Friday, June 07, 2013
As if by magic, summer is here. When I returned from holiday this week, it was like someone had flicked a switch while I was away; hawthorn is in full bloom, the meadows are filled with buttercups and swifts arc and screech in the warm evening air. If ever I needed a reminder of how glorious our country can be at this time of year, then this was it. Speaking to friends, it quickly became apparent that a number of large fish were being caught; so eager to recover lost ground, I got straight onto the river as soon as the suitcases had been unpacked.
With hindsight, I might have exercised a little more restraint. The days are hot and sunny at present and, on the river shortly after noon, I laboured under the blue skies as the gnats swarmed lazily around. There are now a number of invertebrates on the move and the trout seemed indecisive. With so many different species to choose from - but no real co-ordinated emergence of any one - the fish seemed to be in opportunistic mode, casually quartering the flats and pool tails and rising sporadically anywhere within a radius of maybe 5m, making the task of dropping a fly in their path a real pain in the arse.
I searched around for better targets - trout holding station in more sprightly currents - but these proved few and far between and tended to be smaller specimens. So I invested a lot of time in closing down a couple of these large fish in the slow pools, hunkering down in chest deep water close to the bank, trying to anticipate some sort of feeding patrol route before plonking my fly into the mix and effectively fishing it static, waiting to be found. It was a task which ultimately proved beyond me.
Amazingly, after such a long and cold spring, the middle river had a feel of the dog days to it. I decided to head off up the Eamont in search of evening activity, and eventually found sport - albeit as late as 10pm - when a flurry of Rhyacophila caddis burst from a riffle, bringing fish up as if they hadn't seen food in weeks. I had forgotten what it feels like to fish dry fly in the 'simmer dim', lifting into fish as much by guesswork as really seeing them take the fly....and the sensation of so many caddisflies crawling urgently around bare arms and neck.
Despite this field day, none of the fish were large and my big trout itch remained unscratched. So I returned last night with the target being to catch a 3lb plus trout, and although I failed to meet that target, I fared a little better enjoying sport with a better class of fish. Once again, there wasn't really a concerted hatch to speak of, but the fish were kept looking upwards by steady trickles of yellow May duns, olive uprights, brook duns, a few medium olives, gnats, caddis and so on. Even the mayfly put in an appearance and although I didn't see a single one get eaten, I counted perhaps 20-30 of them over the evening which is more that I would normally expect on the Eden. Another fly which is always pleasing to see, is the large green dun Ecdyonurus insignis. After first sighting mating spinners of these a few years ago, their numbers seem to have steadily increased and every summer I notice more and more of them dancing over the bankside grasses. They aren't of much consequence to the angler, but they are an exceedingly bonny insect, with very distinct diagonal markings to the side of the abdomen and in the male spinners, a smoky black piping to the leading edge of the forewing.
A lot of minnows in the shallows too (see photo at bottom of post), and I held out vague hope of finding a big trout harrying them at some point. It was not to be on this occasion.
Fly choice was informed by uncertainty. After an unsuccessful foray with gnat patterns, I hedged my bets and went for a #16 olive paradun. This worked just fine and I went on to return 8 nice fish, all over the pound with the biggest three weighing 2lb 1oz (photo below), 2lb 4oz and 2lb 6oz. Not the elusive three pounder, granted, but great sport as they exploded out of the shallows in which they were hooked.
The weekend sees me returning once more. This time with a guest who will have travelled from abroad to sample the delights of north country spate river fishing. Now that would be a good time to find a 3lb-er on the neb!
As an aside, I must return a favour and give Glen Pointon's excellent podcast a plug. If you fancy something different to listen to in the car, this really is worth checking out. Glen's got experts such as Stuart Crofts, John Tyzack and Paul Gaskell involved with interviews, answering questions and so on......and he's just so bloody enthusiastic, you can't help but smile whilst listening!
Glen very kindly put a good word in for this blog during the most recent podcast, which I appreciate. So get yourself over here and have a listen (yours truly pops up late on in the 'Scottish Lochs' edition, wittering on like a pillock):
Glen Pointon's Podcasts