This month's edition of Trout & Salmon magazine described some of the writing in this blog as, ahem, 'purple', which last time I looked was not a particularly good thing. So I'll be brief:
I fished the Ribble for a couple of hours yesterday, in uncomfortably windy conditions. In truth I didn't expect a great deal and only decided to head up-valley at the last minute when I unexpectedly found myself at a loose end late in the afternoon. Which is just as well, because most of the brief session passed off entirely without interest, the cold westerly wind taking all pleasure from proceedings, and the river's trout population (in keeping with my experiences of the last two seasons) seemingly very sparse indeed.
This apparent dearth of Ribble trout concerns me to be honest. I accept that I'm not best qualified to judge, having only fished the river maybe eight times in the last two seasons, but it would be a pretty impressive run of 'wrong place, wrong time' scenarios all the same. My returns have been limited to a handful of trout and grayling with a proportion of the former having been escapee stock fish from the syndicate water downstream. I have heard reports of better returns from some of our members, so hopefully it's a case of either my incompetence, or just bad timing. Our monthly invertebrate monitoring does seem to indicate a river in good health, so fingers crossed. But with so many clubs on the river insisting on artificial stocking policies, our beat - home to some of the finest game fish habitat on the entire river - should be one of the few to give a truer perspective of the Ribble's native population; and from what I've seen, it isn't a pleasing picture - especially when compared to some of the other river systems here in the north of England.
Yesterday's brief foray further added to my worries. Despite the difficult wind, the Ribble was in perfect ply following a slight overnight rise, and I fished a good mile of it on a brace of small weighted nymphs. Every cast into every crease and pocket had me expecting a fish at any moment, but by the time I had reached the bottom of the woods I had two salmon parr to my name, a miserable return. Finally I met with success in the confused water at the head of a favourite pool, although it was success of a weird kind and as such went some way to reinforcing rather than easing my concerns. In the space of a few casts I returned a nice cock grayling of towards 2lb in weight, followed immediately after by a fine sea trout, followed by - of all things - a small chub, and finally one of those nuisance stockies I mentioned earlier. Although their capture was pleasing (well the first three anyway), the statistics tell a sorry tale: four fish, and not one of them a native brown trout.
As I mentioned earlier, I haven't fished the Ribble much recently and am well aware that my poor returns are most likely down to my own failings, or just bad luck. I would love to hear from anyone who has a more positive tale to tell, either through the comments section here or the email address below.