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.