Happiness In Silence & Wild Stream Synergy

At 10am I was heading east, the heat already dancing above the tarmac looked mesmerising as I drove to my secluded and peaceful destination. Twenty minutes later and I’d parked, ever eager to begin the hike to my streamy objective, far below me and at the bottom of this sharp and steep sided valley.

This small river is tough and wild; the results of heavy industrial abuse no doubt. Once running sterile and black with industrial filth she is now the picture of health and boasts an amazing variety of invertebrates, however, she now reluctantly and ever so cautiously gives up her pleasures to those unwilling to work for them.

With the gentle gurgling of the tail-end of a pool and the hypnotic rustling of the swaying trees far above, I sit quietly at the riverbank creating my leader for the day. I sit there for a while enjoying the cooling waters as they flow over my wading boots and happily watch emerging caddis flutter to the heavens to join clouds of mating midge; they seem to somehow glitter and glow as they swirl and dance through the rays of light that pierce the thick canopy above.

I find it a romantic and warming thought that rivers are living, breathing, thinking entities; and why not? Each waterway certainly has its own characteristics, its own personality, so to speak. From relaxed and playful trickles during warm summer days, to utter devastation and violence unleashed during their winter spates. Each of them is a different lady, and woe-betide those who underestimate them or show an ounce of disrespect.

This stream is both secretive and protective of its inhabitants, with rises few and far between. It’s as if She’s trying to hide ‘them’ in case Man attempts further abuse. This secretiveness is enough to drive any passing angler to the conclusion that this is one water not worth stopping at. Show her respect and care, however, and the symbiotic relationship can be bountiful; a sort of wild stream synergy.

Through long glides and riffley, white specked waters I fish, ever so quietly moving upstream. Picking fish after fish after fish, today isn’t about numbers, or the size of fish, it is about solitude and finding happiness in silence. I curse quietly at the times when I trip; scolding myself for creating such foreign noises.

I lose count of fish after four beautiful and totally wild brown trout; they’ve probably never even seen a hook before. My size #16 X-Caddis, slowly losing more and more of its deer hair wing thanks to my quarry’s teeth, is all the evidence I need to prove that I’m still catching; thick in my day-dream state as I continue to fish, forever moving further and further upstream.

Miles have passed, and although it only seems a meagre hour or two has flown by, the ache in my back and legs reminds me otherwise, and is further evidence to my time spent working hard in paradise.

Finally, I arrive at the only available exit point on this stream for miles; a case of ‘get out now or keep working for another mile’. It’s getting late, the aches have increased, and it pains my heart to have to pull myself away from this water. I decide, like many an angler before me, that a few last casts should be made. It just seems the right thing to do.

A likely looking run this last riffley piece of water, and with a hope that these last few minutes will somehow draw out to another hour. I make one of my many so-called ‘last casts’, targeting a food lane flowing out between two twin rocks. The rise is small, and as I raise my rod-tip the hook sets, surprising the trout and making him aware that he’s been fooled by fur and feather. Furious (and like something from a Gierach novel) he explodes in a crash of white water and violent noise, charging angrily away from the unseen threat. A little side-strain applied, and he’s now steaming towards me. As I pull in the slack, he decides to try another upstream-dash before, once again, screaming back downstream.

The net is detached from its magnetic release and, whilst playing the fish oh so carefully, I begin to worry and think ‘Damn, I really should have changed my tippet…that wind knot is going to be the downfall of this fight…’

Finally, thankfully, and after a last courageous run, he’s tired but safely cradled in the net, all the while being held in a steady flow of rejuvenating and oxygenated water. The wild trout’s determination flares once again with a strong wriggle, proving he’s ready to go home.

Thank you trout; that was one fight I’ll not forget. With a smile, I say ‘thank you’. ‘Thank you for ending my day so magically. Take care.’

With a splash, and a powerful swipe of his tail, he’s gone.

I stand there smiling.

A view from high above. Somewhere, there’s a stream down there…
A view from high above. Somewhere, theres a stream down there...

…and far below. Somewhere, there’s a footpath up there…
...and far below. Somewhere, theres a footpath up there...

The wilderness is unkempt and dark…
The wilderness is unkempt and dark...

…but with runs to die for. My own piece of paradise.
...but with runs to die for. My own piece of paradise.

Spots seeming to glow red, these wild trout are worth more than jewels…
Seeming to glow red, these wild trout are worth more than jewels...

…all falling to the X-Caddis.
...all falling to the X-Caddis.

Heptagenids thrive, in spite of past pollution…
Heptagenids thrive, in spite of past pollution...

Freshly fallen. Such wildness is refreshing…
Freshly fallen. Such wildness is refreshing...

The day ends, but the memory of that last fight is as fresh as can be…
The day ends, but the memory of that last fight is as fresh as can be...

A view from the stove. Still smiling, and looking down into the valley below, a coffee is sunk before returning home.
A view from the stove. Still smiling, and looking down into the valley below, a coffee is sunk before returning home.