The river is fast losing any sparkle that remains; the water has dropped markedly and is not far off the level it was at this time last year. Weed growth has steadied up, although the ribbon weed is sticking its nose through the surface of the water. Fishing is hard; rods are now resorting to nymphs to take fish during the day, with some brief sedge fishing in the evening. Many of the Brown Trout have tucked themselves away and not putting in an appearance for most of the day. It is amazing how so many fish can hide away in a small river with gin clear water, the clarity and size of the river draw you into thinking that most fish must be visible, but Brown Trout are particularly adept at tucking themselves away when they need to, which is why many beats started stocking Rainbows at this time of the year, a practice that many now undertake throughout the season. There is one female Brown Trout on the middle stretch this beat of around 8lb that I have only twice this year, and felt once when she crashed into my legs during the weed cut.
The flight pond is alive with Roach and Rudd fry that provide a daily feast for a family of Kingfishers, distracting them from my pond of Brown Trout fry further down the river. They are on and around the pond most of the day, taking advantage of the low clear water, there are a dozen or more Bream of between four and six pound who occasionally get their heads down and colour the water, affording the fry a little protection, but they too have taken to spending much of the day basking near the surface in the warm water.
The winter barley in the hundred acre field that borders one side of this stretch of the valley was harvested recently, and within a few days the stubble played host to around a hundred geese, an obvious distraction for our own harlot of the Goose world whose charges are now almost fully grown, how long before she does a bunk to go and play with the boys in the corn. They must have put some barley out the back of the combine because they have been there a few days now, along with a few ducks that have discovered the free feed.
One of our Friday rods, recently brought along a well-known fisherman in these parts. Advanced in years and as fit as a flea, he would fish some or other part of the river most days of the week. A resident of Stockbridge high street, he used to strike fear into the fishery management students gaining experience on the middle river. He once barked from fifty yards for me to stand stock still as I returned home for lunch with, what was for a puny teenager a heavy strimmer. A fish looked like it may rise and I may affect its decision to take his fly. I stood for many minutes frozen to the spot as he waited intently for the fish to rise before standing me down and moving on to another fish. He is still an accomplished fisherman, and fishes more days than not. I compulsively stand still on hearing his voice. I once walked into a pub in the depths of winter, and was greeted with the bellow “ I Know You!” from across the bar, which froze me to the spot. At another fisherman/journalist’s 70th birthday party on a nearby cricket field, he fixed me from twenty yards with another “You’re so and so from up the river!” which left me standing on the same spot fielding fishing questions for twenty minutes, much to my wife’s chagrin who was heavily pregnant at the time and desperate to get home. An entertaining and knowledgeable fisherman I would imagine he has fished almost all of this river system during his life and maintains the same enthusiasm for the sport as he did when striking fear into the hearts of fishery management students twenty odd years ago.