Fishing the Tees: Dog days of summer remind us why we fish
WE are in the dog days, those lazy high summer days, when it’s difficult to raise the effort to do anything vaguely energetic.
That applies to the trout as well as us. Fish filled days are rare at this time of year.
The Tees trout will feed only when the mood takes them, which tends to be very sporadically.
They can be caught, but the experienced angler lowers his targets. In May and June each session is likely to yield ten or more fish, sometimes many more.
But during August you can halve that – though there are exceptions.
Early and late in the day can be good, but through the hottest parts of the day, a trout here and there is the norm, rather than periods of frenzied activity.
In spring and early summer, fish rising in tricky areas to cast to, perhaps under low hanging branches or behind rocks which lie across currents of varying speeds, can be ignored.
There are plenty of trout feeding in easier areas to reach.
But on hot August days, any rising fish is a target. It takes effort to wade into the right position, and skill to present an artificial fly so that it behaves naturally as it reaches the fish’s window of vision.
But when that fish takes the fly, the level of satisfaction for the angler is far greater than when catching a fish maybe three times the size in easy conditions.
Catching three or four trout when the going is tough can be more rewarding than catching 20 on an easier day.
Failing to catch for long spells of the day reminds us of why we fish.
It is the pure love of being by, or in, the river during languid hot summer days, that draws us from lazing in the garden to the river.
Each fish is hard earned, but each passing hour is a joy.
The dog days are named when the brightest star in the sky Sirius, the Dog Star, appeared to rise just before the sun.
This usually occurs from early July until well into August.
It is a period marked by lethargy and indolence, and in ancient Greece and Rome, the period was believed to be one of bad luck and possibly catastrophe.
Unless failing to catch fish is seen as catastrophe, then we need not take much notice of ancient lore.
What we should take notice of is the world around us. The riverbank is at its most lush. Don’t waste a minute of it.
As sun-worshippers, who flock to the beach or park make the most of the heat, so should anglers make the most of these carefree days. After all we spend enough cold, wet days waiting for the sun.
By fishing through the dog days we are fitting in with the natural rhythm of the year.
We fish with more gusto in spring because it feels so good to be out after the winter. The fish feel the same, which is why they feed so enthusiastically.
They slow down in the summer, just as we do.
Then come late summer and autumn, they switch on again, and feed keenly to fatten up for the winter.
We step up our activity too, because we realise that the warm days will soon end, and that our heat will again come from the log burner or radiator.
ON the Teesdale reservoirs which are stocked by Northumbrian Water, the seasonal moods exist, but less so.
These waters are regularly stocked with rainbow trout, and farmed fish are less tuned in to the seasons.
So on the reservoirs even hot, cloudless days can bring good sport with some hefty fish, with rainbows to 8lb caught during the last few weeks.
Whether you prefer stillwaters or rivers, or visit both, make the effort to don waders and get out there, remembering Rudyard Kipling’s poem, The Long Trail.
He reminded us that all too soon: “Your English summer’s done.”