Friday, 30 March 2012

Same Fish?

It's 29th March and I'm guiding for a Canadian client on the Wharfe at Bolton Abbey. We're in the middle of some very unseasonably warm weather (recods have been broken in some parts of the country) and the rivers are very low. The Wharfe isn't so badly affected because of the release water from Grimwith Reservoir. The weather's been playing havoc with hatches, many flies hatching much earlier in the year than normal, e.g. the Large Brook Dun, normally seen in May; and Large Dark Olives hatching early morning rather than early afternoon.

Did the fish move & resume feeding?
Did the fish move & resume feeding?
It was a hard day's fishing, we had to work for every fish, employ a variety of methods and keep mobile. We'd caught two on Czech Nymphs and another on a Klinkhamer Special. We moved to a flat glide near a pool tail, a place where there are often 3-4 small, canny, wild fish rising. On inspection we saw one fish rising in the foam lane quite regularly. We waded carefully into position, almost opposite, but slightly downstream of the fish and cast a CDC Upwing towards it. The client's casts were good, though the fly did drag slightly during the drift (important - read on). The fish just stopped rising for no apparent reason, so we waited without casting for about one minute. Then there was another rise downstream, about 8 yards below the first rise, in the same foam lane. There was no sign of the first fish so we moved to opposite the second rise. It had now risen about three times and on the last occasion it actually took a natural by swimming downstream after it; not rushed and splashy, just by turning, swimming casually towards it and swallowing it. Its tail and dorsal fin broke the surface and it looked like the usual size from this spot, possible slightly bigger.

A 1.75lb trout on a CDC Upwing
A 1.75lb trout on a CDC Upwing
So the client cast towards the rise. As the fly neared where we expected the fish to be the fly started to drag downstream smoothly over the surface. We both gave a sigh of frustration, thinking we'd blown our chances, but then the fish did exactly what it had done on the last rise. It visibly turned, followed and calmly took the fly. The client lifted, hooked, played and landed a cracking 1¾lb wild brown trout - a good fish for the Wharfe and certainly the lie we were fishing.

So was it the same fish? Was it slightly spooked and just moved downstream to continue feeding? If it was drag that unnerved it first time why take a dragging fly a few minutes later? If it was spooked from the casting why would it move and resume feeding not far from the original lie?

We'll never know, but my guess is same fish!