Decisions, Decisions

I haven’t been out much of late, last week was away on a wee holiday with the Mrs and since I returned I have been a bit sore with the arthritis and finding it hard to motivate myself to move much, but move you must!

Despite the soreness, I have been dying to get back on to the river though it is clearly painfully low with these dry though not especially warm conditions. So away down the Carron last night for a wee look. The plan was to find a few wee deeper runs and fish maybe wee spiders and where possible a wee beaded nymph and cover all the depths at fairly close range. As soon as I arrived at the river my plan was immediately blown out the water when two decent fish rose in relatively shallow slow water right in front of me. I never saw the fish themselves but the rise forms were enough to suggest these weren’t just tiddlers. The decision was made- try a dry fly. There were lots of flies on the water from midges swirling above the surface to bigger upwings hovering in the cover of overhanging branches. What the fish had just taken I had no idea, so a general pattern would need to go on first to test the water so to speak. I set up just one rod, my #4, I really couldn’t be bothered rigging up two, maybe one for dries and one for bugs so stuck with the 4 weight and put a small F Fly on the tippet from my furled leader. I stayed right back from the river as far as I could and got to the very thin water after the glide to wade in. Covering this area from the bank was impossible otherwise you wouldn’t enter the water at all.

Low river

Areas that are usually full width are much narrower just now.

This is where I suddenly realised how difficult things might be. The water was moving fairly briskly past me, and was really little more than wading boot deep but even moving slowly and cautiously each step sent a wake upstream over the slower water and that wasn’t good. I did eventually get across and with plenty casting room behind me now in the middle of the river I was able to slowly, ever so slowly move upstream. Nothing rose to my fly though and though I did for a while think maybe I had spooked the fish with my wading if I paused for long enough fish would rise here and there, though rarely in easy reach, which meant moving and thus made for more waves regardless how slow I moved. I covered all the spots and tried about three or four dries with no luck and decided maybe I had made a bad decision with the dries, so for the next slightly deeper section would try a couple of very small spiders the point one being on a fairly heavy hook so would get beneath the surface. Nothing here either, even doing my best to keep the line off the water. Most fish seemed to be showing upstream now. Time for a move but this water was pretty shallow and with spiders still not working I made the decision to switch back to the dry again. Usually, I have a bit luck here with these patterns I was using, but tonight, but for one tentative rise to it, nothing. In fact, I had by now noticed the temperature had dropped and in fact, there was hardly anything showing on the water all of a sudden by way of fly life. Once past the slow water, there was a faster deeper channel. I sat on the bank and made a decision to remove the furled leader, get a small beaded nymph on point and a spider on the dropper and fished initially from the bank before progressing back into the water. Suddenly the surface was covered in clouds of midges and lots of pale green flies were coming off, fish were rising again in the fast deeper water and I wondered if I was destined to be on the wrong side of the tracks once again.

I persevered with the bugs then decided off with the heavy nymph replaced by a spider and replaced the top fly with a wee size 18 Para-Adams. A fly I am led to believe is a killer on the Carron though, to be frank, I have caught precious little on it over the last few seasons. I was still fishing a short line and fish were literally rising at my rod tip. But they were not having the Adams. Suddenly it dipped and I was in, but it was the spider, a wee Waterhen Bloa pattern and a pretty small wild trout came to hand. Well, not a blank then!

I really didn’t need to move to cover fish here they were rising very close to me but were a devil to fool. I suspect they were totally keyed in on the pale olives coming off as they were pretty occasional and it seemed to be when I saw a few of them that a fish would rise. I didn’t have much that matched them for colour and, to be honest, I think they were taking them ever so slightly subsurface. But a decent fish rose and I was able to cover it, probably about three times when the top fly again vanished and this time I felt some decent weight through the rod. Not huge but a decent half to three-quarter pound wild fish. As it was getting dark and colder I never bothered netting it, I just let it off the hook as I caught the leader and it flicked off back to the deeps. I really expected to get a few more but nothing took though I felt I fished a bit more confidently and re-enthused after those two. But it wasn’t to be and I could barely see my way out the river by the time I reached the top of the run. As I came off I wondered had I made the right decision to start with the dry….