rheidol silver

 
The day had been hot but now, as we were heading off towards the river, the sun was beginning to set, giving the river a golden sheen and the promise of a good evening’s fishing. During the day the river had risen but had now settled into a nice even flow. I had fished this particular pool the night before with no success and I hoped the rise in water had moved some fish into it during the day. Tackling up is always a process I enjoy and, with the warmth of the evening giving me hope for the night ahead, I prepared in eager anticipation. A friend joined me and as we worked talk turned towards the inevitable question: what fly for tonight? Now this is a question that can sometimes be answered easily but can at other times involve a lengthy process of elimination. Tonight I settled on a small silver-and-blue double with a black-and-silver ‘Waddington’ as my point fly. Fish fresh from the tide sometimes take a silver-bodied fly as it bears some resemblance to the sand eel that is the sea trout’s main prey.
We walked across the field with the grass damp and the vegetation around us fading into the grey of the night. Checking the water level we crossed the river and made for our normal spot, a shingle bank on the bend of the river. There we sat the rods down and waited for the darkness to become complete. Watching the river at this time is always important as fish often splash when moving to their night-time spot. But tonight: no sign of any fish. Not disheartened we separated – my friend planning to fish a hundred yards or so up-river from me.
Now, the first cast into a pool can be the most exciting: will a fish be waiting in the lie I am about to cover or will the fly swing round in the current untouched? I lengthened line and cast across the pool again. I could sense, through the line, the action of my flies moving across the river. Yet again they came round untouched. I fished here for a few more casts then moved down towards the tail of the pool. I had caught fish here before and I knew there was a deep channel in the gravel on the opposite side. I lengthened line and cast across the tail: again the flies came round in the current untouched. I lengthened line a little more, cast again and felt the flies swing round. They were now fishing exactly where I wanted. As I retrieved a small amount of line I felt a tug then the strong pull of what must be a sea trout. I quickly lifted the rod and felt the surge of the fish. My reel screamed out as the fish moved at speed up the pool into deep water. I heard feet on the gravel behind me as my friend had heard the commotion and realised I was into a good one. The fish meanwhile shot up to the head of the pool then turned and made a fast dash towards the tail.
“ Keep him in this pool” my friend shouted, but no amount of pressure from me was going to stop this fish. It got to the tail and went over the lip into fast water below the pool. There was only one course of action – go after it!
As I stepped into fast moving water I could feel that the fish was still running but then suddenly - the line went slack. I lifted the rod and at first reeled in line but then it went tight and wouldn’t budge. I made it to the other bank and shone a torch across the river and I could make out my line stuck to a branch in a tree by the small double with the line below it, slack. I waded out to the branch (in fast water by torchlight not always recommended) and managed to unhook the double- whereupon all hell broke loose!
The fish was still on and, refreshed by its ‘rest’, shot down-river into the next pool. Moving quickly I waded back to the shingle bank and tightened to the fish to try and gain more control as the pool here was thick with sunken branches in which I could lose it. My friend joined me with his net at the ready. A few more long runs and anxious moments and the fish finally came to the net where I could feel its weight. Once I was back at the top of the shingle bank I could see in the torchlight a fish we all dream about: a bright bar of silver fresh from the sea. Weighing in at nine pounds it was my biggest sea trout and what a story. Sadly, due to changing river flow regimes and bank erosion, that pool no longer exists – the river flows down a completely new channel. That pool is now just dry shingle. A pool lost but definitely not forgotten.