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The Con - Part 20

Started by otter, April 03, 2013, 04:18:05 PM

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'As far as I recall there are a lot of .. aggh, holes here'; Father Brennan had just stepped into one as they crossed the river, almost losing balance. 'You are right James, did I forget to mention that'; said Doc, if he was with anyone else they would have been forewarned. Father Brennan stumbled a few more times as they crossed the shallows above Hoban's rocks, cursing loudly at each misplaced step.

Doc glanced at his watch; 'James, the hatch, if there is a hatch of Large dark Olives today should be starting quite soon. I reckon we should move to the upper rocks and take a break. Good place to watch the river come to life'; Father Brennan nodded, the upper rocks were one of his favourite places on the river. A high bank overlooked Hoban's strand and the shallows above, a great vantage point to sit and observe. Moving half way up the strand they lay down their rods and sat.

Doc needed to learn more about James and like all men of a quiet disposition he probed with a single question; 'James, you obviously know this river better than most'; Father Brennan did not need a second invitation and recounted in fine detail his exploits on the Liffey, those memories were as fresh as though the events occurred only last week. Occasionally he threw in a humorous story, recalling other characters that searched her waters, many long since dead. He had caught many big trout but like any good angler the actual size mattered little, the important ones were those that were well above average for the season in question or ones of a lesser size that presented some difficulty in their capture.

'One incident stands out above all others;' he recalled, laughing as the memory came flooding back; 'I was fishing a heavy nymph at the bottom of Drury Byrnes. The river had been in flood for several days and was only starting to drop and as far as I can remember it was about the end of April. I was standing on the edge of some fast water, working the edge of it when the line paused. I struck hard and all hell broke loose. That fish ran right to the top of Drury's almost to the corner, me in hot pursuit. Twice I fell in and nearly drowned as I struggled to cross the river. At last I got the fish under control and only when it came to the surface I realised that it was a Salmon of about eight pounds and a fresh one it was too.

As I lifted the rod high to try and beach the fish I noticed my Nymph dangling in mid-air, three feet above the Salmon, Jesus, I was stunned. When I eventually landed the Salmon all was revealed. The Nymph had hooked through the eye of a swivel. Someone, fishing worms had already hooked that fish and had been broken off. As much as a Salmon steak for supper appealed to me, I broke of the worm hook and released her back to the river. She wasn't for me, she hadn't been caught fair, what would you have done with her Doc?' Doc replied as he lit a cigarette; 'that is easy, boiled, fresh parsley sauce. But only if she was real and not a figment of your imagination.;' both men laughed out loud; 'O she was real alright;' the priest quickly retorted.

The sun had broken through the light cloud cover and in unison they sensed the change and turned their attention to the river. 'There, just below the bush on the far side'; Doc had spotted the upright silhouette of an Olive as it drifted momentarily as it dried its wings. Then it lifted on the gentle breeze, gaining height, all the while battling its way to the sanctuary of some trees on the far bank. No matter how often they had witnessed such events they could not help but marvel at the wonders of nature. Such simple events unnoticed by most, it touches the heart strings of any angler that understands the complex lifecycle. Season after season these first hatches announce the true arrival of spring and with them the trout stir from their slumber.

As they watched several more olives came off and as though on cue the river suddenly came to life, trout rising, first below the bush, another splash in the shallow water upstream. They readied their rods, each analysing the rises, agreeing to target a single trout each.

Doc slid down the bank and waded up the shallow water his side until he reached a point where he could easily move towards the far side. His target was a group of trout that continually rose on the edge of the current just out from the bush and slightly downstream. His nymphs had been replaced with a single paraloop olive, a very simple dressing that he had found to work as well as any. Slowly he pulled line of the reel, false casting well away from the trout, making his calculations without even thinking, his muscles, mind and rod acting in unison. Turning towards his target he watched the line unfurl and just before the fly alighted above the trout he raised his rod high and back, creating a few yards of slack line. Ever so slowly he lowered the rod tip allowing the fly to drift down. It disappeared in the rings of the rising trout and ever so gently he tightened, drawing the rod sideways, firmly he coaxed the trout away so as not to create too much disturbance. Drawing the trout to his side, het let it splash until it calmed. Reaching down he felt for the fly, a quick shake released the barbless hook and the trout was safely returned.

'Well done Doc, not bad for a young fella.' Father Brennan was already wading out and made for the shallows, stopping midstream. The water along the edge of the bush was little more than a foot deeper than that around it but that was enough to ensure it was occupied by many trout later in the season. For now, it required a few to move up, taking advantage of the hatch. That uncertainty only served to enhance an anglers pleasure, yet Father Brennan was convinced that the lie at the very top would be occupied and locking that thought away he unhitched his nymph from the keeper ring. This was a tricky cast, one that would test even a skilful caster. The dry and nymph had to land just above the bush and as tight to it as possible. A foot wrong either way and the likely outcome would be a small trout at best, stuck in the bush at worst.

Concentrating as though his life depended on it he inched forward, his upper body stooped like an octogenarian he got as close as he could dare. His cast seemed perfect and even Doc marvelled at such precision yet for all his priestly virtues and communion with the almighty Father Brennan could not control the breeze. A rogue gust grabbed the dry and it landed in the bush, both anglers almost speechless at such bad luck. 'Bad luck Father, that bush has a bad habit of grabbing wayward casts;' though inwardly sympathetic Doc could not resist a sharp shot across the bows. Father Brenann tugged, the bush yielded, the dry and nymph released and with a small splash they fell on the stream; 'the game is not over yet Doc;' shouted the exuberant priest as he watched the dry bobbing as the nymph sought to anchor the rig. As it settled an enormous swirl seen the dry disappear and a grinning padre soon drew a fine trout over the waiting net.

'Doc I don't know about you, I have had the best days fishing for many a long fishless year. To continue any longer may be tempting fate and could spoil what has been a perfect day on the river. Let us call it a draw.'

They slowly walked back up the fields, shoulder to shoulder, talking as though they had known each other for years. Reaching the top, Doc guided them to the stile; 'after you James;' Driving back along the road they agreed to meet at least once a month and equally agreed that no scores in future would be kept. Before Father Brennan drove away he handed Doc back his matchbox; 'try these Doc but do not show them to anyone else, not in this world nor in the next. There is also something else in there, I want it back the next time we meet.'

Doc stood at the bridge watching the old Clio splutter up the road. Opening the match box he could see four distinctly different nymphs and in an instance he knew them to be good. The box contained something else caught up in the flies. He had to tip the contents out on to the palm of his hand to find out what it was.

Lifting the rusty swivel he grinned, the Salmon story had been true. Leaning over the parapet he shielded his eyes from the glare of the sun and surveyed the riverbed. He spotted a subtle flash midstream, a trout taking a nymph, revealing its location. Tomorrow he thought, 'tomorrow is another day.'



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