s advice to the letter and haave imposed a ban on the killing of all fish until the end of June, so you can come and fish c and r and have the river to yourself probably or wait until the end of June and have the right to take a fish. I’ll probably go up for a couple of exploratory sessions at the bebinning of June, you are more than welcome to join me.

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