We had an incredible start to the new season in the north-west, particularly on the Eden. The best large dark olive and March brown hatches I have ever seen on this river brought fish right up in the fast water, even before the new season was underway. Late season grayling anglers were all catching trout, while the grayling themselves all but disappeared. And what trout: the best I heard of was a 4lb 10oz fish taken by up at Sandford (part of the Appleby waters). This is an outstanding fish by any standards. It was taken on a size 18 CDC olive pattern. I have caught a dozen trout since March 15th over 35cm (14″), with the best at 50cm (20″). The fish have been lean, as always so early in the year, but in superb condition. As a measure, I estimated the 50 cm fish at about 3lbs 4oz, whereas in September we might expect a fish of such length to be about 4lbs. Almost all of the fish have come to small dry flies, and mostly during the hatches. It is noticeable that the fishing is very testy when fly activity is low, but this is to be expected. The balmy weather of late March has now been replaced by steely cold winds from the north east and it is worryingly dry. The hatches have collapsed, along with the fishing. I had the pleasure recently of watching young Tom Speake (whom I coach) simulating a one and a half hour competition session in almost impossibly difficult conditions through the middle of the day. He rose three fish, catching two of them, a trout and a grayling. We mused that when I had been his age I would not have had a chance of catching such fish in such conditions and it is a measure of just how far river fly fishing has progressed in recent years.
Guests coming to fish on my courses/trips this year will notice that they are now almost completely full, with just a few days that we might squeeze in during May and June. There is just one place remaining in my first week on the San (Poland) at the end of September, and two places for the following week, the first of October. Do get in touch if you are interested in these. In the meantime, when this nasty cold snap disperses, do get out after the trout and let me know how you get on. Take a look at the Appleby site – see links – for a picture of Steven Dawson’s magnificent trout.