Oh the aches and pains..It's about 5 years since I did any deep wading (up to mid chest level). Yesterday I did a full six hours of it, in heavy flowing water. Add that to the fact that I am still quite unfit (It's less than 2 years after my thorracic surgery) I am totally exhausted. I've aching muscles I'd forgotten I had...my wife has gone of to aqua-aerobics, she knows them!...wind burn on my face, in short, I'm a sorry sight. I've even got a mark on my neck from the current constantly pulling against the landing net slung over my shoulder on a lanyard.....But do I care? No!
The bad news is I didn't win, I didn't even come a close second...but I'll settle for third, the top five qualify.
The flies I tied up came in handy, the little beadheaded hares ears and peacock herl bugs did most of the damage. I got eight fish in the morning session by fishing the team of 3 flies across the stream on a long (11.25 feet) rod, keeping as much line out of the water as possible so the flies fished in a dead drift rather than being pulled by too fast. I caught 6 measurable fish in a 20 yard stretch of relatively shallow (5-7 feet) water, the first on my first cast! there's nothing like a quick start to get you going.. I gave the run another quick go, but lost the two more I hooked in the heavy flow, (a regular problem all day with the small hooks in the strong flowing floodwaters) then one of the other anglers on the beat had asked to get into the pool, (you have a half an hour to fish it if another competitor wants to fish there). I then walked off down the river a bit and landed another two measurable fish in a smooth glide, (Fast but even bottom) in about 4.5 feet of water, stopping after about 20 meters when the depth got to much to wade any further, I managed to lose another couple again, but I had hooked 16 and landed 8 of them so I wasn't to dissapointed, with the flow-rate so strong I knew everyone was going to lose close to 50% of hooked fish. After that I decided not to walk any further down stream as I only had 45 minutes left in the morning session and had to fish further up the river in the afternoon so I walked back up the beat to the very top above my starting peg (5 anglers on each beat start at different points along it, I was 2B) but found all fishable areas occupied so I had a few casts here and there but was not able to fish the flies dead and knew I was wasting my time so with about 20 minutes left, and having lost a cast in a tree, I decided to stop for lunch early and walk upriver to my afternoon beat (1B) and rest so I was fresh for the afternoon session.
When I arrived at the peg the angler fishing it was still in the river, he had 5 minutes left, and there were olives hatching. He was fishing a short line upstream and looked like he had covered the water fairly well (the beat was a lovely one fast flowing with little pockets of deep slow areas.) when he came out we (my steward &I) heard he had 16 measurable fish. I spent the lunch hour watching the river and only saw two very small fish rise to the olives that were still hatching, though the hatch finished about 10 minutes before the start of the afternoon session of course! When I started the afternoon session I managed one fish from the pool and a couple of undersized ones (the ones rising) after that I moved upstream to beat 1A, I found 9 or 10 bait anglers ensconced in the area I was due to fish...it is private fly only water and I had to spend 10 minutes getting them moved... I managed to pick up one measurable fish on the first run down the pool, and lost two. I then gave it a rest and fished another area before coming back and picking up another two fish. Towards the end of the day the water levels had risen a bit more and coloured up too, and with the flow rate increase it was almost impossilble to keep in touch with the flies, so much so for the last half hour I fished a tail of the pool above a bridge, casting upstream from the shallow rim, still 3-4 feet deep!, and missed about 5 fish because I couldn't keep up with the line flowing towards me. At the check in I found the angler who had caught 16 in the morning only managed one in the afternoon off beat 2! it just shows how the luck of a hatch of fly in the right place and at the right time can make a huge difference, or getting into the right spot first, (beats are drawn from a hat) can get you fish...he fished my area after lunch, I obviously left him as few as he left me!!, but he also failed to pick any up elsewhere along the beat either. One angler way down on beat 4 had 25 fish for the day, and with only 117 fish measured in total, he did very well with 20% of the total catch, and deserved his win.