Monday, 24 September 2018

A couple of strangers

 In the last week we have had a fair bit of rain.  Now that isn't a complaint ,   on the contrary we are in desperate need .  Rivers are on their bones and the reservoirs are revealing long abandoned villages , its been a very long dry summer.  However this Saturday despite the recent rain I went to my local river .  The view from the bridge was well.. Brown.  Yep the river was carrying a lot of colour .  But as normal I was faced with a simple dilemma , fish or go home . So in the end no real decision to be made .  I got into my waders and as I got ready a couple of dog walkers appeared .  Now I knew the walkers in question it was the VET and his wife who have looked after my Choccy Labrador for the last 11 years ,  we had a chat , mainly how he couldn't understand why I would be fly fishing in such a  swollen muddy river . Now I could have explained about the pleasure of the challenge and how it presents a different set of circumstances ,  in the end I made light of it and pointed out the alternative was watching TV,

Despite looking like this I was into fish pretty quickly and the river cleared markedly in the few hours I fished ,  There was odd fish rising as it stood there and the final few fish came to a dry.   Just shows doesn't it that I could have easily turned round but poor conditions or not I still had a great few hours.

Anyway starting of downstream ,  I had Grayling on my mind ,  I guess I should make a confession in such coloured water there is a "fly" that is particularly effective .  It is and I hesitate to confess the dreaded squirmy worm in bright red , a shameful creation of soft latex and a heavy bead .  50 years ago I would have been shot by the keeper for even owning such an abomination .  Shame forbids me from putting a picture up here but if you google squirmy worm you will get the idea.  Anyway the fish above took it with confidence.

The day started well, a few small wild fish then a thumping great stocked rainbow that I lost at the net .  Probably my fault as I had to bully it hard to keep it out of the tree roots.  Then a biggish stocked brown trout that was rising to something small in a crease under some willows I was pleased with the cast it deserved a fish,  The fish that in the end was nearly the last of the day was a surprise ,  A Chub a fish that I haven't caught for a few years on this river .  Would love to see more of them,  they are a strong fish that I am pretty sure would grow bigger in the streams than the native browns ,  they even rise to the fly and watching them take a black gnat is my earliest fly fishing memory .  I have always viewed a Rainbow and brownie and a Grayling as a triple on this stream.  I guess that I will have to rethink that as a Grayling a Brown trout and a Chub .  Its going to be tough to replicate .

As an aside last week a colleague asked me to identify a fish that someone had photographed acting strangely in the Ouse right in the centre of York.  I was pleased to able to help but it struck me as sad that the only evidence thats visible of the runs of salmon that go up the river through the city was a diseased fish .  This one showed the unmistakable signs of UDN . Probably made worse by the low water and high water temperatures this year .  Sad that such a beautiful fish as a the bar of silver that is an Atlantic salmon can be should end up like that .  I saw a lot of this that year .   I guess this year I just haven't been on the river enough to see them.  The river that I fish for Salmon and Sea trout has remained desperately low all year.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Strange stuff falling from the sky....

I have been having a think and I reckon that its a year since I last fished in the rain and you know what,? I bloody enjoyed it . I enjoyed that feeling of rain trickling down my neck , I enjoyed the fact that there was no risers and the fish I had came to the nymph.  I enjoyed that major irritation of a raindrop getting on my hearing aid , ( other wearers will sympathise ) .   It also reminded me that doesnt the rain make a lovely plooping noise when it hits the water surface. There wasnt enough rain to do a lot of good for the shrunken streams but hopefully the showers signalled a change in the climate and we may yet get some respite from this long hot dry summer...

The rainy day meant i spent a little extra time just walking along the bank and checking out the stream. remember this is a new stream to me this year and the very low conditions means that those under water features are very visible right now.  The day was in many ways a welcome change I have just returned from two weeks on the Greek island of Rhodes .  Most days saw mid thirties temperatures , some days up to 40 the change is lovely , seeing some green grass and feeling a little chilled was great. Eventually we will get some proper rain and  then I will be back on this stream when it is at a winter level with Grayling in mind.

For now the trout were still up for playing .  Although I must confess that I was hoping for a Grayling when I ran a nymph down through the deep run under the trees.  The little pink bead head nymph probably gives that away .  Although the next few months signal the tail end of the trout season .  With some significant rain there is a still a chance of Sea Trout and Salmon and the cream of the Grayling fishing is still to come. Lots to look forward to.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Down to its bones

The picture although clearly not a fish is something that I was very pleased to see.  This Sunday I ventured up the headwaters of a local river although as the pictures show the river is struggling for water and the quantities of rising fish were pretty low. The rivers are generally struggling, which is as to be expected given the long hot and dry summer.  levels of in river invertebrates are very low ,  however in the fields and woods on the banks the insects are thriving.. 

As you see the river is way below its normal levels.  long stretches are barely flowing and only the long deep pools are holding decent volumes of water .  Luckily there are many of these deep slow pools where fish can hold up..

This stretch is usually a continuous riffle about six inches deep ,  as you can see its just about dry now.

There was less rising fish than I would expect .  The level of invertebrates in the water must be having an effect on hatch levels .  However the high number of terrestrials will be offering an alternative food source .

One thing I noted during the day was the number of ladybirds that were visible ,  now that means to me that there are certainly big numbers of Aphids on the trees.   Certainly leaves on the trees are quite sticky from the residue the aphids leave behind. 

The days catches were less than I would expect at the time of year but as the fish were bunched up in the deep holding pools the long stretches of previously " pocket water " were now pretty much devoid of fish .  You can see on the photo below where the usual summer level of the pool is .  We need rain and fast...

Monday, 23 July 2018

Dog Days

Rain please bring rain..... Many years ago on this blog I made the above plea.   To my amusement and  the astonishment of my readers .  It rained , and it rained , continuing to do so for a couple of months.  Until the rivers were bank high and the lakes over topping... So God if your listening again ,  just a little less this time .  Ideally a good steady week of rain to start with, nothing to heavy you understand we don't want to have flash floods .  Oh and maybe if you held of another week because the farmers haven't quite got the grain in yet.  So after the first week of steady rain we could do with another good rain that lasts 48 hours maybe once every ten days .  That would bring the sea trout and salmon up the rivers nicely .  So to be clear this needs to start at the beginning of August .  Yes I know its the start of the kids summer holidays but we don't want the little darlings getting sun burnt do we?.  Guess I am been pretty picky but on the of chance that someone upstairs is listening it would be nice to have the right amount..Anyway where was I .. Oh yes Dog days

The fishing of late has been challenging ,  the local spate streams are on their bones .  So low in fact that I am getting concerned about oxygen levels .  Apart from last Saturday the only river related activity in the last couple of weeks was down my little local stream on a work party .  Basically trying to gently manipulate the stream to form some deeper pockets for two reasons ,  firstly to give the descending smolts a bit extra depth of water to live in until a spate takes them out to sea.  Also to create a few holding pockets for the Autumn Sea trout coming upstream.

Work parties are a very contentious subject with most clubs.   Fortunately we have a hardcore of members whom are very generous with their time for them.  Last weeks was fairly hastily arranged but resulted in seven members turning up.  Unusually including myself, the group included age spans from  under 20 to nearly 80.  They are good natured and friendly affairs and always enjoyable.  Grown men messing about in a river on a warm summer evening what could be better . 

This Saturday evening I decided I had to get back on the water back on the little chalk stream which although running lower now has its size constrained by the rapidly growing lush vegetation so keeping a decent depth, I was on the river for about 7.30 ,  my first hour or twos  fishing was pretty frustrating.  Careful stalks and then slipping silently into the river were undone time after time by two families of swans and the same of mallards Noisily protesting and or flapping their way up stream .  Silently slipping into a river is something I struggle with more than ever these days then to be thwarted by irate waterfowl on four or five occasions was doubly galling . It was getting tedious but planning ahead I had saved a couple of favourite long stretches undisturbed till the light was going.... 

On these bright days its only when the light goes that the fishing comes alive .  A seemingly barren stretch transforms into a scene of fish rising everywhere as the hatch starts and the trout emerge from cover .  Apart from the BWO there are plenty of sedges the trout sit tight against the reeds gorging on the sedges as they emerge .

The fish here are very lively this one jumped and cartwheeled like a rainbow .  In an hour I hooked probably eight and landed three .  The deep weed and thick rushes means fish must be held hard , several failed as hook holds pulled .  The 4lb tippet and soft tipped rod meant no breaks but several made it into the weed never to re emerge 

Apart from the ducks , swans and a barn owl which was hunting up and down the river my only company was the combine harvester in the adjacent field he was still there as I drove away in the dark. Dog days of summer for sure but that last hour oh my is something else...

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Brown Trout colours and spots

A constant fascination for me is the variation of colours that the Brown trout in the local streams exhibit, even within a single stream the colours can vary from pool to pool.  The range of colours fascinate me as do the reasons for it. Not sure that I am really very interested in a scientific explanation  but my experience tells me that the more alkaline and richer in invertebrate the river then the fish are lighter with less vivid and smaller are the red spots. But I stand to be told otherwise.  The first two pictures show a trout caught from my local river last Sunday

The adipose fins of many show the most vivid colours .  This dark fish was caught from a small pool that is quite heavily shaded .  Perhaps partly the reason why the fish was generally dark?.  All the fish on the post whilst being from three separate rivers are all from within a circle of twenty miles diameter. The issue of age of the fish is a difficult one as in this stream the fish don't grow large  12 inches is a good fish 14 inches a potential seasons best .  I do get the impression that the darker fish are more mature . 

This fish below was caught from the same stream no more than 100 yds away.  It was an an area however of sand and gravel rather than the rocky pool the first fish was .

This fish was caught in the same river about a couple of miles upstream 

The fish was from a very small stream a few miles inland ,  better water quality and certainly less acidic , the stream rises as a spring out of limestone but does carry a lot of surface run of as well. The fish there tend to be a bit heavier and lighter coloured with smaller red spots although you do come across the odd darker fish, also the water  does have good invertebrate hatches .

The last is from a local chalk stream .  Whilst been a very rich stream it is not a large river with few deep pools and the fish whilst been fairly prolific do often reach substantial sizes .  Fish generally have smaller and fewer red spots.  

One interesting fact from the Wild trout trust website."Brown trout are one of the most genetically diverse vertebrates known. There is far more genetic variation present across British populations of wild brown trout than between any populations in the entire human race".  So it seems to me that you have possible genetic variations as well as local responses to habitat and water quality.  Also on a lighter note. " All fishermen know that trout get progressively larger after they have been caught!"