Henry and your faithful correspondent spent some of this last Winter in reconnaissance. The changes to the river within its upper reaches (nearer to home than down towards the confluence) were all cheerfully observed and committed to memory. The snowdrops were marvelled at. The newly scoured gravel beds were smiled upon. The large woody debris, much of which had been relocated by the floods, was observed with satisfaction. In the mind's eye, of the dry fly angler, a scheme for making the most of Opening Day was pictured, with prospective ambush points already planned.
What actually happened was somewhat different.
The angler overlaid!
This All Fools' Day the plan was to open the season on the Mother river in and around the places already reconnoitred. This river has more anglers to fish it than the tributary waters usually chosen for a Regular Rod's opening day. Being at least two hours later than intended, space would likely be at a premium. The decision to change plans was an easy one to make...
Dog, tackle and angler were therefore loaded into the motor car and a short drive to a parking space at the top end of the lower beat was followed by some furious threading of line and speedy tying on of a Double Badger. The walk down to the bottom of the beat, on the right bank, was a brisk one. The walk was just enough to get the brain in gear and fully into waterside resident mode again.
Back to basics, we had not done any reconnaissance down this end of the river. No fond imaginings had prepared us for where to set to for some fishing.
So what did your blogger do?
He sat down and hid from the fish, observed the water and fished where he saw the fish were. That's what he did!
It was not completely straightforward. Very few fish were to be seen rising (normal for this early in the season).
The first fly was invisible in the lighting conditions so that was changed from a Double Badger to a Red Hackle. Visibility problems over and done with and the fly now cast more accurately had the first fish coming to the net, much to Henry's delight and his Dad's relief. Blanking on opening day is horrible.
Sport was, as expected, slow but satisfying. It was good to say "Hello!" to so many anglers today. It was good to watch Henry working the marginal flotsam to gather up lost tennis balls together with a yellow racing duck! (No doubt from last summer's charity plastic duck race through Bakewell).
Reconnaissance is a great tool for the dry fly angler, but sometimes it has to be done there and then, rather than in advance!
Have a great season everyone...