Like a moth to a flame, I’m continually drawn to one pool on the River Wandle. In the clear water I always see trout, and I (nearly) always fail to catch one with a fly.

This evening was no different. The water had a little grey tinge after the much needed recent rain, but plenty of wild brown trout were in residence. They were joined by a sizeable goldfish, swimming in circles (any upstream movement is barred by man-made barriers). A small female mallard dived to the weed growing on the sill. A large heron swooped downstream.

I have a theory as to why these fish are so hard to tempt. This pool is a popular spot for bait-fishermen – even out of season – so the fish are stuffed with groundbait. Additionally, the clear waters allow the fish a good inspection of the fly.

I selected my new 6′ 2-weight rod and tried a selection of nymphs. I found the lightweight rod worked well with flies of size 14 or less, but I could roll-cast with just about any size of fly. A number of fish would take a little interest in my offering, but not enough to commit. Switching to a gold ribbed hare’s ear prompted a couple of takes, for a while, but none I could convert.

It is well known that the trout of the Wandle love white bread so I’ve bought a few dry flies which imitate a floating crust. These were similarly ignored by the fish, but attracted the attention of the mallard. I am thankful that I opted for the barbless version. Keeping on the dry fly, I persisted with the duo method – tying a nymph a few feet under the dry – but nothing worked for me today. Really, I should have moved onto another section of the river, but the sight of fish so temptingly close is mesmerising.

Passers by inquired if it was the goldfish I was trying to catch. By the end of the evening, I was tired of replying – just slightly sarcastically – “it isn’t goldfish season”. They all charitably wished me luck regardless.

With the light fading, I left the river to the heron.

Grey Heron,  Ardea cinerea