If our work will let us escape on Friday evening, it is luxury; but even if we belong only to those in the middle state of happiness, who work till midnight or later on Friday, and can have the whole of Saturday and Sunday in the country, we may still be splendidly well off, provided that we are careful to miss nothing. The earliest trains leave Waterloo, the usual place of departure for the Itchen or Test, either at or just before six o'clock in the morning. To leave London it is possible once a week, even after late hours, to get up in time for these early trains, and if you have no luggage (and you need have none if you go to the same place week after week), you will not find it difficult to get to the station. There are places where hansoms can be found even at these hours of the morning; they are not numerous, and they seem quite different from the hansoms that are abroad at more lively hours, but they can be found if you will look for them at certain places. The best plan, however, is to live within a walk of Waterloo, and as you cross the river in the early summer morning, you may feel more reconciled to London than at any other time, and understand Wordsworth's tribute to the sight from Westminster Bridge. I pass over the scene at Waterloo station, which at this hour is very different from the usual one, and the journey on which perhaps one sleeps a little, though I have found that, while it is very easy to sleep sitting up in the late hours of the evening, it is necessary to lie down, if one wishes to sleep in the early hours of the morning. At some time between eight and nine o'clock, you step out of the train, and are in a few minutes amongst all the long-desired things. Every sense is alert and excited, every scent and everything seen or heard is noted with delight. You are grateful for the grass on which you walk, even for the soft country dust about your feet.
Let me again be free to choose the day, and let it be bright and cloudless without wind this time. A warm day with a maximum temperature of 750 in the shade; rather trying weather for a wet fly angler, but not at all bad for dry fly fishing at this season, and the sooner the angler can satisfy himself with breakfast and be by the water the better. On such a day in mid-June some fish should be found rising at any time after eight o'clock, and this is said without prejudice to what may happen before eight o'clock, of which I have no experience. There are thirteen hours of daylight after eight o'clock in the morning, and that is enough for a full day's fishing. But the rise will probably be quite different in character to the rise in May. It will be much more prolonged, but more quiet, and the beginning and end of it will not be so clearly defined. You may expect the fish to take best, and to find most fish rising between ten o'clock and two o'clock in the day; but both before and after these hours, there should be some trout feeding. The rise of fish corresponds of course to the rise of fly, and there will probably be some duns upon the water all day, but at no time in such quantities as during the few hours into which the hatching is concentrated earlier in the season and in colder weather. This is what makes June such a good month: the fishing is spread over a much longer period of the day. It is true that the trout are not so greedy, but on the other hand, partly for this very reason and partly because the flies are less numerous at any one time, they are not so likely to do nothing but rush about after larvae, and it is better to be casting over the most fastidious trout which is taking flies on the surface, than over the hungriest one that is " bulging." On a bright warm day such as this, the angler will go very quietly, watching the water, always expecting to see a rise, but knowing that a trout may be well on the feed and yet rising slowly at comparatively long intervals of time. The little light coloured places with a gentle swirl of water immediately below a patch of weed are very favourite spots, and in these it is often possible to see a fish very clearly. On a bright day, the angler should therefore not only look for a rise, but look also for the fish, and many a trout will be discovered lying on the watch for flies before it is actually seen to take one. There is not much difficulty in telling by its attitude in the water, whether a trout is worth trying for. Between the appearance of a trout that is resting motionless and dull upon the bottom, and one that is poised in the water near the surface, there is all the difference in the world; the very attitude of the latter, still as it may be for the moment, seems to have something watchful and lively about it.
In June the trout should be at their very best and strongest, and the angler should be ambitious and go to the water, where he knows there are large ones, to match his skill and his fine gut against them in bright weather. Many a big trout will be seen, risen, and hooked, but the weeds as well as the fish are strong now, and where two-pounders are common and taking well, there are sure to be catastrophes in a long day's fishing. On the other hand, except on very unlucky days, what triumphs there are! what moments of suspense as the fly is floating to the place where one feels sure, either from the sight of the rise or of the very fish itself, that a great trout is feeding! Often in the case of these large trout my rod trembles visibly as the fly comes to the spot, perhaps after all not to be taken. I cannot say which is the more exciting, to have seen only the rise, or to be watching the movement of the fish. The crisis of the rise at one's own fly comes more suddenly when the body of the trout is unseen, but when the fish itself is visible there is a tremendous instant of expectation, as he is seen to prepare to take the fly. The next feeling with me is generally one of downright fear as to where the first rush of the fish will end. This rush may have nothing deliberate about it, in which case all may go well, and in a few seconds the angler may be on equal terms with the fish, and before a minute is over fighting with the odds on his side. On the other hand, there may be in the first rush a horrible set purpose, on the part of the trout, to gain some root under the bank, or to plunge far into a thick bed of weeds, in which case the angler is likely to have the worst of it, for during the first few seconds after being hooked any good conditioned trout of two pounds or upwards can be the master of fine gut. Nor is fine gut the only difficulty: there is another risk owing to the smallness of the hook. It may be possible to succeed with a fairly large imitation of an olive dun on dark days early in the season, but on these days in June a rather small red quill will be the best fly. A small fly, if it is to float well, must be tied on a small hook, and a small hook, unless it should fasten in an extra tough part of the mouth, can have but a weak hold of the fish. The angler must therefore be prepared to lose a large fish every now and then—oftener probably than he thinks quite consistent with good luck— by the hook losing its hold. In this matter of losing fish we are more at the mercy of luck in June than in May, and there are times when the luck seems so bad as to turn what promises to be a record day into a comparatively poor one. Sometimes this luck comes in runs. I remember on one day in the height of the summer having, with small red quills and fine gut, the best and the worst luck combined. There were not great numbers of fish feeding, and the trout that were rising were not rising fast. It took a little patience to find a rising fish, and then more patience to fix its exact position by waiting for its next rise. When these things were discovered, however, each fish took my fly confidently, and it seemed as if only the biggest and fattest trout were rising. With each of the first seven fish hooked there was a moment when a catastrophe seemed imminent, and yet all were landed. They averaged just over two pounds apiece, and after each one the sense of triumph and success mounted higher, till it produced a feeling of confidence in my own skill and luck, which I knew was not justified, but which was irresistible. Then everything changed and one disaster succeeded another. I lost more than seven large trout successively. Some broke my tackle, in the case of others the small hook lost its hold unexpectedly, whilst others again went into weeds and there freed themselves from the hook. Indeed I had a very bad time all round. At the end of the rise my basket was heavy, but I had a sense of being much chastened, and I could have wished that the luck had been more evenly distributed.