Written by: Alex Dobbs
A setting that should rightfully be the highlight of any angler’s season, yet this is not always the case.
The ending of any trout season can be tinged with sadness for many fisherman, yet it also brings with it an overwhelming feeling of content satisfaction as well as offering an opportunity to reflect on the season that was. The sources of this satisfaction, however, are not as straightforward as many would think and they demonstrate the importance of the little things, very much like successfully honing one’s skills to complete the perfect cast.
Thus, they do not come from what many would consider an angler’s “highlight reel”, such as those pictures of the largest fish caught from the most pristine waters during the most intense insect hatches. No, instead, for this year, the bulk of this fly fisherman’s post-season satisfaction comes from many of our far less heralded rivers and small streams that are not often written about with such frequency or vigour due to the perceived limited level of success which an angler can expect to experience on these waters.
This is not to say this year was not a year of large wild fish, great insect hatches and superb rivers fished, as it certainly was with numerous well-timed visits to our storied Southern chalk streams and Southwestern Welsh rivers among other destinations. To top this all off was a couple of trips to Slovenia successfully targeting some of the rarest, largest and correspondingly spookiest salmonids in Europe.
However, despite many such boastful anecdotes, it is certainly those rivers and brooks less seldom heard about which provide the fondest of memories. Memories such as the improbable catch of a 12” wild brownie, from an easy to leap across stream in the Westcountry, which annihilated a mayfly pattern in less than 6 inches of a fast riffle and then proceeded to disappear into the sunken root system of a nearby tree, yet was still landed. Or even the steadily rising fish in a very slow glide that required a 7x tippet, a size 22 CDC dry fly and a 50’+ cast on a Superfine Carbon 3 weight rod to finally fool, only to reveal it possibly stretched to 8” in length if one was feeling particularly generous.
Not all “Trophies” need two hands as proved by this finicky individual.
Throughout the season fish were landed that could snack on these two, caught from holding positions far more obvious in nature and easier to pry from, whose pictures and tales have undoubtedly been shared to many fellow anglers and family members. However, it is the uniqueness and unexpected nature of such situations as opposed to their admittedly less eye-catching and photographic outcome, that sticks in an angler’s mind.
As eye catching as rivers such as those in Slovenia are, it is the intimate venues of some of the UKs small brooks that provide the most vivid memories.
The fondness of such memories is undoubtedly increased by the venues being those that an angler would expect little from, and therefore receiving anything at all is far more fulfilling than landing a respectable trout from a river where many have done before you. Therefore, if a keen angler, no matter their experience, is creative and determined enough they will be able to experience such memories from unheralded waters that will be able to take them through to the next trout season. Possibly even as effectively as refilling their fly boxes or even landing a grayling or two throughout the chillier months.