While I have been away on holiday, the British weather has turned pretty nasty and not at all like it should be in June. I think Patrick Arnold has it spot in his latest report (see WADAA link opposite), when he says that the topsy turvy nature of this season's weather has been a major contributory factor to the tough season we are so far having. I am certainly struggling this year; it's always a pleasure to be out by the water no matter what the fishing's like, but I have to admit that pickings have been rather sparse for me this time around.
Admittedly I've not always been on the water at the optimum time, but even so, June is usually the month when the fish can be caught freely all day - there have been quite a few times lately when I've walked the banks and struggled to find a rising fish......and the searching wet fly and nymph methods which normally are so effective around these parts, have just failed to produce - despite my best efforts to search out every likely pocket of water I can find!
Tonight was one such evening. I had intended to fish the Eden, which at 4am at Appleby, the EA 'rivercall' service had at +160mm and falling. Rain during the morning must have had it's way with the catchment however, and the river was a good foot up and mucky brown when I peeped over the parapet of the A66 road bridge. A change of plan was required, so I drove on over to Bampton Grange for a look at one of the area's most picturesque streams - the River Lowther.
The Lowther is usually fishable after moderate rain, having as it does, the regulating influence of the Wet Sleddale Reservoir at its source. Tonight it look irresistible with an extra few inches of beery coloured water running over its gravelly limestone bed.
Once again though, my best efforts were thwarted and from the Haweswater Beck confluence downstream to the foot bridge on the start of Knipe Moor, I found not a single rising fish. No doubt the stiff north-westerly breeze was having an effect....
Now the Lowther is not a stream easily fished using searching methods. It is rather too sedate of flow for flicking nymphs around and the popply runs are too short,shallow and widely spaced to be worth the effort. No, this is very much a dry fly water and a challenging one at that. These fish are very wild and very twitchy and a real test of your stalking skills.
I was left with one viable option - to blindly search the water with a big-ish dry fly, and hope for the best. Unfortunately this too proved largely unproductive, although the blank was saved at about 9:30pm when a good fish rose alongside a mid-stream boulder and lashed at the olive klinkhamer which I had tied on.
A very strong fight had me believing for a minute that I was into a real whopper, before a fish of 1lb 12oz surface before me and was safely netted. Not a 'soler' as my Dad would say, but a fine fish nonetheless - and a fine end to an otherwise frustrating evening.
As I write, more heavy rain is forecast and the weekend looks like being a wash-out. Where are those balmy summer evenings which I dream about during the winter months?