Wild trout season closer

September 27, 2018 at 11:17 pm

Despite commitments all this week, I was able to take advantage of late September sunshine for a last chance trout, from my syndicate trout stream. Despite days of rain over the weekend, the river was licking over the stones, when I arrived late in the afternoon, clumps of ranunculus weed exposed on the gravel runs.

Walking down to a once productive S bend, I got into the river to wade up through the shallows toward the upper pool, seeing the tell-tale V from a fish that had been browsing the shallows, watching it dart back into the deeper water.

Leaving my van in a layby, I had stopped to look up and down the river, searching for signs of rising fish, but despite the air being full of wheeling Daddy Long Legs, or Crane Flies for the educated among us, there was zero surface activity. Keeping my rod set up in the garage, has the advantage of more fishing time on the bank, the van allowing rod and landing net to be ready for action.

The size 18 copper headed nymph would do to start. If the Crane Flies began scudding across the surface raising a few fish, it would be an easy swap.

Heavy vegetation growth at the edges, was compensating for the lack of water, speeding up the flow as it was funneled toward the shallows and I made a series of casts, moving steadily upstream, as the nymph fished deeper water, lifting it clear of the gravel to keep it bouncing along the bottom.

Ten minutes into the exercise, the leader held for a second, then dropped back, only to veer off to the right. The sharp upward lift of my rod was automatic and a silver flash broke the surface, then dived back to the pool for a short lived tumbling fight, before racing off downstream into the shallows for a more equal battle, a nice dace skimming on its side over the rapids, straight to my hand.

Holding this dace still for a photo, said it all about the strength of dace, size for size they beat many other coarse fish in the power stakes.

Crane flies were launching off from the grass banks of the river, some dipping the water as the fought to gain height, but no fish responded to this easy meal and I continued working my way upstream, keeping in close to the bank and fishing the nymph out and up in a continual search of the bottom.

Casting alongside fronds of sunken weed, the leader stopped. Raising the rod to clear the obstacle, there was a boil as the line shot forward and another silver flash clattered across the surface, pulling the rod tip down. This was no dace, although small, it arrowed upstream into the deeper water, the 7 foot rod bending to the butt, before springing a silver trout to the surface in a shower of spray. Quickly netting the fish, its purple sheen made me think that it was a young rainbow, but the large dark spots said brown trout.

This was the last fish of the evening and the 2018 river trout fishing season for me,  a season that has continued the steady decline of a once fine wild trout stream. This two year old wild brown trout is evidence in itself, that the species can self generate, although it must be looked upon as a rare survivor.

 

Trout from the jungle

September 9, 2018 at 8:01 pm

Following up on a recent visit to my syndicate trout stream, I was back again for more punishment this week. The farmer has enclosed the river in electrified fences to keep his cattle out of the river, which in turn has made fishing from the banks extremely difficult and often painful, as I found out, when the aluminium handle of my landing net made contact with the wire, while trying to stand on the thin strip of bank between the river and the fence. The intermittent shock ran up my arm, leaving me with the feeling, that I had been hit on the left elbow by a hammer. Not pleasant, when stalking a visible trout. Add to this the untended banks and overhanging trees, that require cautious and accurate casting to avoid snagging the fly. Summer working parties were promised by the bailiffs, but never arranged.

This is a typical, once productive series of pools, that is now unfishable with a fly rod. An hour with a brushcutter would transform this bank. Wading my way through this jungle, I found the room to cast, seeing the leader jag upstream and struck, dragging a minnow clear of the water.

A few more casts and the same result, another minnow. That pool could once be relied upon to produce a few dace, maybe a chub and even a trout, but now it seems to be minnow alley. I moved on.

Wading up through shallows, I made casts toward the tail of this pool, where in low water I have often had a trout. A sharp tug saw an instant response, but the nymph flew back into trees behind me. I was able to pull the branch down with my landing net and retrieve the nymph. Moving further into the pool, I searched the area with the size 18 copper headed spider, inducing movement, lifting and dropping the rod top as I brought the line back. The line went solid and a flash of gold ahead signaled a brown trout beginning an explosive fight in the clear water, as it dived for roots. It was not big, but having been catching roach of the same size recently, more powerful by far. My net was ready as it ran round the tail of the pool and I scooped it up.

A true wild brown trout of about 10 inches long, a rare sight these days on the river. The hook had dropped out in the net, being just in the tip of the nose, the trout probably activated more by curiosity, than hunger. Stepping back into the trees, I held the trout upstream in the shallows, until it kicked away.

With confidence boosted, I made my way downstream again, intending to work my way up through a section not fished this year, but found the river choked by reeds.

I continued upstream again, until I reached the pool where last time I had three perch, but this time the total was one small perch lost as I lifted off. Upstream, between the trees, a trout was rising noisily, splashing at unseen flies. Wading beyond my waist, may have got me within casting range, but the chances of extracting what seemed to be a very large fish from among the roots and fallen branches seemed very remote and I climbed back out. From the stile, I could look down into the deep pool, but the trout failed to perform, invisible in the shadows.

Time was getting on and a final dabble in a fast flowing run-off saw the leader stop and I lifted a small dace clear of the river. Close to the road, a pound plus brown waited in the stream for offers of food and I negotiated the electric fence in an attempt to make a cast, getting an electric shock and catching my line in an overhanging clump of vegetation. This is where I came in. The trout swam to safer water and I went home. Time is running out on the season. Last year I had 18 trout, compared to only a few this.

 

 

 

 

Low water trout stream rare visit

August 26, 2018 at 6:12 pm

It is months since the last visit to my local syndicate trout stream, a Mayfly imitation still attached to the line, from when I had left the fly rod leaning against the wall of the garage. The heat wave, plus almost total enclosure by the farmer of the river with electric fences and barbed wire, did not inspire me to bother with the ten miles drive, while more rewarding coarse fishing was available on my doorstep.

With only six weeks of the trout fishing season left, I had not had my money’s worth out of the river this year and with an afternoon free, loaded my waders and fly gear into the van. Recent rain would have increased the flow and I was quite optimistic that a few trout might be rising. Parking the van, first impressions were not good, an electrified fence stretching across the opening for the gate. Treading the wire down with my waders to enter the field, I could see the fence ran along the top of the bank for 300 yards to the next gate, making fishing from the bank impossible, passing under, or over the wire, leaving less than a foot, or two to stand on. Stealth would not be possible on this once productive beat. This field was always used for arable crops, the bank being open, but the farm has switched to beef production, the fence to keep the young bullocks from falling from the steep banks into the river.

Through the next gate, there was more barbed wire along the high bank, before I reached the cattle drink, where the cattle can pass between fields. Above this point is a long pool, from which I circled well away from the bank, as fish often lie in the shallow water close to the opposite side. Entering the water from the gravel dam, there were no signs of rising fish upstream of me and I tied on a size 18 Copper Head Spider to bounce along the bottom of the pool.

Casting up and across to a drainage pipe, the line set in a bow as it drifted down. Lifting off there was a tap on the line. Missed it. Probably a small dace. I cast again, even a dace would do to start my session. Lifting off, tap, tap, strike! The rod doubled over as a good trout gyrated around the pool on a tight line, throwing up spray. I thought it was beaten, but one look at the landing net, sent the trout off upstream toward tree roots, pulling the rod down and the small barbless hook free. Curses.

At least there are still a few trout in here. Wading in further, I cast up among the trees. Tap, tap. Missed it. In again, another tap. Strike. A tiny chub had taken the spider.

Time to move. Continuing down, over a stile, I entered a cattle free zone in the copse, the banks lined with Himalayan Balsam. When I first joined the syndicate, the bailiffs used to organise balsam pulling sessions, the members keen to help keep the banks clear, but now with the membership in decline, the upkeep of the river too has spiralled down. Clearing my way through the tall, sweet smelling plants, I reached a point where I could get down into the river, wading up to a deep pool named Dead Cert, where once an hour spent fishing into the trees, would usually be rewarded by a trout, or two, plus big dace and chub.

Casting into the deeper water to my left produced nothing from where trout and dace would often lie and I continued slowly up above the hop bush over the river. From here I could cast among the roots of the trees, allowing the spider to drift back to my position. With the leader greased to within two feet of the fly, I watched for any movements. It slid sideways and I lifted feeling the weight of a small fish. Definitely not a trout, hugging the bottom, a perch popped up on the surface.

Oh well, at least something was working. With a cold wind blowing, there was no surface activity, or any sign of rising fish, I stuck to working the pool with the nymph, another slow pull on the leader, putting a bend in the rod, a bigger perch coming to the net.

A couple more casts and the line straightened again with yet another perch, that dived deep on its initial run, then gave up the fight, drifting back to the net.

There was probably a shoal of stripies down there, but I was here for trout and headed back over the stile, trying my luck in various pools on the way back without a touch, ending up at the cattle drink. It was now spitting with rain, but sheltering beneath a tree, I covered the pool, another sharp take meeting resistance as a small dace took the nymph.

The rain was increasing and I made a break back to the van, passing again the electrified fences and barbed wire, this once delightful little fishery now resembling a prison camp. That lost trout has raised my hopes for more to come this season. At least it had not been a complete blank.

 

 

Mayfly trout stream washout

June 3, 2018 at 10:36 pm

Thunderstorms were forecast across southern England this week on the first day of my three allotted syndicate days, but when none had arrived by lunch time, I took a chance and headed west, hoping to find the mayfly still being gorged by trout. Leaving home it was hot humid sunshine, but the nearer to the river I got, the darker it became. I decided to walk halfway down the river, to then wade back, but a look at the sky told me that I was on borrowed time.

Nothing stirred, my hoped for mayfly were missing, as a massive black cloud moved across from the south. I pushed on downstream, looking for trout among the weed beds. The heat in my waders was building and sweat was dripping down my neck, then as the sun came out, my polaroids began to steam up. I took them off and continued downstream, where a few mayfly had begun to lift off. All was not lost.

Entering the river was a relief, the cooling water having the desired effect of clearing my heat daze and rounding a bend, a rise beckoned me upstream. There was plenty of room to cast and with no wind, the line dropped ahead of another splashy rise. Ignored, I cast the small white mayfly again, watching it disappear in a ripple, tightening the line into a small wild brown that darted left and right, before dropping off as I lifted it from the water toward my hand. Once cursed by these small trout, I now welcome every one as a sign of the river’s recovery. Further up, another rise encouraged me to work the water a yard at a time, in the hope of raising another fish.

 

 

Then the rain started, just a few drops at first, then a cloudburst as a clap of thunder echoed across the pasture. I waded back down to the cover of an alder, tying on an unweighted flash back Hares Ear, while I waited for the shower to pass. This has proved a good alternative to a winged mayfly in the past, greased with floatant, it sits in the surface film like an emerging mayfly nymph. Soon it was dryer out in the diminishing rain, than under the tree, as heavy droplets fell from the leaves. Once again nothing was showing, just the occasional mayfly shaking free from the bankside vegetation, that skidded across the surface.

Again I prospected for takes along this fast shallow section, pausing to concentrate on a deeper glide of gravel and crowsfoot weed. I did not see the nymph sucked from the surface, only to react to the line shooting forward, feeling the surge of a good fish, as it stood on its tail to erupt on the surface. A brief run upstream bent the rod to the water, it springing back as the trout turned, running down behind me. My longhandled net was not to hand and holding my rod high, tried to steer the thrashing fish down toward it. Second sweep, the silver trout was in the net.

This had been an epic battle, controlled by the trout, with me on catch up trying to take the upper hand, expecting the barbless hook to come free at anytime.

No sooner had I unhooked the fish and held it upstream to recover, than the rain began in earnest, getting heavier by the second. With a peaked cap, jacket and chest waders it was bearable, but the river was being hammered and it was not a difficult decision to call it quits.

By the time I had returned to the road, my jacket and shirt were soaked through, but this time the waders held in the warmth from my lower body. While putting my rod away, another member came trudging up the other side of the river, he too had taken a chance with the weather and lost. As we talked, the clouds parted and bright sunshine beamed down, a signal for the mayfly to hatch, that persuaded my companion to pick up his rod and head upstream for some more punishment, while I headed for home.

 

Trout stream hots up at last

May 20, 2018 at 5:53 pm

Reports of a few fish being taken on mayfly, saw me arrive with some optimism at my syndicate trout stream this week. A continued dry spell had warmed everything up, causing shoots to sprout with avengeance, the trees now full of summer foliage, while the adjacent fields were getting an early hair cut, as a tractor cut fresh grass for hay making.

A few mayfly were lifting off as I walked downstream looking for rising fish, but had to travel half a mile before a ripple from the bank below me indicated a feeding trout. I crept past and waited, Yes, another discrete rise sending out a ripple.

Having seen a white mayfly drift down to be ungulfed by the as yet unknown fish, I searched through my artificials and found a small bodied version to tie on. During winter work parties, we had removed many of the small overhanging saplings, to allow casting along this bank and keeping the rod flat to avoid overhead branches, tried to get close to the fish. Naturals were coming down steadily now and the trout was moving around taking two or three at a sitting, then moving back to the edge. Waiting for a lull, I flicked the fly close to the bank and the fly was gone, lifting into a good trout that ran to down my right toward some weed. Keeping a tight line, I let the 7 foot, 3 weight rod do the all the work, as it bent double. I wanted this fish, but did not want to give it line. Last week I had done just that and lost one. From high on the bank, I had a good view of the fight, waiting for it to slow down showing its flank, before pulling it across to my extended landing net.

The fly was well hooked inside the top of the mouth, but pushed out with forceps, an 18 inch overwintered stockie. Held upstream for a few minutes, it soon recovered to swim free.

I had been waiting for a decent trout since the start of the season and encouraged, decided to walk further down to the confluence of a smaller river. This was coloured and turned back and entered the river a few yards upstream. I do not usually venture this far, but the river here has character, rushing over stones and deep pockets.

With trees behind and above me, casting was not easy, but there were rises to my right in the fast water and cast the mayfly to the spot. The mayfly was ignored, while smaller flies were still being taken. I tied on a size 16 deer hair sedge, ideal for this rough water and recast. It ran down 18 inches then, splosh, the fly was taken by a juvenile trout, which launched into the air and came off. Others were still rising and a positive take made sure of another small wildie, that zig zagged about putting a bend in the rod.

The mayfly hatch seemed to be over, but plenty of smaller flies were being taken, as I waded up round the bend away from the trees, allowing me to cast at will to at least a dozen fish in the next 50 yards. This is what I joined the syndicate for, freestyle fishing, reading the water and always watching for a better fish. On a welsh stream these small browns are the norm, but here I have had some much better fish emerge from the depths in the past. Wading up a bit at a time, most rises were covered, some reached my hand, others shed the barbless hook, the best of about 8 oz, slipping through my fingers as I attempted a photo. A very pretty fish.

Reaching overhanging alders, I had seen an occasional rise and watched as a mayfly drifted into range, seeing the red spots of a trout as it took. Edging closer, the white mayfly was again tied on and I tried a cross body cast, up and across to it. At last I got it right, a foot from the opposite bank the fly drifted down. A splash and it was gone. There was too much slack, I missed it. Not to worry, I’ll be back next week, the mayfly should then be ready for Duffer’s Fortnight”

Urban trout river confidence booster

May 9, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Following my inability to catch trout on my syndicate trout river, I drove this week to the urban, roadside trout river 15 miles north of my home, just to prove to myself that I could still catch on the fly.

Parking in a residential road, I walked upstream from the bridge to a green above a bus stop, where a cloud of tiny flies were hovering above the surface, being mopped up by waiting trout.

The river here is clear, and I watched a dozen trout of various sizes rising to the minute flies. Impossible to match, probably needing a size 24 hook, I tied on a size 16 Sedge and waited for an individual trout to rise. My first cast to a better fish was intercepted immediately by a fingerling that gyrated off the hook, but not before it had spooked my target trout. Drying off the fly and applying some more floatant, I kept lookout for another substantial rise, seeing a trout dive back to the cover of a weed bed. A few casts later, I got it right, the trout rose and dived back again as the hook was set in a fountain of spray set off by the cartwheeling trout. Not big, maybe over half a pound, but still putting a good bend in the rod, the brownie rushed from bank to bank, until on its side ready for the landing net.

A beautiful wild brown trout, I was sorry to see that it had been marked by the line, while twisting in the landing net. Unhooked in the net, I carried the trout back to the water holding it upstream, until it swam off. Working up toward the overhanging laurel, I hooked and swung in a parr of 6 inches, that had again made a splashy take for the fly intended for a better fish. False casting got the Sedge floating again ready for another target trout. The smaller fish were attacking the soup of small flies, while their elders were looking for something bigger to eat. A successful cast and the fly was swallowed down by a larger rod bender, that fought hard along the opposite bank, before coming to the net.

This fat wild trout was soon returned to swim again, followed up by yet another junior cousin from under a tree on the far side. I then noticed a hatch of Mayfly skimming off the surface, one being taken with a plop. I did not think that Mayfly would be on the menu today and had none with me, but a search through the flybox found a size 14 Yellow Humpy, a big bouyant fly of Mayfly proportions. First cast saw a take that lifted a four ounce fish clear of the river, before dropping off. Next, I watched a broad back rise over the fly and struck, hitting into solid resistance, while the trout sat there shaking its head, before charging upstream beneath the laurel with me in hot pursuit, landing net in hand. Keeping the rod low, I began to retrieve against the reel bringing the pound brownie over to my side, only to give line again as it ran along the edge. This was the trout’s last gasp and it rolled over and drifted back to my net.

Facing toward the sun, the reflection of this silvery brownie washed out the bright red spots along its flanks, but it was a fine fish all the same and quickly returned was the best fish so far. At this point the rises stopped, somewhere upstream a lawn was being cut along the river and grass cuttings began to cover the surface. This was my cue to walk back down to the bottom of the stretch, where the river curves away through trees and behind gardens.

Following the river back upstream, the grass cuttings were beginning to clear and a few trout had started to show again, but here there are trees spaced along the bank; also being open, the wind was gusting making casting difficult. Excuses, excuses. The line was being dragged away down stream each time, giving only seconds before it had to be lifted off and cast again. A fish rose two thirds across and I made the cast, getting an instant response that saw a 6 oz brownie jump clear of the water, these well fed trout fighting all the way to the net.

The time was fast approaching 5 pm and every man and his dog would soon be out on the roads going home from work, two hours had flown by and I had proved to myself that it is the syndicate river that is at fault, not me.

Trout river warms up

May 8, 2018 at 11:45 am

The on-off nature of spring this year threw another switch this week into full on summer, single figure temperatures on Monday had climbed into the low twenties by Thursday. A casual sunshine walk in a local bluebell wood with my wife, saw us mobbed by swarms of some of the fattest hawthorn flies that I had ever seen, prompting the question, “Is it ok if I go flyfishing this afternoon?” Hawthorn flies being blown onto my syndicate trout stream have the same effect as the later Mayfly hatch, the trout begin to look to the surface for their food supply.

The sunshine would allow my wife to happily work in the garden, while I optimistically headed off to the river in search of rising trout. Reports were still bad for the river, with only a few small wild trout being caught, but I headed downstream to my own hot spot on an S bend, where I had taken many early season fish in the past.

The nature of the bend had changed since last year, tractors fording the shallows had shifted much of the gravel downstream, creating a rapid shallow straight, that seemed devoid of its previous trout holding pockets. Wading up the straight into the main bend brought no response to my small gold head Hares Ear nymph. This is where I used to be troubled by dace and small browns. Not today. Already I could feel my doubts creeping back about the state of the river. The next half our brought no takes, not even a dace, or chub. I consoled myself that the lack of apparent fly life was the cause and headed back to the road to drive to the wooded mid section of the river.

Two weeks ago it was still winter along this riverside path, now higher temperatures have brought a transformation, wild garlic is filling the air with a heady scent and bluebells are opening out beneath a fresh green canopy. Even a cuckoo was heralding summer as it passed slowly through the wood. Surely this was a good sign?

The river was criss crossed by flies of all sizes, delicate caddis were emerging, while big alders were scudding around the margins, but there were no rises to be seen. I decided to walk down to another once productive pool and work my way back. I stopped in my tracks. A good size fish was rising steadily as I rounded a bend, passing below it to enter the river and wading within casting range. The trout was lying in a depression of a fast stickle, invisible from where I was, a swirl the only indication, as it launched itself at the passing food items. It may have been emerging flies and nymphs, I could not tell and tried my luck with the gold head, which was ignored.

Opening my fly box, an unweighted Black Devil said try me, the trout continuing to rise as I fumbled tying the knot. This midge like nymph has been an early season winner for me and once again cast well above the trout for it to drift by in the twisting current. A boil and a stabbing take. I, or the trout missed it. I continued to cast, it did not rise again. Time to retrace my steps and continue down.

The were no more rising fish and having crossed the river, walked up along the pasture side opposite the wood. In the sunshine, hawthorn flies were involved in courtship dances, some very large specimens among them. There was little breeze and even less chance of them being blown onto the surface, but tied on a size 14 bushy imitation and made casts to imagined trout on my way upstream.

Getting back into the water below where the rising trout had been, I approached with caution from around a bend. There were no rises, but greased the fly up for another try. With a high bank to my side and a tree overhanging on the other bank, casting was not easy. Being right handed, I had to make a flat cast across my chest. It looked awkward, but worked and the big fly floated high among the ripples in the hope of shocking the trout into a take. The shock came after several casts, a flash of gold and the straightening line beneath my bending rod top, being the automatic reaction to the pound plus trout appearing like magic to snatch the Hawthorn from the surface.

This is where I should say that with skill, the trout was played to a standstill, but no such luck, the trout on a tight line, spun and skated across the surface at my feet, until I had the presence of mind to release the reel giving line. Now I stood a chance of the upper hand, as it screamed off line heading upstream like a torpedo. Before I could think “A decent trout at last” it turned and came off. All over in seconds, shock, panic, elation and deflation. That’s fishing.

I continued back upstream, crossing the river again to avoid a field of curious young bullocks, making the occasional cast with the Hawthorn. There were no more rises. Maybe next week will be better?

 

Trout stream begins to wake up

April 24, 2018 at 10:31 am

Spring shook off its winter chill with a shift of wind from the south and clear skies, that saw temperatures in the high twenties, which had BBQs across the land dusted off and fired up, but I was making plans for a visit to my syndicate trout stream, shielding my eyes from the evening sun, as I headed west.

Arriving after 7 pm, the air was full of flies, but there were no signs of rising trout as I searched known holding areas for fish. Although running high and fast, the river was clear, which gave me some heart to keep casting the gold head Hare’s Ear nymph, expecting at any moment the sudden movement of the leader, that would indicate a take.

Continuing down the bank I almost trod on a well pecked perch of about 12 oz. Could have been a mink, or heron kill. Shame. With mink, heron and crayfish in abundance, fish have an uphill struggle to survive. Twenty years ago the occasional trout taken by a heron would not have been missed, but now invasive species thrive. We are fortunate that there are no cormorants on the river.

Having drawn a blank at another once productive pool, I continued down and saw a rise in a back eddy close to the bank. At last a fish. I didn’t care if it was a dace, chub, or trout, something had risen to one of the many flies lifting off. There was hope yet. I circled away from the bank to come up from behind and waited for a repeat performance. Nothing. This pool has provided three or four trout in a single visit before, but now, as I worked the nymph up the river my enthusiasm waned again. The light was going and returned back to the van seeing no other rises.

Two days later the warm weather had continued and I was back at 5 pm, intending to fish upstream of the road. While pulling on my waders, I saw another syndicate member plodding his way back to the road and waited to pick his brains. It was Richard, who had fished two miles down and back again, most of it wading. He looked shattered. His report was no rising fish, but four trout lost, one chub and a ten inch wild brown, all taken on gold head nymphs. He had a picture of the trout and it looked fat and healthy.

The river looked perfect as I waded up from the bridge, the gravel was clean and bright, offering plenty of deep runs and eddies to cast my gold head Hares Ear into. A black cloud was gathering to my left and brief showers swept across the river, but I continued my routine, wade a yard, cast ten yards, watching the greased leader come back on the retrieve. A few more casts to cover the water in front of me, then wade again. The leader shot upstream! Missed it. My heart jumped. That was a take! Recast to the spot. Nothing. Further up, last year a work party had constructed a water deflector using willow, which was now rooted and sprouting. A deep run had been cut in the gravel by the force of the river and I cast to the side of it. The leader jerked upstream and my rod bent into a fish, not a big one, but the gold flash ahead said it was a trout. It cartwheeled across the surface, then rushed down below me. Only ounces, it powered away, bending the rod until in the net.

More powerful than a roach twice its size, trout like this are proof that the river has the ability to regenerate itself, despite some of the perils that it has faced in recent years, drought, nitrates, predation and poaching. The syndicate have a set program of river improvements and weed planting, that we hope will return it to the form of just a few years ago.

To the west the sun was still bright, but to the south that cloud was drawing closer and a heavy shower forced me from the river back to the road. A rainbow stood out against against the cloud. If I had been a photographer and not a wet angler, I would have paused for that classic shot, but then who but an angler would have there anyway?

 

Trout stream shows promise

April 6, 2018 at 7:23 pm

A few days of warm dry weather, saw the flood level dropping on my syndicate trout stream this week, but with heavy showers forecast to follow, it was now or never and I loaded up the van for my first visit to the Hampshire river today.

Just two weeks ago I stood at this spot and watched a snow blizzard blowing horizontally across the river. Spring is creeping into gear, but two days of temperatures in the low doubles is not going to make much difference.

The river was still carrying surplus water, but the gravel was clean under my waders as I worked my way upstream to a favourite pool, watching the line for tell tale movement, as my gold head Hares Ear bounced along the bottom back toward me. This pool and the one above have given me some early season sport in the past, but today nothing was happening.

More swirling water, the expected Grannom flies swarming just above the surface absent, as I cast the gold head nymph to all the likely and not so like spots on the river. Looking down the gravel was clean, washed by regular flood water this winter. A good sign for fly life hatches later on.

Once again no sign of a take, but it was good therapy just standing in the flow pushing the fly line out with my 7 foot No 3 weight rod, against a gusting downstream wind.

Further down I met three of the syndicate’s bailiffs, trying to catch up on cancelled work parties, cutting out trees to form more flow deflectors to be put in place later in the year, when the levels drop back further. Talk was of more fish to be stocked and weed to be sourced to provide a better habitat.

It is early days yet, spring may be late with no sign of fly life, but nature has a habit of making up for lost time. Another two weeks could see a trout rising at every corner. As anglers we live in hope of better days.

A true wild brown trout taken on an early season visit a few years ago, when this little river was full of surprises.

Trout stream work party blizzard

March 19, 2018 at 9:57 am

When the early March work party was cancelled on my syndicate trout stream, due to the Beast from the East snowstorms, another was booked for the  middle of the month. In that time snow turned to rain threatening the work party with flooding, but the river levels were subsiding again and work on another flow deflector was planned for this weekend. Then the Beast from the East 2 was forecast to sweep across southern England during Friday night with travel warnings in place.

Rising early, there was no sign of snow, the forecasters had got it wrong again. Checking my email, Facebook and phone texts, there were no cancellations, so with tools loaded, set off on the fifteen mile drive to the river, arriving to find myself alone in the car park. Sipping a cup of tea from my flask, I was aware of wisps of snow fluttering down on a freshening wind. I would wait another five minutes, then return home. The crunch of tyres on gravel was welcome, as bailiff Kevin’s 4 wheel drive pulled alongside. A sick list of flu victims, meant that it would be just the two of us, not enough labour for the intended task, but weather permitting, we could tidy the upstream bank for the start of the fly fishing season in two weeks time.

Fly fishing in two weeks time! As if it had been waiting for us to step through the gate, a full on blizzard blasted horizontally across the river in defiance of our intentions. The best antidote to the cold is hard work and we made our way upstream, cutting back old and new growth, folding saplings down into the water to create summer cover.

Madness, or what? At the weir on the upper boundary of the fishery, we called it a day, the snow had beaten us into submission. It was settling and who knew what the road conditions would be on the eastward drive home?

Back at the farm, green had already turned to white, transforming the landscape. Walking to the cars, the open exhaust of a motorbike broke the silence, standing still as the farmer’s son, grinning from ear to ear, gunned his machine over the farm bridge toward the wooded hill beyond. We thought that we were bonkers?