Monday, April 07, 2014

Early Season Update

Considering the mildness of the winter past, and the slightly early springing of spring this year, it's been a slow start to the trout season for me. There isn't really much of interest to note from any of the three days I have spent on the river recently, although all have been enjoyable in their own way.

After failing to catch on the 15th I tried again on the 28th, tackling a swollen but clear middle Eden with friend Stuart Minnikin. It can feel like a big river down there, below where the Eamont discharges the spring Lakeland runoff from Ullswater; and on this occasion overnight rain which just clipped to top end of the catchment (putting the Ure away in full flood in the process, just the other side of the watershed), lifted the parent river slightly too, to the tune of an extra 6 inches or so. That might not sound very much, but with the gauge showing 1' 4" and slowly rising, an already substantial river felt really quite big...and wading was restricted to near margins and quiet pool tails.

Still, the decent clarity gave cause for hope and we set to with teams of spiders, prospecting the inside current seams in anticipation of a later hatch of Large Dark Olives and March Browns. This tactic proved worthwhile and we were both able to attract interest. Stuart had a couple of fish up to around 1lb, with a few tweaks and dropped offers. I had similar amount of action, but only small fish obliged; so my first trout of the new season turned out to be a skerrit of about 8oz.

As the morning progressed, conditions began to feel 'right' for a hatch and sure enough, after a long walk downstream Stuart spotted a single fish rising steadily on a pool tail, directly in front of a submerged boulder. Initially we assumed it would be taking LDOs, but closer inspection revealed that the little upwings were nowhere to be seen and this trout was sipping down midge. Stuart stepped in and did the honours......a fine fish of 1lb 10oz (see photo at top of post) taking second drift past. Well angled that man!

Things seemed all set to take off at that point. The air was mild, the wind had dropped and the light felt spot on; all we needed was the invertebrate activity to trigger a spell of feeding. Strangely, from that point onwards it just didn't happen for us. A few flies started to trickle off and we both rose a fish or two to dry olive patterns, but sport was slow to say the least.....possibly due to the rising river, who knows? Later on we took a walk upstream and saw dozens of LDO duns clustering in back eddies, with mallards working amongst them eating their fill. Still no rising trout to be seen. In all, a day which promised much but which failed to deliver - but at least we had caught a few!

A week or so later saw me tackle the Eamont on two 'same but different' days. Inappropriate conditions on the main river jockeyed me up onto the tributary in the hope of maybe securing a large fish or two. I knew the going would likely be slow, but hey I like a challenge! As it turned out I wasn't wrong - although conditions on the two days were pretty much opposites, the result was more or less the same on both occasions: sparse insect activity, not a single rising fish observed, and a handful of middling sized trout returned to nymph tactics. If this was understandable on the first of the two days (river crystal clear, weather sunny with a strong, chilly south easterly), then it was slightly harder to take second time around. I arrived at the river around lunchtime to find it maybe two inches higher than previously, and carrying a slight but welcome tinge of colour. The air was mild and still, and grey cloud hung heavy overhead. It felt as perfect as I could have wished for.......on the timber fence nearby, a couple of unusually early adult female Perlodes stoneflies lay resting. Surely I would catch?

Not so. Well not in the manner I had hoped. After three hours of staking out various likely spots on the lookout for a big Eamont brownie-snout breaking surface, I switched to an upstream nymph set-up in an attempt to actually catch something. This worked ok, and a few fit - and very welcome - trout were brought to hand. I couldn't help feeling though, that somehow I had wasted an opportunity; that somewhere there must have been a shot at a big early season fish. That said, reports since from other anglers on the Eden system suggest that such opportunities have been few and far between; so maybe it's not just me!

A brace of typical Eamont trout, noodled out on upstream nymph tactics.

And our early season invertebrate buddies, the March Brown and Large Dark Olive. We could do with seeing a few more of them in the next week or two!

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