After two o'clock on this June day the angler will probably find that it becomes increasingly difficult to find a rising trout, and that when one is found, it is not nearly so ready to take his fly. By working hard all the afternoon he may add a brace more to his basket, and he must decide for himself whether this extra brace is worth two or three hours of watching and walking and crawling and kneeling and effort. If he has done pretty well by two o'clock, and if the rise has then become very slack, he may find it more pleasant to leave off for a few hours and arrange the rest of his day so as to come fresh and strong and keen to the evening rise. One difficulty about the evening rise is to settle the time for dining. After various experiments I have found it best to have dinner, if possible, between five and six. Two conditions are essential for this, one is, that there should be some place near the river where dinner can be had, and the other, that the angler should not have eaten much luncheon. The latter of these conditions is not only always possible, but easy out of doors: the former one is generally present on the Itchen or Test, where numerous villages with inns are to be found all along the river valleys. Having dined, the angler can call the whole of the long June evening his own, and may enjoy that sense of perfect freedom, strength and patience which is so valuable, and which in fishing is destroyed by hunger or the thought of a fixed dinner hour ahead.
I must own that I do not appreciate the evening rise so well as that in the morning; and there are various reasons for this. In the first place, there is a more definite limit to the end of the evening rise. It is often nearly eight o'clock when it begins, and you know then that the light cannot last for more than an hour. Now part of the charm of the morning rise is the prospect of indefinite length. It may only last a short time, but it may go on for hours, and you feel at the beginning that its possibilities are unknown. There is nothing of this with a late evening rise. On the contrary, you feel in a hurry because the time must be short. If a rising trout will not take your fly, you begin to fidget as to whether it will be better to stick to that fish or to try another, and if half-an-hour passes without any success, the threat of an absolutely blank evening makes itself felt. There is a story of a thrifty and anxious housewife, who used to call her household early on Monday mornings in terms like these, " Get up! get up at once ! to-day's Monday, to-morrow's Tuesday, next day's Wednesday, here's half the week gone and no work done!" It is some such fidgety anxiety that comes over me, if I do not get a fish soon in the evening rise. I seem to have the anticipation of complete failure. The time is so short; the beginning and the end of the rise are so near together, that failure in the first part seems a presage of failure in the whole.
The look of the evening rise is so often the best of it. Numbers of trout appear to be rising frequently and steadily and confidently, but when the angler puts them to the test, they disappoint him. On some evenings the trout cease to rise after an artificial fly has once been floated over them; on others they continue to rise freely, but will take nothing artificial, and the angler exhausts himself in efforts and changes of fly, working harder and more rapidly as he becomes conscious of the approaching end of the day.
But all evenings are not alike disappointing, and on a warm still evening in June we may expect some success. A few fish may be found rising very quietly and unobtrusively at any time after six o'clock. The angler will probably find that these trout are not feeding in the same way as they fed in the morning. They may be the same fish, but their manners and behaviour are different. They are apparently taking some very small insect, are much more easily scared, and are apt to rise very short, if they rise at all to an artificial fly; still they are feeding, and are worth trying for. If the angler can get one or two of these fish before eight o'clock he will have done well. Soon after eight the evening rise proper should have begun. More rises will be seen than at any previous time of the day, and as the light fades the easier it is to get near the fish, and the more chance is there of hooking them. Yet in my experience it is comparatively seldom that one has a really successful evening, and feels that everything has gone well. Now and then one gets two or three brace, or even more, of good trout, but more often, either because the trout rise short, or because too much time is spent unsuccessfully over a stubborn fish, the angler seems to be always on the point of great success without attaining it.
Anglers differ as to how late the evening fishing should be prolonged. Night fishing with a large wet fly should not be allowed on good dry fly water. It is poor fun to haul out of the river by main force in the dark, on thick gut, a trout that might give good sport in daylight. Before it gets dark, however, there is a half-hour in which it is just possible to see where a fish is rising, but just not possible to see one's fly. It needs both skill and judgment to put an artificial fly properly over a fish in these conditions, but during this half-hour a skilful angler may expect to get a brace of good trout with a floating sedge fly. This is perfectly fair fishing, but it has not the same interest as the finer fishing in better light; it needs skill, and yet it is comparatively clumsy work. The angler strikes at sight of a rise without being sure whether it is to his fly or not. He can, and indeed must, use stronger gut, because, when a trout is hooked, he cannot tell accurately what it is doing, or follow its movements adjusting the strain carefully to the need of each moment as he would do in daylight. In short a great part of all that happens, both before and after he hooks a trout, is hidden from him, and he has in the end to rely more upon force, and less upon skill to land the fish. All this takes away much of the pleasure, and if the day has been a fairly good one, I would rather forego the last brace than kill them under inferior conditions. On the other hand, if luck has been very bad, or the trout have been particularly exasperating and successful in defeating the angler, or have refused to rise all day, then the sedge fly in the last half-hour of perceptible twilight gives a very satisfactory opportunity of trying to get even with them. After a fair day, however, it seems to me better to leave off when I cease to be able to see a medium-sized quill gnat upon the water at a reasonable distance.