As has been said by many fly fishing bloggers over the last week or two, the opening day couldn't come round soon enough - and it seems like an age since breaking the rod down at the end of last season. I'd hoped to get out yesterday, the official start to the season up here, but with a list of chores as long as your arm I decided to accept defeat and head out today instead.
Before I filled my flask, wrapped ham sarnies up in too much cellophane (resulting in them being near impossible to open) and head off to the wilds, I spent a little time in the morning removing unnecessary 'stuff' from my fishing arsenal.
I thought it might be quite nice to take a photo of the gear I carry around, I can do the same at the end of the season and see what made it through and what didn't. Something that has reduced significantly over the last season is my use of tapered leaders. Since my day out with Jon Barnes (not him, him) last year I've used the Furled Leaders he supplies. The presentation is far superior to the leaders I had used - especially for dries. It's resulted in me only carrying a single packed of Orvis tapered leaders, and a selection of tippet material.
I'm also hoping to get away without the backpack/vest thingy a little more this year too. After buying the Lanyard towards the end of last season I'm going to use that more and see if I can't leave even more unnecessary clutter at home.
I really enjoy the way fly fishing allows me to travel light - I used to be a keen course fisherman, and loved it too. But the thought of carrying all that gear along a river bank to sit in one place for 5 hours doesn't do a thing for me now.
My gear for this season
I also did a little spring cleaning on my second fly box. By spring cleaning I mean turfed everything out. It had consisted of mainly stillwater flies, unweighted nymphs, buzzers and a small selection of horrid lures. Finally deciding they aren't any use to me (though I've traipsed all over the Derwent with them for the last 3 seasons, without ever opening the box) I replaced them with the new flies I've tied over the last few days.
A fresh start
This fly box is work in progress, I'm going to see how the selection I have work out and restock as I go along - which is another way of saying I have too many episodes of 'Game of Thrones' to watch before I can get round to tying any more flies.
Heading out to the water
I set off just after 12 noon, still unsure exactly which section of the Derwent I was going to start my 2014 season at. After toying with Shotley Bridge, then Allensford but deciding both would be too busy with dog walkers and the like I went for the Sneep. It's a great section of the river, I've had some stellar sessions there and it certainly doesn't get busy.
View from the bridge, looking downstream
From atop the concrete bridge the river looked magnificent. A little on the low side, but infinitely better than it looked the last time I went past - 15 foot above level and the colour of a melted Dairy Milk. Despite the slightly warmer weathers nod towards spring, the trees were still devoid of any leaves. Bank side vegetation was also well down making the stroll downstream far less challenging than it'll be later in the year.
As there wasn't a fish in sight, something that carried on throughout my outing, I went for a copper headed hairs ear. Rather than keep you in suspense for the duration of this post, wondering did he or didn't he catch on his first outing of the season, I tell you now - nope, not a fish. Not even a gentle knock missed through lack of fishing practice over the closed season. But it didn't matter, as usual the joy of being out on the river in the fresh air was enough of a reward (however, next time...). I tried several different weighted nymphs - even giving my newly tied foam post, quill bodied parachute fly a try - only to see how well it floated of course.
At several points during the day I came across some curiously dangerous fence posts, well not the posts exactly more the wire strung up from them. For a reason I can't quite fathom, the farmer has decided to run a wire across the natural path way between two posts . After having a near miss with one, I tripped over the next with the same amount of grace the Hairy Biker showed on Strictly this year. I made a mental note to avoid these later in the year when the grass and weeds would've grown up to hide them from view.
It isn't quite spring yet
As I walked further along the river, I came across a patch of newly flowering daffodils. Those, along with having the sun come out and warm my back caused me to think maybe spring is making it's first appearance of the year.
Hooray, spring is here!
However, mother nature obviously heard my ridiculous assumption and decided to let me know it wasn't quite time to break out the BBQ yet - 30 minutes after photographing the pretty flowers we had a snow shower!
That there Ladies & Gentlemen, is snow!
Idilic, isn't it?
As I made my way back to the car, the first blank of the season successfully under my belt, I noted a number of observations gained from the day
- Going to the Sneep this early in the season is probably not idea for fish catching - but perfect for reacquainting myself with the river after being away so long.
- I'm shit at wading. How I didn't fall in today I have no idea. At one point I did make use of a small tree branch to steady myself. I will be investing in a staff, no matter how much of an old duffer it makes me look. My balance was never good, but after todays outing it's clearly getting worse.
- After months of strolling around with no rod, I need to remember when I'm fishing I have a 9' fragile thin stick in my hand. Several times as I waked to and from the car, and along the river, I forgot to be careful of the rod tip - getting it wedged into tree branches and nearly breaking it off.
- I've really missed getting out on the river - I'm looking forward to my next outing already