One from a rugby match, one from a wedding in Gloucestershire… on the last weekend of March, five fishing desperadoes converged on the Top House at Dobcross, filed into the bar, and slapped down their fly boxes with a single mission in mind. 

The Wandle’s coarse fishing season was rapidly running down, and only one possible endgame presented itself: to start another season entirely, back at the scene of our previous piscatorial adventures around Off Lodge in the hills north of Manchester.

Not soon enough for some, dawn broke with the clatter of kitchen crockery and the symbolic swish of Adrian’s new Sage TXL 0 weight over Delph’s junction pool.  The rest of us soon followed him out over miles of the urban upper Tame. The fishing wasn’t easy, but we all recaptured that incomparable springtime surge of wild fish on balanced light tackle…

… can there be a better feeling after a long cold winter, especially when you suspect you may just have discovered a new strain of red-tailed native trout?

After a long day’s catching and releasing, we’d earned a Sunday night meat feast of heroic proportions: another of Rich’s legendary Northern BBQs, to which we’d invited Ian Oates of the Calder and Colne Rivers Trust.

In the nicest possible way we grilled him too, whilst his years of local knowledge and river-mending experience proved once again that “tha can tell a Yorkshireman, but tha can’t tell him much”, and kept us all swapping fishy tales of derring-do well into the small hours.

Trout swam predictably through our dreams, and woke us even keener to get out onto the water again, where Monday’s fine drizzle triggered hatches of midges and large dark olives on the finest river West Yorkshire could offer…

… opening the season with wild trout on dry flies before the long wet drive home. Five men’s mission accomplished, in fact!

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