Sunday, May 20, 2012
Two evenings on the Eamont
You may need to click on the above photo to view at full size, but hopefully you can see the surface of the River Eamont carpeted in olives. This was the sight which greeted me on a recent afternoon visit. The pool in question is broad - maybe 50yds across - uniformly knee deep, and stretches for maybe 100yds of the delightful lower river...and from my arrival at 4pm its entire surface was thick with olive uprights, pale wateries and medium olives for almost two hours. And as you might expect, the dry fly sport which followed was something special; the trout threw caution to the wind and fed hard, enabling me to get close to them even on such a smooth, shallow pool. A cdc olive was all that was required to raise almost every trout I covered and although I dropped a few, I caught more than enough to keep any angler happy - mostly 10-12" fish, but with a couple of slightly better ones, such as this which weighed a couple of ounces below the 2lb mark and went absolutely beserk in the shallow water:
It wasn't difficult fishing by any means, and I was reminded of the joy of river trouting at this most prolific time of year. With the forecast set to improve at last over this coming week, we should see the start of that glorious four week period in which fish feed hard all day and some of the season's best sport is to be had. My records show that this usually occurs from the third week of May, although it may be slightly retarded this time around owing to the six week period of northerly airstreams we have just endured. Certainly the invertebrate activity is yet to extend fully into the evening period, with both visits this week seeing the hatch killed stone dead by 7pm. I'd expect to see the arrival of the first blue winged olives in the next 10 days, and with them the prospect of sport right through to dusk.
As the hatch faded, I did find some more activity courtesy of the grannom caddis. Right at the bottom of the river in a fast powerful riffle, I thought I heard a splashy rise as I walked past. Then another. I couldn't see the culprits, so fast and broken was the flow, but I slid in at the bottom end of the run and got nice and low to the surface to see if I could determine what was exciting the fish. The culprits were obvious - female grannom immediately swarmed around, using me as a convenient means by which to crawl back underwater and oviposit. The image below shows one on my wader leg, just breaking the surface.
Normally in such circumstances I fish a team of spiders, with such patterns as woodcock and hare's lug working well fished just upstream of square and then eased around downstream to mimic the unfortunate flies which become entrained helplessly in the current. However, at that moment I couldn't be bothered with the necessary leader change, so I tied on a Wyatt's deerhair emerger (DHE) and began to search upstream, fanning casts in an attempt cover all the water ahead. This 'blind' dry fly fishing tends not to work too well on the Eden system I've found, being far outscored by nymphing tactics when there are no obvious risers to mark. But on this occasion it did the business admirably; the number of fish willing to come up to the fly in that popply run of water was amazing. Again they were not large fish, averaging no more than 12oz, but in fast water on a #3 rod they gave exciting sport and I couldn't have been happier with how the evening had panned out. Eamont trout are exceptionally bonny and I could never tire of catching solid fish of this calibre - check out that spade of a tail:
The following evening I was back, a little further upstream. I have mentioned in previous posts how in recent years our members have been concerned about the perceived decline in fly life and fishing quality on the Eamont. The AMI invertebrate sampling we have been undertaking over the last couple of seasons has indicated that the Eamont's fly life is at least as healthy as the parent river (with the exception of a short stretch immediately downstream of the Penrith sewerage works sluiceway); and the fact that recent outings have suggested a strong population of trout in the river, all adds up to a much more encouraging situation. I was keen to return to find further reinforcing evidence.
Bob had been out for most of the day and a phonecall around midday revealed that he had found the going to be slow. Later, when I caught up with him on the bank, it turned out that the river had come alive at around 3pm.....in much the same way it had done the day before. And Bob had capitalised by landing over a dozen fish to 2lb amidst a strong hatch of olives. The events of the last couple of days had left us in no doubt that the fish are most definitely there, and in impressive numbers. More regular visitors to the river than us might counter that this has always been the case and I wouldn't argue against for the reasons mentioned in a previous post. But what I can say with certainty is that over the last 8 years I have fished the river maybe three dozen times and have never seen anything like the activity we have seen these last couple of weeks; indeed I had never witnessed anything approaching a proper hatch. The Eamont is a delightful river to fish, with its bright, swiftly flowing water and waving beds of ranunculus. All that has been missing for me in the past was the quality of fishing that appearances merited. I am beginning to see now why Jon Beer once described it as the best wild trout fishing in England.
Bob shows off a decent Eamont trout.