Saturday, April 04, 2009

Turning up late to the party - fly soup - a blank avoided - sika deer.

The High Priestess very kindly offered me a couple of hours out this afternoon and I wasn't going to refuse - even though the day has been chilly and very windy. I know a place where the river flows far below in a steep sided, wooded valley; a place where the wind would be barely noticable and where I might, if I broke every speed limit on the way, just catch the back end of the day's large dark olive hatch.

As it happened I was an hour too late. I suspected I would be as recent hatches hereabouts seem to have kicked off quite early and been more or less over by 1pm. When I reached the water's edge at about half past one there were plenty of duns around, but they were nearly all airborne and careering along on the breeze into the bankside rhododendrons and hawthorn. Nothing was rising that I could see, but the evidence suggested I had just missed a very good hatch. When I examined a large eddy of foamy scum in one pool, I found an insect soup of tiny midge and crippled olive duns. If you click on the photo below to enlarge it, you'll see what I mean - the area shown is probably a foot square; multiply that into an area approximately 20 square yards and you'll appreciate that the flies stranded in that foam must have numbered in the thousands.

Even so, I still had the task of trying to eke out a fish or two, so I set about the riffles with a brace of small olive nymphs. In the summer-low, clear water, going was hard and I held little hope of success. Sure enough I struggled, but a pair of brownies in quick succession was some reward for perseverence.....and the day was such a typically bright, breezy spring day that I couldn't fail to return home refreshed, having witnessed the flowering of the season's first anemones and primroses, the blazing blue dart of a kingfisher at work and late on, a close encounter with a group of surprisingly inquisitive deer. They were sikas I think, and they stood on ceremony not 50 yards away for a a good minute while I gratefully took some photographs.



Jeffrey Prest said...

Hi Matthew,

From your experience, do trout ever latch onto the fact that the kind of foamy scum you've photographed is a ready-made fly-trap or do they leave it well alone?


Jeff Prest

Matthew Eastham said...

Hi Jeff,

To be honest, I think they leave the scummy stuff alone. I'm not even convinced that the footprint of the insects stuck in the top of the foam can be seen by the fish below. That said, such mucky eddies are usually found in close proximity to marked current creases and it's here that I find the fish congregate to intercept the food as it drops off the faster current on its way towards the foam....

Do you find similar?


Jeffrey Prest said...

No, but only because my rookie instinct until now would be to leave such eyesore areas of a river alone.

Now that what the Americans call 'brownline fishing' is in vogue, however, I might be tempted to try the vicinity of a scum patch, because I think there's a certain logic in what you say. Even around the margins of the scum, there may be flies falling into the water when the scum occasionally frays or disperses at its edge. It won't be pretty but it's worth a try...