With the water temperature in the lake varying from 21.3 degrees at 5 metres depth to 23 degrees at the surface, this was always going to be a tough day’s fishing. The sun was out in the morning, and I sat out there on the tube, lathered up with suncream, thankful for the breeze, and not entirely confident.
Over the years, there have been more occasions than I care to remember, where my colleagues have out-fished me a dozen to one, or where they have caught fish and I have not, or perhaps I caught all the small ones, and the other bloke landed several ‘lunkers’. Those are the days when you try to copy their retrieve. You borrow an identical fly, and then at some point they will start giving you advise, or let you take their spot. This just makes it worse, as you try desperately to bury that nagging human nature called competitiveness.
I am not talking about a casual tally where you caught a few fish less than the other guy. I am talking of those days where, on your return, your wife will ask you what was wrong with you. Those times where you are hopelessly and completely outgunned to the point that you lose your confidence and feel like a complete beginner.
I can think of one day in particular, on a club water in the Kamberg. PD and I had fished carefully and well, all day. It was a fairly miserable misty and drizzly day, and after about eight hours out on our float tubes, at around four in the afternoon, we took a mutual decision to throw in the towel, and be home in time for an early dinner. We had caught two fish each I think. Small ones.
We paddled over towards the launching spot, and just before we reeled in and paddled the last 20 yards through thick weed, PD put out a long cast, and hooked a fish.
“What fly?” , I asked.
I had a muddler in my box. I would change if he hooked another fish.
Bam! he hooked another.
I changed to a Muddler.
Then he caught another. I hadn’t had a touch.
He lent me one of his Muddlers. I fished right next to him. I emulated the retrieve.
We ended the day with him 12 fish up on what I had caught. It was ridiculous!
I was out the other morning on a piece of water I hadn’t fished in a while. It was one of those peculiar days when everything seems quite on its head.
I had set my alarm for five minutes to four on that Sunday morning. At around three I couldn’t stand the suspense any more and looked at the clock to see how long it would be before the thing went off. No luck….still another hour. Barely enough time to get sleepy when you’re sleepless. Too long to sit around waiting for a decent departure time. After what seemed an agonizingly long time of resisting the temptation to look at the clock again, I noticed a pale light oozing through the curtains. I grabbed the clock, and just about throttled the damned thing. It hadn’t gone off! Now I was ‘late” by 35 minutes. You don’t want to be 35 minutes late in mid summer when there’s just an hour or two on the water before the sun starts roasting the heads of the trout and fisherman alike.
Anyway there I was out there in the mist and the rain, with my collar turned up to the South Easterly wind, dipping my frigid hands into the water to warm them.
(Yes, in the water) It had blown in cold you see, but the water was still a seething cauldron from the heat wave of the previous two days. The water was 23 degrees. The air was about 16 degrees. I prefer it the other way around, and the think that any self respecting trout would agree with me on that.