Friday, November 14, 2014

The Class of '13

We're certainly paying for the dry weather that we had during August and September - it's hardly stopped raining since the trout season finished on 30th September!
One low pressure system after another blowing in off the North Atlantic, along with the associated rises on the Eden system, has certainly curtailed our grayling fishing so far. But, braving the elements and persevering in the bigger winter flows has brought it's rewards on occasions.
I was thinking it may be a long winter after the excellent trout season in Eden, but the grayling seem to be thriving too. They must have had a good breeding season with high survival rates in 2013, as we seem to have a good number of 10" - 12" (26 - 31cm) fish. We don't have the numbers that we had during the 'population explosion' of the late 90's and early 2000's but there's certainly a healthy stock of fish throughout the river at the moment. Which is good, and a relief for some, who were expressing concerns over the lack of fish last winter. Although, I always thought that it wasn't really possible to draw any conclusions from last winter, as I think some of the fears were based on catches or lack of them and last winter's consistently high waters gave us very few decent fishing days. My clients and I certainly caught plenty of grayling over the final six weeks of the 2013 trout season....
In my opinion, the Eden grayling population did start to go into decline after the massive floods in 2005 and there seemed to be a steady decrease in numbers up until 2011, especially on middle Eden. Things were looking a bit more positive in the winter of 2012 when my catch rate went up, the autumn of 2013 also produced some good catches and with this apparent surge in numbers this year, let's hope that we continue on this positive track in the seasons to come....

John was the first 'Eden Angler' client  to come in search of grayling this winter  - the conditions weren't ideal for his day in Eden but he did manage to get into a few.
Fish fell mainly to nymphs through October and early November. But the unseasonably mild weather produced hatches of Pale Wateries, Large Dark Olives and midge on some days. A quick change to a team of spiders or dries occasionally produced the goods.
David has become a regular (and successful) trout hunter in Eden and had his first go at our grayling in October. After an unsettled week the river was still running a touch high but he did well to get into a few fish on his team of bugs.

The Class of  '13 are in great condition and fight like little tigers

Ray was visiting the UK from Australia. He had two days trout fishing with me last year and stopped off for another taste of Eden. Although he found our weather pretty cold compared to what he's used to back home in 'Oz' he stuck at it and did well to acquaint himself with a few of our Eden grayling.
So, as far as trout and grayling are concerned, Eden seems to be in a good place at the moment.... I've often been asked about trips abroad and I'd be a liar if I said I wouldn't be interested, but when you live, and guide, and fish in Eden, why would you want to go anywhere else? I often think that for me, it's a case of 'No passport required'
Now that we've gone from British Summer time (BST) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and our daylight hours are less, I've decided to Introduce a 'Winter Rate' for guided fishing and tuition - check it out at 'Grayling fishing in Eden' 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

That's another season over....

The long dry spell continued right up until the final day of September and the end of this year's Brown Trout season. But, luckily, it didn't seem to deter the fish as they still responded well to our offerings right to the bitter end and I struggled to tear myself away from the river on the 30th after a great day's sport in conditions more akin to the height of summer....

I've been lucky to get the opportunity to introduce a few youngsters to our great sport this season. The most recent to give it a go was 11 year old Sam. He'd never fished the fly before, but he'd been into John Norris of Penrith to get some tackle advice before spending some time on the river with me. He picked it up well and was soon casting to a decent level which led to a productive first fly fishing session on his local stretch of the Eden.... I hope that he'll now be hooked for life.

Everyone that has visited Eden over the past month has managed to get into fish, which was good. As mentioned in my last update; the fish have been slow - or not had the chance  -  to respond to the surface fly, but they have responded well to sub-surface offerings. So on most occasions nymphs and spiders have been the order of the day, which worked well for Martyn's visit as he'd wanted to look at nymphing techniques. We looked at a few different ways to present the nymph, where you would fish it and why, and one or two fish liked what he had to offer.

Roger was in Eden for the first time and my orders for the day were to concentrate on Grayling. We managed to locate a few that liked the look of our nymphs and spiders, and Roger was close to double figures by the end of the session, plus a few lost and a very good trout that took as the flies came onto the hang. The water erupted as Roger lifted into the fish but unfortunately it was only on for seconds before it threw the hook.
Our 'North Country Spiders' did the trick for Richard too  

The last few days of the season were quiet on the guiding front, so it was an opportunity for a bit of 'my time' and I took full advantage. The last two days gave us unseasonably high temperatures and sunshine - more like mid-Summer than early Autumn. But it certainly didn't affect the fishing, trout were feeding hard with good numbers of fish responding to anything that I threw at them - apart from dries.
The best of the bunch on the penultimate day

The best of the final day of the season weighed in at 2lbs 4ozs
As mentioned at the start: I struggled to tear myself away from the river at the end of the final day. I'm sure that it would of been easier if sport had been slow and the weather miserable, but it wasn't and it just didn't feel like the end of the season. We've had a great Trout season in Eden though, so I can't complain. Long, dry spells and very low rivers have made it tough at times but the right methods in the right areas have produced very good results, and I have no doubt that we have a very healthy trout population at the moment. Let's hope for the same in 2015....

A nice Eden Grayling caught in late September
And now it's Grayling time.... reports from various parts of the river are very positive. Some areas have been slower than others, although - and I hope it's not wishful thinking - I'm putting that down to low rivers and higher water temperatures. The long awaited rains have arrived and we've had two or three good lifts in water level since the end of the trout season which will, I hope, give the Salmon anglers a flurry of activity before their season ends on the 14th October. The fresh water in the system should bring water temperatures down to a more seasonable level, which will suit the Grayling, so I'd like to think that we should have some good sport to look forward to. I'll certainly be giving it a good go....

Monday, September 29, 2014

The end is nigh...

I read somewhere recently that we're heading for the driest September since 1959. But despite this prolonged spell of dry weather and the rivers down to their bones, the fishing has been good in the final month of the 2014 trout season.
The month started well with two very productive afternoon sessions on the 1st and 2nd in middle Eden. I had a few nice fish in each session - like the ones above and below -  and an awful lot of smaller fish, which bodes very well for next year, if a decent amount survive the winter and the inevitable predation from the ever increasing numbers of Cormorants and Goosanders etc.

A few of 'The Eden Angler' clients did well too. Jason (above) had his personal best plus a few more during a good session on what should have been a tough day in very bright conditions.
Doug had a good session on the spiders
Rising fish have been short supply this month, the warm weather meant that the fly were on the wing as soon as they left the nymphal shuck and the fish weren't getting a chance at them. A few clients commented on the amount of fly in the air - which was good to see - but that's not where us fishermen want them....
So apart from trying tiny imitations on the occasional fish that were on midge, most of our efforts were concentrated on sub-surface feeders.

Mike did well to tempt a nice fish on his first visit to Eden

David had success on his first go with North Country spiders

Harry had a good session on the nymph
So, The End is Nigh.... as I write this there's two more days left of the trout season. My plan at the moment is to fish one of them - or maybe both.
It's sad that this season is nearly over but 'all good things must come to an end' and I'm already starting to look forward to hunting Grayling....

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Into the final Month

It's quite depressing really; it doesn't seem that long since we were just kicking off, and now we're into the final month of the 2014 trout season.
I've no complaints though, every season that we can fish is a good season and I've really enjoyed this one. I'm a bit miserable about the fact that it's nearly over, but, by the middle of the month I'll probably be starting get excited about chasing Grayling in the months leading up to the end of the year and beyond.
I might also find time to do more regular blog updates too !

A good number of fish were on the feed after heavy rain

August has been a good month on our rivers. After a long spell of dry weather and low levels we were heading towards a month of potential 'dog days'. Then the rains came and saved the day.
As mentioned in my last update, we didn't have to wait long for the first rains  of August. The thundery showers on the 2nd were followed by heavy rain on the evening of the 3rd and the Eden was up and dirty on the 4th. This pattern seemed to continue throughout the month, but we were lucky and we didn't lose too many days on the river. I only had one day's guiding cancelled and that was Grant's day as the river was unfishable after very heavy rain on the 9th.
We managed to re-arrange though and he still got his first go at our Eden Trout.... 
Grant is into his first Eden Trout
August seemed to be a month of firsts. I had quite a few tuition days for those trying our great sport for the first time and, luckily, the extra water helped our rivers to perform well for those more experienced visitors that were having there first go at Eden.
Stephen got a mention in a previous update when he visited in April and had a good day on Ullswater (See The Garden is looking rosy) He came back again in August for a go at our rivers. The fish weren't rising like they'd been the day before - a friend reported that he'd seen up to fifty fish rising to midge - so Stephen started with the nymph and it didn't take him long to get into his first fish.
We spotted a few Black Gnats in one pool but nowhere else and what we did see were ignored by the fish, which surprised me, the trout would normally be up for them. I'd hoped that this would be the start of another Black Gnat bonanza like we'd had back in May and around this time last year, when we had two weeks of fantastic dry fly sport as trout gorged on Gnats most days. But we must of had our lot for this year in May. Although I've heard of falls elsewhere, I haven't seen any on my outings since.
Stephen fished his first river in Eden and is into a fish

My last outing of the month was similar to my first. We'd had showers throughout the night and the first forty five minutes at my chosen destination was spent in the car, sitting out some very heavy showers. I guessed that the river would be rising but I had to have a look....

A Nice fish taken in a rising river

The river didn't look like it had risen much but it was definitely colouring up. Although it didn't last long before it got too dirty, I did manage a few hours in conditions very similar to that first outing of August and like that day: sport was hectic, there was nothing rising but fish reacted well to a pair of nymphs presented on a French leader.
Robert with a nice fish
My last two days of August were spent guiding two experienced anglers that were sampling our waters for the first time. Robert was visiting from Florida and he couldn't have hit it better. The river was up slightly and carrying a touch of colour after the previous day's rain, but it was what I'd call 'good colour'. The fish were feeding and responded well to his offerings throughout the session.

David poses with a decent trout
The final day of the month was a bit tougher for David, a visitor from Tasmania. The river had cleared and the sun was shining. There wasn't a lot of surface activity, just the odd occasional riser taking midge. David worked hard, and fished well, and managed a few fish to a mixture of dries and nymphs.

So - like last year - the rains saved the day in August and it was a good month. If September is anything like last year, it should be a good one and we'll finish the season on a high.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Some rain at last....

I don't suppose anyone that's on holiday in the lakes will be very happy, but from a fishing point of view, we're having a very welcome spell of unsettled weather at the moment.
It's not putting a massive amount of water into our local rivers - although a lot more would be welcome as the system is in dire need of a good flush - most lifts have been no more than an inch or three, but what we have had has perked the fish up providing some good daytime sessions on occasions.
Yesterday (2/8/14) was one such occasion. Within ten minutes of me hitting the river, the heavens opened. I sheltered under a tree for a while, but with the rain bouncing off the water and no sign of a break, I eventually succumbed and went back to the car to sit it out in comfort. The wash-off from the roads was bound to colour the river at some point but I figured that I might get a bit of fishing in before it got too dirty and sometimes a touch of colour can be good.

The rain cleared, the river coloured slightly and the fish came on. Sport came thick and fast in the afternoon. I worked the river alternating between the dry fly - if I came across a riser - and the nymph, with a good number of fish to 42cm coming to both.

Evening sport was very good throughout July. I was never lucky enough to hit a good fall of Blue Winged Olive spinners but witnessed some very good hatches of Small Dark Olives mixed with sparser hatches of Blue Winged Olives. Even though the BWO's were massively outnumbered by the SDO's the fish seemed to show a definite preference for the larger of the two on some evenings. The water was littered with the smaller duns on some nights but there'd only be the odd intermittent riser. My smaller offering would be refused and then I'd spot the odd BWO being taken, step up my fly size and get sport right up until the hatch petered out and a few fish turned onto the Sedge. It wasn't always like this, on some nights the fish would happily feed away on SDO's and happily accept my smaller offerings.

Daytime sport has been tough for my clients but not impossible. Many were concentrating more on improving their casting skills but those that did fish managed to get into a few, as Mike shows as he is about to net a fish (above) and shows off one of his catches (below).

Jason draws a fish to the net

So, hopefully, if our long dry spell is over and the unsettled weather continues, we won't have the age old issue of the 'dog days' of August to contend with. Although that isn't as big an issue as it used to be now that we have an array of modern techniques at our disposal that will cope with almost any condition.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

River's low but it's certainly not slow....

The long dry spell continues and the local rivers are down to their bones, but - although it has got tougher - the fishing has still been good on occasions. As I mentioned in my last blog: the secret sometimes can be just a case of employing the right tactics in the right water.
Glen and Harry managed this on their visit to Eden. Although it was not necessarily the best conditions for fishing. They were treat to a beautiful day on the river and did well, managing a number of fish - Glen on his favourite North Country spiders and Harry on the nymphs.
The Nice weather in early June put paid to my lake fishing. Bright sunshine and light winds are the lake fishers anathema, but the evening fishing started, so there was some consolation. The evening rises at this time can be very short but occassionally, very sweet affairs.
You could - and I used to - go out early evening and fish the nymph until the evening rise begins. But I think I must be getting lazy as I get older, I live close to the river and nowadays, more often than not, I head out an hour or so before I expect things to 'kick off'. Quite often at this time of year, the fish don't 'come on' until the sedge start coming off just as the light begins to fade. You'll get about 20 -30 mins and then the river starts to shut down for the night, or at least it will for the dry fly man.
There was a time when I'd change to an old Eden traditional 'The Bustard' or I'd move onto the flats and swing something like a heavily hackled parachute Grey Duster, then Oliver Edwards came up with his POPA (Post Ovipositing Adult) Caddis so I changed to fishing this and/or a Caddis pupa. When I was younger and felt more inclined, I'd often stay out until the early hours on many nights in June, through July and into August. They weren't always productive but they were often exciting, when the 'big boys' were sometimes out and you'd get a massive boil at your fly as it swung across the flats or the shock of your life as the rod was nearly wrenched out of your hand on a pitch-black night. I might have to have a night or two this summer, but it'll have to be when there's no guiding or tuition the following day. I don't think I could survive the zombified, bog-eyed summers I used to endure in my younger days !

Matt and Mel had their first taste of fly fishing recently. After morning introductions to the gear and casting etc, they had a short fishing session. Mel told me before they started that she'd catch, and she did - only the one but with a bit more luck, it could have been four.


Blue Winged Olives were starting to trickle off towards the end of June and I was fortunate to come across a trickle hatch while I was supposed to be walking the dog. He loves coming fishing with me so I thought I'd combine a walk with a bit of fishing - as you do.
There was only a handful of BWO's on the water but I was fortunate to come across three intermittent risers and all three responded well to a size 16 Olive Paradun. So it just shows that there's always a chance in these tough conditions.
Heidi was having her first go at fly fishing in the UK. She'd been introduced to our great sport whilst on holiday in New Zealand and had done well with eight fish on her first attempt. So, the pressure was on - for me anyway - but I had to tell her that fishing on Eden is not like New Zealand and we don't get the size of fish that they do out there. She did well though and did manage to get into one or two Eden trout.

As I said in the title of this blog 'The river's low but it's certainly not slow' and that was definitely the case on two very productive outings at the end of June. Even though daytime hatches have slowed to a trickle and the fish aren't getting a chance of anything that is hatching as it's out of the nymphal shuck and on the wing in a split second in these warm conditions, they are still feeding.
They say that fish spend the greatest majority of their time feeding sub-surface and judging by the state of the snout on the fish above, he'd certainly been doing plenty of that.
So, these conditions are producing challenging times for us fishermen but that's all part of the fun, and the learning process, and whatever nature throws at us, we just have to learn how to 'play the hand we're dealt'

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Every method has its day....

Even though the conditions have been quite changeable, the fishing has been good in Eden since my last update. A good number of quality fish have come to both my own and my clients rods, but we've had to resort to a variety of techniques for success.

We all have our favourite methods - I know guys that don't/won't fish anything but dries, for others it's spiders.
My favourite is the upstream nymph. But I've never been a 'one method' man, not that I have anything against those that are. I just like the advantages and the variety that being an 'all rounder' allows you and this is what I often preach to my clients. We all lead busy lives nowadays, we can't always time our visits to the river to coincide with a hatch, or favourable conditions for any given method, so having a range of techniques at your disposal can often be the difference between having the chance of some sport, and not.
I was reminded of this on a recent outing. I'd  been playing around with some different formulas for French leaders and a few bite indicators so I went out to test them. It was a mid-afternoon session - not the perfect time - the sun was blazing, the river was low and there was no sign of any life. Not that it mattered too much as this was a 'testing session'. The leaders turned over perfectly, the indicators worked fine and I had 5 fish and dropped two in under an hour. Thinking about it afterwards, it was obvious that the French leader was the only method that would allow me to fish the chosen water efficiently and produce fish in the tough conditions.
The advantages of having a range of techniques at your disposal was also brought home in the following busy week of guiding. The first day was with Matt who wanted to learn a range of nymphing techniques. It couldn't have worked better, the conditions weren't too conducive to dry or near surface techniques like 'North Country spiders', there was a guy upstream of us doing a good job of presenting a team of spiders and he didn't get a touch. I introduced Matt to French, Czech and Upstream nymphing and we had fish on each discipline.

Mike and Jason were in the area for a couple of days and their visit coincided with some tough conditions but choosing the right technique brought them a good number of quality fish over their two days

David was making his yearly pilgrimage to Eden and had a variety of conditions over his three day visit: ranging from sunny, warm shirt sleeve weather to damp and chilly. This made the fishing challenging at times but the ability to ring the changes when necessary and execute each well, ensured that he had fish every day on a mixture of nymphs, spiders and dries

So, every method has it's day, or period within the day. Having a range of techniques at your disposal and knowing when, and how to use them, can definitely help if you have challenging or changeable conditions, or if you can't pick and chose when you hit the water....

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Black Gnat bonanza

Last Tuesday (29/4/14), we saw our first 'Black Gnats' of the season, these tasty terrestrials - at least I assume they're tasty, the trout certainly like them - get blown or fall onto the water in their thousands some days and really get the fish on the feed. Fish seem to throw caution to the wind on occasions, as some quality specimens compete with their smaller brethren and often gorge in open water.
I suppose Tuesday's fall could be described as a 'masked hatch' or in this case 'masked fall'. The fish were rising as soon as we - I was guiding for Chris, who was over from Ireland - hit the river, which I didn't expect at 10am. It wasn't clear what they were on, there was the odd large upwing floating through them and a few smaller ones. I couldn't tell what they were from a distance and nothing was passing within range, all activity seemed to be concentrated in the trout's feeding lane close to the opposite bank. I guessed Olive Uprights and possibly the odd March Brown or Large Brook Dun for the larger ones and I wasn't sure what the smaller ones could be, I thought they were unlikely to be Iron Blue Duns - it was warm and sunny, certainly not IBD weather. One larger upwing was taken, the rest were ignored at first and then the odd smaller fly appeared to be taken. Initially I thought maybe the fish were concentrating more on the emergers and that's what Chris fished, but all offerings were either ignored or produced the odd boil under the fly.
Eventually I decided that rather than spook the pod of risers, I'd wade well downstream of them before pushing out into the lane to see what was coming through. I was surprised to find hundreds of 'Black Gnats' floating down the seam, I hadn't seen any on the wing but the water was covered in individuals and clusters of mating gnats. I reckoned that what I'd thought were possibly small upwings from a distance were actually these clusters of gnats that the fish were feasting on.  

Chris was soon onto appropriate patterns and although his offerings had trouble competing with all the naturals on offer he did manage to tempt a few fish.

The following day I was out on my own to try to take advantage of the Black Gnat bonanza. Like the previous day, the water was covered in naturals at times. The gnats seem to like a bit of sunshine and little or no wind so the rises were intermittent throughout the day - when the wind was up and water ruffled, the rises stopped but as soon as the wind dropped and the water calmed the fish were up again. They were a bit more receptive to my offerings than they had been for Chris on Tuesday and a decent number were caught and released until the wind got up, and stayed up and all went quiet.
The wind stayed for Barry's first outing on Ullswater. The day dawned cloudy and windy, which should have been perfect. Unfortunately it was a bitterly cold North-Easterly, which didn't exactly spoil things - it just made for a tough and chilly day on the water. Barry stuck at it though and finished the day with a decent number of fish and offers from many more.

Saturday saw the river into day five of the Black Gnat falls and I couldn't resist. I was out again to take advantage and like my day in the middle of the week, a good number of fish fell to my offerings.
The week ended with another first on Ullswater. It was the first time that Malc had fished the lake with the fly, and from a boat. The wind was coming from the South-East today and the fish were a bit more responsive.
Once Malc settled into fishing from a drifting boat, got used to retrieving and maintaining contact with his flies, he moved and caught a decent number of fish throughout the day.