Sunday, June 30, 2013

A visit to the BFFI

It's been a busy last couple of weeks in my world of guiding and tuition, the rivers were still on their bones and the fishing has been tough on occasions.

Matt was visiting from Colorado and was keen to sample our River Eden while he was here. We'd had a touch of fresh water over the previous weekend, it brought the river up 75mm, which helped to perk things up. Rises were quite sporadic on the day, and after a few small fish to the nymph and the dries, a change to the good old 'North Country Spiders' produced a few better quality fish. So, I hope that he enjoyed his day and the few Eden brownies that decided to oblige.
Tuition and some less successful guided days filled the rest of the week - no blanks, but, the 75mm lift soon washed through and with the system showing it's bones again, only the smaller trout were 'playing ball'. It's been a funny year so far, hatches have been all over the place. All species have and are still well behind normal, temperatures have been up and down. When it's warm, it's very warm and when it's not, it feels more like autumn. I'm starting to wonder if it's just knocked the fish a bit out of sync, they're in great condition and there's been some very good fish caught - I've heard reports of good numbers of 3-4lb fish taken this year and some of my clients have had hold of some quality fish - but, at times, they're just not doing what they should be doing for the time of year. One day they're in their summer lies - hitting the runs with nymphs and spiders produces the goods - and the next day they're not, and there's oncers cruising the flats picking off bits and pieces. The fish are there though and I guess this is what makes our sport so interesting, and will make us better anglers - if we're prepared to work at it and learn from these challenges.
Last weekend saw me at the British Fly Fair. I haven't been for the last few years and it was great to catch up with some of my fellow AAPGAI members. Illtyd Griffiths, Clive Mitchelhill, Karl Humphries, Paul Procter, Jim Fearn and Paul Arden impressed the crowds with various demonstrations on the casting pond and Dave Wiltshire was doing his stuff on Fly Tiers row.
I met and talked to lots of familiar faces, some I hadn't seen for years and took the chance stop off at the Flytek stand and stock up on a few bits and pieces.
I joined fellow guide and tutor, Clive Mitchelhill, at the beginning of last week, to help with a party of anglers on one of our local stillwaters. Paul was the first to get into a fish - he was really pleased with his first fish on his first attempt at fly fishing

Doug joined me for a tough day on Ullswater in the middle of the week. We had a lovely ripple but frequent sunny intervals didn't help. The mayfly were hatching and the fish were still keen to feed, many were moved during the cloudy periods and some good quality fish (for the time of year) showed an interest in the fly.
The coldest march for fifty years meant that Ullswater was late to start this year, so it will be interesting to see how long our sport on there continues. Daytime sport normally gets very slow during July and August, then it sometimes picks up again in September.
Rain throughout the region on Friday brought the Eden up a few inches and added a touch of colour, so prospects for the next week look promising, especially with a week of cloud and unsettled weather forecast - and the Blue Winged Olives are here at last !

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Getting to the bones

The prolonged spell of fine weather in this neck of the woods has meant that our local rivers are getting down to their bones....anyone know a rain dance ! 
There are many advantages and disadvantages to a low river. It can make fish location easier and you can sometimes take advantage of some areas that are normally out of reach, but, it can also be really tough going for the daytime angler, when he is presented with a low, gin clear river and cloudless, sunny skies.
It hasn't been all doom and gloom though. Hard work and perseverance can still be rewarded. Sam and Marwan proved this by still managing fish in very challenging conditions on the River Eden.

The sunny weather has meant that my lake fishing has been severely restricted of late. It's a shame really, as the long overdue Mayfly (Ephermera danica) have eventually decided to make an appearance.
Sport was slow on the only suitable day I've had, conditions were perfect, but the fish just didn't want to know initially, and then the Mayfly started coming off. The fish were straight onto them and with good numbers of duns and spinners about, sport was hectic for a while. They responded well to the 'Slipper' either pulled through the waves or left static, and in the calmer water, cruisers could be picked off as they sipped away at the dying spinners.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Last week in Eden....

Last week kicked off with a touch of the wet stuff (rain) and I was a bit worried that the Eden would be up for Mark's day on the river. All was good though, the river was up a touch and slightly coloured, but well fishable. Mark was over from Chicago, he regularly fishes small spring creeks for brown and brook trout in Wisconsin, so the Eden was a new experience and his first go at an English river.
The slight lift in water had produced a slight drop in temperature and there was very little surface activity. So as it was Mark's first go at an English 'freestone' river, we went for a good old English method, 'North country spider' fishing, or 'Soft hackles' as our fellow fishers 'across the pond' call them - a method popularised in America by people like Sylvester Nemes.

Mark coped admirably with his introduction to our water and fishing a team of spiders - and a few fish obliged, so I hope he enjoyed his first go on our shores and gives the spiders (soft hackles) a go on his return to home waters. 
Theo was visiting from Holland, as an experienced coarse fisherman, he was trying his hand at fly fishing for the first time. Typical of most coarse fishermen I've had out on our waters, he picked things up pretty quickly and was soon into his first Eden fish - an out of season Grayling. The improvement in our weather has seen a marked increase in insect activity and we had a few fish rising throughout the day to a mixture of Olive Uprights, Black Gnats and Mayfly (my first sighting this year), other species like Yellow May dun and and Yellow Sally were on the wing but not on the water, so were of no interest to the fish.

Good hatches continued throughout the week and so did the warm weather, which meant that the fly were off the water as soon as they left their nymphal shuck, giving the fish little chance of a feed on the hatched dun. This was the case on Alan's day, but a change to the upstream nymph produced  a good few offers.
Vladimir was another visitor to our shores this week. It was his first outing on our local waters and he managed to get a fish, lose a larger one and get a few offers on a very low and clear River Eamont - a great effort in tough conditions.
I did manage a couple of sessions for myself last week. According to some reports, Ullswater has been  a bit up and down, but I have found that given favourable conditions, it is still fishing well. Still no sign of the Mayfly (Ephemera danica) yet, they're at least two weeks late at the moment.
A session on the Eden produced good numbers of fish - mainly to the upstream nymph. There was still plenty of fly about for my visit, but, as mentioned earlier, the increase in temperatures has meant that the fly are off the water so quickly, that the fish aren't getting a chance at the adults. They seem to be concentrating more on sub-surface invertebrate activity - or at least that seems to have been the case where I've fished.
I did get on the dries for part of my session, when I came across a pod of fish that had turned onto the Black Gnat for a short period. They were sipping away in a scum/foam lane and every fished covered produced a positive response to the artificial, with approximately 75% coming to hand.
Evening sport has been good lately with fish rising up to and into darkness on some evenings. So all is good on the Eden system at the moment.... long may it last.