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The dry-fly season page 4


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Long have the trout remained rather indifferent to his efforts, persistently they have defied his skill; but at last they come boldly forth once more. They now realise that the time is fast approaching when the supplies will be scanty, and that they must be in the height of condition if they are to withstand the exhaustion of spawning as well as the rigours of winter. They do not ignore the showers of autumn dims; they feed boldly and at every opportunity; no fly that ventures on the water can escape their keen eyes. Their appetites are insatiable, and so sport becomes reminiscent of happy spring.

Thus it is that anglers dare long for September, for, while it is the end, it is a great and glorious end. It. sends them away at the close of the season with the happiest memories of final days of fine sport and magnificent scenes. These make the beginning of the period of enforced idleness the more easy to bear, and, before the wailing ends, anticipation intervenes to keep them cheerful. They may, of course, carry on into mid-October; but, before that time, the trout have earned their respite and should be left unmolested, if sport is to continue down the years.

At no time is 1he country more attractive than in September. Through thick grass drenched with dew, among yellowing bracken and purple heather, the angler walks in the misty air to the water's edge. He hears the song of the river, long before he reaches the banks, and at last he finds the water running full and clear, for the effects of August floods have not completely departed.

A bank of fog fills the valley as with a sea, and through it loom unexpectedly objects which should be familiar, but are distorted and magnified out of recognition. Above the gloom the tree-tops appear, and up the river rocks suddenly show and as quickly vanish from sight, weird and bewildering.

A great stillness holds the air, but soon a faint breath steals through; the light grows less dim; vertical columns drift slowly past, damp and chill; the red sun pierces, is hidden again, and finally it bursts forth victorious. The enveloping fog is mysteriously wafted away, and the whole gorgeous scene s spread before the gaze.

Every shade of green is seen, but here and there amid the riot of leaves he detects a golden Hush, the beauty of which he admires, but whose significance he chooses to forget. Along the banks, delaying progress, the long, trailing, clinging sprays of bramble are clustered with rich, dark fruit; hazel-nuts are browning; rowan-berries add a touch of brilliancy. The melody of the woods is still subdued, though the silence of August is broken. The cuckoo has sought other climes and will not mock the autumn fisher; great clouds of lapwings wheel overhead, collecting for their short adventure. There is much to distract attention on a September day.

As soon as the sun charms away the mists of morning, the flies of autumn will venture out, some of them peculiar to the season, while others resemble those of spring. The redoubtable Green- well, the little Iron Blue, the Dark Olive, and the Rough Olive may be brought forth once more, and will do their duty.

In the strong lights and gentle breezes of September, the trout, though eager, are cautious enough, and demand all delicacy in the lure and its manipulation, they have had many escapes during the long season; some indeed have been hooked, and fought their way to freedom; all have learned many and many a time that numerous enemies thirst for their blood. Still they dare not abstain from food in view of coming events, and therefore a capture is an ever-present possibility.

The floating fly, unprofitable yet almost alone useful during the previous month, is again fit for great conquests, and many enjoyable days are to be spent on all rivers. Blanks are infrequent, victory is the rule and not the exception, so it is easy to forget that we are all actually bid ding farewell to the trout.

On the loch a Similar experience awaits, unless, as is not unlikely, a dead calm prevails. If, how ever, flies are numerous enough to bring the trout up to investigate and make them cease their pursuit of elusive shrimps and late-developing nymphs, interesting and exciting sport can be enjoyed stalking the rising trout and laying a fly neatly in the centre of the spreading rings.

Then must the angler above all things beware of the too forceful strike, which results in the loss of fly, time, and trout. It is easy to err, for the rise is expected, the line tight, and the fish heavy. If he can restrain himself, and be con tent with but a gentle tightening on the fish, ail well-intentioned offers should be accepted, and each be followed by a long, plucky fight, culminating in merited victory.

If weeds do not prevent, it is really better to conduct the campaign from the bank than from a boat. The shy trout, which anglers have been educating throughout the entire season, are more easily and quickly approached, provided that they do not lie beyond reach; they readily take alarm at the oncoming boat, propelled, as t probably is, by splashing oars. At any rate, we prefer to be afoot.

We can wander at will down the bank, shelter from sun or shower under the still leafy trees, with no one to consult about choice of ground and annoy with our laziness or untiring energy, we can work hard when there is inducement, and take things easy when invitations are few. There is as much variety as on the river; long casts and short are in demand; we have to study direction, and accurately lay the fly on a rise, close to a bed of weed or clump of rustling reeds, or over a submerged rock lit up by the sun.

Anglers are all happy in September, for they live only in the present, and refuse to remind themselves that they are about to lay aside for a season the faithful, deadly dry-fly rod.

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