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Last of the Summer Browns
September 20, 2019

Last of the Summer Browns

Monday saw me with a gap in the guiding calendar and a rare pleasure session in homage to my favourite species- Salmo trutta or the brown trout before the season ends. Perfect weather conditions (well for me a fair weather fisherman), bright and windless meant I could fish my beloved dry fly with the requisite accuracy to fool my wary leopard like quarry.

Soft hackle dry flies- Trout candy

I arrived at the first pool at about 10 o’clock. No fish were showing but I fished the lines, or cast the fly so it trundled naturally without drag along the foam lines and after 10 minutes had pulled up a couple of nice 12 inch brownies to the soft hackle dry fly. With a smile on my face I made my way to the next pool with the intention of repeating this tactic. But in the tail of the pool I spotted a rise. This was not a subtle rise, that many river anglers miss completely. This was a rise that moved a great deal water. Moreover I was well away from any pool containing grayling so I knew it must be a better than average brown trout.

The first a stunning male!

I kept low and stayed on the bank and positioned myself only 20 feet from where I spotted the rise form. A mix of small stoneflies (willow/needle fly) and pale wateries were hatching and sure enough the first pale watery along that line was engulfed by the fin waver. Fin wavers are always bigger than average fish in the Tees, moreover I couldn’t miss that glorious golden flank in the sunshine. He was a good fish at least, 2lb in weight. And of course typically for a larger than average fish he was in a strange position. Positioned in what looked to the naked eye like a big current rip in the tail, my knowledge of brown trout told me he was riding the bow wave of an underwater obstacle like a rock. Thereby despite the current he was holding position without expanding any energy and his casual rises to intercept surface food demonstrated his aquabatic abilities. His position would require a good cast, and despite a defined foam line there was an obvious break of the water towards my position. This was in the tail and the current was both fast and disparate.

Whilst I was solving the differential equation required to get the fly on this fish Another fish rose in the next current foam line over (only 8 feet away) and this also looked like a very good fish. As my jaw was dropping another rise occurred about 15 feet upstream of me and this fish also revealed himself to be a decent beast possibly the biggest of the three. This was phenomenal luck I’d landed on 3 freely rising big browns. I was upstream of Middleton-in-Teesdale. Many of you fish this water and although it is well known to be prolific with 8-10 inch fish it isn’t renown for line stripping reel screaming big browns. And this was a challenge. Getting a single one of these fish would have been par but I made it my goal to land all 3. I love a challenge. I instinctively put a stack cast (collapsing my furled leader) over the first fish. The fly landed perfectly in the foam line. The creased furled leader rapidly straightened at high speed but by then the fly was over the target who duly obliged and porpoised over the fly. I lifted the rod and instinctively pulled the fish downstream to avoid spooking his nearby friends.

The second a pretty plump hen fish!

Despite several acrobatic leaps and 2 good attempts to rock me up (swim under rocks) I kept trusty pressure on the Sage 389 LL and was soon slipping the net under the fish about 15 feet downstream of my starting position out of sight of his 2 brethren who were still freely rising. A quick snap , and he was off like a shot. He was a beautifully marked male fish in pristine condition.

Number 2 was in a similar position. The fly went without drag over the apparent rise form three times without interest and just before I considered changing the fly down in size (the soft hackle dry fly is a size 14 and hatching flies were in the 18-22 range) I had one final cover. Whether this time I landed the fly in the fishes rising rhythm or not is debatable, but this time she took it without hesitation. Although not as big as the first fish, she was still approaching a pound and a half in weight. Being a hen fish and probably already with eggs I only took only the briefest snap as I slipped her back so no apologies for the poor photograph.

2 out of 3 isn’t bad for fish like these and now was the icing on the cake fish and I’d determined already, he was the biggest of the three. And of course the hardest. The first 2 fish, although both in a difficult tail with diverging and converging currents, were holding station. This third fish was what we refer to as a milling fish. That is a patrolling fish and he was rising in an area of about 20 by 6 feet in the nearside bank in water about 18 inches deep. Periodically he would pop up and take a surface item. Almost none of this water was moving only the top right section from his perspective looking upstream. I determined I would have to put the fly in this section to have the best chance of getting the fly on him without him getting suspicious. I waited for what seemed like an eternity but a glance at my phone ready for the picture showed it was only 8 minutes. In this time I’d literally looked down his gaping open mouth three times as he took surface insects only feet from my disguised, crouched position. “Stealth Jon, stay low, stay quiet you will get a shot” I whispered to myself. Finally he rose towards the top right corner of his patrolling area, the fly landed like thistle down 18 inches ahead of him. My heart sank as he appeared to change direction....but no an imperceptible swish of his tail and he head and tailed over the fly.

The third of 3 a magnificant solid male

Of course all hell broke loose when he realised he’d been deceived and he jumped a good 8 feet (no exaggeration he was feet above my head) clear of the water as a response. Thankfully once he was netted he calmed down and even posed nicely for a picture. Just one of the many reasons I love Brown trout. I caught a load more fish that day but that treble will stay with me for a long time. Very rarely in fly fishing will situations like this work out so well from the angler’s perspective.



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