As I drove back home this evening through such picturesque villages as Langwathby, Culgaith and Morland, with their pink sandstone walls, hanging baskets and antiquated pubs, the sky began to darken on the western horizon, the clouds coalescing into bruised bronze thunderheads over the Shap Fells. When suddenly a few shafts of failing sunlight penetrated through the murk and illuminated distant Moor Divock , I was lucky enough to capture the brooding image above. It was a fantastic moment - a fitting end to a marvellous day.
My other piece of fortune today, was that good friend of mine Patrick Arnold was kind enough to donate his rod on the Lazonby Estate water of the Eden for the day, due to his commitments elsewhere. I was only too happy to accept, for the upper beat on Lazonby is about as close to trout heaven as it's possible to get. Needless to say I was looking forward to the day all week and when I drove to the water's edge and saw that recent heavy showers hadn't affect the level and clarity too badly, I was all set for an intensive day's exploration.
Surprisingly though, things started slowly; a thorough searching of the Meadows Pool yielded precisely nothing - amazing really for such a flawless looking piece of water. However, things improved rapidly when I laid siege to the bouldery 50yd run above Top Hole Corner. This angry piece of water looks uninviting, is horrific to wade and holds some very good fish. I girded my loins, prepared for a soaking and slipped in at the bottom end.
Half an hour later, I emerged at the top absolutely knackered and with a sore knee where I had cracked it on a rock. I had also returned 9 fine wild trout and dropped several others. They were like peas in a pod - all around 12" - and fought like tigers in the heavy current.
The successful method was to fish a brace of nymphs a rod-length upstream into the pockets behind rocks and boulders. The dropper was a small but heavy tungsten bodied caddis, and the point was an unweighted clinger nymph; although the bug provided the required ballast, it was the latter fly which attracted most interest and it was looking pretty well mauled by the time I had finished!
As the morning progressed, I tried the same method in a variety of spots - including the frankly dangerous Hut Stream - but never with the same success as above.
It wasn't long then before I put up a dry fly and although nothing was rising, I had a good search through with a size 16 olive klinkhamer. This had the desired affect and every so often another fish would appear from nowhere and turn down with the fly. It wasn't exactly hectic sport, but offers were regular enough to maintain interest and the size of the fish was pleasing - all between 10-12" with hardly any little 'sprots'. By the same token though, the bigger fish were conspicuous by their absence - apart from one good 'un of around a pound and a half which threw the hook whilst airborne, I'd say my best fish would have gone around 14oz. Still, for wild river brownies, that's a good average size in my book and tremendous fun on light gear.
Family commitments meant I had to be off the water soon after 5pm, so I missed out on any evening rise. No matter, a fine day's sport was had and towards twenty fit little trout had ensured I was kept busy throughout the day.
More importantly, I had reaquainted myself with one of my favourite places after too long away. My work brings me closer to home next month. Maybe I'll get a chance to evening fish the Eden again before the nights begin to draw in too far?