At last some rain. At last some fresh water in the streams and rivers of the Westcountry. At last some reports of salmon and seatrout pushing upstream. And where was I for this first bit of freshwater this season? After all of my waiting, cloud watching and rain dancing? The Mediterranean...
The messages from my friends and family as we basked in 30 degree heat under cloudless skies were all about how lucky we were to get away from the gales and rain. Lucky? I wasn't so sure. Even before we were through customs I was on the phone, what are the river levels? What is the weather forecast? The very next morning sees me on a favourite river to find the spate fining down nicely. The river feels so different from when I fished it last just 10 days ago. It is really hard to describe, it just feels more alive. There is more noise, more motion and less silt and algae.
It isn't just the seatrout and salmon that seem to rejoice in these conditions, suddenly the resident trout seem to be on the fin. Lots of fish that we catch on these streams are small - somewhere in the region of 4-6ins with the occasional larger ones. I have a theory that on these streams the larger fish get large from feeding on bigger food items and from avoiding the predators. If you look into the catch records on rainfed streams and rivers I reckon you will see that a considerable number of larger than average brown trout are caught accidentally - perhaps when fishing larger flies during a spate for sea trout and salmon or when fishing at night for seatrout with big lures. Of course there are exceptions but I reckon these fish are most active after dark and in times of spate when the risk of predation is less.
That is how I saw it today with a number of fish above what I would consider to be the average size taken on dries and nymphs. It is good to be home again, now lets have some more rain.
Getting these fish to the camera singlehanded can prove difficult. Notice the blooded ring finger, this fish escaped my hand at the first attempt unfortunately the trailing nymph was buried up to the bend in my finger. Times like this I am glad I fish barbless.