Friday, September 8, 2017

August in Eden

July's unsettled weather and fluctuating water levels continued into August. The rivers seemed to spend most of the month either rising or falling and carrying a touch of colour.

Alan is into a fish on a falling Eden

That was the case for Alan's visit: the river had been up the night before, but it was falling and carrying a touch of colour - but it was fishable. Alan came to expand his river skills and the increased flow was perfect to cover a range of techniques. The fish were on the feed and he managed a good number of fish during his session.

A beautiful small stream trout

There are times when a touch of fresh water and colour can be an advantage. Particularly on some of our small streams, which can prove very challenging when they are down to their bones and gin-clear! The higher levels prompted a trip to one of our small streams on one of the few days that I wasn't guiding in August. Fish were on midges and taking the occasional Black gnat on the flats and a few beautiful small-stream trout responded positively to my dry offerings.

An Eden Brown Trout is returned

Janos is into a fish on his first visit to Eden

August saw a few young anglers trying Eden for the first time. The first were Janos (13) and Moritz (11) from Germany. They were over in the UK with their fishing parents and all joined me for a couple of days on two different Eden venues. The conditions made the fishing challenging for them, but the whole family managed to get fish. It was especially pleasing to see the two boys get fish: Janos was a very good young fisherman and Moritz wasn't too far behind him. I hope that they both enjoyed their first taste of Eden and take this great sport into their adult years.

Moritz with his first English Brown Trout

Colin with a fish that was rising to Black Gnats

The Black Gnat falls were far from prolific this August, but the windy, unsettled weather blew a few onto the water on most days during a two week period through the middle of the month. Colin was lucky to hit one such day. The Gnat falls began around lunchtime and fish were on them immediately. We got onto the dries straight away and Colin enjoyed a productive session, when fish were caught, lost and missed to various Black Gnat imitations.

A Black Gnat feeder is returned

11 year-old Otto with his first river trout on the fly

Another two young anglers to join me in Eden were Eben (13) and Otto (11). The boys have fished with me over the last two years, but we have stuck to stillwaters. This year, I and their parents agreed that they should be big enough to advance to the river.  Both are fairly good casters, so we just had to adjust to wading safely and river techniques. It was great to see their delight when they caught their first river fish! Eben was the first to taste success and although his first fish was a very small brown trout, he was overjoyed with it. Size isn't everything, it was just great to see him catch and, as I mentioned to him: he did better than me when I was started fishing the river - his first trout was bigger than the one I caught on the River Lowther on my first river venture over fifty years ago, but it was enough to get me addicted to this great sport! Otto wasn't far behind his older brother with his first fish and they both went on to catch, lose and miss a few others on a very positive river debut. 

13 year-old Eben with a fish for the camera before it was safely returned

Another newcomer to Eden was Alex. He is in the UK from Philadelphia. He fly-fishes rivers in his own country, but this was his first taste of our UK rivers. Alex mixed things up throughout the day - depending on the area we fished, the conditions and what was happening - to catch and move fish on spiders, the New Zealand dropper and dry flies.
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Alex had a good first visit to Eden

Thai Son with his first fly-caught trout

My final client of August was Thai Son. He'd never tried fly fishing before and wanted to try a bit of stillwater fishing. I often whinge that the fish don't always follow the script when I take my clients out! But everything came together perfectly for Thai Son and he topped off his introduction to flyfishing with his first fish.

It would be nice to think that after a very unsettled three months we will have a more settled last month of the season. We often get a bit of an 'Indian summer' in September or October, so let's hope that autumn is kind to us....

Monday, August 28, 2017

Riding on a jet stream

July was a challenging month in Eden. The weather was very unsettled - especially in the latter half of the month - and river levels were constantly changing.
Apparently it's the Jet stream that's to blame: it's much further south than it should be at this time of year and it's dragging one low pressure system after another in from the Atlantic and over the UK.

June ended with a deluge and the Eden was 'out' on the final two days of the month. But our river seems to drop very quickly nowadays and it was fine for Jordan and friends on the first two days of July. It was their first taste of Eden and, considering the conditions, our river performed well with all getting some action and Jordan finished 'top rod' in the group.

Jordan with his first Eden trout

The river was back to a good level for Manfred and Daniella's final session before heading back to Switzerland. We even managed to find a few midge feeders for Manfred and he fished tiny dries to enjoy some action on flies much smaller than he's used to fishing on his home waters.

A midge feeder for Manfred

A rainbow trout for Angela during a casting/fishing session

Heavy rain on the 8th brought a slight lift and some colour to our rivers, but I wasn't too worried as I had a few sessions booked on local stillwaters.  

One to the French leader

The rivers were fine again by the 11th and a spell of more seasonal weather coincided with a break from guiding. Most of my fishing has been concentrated around the dry fly so far this season, so as the conditions were more seasonal - bright sunshine, low river - I decided to break out the 'French leader'. This can be a very effective technique in most conditions, depending on how you employ it, but I think it really comes into it's own when the river is low and clear, and so it proved during a couple of very productive sessions in mid-July.

Markus draws a fish to the net

More rain brought another lift and a touch of colour to our rivers during the final week of July. But we were lucky and it wasn't too big, nor too dirty, to fish. Markus joined me for his first taste of the rivers in our region and changing techniques throughout the day produced a good number of fish to his offerings.

Tyler reaches for the net

It's always great to see young anglers coming into our sport. Tyler was over from Michigan with his parents for his first trip to the UK and this keen young angler joined me for a day. Like many young anglers he tended to favour the heavily publicised 'modern techniques'. For him it was the ' European nymphing' style, which is getting quite popular in the states, with various books and dvd's available on the subject.  He was a very good angler, we tweaked and fine-tuned a few things throughout the session, and his efforts were rewarded with a good number of fish. Hopefully he left with plenty to work on, and think about, to give him many years of enjoyment in this great sport!

David is into a fish

The river was still carrying a touch of colour, but the levels were good when David and Doug joined me on the final two days of the month. Both are very adept 'spider' men and they put there skills to good use during their respective sessions. 

A good session on the spiders for Doug

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A mixed June

June was a mixed month: we had some beautiful weather with temperatures soaring into the high 20's. But we also had some very wet weather - including a few thunder storms - at times, which brought the river's up. We were lucky though and no fishing days were lost to the weather.

A midge feeder is returned

The month started dry and we had some good top of the water sport. Daytime hatches weren't great but fish were more willing to look to the surface for food and we had some good sessions - either speculating with dries or when fish were feeding on midge and small emergers.
I witnessed my first Blue Winged Olive hatch of the year during a late evening session on the 3rd of the month. Fish fed on the BWO's in the failing light before turning their attention to the caddis and a good number of fish responded to imitations of both species.

June hatches of Blue Winged Olives and caddis produced evening sport

Nick reaches for the net

The weather was a touch more unsettled towards the middle of the month and we had a coloured river for Nick's first taste of Eden. I often think of colour in our rivers in terms of 'good colour' and 'bad colour'. It was 'good colour' for Nick and ringing the changes throughout the session brought some action to his offerings. 

Jon draws a fish to the net

The river was still carrying a touch of colour when Jon joined me. It was in good condition though and perfect for our purpose: to look at various nymphing and dry fly techniques. I often complain that the fish very rarely follow the script and can sometimes be a touch uncooperative for my clients, so it was good to see a few fish oblige for Jon's session. We managed to locate rising fish for our dry fly session, and a few responded on cue when we looked at the nymph.... 

A first Eden Grayling for John

The changeable conditions with a slight lift in levels and subsequent drop in water temperature suited our Grayling. I used to find that we rarely came across them at this time of the year, but the unsettled summers of the last few years seems to have suited them and they have been turning up with more regularity during the summer months. This was the case when John joined me for his first taste of Eden. We found a number of rising fish and he managed some good sport to the dry fly. 

Manfred on his first visit to Eden

I get many clients who are trying Eden for the first time. Manfred and Daniela were over from Switzerland for their first trip to the UK and we had a few days together to sample the Eden system. I find it very interesting to discuss other waters, flies, tactics etc. with many of my overseas clients, so it was great to chat with Manfred and have a peek into his fly boxes. He had some very nice flies, predominantly tied with cdc, which - based on what I've read of Swiss anglers - is what I expected.
They were very interested in the tactics that we employ on our waters, so I introduced them to our 'North Country spiders', ' The duo', traditional 'Upstream nymph' and fishing very small dries. Our rivers were kind to them and everything that we looked at produced fish for them on each of their days. On their final afternoon with me we found a few midge feeding fish on the Eden flats. Rising fish were targeted with dries and responded positively to size 18 and 20 midge patterns. 

Manfred and Daniela had their first taste of Eden

As we move into July and August we are hitting what was once renowned as the toughest months of the season for daytime sport. But I must stress 'once' because that was when we had more pronounced seasons and we didn't have the tactics to cope with what was our warmest and driest months. Nowadays our summers seem to be much more unsettled. Over the last few years we've had wetter summers and fluctuating water levels. Water temperatures have been lower at times and the fish have been much more tolerant of the conditions and willing to feed. Plus, we have a greater variety of techniques at our disposal. So I'm looking forward to hitting the water in July and the challenge of whatever the river throws at me....

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Great days in May

May was a good month in Eden. Fly life continued to be good and the fish fed well at times. Falls of Black Gnats continued into the early part of the month. Large Brook dun continued to trickle off the water. Iron Blue duns and Olive Upright were still hatching in good numbers on some days and by the middle of the month they were joined by Yellow May dun, Yellow Sallies, Medium Olives and Mayfly. The Mayfly - like many species this year - were early. My first sighting was a week earlier than my previous earliest sighting.

Colin with a nice Lake Trout

A sunny start to the month suited the river fishing but it was far from ideal for our lake fishing. Although, the lakes did fish well when we were given the right conditions. Colin joined me for his first taste of  Eden and the lakes - Black Gnats provided sport on our day on the river and a decent number of fish fell to well presented 'Ullswater Olives' and Alder larvae patterns on the lake.

Some nice fish fell to Black Gnat imitations

The Black Gnats were not hitting the water in massive numbers - unlike previous years - it was more like a daily trickle. But they were on the water on most days during the early part of the month and suitable imitations produced the bulk of our sport. On one early foray I came across two fish sitting close together and sipping on the fallen gnats. A careful approach and suitable imitation tempted them both - one at 2lbs exactly and the other at 2lbs 6ozs.

Another to the Black Gnat

Olive Upright numbers seem to be increasing year on year and that continued this year. I'm lucky to be out on the river either guiding or fishing on most days and I witnessed some excellent hatches this year. They weren't hatching every day but when they did the fish weren't slow to get on them! 

Roland and friends visited Eden in 2016 and they timed their visit perfectly; they had two days of excellent dry fly sport to Olive Upright imitations. This year they weren't so lucky, but they still managed sport throughout their visit to a variety of dries and nymphs.

Roland brings a fish to hand

2lbs 8oz Olive Upright feeder

I spotted my first Mayfly on the river on the 15th. This was my earliest sighting of our large upwing. The fish weren't on it, but it was joined by another 5 species of upwing that day and my clients enjoyed sport to a mix of dries and nymphs.

The Mayfly were early this year

Steve into a fish in the May sunshine

The final week of the month was dominated by bright sunshine which made for challenging conditions. Hatches weren't as good but we did manage some action to a variety of techniques. Steve hit summery conditions for his visit, but ringing the changes from dries to spiders and then to nymphs produced a few fish.

Barry bends into a fish whilst fishing the 'Duo'

Barry had to mix it up too, but he did manage fish on each of his days. He had fish to dries and spiders, and the nymph fished in a variety of ways - French leader, the 'duo' and traditional 'upstream nymph'. We're never guaranteed to catch fish - all of our fish are wild and they can be fickle - but learning the different techniques and knowing when to employ them can sometimes help....

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A lack of April showers!

I heard on the radio this morning that we've had the driest winter for 10 years. Rainfall so far this year was said to be a third of what it normally is - our rivers are still okay at the moment, but a bit of water would be much appreciated!

On a more positive note: after a relatively slow start to the season, the fishing picked up in April. We kicked off the month when Malc joined me for a day in the lakes. It was the first time that he'd fished the lake for a couple of years and conditions were far from perfect with light winds and sunshine, but he stuck at it and managed to get some action....

Malc is into a fish....

I spotted my first Grannom on the 4th April. This was my earliest sighting of our early season sun-lovers and this year's arrival was seventeen days earlier than my first sighting in 2016. The fish didn't get a chance at them on the 4th, a strong upstream wind kept the fly off the water and most of my sightings were of flies coming out of the bankside vegetation as I wandered the river. But the hatches increased each day and fish were on them three days later when David had first taste of Eden. He had success on a mix of pupa and emerger patterns. 

David returns a fish taken on a Grannom emerger

The Large Dark Olives continued to hatch into April. They were the dominant species on a cloudy and cool first day in Eden for John and Colin. The pair fished a mix of spiders, nymphs and dries throughout the session and managed fish - or the chance of them - to each.

John is into a fish on his first visit to Eden

Apart from decent hatches, one other dominant feature of April was the wind. We seemed to get day after day of cold West or North-westerlies. They were a real pain at times, making life pretty uncomfortable and decent presentation difficult. But there were times when they did help: days with strong winds and sunny spells produced decent hatches of Grannom and quite a few wind-blown flies were getting trapped in the meniscus, providing easy pickings for the trout.

Picking off Grannom trapped in the meniscus

Richard joined me in the middle of the month. He fished the local rivers 30 years ago, when he was just a boy, so this was a trip down memory lane. Hopefully the day will have awoken a passion for our great sport and it will not be his last day on the water.

Richard had his first day on Eden since he was a boy

The cold winds continued into the second half of the month and we even had a couple of frosty mornings. Grannom and the occasional Large Dark Olive continued to hatch, and they were joined by some other April favourites. We saw hatches of Iron Blue Duns, Olive Uprights and Large Brook Dun. When the sun shone the Grannom were out and when it didn't our seasonal upwings appeared, so it was win win for the fish, they were getting a good feed and a few nice specimens turned up.

An Iron Blue Dun feeder

One to the Olive Upright

The dry spell continued towards the end of the month - I don't think we had any rain in April. The month started off with the river quite high after rain at the end of March but we've had nothing since. Perhaps that's what has suited the invertibrates - they've certainly hatched in relatively good numbers this month. The Grannom hatches started to peter out towards the end of the month but then the Black Gnats appeared....

Sipping emergers in a pool tail

Doug joined me for his first river outing of the year and alternating between nymphs, spiders and dries ensured that he managed some action on his 2017 debut. The sun shone for part of the day and we saw the Grannom out in force for the final time of the year. Doug managed some action to Grannom patterns before the cloud arrived, the wind picked up and they did their usual disappearing trick. It wasn't quiet for long, as the wind swept a few black gnat onto the water and a few fish turned onto them. A quick change of pattern brought more action for Doug....

Grannom at the end of the month

Doug on his first outing of the year

So, after a quiet start to the season, Eden woke up a bit in April. Hatches  - although not prolific - have been relatively good and the fish have had a good feed. The rivers are very low and a bit of rain would be nice. But they are not worryingly low yet and they are still fishable. It's just going to be a bit tougher and present a bit more of a challenge - but that's what it's all about isn't it? Here's to a good May!

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....