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