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
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.