Sunday was as hot as hell but I had it in mind to take a trip to the river. I was equipped with my strange newly-concocted worm fly in case a carp or two were around but, in the event, I never had a shot at a carp which was an outcome I more or less expected. I did however at least see a couple. They had been spooked from a shallow broken section and pushed ahead into a relatively broad slow-flowing pool. It was my fault that they were disturbed. I was some distance away but clearly they had their antennae tuned in to whatever wavelength I was broadcasting.

I never had a shout with those fish and I would not get another chance. The carp have a distinctive deep body and “shoulders” which can often emerge when they are rooting around in marginal vegetation hard to the side. Even at a distance they are easy to distinguish from the barbel which is the only species they are likely to be confused with. Those two carp swam steadily upstream into the pool and the water they displaced produced two little bulges which could be followed even when the fish themselves could no longer be seen. When the water was sufficiently deep all signs of them disappeared.

There were barbel around but they were as jittery as hell. They were happy to cruise around with their buddies but did not seem to be in any kind of mood to feed. I have been playing this game long enough not to take their snubs personally. One of the lessons this river teaches is that perseverance can pay and that there is always a fish out there somewhere that will not conform to the trend. It then becomes just a question of finding it!

There was one. I found it not in the fast water where most of the fish were concentrated, but in a wide muddy shallow where there was hardly a barbel to be seen (although there were many mullet). I was nervous about scaring it and so put out a pretty long cast. This fish was pretty much straight downstream of me. Happily the nymph landed close enough to the fish to be noticed but not so close as to frighten it. Everything then happened in slow motion. The fish drifted towards the nymph. I gave it plenty of time. Then I gave it just a little bit more. When I tightened everything went solid and before I knew it I was just trying to keep a pretty hefty slab of a fish out of the branches on the opposite side of the river.

That fish was the only fish of the day for me but a very pleasing result nonetheless. The real show stopper though was not the fish at all but an otter that I had seen earlier. It swam swam downstream with the current and passed within a few feet of me when I was crouching in cover. The otter did not know I was there and showed not the slightest concern. Why should it? The sun was shining and it was in a river full of fish. Living the dream!

At the time our paths crossed I was casting to some good fish that edged in and out of the shallows on the opposite side and a deepish fast pool nearside. I tried to put out as little fly line as possible so only the nymph and leader would prospect the pool. I just tried to keep out of sight as those fish were pretty close in. Time after time I would drift the little tungsten bead head nymph in front of fish and time after time they would ignore it. I felt I was pretty much doing whatever it might take to catch one of those barbel but nothing seemed to come of it. That was when the real master fisherman glided downriver without a care in the world. Sometimes you just have to concede that you have been outclassed. I was not even in the same league. For that otter catching one of those barbel would be child´s play.

Here is the fish. I was too busy admiring the otter to manage to photograph it!