Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Eden in July - great sport amid fluctuating river levels

Eden in July was a month of unsettled weather and some great sport amid fluctuating river levels.
The month began with a falling, coloured river and the first two weeks consisted of a series of rising and falling waters. But it didn't hamper our efforts too much and a mix of nymphs, either on their own or in conjunction with a team of our North Country spiders, produced some good sport for some of our visitors to Eden.

Colin is into an Eden trout

Colin joined me for his first trip of the year to Eden. The river was coloured and falling and the fish weren't too co-operative for him. But some well presented flies did produce some action, and we were fortunate to find a few fish working the flats to give us a short period of dry fly fishing!

Fish came to a mix of dries and nymphs

The coloured water didn't stop fish from feeding and a day off between guiding sessions produce some good sport, and fish, to a mix of dries and nymphs - either on their own or fished together.

Colum into his first river trout

Colum and Finn joined me early in the month. Colum for his first taste of  fishing our rivers and Finn for his first taste of fly fishing. Both did well on a relatively tough day, and a flurry of activity in the afternoon ensured that they both got some action!

Finn plays a decent fish

The weather remained unsettled and river levels were up and down during the first half of the month. I was a touch concerned for the visit of Eben and Otto. We'd had rain the night before and the river was expected to rise. We decided to go for it though and the boys had a great day! We fished a rising river in the morning and both had some sport, including a river PB for Otto! The river switched off as it peaked around lunchtime. But it turned quickly and began to fall. The fish switched on again mid-afternoon to ensure that the boys finished the day with a flurry of activity. So all worked out well, despite my earlier concerns - it's a funny old game sometimes!

Otto with his river PB

Eben is into a fish

The weather and the river settled down during the middle of the month and all was pretty stable for David's visit to Cumbria. The fishing wasn't easy and he had to work hard for what he got, but hard work and persistence often pays off. A few fish and some action on each of his days on the river ensured that David was rewarded for his efforts.

David brings a fish to the net

An Eden trout to a well presented nymph

Settled weather continued into the third week of the month. Rising fish were pretty hard to come by, but the nymphs and spiders produced some action, and fish were caught and lost by most that joined me for a taste of  fly fishing in Eden. 

Then the weather changed for the final week of the month and we were back to changeable weather, rain and fluctuating water levels. Strong westerly winds made life difficult at times, but I did get the occasional reward by sticking at it!

Hard work in strong westerlies brought some reward

The final day of the month saw Robert join me for his first taste of fly fishing. After going through everything needed to take up our great sport, we looked at casting, flies, rivercraft etc. Then Robert fished for his first trout on the fly. After of few unlucky missed chances he eventually got his first fish - it may not have been the biggest, but it was certainly welcome, and it was bigger than the first trout that I got when I first started fly fishing! 

Hopefully this taste of our great sport will have been enough to get Robert hooked....

Robert with his first trout on the fly!

June and a return of the rainy season!

I'm sure that our seasons are changing. The pattern nowadays seem to be that we get summer-like weather in the spring and then by mid-June it begins to turn autumnal and the rains come. 
This June seemed to be following the same pattern. By the time Keith joined me on the 4th the weather was changing, the river was coloured - from overnight rain - on the 5th and on the 6th our rivers were rising after another spell of overnight rain. 

Keith with a river PB

Keith had joined me to look at the various river techniques and all produced some action on the day. The dry fly proved the most productive and a rising fish gave us the opportunity to look at fly choice, correct approach and good presentation. Keith's approach and presentation was spot on and after his first fly was refused we made a change and an Eden PB (for Keith) obliged by taking the fly on the first drift!

A BWO Dun produced some nice fish on occasions

June is the time of year when we see our best hatches of Blue Winged Olives and I experienced my first good daytime hatch on the 7th. The fish aren't normally slow to get on them and the day produced  some great dry fly sport to appropriate dun inmitations.

Another one to the BWO

Good hatches of BWO's continued until the 12th of the month, when we had our second good lift in river levels following a spell of heavy rain. A drop in water temperatures and a coloured river seemed to curtail the hatches. Rising fish were at a premium, but a change to the nymph continues to produe some action for myself and clients.

An Eden leviathan to the midge

On the odd occasion that we did encounter rising fish they didn't seem too interested what had become very sparse hatches of BWO's and were more prone to react to a variety of midge imitations, although Yellow May duns were beginning to be more prevalent and they were also attracting some attention from the fish.

A nice fish to The Yellow May dun

The remainder of June remained unsettled with fluctuating river levels. The dry fly sport slowed but , when we did get out, the fish responded positively to a variety of sub-surface offerings.

One to the nymph in a coloured river

Friday, May 29, 2020

We're Back!!

After a long break following the UK government announcement and subsequent Coronavirus lockdown on the 23rd of March, we're back and my guiding and tuition will resume. Please see my website ( for more details. 

Fishing in the Eden Valley is back. Although some clubs, for fear of overcrowding, are currently restricting their fishing to members only, but that will hopefully change in the not too distant future. 
It seems to have been a very long break and I'm not going to lie, as a fishaholic, I've really missed my fishing fix. But I'm not going to whinge about it! I would/could never have the audacity to whine about not being able to go fishing when so many poor souls have lost and will continue to lose their lives to this terrible disease!

I did manage a couple of outings before the lockdown. February's rains and high waters ran into March and the first week of the season was a bit of a washout. Then things settled down towards the end of the opening week and we began to get our spring hatches of Large Dark Olive and March Browns. Bitterly cold easterly winds made life a touch uncomfortable but fish were beginning to respond quite well to our seasonal upwings, and then all got shut down on the 23rd.

Fish began to respond to seasonal upwings, then we got the lockdown!

After a 7 week lockdown we were allowed back on our waters on the 13th May. We'd missed the cream of our early season hatches of Large Dark Olive, March Brown and Grannom. But that was soon forgotten when we were treated to some excellent hatches on the first day back. We had a variety of species on the water including Black Gnat, Iron Blue Dun, Olive Upright and Brook Dun. The fished seemed to benefit from the break and fed with gusto, so it was great to be back!

Fish fed well on the first day after Lockdown!

The fishing continued to be good for the first two weeks following the cessation of the Coronavirus lockdown. Yellow May Dun and our 'true' Mayfly (Ephemera danica) joined the party. When fish weren't on the larger upwings and terrestrials they turned to midge and aphids, and when they weren't on the surface they responded well to sub-surface offerings

Yellow May Dun

Fish fed well following the cessation of lockdown

It wasn't all positive. The fish weren't suicidal, you still had to work for them. The rivers are low and the fish easily spooked. We've had virtually no rain since early March, the sunniest April on record and the driest May. Gale force winds over the 23rd and 24th of May made life difficult. The upwings of early May disappeared during many of the month's sunny periods, meaning that rising fish were often at a premium. Those that were rising were often more interested in sipping on the tiny morsels that found themselves trapped in the meniscus and our artificial offerings had to reflect this.

May ended with a few days of cloudless sunny skies and daytime sport was tough. But on a positive note: it's the time of year when we can think about getting out in an evening. Sedge aren't showing in force yet, but they can't be far off. 

Last year saw a return of good numbers Blue Winged Olive in June so, hopefully, we have that to look forward to. And when the cloud returns daytime sport should improve, with our efforts more confined to terrestrial and/or sub-surface offerings.

May provided a very positive resumption to our sport, below are a few photos of the flies and fish from a great month in Eden:

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Another season draws to a close.

September began the way that August ended, in fact it seems to have been the pattern for the whole of our 2019 summer: a series of wet fronts blowing in from the west!
We had a high river on the 1st, cold winds and showers on the 2nd and a rising river on the 4th! But it wasn't all doom and gloom. Fish are resilient creatures and they seem to be capable of acclimatising to, and living with, whatever the elements - within reason - throws at them. This year, despite unseasonably low temperatures and fluctuating river levels, has - in my opinion - been the best year on our rivers since the devastating floods of 2015 swept through our region. The trout have been back in good numbers and a broad range of sizes. Fly hatches have been excellent at times. The Blue Winged Olive hatches were tremendous this year - we had great hatches back in the 70's, 80's and early 90's but I think these were the best that I can remember!

David draws a fish to the net

As already mentioned: the first week of the month followed the unsettled pattern. David had showers, rain, cold winds and a rising river during his few days in Eden. But, by varying techniques to suit the conditions, he had a relatively productive time. And that can be the secret to success sometimes - have a variety of techniques at your disposal and learn how and when to use them.

David with a nice trout

Mike joined me to look at various nymphing techniques. The river was carrying colour, but fish fed. We looked at Upstream nymph, Czech nymph, French leaders and even managed to squeeze in a bit of North Country spider fishing. A few fish obliged, we managed to get some action to each discipline and Mike caught his personal best for the river with a trout that weighed in at 2lbs 10ozs!

A cracking fish for Mike!

Ian into a fish in Eden

Mark scored on the nymph!

The second week of the month brought more rain and rising rivers and a few days of guiding/tuition were lost to the elements. Luckily the weather and river settled by the 12th and we got back to fishing. The 13th was lucky for Ian and he managed to christened his new gear on a couple of fish. Mark had a positive Eden debut and got some action to the nymph after we'd done a bit of fine-tuning. 

Mike is ready with the net!

Mike was up for his latest visit to Cumbria, he's become quite an accomplished river-man over the years that we've fished together and a relatively full Eden wasn't as much of a challenge that it would have been when we first met. He can normally cope with anything that I throw at him nowadays, so we mixed it up a bit to cope with different depth, current velocities etc. and Mike was rewarded with a relatively good number of late-season trout.

The final fish, on the final day, of the 2019 trout season

The final week of the season was a bit of a challenge with intermittent spells of rain and fluctuating levels. A couple of days of tuition were lost, but I managed to scratch around and find some fishable water most days. I thought my season was over on the 27th of the month: with a rising river and a wet weekend forecast I thought that was it - season done. But temptation got the better of me; I had to fish the final day; there wasn't a lot to go at but a hunch paid off and I managed to fish the final afternoon of the season and finished it off with my last trout of 2019 - a beauty that hit the scales at 1lbs 9ozs.

2019 has been a really positive season. There were definite signs that the river is recovering from the floods of 2015. Trout were back in good numbers and we had some great hatches, so let's hope that this positivity carries into 2020 and beyond. Unfortunately I can't say the same for the Grayling yet. They don't appear to be back in the numbers that we had pre 2015; but I'll be out in search of them this winter, so we'll see....