Friday, 16 December 2016

Festive Fishing on the Eden

Into a very good Grayling
Although we had already caught a few Grayling by the end of October, the November Grayling fishing did start a little slow as the river couldn't make it's mind up whether it wanted to rise or fall, and as you know, Grayling can be a bit fussy on unsettled water, but it also has to be said that temperatures for November have been very comfortable indeed, and this trend has certainly continued into December as the river begins to settle down. However, this doesn't mean that you don't need your warm gear, (preferably layered) or that the water isn't cold, but it does mean that if you fish in sensible short spells, the days are relatively pleasant, not always the case in December!

Now that's a proper Grayling
At this moment in time time the river is in great condition for Grayling fishing, although earlier on in the week we did have to chop and change tactics between heavy flies and light ones. Whilst on the slightly heavier water the heavy nymphs worked best as the fish hugged the river bed, but as the water receded it was the spiders once again that saved the day, in particular the Water Hen Bloa, and it also became very apparent that the better stamp of fish were more interested in this approach as shown in the picture above.

A long range catch
There has been some very sparse hatches of fly, and believe me very sparse is the phrase, however, when this does occur, it is very easy to ignore it and show preference for the heavy stuff, don't do it, because with these small hatches come small windows of opportunity when the Spiders come into their own. Give it a try!

Merry Christmas
We will be continuing to target the Eden Grayling for as long as conditions permit, which makes a pleasant change from the washed out winters we have experienced over the past couple of years, we are even experiencing short spells of sunshine. Long may it last!

In the meantime I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and all the very best for the coming 2017 season, and to those of you who are not out Grayling fishing with me in the next couple of weeks, I look forward to seeing you on the river again next year!

Monday, 31 October 2016

Exit the King Enter the Lady

Returning a hen fish (approx. 11 lb) 
With the season now over for that magnificent King of fish on the river Eden(close season 15th October - 14th January) we are now turning our attention to the Lady of the Stream, i.e. the Grayling fishing, and hopefully some consistent low water (for a change) throughout the winter months. However, although the salmon fishing continued on the slow side over the last couple of weeks, we still managed to catch a few good fish regardless, and a big thank you goes out to you all (both salmon & trout anglers alike) for some great company on the river bank this season!. 

A 9lb Cock fish for David
Don't worry, all you salmon anglers out there, as the river Eden season starts again on January 15th, (not too far off) and if the last three years are true to form, then we are once again looking forward to a good Spring run. This has previously presented us with some excellent opportunities, affording us the chance to catch some very fresh fish indeed and it will be very interesting to see if this trend continues. I for one will be keeping a close eye on this!

A recent Eden Grayling in the net
That said, now on to the Grayling fishing, and if the forecast is correct we are looking forward to some great weather over the next couple of weeks, so we can get out there and explore this exciting addition to the fly fishing season. In fact we have literally wasted no time as we have already tapped into this excellent resource as you can see from the accompanying pictures. 

An exceptional tail on this one!
Yes, as the weather becomes a little colder, (with an early morning frost or two) we look forward to some real success with heavy nymphs, fished as close to the bottom as possible, (which can be very enjoyable) but whilst conditions remain relatively nice, (and a bit warmer) which they are at the moment, then the dry fly should definitely not be overlooked, (which is often the case) or better still, north country spider patterns, anchored with a small nymph on the point can also be very effective. 

Returned to fight another day
The latter is the method we have been using recently, which in the present conditions has certainly out fished the heavy nymph approach, and in all fairness, when conditions are right and you do get the opportunity to adopt this method, it can also be very satisfying to say the least. 

As a few of you have expressed an interest in the Grayling sessions, I know we will be out again soon, trying to get a few more fish, and hopefully some more great underwater shots like the one I took above, so watch this space!

Friday, 30 September 2016

Autumn Runs slow Despite good flows

Jeff Playing a Salmon
The Autumn salmon runs definitely slowed down as we entered September, with many of the pools producing little activity apart from the odd fish showing here and there. However this did not stop us targeting them, and although the fishing was on the slow side we did manage to hook and land a few through shear persistence and determination, so well done to those successful salmon anglers I was out with as the fishing was difficult at times, despite the good water conditions.

Returning a coloured Cock fish
As well as delivering a few in depth mentoring sessions (which I always enjoy) for a couple of good friends about to take their pending instructor qualifications, I also had the good fortune to deliver some very enjoyable tuition sessions this month too, with some of the guys involved taking the opportunity to mix and match some of their current rod and line combinations with a few new purchases they had made, this is not only good fun, but it really allows you to scrutinise exactly what lines work well with what rods, ultimately giving you some great insights into the true meaning of a well balanced outfit. This can offer some real advantages to your days fishing.

Charles with a hen fish (returned)
The trout fishing, for those who continued to pursue them right up until the close season (Sept 30th on the Eden) continued in good form, and the only thing that prevented some additional good sport were those days when high waters dominated the river, but apart from that we certainly registered some good results. 

As the season runs into September, when many anglers are more focused on the salmon fishing, it is always worth carrying your trout rod in the car for those days when the salmon are just not playing ball. I always take mine!

Charles with a specimen trout too!
All in all, apart from the fact that the salmon fishing was slow for September, we certainly had some good fun on the river, with many sessions including a bit of casting, a bit of river craft, an overview of many of the fishing techniques we can apply for differing fishing situations, and some additional trout fishing when conditions were right. "Oh I almost forgot", a good bit of banter too!

A Sept trout session
Just another two weeks of the salmon season remaining now, (on the river Eden) hopefully with a little more action still to come, then we are off Grayling fishing, as we are lucky to have some quality Grayling on the river, affording us a welcome extension of our fly fishing season. So that said, given the recent downpours, which have already produced good flows for the salmon fishing, we certainly don't want too much more water in October, especially towards the end of October, as high coloured waters are not the best scenario for winter Grayling fishing. So here's hoping for some nice low clear flows (on the Eden) toward the end of October and into November, and a few relatively nice crisp days wouldn't go a miss either. "Here's hoping"!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

August flows & Summer Shows

New to fly fishing
We have been privy to some decent flows of water in August which has certainly helped the salmon fishing, not to mention the day time sea trout fishing, especially during periods when the river has been dropping off again after a significant rise of water, and when we have had steadier flows the brown trout and Grayling fishing has been doing very well too, especially the nymph fishing in the faster runs during slightly lower flows and warmer conditions when the colour has just been on the turn giving the river that slight tea stain look to it.

Paul's First Fish
The night time sea trout fishing has not been so great though, due to that touch of colour being present in the water, as many nocturnal sea trout anglers will tell you, one of the essential ingredients to the best sea trout nights include clearer waters.

However if your preference was dry fly fishing the best time has been late evening, approaching dusk, as is often the case when days are very warm and bright, thus making day time fishing a little more difficult with the dry fly, but evening sessions have been productive.

Paul's friend Phil also into a Fish
Pictured above, it was Paul's first attempt at fly fishing and after a short casting lesson in the morning, after lunch he went on to catch several brown trout on the nymph, whilst adopting some newly learnt upstream tactics in the faster water, catching his quarry directly underneath the rod tip. It didn't take him long to master the art as you can see from the picture above as he shows off his first ever Brown Trout. Well done Paul!

A very accommodating Grayling
As mentioned previously, on the few occasions when we have targeted them, the Grayling have also been compliant, especially when using beaded nymphs. I even managed to get a good underwater shot, (unfortunately in slightly coloured water) of a nice Grayling coming close to us with a silver beaded nymph just in the top lip of the fish, (click to enlarge) which made it easy to unhook whilst still in the water and we watched it swim away quite happily.

T&S Rod Test
August also presented me with a further opportunity to get involved with yet another rod test for the Trout & Salmon magazine, this time it was 14ft 9 weight double hander's we had to put through their paces, the results of which can be viewed now in the September edition of the magazine. It has to be said though, that it is very encouraging to see so many good rods on the market these days, yes it makes the test a little more difficult, but as anglers it certainly gives us a variety of options to choose from to suit our own personal budgets. Well done manufacturers!

At the Galloway Show
Lots of tuition this month, (as always) but this time with a noted increase in anglers coming for refresher sessions before heading off to Iceland for their 2016 salmon fishing fix, and with many of you heading off to rivers I have actually fished myself over there, this not only allowed me to get people up to speed with their casting, but it also afforded me a unique opportunity to be able to offer some useful advice, especially to those of you visiting Iceland for the first time, as to which flies I personally found productive and what tackle to take on your trip. These were very enjoyable sessions and although I have heard back from some of you already as to how your trips panned out, I am still looking forward to hearing from those of you who have yet to return. "Tight Lines".

Demonstrating at Lowther
With the usual Summer shows firmly in my diary I did spend two consecutive weekends away from the river this month as part of the AAPGAI and Borderlines team at both the Lowther and Galloway Shows on 13th & 14th and 20th & 21st Aug respectively. I have supported these two shows for several years now and although these weekends do take me away from the river for long periods of time, (often when the fishing is good) they also offer a great opportunity to catch up with good friends and fellow instructors, whilst at the same time giving me the chance to meet up with, and chat to, lots of like minded anglers during the casting clinics and demonstration slots. If you have never attended these shows before, why not come along next year for a chat and a cuppa, it would be great to see you there!

John into a fish on the Double Hander
With the Eden notably doing very well this year, not only for salmon in the spring, but also showing good Grilse runs in the summer, lets hope that the back end salmon run, which the river has enjoyed for many years, doesn't let us down again this year, as it didn't really materialise last year. However, given the encouraging season up to now, if they do appear again with a vengeance in September / October then I certainly envisage a bumper season yet to come. Here's hoping!

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Wet & Warm with the odd Storm

David into a fish on the lower river
Once again the weather decided to mix it up a bit in July, which in all fairness we now seem to be becoming very accustomed to, especially in recent times. We have had low water, high water, perfect water, muggy conditions, comfortable fishing conditions, Thunder and Lightening, rain, bright sunshine, strong winds, you name it, July has produced it, and although we have still been catching trout, this unsettled weather has not always produced the good trout fishing we have come to expect, but the salmon fishing has continued in good stead. 

We were beginning to see a good build up of salmon on the lower reaches for a while, with several fish being caught, however the higher water conditions gave these fish a window to travel upstream giving a better spread throughout the whole system, Unfortunately just when there was a good head of Sea Trout holding firm at the bottom end they too shifted upstream thinning catches out a little, making good catches more difficult, and given the higher water conditions we had in the third week of July this also hindered any good night fishing we may have had. However its good to see both salmon and sea trout making an appearance once again on many tides since then.

AAPGAI in N. Ireland
Unfortunately I managed to miss what turned out to be the better part of the sea trout night fishing in early July, as I made my usual pilgrimage to Killyleagh in Northern Ireland to attend the Irish International Fly Fair on behalf of AAPGAI. However, a journey well worth taking, with friends, to meet more friends. We visited the event a day earlier this year so that we could attend The Role and Formation of the Rivers Trusts in Ireland seminars, which was very interesting and worthwhile, we even got the surprise opportunity to speak under the banner of Borderlines whilst we were there.

Another enjoyable tuition session
Upon our return home, in an attempt to gain some ground back on the sea trout fishing, I had arranged (once again) to make a raid on those large welsh sea trout down on the Dovey, with yet more good friends. Ironically these very sea trout have been regularly recorded feeding around the area I had just returned from in Northern Ireland before they ultimately head off to Wales themselves!!! 

Anyway another minor set back prevented us from making any inroads into these magnificent fish, as the Dovey river had also received heavy rain and was far too high over the period we were there to do any fly fishing of note whatsoever. So as you can see, it does happen to us all at times!

The majority of the remainder of the month was based around fly fishing instruction and it was great to see some old faces returning again for a few refresher sessions as well as giving us the opportunity to address some of the more advanced techniques, it was also nice to see some new faces indulging in some great sessions too, very enjoyable!

Jeff with a nice Grilse
When water conditions dictate, the salmon fishing continues in good form on the Eden and those venturing out for this quarry are doing very well, as the river is fishing as well this year for salmon (up to know at least) as you could wish for, and better than many other rivers too. Long may it last!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

All about June!

Andrew with a Brown on the Dry
Although June remained mainly low and dry, we did have a couple of small flushes of fresh water toward the end of the Month. This certainly encouraged the salmon to become a little more active in the pools and slightly improved the trout fishing too. However, we did have to continue the searching process to find some good taking trout, but once again this did pay off at times, as long as we were prepared to move about a bit and wet a line in a few different areas than the usual hot spots. Andrew (pictured above) was definitely up for this.

Brian Returning his fish
It has to be said though, that although the water remained low in the main, Salmon and seat trout continue to enter the river on a regular basis, and are often being seen in numbers in the lower reaches, but also getting caught higher up the system too, especially following the short periods when we did have some fresh water flushing through, and guess what, those prepared to give it a try on the low water were often successful. Even I managed to catch a nice Seat trout of around 3lb on the one occasion I fished with my good friend and fellow instructor Brian Warrington, who himself managed to land a beautiful Salmon of around 12lb, which he promptly returned to the water, as you can see in the picture above.

A slippery catch
The night time Sea trout fishing has also been successful when the water has been low and clear and if conditions stay as they are, this should continue well into July, although there is some rain forecast over the next few days, so time will tell.

As part of the Borderlines team we took a group youngsters out again from a local school to try their hand at a spot of course fishing, their biggest catches were a couple of formidable eels from a local Stillwater, one of which you can see in the picture above.

Guide Fly Fishing Event
At the end of June we once again held our usual annual casting and demonstration day for members of the Carlisle Angling Association along with my good friend Jim Fearn (also an AAPGAI instructor) from Guide Fly Fishing. Jim brought along a selection of rods, reels, and lines, to the river Eden, for association members to try out on the day, offering the opportunity to those attending to ask any questions about anything fishing related whilst they were there. We also had some great discussions and explanations regarding casting styles, fishing techniques, terminal tackle, and how to improve your existing skills. Very enjoyable!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Prospecting in May

Charles returning a good Brown
May has been an interesting month with river levels the lowest we have seen them for some time, even lower than the last dry spell we had in October 2015, a total reversal of the Cumbria we experienced not so long ago. That said, we have still been catching some good trout in these low water conditions, but we have had to go prospecting for them for this to pay dividends, this was because the usual hot spots where we would expect to be catching trout at this time of year, have not been producing the amount of fish to make it viable for us to be staying in the same place for too long.

An underwater shot
The air temperatures did improve throughout May, (mainly towards the latter half of the month) but by no means were they consistent, and with persistent east winds in attendance at times, and water temperatures struggling to rise, we were forced to search for taking fish. Our main weapons during these periods were weighted nymphs, as any activity tended to be sub surface with little or no insect life around during these colder spells. However when the wind was in the South, or the West, the insect life and the fishing definitely improved, affording us several very enjoyable sessions on the dry fly, with several people, including David (pictured below) benefiting from this turn around.

David landing a fish on the Dry
The insect life did continue to improve as the Month went on, (as expected) but in the main hatches have remained relatively sparse and brief, although, on the beats we have been fishing, we have encountered some good hatches of Iron Blues which often triggered a good rise of fish, (albeit for short periods) and once again we were very successful on the dry fly at these times.

Eden Iron Blue
Iron blues have continued to draw some good trout to the surface right to the end of the month and there has also been some reasonable hatches of Grannom sedges in places too, but nothing like the amount we often encounter at this time of year, that said, even when they have been in attendance, the trout have not been that interested in them, (either above or below the surface) although the nymph has been the better option on these occasions. This has also been the case when there has been concentrated groups of Large Brook spinners in attendance, during which times the Pheasant Tailed Nymph (PTN) has saved the day.

Eden Large Brook Spinner
Despite the low water conditions there has been a good number of salmon caught this month, on a variety of beats up and down the river, and given that the majority of the sessions we have been doing have mainly covered casting tuition and trout fishing, the small number of people I have had out with me for salmon have been seeing fish rolling in the pools in front of them, (not always obliging I might add) however, this is always encouraging, and in the few salmon sessions we did do, one fish was lost and one caught, both on small flies. Jeff Jones (pictured below).had a very nice fresh little fish quite high up the river on low clear water, and it certainly gave a good account of itself.

Jeff Jones with a fresh little salmon
Towards the end of the Month we held two junior days under the Borderlines banner. Day one for a local youth station, (coarse fishing) to give the youngsters an insight into a different aspect of angling, which I must admit they got to grips with quite quickly as they proceeded to catch around one hundred fish throughout the session.

A young prize winner
Day two was a youth fly fishing day organised by Penrith Angling Association and run by Borderlines. The day included a range of activities such as: Safety, Fish Biology, Entomology, Knots, Casting, Fishing and a quiz at the end of the day to determine how much the youngsters had learned. The objective of this particular day was to give the youngsters a brief taste of the many things attached to going fishing, including environmental issues, conservation and the fact that its not just all about catching fish. At the end of the day all the youngsters received certificates of attendance, fishing magazines and local angling information in the form of handouts.

The Coarse fishing event
30 youngsters in all attended the two days and a great time was had by everyone involved. There are more days in the planning for Borderlines in 2016 as the Borderlines team continue in their to attempt to introduce as many youngsters to the benefits of angling as possible. The young man in the picture (below left) celebrated the day with his first ever fish.

15 Switch Rods on Test
We rounded up the Month with another rod test for the Trout & Salmon magazine, this time we tested the merits of 15 switch rods, and given the quality of many of the rods on test it certainly turned out to be a very difficult, but interesting and enjoyable test, held on the lower Eden, the results of which can be seen in the August edition of the magazine. If you get the chance to read it, I hope you all find it interesting and informative.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

All Weather Fishing

John with one on the Dry
I can honestly say that not only did April throw just about everything at us it could, in the weather spectrum, it also did it on a regular basis and often all in one day too. Just when you thought it was about to warm up it turned extremely cold again, with hail stones, snow, rain, and a bit of sunshine thrown in for good measure. These constantly fluctuating temperatures really contributed to slowing the trout fishing down, encouraging the very sparse hatches we experienced in March to continue into April, a month that has historically seen some very good trout fishing on the Eden.

Allan on the Goldhead
What is encouraging though, is that towards the end of the month we saw the beginnings of a little more interest in the dry fly, not all the time, but on more occasions than we have seen of late, which is always a good indicator of a change on the horizon. So with May looming and temperatures set to rise, (hopefully more consistently) we should be looking forward to a little more insect life and subsequently a bit more surface activity for some of that excellent dry fly and spider fishing we have come to look forward to at this time of year.

Caught on Camera in the Air
As mentioned above, the very sparse hatches we encountered throughout April consisted of: the odd March Brown, a scattering of intermittent Large Dark Olives, a few Large Stoneflies and a small amount of caddis, (which only started to appear around the third week of April). However the significant observation here is that fly numbers were negligible in comparison to what we have experienced in previous years, so lets hope May temperatures trigger an increase in this area.

Despite the slow start to the trout season, it's not all been dour fishing though, as we have been picking away at them day by day, with some of the anglers I have had out with me certainly having some degree of success, and to catch a few fish in these difficult conditions can be very satisfying indeed as you can see from the accompanying pictures.

Tony adjusting the drag (Spiders)
The majority of anglers I have had out thus far have either come along for tuition, trout fishing, or both, but I have to say, the die hard salmon anglers who continue to visit the river annually, for their spring fishing fix, are steadily increasing their catches, with good numbers of fish being caught and returned to the river on many of the beats, both lower down and higher up the system, many of the beat return books are testament to this, with some anglers catching several fish to their own rod and many double figure fish turning up on the return sheets. Good to see!

Safe in the Net
Finally, possibly in anticipation of a better Month, I am set to be very busy in May with only a few remaining available dates in my diary, so here's hoping that May doesn't let us down and therefore continues to be the productive Month we have all become accustomed to in previous years. Let's go fishing!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Working Towards April

A bit of Landscape Gardening
Several casting sessions this month in preparation for the new season, although there has also been several salmon caught on the river too by the few anglers who have braved the elements and ventured out. I have also been busy in preparation for the new season, but not in a fishing capacity, more in a bank side maintenance capacity following the recent flooding events which battered many of the access points along the river. As you can see from the pictures we are eventually getting there at last!

Better Access to the River
The trout season started slow, with small intermittent hatches of Large Dark Olives appearing from time to time on many of the beats along the river, but only for very short periods, which is often the case early in the season. Large Stoneflies have also been hatching out, with very little interest from the trout (again not uncommon). 

Temperatures have generally erred on the cold side throughout March, (apart from the odd day) so the best approach has been weighted nymphs, allowing you to get your offerings down to the fish, however, apart from the odd fish they still haven't been showing a great deal of interest.

A Brave Attempt in Bitter Conditions
This was apparent again on a recent outing, following a casting session on the river with John Dunn, (pictured right) as he also decided to give the fishing a go, in very bitter conditions I might add, and although he did have three offers to the heavier nymphs from his box they were certainly not so keen to nail the fly with any meaning whatsoever, not surprising given the conditions!

So on to April, and apart from the usual casting sessions in the diary, there are also a few of you who have now decided to venture forth and do a bit of tuition and fishing with me, which I am very much looking forward to, as this will also give me the opportunity to catch up with some of you in the new season. See you soon!

Monday, 29 February 2016

River Was in Good Order "Not Now"

Illtyd Griffiths AAPGAI (at the BFFI)
Although at times the weather was bitterly cold, there was still a good turn out in mid February at the British Fly Fair, and with the AAPGAI team on hand to offer a wide variety of demonstrations, and answer a range of questions, a good time was had by all. One of the best turn outs I have seen for a long time, long may it last.

We have had a few more very cold days too during tuition sessions on the river towards the end of this month, but if well wrapped up this has not been a problem and whilst watching the river slowly falling back into good order again I was set to do some serious fishing with people this coming weekend.

Only two weeks to go!
However on the last day of February the rain returned yet again, (and the forecast also gave the possibility of snow) this recent rain has put the rivers up once more, scuppering any plans for short term fishing, that said, conditions are supposed to improve towards the end of the week, at which time I am hoping for a spot of fishing, either this weekend, or throughout the following week. Looking ahead though, further improvements in the weather is on the cards and March looks very promising, ("bring it on") which bodes very well for the start of the Trout season in two weeks time on March 15th.

Forecast set to improve
Tuition sessions are generally not a problem in high water, as we can usually find somewhere to get in the river, but for those of you who have been waiting to attach some fishing to those sessions it seems as though we have been waiting forever for the river to come back into some kind of order again, anyway no doubt it eventually will, at which time I look forward to getting some of you out with me on the river again very soon. "Tight Lines".