YOUR angling correspondent seems to be suffering from a mild attack of March blues - and I’m not talking about some fresh colour variant of a popular early-season dry fly.
I was beginning to wonder if my sorry state was the result of throwing religion and music into the mix with fly-fishing for purposes of philosophical reflection over the past couple of weeks. Despite my recent pursuit of grayling, evangelical in its zeal, and evening hours spent with the vice after being converted by The Fly-Tying Bible, my fishing soul’s guardian angel just seems to be out of sorts. My angling mojo is definitely not on the rise.
However, the cause of such distress at least has been identified, as indeed have the events that are responsible, and it eventually dawned on me that I felt similar symptoms around this time last year, a few weeks before the start of the trout season. I’m quite sure that I am suffering from Pre-Season Affective Disorder.
My self-diagnosed minor ailment seems to affect the unfortunate angler when grayling fishing is on the wane, the chance of a spring salmon is relatively remote, and when the start of trout fishing remains tantalisingly out of reach.
Two unrelated incidents brought this on, the first relatively minor. While bugging a lovely Dumfries and Galloway river for ladies of the stream, I caught a rainbow trout, presumably escaped from a fishery, after thinking I had hooked a specimen grayling. Such an experience does nothing for the karma of a wild fish purist.
When again after grayling on the River Leader and suitably absorbed at a productive spot, a ‘friend’ crept up behind me - and shouted loudly.
Such frights don’t make for happy angling.
They put you right off your cast. Falling in and being soaked and disturbing pheasants or ducks that make you jump momentarily are all fair game, part of the fun even. But man-made frights hit below the belt.
This, in turn, brought to mind my otter experiences. Occasionally when wading at night for sea trout, I have experienced a significant v-shape swimming towards me in the dark. The creator of such a wake becomes visible only when the otter is a little too close for comfort, at which point it usually hisses and disappears. When up to your family credit just a matter of feet from where that large, sharp-toothed mammal dives under the water it can induce a certain sinking feeling in a human.
Another dark night I was casting down a pool while a fishing friend lay back on a shingle bank for a rest. On hearing frantic scrabbling over stones, I turned to see what looked like a black labrador running towards the spot where my friend was lying on his back, his hood up. He heard the beast only when it was almost upon him and, understandably, jumped up sharpish. The big dog otter probably got as much of a fright as he did, about-turned and leapt into the water.
Such natural frights in the night are acceptable. They keep you on your toes, sharpen the senses, but the recent daylight shock perpetrated by my comedian friend happened when I couldn’t even feel my toes, and the experience has put me right out of kilter. The river was dirty with snow-melt, the fishing wasn’t great ... then I got shouted at.
My pre-seasonal disorder has set in. But March Browns will soon be cast through warmer air, and springtime will blow away all these fisherman’s blues.