Sunday, April 2, 2017

We're off!! A new season in Eden

It's been an interesting beginning to the new season. The weather has been all over the place and constantly changing since day one (15th March). 

I normally start to think about and look forward to the new season as soon as the new year starts. The excitement and anticipation never wanes for me and in the days leading up to the big day my head was filled with thoughts of where to start my season. We're spoiled for choice in this area and it's always the same for me - do I fish the Eden and if so where? or do I fish one of our great river's tributaries and then again, where?

After a lot of 'toing and froing' I settled on my chosen venue for the day. Opening day dawned bright and sunny, there was hardly a cloud in the sky. My heart sank, this was definitely not on 'my wish list' and it was going to be a tough day. A combination of a low river and sunshine is always bad news during the early weeks of the season, our spring flies are definitely not sun lovers and often fail to make a show in these conditions. My hopes were raised when a smattering of Large Dark Olives decided to brave the elements at 1130. They continued to trickle down and off  the river until about 1330. A positive sign and hopefully enough to get the fish going. But they failed to raise any interest - at least at the surface - and I was presented with a familiar opening day scenario: a hatch of olives and no rising fish. Luckily, a few fish were feeding sub-surface and my nymphs managed to raise a bit of interest.

Large Dark Olive

The first fish of a new season in Eden

The second day of the season produced the wished for cloud, but the wind was blasting down river - we anglers are never satisfied! The olives started to hatch at 1210 but failed to raise any interest and I thought that I saw my first March Brown of the season at 1315 - it was too far away to be sure but it was definitely too big to be an Olive. I had confirmation that my earlier sighting probably was a March Brown when a few more started to hatch at 1340. There wasn't many, maybe just into double figures, but it was my earliest sighting of this large upwing.

An early March Brown on the 16th March

This mixed hatch of our early season stalwarts still didn't tempt any fish to the surface. The wind didn't help. There was no escape from it - for me or the few flies that were hatching - yet a good friend, who was fishing farther downstream, found a sheltered area where the olives were sailing down river unhindered by the wind and managed to tempt a few trout that were happy to feed on them. I did manage to get some action: alternating between spiders and nymphs did tempt a couple of fish before a band of heavy rain brought an end to my day. One came to my favourite early season North country spider - the Waterhen Bloa - and the other to a nymph.

A hard earned fish on a windy day in Eden

The remnants of Storm Stella swept across the Atlantic on the jet stream and hit us on day three of the new season. The rivers rose quickly and an unsettled week followed. With our rivers unfishable, day four of the season saw me venture out onto one of our beautiful lakes. It was perhaps a touch early in the season but our lakes do fish earlier nowadays. The conditions were perfect - albeit a touch cold - and a good number of fish showed an interest in my flies.

The boat after an early season launch

A beautifully marked lake trout

Our rivers remained out of sorts for a week as one front after another blew in from the west. I was a touch concerned for Gary's day in Eden, but the weather improved just in time. Even though it was a touch on the large side, the main river was dropping fast and cleared enough to fish. Which was a relief for both of us and he managed to fish Eden before heading back home to America.  As with the opening days of the season: we got a hatch of Large Dark Olives and March Browns and the fish refused to rise to them! But Gary persevered with various techniques and his efforts were rewarded.

Gary with his first Eden fish

The weather went from one extreme to the other at the start of the final week of March. We went from rain and snow to conditions more akin to summer. As mentioned earlier: the sunshine was not ideal for fishing at this time of year and it proved very challenging for some of my clients and - unfortunately - not all caught fish. Thorsten was visiting from Germany for his first taste of our rivers. The brilliant sunshine deterred our spring flies from showing in numbers of any significance and we failed to find any rising fish, but I introduced Thorsten to a few methods to cope with the conditions and he was rewarded with a few fish during his visit.

Thorsten is into a fish on his U.K. river debut

Mike joined me at the end of the month and a change in the weather ensured that he had more favourable conditions - cloud and showers - for his visit. 

Mike nets his first fish of the year

The conditions have been far from ideal during the first two weeks of our new season. Let's hope that things settle down for April. Either way, I'm looking forward to another month in Eden.... 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Autumn and early Winter in Eden

Our trout season closed on September 30th and the following day saw the start of what I class as our 'grayling season'. The time of year - 1st October to 14th March - when we concentrate solely on 'the lady of the stream'.

Mike draws a fish towards the net

A quiet start to Autumn seems to be a regular occurance nowadays; calm, fine and relatively warm weather during the final week of the trout season continued into October. Mike joined me on the 3rd and the day dawned very bright and sunny - not the best conditions for chasing grayling. He managed some action though - despite the conditions - and alternating between nymphs and spiders resulted in a few fish on Mikes' final visit of the year to Eden. 

The mild weather encouraged our Large Dark Olives to begin their second emergence of the year and we saw decent trickles of these large olive duns on most afternoons . Fish moving to the duns seemed to be at a premium - just the odd 'oncer' really - but they would respond to spiders and light nymphs fished just below the surface.

Paule with a Grayling to a spider on her Eden debut

I read that some were hoping that conditions would remain settled and the low river would benefit our autumn grayling hunting. We're all different and have different beliefs and preferences when it comes to our fishing. So I know that some will probably not agree with me, but I certainly didn't. I don't mind the river showing it's bones when I'm chasing trout, in fact I often prefer it. But not for grayling: I prefer a bit of extra water in the river for my autumn/winter fishing and I was hoping that - sooner rather than later - we'd get a decent downpour and a lift in levels. Unfortunately that downpour arrived the night before Alex arrived for his first taste of grayling fishing on Eden. The river was still in good condition when we arrived, but it turned out that we were fishing a rising - albeit slowly rising - river. The river was in pretty good nick for most of the session but the grayling mustn't have liked what was happening and in preparation for the silt-filled water that was to come, they kept their heads down. Alex did get some action but only out-of-season trout responded to his offerings.

The Grayling didn't play ball but Alex had a nice out-of-season Trout

The weather settled down again after Alex's visit. We returned to the conditions that we had at the start of the month and the pattern seemed set: relatively warm, calm and dry days; hatches of Olives most days and light nymphs or spiders producing action for most of my clients.

Bob is into a fish on his first visit to Eden

A first Eden Grayling for Derek

Adam is into a fish

The end of October saw a break from fishing Eden to head off for warmer climes: We were off to Australia to visit our son. 
I've been lucky to guide for quite a few Australian anglers over the years and I've heard many stories of the fishing over there. Stories of  fishing the Snowy Mountains, the Blue Mountains, Victoria etc. So although this was not a fishing holiday, I was tempted, very tempted! I'd had an invite to fish the Snowy Mountains a few years back and I thought: could I/ should I fly down to Canberra and head into the Snowy Mountains for a couple of days. I'd met a guy from Bathurst the last time we were in Sydney: he had a mate who was a guide up there, he gave me his address and offered to put me up if I fancied some fishing up there. So that was tempting. Hugh offered to take me fishing if we were in Melbourne. We weren't this trip, but I thought about it and I looked into flights. I could get an early morning flight and a late evening one back to Sydney, or stay overnight and return the following day - the flights weren't too expensive, so again, very tempting. I'd read about some great fly fishing in Sydney Harbour and thought that may be an option. I iffed and arred about these options and what to do and then decided it was supposed to be a family holiday - I do an awful lot of fishing on my home waters so maybe it was time to dedicate some time to my family.
Destination fishing is very popular these days and I'm often tempted. Personal circumstances will not really allow me to do much travelling at the moment but maybe one day I will. Although if I don't, then so be it, I love what I have on my doorstep and I'm very happy with my lot, so if I never get the opportunity fish anywhere else, I will never look back with disappointment.

We returned home to very cold weather and snow - the lakeland fells were white as we came over shap summit on the train. The wintery weather prompted a change in tactics for my first outing. Water temperatures were down. The autumn hatches of our Large Dark Olives were over and the river seemed lifeless. Grayling had dropped closer to the river bed to rummage for food, so it was heavy bug and Czech-nymphing time for the remainder of 2016.

The last fish of 2016 is slipped back