There are many things that can influence the outcome of a fishing trip – perhaps not all equally important, but when combined they can be the difference between success and failure. Fly fishermen are a suspicious breed and as such we tend to be tuned in to the everyday natural rhythms that beat continuously around us, attaching great importance to things such as light levels, temperature, and cloud cover.
One evening, when I arrived at the lake, the sun was still riding high in the sky as it made its daily journey towards the western horizon. After tying a fly onto the end of a favourite fly rod, I sat next to the water beneath an ancient beech tree and waited for the sun to go down. Other than the slightest of warm breezes ruffling the surface of the water, nothing seemed to be stirring. The birds had retreated to the shaded relief of the tree canopy and sat silent waiting for the first sign of coolness to wake them from their lethargy. Occasionally in the margins a damsel fly would effortlessly glide slowly along the bank, seemingly on a constant quest to seek out the most sun drenched of spots on which to perch. The water in the margins of the lake was the temperature of a warm bath and had a clarity that reminded me of a tropical aquarium. The only sign of life within the lake was within the deeper water towards the far bank where a dimple on the surface betrayed the presence of trout lazily sipping at a fly from beneath. This place was breathing, easing towards the end of the day at the pace of a relaxed stupor rather than a panted sprint to the finish line.
I sat beneath the tree for another hour or so, and with the sun starting to dip towards the horizon behind me, the air had started to cool slightly. This had not gone unnoticed by a pair of swallows, who were now skimming low along the length of the lake, scooping up flies trapped in the surface film. The air now hung still, and the surface of the water had become perfectly still. With the light levels now starting to fade, I stared at the glass like surface of the water which offered an almost mirror perfect reflection of the sky in return. For the briefest of moments it was almost impossible to discern where the sky ended and the water began.