As the low, late-morning sun weakly warmed the water of High St lake, a sparse flotilla of small olive duns sailed towards me on the onshore wind. I hazarded a vaguely educated guess at Baetis, although my knowledge of nature’s cornucopia is patchy. They definitely weren’t caenis, but they weren’t brachy…brachys…they weren’t Grannom either.
It was a bright morning with a slight chill in the breeze, and the fish had not yet been tempted surfaceward from their brunch of nymphs.
Earlier on, there were still a few tadpole chasers taking my black cormorant, but by now, they were more interested in the Diawl Bachs swinging from my washing line, and studiously ignoring the fat deer hair emerger on the point.
The odd lazy dorsal fin broke through the ripples, but mostly the fish stayed out of sight. Any minute now, though, I hoped to see a few snouts start to breach the surface so that I could simply walk the bank and target fish on the dry fly.
Then about thirty yards out, my eye was taken by an irregular surface movement. A coot? Too low in the water. An injured fish? Possibly. A feeding fish? Also possible. A stick? Maybe, but it was moving under its own steam, so I guessed some sort of unusual fish. Perhaps a shubunkin or a large lion head goldfish. Worth a cast, anyway.
So I twitched a few yards of line in and fired them back out in the direction of whatever-it-was. The deer hair landed on what I supposed to be the nose of the whatever-it-was. The line tightened. Whatever it was, I had hooked it. So I’d better play it, I thought.
It put up the strangest fight I’ve ever encountered. Strangely stubborn, strong, but ungainly. I reeled steadily to ensure I didn’t tire it out too much, but also didn’t damage it.
It approached stoically. Neither struggling nor surrendering. By the time it was under the rod, I could see eyes, skin…but I could not make out what type of fish it was.
So it was only as I began to lift the fly from the water that I realised it was…a frog. About six inches long from nose to toes. Allowing itself to be winched skyward like a helicopter rescue chappie.
The fly was hooked around his armpit.
“Thank goodness for barbless hooks,” I thought. I gently disengaged him and lowered him into the water, and he breast-stroked off to resume whatever-it-was he had been doing before.
I sat and reflected. In all the excitement,had neglected to weigh him. He was my Personal Best Frog. And on a dry fly, too.