I first spot him from high up on the bank: the telltale ‘Glop’ and the widening rings betraying his position, and now I approach him slowly and quietly. Feeding trout always face upstream, allowing them to expend minimum effort in catching their food as it floats down to them and so I wade cautiously upstream towards his Lie. The river bed is stony and I’m careful where I place my feet so as to make as little noise as possible. A Dipper zips past and sits on a nearby rock, his brilliant white chest bobbing up and down, and my fish rises again, further giving away his position. I select my fly, tie him on and pull out a length of line, and now I wait.
The river is at its most exciting and vibrant at this time of year: insects abound and the birds and the fish make the most of that bounty. Wagtails indulge in acrobatic displays plucking midges and mayflies out of mid air to feed their young and occasionally a thrilling glimpse of the Kingfisher – a flash of dazzling refraction to rival anything in nature.
Another rise, slightly further from the bank than before, and I put a couple of practice casts out, all the while lengthening my line. Finally I allow my fly to alight on the water a metre or so in front of the last rise and it floats down to where I hope my fish is holding water - nothing. A couple more casts and he rises again; further to the right this time. My fly has barely touched the water and bang! He’s on. I tighten into him and he sets off upstream heading for the cover of overhanging trees. My rod arcs and I turn him back into mid-stream, all the while hoping not to lose him. The line goes slack. Damn! Has he gone? I take in quickly and realise he’s still there; now he’s off downstream like a rocket towards the fast, shallow water and I tighten into him again, slowing his progress. It takes a good 5 or 6 minutes to get him over my landing net but eventually he’s in – a beautiful wild Brownie and at home I cook him in butter, lemon juice and lemon thyme…….and make a complete pigs ear of it.