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What to do on your Birthday

Allan Liddle treats himself to a brithday fishing trip and offers tips of what to do and what NOT to do to help make this trip special. Hint: Don't fall in the water...


The evening sun.
The evening sun.
Fading light on the river.
Fading light on the river.
Late evening spinners dance.
Late evening spinners dance.

If rapidly heading towards 50 (although still a year to go yet, I hasten to add) is you approaching the ‘Mid-Life Crisis Zone’ then I have to admit to hitting something that might be regarded as this on my birthday this week.

No I didn’t rush out and buy a ‘souped’ up sports car or motorbike (not yet anyway) but it did strike me that so focussed have I been on work and family that here we are, almost into the middle of the trout season, and I haven’t ventured out for an evenings trout chasing once.  In fact, so fast is this year passing, I hadn’t even truly realised how far we’ve progressed into this year until I was reminded it was my birthday this week.

Yes I’ve been out a lot through the daytime, and yes it’s been fantastic at times, but for April and even worse, May to sneak past almost un-noticed without even a hint at a pre-nocturnal foray or two is unheard of for me. Life might seem as though it gets faster the older you get, ok I accept this, but to be so unaware that a myriad of ‘troot chasing’ possibilities have slipped me by, like an old school report card; ‘Not Good Enough’ and ‘Must Try Harder.’

So that simply had to be put right and out I ventured onto my favourite river in search of some evening sport amongst, I hoped, obliging hungry wild brown trout. I didn’t even bother to check the forecast or the river levels, I was going and that was that.

Even with the determination that came with the discovery of the aforementioned shocking fact, I still didn’t get to the river until after eight so I was a wee bit flustered and more than a little rushed in my approach.

Fishing dries (my go to method of choice) doesn’t really lend itself to a hurried approach, or worse still, rushed and careless bit of ‘tackling up’. Eye missed on the rod, bad form Allan, snatched strike at the first fish, bad angling Allan, sticking your Deer Hair Emerger up a tree in the first half dozen casts, AAAAARRRGGGGHHHH. But thankfully it meant I had to start again, slow it all down and remind myself that however hurried I couldn’t get the time back I’d missed, only enjoy the time I had directly in front of me.

Always rather being luckier than good the fish started to show in some surprisingly skinny water and with the fading light along with a good mix of Emerging Small Dark and Blue Wing Olive’s as well as a sprinkling of Spinners in between meant I could get really close to, and really focus on the fish at hand. This is amongst the cream of our fishing, especially when the stamp of fish ran at a good pound most of the time and one turned in at a cracking two pounds four ounces (from the smallest of dimple rises), all added up to a cracking wee birthday fishing foray.

A nice fish in the fading light.

Time slipped past un-noticed, but in a good way, light slipped away beyond the ‘Magical Witching Hour’ to what resembles dark way up here so far north of the wall at this time of year and still the fish were happy to take a dry (although by now I was lifting at movement as I couldn’t really see the fly).  All was well, my two mad Labradors that have featured in a few blogs in the past, wandered the banks happy, or paddled near me when I allowed them before I had a sudden reminder of something important I had meant to request.

An evening fish on the DHE.

I had meant to ask my family for a (much required) new pair of wading boots for this almost forgotten birthday as my current ones are getting a bit ‘tired.’ The studs on them are now so worn that often it feels like I’m wading in felt soled roller skates. Suddenly sitting in a cold river in the near dark after midnight might not be the way I would have deliberately chosen to remind myself I must replace my fishing foot ware, but it was certainly effective. Squelching out the water to change into a pair of ‘emergency fall in kit’ shorts and a dry t-shirt shivering a wee bit and feeling a bit of a ‘numpty’, wasn’t how I had imagined how such a cracking evening would finish.  Worse still was the fact Mac and Roni saw this as ‘woo hoo play time’ and came bounding into the water as well meaning I had to dry those two as well.

But it did get me off home when, on reflection, I’ve no idea how long I might have stayed, and was a very effective ‘wake up call,’ for the half hour drive home past almost suicidal badgers and roe deer sniggering away to myself all the way as I confess, I did find the whole event pretty funny, would have been even better if it was someone else though.

Yup a birthday to remember for many reasons in a season that was in danger of having so much opportunity slip past un-noticed. Won’t be as long before I’m out in the late hours again, hopefully I don’t repeat the ‘Midnight Swim.’

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