An incredible couple of hours on the Eden up at Sandford today. The river has fallen away a lot: carrying a bit of colour, but less than I had expected. Fished double nymph on the tenkara, with either a PTN or a Eurojig on point (with 3.5mm tungsten), and the pink-thoraxed Eurojig on dropper. Leader was as the last few sessions, at rod length (3.9m) with just over a metre tippet, which was Fulling Mill copolymer 0.147mm. Outstanding control with this rig; actually better than is possible with the 10′ two weight and western-style. The direct contact with the nymphs, with negligible apparent line sag, is startling. The fish pick up the nymphs and give a surprisingly long hold-time…
The trout were very active, though I did not see a single fish rise, with no dark olives hatching; but they are plump and, well, really in perfect condition. They look like the trout of late spring, so they must have been feeding well over the very mild winter, in spite of the floods. This surely bodes well for the imminent opening of the trout season. As I arrived I spooked some goosanders, which spoiled the mood slightly, though it was soon clear that these avian predators have not done any damage to the trout population of our river, at least to the adult fish, and it is rare that we see cormorants this high up river, possibly because we have a lot of fast water and tree-lined banks (where the farms have left them) which mercifully are not attractive to cormorants which prefer open sections of river (and still waters) which gives them good visibility and a clear, escape flight- path.
The dropper was generally the more effective pattern, as has been the case over the last month, on the flooded river, though it is absolutely essential to have the heavy tungsten point fly tripping along the river bed. It helps having the dressings on jigs, which present point upwards. The frequent hook-ups on the river bed are usually the bead being jammed between stones and nearly always these come away easily. It is a delight to be fishing with the softness of a tenkara rod (which is a 6:4). Just look at the sliver which is holding the trout above; even very lightly hooked fish like this can often be calmed and brought successfully to hand.
But then, from the depths of despair after so many weeks, months, without even sight of a flared dorsal, the merest hesitation in the flow of the Sunline section of the leader, and I tapped into what was, I thought, a good trout, surging off along the river bed. There was something different about this one, though: it relit memories, the way it held on the floor, kiting into the current, making me turn and lean the long rod towards the bank. The fish held in the current for perhaps twenty seconds before I could ease it in downstream of my position, and I caught a glimpse of big dorsal. What an overwhelmingly magical moment, as a minute or so later I eased the calmed fish to hand; a perfect Eden grayling – for me, one of the most valuable fish on the planet. How many more are there out on upper Eden? This is not the only one. The goosanders and cormorants have not taken them all, and the farms have not poisoned all the rest. Not quite yet.