Riverside ramblings

A tumbling river in springtime with the smell of ramsey and birdsong filling the air has been a part of my life since I was a child catching crimson spotted brown trout from the River Umber that runs through the village of Combe Martin. A few weeks ago I found myself looking into the river where I first tempted those spotted trout. Sadly there were no signs of the descendants of those trout  which is a sad refection on the waning state of our countryside.

Fortunately there are still plenty of rivers in North Devon that still have healthy populations of trout. I took a wander along my local river wielding a split cane rod I had bought from a work colleague. The old scottie rod had been bought at a car boot sale and I later found that the rod had been taken there by Richard Mann who I had fished with on several occasions at Blakewell Fishery. Richard was a very enthusiastic angler who had fished far and wide with many a tale to tell. In latter years he had done a huge amount of work for a local branch of the Salmon and Trout Association. Richard sadly passed away last year.

I flicked the flies upstream and thrilled as the free rising trout seized the fly.  The old rod flexed as the trout gyrated and darted to and fro in the clear water. I wondered what other adventures the rod had been on? It didn’t really matter what rod as the small river didn’t demand distance casting, a bit of precision perhaps. A modern carbon rod could have ticked every box in functionality but perhaps the old rod was more in keeping with the late spring evening? The river had those same characteristics I had enjoyed close to fifty years ago, perhaps that is one of angling’s greatest attributes in that it brings back those childish perceptions and feelings.

A couple of nights later I was casting a fly across the River Torridge in hope of  salmon. The river had dropped away but still had a nice tinge of colour. I started hopeful but as the evening swept past I felt slightly melancholic at the lack of salmon surely after the recent spate there would be salmon present? It was a glorious evening full of birdsong and riverside aromas. I did catch one or two glorious spotted brown trout but these were not enough tonight for I had set my expectations higher and with that came a slight feeling of failure. I will of course be back casting again full of expectation next time the river rises and brings fresh hope of silver tourists.