My first visit to the River Dove  was with some trepidation .  It was my first visit to any river for the purpose of fly fishing for over 30 years. Over that time 22 years service to Queen and country was served and when I was not away from home I was helping to raise my family with my wonderful wife.  Now the family have grown up and I'm retired from the service I thought it was about time I picked up the rod and reel again. I thought I might share with you through my fishing diary my experiences as I once again dip my toe in to cold unfamiliar waters far from where I learned to fish in my homeland, Scotland.

I don't know what this journey will be like.  It may be short or it may be long.  Who knows I may no longer have the patience that is required.  I need to get back out there on the water with a rod in my hand and try and re-ignite the things that I learned so many years ago and try to apply them to rivers and other waters I've never fished before.

My diary started in November 17 2013 so it may take some time to get up to the present. Until then I hope you enjoy my journey back to the river with each tale I upload.

The First Steps 17 November 2013

There I was on the banks of the beautiful River Dove about to baptise myself in the holy waters fished by the great Charles Cotton whose fishing house by the banks of the river was the inspiration for Izaak Walton's The Complete Angler.  Its a cold November morning on a stretch of the river by Eaton Dovedale.  I stood and stared at the water thinking where do I start.  Over the past few days leading up to this point the plan was perfect.  I knew how to fish, its like riding a bike once you know how you never forget, do you? But there I was in thigh waders on a river that today obviously required chest waders, I knew nothing of the fly patterns or nymphs that might serve me well on this river.  So, I decided to trot the worm, sacrilege!.  Using my fly rod with a center pin reel I went off in pursuit of the lady of the stream the fantastic Grayling, trout are of course out of season. at this time of year.

It was a day of learning I must say, I cant remember how many times my tackle ended up in the trees.  This was just from walking, as I had forgotten that a nine foot extension to your arm needs to be controlled as you walk through the riverside rough.  Eventually I manged to find suitable locations in my inappropriate thigh waders to fish.  This in itself was a small victory, catching fish was another thing altogether.  I met two or three impressive looking fishermen who if by the way they were dressed and kitted out was a measure of there prowess then they were champions compared to me.  They described various successes they'd had that day and how they had managed to come by that success.  I listened intently trying to take it all in, some of which was jargon that I didn't understand but did not I hope give the game away as I stood shaking and nodding my head.

Eventually I did catch a fish and it felt like a good one too if my 30 year memory of this feeling was anything to go by.  I enjoyed the sport while it lasted as that first River Dove fish and I parted company after barely 20 seconds.  It was a good feeling though, it meant I still had what it takes and the feeling reignited all that I was passionate about those 30 years ago which made me rise at daft o'clock in the morning, travel 60 miles to a favorite river, spend the day either too hot, too cold or too wet and for the day live off a flask of mediocre tea and a round of peanut butter sandwiches.  

The day came to a quick end, it was November after all.  I was cold and I'd had better days fishing albeit a good number of years ago but I was warm inside with excitement as I thought about and planned my next trip. I was back on the river and I loved it.

The First Fish 23 November 20

Today was one of those crystal clear bright but cold November mornings and there wasn't a breath of wind.  The river was a bit high still from rain earlier in the week and as it rose over rocks and riffles it sparkled.  Still with only thigh waders today I could tell it was going to be as much a challenge as it was last week.  At least this time I knew the water a bit better and could spend my time fishing more than looking for places to fish.

I still didn't have a clue what patterns worked on this river but that didn't matter today, because like last time I was restricted to almost just bank fishing as I only has thigh waders and there were trees close behind ready to reach out and grab any backcast that pleased them anyway the water was heavy and chocolate brown in colour.  So, I resorted to previous tactics and trotted the worm were I could close to the bank in little holding  streams and riffles were I thought fish may be holding while the river was high.  I hoped with every cast that that I'd break my duck. Then I would think, will it count, I've come here to the hallowed River Dove to pick up were I left off 30 years ago to fly fish and here I am 'chucking' worms at fish.  

Anyway, those doubts were quickly cast aside when my grayling float shot across and under the water.  I was in.  Next thought was don't loose it, what ever you do don't loose it.  It was definitely a grayling, straight down to the bottom banging its head off the floor it seamed and then a surge in to the faster water using all the knowledge of her piscaterian netherworld to outwit me.  I was determined that this lady was not going to elude me like her sister did last week.  A few heart stopping moments later she was in the net.  It seemed to be over in a flash but there she was in all her glory, the bright sunshine bouncing off her scales showing off the beautiful colours as if she were a prism and that red marlin like dorsal fin was just beautiful. I'd done it, I'd landed my first fish in 30 years and she was a good size too.  I continued to fish the rest of the day in high spirits but low in number of fish caught.  Puncturing both waders didn't even matter, infact here was an excuse to get me some chest waders. Today I'd broken my duck and that was all that mattered.  Was it by fly, well does that really matter? 

Finally Fishing The Fly 30 November 2013 

A week has passed since my last outing.and a lot has happened. Firstly I bought a pair of neoprene chest wades, so now the river is at my mercy (I wish), this single purchase has put a whole new perspective on my ability to fish those places thus far that have quite literally been beyond my reach.  

Secondly I have purchased a whole host of fly tying materials and tools.  It has been 30 years since I tied any flies and both technique and hand eye coordination not too mention dexterity was probably better when I was in my 20's than it is now.   Of course if you are to learn or read up on anything these days its all to be found on line.  A few google searches later and I was watching the YouTube videos of Dave McPhail a master in fly tying.  Among those patterns which he demonstrated and I tied was the Pink Grub and the Tellico Nymph.  My tyings were not bad efforts if I say so myself.  These were duly placed in my fly box as it was unlikely that there was going to be any fly hatches in late November. Today I would be fly casting for the first time in 30 years.  May be not casting a dry fly but fly casting nonetheless and I couldn't wait.  

At last I'm on the water fly rod in hand nymph rig on and raring to go.  I looked around me to see there where no witness to what was could be an embarrassing first attempt at casting.  Right amount of line stripped , think back cast, think forward cast, timing, anything behind that I was going to foul my line on, allow for the wind, and so on and so forth.  It was like turning the key in the ignition of some old classic car found in a barn and wondering if it would start first time.  With a cough and a splutter and initially sounding like a rancher cracking his whip while herding cattle I released that first cast to see it land almost were I wanted it albeit with a bit of a splash.  At least there was no trees or undergrowth involved,  from previous experience I know for a fact that will come later but for now things are looking good.

After a time I seemed to have got the 'old' rhythm back and was feeling confident enough so that should anyone pass I would not be too self conscious.   There was a part of the river more than any other that I knew I must try.  It was the top of a pool into which flowed a series of riffles and rough water, well aerated and a nice stony bottom; ideal quarters for my intended quarry the lady of the stream the grayling. Primarily bottom feeders; especially at this time of the year, they will be feeding on most things rolling along the bottom either native to the river or washed in by recent rains and high water.  My Tellico Nymph represented the former and the Pink Grub the latter.  

After a few dozen casts I was beginning to doubt both my ability and my choice of spot, I was sure there would be fish here.  I was about to change one or both flies to see if that would make a difference when I saw the tip of my fly-line change direction.  In less than a second I ask myself; was that a take, my brain answers yes it looks like it is and then messages my right arm to strike. Bang! I'm in and almost instantly dancing on the surface is a good sized wild brown trout, not my intended quarry but a fish like any other that had every intention of escaping my hook.  After a good fight I brought her to the net. The Pink Grub I'd tied was well fixed in the scissors of her mouth; she was never escaping. A quick photo of that first fly caught fish and she was quickly released back in to the river.  I continued to fish this spot and before the sun set I landed 4  grayling and another trout.  These were caught on both the Pink Grub and the Tellico Nymph with the Tellico Nymph being the most successful.

It was now late afternoon and the sun like the temperature was going down on this my first day of 'proper' fly fishing for such a long time.  I couldn't be happier.  A dry day with new waders, plenty of fish caught and to top it off they were caught on flies tied by my own fare hands.  

Back to Earth (with a bump) - 14 December 2013

Today looked as perfect a day for fishing as any. A bit overcast but dry and the temperature above normal for mid December; however it was a bit windy and that was something that I had not yet encountered since my return to casting the old fly.  Today's challenge was definitely going to be that strong northerly wind.

I got to the river about 11 a.m. and had hardly applied the handbrake when I was out the car door and shooting across the short piece of ground between the car and the riverbank to inspect the river conditions.  Not bad, not bad at all.  The river was 0.26 above datum I'd checked on the Environmental Agency website before I left the house.  I'd been told on an earlier visit by two seasoned gentlemen anglers Jules and John that it was not worth turning out if above 0.36, so height was good.  Colour was not so good but I didn't let that put me off.  The wind though seemed stronger here out in the open. 

Chest waders on first, neoprene seems such a good insulator from the cold wind that was starting to gnaw its way through my 'warm' clothing. Rod and reel were married and primed with the 'flys' that provided me with the good success that I'd had a few weeks earlier.  My philosophy was to use what worked until I discovered by trial and error what worked best where and when  or until someone whose knowledge of the river was better than mine advised me otherwise.  

The day started of bright with respect to both the weather conditions and my confidence, which had grown quickly after my last visit to the river.  As I entered the water I was nearly bowled off my feet by the quick exit of a mallard duck from the edge of the bank quacking very loudly in disgust at being disturbed by my trespass into his riverside residence .  I don't know who was the most startled me or the duck, although I guess it was he as he dropped what I can only describe as a 'package' which landed in the water in front of me, broke up and sunk slowly to the bottom.  I in the other hand was more composed.  

The battle with the wind was immediate and it wasn't long before I was untangling my cast of 'flys'.  I was fishing a cast of 3; Pink Grub, Tellico Nymph and had introduced to my repertoire a Pearly Palmer.  It wasn't long before I was repeating the untangling routine again and again.  I'd learned my first lesson about fly casting in a strong wind and quickly decided to remove one of the droppers; the Pearly Palmer, from my cast. By reducing the number of nymphs I'd reduced the likelihood of entanglement.  Well, mostly.  I fought on valiantly but success was not on the horizon.  I tried different patterns; various Caddis Fly pupa, Czech Nymphs (which I'd recently read about), Hairs Ear Nymph,  Pheasant Tail Nymphs and anything else I had in my box.  

I had been in the water about an hour before I decided that I'd better get out before hypothermia set in.  The thick neoprene  chest waders were good insulation from the cold but I was beginning to feel the effects of the cold water on my feet which was probably a few degrees colder than the air temperature.  I'd been so preoccupied with untangling casts, changing 'flys' and generally pitting myself against my piscatorial adversaries that I had probably spent longer in the water than I should in one go in mid December.  

Once out the water and on the bank I could slowly feel my feet come back to life.  I decided to accelerate the process by jogging up and down the bank stamping my feet as I went.  This took me back to my time as a military diver.  Spending hours below surface even in mild conditions or perhaps shorter periods under ice either way when you got out you just wanted to run around in your neoprene dry suit to try and work up some heat.  The toes were always the coldest and a good 'slapping' into the ground as you went seemed to encourage the circulation.  

War dance over and some sort of feeling back in my toes I decided to continue  where I left off.  I walked a bit further down river.  The trees were completely bear of any foliage and you could see how high the river had been recently by the driftwood and other debris that was trapped in their branches.  In some cases this was 2m above the present level and this is not a large river by any stretch of the imagination.  My pondering was abruptly interrupted by a pheasant which rose six feet in front of me.  Much of the natural cover at this time of year has died back and I expect this chap was not about to hang around as I approached.  What was it about birds today, first the duck and now this pheasant.  As I passed by his 'roosting'  spot I noticed he'd left behind a fine tail feather.  I duly picked it up and rolled it in to a horseshoe shape and placed it in one of the larger pockets of my fishing vest to use for fly tying.

I continued to fish in to the late afternoon but I didn't touch a single tail other than the one left by that pheasant.   I walked slowly back to the car.  It was mid December and it is likely to be my last outing for a while as Christmas approaches.  During my walk I took my last look this year at each of those places I'd fished along the river and remembered the little 'victories ' I'd had at each over the few short weeks since I took up my fly rod again.  

On reaching the car I realised that I'd lost my landing net.  Some how it had become detached from the magnet on my fishing vest.  It would seem that I had made a sacrifice to the river god for my small successes over these past few weeks but if that was the price to pay I didn't mind. Before I left the hallowed waters of the Dove on these the last days of 2013 I took a last look at the beautiful surroundings of Eaton Dovedale before it fell in to full hibernation and drew one last deep breath of the cold crisp country air before I got in to the car.  This was not the end of something but more the beginning of it and as I drove home I was already planning next years Salmonidae forays. 

New Techniques for Old- 14 March 2014

At last I'm back on the water.  It's been 3 months to the day since I was last able to cast a line.  I was hoping to have made a few trips to fish for grayling during the winter months but the weather has been unbelievably wet. In fact it has been one of the wettest winters on record with much land flooded, farmers and their animals severely affected as well as ordinary folk in their ordinary homes who live close by river courses and in some cases not close to river courses.  I should I suppose think myself lucky in that all I suffered was the inconvenience of not being able to go fishing for a while.

During this prolonged period away from the river I took the time to study some of the 'modern' techniques that have been introduced in to the fly fishing 'scene' since I last seriously done any.  One place more than any other I took notes was from the Jonathan Barnes youtube videos'. This included various styles of European nymphing techniques in particular Czech and French but mostly Czech.  I took a lot from these videos and decided that I should try out some of these 'new' close quarter guerrilla techniques during the coming season.  I was surprised during my research to see how little there was on wet fly fishing techniques in comparison; it would appear that wet fly fishing has gone out of fashion.  

I never really got in to wet fly fishing as a youngster but I knew a man who did.  Old Henry MacLeish who had fished our local river in Scotland for as long as anyone can remember with nothing else other than a small split cane rod and a cast of wet flies casting a short line upstream. We used to sit mesmerized by this old chap watching him from the bank as we ate our lunch as he worked his magic in the pools and riffles that we had previously flogged to death without success only 30 minutes or an hour before. 

Anyway here I am back on the Dove.  Its March the 14th and the trout season will soon be open.  It was my intention this trip to practice those guerrilla techniques I'd been avidly studying throughout the winter.  I'd replaced my fly line with a 30 foot nylon Czech/French Nymphing Tapered Leader with built in hi-viz In-line Indicator and a cast of two nymphs recently introduced to me by Jonathan Barnes; the Polyphaetis and the Hot Spot Pheasant Tail Nymph. 

This 'new' method called for stealth enough to get close to the intended quarry in this case good old thymallus thymallus; more commonly known to us all as the grayling, to cast just 10 or 12 feet beyond my rod tip up stream and let the current do its job working those nymphs down to the bottom past the hungry mouths of fish.  This is contact fishing and as such high sticking is required as you don't recover the line like you would a conventional fly line.  The first thing I noticed was that the resistance acting on this nylon tapered leader by the current was significantly less than on a fly line. This seemed to allow the nymphs to move at a more natural speed through the water and reach the required depth, unlike a fly line which if you’re not careful can get ripped by the current leading to a less natural presentation.

It was misty when I arrived at the river but a warm(ish) spring sun soon burnt that off.   Later in the day a light breeze built up and this had a small effect on casting that light nylon leader upstream against the wind. I could see that this technique would have its limitations in a stiff breeze or strong winds.  But today wasn't one of those days and the breeze stayed light.

It wasn't long before my patience and practice paid off and I was rewarded with a small grayling on the Hotspot PTN.  The little lady was nothing to write home about but special in that it was the first fish I'd caught using this style of fishing and so was content with that.  I continued to practice this Czech nymphing for a good while when I noticed a hatch of caddis and hawthorn fly .  Decision time was upon me. Do I stop and change to dry fly knowing how particular grayling can be around the presentation of a dry fly; bearing in mind that I had yet to cast a dry fly since my return to the river.  I decided to stick with what I was doing.  Reason being that if the caddis are active on the surface the likelihood was that the fish where getting 'stuck in' below the surface too and my polyphaetis nymph represented those making their way to the surface.

I would have loved to have cast that dry fly but knowing how particular grayling can be when rising to dry flies and that coupled with my rusty right arm and light breeze I may have wasted an hour of valuable Czech nymphing practice.  It is after all what I'd planned to do today.  I can say I was justified in my choice because within the next 30 minutes I took a beautiful 2lb plus male grayling with a dorsal fin like a sailfish. and a lovely well conditioned for the time of year brown trout of just over a pound.  Both of which took the polyphaetis nymph.  Both of course were released back to the river to continue their recovery from the harsh winter that we had just experienced.

When I look back at old Henry's up steam wet fly technique it wasn't so very far from that one I was practicing today.  Sure the flies were different, I was using nylon and he silk, but the fundamentals were just the same.  It would seem old Henry was a man ahead of his time.

 Czech / French Nymphing Technique 

The 4 Seasons - 22 March 2014

Bless me father for I have sinned, its been almost 4 weeks since my last fishing outing.  At last I'm back on the river.  The weather has been pretty awful recently.  Now I'm not a fair weather fisherman but torrential rain and high winds tend to take the edge off of things a bit.  Todays weather was not ideal but I was beginning to develop cabin fever, so had to get out.

I should have known what I was in for when my car en route was being blown by the occasional gust of strong wind.  But, I though, just fish a short line and we'll be okay.  Get up close, get in behind and search through those riffles and eddies and behind those large water features. Drop the beaded nymphs up stream and let the current do the work. No sooner had I worked out my strategy when I had arrived at my destination.  Today I was going to try out a new part of the river at a place called Tutbury.

This part of the river was unlike the stretch at Eaton Dovedale. It was more open with less trees overhanging the river.  In fact less trees altogether.  There were long stretches of still water but still plenty of riffles, runs and long pool tails; a good variety of different water to fish depending on the conditions and time of year and of course whether I was fishing for trout or grayling.  I also found the cattle like to get up close and personal, no fences here.  Standing atop a hill not far away was a large castle ruin, which I found you could see from wherever you stood on the river.  I've since found out that the site has been Occupied since the Stone Age and the castle is first recorded in 1071 as one of the new castles built to stamp the authority of the Norman conquerors across the Midlands. Since then, the castle has played an important part in English history on many occasions, in warfare and in peace and it is said that Mary Queen of Scots had at one time been imprisoned there.  Not sure as a Scotsman I'm altogether happy about that.  Yet another gem on the Dove valley but I'm here to fish so better get my best fly fishing trousers on and get at it.

The breeze had stiffened but the sun had now come out so that took the edge off the cold breeze a bit.  I decided to fish a cast of just two nymphs rather than the three I normally; I'd learned my lesson on an earlier occasion just what the wind can do to a line of 3.  On the point I put a Polyphaetis (representing a Caddis pupa) and above that a Hot Spot Pheasant Tail Nymph.  Because of the stiff breeze I decided to abandon my Czech Nymph rig; successful as it was on my last outing. I resorted to a floating flyline with a twist indicator (apologies to the purists). It was still only about 6 Degrees C, that coupled with the stiff breeze any type of hatch would be literally blown away, so nymphing tactics it was.

I had the river to myself and took the opportunity to take my time to get to know each new stretch.  Soon I had identified what looked like a productive spot and a likely lie for my piscatorial quarry.  It was on a right-hand bend in the river after a long pool that ran on to a shallower rocky bed where that sweeping fast current on the left bank meets the slower right-hand side of the bank.  I was on the left bank however which meant I had to go further up stream to cross so not to disturb the fish I was aiming for.  

I'm a great believer in 'if I'm in the water so are my flies'.  So as normal on these occasions I stripped a few yards of line and let my nymphs rise and fall in the water below me as I waded to my destination upstream of my intended target.  And not for the first time Bang! I'm into my fist fish of the day without even trying.  Its one of those occasions when both you and the fish never expected the unexpected and so can come as quite a surprise as your brain quickly changes from 'watch where you're putting your feet, don't fall in as you go'  to 'right we have a fish on, deal with it'.  All of which adds to the drama.  On this occasion it was a small 10 inch grayling that took the PTN, she fought valiantly but eventually succumbed to the net before being quickly release back to the river.  I made it over to the other bank and fished the target area for the best part of 30 minutes without touching a tail.  Just goes to prove you can't catch fish if your flies aren't in the water and thank goodness they were as I waded across.

It was now becoming overcast and shortly afterwards the heavens opened and a torrent of rain fell for what seemed an eternity but in reality was only 10 or 15 minutes.  I took shelter under one of the few trees along the riverbank during the downpour.  From the shelter of the tree I saw in the field what looked like four or five small dogs running a mock.  As they got closer I tried to identify what they were chasing or what was stirring them up in to this frenzy.  As they got nearer I could see that they were not small dogs but 'mad' March hares boxing with each other in pursuit of a mate.  They must have been 'mad' indeed to be out courting in this weather.  I watched until they disappeared across the fields until I could no longer see them before I realised that the rain had stopped.

Once again best fishing foot forward and I was off for my next appointment with the river.  Further reconnaissance of this new stretch of river identified a number of potential lies which I fished successfully with another grayling of around 2lb and a brace of trout both around the 1.5lb mark all of which fell to the Polyphaetis Nymph.  As I landed the last fish the heavens opened once again.  This time however it was not rain but hailstones.  I'd had a good day on this new stretch and so before I was pounded further by the driving hail I decided to call it a day and retreated back to the car.  Tackle stripped out and gear in the boot I sat in the drivers seat.  As I wiped my face dry and turned on the radio the presenter on classic FM said, "... and that folks was from Vivaldi's Four Seasons ..."  I couldn't help but laugh and think, "Is that so".  Never let it be said that I am a fair weather fisher.

Trial and Error, Luck or Judgment - 18 April 2014

I’d been fishing the Dove now for nearly 6 months and with the exception of one outing it has always been on the stretch at Eaton Dovedale.  It was on this stretch of river you could say that I  went through my apprenticeship.  But as we all know learning is a lifelong thing and I still had much to learn about this river not to mention my own limitations.  I’d only been on the river over the winter months and not a hatch of any fly, river born or terrestrial to talk about.  Now spring was slowly opening her door encouraging new life to sprout from the earth.   Everything looked a little more colourful today what with the daffodils, bluebells and various tree blossoms starting to burst into life. 

After such a good day on my previous outing today I was going to revisit the river at Tutbury.  At this time of the year opportunities were going to start to arise when I could at last consider casting a dry fly as fish start to feed to the insects and flies whose lives is some cases started almost 3 years ago amongst the stones, gravel and sands on the river bed.  I’d heard that the river has a good Mayfly hatch and that is something I am really look forward to.  But this is April and any Mayfly hatch is a good number of weeks away. 

The weather was fine when I arrived on the bank.  The sun was out and there was only a slight breeze.  Perhaps this coupled with the recent rise in temperature might bring on a hatch of caddis, Hawthorne flies or small duns.  It is early in the day still and I see nothing on the surface of the river and so decide until I do I would fish below the surface. 

My weapons of choice were the Polyphaetis Nymph representing the caddis in its sub surface form; which I’ve already caught fish with on this river and the March Brown Emerger.  Now in Scotland on large rivers the likes of the River Tay and River Tummel March Brown hatches in spring are as famous there as Mayfy hatches are here in the south and hatches are often on a grand scale in the middle of a spring day.

The March Brown Emerger was a punt based on my Scottish experience at this time of year. The River Dove is no large stony river the likes of the Tay or Tummel but as I said back at the beginning of this journey on this river I’m a learner and part of my learning will include trial and error methods.

With my fly rod primed and ready for action I marched into battle.  Not another soul was on the river the world or river was my oyster.  I choose to fish at the end of some riffles starting close to the bank then working my way across the river casting up stream into them and letting the nymphs glide down into the top of the pool.  The lack of weeds at this time of year allowed my nymphs to freely travel in as natural a state as I could expect without being fouled.   It was starting to warm up nicely as midday approached and the earlier sun had to share the sky with the occasional stratocumulus.   There was still nothing in the way of a hatch though and no fish rising that I could see.

I had been fishing for over an hour and still hadn’t touched a tail and was considering whether to change one or both of my nymphs when all of a sudden I get a bang on the rod, first fish of the day at last.  After putting up a good fight a nice 1.5lb graying was duly netted and in the scissors of her mouth was my March Brown Emerger, bingo.  Ten minutes later on a stretch just up river anther lady of the stream fell to the nymph, on this occasion it was the Polyphaetis.  Hopefully things were on the up.  In short they weren’t.

I stopped for lunch sitting on the bank slurping coffee from my flask surveying the river for any fish movement on the surface and straining my eyes at anything that floated by that remotely resembled a fly.  Looking about 3 or 4 hundred yards further upstream I noticed some commotion.  It was sand martins and they were swooping and diving.  This meant only one thing, a hatch is underway and its coming my way.  Then I saw it in front of me; 1 caddis fly, 2 caddis flies, 10, 50, 100 ‘nay‘ 1000’s of caddis flies floating by.  The river was saturated.

At the same time as changing my outfit to fish an Elk Hair Caddis I scanned the surface of the river for rising fish hoping that now they’d give away their position.  After a full 10 minutes of this maelstrom of caddis flies their numbers started to dwindle and eventually peter out.  I can report that I never saw a single fish rise.  To say that I was disappointed is an understatement to say the least.  I had never witnessed such a hatch before without seeing fish ‘rising’ to the occasion.

Having still not cast a dry fly and with my chin on the floor I revered back to nymphing.  I tied on the March Brown Emerger  (MBE) again but instead of the Polyphaetis I tied on a small beaded black magic nymph (BMN).  For what it’s worth, my reason being that fish had probably gorged themselves on caddis all morning as they were starting to make their journey out of their cases to the surface by which time they were off the menu come the adult hatch.  So, time to tempt them with something different.  Sure enough before soon 3 more grayling (on the BMN) and a nice brownie later (on the MBE) I was vindicated.  Well not quite.  I can tell you I’ve never caught another fish on the MBE since that day.  Trial and error, luck or judgment, who knows what goes on in those fishes heads.

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