Monday, 7 May 2012
This was the second or third thought to enter my mind within about half a millisecond as I drifted quickly downstream.
The day had started so well, the rain had finally eased, the river had shrunk back within the confines of its banks and I was out hoping for an early season sea trout. With still a great deal of water in the river I was fishing something fairly sizeable, a creation of arctic fox and aluminium tube, swimming it through all of the likely looking lies. I managed to land the tube into the branches of an overhanging blackthorn tree. Hooking trees is part and parcel of fishing in these parts, if you don't hook the odd one or two you are not fishing in the right places, I like to think I am fairly adept at releasing them. On this occasion the subtle approach to fly release failed, unfortunately the slightly more physical approach also failed with the leader parting near the fly line.
I don't like leaving fishing tackle on the riverbank, it annoys me, the tube had separated from the hook and was fluttering on the breeze halfway down the trailing leader, taunting me. Having fished the lie through already I elected to wade across and fetch it, I knew this lie well, I had waded here before, alas perhaps not with quite so much water in the river. I managed to edge my way across the stream in a diagonal direction and made it to the bank perhaps 5 yards or so downstream of the offending bush. From the safety of the bank I could see the fly but not reach it, blackthorn threatening to shred me or my waders to pieces should I decide to clamber through the bush. There was nothing else for it, I re-entered the river upstream of the branches and made my way downstream towards my goal.
Perspective is a weird thing, from my fishing position the fly looked no more than a couple of feet above the water line, now that I was below it I realised that perhaps this was going to be a little more testing. I began stretching and pulling at the base of the branches trying to find the branch harbouring my hook. Scratched and skewered by the thorns, at full stretch, with one hand securing myself to the riverbank I just managed to get a fiingertip on to the base of my branch a full 3 feet below the fly. The minuscule vibration from this first contact was sufficient to dislodge the hook that just 10 minutes earlier had withstood all my efforts to shift it. With a plop the hook hit the water right by my feet and I watched as the arctic fox wing sailed merrily down stream.
It was at that point that my 'safety branch' that had held me safe up until this point decided to let go. A backflop - like it's more famous relative the bellyflop, but less graceful - perfectly executed my first thought as my feet bobbed to the surface and I began my rapid journey downstream was 'maybe I can catch up with my fly and leader that drifted this way'. I think the 'why me' thought came shortly after as the river entered my jacket via the neck.
I never did find my fly...