Layla was in the truck. She'd assumed "her" pozzie in the front seat, so when Coch loomed in the headlights and I pulled over to pick him up, she wasn't exactly impressed. She got her defensive posture on, barked and then (pretend) grumped her way into the back seat. With gear and angler aboard, we set off. Jase had got in from a business trip including India (I-N-D-I-A "I'm never doing it again!") Cambodia and Vietnam. He needed fresh air after lung burning smog and debilitating heat had damn near done him in. He was probably more shagged than he let on. We talked tackle, trips (both small and "adventures") and he gave me a run down on his recent back country escapade. The trip seemed brief and smooth and included a coffee stop and doggy toilet break.
Today we'd be trout spey casting, both with #4 Sage One 11'6" rods and scandi heads. I think I speak for both of us in saying that we're engrossed in all aspects of fishing double hand rods - for me certainly it has opened whole new horizons. The ability to fish the entire river, run, bucket or lie by reaching out and swinging a fly through where a single handed cast cant reach with big flies is just so tantalising that I can't ignore it. The hits are direct and sudden and even not hooking up if a fish misses the hook puts your heart firmly in your mouth. The other thing about swinging flies is that I tend to fish the water more carefully and it can take an (engrossing!) hour to fish a single pool.
Layla was along to chase quail, track roosters, guard us against cattle and make sure that the pools were safe for us by swimming through them.... Almost at our destination we devised a new plan that would see us covering new water which appealed to us both. Fog had greeted us earlier, a sure sign that a cracking day would emerge. Our trip took us to an outlook above the water we planned to fish and it looked really good. As we geared up, the hound pushed a pair of quail out of a small patch of brush. Above us a few more tick-ticked at us while a male gave his "mcquirter"call. We followed a track down to the water and after a couple of rounds of rock/paper/scissors (I lost again) I was despatched to the far side, the true right. We walked up our sides of the river respectively and entered at spots that allowed us to. I didn't fish my first run with the confidence that comes after a bite has been achieved (is my tip heavy enough? Is the fly the right size? Am I swimming it slow/fast enough?). Anyway I guess that my lack of confidence relayed to the fish and they kept their jaws clamped shut. At this point I should point out that this was the maiden trip for the rod. I was swinging a little olive number that to me felt right. At first I'd teamed it with a wee wet but my casting made that a problematic combo so I soon removed the smaller fly.
Moving down to where Jase was fishing his side of a heavy run that went down the middle of the pool I called out to him; he'd had 2 takes but not got a hook up. I had reasonably heavy cover on my side so was trying to get a reasonable poke going ... it looked and felt a bit soggy but I could at least get the fly out. I'd thrown a lot of slack upstream and the fly was working into a heavy seam when the whack came... that fish hooked itself and took my head and full running line (combined about 55m) on its first charge down the current, where it jumped, revealing a good fish. I was happy to play and land that one. Realising that the bank was steep and being on my own I couldn't safely photograph the fish without harming it, so back it went, a sweet shapely fish in the 4-5lb range.
We moved on down, combing the water. On my side I ran out of options so moved downstream while Jase had a coupe hundred metres of fishable stuff on his side. I found a Rapala lure with nasty treble tethered to a snag by a largish sinker. The lure went into my bag. Shortly after that I carelessly spooked a nice brownie.
Every turn and bend revealed new water, some great for swinging, some less so and after a while it came to me that packing the spey rod for the downstream journey and a nymphing outfit for heading back up would provide hours of fishing.
We left the river in the late afternoon. I felt the weight of the beating down sun as we wandered along. Summer is here.