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.