Contributed by Chris Dempsey (19.03.2007)
Having moved from York to Kendal last May I am in an enviable position of having some of the best fly fishing rivers in the country on my doorstep. I am slowly working my way around the rivers and beats that offer a day ticket whilst waiting, in hope and anticipation, that I am accepted on the Kent and Westmorland AA this year.
In order to get the season off with a bang I thought it would be great to invite a couple of friends over from York at theweekend and fish the Kirkby Stephen AA section of the Eden. The plan was to fish Watendlath Tarn on Saturday and the Eden on Monday. However, the weather had different ideas. We had a reasonable morning at Watendlath on Saturday before the storm came and blew us into the pub to watch the Rugby.
The highlight of the weekend was to be the day on the Eden but the forecast was grim leading to one of my friends canceling with fear of hypothermia. I must admit I was tempted to bottle it but felt really guilty as my other mate, Steve, was really excited and had traveled 100 miles for the experience. So out we went yesterday morning dressed like we were about to tackle the North face of the Eiger. Once we got to Great Musgrave and managed to get our waders on over the layers we waddled out to the river like a couple of Michelin men. When we started fishing (approx 10.45 am) the temperature had risen to a tropical 5 degrees (which was the warmest it got on the day).
Steve, trudged up to the church and I started at the bridge. I have to say my confidence was not very high. This was swiftly kicked into touch as on my second cast I hooked what I thought must have been the bottom (on the advice of the secretary we were fishing heavy nymphs). However, it moved and then moved again and I thought it's a bl--dy fish. It turned out to be a nice little Grayling of around half a pound. This was followed within reasonably quick succession by a trout of about 14/15 inches then by another Grayling of 2 pounds (my second biggest ever). Whilst all this was going on Steve hooked a fish in the pool just behind the church. However, after a few minutes it pulled free. This was another Grayling that was even bigger than the one I hooked.
This hour and half was to be our window of opportunity as by lunchtime the temperature began to drop and then the snow came. We persevered for a few more hours without a touch. I did see a fish rise to what was probably the same upwinged fly that John Garner mentioned in his earlier report (surprisingly there was a good hatch of these behind the church at around 12.30pm). I am really chuffed that I was talked into going out yesterday. I've never really fished a river when it's been that cold but it just goes to show that there is always a chance of a fish if you persevere. I will be visiting your beautiful river again with my other friend in a couple of weeks time and although I am hoping for better weather and a longer day I would be extremely happy with the same 3 fish.