Phew, what a week! Last Saturday saw me at the Environment Agency headquarters in Penrith for a training course on riverfly monitoring. Hosted by the Eden Rivers Trust's Becky Helm and Dan Atkinson from the EA, we were inducted into the Riverfly Partnership's 'Angler's Monitoring Initiative' via a very enjoyable workshop held in the lab and out on nearby Crowdundle Beck.
The scheme encourages anglers - and anyone else who has an interest in aquatic conservation - to take part in a countrywide network of invertebrate monitoring, by recording regular kick sample results from a number of established sampling sites. Our club have raised concerns about the differences in the quality of the water above and below the Penrith town sewerage outflow on the Eamont, which is the main reason I was there. In all likelihood though, we will set up a number of monitoring sites on all the stretches we control, including the Eden, Lune and Ribble. Aquatic invertebrates are one of the best indicators of water quality - our river canaries if you like; so by applying the recording criteria to 8 primary invertebrate groups, we should be able to determine and keep an eye on the water quality on our waters - an help the EA to 'fill in the gaps' in their monitoring schedule to boot.
I reckon this is a worthwhile enterprise all round and would urge all anglers to get involved where possible so that we can build as complete a picture as possible of the invertebrate populations of our beloved waters. This is a good place to start.
The remainder of the week was spent in the company of several fellow Fly Forums members for our now annual get together. I joined fellow Lancastrian Rob Denson, along with Bristolian Mike Brown, Leicester man Alex Ferguson and Edinburgh lads Colin Riach, Jimmy Millar, Dougie Skedd and Stewart Barclay, for a week of crack and fishing on Malham Tarn and Stocks Reservoir.
Needless to say, we had a hell of a time and plenty of fish were caught, particularly on Stocks which absolutely fished its socks off (200+ fish over the two days). I'll post some photos of the trip in the next few days.....
Finally, I got down to some fly tying this weekend; and after a week of pulling wets and mini lures in the size #10 and 12 class, I felt compelled to make a return to the smaller flies I use on our local rivers. With still no significant rain hereabouts, the streams are shrunken and thin and great care and stealth is required to fool the wary residents. With this in mind, I replenished my dwindling stocks of small black stuff today. When the midge and smut are on the water, this is the pattern that I will be using - a simple CDC shuttlecock tied on a #20/22 Varivas 2200 hook:
Then, moving up a few hook sizes, I tied a handful of trusty CDC olive duns. I'm a big believer in getting a pattern's 'footprint' right, without worring too much what the bit above the surface looks like. After all, isn't the trout's eye view most critical to success? I always swivel the fly in the vice as I am tying to check it looks how I want from underneath and this afternoon I had a play about with the camera to see if I could get a few shots of this particular pattern from such a position.
After roughly photoshopping the display clip out on the picture below, we've got what I believe is the fly's outline as it sits on the surface film - as seen by the fish.....although I accept it will be more of a silhouette with a bit of transmitted light coming through depending on overhead light intensity/direction, rather than the glorious technicolour version as seen by us; and distortion created in the meniscus by the pattern's stray fibres will create 'confusion' of the precise outline of the fly.
Whichever way, I reckon the dun below is heading along the right lines - and to the trout, the view shown immediately below is far more important than the conventional 'side on' which I've added at the bottom.
CDC olive dun viewed from beneath
.....and a more conventional view of the same pattern