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Easter Monday springers

Easter Monday springers in the Beast from the East

This fish took a fly in a harsh easterlie one evening last season... but this Easter was different!
This fish took a fly in a harsh easterlie one evening last season... but this Easter was different!

As I basked in sunshine of Easter Sunday my mind wandered… right down to the river. Salmon were showing, and starting to feature in the returns. The river was at a decent height, and this beautiful, hot weather would induce a pulse of snow-melt to juice up the river, and the fish themselves.
My plan was perfect. I’d decorate my landing by rubbing down the paint work, mask off any fittings and fit the dust-sheets before donning may waders and getting down to the bankside at about lunchtime - just that little bit of warmth in the middle of the day can bring a springer on the take. I’d work down the pool, and then I’d return to my can of ‘Timeless’ emulsion.

The best laid plans…

I got to the river and immediately noticed cat’s paws were scudding along the surface as a bitter easterlie hissed upstream. Another ‘Beast from the East’ had arrived that morning. We’ve had so many of them in Scotland this year we’re thinking of opening a wildlife park. Casting across this nasty, gusting gale was going to be a challenge with a long, heavy sink-tip and tungsten tube, and I soon realised the wind was so powerful that it was catapulting my line too far upstream as I made my circle cast. I made lower, smaller and slower circles with my rod-tip to lift and place the wild line with any element of control. The forward cast then became a technical challenge - get it right, with a little bit of underhand to flex the 15-footer, and the cast would flow; get it slightly wrong, and it would billow upstream, buoyed by the wailing wind. Simply controlling the rod had become difficult, such was the air-pressure pushing on the slim blank. It was like trying to cast whilst locked in an arm-wrestle.

Last season, I’d latched into a beautiful, silver springer just as I’d thought to myself: “When the wind is in the east, 'Tis neither good for man nor beast”. So I stuck at it, resolutely trying to defy the proverb yet again.

Halfway down the pool, I noticed one beast – my spaniel, who is usually eight yards ahead, rhythmically taking two paces downstream before every cast – had retreated to the bottom of the pool and was sheltering behind a tree.

God it was cold. My fingers had lost all feeling. After one cast I saw flecks of foam whizz past my face. Puzzled, I studied the water and realised these were unfortunate large dark olives being jet-propelled along the water surface, their wings skating across the film before becoming airborne. Who knows where they eventually landed? The Isle of Mull?

Three-quarters of the way down the pool the current slowed. I wished it would hurry up. The wind caused waves to push upstream – I don't ever recall seeing that happen on this pool. Casting was now even more difficult – the wind had rbecome angrier, and my fingers were so numb I could not feel the line. I let go at the wrong time, I couldn’t let go at the right time. Then I couldn’t let go at all.

I plodded on to the tail and wound in after my final cast. I stuffed my hands in my pockets and went to look for hatching olives. By now, they’d either voted against hatching, or they’d been blown away. Besides, even if I’d seen trout how would I have tied up my leader using two numb fists?

I jumped in the car, straight after the dog, and turned on the heater. I’ve never been so enthusiastic about painting a wall.

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