Mindful of the horrible weather forecast for this weekend, I snatched a Friday evening of surprisingly pleasant weather, up on Small Water at the head of Mardale. As it turned out, the weather was too good and for the second tarn visit on the trot, I ended up struggling to find any ripple whatsoever - it's not often you can say that in the Lake District!
Following the short hike up from Mardale Head, I arrived at the tarn to find a nice gentle ripple on the surface. That, and the overcast sky spelled near perfect conditions and I put up a three fly cast eagerly in anticipation of some decent sport. However by the time I was up and running, the breeze had died and I was left with a flat calm and nothing rising - frustrating to say the least!
Patience was eventually rewarded though, as every few minutes a short spell of breezier weather allowed me to work a team of small flies over the marginal shelf. These interludes invariably resulted in a take or two and I managed to return five small but pristine brown trout, all to a size 14 bibio. From the times I have fished this water, it does seem that the native trout are of a lower average size than in some other tarns - most seem to be around the 8" mark - but they are beautifully clean and vividly marked little fish and a pleasure to catch just the same.
Later on, I did eventually find a small pod of rising fish. They were taking grousewing sedges which were evident in small numbers over the surface, but I couldn't get near enough to them - they were patrolling the drop-off which runs parallel to the south-east shore, and this is separated from dry land by a wide bank of shallows. Without waders, the cast wasn't really on.