It was down here, within these 'oases of calm', that Patrick and I found our only sport of the day. In the weak sunshine, it felt almost spring-like at times - an impression which was strengthened when after midday, a not insignificant trickle hatch of large dark olives was witnessed, the duns riding down the foam lanes in twos and threes. Nothing was tempted to rise to them though, and most of the day was spent on sub-surface nymphing tactics......
Patrick was first into fish, dropping a nice grayling in the first run we fished. Soon after, my red tagged hares ear brought reaction from a couple of trout. I didn't expect it at the time, but they were to remain my only fish for a good four hours.
As the olives gradually increased in number, Patrick was quick to change to a wet fly/spider approach. This paid dividends with another unwelcome trout, a fine grayling and a very good fish lost, while I was still mulling over whether or not to change from the nymphs! By the time I had worked my way to the top of my pool and decided to spider my way back down, the hatch had petered out and my efforts with the 'escalator' style wet fly brought exactly what they deserved - nothing.
After a break for lunch, we explored upstream without much success. I do like a bit of winter grayling fishing from time to time, but as I walked past some very nice riffly, broken water I couldn't help but long for next spring, when trouty looking runs like these come to life with hatching insects and hungry fish. The sight of an apparently lifeless, clear, cold winter river depresses me sometimes, although it is usually as late as January when such thoughts take hold. The fact that I felt it yesterday, the last day of October, when winter has barely begun, is all the more soul-destroying and likely a reaction to the non-existant summer we have had this time. A long 5 months await me before normal service can be resumed.
We decided to head to the sheltered bottom of the beat again for the last hour of light and although no rising fish were seen and Patrick's spiders failed to produce futher interest, I finally had success by dredging the bottom of a favourite run with a team of three bugs. Right on the edge of dusk, the top dropper fly (the watery pink goldhead nymph detailed a few posts ago), brought a nice grayling of 1lb 8oz, followed a few moments later by an even better fish just shy of 2lb. Four hours of complete inactivity had been followed by nearly 3 1/2 lb of grayling in half a dozen casts, illustrating to me yet again that persistence is very often rewarded. And what about these fine Eden grayling? My last two visits have yielded only 5 of them, but when their average weight is as near two pounds as one, then I consider them well worth waiting for.
So a tough day in all, but not unexpectedly so. That said, there are always rewards for the angler who braves the conditions and today was no different: good company, vivid autumn colours, a nice little hatch of hardy olives, and a few fish. You won't find me complaining too much about that!