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
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....