In truth, very little angling was done today. Bob and I spent all morning conducting the first of our season's invertebrate sampling sessions for the Eamont and upper Eden. The four sites at Honeypot (x2), Langwathby and Appleby yielded healthy returns broadly in line with expectations for the time of year. Olive nymphs of the baetis species and stoneclinger nymphs (rithrogena, ecdyonurus and heptagenia) dominated; but it was also pleasing to see decent numbers of large stonefly nymphs in the samples - the spring creeper which was once a commonly used bait around these parts - the fishing of which, by way of a nod to traditional values, our club still notionally permits.
Blue-winged olive nymphs (seratella) were entirely absent from all samples - which is no great surprise when we consider that this larva has one of the shortest growing seasons: whilst we will expect to see large numbers - and correspondingly copius hatches of the duns - in a couple of month's time, at present they are still too tiny to pick up easily with the naked eye.
So whilst the focus of our trip up the M6 was very much to re-commence sampling operations, you will of course appreciate that we had to bring the rods along too - just on the off-chance. And sure enough, we managed to squeeze in a couple of hours after lunch - a couple of hours dusting off the casting arm cobwebs in the warm light of an unforgiving early spring sun, and with large dark olive duns steadily emerging from a river bed scoured bright and clean by the rigours of winter.
After a slow, watchful walk upstream, our focus fell upon a glide of glassy, fractured water in which at least a couple of fish could be seen porpoising after emergers in very shallow water close to the bank. Bob was first in with the nearest of these - a bonny fish of around the pound quickly bought to hand. Then it was my turn with what looked a good fish quartering the eddy immediately upstream.
This was sweaty palms stuff: first outing of the season after nigh on 6 months of inactivity, a new rod in the hand, and a broad-shouldered wild brown hoovering up emergers in a swirly little lie a few yards ahead. I wasn't hopeful of success. Or rather, I found it easy to visualise failure..........
Strangely enough, a mis-placed preliminary cast which put my olive parachute outside the target fish and into a tongue of current, brought a blind rise from a fish which wasn't landed, but appeared to be on the upper side of 2lbs when it leapt clear soon after being hooked.
Fortunately, I managed to connect with the correct fish a couple of casts later when it obligingly rose once I had managed to put the fly over its head. It was dry fly at its most basic, and for this decidedly ring rusty angler, a gift horse in the truest sense - a slightly lean wild Eden trout of 3lb 12oz. Not likely to end up the hardest earned fish of my season, but already, probably the most memorable.
In the net......
......and about to go back.
In all honesty, I hadn't planned to return to my blog this side of May; but then again, maybe I underestimated the effect a spring day on a trout stream can have in rejuvenating one's enthusiasm for the sport and life in general..........