The only thing that threatened to put a slight dampener on my first foray was a strong, gusty wind coming out of the North-West. This chilly blast had the potential to make life difficult, but that was never really going to stop play - I've braved a lot worse for an opening day session - and I knew plenty of spots on the river that could provide some shelter.
I was sorely tempted to rush out first thing on Saturday (15th March) but resisted, knowing there would be no point. If there was going to be any play today, it would most likely kick-off just before lunch. I've always had 11:45 in my head with early season Large Dark Olives (Baetis rhodani). It's normally around about that time that I start to see the odd Dun make an appearance - sometimes later, but rarely much earlier - I spotted my first at 11:55 today.
I hit the river at about 10:30 and with a hoped for hatch in mind, I set up with a tapered leader and single nymph. The plan was to fish the upstream nymph in any likely looking areas with the option of a quick change to the dry should I come across any rising fish.
The first fish of the new season came at 11:16
Hatches of LDO's can be quite localised and that was the case today. I came across intermittent trickles as I worked upstream and there were some easy pickings trapped in the sticky meniscus of the slower moving pools and back eddies, but I never saw one taken so I stayed with the nymph all session.
For an opening day outing, it was one of my more memorable ones, with a good number of fish coming to the single nymph - the best of the session was 16 inches (41cm) and it was in quite good condition for the time of year.
Like the Olives, the activity came in flurries. Each time I came across a pod of duns, I caught, moved and missed fish. So even though the fish had no interest or energy to come to the surface they were still keen to feed on any sub-surface offerings - a pattern I've seen a lot over the years.
The last fish of the day came at 15:30, the duns disappeared just after and I never got another offer. Typical early season stuff.
Monday saw me out on the Eden with Jim. This was his first visit to our great river and a first go at river fishing. After the morning spent working on Jim's casting technique and a quick lunch, we hit the water just in time for a trickle of Olives. Like my Saturday session, the fish showed no interest in the duns so I introduced Jim to our North Country spiders and fishing a team of flies - he'd only ever fished one before.
After his earlier, successful casting session and a bit of fine tuning as he fished, Jim coped admirably with his team of spiders - no tangles - and a few fish obliged. I hope that this has wet his appetite for river fishing and he's now hooked on this branch of our great sport.
I am very pleased to announce that I can now offer fishing packages in conjunction with The North Lakes Hotel in Penrith. These are great deals for anyone tempted to visit our beautiful part of England and/or fish our Northern streams.