A Good Night on the Earn

Thursday, 10th July 1997

Thundery rain in the west … temperature forecast to stay above 11°C. … heavy cloud cover, upstream easterly wind, not strong enough to be troublesome but strong enough to keep mist off the water. Surprisingly, no other fishers to be seen, perhaps because the river level had dropped six inches since Tuesday and was now running very low, with a large area of pebbles exposed on the left bank opposite the fence. I had caught fish earlier last month in this height of water, though, and so was hopeful.
It was just about dark enough to begin, with care, at 11pm. Fishing a double taper seven floater and two size 8 flies – a ginger pearl on the dropper and a pearly dark mackerel on the tail – I made a start in the streamy water at the head of the pool, wading carefully and casting into the shade of the bushes on the far bank.

River Earn below Crieff

The first fish took on the far side just opposite the log, a good firm take as I had been employing a slow figure of eight retrieve to keep in touch with the flies and keep them moving at a good pace. Now this fish, at just 1lb 14 ozs, was probably the liveliest fish I have caught, leaping clear of the water about eight times and causing a great commotion in the now shallow stream before being drawn towards the net, at which point its lively acrobatics almost earned its freedom. Just as I was drawing the fish over the net, I felt the hook come out and, for a second, the fish was free. Fortunately, before the fish realised this, I managed to scoop the net under it. An unlucky fish! It was 11.30pm.

Despite the disturbance, not wishing to miss the chance of another fish, I started in again just above where I had hooked the fish. It was only a matter of minutes before I felt another strong pull but didn’t make contact. At 12 midnight, on reaching the overhanging trees on the far bank, as the flies began to swing across the current, I felt a tiny pluck, very like a bat touching the line. Seconds later, the second sea trout of the night was on, stronger than the first fish but less acrobatic. After an early leap, it ran strongly up the far side of the stream. I kept firm pressure on to keep it out of the thick trailing weed, which grew near the far bank. The hook held, though, and the second fish of the night was eventually netted, another hen fish of 2lbs 2ozs. Like the first, it had taken the tail fly.

After a short break for a cup of tea from the flask, I fished on till 12.30am. With no further offers and two fish on the bank, I decided to call it a night. I may have had the chance of a few more fish, perhaps even the bag of the season, but I was well satisfied. Two beautiful, fresh sea trout, 4lbs between them, caught within an hour of each other, with a third fish missed, on a lovely river at the height of summer with not another fisherman in sight. A good night! In fact, if you were to imagine, to daydream, of a perfect night’s fishing, it might be very like this.

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