Sunday, March 31, 2013

Coldest March

Winter is still refusing to loosen it's grip on us.... it's not official yet, but according to the Met Office we're set for our coldest March since 1962.
The cold spell is certainly taking it's toll on our fishing. Air temperatures have been driven down by bitterly cold easterly winds and water temperatures over the last week have ranged from 36°F - 40°F.
From what I've read, it's probably the water temperature that has slowed the fishing and been responsible for the lack of surface activity from trout - even when we have had a trickle of Olives. Apparently, at 38°F and below, appetites may be suppressed and digestive systems operate very slowly.
I managed two sessions on the river last week and on both occasions there was a sparse hatch of Large Dark Olives, but no rising fish. I did spot a few fish and watched for a while as duns floated over them -  they showed no interest - suppressed appetites or still digesting ? Interestingly, I did try a selection of nymphs on these fish, but they wouldn't look at them either.   

Luckily, not all the fish were struggling with the conditions and a few have shown an interest in the nymph.

From what I've heard on the fishing grapevine, decent hatches have been witnessed by some and larger numbers of duns have got fish feeding at the surface - one friend reported a fifteen minute rise, resulting in one fish just under 2lbs and another lost. So there is the chance of sport to the dries, it may just a case of being in the right place at the right time at the moment.
The sunshine over the last couple of days may be enough to get things moving, another friend found good numbers of duns and rising fish on a recent outing, check out his blog, so with a sunny day forecast for tomorrow (Monday) I'll be out hoping for my first nymph free session of the season.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The big freeze

It's hard to believe that this time last year we were basking in sunshine with temperatures in the low 20's. Reports of good hatches of Large Dark Olives (Baetis rhodani) and March Browns (Rhithrogena germanica) were doing the rounds, fish were rising most days and in great condition for the time of year.
Fast forward twelve months and we're looking at the coldest March for 50 years, we're surrounded by snow and hatches are virtually non-existent. With ice cold easterly winds forecast for well into next week, the thaw could be a while in coming and then I guess we'll have to look forward to rivers swollen with snow melt - it's been a pretty grim start to the 2013 trout season.

On a slightly more positive note, I did get on the river three times last week. The first two were very short, early afternoon sessions, to hopefully coincide with a hatch of olives. The third was to walk the dog, but temptation got the better of me and I decided to walk the rod too!
I did manage fish on each occasion but didn't see one olive - so even these hardy souls of spring were keeping their heads down - and I had to resort to the nymph to get any action.

Some of the fish were typical early season trout, in poor condition and desperately in need of a bit of meat on their bones.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Trout season begins....

I'd had it in my head for the two weeks leading up to the start of the 2013 season that I'd kick things off with a session on the River Eamont. Don't ask me why, I don't know, maybe because I'd had my final session of the 2012 Trout season on the Eamont - I do things like that sometimes.
Opening day (15th March) dawned very wet and miserable and I must admit, I was waivering. We're very lucky to have so much choice in this area and it did cross my mind to go somewhere else or even give in to the rain and not bother, but, the Eamont was in my head and that's where I had to go.
The morning's rain was beginning to have an effect on the river by the time I arrived, it was rising very slowly, not a massive problem on a previously very low river. It was just fishable but colouring up so I wouldn't get long before it was too dirty to fish.

Luckily, I didn't need long and was soon into my first fish of the season, a cracking 44.5cm specimen. I couldn't have wished for a better start.

The river continued to colour up, I saw a few Large Dark Olives and tracked them downstream until they were out of sight - hoping for a rise - but none were taken. A few speculative casts here and there with the nymph produced nothing more, so I gave in, conceding the fact that the river was now too coloured.
My first session of 2013 had lasted two hours - short, but very sweet !

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

LDO's make an appearance

I managed two outings on the Eden last week and it was great to see the Large Dark Olives make an appearance on each occasion.
On the first outing the olives began to hatch late morning and continued to come off the water throughout the afternoon. It wasn't a large hatch, LDO hatches rarely are, they tend to be more of a trickle, but like today, given favourable conditions, that trickle can go on for three or four hours.

The fish weren't going mad for them, but there was enough activity to prompt a change from the nymphs I'd started with, to a team of spiders. The hatch did become quite sporadic as the afternoon went on - but the Grayling and a few out of season Trout, showed an interest in the spiders right up until the olives disappeared for the day, and the river switched off.

The second outing of the week was a working session.
Renato, a visitor from Brazil, wanted to have a go at fly fishing and sample what we had to offer.... No big boys today but I think the Eden did us proud. 

The morning was spent casting and for a complete beginner, Renato was doing well - well enough to wet a fly (or two) - Olives were beginning to hatch and I was keen for him to take advantage.
By the time we were rigged with a nymph on the point and spider on the top dropper the odd fish was rising and a Grayling took the spider as I demonstrated what I thought would be our most productive technique.

After a few casts Renato was getting to grips with what was required for good presentation and was rewarded with his first fish of the day - an out of season Brown Trout.

With Olives on the water and fish rising, prospects looked good for the rest of the day - and I said so - and wished I hadn't. No sooner had I spoken the fatal words than a bitterly cold, easterly wind, blew across the river and killed the hatch stone dead.
Luckily I had come prepared for the cold, aware that Renato was from warmer climes, I had brought him a pair of thick socks, a fleece shirt and fleece buff.  Although it remained very cold, he coped well with the conditions and fished well.
Casting improved as the day progressed so we stepped up to a three fly rig and even though the hatch had stopped, grayling were caught, lost and missed throughout the afternoon.

Well done Renato - I hope you enjoyed you're first taste of the fishing in our area.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Old favourite saves the day...

It's funny how old favourites sometimes get relegated down the list of most used patterns and then forgotten about - todays saviour was one of many in the box I never use now and one I've often thought about stripping down or discarding.
For a couple of years it was a fly that was rarely off a cast of three when bugging for Grayling and it once accounted for all but one in a catch of 27 Grayling in January 2001 - just before the rivers in this area were closed to fishing due to the Foot and Mouth epidemic. This particular stretch of the mid to upper Eden held good numbers of Grayling around that time but after a break of just under a year when the association waters were closed, they seemed to disappear and although numbers have been on the increase over the last couple of years, this area has never produced the same.
For some strange reason this pattern just stopped producing and was replaced by newer, more productive patterns.
That was until today. On a mainly cloudless day, with bright sunshine and a low, gin clear Eden, fishing was going to be tough. The first few pools produced nothing and it was turning into one of those sessions when you start thinking 'it's not going to happen'

I decided to change my team of flies and try one more pool  before calling it a day. With nothing to lose and the 'usual suspects' not producing, I decided to give the 'Amber bug' a go. I was into a fish and dropped it first cast.Then a number of fish picked it out of the team of three in the last hour before the light began to fade.

It may have been coincedence, the fish may have come on because the sun had dropped in the western  sky and was off the water, but regardless of what it was, all the fish came to the same fly. So it's back in favour again. I only had one left in my box so a few will be getting knocked up before my next outing.

And just like another favourite... It's not averse to picking up the odd 'rock fish' either.