Sunday, March 01, 2009

Above and below on the Ribble

Last week saw me on the Ribble on two separate occasions. On Thursday, I accompanied Barry to his club water on the lower-middle river near Alston where we fished for chub and barbel. And at weekend I stole a couple of hours much further upstream, where I attempted to catch a late-season grayling or two. I failed comprehensively on both counts.

Coarse fishing is something I don’t get chance to do these days, even though I spent most of my teens and early twenties fishing my local ponds and rivers for anything that saw fit to take my bait. If I’m being honest I do miss that sometimes, but with only so much time on my hands and a tendency to try my wife’s patience at the best of times, the old coarse gear – well what is left of it – only gets a very occasional airing these days. So I gratefully accepted Barry’s invitation of a day on ‘Big Ribble’, which we were to spend trotting and ledgering with the aim of catching a few chub and maybe even a barbel. Unfortunately things didn’t quite pan out and although a pleasant few hours were spent by the river, only one fish was caught – a trout.

At weekend I stole a few hours much further upstream, where I hoped the recent spell of milder weather might have stimulated the large dark olives into hatching. Recent grayling sessions with heavy bugs have proved unsuccesful and I have developed the firm impression that the fish were tightly shoaled in slow, deep water. Anyway, I come to a point every winter where I yearn after more delicate fishing and my mind was made up before I started that the tungsten stuff would remain in the box.

Instead, I put up a pair of lightly weighted olive nymphs and set to prospecting the pools whilst on the lookout for the first of the expected duns......with my fingers hovering over a coiled up tapered leader like a sniper's over the trigger of his gun!

Unfortunately, my plans were scuppered again. A single dropped fish to the nymphs was my only offer all afternoon and the LDO hatch never materialised at all. Normally a good root around in the slacks and back-eddies of the current will give a good indication of any insect activity, be it forthcoming or recently past. When I examined the stationary scum line of foam adjacent to the head of several runs on roughtly a mile of river, I found a grand total of 6 immobilised duns and a few small black midge. They looked like they had been there a while, prompting me to conclude that I may have missed what had passed for a hatch anyway.

Not to worry; as I write, February has given way to March and the worst of the winter is behind us. Soon there will be the faintest spray of green showing in our hedgerows as our English countryside begins to rear from the miserable sleep of the past few months.

Crippled LDO dun........

......and a tiny black midge.

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