Contributed by Troutfly (16.03.03)
I went down the river on opening day, not to fish but to take some pictures for the web site so that we would have a record of what the Eden was like on opening day in 2003. The day was bright and sunny, the river low and clear. Here are some shots in the vicinity of Musgrave.
It was approaching 4pm when I arrived at Musgrave Bridge. The river was deserted. Indeed on the drive from Kirkby Stephen there were no cars parked at the customary parking spots and the river appeared devoid of anglers. It was unusual not to find Brian at the river on opening day or Tom. I assumed I had missed them so I took the pictures and went to look for Brian in the pub at Warcop. Over a couple of pints he recounted his experiences on opening day - a brown trout over 2lb above Musgrave bridge, another in excess of 2lb above Blandswath bridge and a third of 3/4lb above Warcop bridge. All caught on gold heads. This inspiring account of success on opening day was enough to see me at the river with Brian at 11am on day two. The sun blazed down without a cloud in the sky, wax jackets and jumpers were left in the car and it really was comfortable fishing in shirt sleeves. After a couple of hours searching the water above Musgrave bridge our only return was a single tug on Brian's gold head. The water was low and clear and we had not seen a fish move in this time. Brian broke off to walk his dogs while I decided to to fish one more run. I immediately hooked the biggest trout I have ever caught. It took the rustic coloured czech nymph pictured on this page and put up a great fight. I cannot tell you how much it weighed. My scales only weigh to 2lb and I didn't even get them out of my bag. It would have been a waste of time as the fish would have thumped them to the limit and beyond. There was only one way to verify the weight of this wonderful fish and that would have been to kill it and weigh it at home. There was never the slightest chance of my doing this. I took some pictures, etched a permanent mark on my rod to record it's length (20") and gently returned it to the water. My belief is that is was clearly over 3lb.
The fight with me was not the only battle this fish had fought. Two large white scars on the left hand side of its head testified to an earlier encounter with another predator. It survived to fight another day, this time with me. It lost but lives. If you catch her please consider putting her back.