Mick Mc Brien
the embers of summer and the close of the season there
occasionally appears a window of exquisite blue-sky
clarity. Some seasons it doesn't happen, a cause for
some sadness. In other years it's missed due to work
commitments, a tragedy.
But sometimes, ah yes sometimes, these crystal
bright days line up like a jewel necklace. Still, bright
and clear days.
Illuminated days, like childhood memories of
morning fog glides through the hollows, a ghost river
tracing a memory of its ancient course, over the season's
first fields of silver dew. The willows and poplars
that line the riverbank have changed their livery, heralding
the shortening of the days and the immanent arrival
of winter. All of these are signs and portents, that
remind those who take time to study them, that its olive
starts to build when the air and water temperature have
dropped, signalling that the larger Mayfly and Caddis
hatches are mostly over.
When the swashbuckling exuberance of Summer Hopper
fishing has become a fond memory......
is not lost; the season still has a few cards left up
its sleeve for students of its patterns and moods.
still and clear days of low clear water set the stage
for what some consider to be the highlight of the season.
With the addition of the last key ingredient,
diminutive duns, you have a recipe for what is euphemistically
referred too as "technical fishing".
Translated that means exasperating, challenging
and totally absorbing.
Those who "know" it, savour it, like fine wine
or good single malt, its flavour lingering in memory
down through the years. These memories, of great days
and exceptional hatches, are afforded the status of
holy relics, recalled from the vault on those occasions
when acolytes gather to compare notes, beseech the weather
gods, and make plans.
throughout most of the season (often masked by more
showy Caddis hatches) these exquisite little duns come
into their own as they take centre stage in this autumn
a performance appreciated by the dedicated and the obsessed
with spooky fish and long fine leaders.
The tiny flies, coupled with the need for precise
presentation mean far more refusals than takes.
Just tying the little duns, 18's through to 24's,
requires a dedication and determination bordering on
wire hooks demand very fine tippets.
No bullying tactics here, too much pressure or
an over exuberant strike (an embarrassing personal affliction)
and the day becomes one of what might have been.
It's a dilemma, caught between the needs of finesse
and utility. But
if, like me, you'd rather loose a fish than kill it,
you fish as heavy as you possibly can and accept defeat
as a consequence of fair play.
Such fish that "assist" in their own release,
become the stuff of myth, legend and the basis of most
good fishing yarns.
time of year has its own rhythm; a stately and dignified
economy of movement seems to pervade everything, including
the river currents. Being able to tune in and adapt
to this gentle rhythm can make all the difference between
joy and exasperation.
hang in the seams and glides, drifting languidly, feeding
apparently at random.
But hold still and watch; slowly a routine begins
to emerge. I have no doubt that the phrase "learn to be still" was coined
with this sort of fishing in mind.
forms are subtle, gentle dimples as the fish dine in
a steady and refined manner.
In this sort of fishing the fly must not only
be in the right place, but must arrive at the right
early and the fish isn't looking, too late and the fish
has already selected another target.
Patience, persistence and precision are all required
in abundance and the reserves of all are tested. It
isn't called "technical fishing" by virtue of being
because of these trials, success, when it comes, is
doubly sweet and belies measurement in mere numbers. It belongs to that class of mysterious intangibles, instinctively
understood by all dedicated practitioners of the art,
yet unintelligible to all those outside of it.
It is a simple, childlike joy that defies any
at olive time have begun to take on the hues of spawning.
Rich burnt gold flanks and arteriole red spots, with
butter and cream fins.
It's a dress code in keeping with the gentle,
muted tones of this time of year.
These are the colours of "the" brown trout that
swims down through the seasons of memory, a part of
the magic of this time of year that seeps into your