Monday, March 26, 2012
Reasons to be cheerful: part 2
A chance presented itself this weekend to nip down to our beat on the Ribble, although time would be at a premium, actual fishing time limited to no more than two hours. Still, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth (thanks Mum), I did battle with the legions of slow moving vehicles on the A59 and rolled up at our mid-beat parking spot at bang on 11am. I would have to be back at the car no later than 1pm.....but at least I was there at the right time of day!
I have written here before about how the Ribble has begun to concern me over the last couple of seasons. Although a local lad, I don't have the benefit of years of experience on the river to inform my observations, having only started fishing it when I joined the club in 2008; but it seemed to me that the trout fishing fell away drastically in 2010 to the point where last year the only brownies I encountered were invariably stock fish from adjacent mid river beats. Even the grayling fishing seemed to decline.
There are some that might argue that I'm talking rubbish and fair enough, you could point to the reduced number of visits I have made (and at sometimes inappropriate times) whilst devoting much time to the Cumbrian Eden. You could also argue that I don't know the river that well and am certainly not an especially good angler.....and you would be right. But nevertheless, I felt at times that I was fishing over dead water and have suffered comparative lack of success with every method under the sun from dry fly to stripping streamers.
This brief session went some way to allaying my fears. The river, although dead low, looks fresh and lively. Small beds of ranunculus are beginning to form in some runs and the riverbed gravels and stones are scoured clean with none of the low water gunge we have come to expect of the agriculturally stressed Ribble. Even as I approached the water's edge I could see that large dark olives were streaming from its surface, tiny sparks of fire illuminated by the mist-hazed sun. I set to work in the ledgy pocket water and was into a good fish within a couple of casts. Then another, slightly bigger. They were wild fish and in the peak of health, fighting like tigers in the shallow, briskly flowing water.
A short way upstream, another brace of trout obliged; one leopard-spotted and strikingly beautiful, the other at over the pound, the best fish of the session. With one eye constantly on my watch, I rushed through the best looking bits, feeling certain that more thorough exploration would have brought further success. An out of season grayling brought matters to a close and I made the steep climb back to the car feeling as happy as I have done by the banks of the Ribble for a long long time. Although the olives had hatched in great numbers, I didn't see a single one on the water's surface and not a single fish rose. Again it seemed they had been content to harass the ascending nymphs and again, a small weighted hare's ear pattern on the end of a tapered leader had proved amply acceptable.
That might not seem like a ground breaking couple of hours I know, but sometimes the small things are most important and if my early season fishing has given me plenty to be hopeful about, then this was surely the icing on the cake.