Over the years we have had many superb writers contribute to the Fishtec blog, but few come as close to capturing the excitement and enthusiasm of the moment as Airflo tackle nut Stuart Smitham does. In this write up Stuart shares his latest passion – the charms of small brook fishing!
With an ever growing number taking up small stream fishing, I am one of those that has recently felt the draw of the tumbling Brook. It is a feeling like nothing else for me right now. Casting short but more accurate distances for free rising fish. That pulse of the rod tip as a good fish decides to go for gold and do a Usain Bolt on you. Sheer bliss.
Replacing the 10 ft #7 rod with one that is 7ft 9”and a #3 line is something else and is light as a feather in comparison. Matching the rod with an Airflo Xceed reel and Super Dri Xceed fly line, I have a very good outfit that is well up to the job. Since the extension of the Sightfree tippet range to include the Tactical tippet, this has been a fantastic addition to my small stream kit.
Fishing here is Shropshire, we are quite spoiled for choice, as there are numerous small streams to choose from that thread their way through some gorgeous countryside.
When I say small stream I mean small, with brook widths of my rod length or less, but there is always the possibility of catching a really beaut of a trout, from possibly one of the smallest of rise forms. The free risers often feed more avidly just before dark or early morning. Through the day they’ll often sulk away in some way out scrub or bush tangle, that offers comfort in the current and out of the sun. Don’t get me wrong here, these fish ain’t going to ignore the flies coming past them. They’re hiding often in plain sight, right under a bush or branch and often with a bolt hole, should they need it?
A lot can happen in two minutes……
(Start the clock) One such day I was casting a small size 14 Iron Blue Dun variant on what was it’s first trial. This fly is tied with a fluorescent red butt and fluorescent red head to match. Casting and wading between long tangles of weed and casting between reed and nettle fringed banks, the wind picks up and I make a bad delivery with my fly just catching a reed stem.
(10 seconds) Making a small quick anti clockwise spin on the rod tip, the fly plucks clear and lands on a floating frond of weed. I let the stream current draw on the fly line and fly just slips into the current eddie.
(20 seconds) There are small rise forms in the next pool up, so I’m expectant, poised and nervous too, all in the same moment. The fly moves slowly down toward me as the stream current creates drag on the water surface to catch at my fly and leader. Then the fly just stops momentarily in the current with a shadow below it – with the smallest of rises the fly gets sucked down and I don’t see the shadow anymore? I lift my rod up and grip my fly line, to take up the slack line and strike!
(35 seconds) This is the point when a man with more control would sit back and just soak up the moment. I’m not built that way, so start wondering how I’m going to handle this fish, which by the way is now tearing off upstream!
(50 seconds) Bringing the reel into life I realise I have slack line around legs and weed. Tangle the line here and it’s game over. So I reel in the slack and pray the hook maintains it’s hold. This fish is not pleased about being connected to me and for good reason too. It’s a wild Brownie and I’ve just seen it’s head with some lovely looking spots on it’s flanks. It turns downstream and comes straight at me. Holding the rod tip up, this is now a very dangerous moment! Slack line or snag the line and I’m a broken man. .
(1.20) The fish then does an out of the water flip and falls on weed, which it spins on and drags my leader through it , making a bold decision I plunge the rod tip under and the Brownie pops up with it’s tail pounding away. The little fly rod is bouncing away at the rod tip and I know I have to be really careful now. With the fish tiring and starting to come toward me, I have a chance of landing this beast. I undo the French clip on my net and get ready…
(2.00) Pushing the rod tip upward I try to draw to fish toward me. He wants none of it and smashes his tail at the surface water. I make a lot ditch attempt to net this fish and lean down with the rod up and drag the Brownie of the wait net rim
In those brief moments you feel every emotion don’t you? Thrilled, paralysed in space and time. Rushes of adrenaline and your trying to keep calm. Shaking on the thrill ride that you don’t want to come off. Then praying you don’t lose the fish, which you’ve just seen and it makes it worse. Then, as quickly as the thrill starts, it ebbs away as you gaze at what is one of nature’s true marvels. A beautiful brown trout, resplendent in black ash spots with red spots intermingled. The magenta tinges on the gill plates are just sheer gorgeousness (is that a word?)
With the trout in the net, I am truly a happy chap. Thrilled and relieved that I landed it. So a few pics for posterity and release it to fight another day. Then onto the next pool?
Big thanks to Ceri Thomas at Airflo for encouraging me to look into other lies and areas on the stream. It was he who said to me, “there are bigger ones in there”. How right he was!!!