Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Autumn and early Winter in Eden

Our trout season closed on September 30th and the following day saw the start of what I class as our 'grayling season'. The time of year - 1st October to 14th March - when we concentrate solely on 'the lady of the stream'.

Mike draws a fish towards the net

A quiet start to Autumn seems to be a regular occurance nowadays; calm, fine and relatively warm weather during the final week of the trout season continued into October. Mike joined me on the 3rd and the day dawned very bright and sunny - not the best conditions for chasing grayling. He managed some action though - despite the conditions - and alternating between nymphs and spiders resulted in a few fish on Mikes' final visit of the year to Eden. 

The mild weather encouraged our Large Dark Olives to begin their second emergence of the year and we saw decent trickles of these large olive duns on most afternoons . Fish moving to the duns seemed to be at a premium - just the odd 'oncer' really - but they would respond to spiders and light nymphs fished just below the surface.

Paule with a Grayling to a spider on her Eden debut

I read that some were hoping that conditions would remain settled and the low river would benefit our autumn grayling hunting. We're all different and have different beliefs and preferences when it comes to our fishing. So I know that some will probably not agree with me, but I certainly didn't. I don't mind the river showing it's bones when I'm chasing trout, in fact I often prefer it. But not for grayling: I prefer a bit of extra water in the river for my autumn/winter fishing and I was hoping that - sooner rather than later - we'd get a decent downpour and a lift in levels. Unfortunately that downpour arrived the night before Alex arrived for his first taste of grayling fishing on Eden. The river was still in good condition when we arrived, but it turned out that we were fishing a rising - albeit slowly rising - river. The river was in pretty good nick for most of the session but the grayling mustn't have liked what was happening and in preparation for the silt-filled water that was to come, they kept their heads down. Alex did get some action but only out-of-season trout responded to his offerings.

The Grayling didn't play ball but Alex had a nice out-of-season Trout

The weather settled down again after Alex's visit. We returned to the conditions that we had at the start of the month and the pattern seemed set: relatively warm, calm and dry days; hatches of Olives most days and light nymphs or spiders producing action for most of my clients.

Bob is into a fish on his first visit to Eden

A first Eden Grayling for Derek

Adam is into a fish

The end of October saw a break from fishing Eden to head off for warmer climes: We were off to Australia to visit our son. 
I've been lucky to guide for quite a few Australian anglers over the years and I've heard many stories of the fishing over there. Stories of  fishing the Snowy Mountains, the Blue Mountains, Victoria etc. So although this was not a fishing holiday, I was tempted, very tempted! I'd had an invite to fish the Snowy Mountains a few years back and I thought: could I/ should I fly down to Canberra and head into the Snowy Mountains for a couple of days. I'd met a guy from Bathurst the last time we were in Sydney: he had a mate who was a guide up there, he gave me his address and offered to put me up if I fancied some fishing up there. So that was tempting. Hugh offered to take me fishing if we were in Melbourne. We weren't this trip, but I thought about it and I looked into flights. I could get an early morning flight and a late evening one back to Sydney, or stay overnight and return the following day - the flights weren't too expensive, so again, very tempting. I'd read about some great fly fishing in Sydney Harbour and thought that may be an option. I iffed and arred about these options and what to do and then decided it was supposed to be a family holiday - I do an awful lot of fishing on my home waters so maybe it was time to dedicate some time to my family.
Destination fishing is very popular these days and I'm often tempted. Personal circumstances will not really allow me to do much travelling at the moment but maybe one day I will. Although if I don't, then so be it, I love what I have on my doorstep and I'm very happy with my lot, so if I never get the opportunity fish anywhere else, I will never look back with disappointment.

We returned home to very cold weather and snow - the lakeland fells were white as we came over shap summit on the train. The wintery weather prompted a change in tactics for my first outing. Water temperatures were down. The autumn hatches of our Large Dark Olives were over and the river seemed lifeless. Grayling had dropped closer to the river bed to rummage for food, so it was heavy bug and Czech-nymphing time for the remainder of 2016.

The last fish of 2016 is slipped back

Friday, October 14, 2016

The end of another trout season in Eden

Well, that's another season over in Eden. It's frightening - and disappointing - how quickly the years pass for me now. It doesn't seem long since we were starting the season - with some trepidation - in March; wondering what we would be left with after severe winter floods had swept through the system in the previous winter. 
A good start to the season ensured that my worries were soon allayed: fish were in good condition and hatches were on a par with previous seasons. Large Dark Olive hatches were pretty sparse initially but improved towards the end of the opening month. I saw my first  March Browns on the 22nd March, they were appearing in better numbers by the 31st and continued to trickle off the river well into April. 
So it appeared to be business as usual. Swarms of Grannom started to come off on the 19th April. The Olive Upright hatches were good again and on the 13th May I saw the largest hatch of Iron Blue Duns that I'd seen in years  - and not one fish stuck it's neb out of the water! It was hard to believe that the fish showed no interest in the myriad of duns floating down the river, but they were feeding below the surface and my client for the day did catch on a mix of spiders and nymphs. 
The floods were soon forgotten about and the 2016 season turned out to be a good one for me and most of my clients. Although, if I was honest: it wasn't 'all sunshine and roses' as we did have some tough days too. Some areas didn't fish as well as previous years - but some fished better. I have my own theories on why that may have happened and I also think that if we don't get severe floods again this winter the fish will spread out again and some areas that didn't fish as well this year may come good - or be better - next year.

The unsettled weather of August continued into part of the final month of the season, but when we did get out: September was a good month in Eden. Daytime hatches were pretty sparse and rising fish were at a premium, but a variety of sub-surface offerings provided plenty of action.
Heavy rain on the 3rd brought the rivers up, but they'd settled back by the 5th and although they remained a touch coloured, they fished well for the remainder of the week. 

Conway with a nice fish on his Eden debut

The weather settled down for the second week of the month and most visiting anglers managed to get some action.... 

Martin is into his first Eden Grayling

Steve fished the 'Duo' to great effect on his day in Eden

Rain during the third week threatened to scupper Wayne's first go at an English river. He was visiting the UK from Kansas, so we couldn't rearrange - it was the allocated day or nothing. Someone must have been smiling on us though, as the weather settled down and so did the river and it produced a few above average fish on the day - his first English Brown Trout weighed in at 2lbs 12ozs 

Wayne with his 2lbs 12ozs Brown trout

The river was still carrying a touch of colour at the start of the last week of the season. But it was 'good colour' and - apart from being washed off on the 29th - we had a productive final week. Mike joined me for a couple of days and caught a mixture of Trout and Grayling in both sessions....

I managed a couple of days  during the final week and the river produced some good fish during both sessions, including a very nice 2lbs 2ozs Grayling - let's hope that there's a few of these about over the winter.

Some good fish in the final week - 1lbs 10ozs

A 2lbs 2ozs Eden Grayling

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The final month of summer

Summer is now officially over - for what it was worth. The autumnal weather of July continued into August, but the fishing continued to be very good at times. Cloudy, overcast days and lower water temperatures helped improve our fishing during what has been traditionally known as a tough month for us fishermen. They used to always talk about the 'dog days' of August. Rightly or wrongly, I always related that to the fact that - when I was younger - our summers seemed hotter and drier. The rivers were usually down to their bones; water temperatures were high, oxygen levels low; fish were lethargic and uninterested in very sparse daytime hatches.

An early August fish on the'Upstream nymph'

We seem to get cooler, damper summers nowadays. I really can't remember when we had what I would have called a typical August, when we had one 'dog day' after another and it was a waste of time going out through the day. I put that down to a change in our weather patterns and the fact that we have more techniques at our disposal to cope with all conditions. The latter means that the angler who's prepared to learn how to perform the modern techniques and when to use them will have a method to cope with most conditions.

Todd with his first Northern Brown Trout

So, we had changeable weather throughout August; the river rose on the 3rd of the month and was still carrying colour for Todd's visit on the 4th. He was visiting the UK from the US and trying Eden for the first time. I was pleased and relieved that the river was fishable for his day and it didn't take him long to get into his first fish....

Jon into his first fish of the day

The river was still carrying colour for Jon, another newcomer to our Northern rivers. We looked at a variety of techniques employed on our waters  and Jon enjoyed a bit of action throughout the day, with fish coming to dries, nymphs and spiders.

Jimmy is into a fish in Eden

River levels continued to fluctuate throughout the month; they rose on the 8th and again on the 11th. Luckily - for me and my clients - they dropped when we needed it and nobody missed their day in Eden. We had a settled spell during the middle of the month before heavy rain on the 19th gave us our biggest lift of August: the Eden peaked at 2.11m at Temple Sowerby and the Lowther reached 1.87m. 

Ambar plays her first fly-caught fish

We saw another lift in levels on the 22nd when the upper river peaked at 1.39m, but a relatively quick drop in levels meant that it was fishable again within a couple of days. The grayling are still enjoying the lower water temperatures and decent numbers have been turning up on recent outings. Although - in most years - they do tend to reappear in decent numbers towards the end of August and into September.

Grayling enjoying lower water temperatures

A 2lbs 1oz Eden Brown Trout

More rain and another lift in levels on the 26th forced the cancellation of a planned trip to one of our main rivers. Luckily - as mentioned in a previous blog - we have a good selection of smaller rivers/streams to chose from. These small streams are fed from different areas within our catchment and when we get the localised spells of heavy rain that we've had of late, some will remain fishable. 

Small stream fishing in Eden

A trickle of Black Gnats on one of our small waters provided two days of dry fly sport before more rain on the 28th brought all our rivers up again! As with the previous lift: the river was back down and fishable two days later and I managed to finish August with an enjoyable and productive final two days of the month on a slightly coloured main river.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

An 'autumnal' July

The weather seems to be all over the place at the moment. We had a brief hot spell during the third week of July - when we had the hottest day of the year - but apart from that, it was a wet and unseasonably cool month in Eden. The weather was more akin to autumn than summer at times. The fresh water did the rivers good though and it perked the fish up - especially the grayling. They don't like the warm waters of summer and can be quite elusive at this time of year, but a few turned up in our July catches. The month started off wet. Heavy showers on the 1st July saw the Eden up and coloured, which prompted a retreat to one of our smaller streams. We're very lucky in this part of the country. Apart from our larger rivers: the Eden, Eamont and Lowther, we also have smaller streams in the shape of the Lyvennet, Leith, Petteril, Troutbeck and Dacre beck, so you can normally find somewhere to cast a line....

A trout from one of our smaller streams

The main river was dropping back nicely and clearing  for Neil and Hazel's first try at fly fishing. A strong upstream wind and blustery showers made life a little difficult at times. But they coped well and both managed to catch their first fish.


The changeable weather continued into the second week of the month and Mike had two different days for his latest visit to Eden. On the first: it was quite cool with heavy showers throughout the day and the river appeared lifeless. It wasn't though and Mike had quite an eventful day. He moved a good number of fish as he worked the river, alternating between a large 'Klink' and a single nymph. On day two: the weather was more settled and a touch warmer. We had no hatch and no rising fish - but that's pretty typical during July. So we had a day on the French leader. It wasn't as productive as day one, but Mike still managed to finish just short of double figures of fish caught and lost. So, despite the conditions, Mike had a productive couple of days in Eden.

Mike bring a fish to the net on day one

The rest of the month remained changeable. The river was in flood on the 11th, but okay a couple of days later and I was lucky: no days lost with clients and a few days out on my own. The fresh water certainly perked the fish up and I had a few good outings - as did my clients. All either caught or had the chance of fish. The river was carrying a touch of colour mid-month. But it was what I term 'good colour' and Trout and Grayling responded well to my offerings.

I often find that the Grayling tend to disappear during the summer months - especially in the middle and upper Eden reaches. It can often be mid to late August and sometimes early September before they start to reappear in decent numbers. This year's unsettled spell and cooler water seems to have suited them. A decent number have turned up in recent catches and they've been in good condition too! I normally hate catching Grayling during the summer. The warmer water seems to exhaust them and they can take quite a while to revive sometimes. I've even chased fish down the river and re-netted them after friends or clients have released them too soon....This July's Grayling have been a different animal all together. They've fought more like a late autumn fish, they've been ready for release straight away and they've swam back to the depths with vigour.

Cooler water perked the Grayling up

July ended as it started - miserably. The river was up slightly and a touch coloured over the final weekend. A cool North Easterly wind kept the temperature down. The month ended with a distinct 'autumnal' feel. I had an interesting final Saturday of the month. I don't know if I'm allowed to say too much about it at the moment, so maybe in a future blog....