Monday, April 25, 2011

The Great Grannom Experiment

It's grannom time on our local rivers and we were treated to intense hatches on the Eden last week. Over the last few seasons I haven't had much to do with this innocuous little brown job as daytime fishing in spring is something I see very little of. Late April evening sessions might see a few ovipositing females knocking about, but there is always the regret that the real action will have occurred much earlier in the day - in fact I can honestly say that I have never really fished a proper grannom hatch; I always seem to have been too late.........
I was hoping to rectify that this time around as an unusually late Easter afforded me the opportunity to spend a full day on the river, albeit in less than favourable conditions resulting from weeks of warm, dry weather and - on the day - a painfully bright sun and strengthening downstream breeze.

Bob and I rolled up to our chosen middle Eden beat at around 9:30am to find scores of the sedges swarming over the water. The hatch was impressive and we got to work immediately. However, soon after entering the water, it became apparent that although the air was thick with grannom, the bit we are interested in - the actual emergence - seemed to have recently ended. The back eddies were carpeted with empty shucks and despite the swarms over the surface, I saw only a handful of flies actually emerge. The fish certainly were not impressed - whether or not they had recently gorged themselves on pupae. The first pool I fished (a spot I fully expected to catch from), appeared devoid of fish with nothing seen rising and not a touch to report to nymphs fished both shallow and then deeper. Bob, who was searching with an appropriate surface pattern, reported similar lack of interest when I caught up with him later. Just how early in the morning do these little blighters emerge?

As we moved upstream, the wind strengthened and although this did blow a few adult grannom onto the surface, inducing a couple of fish to rise in one particular run, the fact that it was blowing square downstream made a dry fly presentation from below nigh on impossible....and the low, clear water and resultant finicky nature of the fish made drifting the fly down from above a similarly unpalatable option. Frustrating stuff indeed.

In the end, my action for the day was compressed into a brief spell when a quickfire sequence of four fish in a handful of casts from one particular pool, found a small weighted nymph to their liking. I have to confess to making a bit of a hash of things though: the first fish  - a pan sized fish of around 10" - was landed with no problems. Trout #2 was a very large fish which powered off downstream in a hiss of spray, taking up the slack fly line through the rod rings in a flash. Things might have gone a bit better from then on if I hadn't got a loose coil of line stuck around the back of my reel. Needless to say we regrettably parted company.
Trout #3 was successfully landed - a nice cock fish of around the pound, maybe a few ounces over. But not before he made a last gasp lunge behind me and then back through my legs, the dropper fly catching in my waders on the way and causing some frantic gymnastics whilst the fish knocked around between my submerged knees.
The final trout of the quartet was again, a good fish. The exchanges appeared to passing off with little drama until I turned what looked to be heading towards 2lb of wild brownie toward the net, only for the hook to pull.
Shortly after, I tripped over a boulder and took a full dunking. Later on after my clothes had finally dried, I did the same again. It had been, on the whole, a pretty poor performance.

Later on at home, I reflected on the grannom emergence timing thing and formulated a plan. The following morning, I would leave the house early and arrive at the river around dawn. It would be a good opportunity to take some photos and generally revel in the early morning stillness which is such a special feature of our British summers........and of course, should it turn out that our friend b. subnubilis decided to emerge en masse from the depths, then I would be ready with the rod and a score to settle........

Of course, it would be lovely to tell you that this worked out well. I was there in the mist, by the river at 5:30am and I was still there 3 hours later when the sun finally burned through and opened the window onto another unseasonably warm April day. But I didn't see any grannom - not a single one - and my little experiment, however flawed and unscientifically grounded it may have been, fell flat on its face in the waters of the middle Eden. Much like I had done the day before.

There was a saving grace of sorts however. A fall of tiny green aphids brought a few trout up to the top and although I didn't have a remotely appropriate pattern in my fly box, they were forgiving enough of a small olive klinkhamer, and a number of nice fish up to about 1lb in weight were returned; this time with no daft antics from yours truly, thus providing welcome reassurance that I am at least not completely incapable with fly rod in hand.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

We get a big grannom hatch on at least 2 of my local rivers, and I guess I probably get there at about the time of your first described visit. My experience is that fish are largely quite uninterested in the floating version of the sedge at this time - supported by the fact of catching fish on a pupa suspended below a floating grannom version. There was an entertaining exchange between the sedge experts in Fly Fishing and Flytying recently - more entertaining than ultimately clarifying for me!