I went fishing on Dovedale last Saturday. The sun was strong, highlighting the contrasting bright green and steely grey of the peaks. I found the fishing tough. I have grown up fishing luxuriant chalk streams in the warmth of high summer. The narrow rocky stream stuffed with shy, fretful fish is, of course, famous for being Izaak Walton’s local. As I knelt on a waterfall, being carefully coached by my tweed wearing companion, I was distinctly out of my comfort zone. Using thin line and casting nervously and perilously fearful of fatal drag, I hooked into an obliging trout and felt like I had won the lottery. Limestone fishing requires me to practise a more subtle art.
It was a wonderful day. As we retreated to our cars my companion and I chatted about love and life and pies and pasties- the stuff that really matters. Then, as the wind blew and yellowing leaves gently polluted the rivers flow I realised I had reached season’s end. Fishing is over for me, for now.
I am being encouraged to experiment and try my hand at some winter grayling fishing. I’m just not sure if I’m a lady lovin’ kinda gal. So I shall hang my rod up for now and focus on some serious vice time.
It’s been a hell of year. I caught my biggest ever river trout. It was such a gentle, relaxed take on the dry that I assumed it was a tiddler. Then it bore down and I was frightened. I called to my absent parents for help. They ignored my cries. I was alone, with a monster. I had nothing except 2lb line and an 8ft 4wt rod to help me. I coaxed him in and caressed the 4lb beauty back into the depths. The experience left me shaking. I had to have little sit down and a little rest afterwards. I think it aged me a bit, as I discovered a grey hair on my twenty eight year old head the following week.
As for the rest of the season, I have concentrated hard on becoming a better fisherman, practising my casting and trying to focus more on the task at hand. However, I am still liable to get distracted by some ducks or a pretty flower. When I fish I stop often, happy to gaze and absorb my surroundings. My Father says I am the laziest angler he knows. He is totally right of course but I doubt I shall do anything about it. I am inherently indolent.
My greatest discovery, if, dear readers, you can selflessly let me be self indulgent and selfishly reflect on my self and conclude that fly fishing for trout is an essential part of my very self.* I have fished more this season than I have in years. A happy consequence of being unfettered by non interested partner. A season's fishing has left me renewed and refreshed ready for winter.
I was in the depths of a dark, dark place when I began this season. I’d spent the winter feeling like I was little more than a rejected, spat out nymph, refused by a stocked rainbow. (As I write this, I wonder if nymphs have feelings, or indeed a sense of humour?). As the weather brightened and I picked up my rod I remembered how to smile again. With each mastered cast and each tricky fish I caught, I realised that I was more like, well not quite a delicate olive, but a jolly, nice sedge- a nice meal for something wild, dancing on the ripples of a stream.
*Let me explain this ridiculous sentence. I have been reading Will Self novels recently and it is clearly influencing me.