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....

Friday, July 22, 2016

June in Eden

It's really great to see youngsters coming into our sport: Sam and Ben joined me for their first go at fly fishing on the final day of May. Both boys picked up the casting really well and both managed to get a decent line out at their first attempt and had the chance of fish when we got into that part of their day.

Sam with his first trout on the fly

The end of may and early June also saw the start of our evening fishing. A few clear, calm nights provided ideal conditions and good hatches of Sedge had fish feeding hard during the last hour of daylight....

Some good fish responded to Caddis patterns

May's dry weather continued into early June and the river was down to it's bones for David's visit, but he managed to get a bit of action to a well presented team of his own tyings.

David with a trout to the nymph

The dry conditions provided challenging fishing during the first ten days of the month. Low rivers and clear blue skies were not ideal for daytime hatches. Surface sport was at a premium, although spiders fished in the surface or just below did attract some attention on occasions and - as usual - the nymph didn't let us down....

Jane scored on her debut

June saw a few newcomers to our sport and to Eden: Jane and Charlie came to Eden to try out fly fishing and after a bit of work on their casting etc. they both scored, with fish coming to their offerings on their debuts. 
Heavy rain on the night of the 10th brought fresh water into the river and a welcome lift in levels during the third week of the month, which perked things up for clients that fished during the final two weeks.

Steve on his first visit to Eden

Andy had fish on the nymph

Mark with his first Eden trout

A 'rare' Chub to the fly for Larry

It's funny how things happen sometimes: Larry  - a visitor to the UK from Texas - was out with me on the 16th June: the first day of the 2016 coarse fishing season and he hooked into a chub! As a young angler in Eden, I used to see quite a lot of chub and often picked them up on the fly. They were always a bit of a disappointment; after an arm wrenching take and one initial run, they were spent and lifeless as they were dragged to the net. No one seems to know why, but they have virtually disappeared from the river, to the extent that friends who used to chase them and regularly got some quite large specimens, don't and haven't bothered fishing for them for years. So it was a very unexpected surprise when Larry caught one whilst having his first taste of Eden. The fish put up a very un-chub-like spirited fight and I thought that he was into a large trout before it came to the surface and I saw what it was. Even though I don't chase them, it would be nice if these fish made a come back and hopefully, it is a sign that all is well on our great river.

Derek is into a fish

Derek was on his yearly visit to Eden in June and he joined me for a day to look at a few techniques. We looked at dry fly presentation; the 'Duo' and 'New Zealand' dropper and fishing Streamers. All produced some action and the nymph on his 'Duo' rig even attracted the attention of a five to six pound grilse. I was gutted for Derek when the fish managed to break loose, but to be fair, he never had a chance. The fight - if you could call it that - was over in seconds, as the fish turned and headed off downstream like an express train. It was a very short, but very exciting encounter and it was the second time it has happened to me this season. The first time it happened, I was fishing a pair of nymphs on a French leader when I struck into a take and got the shock of my life when a salmon of  approximately eight pounds exploded clear of the surface, it jumped twice in a matter of seconds and threw the hook on it's second leap. I would never have dreamed of using nymphs or spiders when I used to chase our 'silver tourists' but I've had the occasional Salmon on both whilst using them in the pursuit of Trout and Grayling....

The 'Klink' pulled fish to the surface

The last couple of days of June brought more rain and another welcome lift in water levels. The rivers were carrying colour on the final day of the month, but it was 'good colour' and even though there was nothing rising, a day of speculative fishing with my favourite dry/emerger 'The Klink' produced quite a bit of action when this great fly pulled a good number of fish to the surface.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

May catch up - Better late than never

I must apologise for the lateness of this 'May' update. It was a busy month and if I wasn't guiding or teaching, I was fishing myself and I'm afraid that I just couldn't force myself to sit at the computer when there was fishing to be done! I always find it difficult to keep my blogs up to date during the trout season.
May was a good month in Eden, it started off wet and the river was up during the first few days, but it was falling for Chris's session with me. A hatch of Large Dark Olives brought a few fish on the feed and Chris got a bit of action to a team of spiders.

Chris is into a fish on the spiders

Hatches were good during the first part of the month: the Grannom and Large Dark Olives were still hatching in good numbers and we were seeing sporadic hatches of Olive Uprights, Iron Blue Duns and Large Brook Duns. My first outing was on the 6th and the Grannom were coming off in force - unfortunately the fish showed little interest in the surface fly, but a pair of nymphs produced a bit of action, with the best fish on the day weighing in at 2lbs 4ozs. 

2lbs 4ozs  to the upstream nymph

It's not very often that I venture off my own patch these days, but a rare foray on one of our border rivers paid dividends during the second week of May. As this trip was as much of a recce as a fishing day, I decided to wander with the dry fly - have a good look around - and hopefully come across some of the leviathans that my chosen venue has become renowned for. Grannom, Large Dark Olives and Olive Uprights were about throughout the day, but brilliant sunshine kept most fish down and rising fish were at a premium. 
After a lot of wandering, I did eventually come across a decent looking riser. Stealth and angle of approach were going to be critical if I was to get a chance at my best - and probably final - fish of the day. So I crawled into position and watched for a while as the fish continued to rise. Olive Uprights and Grannom were floating into it's zone, but they were being ignored in favour of something that I couldn't see. There were a few tiny morsels floating past my position, so on went a size 20 black F fly. I often say to clients that you if you are casting to a fish it's better to make your first cast short - it's better to be short and add to the next cast, than be long and line a fish and put it down. So, my first cast was short, then I waited for him to come up again and covered him second cast. He rose confidently and took my fly, I lifted into him and he turned and tore off downstream. 3lbs 6ozs of Scottish border brown trout put up a spirited fight before it was netted, weighed, photographed and released....

3lbs 6ozs midge feeder

I was back on my beloved Eden the following day and small was the order of the day again. Fish were rising when I hit the river, but, although I could see Olive Uprights, Grannom and the occasional Iron Blue dun on the water, I saw none taken. The only other thing I could see on the water were Greenfly, so on went a suitable imitation. The first fish I cast to took it without hesitation and that continued throughout the day: every rising fish I covered came up for the small fly. I even tried larger flies at times - just to see if they'd look at imitations of Olive Uprights and Grannom - but they wouldn't look at them, it had to be my tiny aphid imitation or nothing.

On the Aphids

Chris joined me for a day in the middle of May, to look at techniques. I saw the best hatch of Iron Blue duns that I'd seen for years and not one fish rose! we looked at fishing spiders, the 'duo' and French leaders - all produced for Chris throughout the day.


Chris had success on a variety of techniques

May turned out to be a very dry month and the river was beginning to show it's bones for the visit of Steve and friends in the middle of the month. The river performed well - despite the conditions - and so did the whole group.  Varying techniques between nymphs, dries and spiders ensured that everyone caught fish during their three days in Eden...

Barry with the group's first fish on day one

Jim with a nice fish

Maggie fished the nymph to great effect

Peter with took a nice fish on the dry fly

Conditions were looking tough for Martin and Roland's three days in Eden during the final week of the month: we had sunny weather and our rivers were down to their bones, but the river gods smiled on them. Good hatches of Olive Uprights and Medium Olives had fish feeding at the surface and two lucky anglers had three days of surface sport with decent numbers of fish coming to their dry offerings...

Martin is into a fish

Roland with a fish on the dry fly

Our rivers continued to fish for Scott's day in Eden. He came to work on casting and river techniques...it didn't take him long to cast and present his flies to a good standard . I often preach that if you get your casting skills up to a good level and present your flies well, you should get your just rewards. It's great for me as a guide/instructor  when all this comes together; it did for Scott and a good number of fish came to his well presented offerings. This also gave us the opportunity to look at playing/landing fish - another important discipline....


Scott with his best fish of the session

So, May was good in Eden. The month started wet before summer arrived early in Cumbria and we experienced a long dry spell with our rivers dropping throughout the month. Hatches were good and fish fed well on occasions, with most 
Eden Angler clients - too many to show here - experiencing good and productive days on our rivers. The conditions didn't suit our lakes and Ullswater was slower than normal, but we did have the occasional productive session on the few days when conditions were right.

We had the occasional productive lake session when conditions were right