Catch Returns 2007 - 2008

Fishing pressure
It’s no surprise that the stretch between Musgrave and Blandswath bridges continues to be fished more heavily than any other stretch. Given the weather and water levels experienced in 2007, it’s surprising that more effort was not aimed at the upper river, the Belah and Scandal Beck, all of which benefit from higher water levels.

Once again, based on the catch returns submitted, only one person made a single (and brief) visit to Scandal Beck and hence this stretch is not included in any of the charts that follow. The chart below shows the fishing pressure on each section.

river eden fishing

Catch rates
As would be expected for the amount of effort spent there, more fish were caught from area 4 than any other area.  However, there were 8 other areas that produced more fish per hour fished than this.  Come on, give it a go.  Musgrave is not the only bit of water we have.

In 2007 the catch rate on each section is higher than the previous season.  How much of this is down to water levels is anyones guess.  Fish stocks could also be improving or are we just getting better at catching them?  Whatever the answer, 2007 was a good season.  Let’s hope the improvement continues.

The chart below details the catch per hour (trout and grayling, takeable and undersized) on each section.

river eden fishing

If it’s the bigger fish that you’re looking for, 2007 saw 6 stretches produce more takeable (12 inch plus) fish than area 4 per hour of effort spent chasing them. Some of these other stretches are just as accessible as section 4 and some of them are no more difficult to fish. That added little bit of leg work can pay dividends.

The chart below shows where the takeable fish came from in 2007.

river eden fishing

Age Structures
Despite normal fish populations having considerably more small fish than large it is likely that most anglers do not target the small ones and they are likely to be under recorded in an angling survey. However, even allowing for this, the catch returns for 2007 show a healthy number of small fish that will hopefully grown on to provide good stocks of takeable fish in future. I’m still convinced that the river can provide enough fish itself without the need for us to be introducing stock fish.

Please bear in mind that area 1 is single bank fishing with the opposite bank being fished by Appleby AA. Their policy of annually stocking this section is also likely to result in a false impression of the population structure in that reach. The table below shows the number of fish in four size classes caught in each area.  The fishing effort in each area is not considered.

river eden fishing

I’m told that, in the past, there were good numbers of Grayling to target after the trout season had finished. Over the last couple of years it seems that the Grayling population is making something of a recovery. Although having no evidence to prove it, my gut feeling is that this could be due to our recent no stocking policy.

Despite many not being included in the catch returns, in 2007, I received reports of several good grayling being caught (and most returned). Several of these were 2lb and over. Based on this, I’d suggest that you don’t put your rods away on the 30th of September. Extend your season and try a mild day in October or November when there are still upwing flies about and see just how free rising the Grayling is. Or, alternatively, get down and dirty with something heavy and take them from the bottom. The chart below may give an idea of where to go from October to the end of January (when our water closes).

river eden fishing

I’m inclined to agree with the quote included at the start of this. Provided that we continue to take fish in sensible numbers only (the 2007 release rate was 98%), we have a fishery that’s easily capable of sustaining itself without the need for additional stocking and has got to be one of the best wild trout fisheries in the north of England.

Hopefully, the above may help you to decide where your next trip should be. However, if it doesn’t answer your questions or you feel that I’ve missed something important please feel free to drop me an e-mail. Please don’t forget that it only relates to the trout season, it’s based on only 19 catch returns and last seasons weather/water conditions were not quite what we’re used to.

John Garner
April 2008

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