Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Last week blues

We're into the last week of the 2013 Trout season and I hope that it's not going to go out with the same wimper that it came in on. It certainly seemed that way yesterday. There wasn't a breath of wind, hardly a sound in the air, no fly and no rising fish - the river felt dead.
After trying a few different methods and only picking up small fish, I decided to have a play with the 'French nymph', I've been playing around with a few different leader formulas lately, so it was time for a trial run. It paid dividends, the leaders turned over beautifully and I finished the day with three nice Trout, lost one and had a good Grayling.

I'd like to think that the remainder of this week will be like last week, the fish were feeding well on two out of the three outings I had (two with clients and one for myself). The rivers were up early in the week, but fishable by Wednesday and I had a very good afternoon session. I had to run a few errands so didn't hit the water until 1400. The fish were already rising to a trickle of olives, I wasn't sure what they were at the time, but I managed to capture one and my FBA (Freshwater Biological Association) Key to the adults of British Ephemeroptera confirmed that they were Medium Olives. Not that it matters that much, I don't think you have to be into entomology to have success, it helps, but it's not essential. What does matter is that you take the time to watch and work out what the fish are taking, then get yourself into the right position and present them with a suitable imitation. On this outing, it was a size 16 Olive Paradun.

The first fish that fell for the paradun was the best of the session at 2lbs 9ozs, but other good ones followed - they were 16" (40.5cm), 16 1/2" (42cm), two at 15 " (38cm) plus five between 12" and 13" and quite a few smaller ones - it turned out a very productive four and a half hour session.

The river wasn't as co-operative for Derek's day on the Eden, but his was more about casting than fishing and hopefully he has taken away a few skills that will benefit him in his future endeavours.
George and Hugh were out with me on Saturday. Neither had fished the Eden before, so we fished the 'Black Swan' stretch, this excellent hostelry has it's own piece of Eden that is reserved for residents only and I guide/teach on it. We spent the morning honing their skills and getting a feel for the river. The morning work paid dividends for them both - George managed three trout and his first Grayling, he also missed and lost a few. Hugh managed three Trout and - I think he may have lost a good fish, he thought a snag may have taken his top dropper but I have a feeling that it was a fish. Either way, I hope that they both enjoyed there first go at our great river and I managed to send them away with a few new skills.

George is into a fish
Hugh swings his flies perfectly
The season ends next Monday and although I am a touch sad about that, I have to admit that I'm also starting to get excited about what the winter may have to offer. Last year we saw a marked improvement in our Grayling fishing, so hopefully, it will be as good again this year.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

We've had a great fall !

I haven't seen a single Black Gnat on four outings since last Saturday (7th Sept). For about ten days previous to that, we'd had some tremendous falls of Bibio johannis on the Eden system. On some occasions the water was covered in thousands of these tiny morsels, but even though the Trout were hard on them, it was far from easy.
Fish were often found sipping away at the gnats on the flats, with many in quite shallow water in the edges and catching them was frustratingly hard at times. With so many naturals on the water, the fish were quite picky when it came to the artificial and some successful patterns of the past were flatly refused and the fish often displayed zero tolerance for the wrong fly, poor presentation or delivering the artificial from the wrong angle. Get it wrong and your target was put down, often taking other fish in the vicinity with it.
That was the pattern on most outings, up until last Saturday. Heavy rain on Friday had brought the Eden up and it was unfishable, but other rivers in the area were fine, a touch coloured, but well fishable.

The Black Para
The colour must have helped - which it often does - and the fish were a touch more tolerant. The wrong pattern didn't put them down, it just produced boils and refusals, but I got second - and third - chances. A Black Para produced the right results and there were no refusals for the rest of the session, with a good number of fish to 16 1/2" (42cm)

The Black Gnat also worked during recent falls
Last Monday saw me back on the Eden, the river was still up and carrying some colour but it was back to a fishable level.
With no sign of flies or fish, I set up with my 'old faithful' - the spider rig. I'd sort of drifted away from the spiders in favour of dries and nymphs but I've found myself fishing them more and more over the last couple of seasons. A team of spiders can be a great way of searching a big river like the Eden when there's not much surface activity and you expect the fish to be looking up. The often difficult to target and tempt 'oncers' can often be easier to cover with a team of spiders swung through the vicinity of their rise.
So, I decided, that based on the fact that we'd had large falls of Black Gnat and the fish have been hard on them, that anything will do - as long as it's black, and opted for black spiders on the droppers and a small black nymph on the point. This team produced the goods, with a steady trickle of Trout and Grayling caught, missed and dropped throughout the session.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dog days are over....

Well, that's August out of the way. The warm, dry spell is over, we've had rain, a few lifts in river levels and the weather is feeling more autumnal. The subsequent drop in water temperatures seems to be getting our cold-blooded friends feeding a bit harder than of late, so all bodes well for a good final month of the season and a good start to the back-end Grayling fishing.
Ray leans into a good Eden Grayling

Although August has always been renowned for it's dog days, it wasn't all bad news and a good number of 'The Eden Angler' clients did well on their Eden outings.
Ray was visiting our shores from Perth, Australia, he was keen to try the Eden and it didn't disappoint. Daytime hatches are normally quite sparse at this time of the year, but there were a few Pale Wateries hatching and the odd Blue Winged Olive. There weren't many fish feeding, and what were, were mainly 'oncers' but there was enough activity to get Ray a few small Trout and and some good Grayling.

Ray with one of his Eden Grayling
It was a different story on the Eamont. This was a different proposition for Ray, the more open spaces of the Eden had given him plenty of space for the overhead cast but the more intimate tree lined and balsam covered banks of the Eamont meant he needed a different approach. So we spent some time looking at 'The double spey' I can never understand why more 'single-handed' fishers don't use the variety of spey casts that are at their disposal, these casts have the potential to open up the whole river to them, allowing them to fish areas often denied to the overhead caster. Anyway, Ray picked up the double spey really well, it just required a bit of fine tuning, which we could do while he was fishing.  
Temperatures had lifted and the fly was off the water in a flash, so with no surface activity, the fish were keeping their heads down and only the nymph produced any interest, but, hard work and persistence, and a new cast learned, brought their rewards and Ray did get his Eamont fish.
Ray into an Eamont Trout
August did bring some long overdue rain, but not always when we wanted it. That was the case for Charlie and Richard, they had a wet introduction to fly fishing and the Eden. They stuck at it though and their casting skills improved throughout the day and I hope they left Cumbria bitten by the fishing bug.
Charlie draws in his first Eden Brown Trout
The main thing that has really stood out for me this season is the unpredictability, the fish haven't always done what they should be doing and been where they should be, given certain conditions, and that seems to be continuing. We've had some good falls of Black Gnats recently and I've seen fish gorging on them in the past, but on three consecutive days on the river with clients, the fish never went mad for the thousands of gnats that were floating downstream. They were on them, but not gorging, it was mainly small fish and the odd larger beast, rising very intermittently.
I was with Harry on the first good fall of gnats and they wouldn't look at the dry, Harry is a very good and experienced angler though and a change to a team of our 'North country' spiders produced a few fish for him.
Harry with a good Grayling to a Black spider
It's great to see young anglers coming into our sport. Theo (16) and Fintan (13) came out with me recently, they'd had a go at coarse/bait fishing but this was their first try at the fly. As usual with newcomers to the sport, our morning was spent looking at the gear and working on casting, but I knew these young lads were keen to get in the water, so after a quick break for lunch and a look at safety, in and around the water, we got a fly on and got fishing. 
Being young and keen, they both took to it really well and were soon casting and presenting the fly to a good standard. It wasn't long before I showed them how to add droppers to their leader and fish additional flies. Unfortunately, the fish didn't oblige too much, although Fintan did catch and lose a small trout and Theo lost what seemed -judging by the bend in his rod - a sizeable fish. I think this was enough to give them the fishing bug though and they left making plans for purchasing rods and waders. I hope they continue with their fly fishing and get as many years of enjoyment from this great sport as I have.

Theo and Fintan after their day on the river
Another young angler out with me recently was Laurence. He told me that he'd been fishing since he was 6 and his grandfather had taught him - he's done a good job - for a 13 year old, he was a very good young angler. We did a little bit of fine-tuning with his casting throughout the day, but that was all.
Laurence was a Chalkstream man and had never fished our Northern streams before, so we decided to start with a good old Northern method the 'North country' spiders. He picked it up without any problem and was soon fishing a team of three, presenting them well and was soon into his first fish of the day, a Brown Trout.
Laurence brings a fish to hand
The morning session was spent on the spiders and a few fish, mainly Grayling, were caught. After Lunch, we had a fall of Gnats, which again, only produced intermittent risers, but a change to the dry did produce a few fish and others were missed. As Laurence wanted to try different methods, we changed to 'The Duo' for a while and four Trout came to the nymph plus a missed rise to the dry. Again there were signs of the unpredictability, all fish taken high in the water were Grayling and the Trout were lying deeper - even though there were plenty of Gnats on the water. 
We finished the day with a session on the upstream nymph, sorry Mr Halford, and even though Laurence coped very well with another new technique, this was the only method that didn't produce, perhaps the old boy was telling me that was just a step too far for this young Chalkstream angler. 

Laurence with one of his Eden Grayling
So, we didn't have too many dog days in August, the rain came just in time and we had some good days towards the end of the month, here's hoping it carries on into September.