Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Fishing Still Slow with Mixed Weather Conditions

The Grayling are still proving hard to catch in certain middle beats of the Eden despite some good waters and good conditions from time to time, especially taking into account the really bad conditions we have witnessed of late. After saying this, if you are prepared to search the water thoroughly then there are some very good quality fish to be found, but if I am to be totally honest at this moment in time, they are still few and far between. To find these illusive fish we are having to fish deep and slow with bites being very tentative and hardly noticeable at times.

The likelihood that these very enigmatic fish have migrated to new areas of the river is a distinct possibility as they most certainly do this from time to time, possibly to seek food or maybe even better potential spawning areas, I remember reading an article once on Norwegian Grayling, where it was found that they had migrated up to 75 miles within the river system, so anything is possible, but with Christmas almost upon us, and visits to the river becoming fewer, almost certainly due to the much lower than normal temperatures and poor conditions, apart from the die-hards, people are not so keen to venture out, so to find out if the Grayling have migrated elsewhere will be difficult to prove, except by anecdotal evidence. It has to be said though, that if you wrap up warmly, layer your clothing and don your neoprene waders it can be very bearable as well as being good fun.

I have had reports of good catches in places higher up the Eden, but I was not sure what the lower beats were producing, so yesterday I intended to find out for myself, but upon arrival, most of the water was frozen over and the rest of it was made up of rafts of ice (known to some anglers as grue) that you just couldn't get your line to navigate through, even the ducks were finding it difficult. Even though I was itching to have a go, common sense prevailed and I returned home. Maybe after Christmas!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Grayling Fishing Proving Difficult!

With fluctuating water levels on the Eden and still relatively pleasant days (when well wrapped up) the Grayling are proving hard to catch on the fly of late, even when hugging the bottom with weighted bugs, apart from the odd one as Tony discovered here in the picture, but they are definitely not responding in any numbers.

Whilst trying a different approach with youngsters from a Cumbrian youth club in the form of swim feeders and floats, we did manage a few fish but still nothing like the numbers you would expect on these methods at this time of year, and as far as the fly is concerned, which is my favourite method of catching these enigmatic fish, I am convinced that all we need for good results is the water levels to fall and stay steady for a while coupled with some early morning frosts (which we are getting now) to help lower the level a bit and hopefully induce these fish to take, which usually does the trick over the winter. Let's wait and see!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Too Much Water Again

Although the water was high in late October, it was not too coloured to fish for Grayling, and even though these beautiful fish are often unpredictable to say the least when the water is consistently unsettled, you can usually catch a few on maggots as opposed to the fly which comes into its own more readily on a water that has stayed reasonably steady for a sustained period of time, especially when temperatures drop and the water remains low for a while (winter). Given these conditions, which generally occur after a good frost or two, the Grayling fishing can be excellent on the fly (I can't wait). Anyway getting back to my earlier thread, in late October in my capacity as an instructor for Borderlines, we took some youngsters out fishing with the maggot, and introduced them to the swim feeder and the float, and although the fishing was difficult they did manage several Grayling to around 1 1/2lb.

Following this I travelled down to the BFFI (British Fly Fair International) at Trentham Gardens near Stoke where I was representing AAPGAI (Association of Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors) as part of the fly casting demonstration team, which I really enjoy. Oh and by the way, for those of you who are regular visitors to the show, the venue and dates for the BFFI will change next year to the 18th & 19th June and will take place at Bingley Hall in Stafford which is the Staffordshire Show Ground, and in addition to the casting demonstrations, AAPGAI will be running a casting clinic there for those who would like to either learn how to cast for the first time, or improve their existing skills. I look forward to seeing some of you there. 

Click Here
Since returning home to Cumbria, the river Eden has been persistently high and today was no exception with the water rising once again. We need the rain to stop, and the water to drop back down for some good Grayling fishing on the fly, which I am looking forward to. Let's hope it is soon! Keep an eye on the weather using the Met Office link on the right.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The End is Nigh

The end of the Salmon season on the Eden is now upon us once again, where does it go it seems to get shorter every year. We have still been catching a few fish though regardless of the fact that this year has probably seen fewer fish running the river than we saw last year although when Sam and Larissa (originally from New Zealand) came along for a session higher up the river we did see quite a few fish even though they did not connect with any of them. This was there first time fishing for Salmon so much of the time was based around the casting techniques required to present the fly to the fish which they certainly got to grips with later in the day.

David Humble came along later in the week for an annual brush up of his (much improved) Spey casting techniques and almost immediately hooked up with a fish whilst we were going through the mechanics at the start of the day, a really fresh hen fish of around 7lb which was not hanging about as you can see in the picture above and whilst we were having a chat toward the end of the day a coloured cock fish of about 5lb grabbed the fly and also made haste across the pool. Both fish took the cascade a fly which has fished tremendously well for us all season.

Kevin Earl arrived the next day but unfortunately had to cut the session short  as he had to get back home to attend to some personal business in the afternoon, but whilst he was there he fished the beat well and was unlucky not to make better contact with a fish that actually grabbed his fly twice as it came across the tail of the pool.

As I now had a spare afternoon I was determined to take full advantage of it and fished for myself a little lower down from where Kevin missed the fish and managed to hook and land a cracking hen fish of approximately 15lb (also on a cascade)which I quickly returned to the water whilst trying to make a few rapid clicks of the camera as I held the fish in the water to give it time to recover, not easy to get a good shot I can assure you as you can see by the picture on the right.

A little bit of mentoring the next day with John who was working towards his advanced trout assessment for his AAPGAI full membership and we both did a little bit of fishing at the end of the day as we had spotted a few Salmon moving through the beat as we were going over one or two things with the trout rod throughout the day but although conditions looked really good in the last hour of daylight we did not conect with any fish at all.

Unfortunately I had to miss the last day of the season as I was off to Wales for one of the AAPGAI biannual assessment events, which I din't mind really as they are very worthwhile events and a great get together with some good assessments and fantastic demonstrations on the open day. These events are most certainly going from strength to strength and this one was the best by far. If anyone is thinking of attending one of these open days I would certainly reccommend it, the next one will be held at Cockermouth on 26th March 2011 and well worth a visit whether you are simply looking for a good informative day out or you wish to learn more about the instructor route and what is involved.   Here is the link:

On returning home things are relatively quiet at the moment with the end of the Salmon season on our river and the inclement weather we have been getting with more to come, although I have been out giving a couple of tuition sessions which were very enjoyable and with the water once again running high and coloured I am now bracing myself for some good Grayling fishing once the water drops and clears again "soon I hope".

Remember Spey casting tuition with both single and double handed rods is available throughout the close season and the Grayling fishing can be phenominal when the temperature drops and the river stays at a constant level for a prolonged period of time and when I am not out with people on the river I will be out myself taking full advantage of this extension to the fly fishing season whilst fishing for these magnificent fish.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Still Catching Fish

There have been some good waters over the last week or so and some not so good with the water heights up and down like a yoyo, but when the water has been holding steady or falling and clearing, (whilst we are not seeing many fish) there have been a few good opportunities to catch a fish or two and we have taken advantage of them.

Steve Earl and Mike Donaghue were with me toward the end of last week and they were predominantly interested in the Spey casting techniques as aposed to just fishing although they did dabble a little bit toward the end of the day when their casting had most definitely improved, but despite quite a good water the fish did not oblige although to be fair to the guys they only actually fished for a very short time.

Following there successful visit last year Christian Woolfenden (above left) and John Schofield (right) arrived the next day for another two days casting tuition and fishing and once again they kept up there 100% record  with two cock Salmon of around 10lb and 5lb both of which they returned as they were a bit on the coloured side, although this did not stop them giving the lads a run for their money as they were very hard fighting fish. Well Done! 

Piaras, Conal and Ryan travelled over from N. Ireland for what was to be their second visit to the Eden with me, only to encounter mixed conditions on the river and when there are not many fish showing at a time when there should be plenty it was hard work for the lads at times.
With the water rising slightly during the first day on Warwick Hall and more rain falling with only one or two fish showing, nobody caught, although Piaras did make contact with a fish on the fly but lost it, despite the beat producing 17 fish to 26 and a half pounds the week before.

The next day we were higher up the river and fingers crossed for the water to drop, but when we got there it was still holding a fair amount of colour which did begin to clear toward the end of the day and this time it was Conal's turn to make contact with a Salmon on the fly only to lose it too, although he did catch a trout on a tube fly as a consolation prize.

The final day was to be on the lower Eden and with the rain we had encountered the previous day as well as there being three rivers below us all entering the main system I was a bit sceptical of their chances, but after checking it out the evening before I was pleasantly surprised with regard to water clarity which left me a little more optimistic and sure enough when we arrived the next day, although the water was high, the colour was good and the day produced some good sport albeit with mixed results which saw the lads hooking and loosing three fish between them, one of which looked to be a big trout but the other two definitely Salmon including a very good double figure fish which we got a good look at before it parted company and to top it off Ryan managed to hook and land two additional Salmon a cock fish and a hen fish. Nice one lads!

Since the lads returned home the water has yet again been up and down like a yoyo with some unfishable days, but as usual it is coming good again and I will be out on the river tomorrow for more of the same.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Good Salmon Catches on the River

Although I have had a few people for casting lessons over the last couple of weeks, I have also had to cancel one or two fishing sessions due to high water conditions, but when the water has been dropping and clearing there has been some very good Salmon catches throughout the system.

I even had time to do a little Salmon fishing myself on Friday 16th when I managed to land a nice cock fish of 9lb 3oz on a Rio AFS floating shooting head kit with a 5ft fast sinking tip attached and it was one I kept for the pot, not just because it was a cock fish, but because I always keep three fish per season for personal consumption and this was to be one of them. I am a great believer in conservation and when executed correctly this should be commended, but I also believe that if we are sensible when we go fishing we should not totally dismiss the hunter gatherer inside us all.

Following a casting session on Saturday 17th I managed to wet a line once more with almost the same set up as above but this time with an intermediate tip attached as opposed to a fast sinking tip and I managed to land a very fresh hen fish of around 4lb which gave an impressive account of itself for such a small fish although needless to say it was immediately returned to the water to go about its business.

The following day Angela and Derek Marshall arrived for some Spey casting tuition and Salmon fishing and since the last time I saw them their casting had really improved so with a few fish bouncing around the pool things looked very promising but despite what appeared to be a good water their efforts were not rewarded and towards the end of the day it had become apparent that the river had risen yet again which is not always conducive to good catches as you will know as well as putting many beats out of order again for the following  day.

During the week I have been involved with Borderlines the not for profit company that introduces people from all backgrounds to angling and this week we were completing a project for the schools known as the "Future Fish" project in partnership with the S&TA where we as Borderlines introduced 47 youngsters not only to angling and related topics but also to the environment and the benefits of looking after that environment for the future. What better place to do this than the river Eden which is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

"Oh" and whilst we were doing this the river was coming back into good order again ready for some more good Salmon fishing with several reports coming in of fish being caught all along the river. As all you Salmon anglers know it is not so much the height of the river that can often dictate good fishing but predominantly the colour and at the moment it is fining down nicely.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Mixed Conditions on the River

Low and high water conditions over the past week or so have afforded some mixed opportunities on the river with the middle reaches and above seeing some very difficult conditions for Salmon fishing as Andrew Hall and party found out, with some areas not even giving us a glimpse of fish, whereas David Bowe (pictured left) who was with me on the lower river saw Salmon fishing from the other extreme with at least 30 seperate fish showing in the beat throughout the day and not one tempted by the fly. In fact on more than one occasion Salmon were jumping so close to him you could have almost touched them and some good fish too. Following some tuition, David was trying Salmon fishing for the first time and after a casting session in the morning he was putting out some nice lines but unfortunately in this case the Salmon did not appreciate good casting as those of you who indulge know very well.

with the water staying relatively low upstream this did help the trout fishing and although slow at times I had John Priest with me early and mid week and as well as a few small fish and loosing a good fish he did manage to hook play and land (very skilfully I might add) a cracking fish of around two and a half pounds, which he insisted on returning to the water "well done", but not before getting a quick snap as you can see.

Phil, Lewis and Craig were with me on Saturday, initially to do some Trout fishing but unfortunately although the river was in good order when they first arrived, not long after that it began to rise and continued to do so throughout the day, but they did have the opportunity to do some Salmon fly fishing albeit for a short period before the water became too coloured at which point we concentrated more on the casting techniques that would come in handy for both Trout and Salmon fishing when conditions improved and I have to admit they were good company too.

Yesterday I was with Andrew and Ian who came to do some Salmon fishing on the lower river. With the water still running high but falling and clearing very slowly, (which incidently was almost a carbon copy of their visit last year) Ian landed a very fresh fish of around 6lb and being a hen fish it was promptly returned to the water. In their last two visits they have managed to chalk up a result of two nil in their favour. The only difference this time is that it was Ian who caught the fish whereas last time it was Andrew who landed a nice specimen of around 14lb which incidentally was also a hen fish.

Friday, 3 September 2010

The Rain Came & Went

On Friday 20th August we did get the rain that was forecast which did put the river up and coloured. This put the majority of Saturday out of order for fishing on the river although it did begin to clear higher up the river towards the end of the day with the lower river still holding plenty of colour. This was a shame because I had Alex and Yuji (originally from Japan) with me for their first taste of Salmon tuition and fishing, needless to say we dedicated the whole of Saturday to casting tuition to get them up to speed partly because of the conditions we encountered, although they did have a chance later on as the water began to slightly clear higher up the river. Sunday saw a nice water higher up the system but with no Salmon obliging, although Alex and Yugi managed a couple of good trout instead, meanwhile on the lower river although still very coloured I had reports of a few Salmon caught on spinners.

Monday and Tuesday saw Alan and Stewart Cape (Father & Son) with me for a bit of Salmon casting tuition and Trout fishing (pictured here) and following a little more heavy rain late Monday afternoon I expected the river to be up again on Tuesday morning, but not so, and the water was once again in good order on the middle river, although the majority of Salmon being caught were further down the system with some good catches.

On Thursday Martin Buss who was on holiday near Ullswater came for a days Brown trout fishing with his son Harrison and between them they caught several small fish on the fly, but the highlight of the day was when 10 year old Harrison (pictured below) played and landed his first ever Brown Trout a nice fish as you can see from the picture.

As the week progressed towards the weekend the weather turned drier and brighter and the forecast for now is for a very dry bright week which we are most certainly getting at the moment, and as you may know this is not good for the Salmon fishing at what is usually a very good time of year. That said we had some mixed chances last Sunday with Doug Douglass and his friend Mike connecting with five Salmon throughout the duration of the day but with fish taking the flies and crashing on the surface at times no fish were actually landed which was very unlucky, but it does show that they are there and willing to take the fly in the first place which is always a good sign.

I was out with Fay Larkins on Monday morning who managed to hook and loose a very nice Brown Trout which gave a good account of itself but unfortunately parted company with the angler once again. In the afternoon I fished on myself for a while and managed to land a couple of small Brown Trout and some very good Grayling on the dry fly, one of which had to easily be weighing in at around two and three quarter pounds, I don't think it would have quite made 3 pounds, but a fantastic specimen all the same. I did manage to get a photograph but it was difficult to hold it far enough away from the camera to get it all in and focussed as I was on my own and it was not behaving itself as any of you who fish for Grayling will know they are very powerfull fish in the hand and can be difficult to hold still. So although I have missed the tail of the photo you can at least get a good indication of the size of the fish from this snap.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Grilse & Salmon Numbers Building up Slowly

A mixed bag over the last week with one or two reasonable trout to around a pound and a half and Grayling to two pound, but generally a lot of small fish in this category with more Brown Trout than Grayling which has been the trend of late with the dry fly tempting the bigger fish at the moment.

This last week also saw more Grilse entering the river with a few good Salmon showing amongst them and whilst targeting these fish at the weekend we did manage to land a nice fresh Grilse of around 5lb (for the pot) and lost a very nice, very fresh Salmon of around 12-15lb which gave a very acrobatic account of itself before parting company with the fly at the 11th hour, "oh well at least we got a good look at it". With a couple of additional brief encounters with these fish they were certainly up for it and I know there were one or two others taken further up river.

The last couple of days have been away from the Salmon fishing and dedicated to casting tuition and trout fishing higher up the river with some success, however whilst putting his new casting techniques into practice, Tony (pictured here on the left) found that although he did manage at least a dozen fish, as usual the bigger fish were proving harder to tempt as the season marches on.

There are spells of heavy rain forecast over the next week so we will see how this impacts on the Salmon fishing as we draw further into the prime fishing time on the River Eden for these Silver Tourists.

Monday, 9 August 2010

The Grilse Are In

I was on the river with Fay last Wednesday who is a regular visitor to Border Game Angling. With no surface activity whatsoever we set up with two small pheasant tailed nymphs which turned out to be the business. Unfortunately the larger fish proved to be illusive but Fay did manage to catch and return 13 small Brown Trout which did keep her very busy throughout the session.

At the end of last week we held a youth event for the Carlisle Angling Association under the Borderlines banner and with some very welcome help from committee members Graeme Proud, Colin Pulmer, David Altham and George Pearson, along with some fantastic assisstance from Rebbecca and Joanne from the Eden Rivers Trust, the day was very successful with 88 youngsters attending along with other family members bringing the total attendance to well over 100. The day included fly tying, fly casting, fishing, entomology and lots of information about the environment and fishing related subjects. Hats off to the C.A.A. for sponsoring such a great day and promoting angling and the benefits it can bring to those who care to participate.

I have also been involved in many more fishing sessions with Borderlines over the last couple of weeks introducing younsters and families to fishing of all kinds on both stillwaters and rivers including the River Nith and the Border Esk which has been very rewarding.
Plenty of Spey casting tuition with the Salmon fly rods again, and as people were getting to grips with the techniques required whilst on the river Eden we saw on more than one occasion several fresh run Grilse arriving in the system at last, but up to now despite some of the guys covering the fish very well they are certainly not in a taking mood, but with the Haaf Net operators also seeing very large Grilse runs entering the estuary then it should only be a matter of time before more fish are caught.

We did get an additional small rise of water on the Eden on Saturday albeit very peaty which usually indicates that the river Eden has been influenced by one of its upstream tributaries known as the river Irthing, this can seriously effect (for a period of time until it begins to clear) the fishing downstream in a negative way, but that said, I was much higher up the river yesterday above this tributary and the water was also very peaty suggesting that at least not all of the additional water was from the Irthing alone. This certainly did make the fishing difficult though as Fay found out on her return for another Trout session with only one small fish.
I continued on Yesterday afternoon for a couple of hours on my own and despite missing a couple of offers on the nymphs and one lost fish, I did manage a nice Brown Trout of around one and a half pounds at the 11th hour on a size 14 Dry Greenwell's Glory. A nice way to end the afternoon.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Water At Last

Through the night on Saturday 10th July the river Eden rose around two foot and coloured which made Sunday 11th on the lower river unfishable which would normally be a bit disappointing, especially as I had to cancel a trout fishing session, but as we have had no significant water whatsoever for many weeks this was very welcome and gave us hope for the Salmon fishing as this water could certainly encourage fish to enter the system.

Although there were a few fish caught and a few good ones at that, as well as a few Sea Trout in places, it was not spectacular, but the water did hold it's level for a while with the upper river a good colour to fish the fly and on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 13th - 15th I enjoyed the company of Chris, Andrew and Alan who were up from Wales on a fishing holiday with me. Alan was one of a party of four that came to Norway with me on one of the Salmon trips I used to arrange with a friend in Norway. All three came into contact with Salmon on the last day but unfortunately only briefly. Chris also indulged in a bit of trout and grayling fishing with some success.

Saturday and Sunday 18th & 19th were taken up with some single and double handed fly casting tuition with Sean and Stephen (pictured here) and Monday was to be a trout fishing session but the water rose again and the day became a tuition day looking at casting and fishing techniques.

Bit of me time on 20th - 22nd July as I headed off with a friend to the Dovey in Wales for some Sea Trout fishing only to find upon arrival the river in full flood for almost the whole duration of the trip apart from the last four hours when I did manage to wet a line but to no avail, although the guy in front of me proceeded to pull out a nice Sea Trout of 8lb. As the river was out of order we were given a real treat as we were taken by our very good friend and host Illtyd Griffiths to the most beautiful lake up in the Welsh hills to fish for wild brown trout and despite the rain water which had also effected the lakes clarity we did catch (between the two of us) 15 nice wild brownies of which we kept five and returned ten. In addition to this whilst we were away the river Eden rose again approximately four to five feet which gave it the good flush through it needed for the Salmon fishing.

By Saturday the lower river Eden was still holding a bit of colour although a few fish had been caught on spinners, but the upper river was running nice with just a little colour and in the afternoon I had Jake and his young nephew Tom with me to do some Brown trout fishing, with the intension of Sea Trout fishing later on that evening until the early hours. Jake managed a couple of nice Brown trout up to just under 2lb and as for the Sea Trout fishing, he hooked two very good fish one of which parted company quite early and the second proceeded to crash about on the surface (which Sea Trout have a tendancy to do when first hooked) before it too parted company, this would be a fish of about 3 -4lb as we both got a good look at it on the surface.

Sunday saw the lower river still high but coming into good condition with the water still coloured but clearing nicely and after a short casting session with Mike and despite not seeing any fish at all I did manage to hook and land a nice fish of around 9lb on the fly which was promptly returned as it was a coloured fish likely to be a Spring fish that entered the river a while ago although it gave a very good account of itself during the fight which is often the case with a well rested fish. Several other fish have also recently been caught throughout the system with fish of around 17lb being recorded. Large Grilse runs have yet to be seen although I am sure they are on their way as they did arrive late last year.

The Brown trout fishing was also very good yesterday and I managed 14 fish on the upper river up to one and a quarter pounds on goldheads, spiders and on the dry fly as fish began to rise in the evening. I kept one for the pot.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Killyleagh & Lough Melvin

On Friday 2nd July I flew over to Ireland with three fellow instructors and very good friends, Illtyd Griffiths, Gary Champion and Karl Humphries to represent AAPGAI at the Irish International Fly Fair, a very successful event which has gone from strength to strength since it's inception in 2008. The event encorporates fly casters, fly dressers and many other angling related parties from around the world in the beautiful setting that is Killyleagh which overlooks strangford Lough. The event evolved from an environmental enhancement programme based around the local Dibney River through an organisation formed in 2007 and now known as the Dibney River Conservation Trust which does excellent work with both adults and youngsters alike to promote a better understanding of the benefits local rivers can provide to the community.

Whilst over there we met up with several friends from APGAI Ireland (Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors) many of whom are also members of AAPGAI in England who were also involved with the casting instruction at the Fly Fair.

Following the Killyleagh event I travelled from there with Jim Hoy, (a very good friend of mine and member of both AAPGAI & APGAI Ireland) 3 hours down the road to where Jim lives on the banks of Lough Melvin (literally) where I had the good fortune to spend 3 days with Jim and his lovely partner Lillian in such an idyllic setting where we fished very successfully for two species of trout known as Gillaroo and Sonaghan which are unique to Lough Melvin. Jim is the Head Water Keeper for the Southern side of the Lough and has fished Melvin most of his life which certainly showed in his ability to catch these hard fighting fish as well as being able to locate them in often changeable conditions. Anyone wishing to take a trip to Lough Melvin to fish for these fantastic creatures as well as having a chance to hook one of the many Salmon we saw jumping on the Lough, I can certainly recommend Jim who can arrange all the facilities you require for your trip. You can contact Jim on the following email address:

The Gillaroo (which comes from the Irish for Red Fellow) are generally found in the medium to shallower areas of the Lough (just offshore) as they are predominantly bottom feeders, feeding on such things as snails and caddis larvae etc and are great fighters themselves with there butter coloured bellies and deep bright red spots, but when you get hold of a good sonaghan (which generally prefer open water) which I would describe as a dark steely looking fish with black spots, long pectoral fins and a tail that is disproportionate to it's body (bigger) you soon know it, and sometimes you even think you have hooked into a grilse, as although they are not big fish they do have the tendancy to pull the rod tip under the boat. A fantastic experience and one I suggest you should try.