On Monday, 16 December, the river Eden was getting it's second lift of the weekend, at lunchtime it was 2.16m and rising at Temple Sowerby - that's about 1.5m (5 feet) up on normal. The lower river was at 2.39m and rising - approximately 2m (6 feet 6 inches) up. If the weather forecasters are correct, we're due another spell of rain on Wednesday, then another batch Friday into Saturday, so the chances of a pre-Christmas outing are looking slim.
As I mentioned in my last blog; the fish seem to have acclimatized to the fluctuating conditions and as soon as the water clears, they're on the feed, irrespective of the height. Albeit, not in great numbers at the moment.
Some Eden stalwarts are beginning to think that there's not as many fish about this winter, but I think it's still too early to say. We do see peaks and troughs in our Grayling population and - in my opinion - we did experience a steady decline in numbers on many Eden beats between about 2005/06 and 2011. But, in 2012, they were back. With decent numbers taken on most outings by both myself and my clients, it was looking like they were starting to peak again. I hope that I'm not being over-optimistic, but I'd be surprised if this peak was as short-lived as one winter. We've had a lot of wet weather since the end of the Trout and Salmon season, it certainly hasn't been that conducive to good Grayling fishing, so I'm reserving judgement on population levels until we get a spell of more favourable conditions.
I did manage one session on the Eden last week - the river had been up over the weekend but by late Monday morning it had dropped to approximately 1m (3 feet) above normal winter levels.
It was clear enough to fish and still dropping. Many areas were still inaccessible but I found plenty to keep me occupied until dark. By working what I could as well as I could with a team of bugs and adding or taking away weight depending on depth and current velocity, I managed six Grayling and five out of season Trout. Considering the conditions, I was more than happy with my lot, but I would have been anyway, regardless of whether I'd had fish or not, it was just nice to get on the river.
I don't normally bother with New Years wishes or resolutions, but I think I'll make an exception this year and wish for settled weather to start 2014. Something similar to this year would be nice, but without the 'Big Freeze' in March. In January and February this year I had some good sessions on the bugs. Late February and early March brought some good hatches of Large Dark Olives on occasions. The bug box was forgotten about, Grayling were looking to the surface and a team of Spiders and/or light nymphs produced decent bags on most outings - it was a nice way to bring the Grayling season to a close.
I'll certainly be trying to wet a line, or two before Christmas and the years end, and reporting on it, but just in case....
I HOPE THAT YOU ALL HAVE A GREAT CHRISTMAS AND ALL THE VERY BEST FOR 2014