Thursday, December 20, 2012

Far from ideal....

The river levels are continuing to fluctuate - mainly between high and very high ! Towards the end of last week the Eden was just starting to settle down to a fishable level for the coming weekend, then we got the usual weekly downpour which brought it up on Friday night, not a lot though, it began to drop on Saturday morning and there was still hope for Sunday. Then it rose again Saturday afternoon and that put paid to Sunday !

By Monday morning, the gauge on the Environment Agency website showed the river dropping, but still a touch high at 0.97m. Conditions were far from ideal but this was probably my last chance to get out before Christmas and maybe the last of 2012 so I decided to brave it.
I know the stretch I was heading for so knew which pools were likely to fish and which would be wadeable, but I would never set foot in nor advise anyone else to wade a swollen river that they were not familiar with.
Weighted bugs were the order of the day and fairly hefty too if they were to reach and hold bottom long enough for the fish to get a look at them. I was expecting sport to be slow and so it proved, but perseverance paid off, and three good fish came in quick succession - the first was a nice 41cm specimen, quickly followed by one of 39.5cm

The best of the three was 45cm

More searching produced three more smaller fish in consecutive casts, had I hit a shoal ? possibly, and if I'd come across them earlier I'd have spent a bit more time in the area, but by this time it was raining and the light was fading fast, so, more than happy with my lot, I decided to call it a day.
The rain brought the river up 90mm that night, it dropped the following night before the rains returned. The river level has risen to 2.57m and with more rain forecast every day up to and over the Christmas period that could be the end of my fishing for 2012, no complaints though - I've had a great year !


Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Brief Respite ?

Our awful summer seems to be continuing into the winter and the way it's going I wouldn't be surprised if our wettest summer for 100 years will be followed by our wettest winter.
Our local rivers have been up and down like a yo-yo in November - the torrential rain of the last week brought the Eden up to nearly 3.5 metres on two occasions, that's just under 3 metres (about 8 feet) up on normal levels.
Grayling hunting opportunities have been quite limited and when I have managed an outing, sport has been a touch slow. In my experience, Grayling tend to favour more settled conditions and although I've had fish on each outing they've been keeping their heads down - even a decent trickle of Large Dark Olives has failed to tempt them to the surface, so I've had to resort to the bugs to locate any takers.

Below are a few November takers :

The Rains seem to have abated for the remainder of this week and the river is dropping close to a fishable level for those who want to brave it - I'm sure I'll be struggling to resist the temptation to wet a line. Ullswater is full to the brim which will keep the River Eamont topped up for a few days but The Eden upstream of 'Waters Meet' (where the Eamont joins the Eden) should be at a fishable level (just) at the moment, and the Eden below 'Waters Meet' will hopefully be fishable by the weekend.
This may just be a brief respite from the rain and rising waters as the weathermen are talking about more rain for our area late Sunday and into Monday - Hope they're wrong !

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chasing Ladies

The wet weather that continued into early October put paid to any plans that I had for the last two weeks of the Salmon season, so as soon as the Trout season was over at the end of September I was straight into chasing Grayling.
My outings so far have been confined to the middle to upper Eden and have all proved quite productive - it's early days yet but there does seem to be a few more Grayling about this year.

The most productive methods have been either fishing a team of North Country Spiders to intermittent risers or searching likely looking areas with the nymph. Even though there has been trickle hatches of Blue Winged Olives and Large Dark Olives on occasions, the fish haven't really turned onto the surface fly, or not enough to justify a change to the dries whenever I was on the water.
One late afternoon session in the middle of the month saw olives already hatching when I arrived, but the duns were only producing a few very occasional rises, so rather than fish a dry I opted for a team of spiders (two Waterhen Bloas, and a Snipe and Purple) - the response was immediate, the fish were obviously looking to the surface and a lot more came to the team than had been showing an interest in the naturals on the surface.

Towards the end of the month I had two very different days on the river with my good friend and fellow AAPGAI member, Clive Mitchelhill.
On the first, we had ideal conditions, the river was in great condition and it was warm enough for a lunchtime hatch. We spent the morning on the nymph which produced one fish each and a few out of season trout. Lunchtime brought the hoped for hatch. Large Dark Olives brought the fish on and a change to spiders produced a few fish to us both throughout the afternoon - best flies were Waterhen Bloa and Partridge and Yellow.
Day two started with the hardest frost of the year so far, we were sure this would affect our prospects, and it did, the morning produced one out of season trout each. With clear blue skies overhead we hoped that we'd get a hatch once the sun warmed things up a bit, but all we got was a trickle of Olives and no response from the fish.
We'd both experienced days like this over the years and decided our only hope was to change our set up to two spiders and a nymph, and fish an area which we thought should hold fish in the hope that they would come on as dusk approached. I'm not 100% certain why this happens and they don't always come on, but I've had many a quiet day saved by a flurry of taking fish as dusk approachs - I did read many years ago that the fish came on as a result of 'Invertebrate Drift' but then read somewhere else that this wasn't the case, although no alternative was offered. I've read a bit about this phenomenon and need to look into it more, but from what I have read I believe that there's a very strong possibility that this is the case. Anyway, it worked for us, although we saw no surface activity from neither fish nor fly, we caught and dropped a good number of fish to the spiders and lightly weighted nymph in the last two hours of daylight.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wettest summer for 100 years !!

What a summer it's been - the wettest in 100 years with one big water after another restricting time on the river.
It hasn't been all doom and gloom though, although many have complained about a poor season and very few good rises, which was true for the dry fly anglers, I have to admit that I have had a great season on river and lake, although my success on the river has been mainly to the nymph.
All the rain kept our lakes high and water temperatures down so the trout fed hard and good numbers came to the artificial on some outings.

The Mayfly were about two weeks late this year but the trout didn't take too long to get onto them and two of my favourites for this time - the Olive Ullswater Muddler and The Slipper attracted quite a bit of attention.


The extra water and fluctuating levels seemed to kill off any chance of a decent hatch so daytime dry fly sport was virtually non-existent. In these situations it never pays to be a 'one method man' and searching with nymphs, spiders or, occasionally, the duo, often saves the day and produced some excellent sport when the rivers were at a fishable level for both myself and the few clients that did manage a day on the water with me.

Evening sport was a disappointment, I never witnessed one fall of spinners and the Blue Winged Olives and Sedge hung on until the death before making a very brief appearance - the hatch would normally start right on dark and last about twenty minutes before the river switched off for the night. There were times when, with a mixed hatch of upwings and various species of sedge the fish seemed to change from the emerger, to the dun, to the sedge in a very short window. I remember one night in particular when, just as I was thinking nothing was going to happen, the river began to boil with rising fish, I got a couple on a shuttlecock nymph, then they wouldn't look at it, a few to the Dun, then they wouldn't look at it, a few to the sedge then the river switched off - all in the space of about twenty minutes.

It's Grayling time now on the Eden system, so here's hoping we have a drier winter than we've had summer and get plenty of time to chase our 'Lady of the stream'

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oh to be in England Now that April's there (Robert Browning)

And what a month it's been !...
The weather hasn't been great, at least not for some, but us fishermen shouldn't be complaining, and I'm certainly not, it's been a good month for me on moving water and still. It has been a cold month, but not unseasonably so,  I would probably class it as nearly the norm when compared to the April's of years ago.

I haven't been fortunate enough to hit the river when we've had the much publicised hatches of Large Dark Olives and March Browns but the fish have been feeding hard sub-surface and the nymph has produced good results with good numbers of well conditioned Trout and out of season Grayling coming to my offerings.

The weather has been perfect for  wild trouting on our local lakes where cloud cover and ripple are critical - this year is the first for many years when I've managed a trip on Ullswater every weekend in April.

Good Friday saw me on Ullswater for the first time this year. With only midge to gorge on the fish were feeding hard and came to a variety of patterns, but they are some way behind the well fed river browns and most were still fairly thin for their length.

By the 21st of the month the alder were making an appearance and hopefully the fish will be starting to fatten up - I have had fish in the past that have been absolutely stuffed with alder larvae.

David came up from London for a few days fishing last week and the area didn't disappoint - hopefully he travelled back to the south a happy man after his three days in the north produced over twenty fish.
His last day, on a middle Eden beat was the most productive with fish on the many hatching Grannom whose escape to the bankside vegetation was hampered by a gusty upstream wind, a team of spiders brought a couple of fish and many offers before a break for lunch.

In the afternoon a mixed hatch of Olive Uprights, Large Dark Olives and Iron Blue Duns really got the fish feeding. The wind did a complete U-turn and blew downstream for the afternoon session so a change from the Circle Spey used in the morning to the Double Spey helped David cope admirably with the conditions and his team of spiders produced good numbers of fish and many offers.

You rarely see trout fishermen using the range of spey casts available to them and I don't know why, to have a variety of casts a your disposal can open up the whole river, not only do these casts help you in upstream or downstream winds but they take away the problem of high banks and tree lined or overgrown banks where the overhead caster will struggle and often pass by for easier pickings.

This last weekend of the month saw me back on Ullswater, conditions were tough with spells of the lake fishers anathema, sunshine - but there was a good ripple and enough spells of cloud  to give some sport and I was fortunate to connect with my best fish off the lake for some years, an eighteen inch beauty that was quickly photographed and returned.

Some claim that these Ullswater leviathans are a common occurrence but they are not, I had my last fish of this size six years ago and rarely hear of fish like this.

My next outing will be in May and if it turns out anything like it's predecessor it will be a great month.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Out in the sunshine

Early reports suggest decent hatches of Large Dark Olives (Baetis rhodani) and good numbers of March Browns (Rhithrogena germanica) for those that have been out in favourable conditions, the latter has been rarely seen on our local waters for a number of years now so it would be great to see them back on a regular basis.
Unfortunately for me... on my two outings of the season so far the conditions have been far from perfect and these two early season upwings have been quite elusive or non-existent in the case of the March Brown.

Today (Thursday) there wasn't a cloud in the sky when I ventured out, I saw one large dark olive dun and no rising fish, our spring olives are not sun lovers and those that do show face are off the water in a flash giving the fish no chance of an afternoon snack on newly emerged duns.
Luckily for me, fish were willing to feed sub-surface and a pair of beaded nymphs pitched upstream into any likely looking areas produced a few out of season Grayling and a number of Trout with the best (shown below) measuring 18 1/4 inches (46.5cm). I'm afraid it's not the best of photos, soon after hooking this fish I realised I'd forgot my net so I was forced to play it longer than I like and beach it, so it was a quick photo, a quick measure and a quick release.

The couple of bead head nymphs....

Monday, March 19, 2012

The waiting is over

The long awaited start to the 2012 Brown Trout season has arrived at last.
On Thursday 15th March I awoke to glorious sunshine and the usual feeling of excitement and anticipation.... a feeling I've had on every opening day for nearly 40 years and one that I hope I never lose.

By lunchtime the sun had gone to be replaced by cloud and conditions were perfect, when I got to the river there was a trickle of Large Dark Olives (Baetis Rhodani) coming off but no sign of rising fish so it was on with the nymph - a single Hares Ear beadhead on a tapered leader so I had the option of a quick change to a dry should I come across a surface feeding brownie.

Fishing the single nymph upstream and working any likely looking areas provided a few opening day fish, one at approximately 15 inches (38cm) and the rest around 12 (30cm).

The afternoon cloud brought a drop in temperature and a very sparse hatch of Olives.... not enough to tempt the trout to the surface, although  I did come across one rising fish which succumbed to a dry Olive Paradun.

Great to get my string pulled on opening day though and the rest of the season to look forward to.... Happy days !!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Resolutions and first outing of 2012

I swore I wouldn't make any resolutions this new year as I never stick to them.
I've decided to make one but I'll probably fail miserably, and that one is to try to keep this blog up to date. The trouble is that I always set off with good intentions then the trout season will start and that will run into the autumn salmon run, and that will run into the winter grayling, and as often as I can get away with it, when I'm not working I'm fishing, and everything else, including this, is put on the back burner.

Anyway, here is the first entry of hopefully many in 2012

We've had a miserable wet winter up here in Northern England and my Grayling fishing has been a bit of a disaster, after a few decent sessions in October I didn't get out again until December and that was a short session fishing a swollen river but I did manage to save a blank - just !
I managed another session last sunday - to be honest the river was a touch on the big side but falling after yet more rain and another rise, but I decided to give it a go anyway.
The conditions suggested that a team of short lined bugs would be the method for the day and they did produce one grayling but it was a struggle in a big water. Happy with saving a blank, I was about to give up when I saw three fish rise on the flats, the only fly I spotted on the water was one Large Dark Olive that floated past and continued on downstream as far as I could see without being bothered.
So not being sure what these fish had risen to I decided to re-rig with a team of spiders, Waterhen bloas on top dropper and point and a small black spider in the middle. I never saw another fish rise other than to my team or to be more specific, the Waterhen Bloa on the point, it produced seven offers resulting in two Grayling to hand and two lost, two out of season Brown trout and an offer from a fish that I didn't see and it didn't connect.