Ten more days. Ten more tedious days until the trout season opens here in Yorkshire, and I am free once again to set about tangling leaders and missing takes.
The beginning of the season is typically a leaden affair, notable mainly for its distinct lack of fish. The river is cold, hatches are fleeting and, even when they do materialise, they often fail to draw the attention of the angler’s torpid quarry. In all honesty it is normally not until mid-April, with the arrival of the grannom, that I truly begin to enjoy my trouting, the preceding cold weeks being a hard slog in search of scant reward. Yet despite this, today I am looking to the North and West with jealousy, for it is the 15th, and in Cumbria and (whisper it!) Lancashire they’re getting a head start.
Given my early season experiences at home, why I should be compelled to travel further afield in search of more punishment is anyone’s guess. Common sense should tell me to stay at home, but I doubt I, along with countless other foolish fisherpeople, will ever learn from my mistakes. When I lived in the Lake District I would regularly venture out far too early and suffered numerous bitter defeats, usually freezing to death in the River Eamont, or cowering from the wind on the weather-beaten shores of Ullswater. However, such lows only acted to accentuate the brief, soaring highs, like 2014’s opening day fish – a glorious leopard-spotted miracle, somehow bungled onto the bank amidst a roaring gale in which one could barely stand, the spray from the waves lashing my face. Or the perfectly calm morning when I looked out across the frozen shallows to the snow dusted fells, beautifully illuminated by the spring sun.
A hundred miserable experiences of Marches past will invariably fade over time, or at least take on a softer light, but the rare successes and special moments burn bright in memory. They are what keeps us warm in the dark days of winter, and drives us back out onto the bank in the new season to once again battle against the odds. It is the very essence of angling itself. I suppose it is not the prospect of quality fishing for which I envy those who begin on the 15th, but the opportunity to set about making memories.
Perhaps I’ll nip across the border this weekend…