A good friend has a stretch of water that he has asked if I would like to fish with him. He has very kindly asked me for about 3 years and with the workload it has been a little tricky. I got close last year but this year when he asked I had one clear day and jumbled tuition around so that I could spend two days.
I have promised to not give any details away and I will remain good to my word, all I will say is that I was not fly fishing in Devon!
I got there late on Wednesday night as I had been guiding Paul on the river and talked with my host for a bit and then went to bed. I don’t know if you are the same but the prospect of fishing a new water leaves me little time to sleep and I was awake at 5.30am and ready to go. I poked my head out of the window and saw that it was raining. Not heavy but it looked pretty set and looked like it was going to be a permanent fixture for the day. Needless to say my host wasn’t up and had been there for almost a week and had settled in to that nice relaxed camp routine and the last thing he’d want is an excited newcomer dragging him out to go fishing!
I decided to get my gear ready and had a brand new Scott S4 to try. It is an 8 1/2 ft 4wt and putting my obvious bias to Scott aside I have to say that I have a new best buddy. The rod has even knocked my beloved G2‘s into second place…it is a really, really nice fishing rod.
After some toast and coffee we headed down to the bottom of the river. My host graciously had left this section so that I was hitting it fresh. After a quick limber up I made the first few casts. As there were some slightly deeper pockets I wanted to cover both bases and so had a scruffy klink with a flashback pheasant tail nymph tied to the bend of the hook NZ style. We quickly saw a rise to my right and my first cast was a little short. I had feared that I had spooked the fish but cast again. This time I was on the money and a fish rose to my dry. I could feel this was a good fish and seeing it run upstream and against the current told me this was the case. I eventually got it under control and my host netted a fish. This was a monster. My new rod comes with markers on it for 12inches and 20 inches.I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the 20 inch marker until then. The fish was just a couple of millimeters below it…I couldn’t believe it!
My host had to pop into town so left me alone to fish. I worked up the next pool and saw a fish move. I covered him a couple of times but nothing. Third cast and the dry dipped. I struck and couldn’t believe it as it felt as though it was another hefty fish. I netted the brown trout and remember saying out loud “This is unbelievable” This time it was an 18 incher!
I had to sit down for a bit and reflect, I had beaten my best ever UK wild trout and got close to it with my next fish.
The river also has some grayling too and I picked up a nine incher. I carried on and the rain had got a little heavier. As a whole we had been working the tails of pools and slower, slacker areas. I worked my way up a pool and the head reminded me of an area I have had a lot of success with when guiding on the Taw. I threw a couple of casts in and nothing. I thought I’d make one more and I was glad I did. The dry dipped again and another fish was on. In the words of John Wilson it was a clonker. I caught sight of the fish and knew it was another biggie. My host was watching and came up the pool and netted the fish. I measured it and it was even bigger than my first at 20 1/2 inches!
After releasing the fish and high fiving my host he headed down to the pool he was fishing, I threw in the hole again but thought that would be it. First cast the dry dipped again and I was in again and it was another nice fish! My host couldn’t believe it and neither could I. This one was 14 inches but again screamed right upstream when hooked. It really reminded me of both New Zealand fishing and New Zealand Fish. I was also really lucky to get a 16 incher and the amazing thing is that these are all wild fish, nothing stocked and we didn’t luck them when salmon fish, we were trout fishing.
I only fished for a few hours the second day but I netted a 14 inch grayling for my host and I hooked a couple of small ones just to prove they were there. It was just one of those days when the fishing gods smiled on me and one I won’t forget in a hurry but it was great fishing with good friends in a stunning setting.
I have promised not to mention where I was and I will remain good to my word, I’ll just call it mystery river X for now.