08/02/2020 - Before the storm

Spent most of last week sat in all-day meetings, periodically staring out of the window and wishing I was by the river instead. However, the arrival of Storm Ciara at the weekend meant that that my window of opportunity was going to be restricted to Saturday morning. Whilst it was forecast to be breezy, it was meant to be dry well into the day, so after yet another meeting on Friday afternoon I raced to the tackle shop before it shut for a pint of mixed.
Woke up on Saturday morning to relatively calm conditions, so quickly loaded up the car and was soon heading west on the A50 once more. This time I was venturing a bit further into Staffordshire to the small tributary of the River Dove that's been good to me in the past, where I knew I could get some shelter if needed behind it's high, tree-lined banks. Leaving Tutbury behind, sat in its cloud of coffee aroma from the nearby Nestle factory, I was soon pulling off the A50 and heading down the track to the venue. Happiness comes in all forms, but for me it's an empty angler's car park, so I was pleased to see nobody had beaten me to it and was able to relax a bit while I pulled on my neoprenes. Squelched across the still saturated fields to find the river much lower and clearer than on previous visits. I had struggled during my last session in slightly better conditions, so I knew that I was going to work hard for any reward this morning.

After running the float throught the first swim a few times without any signs of interest from the fish, it was soon obvious that it wasn't going to be a bite a chuck and that it was more likely a day for working a spot for just one or two fish and then moving on. As with previous visits, the "flashy" nature of the river meant that recently-fallen trees and obstructions had created little scours and pools in my absence, so there were planty of spots to go at. It was often these new swims, with perhaps just that little more depth (the maximum depth I fished the float all day was probably less than four feet), that threw up a fish after I'd drawn a blank in one of the "bankers". With club work parties seemingly intent on opening up the river for fly fishing, I also knew that such features wouldn't be around for long and to make the most of them!

Apart from the freshening breeze the weather was quite pleasant, so I carried on working my way slowly downstream. The green shoots of wild garlic had started poking up everywhere, together with the odd clump of snowdrops, and it wouldn' t be long before the banks were completely carpetted. By the time I'd reached the bottom of the section I'd managed to winkle out 16 grayling, including a nice male of just over a pound. 

The wind was now in my face and making it tricky to control the line with the centrepin. However, I managed three more out of that final swim, including another fish over the pound mark, before I decided to call it a day and headed home to watch the rugby, if you could call it that!