As I walked to the river rod in hand it seemed difficult to comprehend that another season had passed by for it seemed such a short time ago that I had trod this same route to see the wild daffodils lining the bank back in early March. It was a still morning without a breath of wind a good thing at this time as it would reduce the number of leaves fluttering into the tree lined river. October 8th end of the first week of the two week Torridge season extension. Looking at the trees still bearing their foliage in predominantly dark shades of green it seemed that nature was denying the passing of the year. Yet I know that within a month the majority of the leaves will have dropped and the rivers salmon will be beginning their spawning ritual in earnest high up on the redds.
The river is looking good a slight tinge of colour still, but a little below perfect height, a week having past since the last spate. I wade out and cast the fly across the river allowing it to drift across searching for the salmon that are surely present? The fly I have selected is a barb-less single with a gold tinsel body and brownish wing with a flash of orange. I bought a small selection of flies at Ilfracombe’s Variety Sports a couple of weeks ago, after fifty odd years this well established tackle shop is closing down its owners John and Janet Fennel taking a well deserved rest after many years serving the local angling community.
I fish the pools and runs methodically enjoying the seclusion and savouring the timeless scene that somehow always reminds me of a Constable fine art painting. With the river at its present state I have a hunch where I will find a fish a deep tree shrouded pool. The first fish through brings no result. I select a tungsten headed fly with a black and silver body with long marabou tail. An awful fly to cast but it sinks quickly and may just cover a deep lying fish. First cast, I watch the path of the fly as I lift it I spot a big salmon rise in the water its flanks a mix of gold and bronze hues. Its mouth clearly opens as it attempts to seize my fly, unsuccessfully! Two casts later it again pursues my fly and again misses. The margin between success and failure is small. The image of the salmon within the river will live in my minds eye for many years. A valuable image that will ensure I return next season hopeful of success. That occasional glimpse is essential to maintain the desire, that and the tales from other anglers who have tasted success.
On this last session I have seen kingfishers, squirrels, pheasants, long tailed tits, wagtails and even a salmon. It has not been a successful season fish wise for myself with no salmon or sea trout landed. Others have fortunately fared better as I discover at the end of season dinner.
The annual Torridge Fishery Association dinner was held on Saturday October 8th at the Half Moon Inn, Sheepwash. Opening the door of this old fishing Inn Pauline and I stepped into a burble of excited chatter. The pub was packed with locals and fishers from near and far, a mixture of both old and new faces. Enthusiastic greetings from the ever cheery Charles Inniss immediately set the warm tone of the evening.
We were joined at the dinner table by Anthony and Amanda the new owners of the historic Little Warham Fishery two miles of some of the River Torridges best salmon and sea trout fishing. Listening to their plans gives confidence in the future of fishing on the Torridge.
One of the main beneficiary’s of the annual Egg Box dinner as it has been called is the associations hatchery that has enabled the stocking out of close to 250,000 swim up fry over a ten year period. This years dinner will also help to fund vital fry surveys on selected stretches of the river. The association thank all those who gave generously buying raffle tickets in the hope of winning an array of prizes donated by supporters of the association.
The three course meal was as ever delicious and enjoyed over deep discussions primarily relating to subjects of a piscatorial nature. The previous week had seen around half a dozen salmon caught. A 12lb salmon to the rod of Chris Powell fishing a middle river beat, a brace of 6lb salmon to the rod of Reg Lawton, a 6lb salmon for Anthony McInness fishing an upper river beat and another 6lb salmon to the rod of Graham Henderson fishing an Upper River Beat.
Members of the Torridge Association will meet again in the Spring when they assemble at the Half Moon for the AGM. By then another season will be underway and with good fortune several thousand more salmon fry will have been stocked out into the river’s tributary’s. During the winter months the hatchery team will have spent many hours nurturing the salmon eggs through to swim up fry stage.
2016 has not been a brilliant season with river levels on the low side throughout much of the season. Seasons fluctuate greatly and are always dependent upon many factors particularly the success of spawning fives years previously. Some have speculated that the severe floods experienced a few years ago may have impacted upon this years run of fish.
I will bring any news I receive from the river over the winter months as I receive it so watch this space.