The beauty of moths

Driving down a secluded country lane from a late evening maggot bash, I was surprised by the number of moths attracted to the headlights of the car.

Their sheer numbers and persistent kamikaze flight brought back fond memories of last year’s trout fishing sessions, where imitation moth patterns landed so many fish.

Imagine the scene…you’re at the side of a trout lake as dusk races towards the stillness of dark, and the trout are starting to rise. You know there are only a few minutes of fishing time left and you have to start the uncertain walk back to the car. The evening rise is a brief affair.

The fish are taking something off the surface; tell-tale silver rings are spreading across the surface as the trout ‘sip’ at something too small to see.

With the light fading you struggle to tie on a grey moth pattern, tied more from experience than actual sight. Using a torch would ruin any night-vision and spoil the experience as well as alerting wary fish.

The fly, dressed on a size ten hook, is a shop-bought creation, with a deer-hair head and soft cream coloured chenille body. A ‘generic’ pattern, almost a muddler, but it will have to do; valuable fishing time is quickly slipping away.

Two false casts shoots enough line for the fly to land on the edge of the now almost invisible silver rings; the moth imitation lands with an inaudible, imaginary ‘plop’ on the surface and immediately disappears in a swirl of water.

Fly-line shocks and jags across your fingers and the 6-weight rod leaps into life as a belligerent rainbow takes to the air to shake the hook loose!

The next few moments turn into cinematic slow motion as you second- guess the direction, the acceleration and the aerial abilities of a very angry fish – remember to breath!

But with constant pressure, a snag-free swim and a little good luck, eventually the fish breaks the surface as you try to guide it over the net. Shaking fingers unfold the mesh as you admire the bar of silver in the pale light of the emerging stars.

Luckily the hook’s dropped out, tangled somewhere in the net, making the release easy. Quietly and with a little reverence, the fish is returned back to the depths as heartbeat and adrenalin slowly return to normal. Walking back to the car, re-living the fight, the memory is etched forever.