Dark Day on the River of Trees

I have not been “burning” to get out recently I have to say, last week it wasn’t going to happen anyway as I was on call and tied to a pager, and I suppose an unwelcome return of the aches and pains hasn’t provided any enthusiasm to go play near or in the water.  Nevertheless, I decided yesterday I should maybe get an afternoon in on the River Clyde and target the Grayling while the river conditions seem OK.

I have been looking at maps recently and want to try places I have never fished before and made a few enquiries with contacts about areas I was interested in and how to access. A spot a little more of a walk from a more regular haunt was pointed out and I decided to give that a go. It was a grey day when I left the house around lunchtime and as I reached the top of the Clyde Valley the rain started to spit drops on the windscreen but thankfully it never really came to anything.

nearly fell in here

Here be a bottomless drop to the depths of despair… and an early bath

After tackling up I made my way downstream past the areas I know and onwards into unknown territory. I was surprised I never saw another angler, lots of dog walkers but no fishers. It was grey and dark like you expect just before sunset but not cold at all. I found an access to the river down a slightly step bank and it looked fairly shallow. I got into the water and it was little above shin height. I lobbed a few casts out but it was really too close to some overhanging trees and I needed to get out in the water a bit so I gingerly took one then another step out in the relatively slow moving water. I was probably a little upstream of the area originally indicated to me but it let me get an idea of what it was like. The bottom was VERY uneven and I was finding it a bit of a challenge with the sore feet, to be honest. It was then I was so glad I had my wading stick and life -preserver on as my next step nearly had me come a cropper. I  edged forward feeling the depth for the bottom when the wading staff went right down! Unfortunately, I was kind of using it to keep my balance too and suddenly I was falling forward into what felt bottomless. Fortunately,  I had the presence of mind to try get my right knee under me on the bottom and I found myself up to chest height on the left-hand side with my right leg keeping myself balanced on the shallower rocks of the bottom. I pushed to get some momentum towards the bank again but the surprising pressure of the river was pushing me downstream and towards deeper water again. I really thought this time I was taking a swim. I remembered some words Hywel Morgan said to me once ( when I took a tumble when fishing in Wales) when you feel yourself going just keep your legs moving forward and maybe you will get lucky and find your footing. I was able to get a couple of steps in that got me to water when despite the fact I was now on both knees, it wasn’t above chest height, and then got myself back on my feet and to the bank. A lucky escape. I decided to exit and try get in further downstream.

I found another access and tried again. It was still very rocky ( reminiscent of the river above the road bridge at Crossford which is a section I really don’t like for wading). However, I very carefully fished and edged my way out and made it over halfway out before I found it too fast to proceed. I can’t say I felt I was fishing it so well though as the bottom is so uneven with sharp rocks that your bugs were either snagging on the bottom or missing it entirely in the gaps between the rocks. I made a best of it and fished right down as far as I could until the river narrowed into faster rapids. Along the way, the wind started to get up but it was gusty rather than continuous and never really caused me too much of an issue. I also kept picking up bits of what seemed like Spruce tree on my bugs and was continually clearing it off. I did though decide I wasn’t fishing well here spending too much time trying to keep my balance and made my way out the river and with my gear collected from the bank, walked back upstream to water I know.

A dark day on the Clyde

Dark and dingy. The tree here has been here a while as I recall but it made the point

At the first bit I know quite well I edged into the slower deeper water here and right away another bloody chunk of tree caught my flies this time breaking me off. I could actually see the snagged bug and the offending tree but to get them I was going to have to reach into the armpit-deep water and frankly I wasn’t that desperate. I tugged and the tippet snapped losing two bugs. With this sorte ,I fished on but nothing doing so exited again. It was so dark yet by now about half-past three,  I reckoned another half hour of light I could fish in.

Upstream again and managed to lose another bug on a tree as I walked! but got to the river tippet sorted again and I decided that I would just get in and fish as I didn’t think there was enough time to be too particular about exactly where. I have had fish at this spot so thought there had to be a chance of a fish here anyway. I did fish this much better though and covered a lot of water fairly quickly ( still picking up branches of trees- mostly spruces- are people tipping their old Xmas trees in the river?) and I did I think, get a couple of knocks but they were not on when I lifted reacting as quickly as I possibly could. What was odd was the light did linger not really getting noticeably darker until around four thirty so I got a wee bit longer than I anticipated. The nights must be drawing out! So not the most satisfactory way to start the year but it was out and in the fresh air and beats sitting in the house in front of the telly- they tell me 🙂

Hopefully not the benchmark for the year to come!