Saturday, June 21, 2008

A tale of two Ribbles #2

I again visited two different versions of the Ribble this week.......only this time, they were both the same place!
As I reached the water's edge on Tuseday evening, I was faced by a river so pathetically low and weedy that it was barely worth fishing. All those pools which weeks earlier had been delightfully brisk and lively had gradually shrunk to virtually nothing and the thought of using any sub-surface tactic of any description, just wasn't on the cards.
Dry fly it was then, and with little rising, sport proved slow. There was no hatch to speak of so I fished a fairly large, suggestive pattern through the likely spots to take a succession of small trout and one slightly better one of 12oz or so. A 3lb chub proved to be the only surprise. He took a paradun and provided brief excitement before surrendering lamely to the net.

The evening was just about summed up when I finally hooked a large trout in a narrow slot between a boulder and a bed of silkweed, only for the fish to leap clear and land on the adjacent slime, immediately burying itself and shedding the hook!

The Ribble which I fished with Dad on Friday night was a totally different proposition. The weather finally broke on Wednesday and put a 3' flood through the catchment. By the time we reached the water, this had dropped back to 6" and was clearing nicely. The river had been restored to her former glory and was glowing brightly with a peaty amber tinge. The water chuckled over previously bleached dry stones and flecks of foam converged from the neck of every pool to form enticing 'food lanes' below. I was full of anticipation of a fine evening's sport and a chance to show the old man what river trouting can offer......

Unfortunately in the time-honoured fashion, the evening didn't go at all to plan and the going proved frustratingly slow. With little hatching, we started off with a couple of nymphs worked upstream into likely pockets, channels and riffles. Dad soon got the hang of this and we brought to hand a number of small trout to either a sedge pupa, or a pink-collared hare's ear (always a sure bet when the water carries a touch of colour). However, the better fish refused to show themselves.

Later on, I sifted the margins for a while and found good numbers of ripe blue-winged olive nymphs beneath the mossy stones, which gave me cause to be hopeful that the last hour of light might produce a hatch of duns.

I also noticed a few large spinners mating over the water. They were unlike any species I have seen before, so I looked closer. With a strange dark patch on the leading edge of the forewings and exceptionally long tails, they were about brook dun sized, only without the reddish colouration typical of spinners of the heptagnidae family.

Later consultation of my British Ephemeroptera guide has allowed me to confidently identify the flies as Ecdyonurus insignius, the Large Green Dun - a fairly uncommon upwing with very localised distribution. I doubt the trout were too interested in them though, so we moved on upstream as the light began to fade.

Eventually we did see a few BWO's start to pop up on some calmer water; not a massive hatch, but enough to bring a few good trout onto the feed. We managed a couple of better fish of 12oz and 1lb to the snowshoe hare emerger and Dad was unlucky to drop a couple of very good ones, but other than that, the evening was a quiet one. Pleasant enough, but quiet.

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