I had been keeping a watchful eye on the weather forecast last week and Saturday was forecast to be a stinker, with heavy rain and possibly high winds. A wet weekend was not what we were wanting as we had the “Upstream Nymph” Grayling event for Strathcarron on the Sunday, at Thornhill on the Nith , and to try take advantage of being able to be in the area and have less of an early start on the Sunday morning, John had booked his “free Salmon Fishing ” prize and overnight stop at the Friars Carse on the Nith for Saturday.

The weather rolled in as bad as predicted and though I had already packed a couple of nymphing rods and my 7/8 weight trout rod ( for Salmon fishing) the night before, when I saw how wet it was on Saturday morning, I messaged John and suggested he throw a trout rod and some gear suitable for the Rainbow Trout in the car, in case Sunday was washed out on the river, as I thought it might be. I ended up taking everything back out the car, throwing in my boat box and added to the pile of rods, my 6 and 5 weight Daiwa New Era rods and a couple of reels in case I needed one and John had not got the message in time and ended up without that as an option on the Sunday. 

A Rising River

It was torrential the whole way down the M74 and on to Dumfries and getting geared up behind the car in the car park of the hotel, I think I was already well on the way to being soaked through before I even had a rod set up.

In the heavy rain on the Nith
Just before I started you can see John upstream behind me- drookit.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t cold and I soon joined John in the river, upstream of the House Pool. While the rain was relentless, at this point wading was easy, and you could get about halfway out in the river and fish the main glide down the far side. John had borrowed a Double Handed Rod and was reaching right across fairly well ( though he was complaining that it was under-lined, I think it was a 9 weight rod with a 7 weight line). For my part I was able to fish about 3/4 across the far channel, but I cannot tell a lie, casting the heavy Red Francis Tube Fly was hard work. 

I was almost relieved when I managed to snag the tube up a tree and could not retreive it,  having to break the 12lb nylon to get free and tie on a more conventional up-eyed, double hooked size 10 Red Francis. 

Horror hare on a biscuit box
After seeing this creepy hare I might never sleep again.

By the time I had fished this run I was soaking, though underneath my waders and outer shell wading jacket I thought I was reasonably dry. We stopped to make a cup of tea and I don’t think either of us were particularly enjoying our pursuit of Silver Tourists, and I took little convincing from John to put the big rod away and get the Grayling gear out. When we returned to the river after Tea and Biscuits ( by the way- is that hare on the biscuit box creepy or what?), the shallowish water near the bank was no longer that shallow. It was up past your knees and the pace had picked up markedly. Less than quarter the way out in the river it was very hard to stay on a spot as your feet skated over the stoney bottom like marbles. One step too far and you are away.

Leevaes snagging our hooks
Three leaves a cast

Adding to the problems was the amount of leaves coming down the river, it was sometimes three leaves per cast ( It was bad enough getting leaves on the single salmon fly, with three bugs it was a total chore.)

On the plus side, it felt like you were hooking a grayling each cast, so while you never had the reward, you had the simulated effect! John had managed to fish out the run as he was in well ahead of me, by the time I had fished down about a quarter of the way I was really starting to get concerned about the rate the river was rising and whether I would be able to fish to the exit point and get out OK. Caution overcame valour, and I opted to simply wind in, and wade down with the current and get out. I think this proved presciaent as the exit steps were hard to reach as therwas a deep scout just in front of them. I reckon had I got there 20 minutes later, I would have had serious problems getting out the water.

river level overnight
River levels overnight

I caught up on John down by “The Island”. The Island was gone. It was a relatively shallow, fast-flowing river, then a submerged gravel bar and then very deep water beyond. I remember this area from last winter’s Grayling competition and the wade to the island was barely over your ankles. John said he felt he was about to be washed away a mere metre out from the side. Conditions were becoming unfishable. To add to the misery I was feeling wet under my outer layers now too. Not sure what had happened as I have never got wet through my Simms G4 jacket and I had literally just reproofed it during the week. I think I had maybe not zipped it up properly early on and it had got my under jacket wet, and it has zero waterproofing, in fact it wicks water, and I think it had wicked it all the way down my right sleeve. But I still wasn’t cold and was warm as toast in my waders so could have stayed out in the miserable conditions, but looking at the ever-rising river there was no point.

Surely the Sunday river outing would be off…. by 5pm the decision was taken, it would be unfishable. Just as well we had brought the fishery gear, as it would be Stockie Bashing for Sunday.

We had a pleasant evening at the Friars Carse with dinner and a couple of beers in the bar, then watched a crap film on Netflix before turning in, and not quite as early a start as initially planned on Sunday morning. It had proven to be the right choice in cancelling. Though the Nith can rise and fall very quickly it was higher again in the morning, I reckon 2-3feet higher than we left it the evening before.

The Battle of Jericho

John knew a place locally we could go for a bit Rainbow Trout fishing and so we took a short drive to Jericho Loch which is at Locharbriggs on the edge of Dumfries.

Jericho loch fishing
John fishing over some flat looking water- think he lost his cast here!

The chap who sold us the tickets was saying the fish had been wanting very very slow retrieves and it sounded like black and green tadpole style lures were likely to be most productive. After buying our tickets for 4 hours catch and release we headed up the near bank and started fishing at the first open bank area about halfway up. We were not sure how deep the water was here, or anywhere else, for that matter, but I had a full intermediate on and wasn’t touching bottom. John had a floater on and after we both had nothing for ten minutes, he tried a wotsit under an indicator fly and did manage a knock. However, that really was the peak of the excitement for most of the morning and into the early afternoon. We fished right round the loch and frankly struggled.

Like John said, we were like coiled springs fully expecting that pull to come at any moment but there was nothing. In shallower water I had changed up to a midge tip to keep off the bottom but I must have tried over a dozen patterns to no effect. We did see signs of a few fish come into the shallows presumably hitting fry but they weren’t looking at the flies we put in the area.

The hot fly
An intermediate line, the “killer fly” and the deep water beyond. Even with all this, I still failed miserably.

We stopped, initially to have a break but I was speaking to another angler ( the only other one we had seen all day), who had fished past us on the way down the far bank, and had at just opposite fishing “howf” managed to locate not one but two fish in a deep hole using a fly that was in essence a damsel with a body made of three rainbow coloured beads. Like us, up to that point he had not had any sport at all. I shouted the anglers success to John and it was like the Road Runner…. he vanished in a cloud of dust back round the far bank to get them pesky fish. I decided to stop and chat with the lads in the cabin ( its a converted shipping container I think) and the lad who had the two fish handed me his successful fly and told me where to try.

Rainbow coming in
John’s solo fish, the only one either of us had all day

As I made my way back John shouted over, finally he was in to a fish. Would it be a one of or were they all sitting about there? Let’s find out…..

Well, it appeared the one John got was maybe the one stupid fish in the area as neither of us managed anything more. I did think at one stage I had a slight pull but would not like to swear an oath on it, it might have just been weed or leaves. By about 3pm, frankly, I was knackered. The previous days casting of a heavier rod had left me a bit sore for most of the Sunday and I had had enough, I was fishless, slightly damp, (it had rained on and off some of the afternoon too), and was kind of glad to be heading homeward.

It strikes me that anytime I get an opportunity of fishing as a “prize” I shouldn’t bother as the weather always seems to scupper the plans!