Guiding can be a frustrating game sometimes, you know the water, know where the fish should be, know what they should be on and then, for whatever reason - and there always is one - it just doesn't happen.
Last week was a tough week in my world of guiding. We had two inches of rain on the 18th May, the river shot up and was running at about 6 feet by that evening. Our rivers seem to funnel the water through the system at a rapid rate nowadays, they can be up and then back to a fishable level in the space of about 24 - 48 hours. That was the case last week, with the middle to upper reaches fishable by Monday (on the flats) and by Tuesday it was still carrying about 23cm (9") of extra water, but most areas were accessible.
By the middle of the week it was spot on, or should have been, when Steve and Charlie joined me for their first taste of fishing our northern streams. The Eden was still carrying a touch of colour, which was okay. As long as there's not too much, colour can often work in the anglers favour....
But, the fish decided that they weren't going to 'play ball' and so did the flies. A cool upstream wind killed any chance of a hatch and I could probably count on about ten fingers how many upwings I saw on the water - so there wasn't really a lot to get the fish going.
When in my guide/tutor role, it's very important to plan a session around my clients wants and expectations but I also think that it's important for them to take advantage of their time with me and learn a few skills that will benefit them in their future endeavours as a fisherman/woman - and that's not an excuse for a fishless day ! - if they learn the skills, 'the fish will come'
We rang the changes today and looked at a few techniques: fishing North Country Spiders, the 'Duo' or New Zealand dropper and Czech nymphing. The spiders produced a couple of dropped fish and the rest produced a few tentative offers - so, no fish, but hopefully, plenty of positives with some new skills gained.
When it came to Ian's day on the river, conditions still weren't that great. He got the lot - a strong northerly blow, hail, rain and sunny intervals - and his perseverance, in adverse conditions, received scant reward, just a few tentative tugs and boils at his flies.
We had to wait until late afternoon before we got any activity. The weather settled, the sun came out and so did the Olive Uprights. A few fish were soon onto them and Ian managed to finish on a high, with a cracking Eden brownie.
This last weekend brought our best spell of weather for some time - hope that wasn't our summer !
Two days of sunshine and higher temperatures provided some good evening sport. I saw my first Black Gnats of the year on Sunday morning and my first Yellow May Dun in the evening. Not enough of each species to get the fish going, but they were rising to a mixed hatch of duns until 22.30 on Saturday and Sunday. These weren't only mixed hatches but were also mixed feeds, some fish were taking the larger duns (Olive Uprights), some were on a smaller one (I didn't get hold of any for a positive identification) and some fish were on the emergers of each species. My first four fish on Saturday came to four different flies, ranging from a size 16 emerger to a size 12 dun. Sunday followed a similar pattern.