Several Large Browns

Ed Zern a man noted for his irreverent views on all things sporting, once remarked “There are few things deader than a dead brown-trout stream”, and I was faced with such a situation when I visited the Frome on a day ticket on Tuesday 8 September 2009.

The portents were good. A day of low pressure, a south-westerly breeze, low light and warmth promised ideal conditions, but the river was unexpectedly dead. No hatch = no surface activity. What does a visiting angler do? Sit and wait for something to happen, or go in search of some action. I chose the latter and began a slow walk upstream from Whitfield Hatches exploring likely looking holding spots by flicking a size 16 F Fly as a searching pattern, and was rewarded by half a dozen nice browns. After a quick bite to eat, it was then time for a brisk walk downstream to Gifford’s Pool to commence the afternoon’s operations, and the dead brown-trout stream suddenly awoke from its torpor at 1415.

I was wading the bend at Withy Bed when I became aware of a sparse hatch of Pale Wateries, and taking advantage of this late season bounty were several large browns, one of which was extravagantly ‘head rising’ with dorsal and tail also showing. It took my size 18 Pale Watery imitation as soon as it dropped into its feeding lane, and after a short but violent struggle (I like to keep big fish on the surface and off balance as much as possible so they don’t weed me) a magnificently colored brown trout of some 16 inches was brought to hand. A few minutes later its companion also obliged – similar size, same fly and same end result, and my day was complete. The hatch of Pale Wateries quickly faltered and eventually ceased, and rigor mortis once again returned to the Frome.

On the long drive home I reflected on my day – I was certainly fortunate to be in the right place, at the right time, or else Ed Zern would have been proved right (as he usually was!).