It was almost the end of June and the weather on this particular Saturday was finally good. I was driving to my old cottage near to Volary with two aims. First I wanted to watch the spring-round of the Czech second fly-fishing league and second I wanted to mow the grass around the cottage. I had not taken much care of this place during the last five years. I used it mainly as a place just for the fall grayling expeditions. This was the June duty visit to remove the overgrown grass.
Though I had my fly-fishing equipment in the car, I did not believe I would even unpack it. I had been cutting the grass with a scythe all the morning, and then I took a ride to the Warm Vltava River above Lenora. The above-mentioned fly-fishing event was going on there. The weather was beautiful, lots of fish were being caught, nobody argued and it all made me really happy. I got back to the cottage after six o’clock and my fishing enthusiasm started to slowly disappear. I doubted if there was any sense in doing any more fishing. After a good dinner however I decided to go and although it was after seven o’clock I started to drive in the direction of Lenora. I did not know where to go.
I passed the crossing to Soumarsky Bridge and followed the railway against the setting sun.
At the railway crossing close to Lenora I parked the car and started to change and prepare my fishing rod. I was looking at the poster map of the Vlata 33P fishing ground, which was not far from the railway. Something seemed strange to me and looking closer I found that the board was damaged in two places. Probably, it had been used as a target for someone throwing stones from the railway embankment. I recalled how much work it was to raise money for these map boards and how much effort it took to encourage fishermen from Volary to install them. My good spirit evaporated.
Directly at the riverside I found an old yellow Skoda car wreck. This really annoyed me and I went closed to see into it. It appeared that this wreck was still roadworthy, and the fishing equipment inside, showed that it was owned by a fisherman. They had driven right up to the riverbank. I was angry thinking, why could they not have walked the final 200 m to get here.
Just being curious I looked at the water. Close to the riverbank, and on the other side a big fish was rising. I could not believe it. So I waited a while and suddenly I saw a couple of grayling mouths and then again – big fish fishing! The decision about where to fish this evening had been made for me.
I walked about one hundred meters against the stream, and set up with 0.12 diameter breaking strain and tied on a Black CDC Sedge with a grey wing, on a size 14 hook. I followed the water and looked for the circles made by rising fish. On the left riverbank the grayling rose and took with confidence. I set the hook and the grayling started to roll around on the bottom. The fight was short and much too one sided. The cock was waving with his colourful back fin, and then he lay on his side. The right corner of his mouth was damaged, from some fight with another fisherman previously. I estimated he could be about thirty-five centimetres long and released him.
My sedge was all dirty, covered with the slime. I replaced it and continued down the water to the little pool. Fish were rising ahead of me, so I sent her my greetings. Right after the fly landed on the surface, a twenty cm long brown trout stood up and showed me his beautiful taper. The fly was all wet and I had to dry it for a little while before I cast it to another circle. It was just a small trout again. I lost two other flies this way before I reached the fallen trunk. The trunk lay in the water diagonally to the riverbank and in the little pool behind it something was going on.
I cast my line across the trunk, the fly was swimming in the stream and suddenly, it sank. I thought it was all wet and tried to lift it carefully from the water. Suddenly I saw that the line did not lift behind my back, but the line was going against me. There was no Sedge on the line. At the right bank of the river the mysterious fish showed himself again. I quickly lined up my last Sedge. The fish was rising on the left bank of the river where it is no wider than ten meters.
I placed my fly in his way and let it drift into the field of vision on the unknown fish. A savage attack followed. After hooking the big dark trout, it jumped twice on the surface and tried to escape. I was not one hundred percent sure which trout it was and I was really curious about what I had caught. My five weight Sage rod balanced all the attempts of the fish to escape, and soon I saw the fish right below the surface of the water. For local conditions, a very nice rainbow trout, with full-grown fins, fighting for its life. I took my camera from the jacket to document those unforgettable moments and the release button a couple of times. Then I killed my first fish of the year. The fish measured 35cm and his stomach was full of sedges and I found a residue of small fish, maybe little grayling or dace – it was not possible to recognise what they used to be.
I felt sorry for the rainbow trout. It was a beautifully marked cock, but I had to kill him because wild rainbow should be taken away. At least one reason for me, in fact I was fighting inside to give him his freedom or not. Because there are not so many, such beautiful fish any more. Finally the genes from the primeval hunter to kill his quarry won. To keep releasing fish is a little demotivating anyway. We just have this coded in our genes.
It was getting dark and I saw many grayling circles around, but I did not have any suitable sedge left. I tried similar samples, bigger, smaller, but other than small brownies, I did not catch anything any more. Grayling started to rise on some petite flies but they did not show any interest in my upwing flies. Even when I changed the nylon down to about 0.10 mm diameter. From time to time the fish showed a passing interest but it was not possible to hook them. I also came on a shoal of dace and they nibbled my flies for a while until I worked out what they were.
Around nine in the evening the grayling stopped rising. I heard some voices behind the curve of the river, and saw a man from the yellow Skoda car. “It was fishing today, wasn’t ?” he bellowed and crossed the river a couple of meters above me. I pretended I did not see him, because I did not want to ruin such a nice evening. I did not think he would react to my comments anyway. I was just glad that the water had entered my right boot, and I was not completely wet. it gave me an excuse.
Just a short toot of the train crossing the road, disturbed the quietness of this evening. A mild summer night was coming and I knew this was my last fly. I would not be able to see another one. And suddenly I recalled a feeling and I remembered where I had felt the same feeling.
Six years ago I was fishing with my colleague – a fisherman from Australia. He wrote a couple of fishing travelogue books. He did not forget to mention that evening in one of them. The evening when the surface of the river was full of rising grayling, and he had such a beautiful fish on a dry Blue Dun. Unfortunately, Chris Hole passed away two years ago. We will not see each other at the World Fly-fishing Championships in the Snowy Mountains any more.
In the edge of the stream, a bigger brown trout appeared finally, and I tried to get him. The sedge was floating above his lie and I was waiting for the take, which was not coming. The last fly got stuck, somewhere on the branch above me, and everything was over. With thoughts about Chris as I was leaving the river. I probably should come to the Volary more often...