Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Another week in Eden

It's great to see youngsters coming into our sport, after all, they are the sports future and without them it will die. It's quite worrying when you hear things like: the average age of a Salmon fisherman is 54 and the average age of a fishing magazine reader is 51 - I might stand corrected, but that's what I've been told....
So it was really good to see two keen youngsters on the river the other Saturday (19/4/14). Samuel (13) and Thomas (8) came with their father, Paul. Samuel is a good young angler already with the potential to be a very good angler in the future. He seemed to enjoy playing with the few presentation casts that I showed him and had to be dragged away from doing 'Curve casts' and 'Aerial mends' around a rock, to go fishing with his dad while I gave his brother Thomas (8) a casting and fishing lesson. Thomas did very well, he coped admirably with his casting, did a bit of fishing and caught a trout. I'm sure it won't be long before he catches up with his brother - I hope they stick at it.

The start of last week saw me on the Eden, it was a welcome day off after a busy week of guiding and I hit the river with my good friend and fellow AAPGAI member, Clive Mitchelhill. The sun was shining, Grannom were hatching and it had the potential to be a tough day. We all have our theories on fishing, and we don't always agree. There's been a lot written about Grannom hatches and how good the sport can be, although in my opinion, and experience, it can sometimes be a hard hatch to fish. The hatches tend to be massive on occasions and our artificials have a lot of competition in the form of thousands of pupae ascending through the water column. Rising fish are often in short supply, as the adults usually get airborne very quickly and most rises that I've witnessed tend to be to the odd adult that is struggling to break free of the pupal shuck. So it can be tough - but not impossible - and I often find the best sport can be either side of the hatch. I decided to fish the 'Duo' or 'New Zealand style' or 'Klink and dink' or whatever else you want to call it. With no reason to change, I spent most of the day with a Klinkhammer style offering as my attractor/indicator and a Grannom pupa pattern hung below it and they both worked, the pupa scored best, but only just, as a decent number were pulled to the dry.

The rest of the week saw me back to guiding. David was over from New Mexico and had his first go at fishing an English river. Based on Monday's success, I introduced him to the 'duo' which produced a few fish and offers for him before we hit a sparse hatch of Olive Uprights. A few fish were on them and David enjoyed some success to the dries.

Another visitor from overseas, Eric, was over from St Louis for his first taste of Eden and he hit a massive Grannom hatch. The water was littered with discarded shucks - there must have been hundreds of thousands. As you can imagine, with all this lot coming up through the water column, Eric's offerings had a lot of competition. A strong downstream wind battered the adults and a few were blown onto the water but most were ignored by the fish. I sometimes wonder if they really like the adult, or maybe they just ignore it in favour of the more vunerable pupa....? I introduced Eric to our North Country spiders, he fished them well, made contact with a few fish and managed to catch his first English Brown Trout.

I managed another day for myself at the end of the week and was lucky to hit a hatch of Olive Uprights. There was a few fish on the duns but not many. I decided to alternate between a dry and a single nymph - the dry if I came across a riser and the nymph if not. Both brought success throughout the session.
The week finished with a weekend in Eden for Harry and Rob.
After a very successful Saturday session on Ullswater we finished the weekend with a day on the river. With a slight lift and consequent drop in water temperature, there was little in the way of a hatch so they both fished the nymph. Harry with the more traditional 'Upstream nymph' while Rob was very skilled with the 'French leader'. Both methods proved successful and the lads finished the weekend with a productive river session.

Rob goes for the net after hooking another fish on the 'French leader'
Harry shows off one of his fish - WE KNOW WHY YOU GOT THAT, DON'T WE HARRY ?......

Monday, April 21, 2014

The garden is looking rosy....

Things are looking up in our very own 'Garden of Eden' here in Cumbria. The Grannom have appeared and - although I haven't seen them yet - there have been reports of early sightings of Olive Uprights and Iron Blue duns. All a bit different from last year, when the coldest March for 50 years held things back for up to four weeks in many cases.
I often have a bit of a dilemma at this time of year when it comes to choosing where I am going to fish on any given day. We are so lucky to have so much to choose from in this area that it's often difficult to decide where to go and it's even harder when you bring Ullswater into the equation. The lake has started to fish and I had my first outing of the new season during the second week of April. It wasn't a particularly hard choice on this occasion, the rivers were up after weekend downpours and the lake was my only option. Ullswater can take a while to warm up but the fish were feeding hard and it was quite a productive first outing, with fish coming to each fly on my cast of three.
My second session on the lake was as a guide for Stephen - a Corrib regular - for his first go at Ullswater.

Our local water isn't in the same class as Corrib when it comes to large trout. Ullswater is a fraction of the size of the great Irish lough and not as rich in flylife but it is a great lake in it's own right. They used to talk about small but plentiful when it came to Ullswater fish and there were stories of four fish to the pound. But I guess you could have said that about most of our waters at one time, the rivers were the same. I once read of the great T.E. Pritt visiting the River Eamont for 12 days in the late 1800's and 'killing' 300 trout. If you look hard enough you'll find stories of similar catches and more on many of the rivers in Northern England and the Borders. I guess the rivers could stand a good harvest in those days, it certainly couldn't nowadays. We don't have the same numbers of fish but what we do have - on river and lake - are bigger. 
In my opinion, the average Ullswater fish is now approximately 10-12 inches (25-30cm) and the number of 14-15 inch (35-38cm) fish seem to increase each year, although the latter are still classed as good Ullswater fish, with anything larger quite rare - contrary to what some may claim.

Stephen was lucky to hit perfect conditions on his first early season visit to my favourite lake, most drifts produced chances and he managed to catch, and release a decent number of good, albeit thin Ullswater fish.

The weather made for a tough day on Howard's visit to Eden. Brilliant sunshine and a bitterly cold upstream wind detered our spring flies from making a show. Sport was slow, but luckily, a few fish did oblige and had a go at Howards offerings.

Last week finished with another guided day on Ullswater. We couldn't have asked for better conditions for Dougs day on the lake. Sport was a touch slower than previous visits, but he did manage to move, hook and release a good number of fish by the end of the day.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Here we go again....

Here we go again, it's a new season and I'm already getting behind with my blog updates. It's the same old problem - if I'm not working, I'm fishing and even though I have to try harder, it's not easy to spend time at the keyboard when I could have a rod in my hand.
We're into our second day of rain in Eden today (7/4/14), it's pouring outside and the rivers are rising, so I thought I'd do a quick update before making plans for some lake fishing this week....

As long as your not a 'dry fly only' man, the fishing has been quite good as far as late March, early April fishing goes. Large Dark Olives have been coming off on most days - although the hatches have been quite sparse and short-lived on occasions -  and we've seen a few flurries of March Browns recently. It may be different elsewhere on the system but the fish have been very slow to respond to the surface fly in the areas that I've fished: I can probably count on about four fingers how many rising fish I've encountered and they've only been oncers. The fish do seem to be feeding well though, sub-surface offerings are producing a good response on almost all outings and most encountered have been in decent condition for the time of year.

John (above) had his first visit to Eden in the second week of the season and after an introduction to 'North Country Spiders', a number of fish obliged.
I managed to get out for myself at the end of week two. I got to the river late and the conditions weren't ideal, I never like it bright and sunny for early season fishing. Our spring flies don't seem to like the sunshine and there was no sign of life when I hit the river. So, I turned to what is possibly my favourite method ' The upstream Nymph' and a few speculative casts in the first pool I fished produced my best trout of the season so far.

Mike and Jason arrived in Eden at the beginning of week three for their first visit of the new season. On day one we had a good, albeit short, hatch of Large Dark Olives and March Browns. Hatches at this time can be quite localised, but we were in the right place at the right time, resulting in quite a few offers to a team of spiders during the three quarters of an hour that the hatch lasted. With one or two offers and fish coming before and after the the early afternoon hatch, it turned out to be a fairly decent late March session.

The boy's good timing continued into day two and their hard work was rewarded with fish coming to Mikes flies in the morning before a change of tactics for the afternoon produced fish to both rods right up until finishing time.

Sam, another first time visitor to Eden, was up from the South at the end of the week and after an introduction to some of our Northern tactics, he managed to get his string pulled.

And that's me up to date. I'm off to get flies sorted, then check the tyres and grease the wheel hubs on the boat trailer in preparation for a spot of lake fishing....