Saturday, February 9, 2008

Fishing will always come first

I got up this morning to find we had some decent weather at last - a beautiful springlike day.
I did a few jobs to keep the better half sweet and then it was decision time - Newcastle were playing Aston Villa on Sky TV, so should I stay at home and watch a load of overpaid primma donna's prancing about a field or should I give in to temptation and hit the river.
Not a lot to consider really - I was on the River Eden just after one o'clock for an afternoon session for the Grayling.

Even though it was a warmer day than we've had recently I didn't expect any activity at the surface so it was on with the bugs and a spot of Czech nymphing.
They didn't let me down - third cast I dropped a fish and two casts later I was into the first of the day - a 43cm (17") Grayling to an Orange bug on the point.
Judging by the scale samples I've taken in the past, a fish of this size would probably be about three year old (a third winter fish) - Eden Grayling tend to be fast growing and three year olds are usually in the 38 - 45 cm bracket - my best measured Eden fish was 49cm (19 1/4") and weighed 2lbs 14ozs.
The Eden has produced some very good fish in the 40 - 47cm (16" - 18") range over the years but the downside of fast growth is short lifespan and we have yet to find a fish over four years old.
My second fish came soon after the first, quickly followed by a third and one dropped in between - all coming to the pink shrimp on the top dropper, these were 28 - 30cm fish.
Another one came to the pink shrimp in the next pool down plus a few tentative tugs when the flies were on the hang and that was it.

The Flies for the day - The Orange bug and Pink shrimp

In 2007 the Eden Grayling population definitely seemed to be on the increase again, we've been in a bit of a trough for a while so hopefully this is the start of a peak period, which we haven't really seen since the late 90's - long may it last.

Not that there was ever any doubt as fishing will always come first but my decision was confirmed when I got home to discover that Newcastle had produced another poor performance and suffered a 4 - 1 defeat.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Ullswaters

I think I've started every post so far with a negative, so why spoil the habit, I'm sure there'll be plenty of positives once the season starts - yesterdays local news confirmed what I suspected, that is, January's rainfall was twice the average for this time - how depressing.

On the tying front I've got my stillwater box well stocked with my Ullswater flies.

The Ullswater series started about 14 years ago, I wasn't into naming flies then, so it was just, my palmered hare's ear. The fly was so successful for myself and my good friend, Andrew Dixon that he said I should give it a name - as it was tied for the lake it had to be 'The Ullswater'.
Since then I have added - The Golden Ullswater, Silver Ullswater, Olive Ullswater, Orange Ullswater plus muddler versions of them all and the Golden Slipper (Originally tied for, and very successful on the peat stained water of Keilder reservoir)
The Original is still my top fly every season but the others aren't far behind and the golden version nearly pipped it last year.
The olive version and the Golden Slipper come into their own once the Mayfly (Ephemera Danica) time starts but are always worth a go if the others aren't producing.
As most lake or loch fishermen will tell you, it's not just Rainbows that want the flies moving and creating a wake, sometimes the Brownies love it too and this is when the muddlers shine - you don't always need a good wave either, I remember having a great day with a size 10 Olive Ullswater muddler, in a very light ripple it was part of a three fly cast and the fish picked it out every time.

The Ullswaters do work elsewhere, Andrew had success with them in Sweden while practicing for the World Championships (he has been a member of the England team for some years now) and they have worked for me on other wild trout fisheries I have tried.
Once word of them got out, they became quite popular with local anglers and are now sold by John Norris of Penrith.

One of the things I love about fly tying is that it gives you the freedom to experiment and I certainly do that - I am always trying different patterns or variants of traditionals on both river and stillwater, to me, that's what it's all about - it adds to the challenge and enjoyment of this great sport.