Contributed by Richard (07.07.2013)
After two good days fishing our club water the previous weekend I was keen to get back on our beats the following Saturday, June 1st. Winds were not ideal in the sense that they were gusting 15mph from the West, meaning that a lot of our water was exposed to this. The level was 0.22m at the Musgrave Bridge gauge according the EA website and the water was clear as we had not had any significant rain for a while…ideal for spotting trout then!
On parking the car I decided to walk downstream for 2-3 fields and see what was happening. I was early enough and on reaching my starting point and climbing into the river, the first pool showed a lack of fish activity. On getting out and walking along the bank, I had gone past a pool but when I looked back I saw a rise so backtracked and clambered in below a large Sycamore and into thigh deep water. By now it must have been after 11pm and a few Olive Uprights had started to appear. The run I was in was one I had occasionally fished in the past, but had never been in it at ‘prime time.’ However, on this occasion I had timed my visit just right. I was in waist deep water and the run had a slightly faster tongue running down from the flat pool above to where I stood. Two trout were caught, which were 1lb 10oz and 1lb 13oz from the tongue and was refused by another. Working my way up I then cast where the tongue started, as I had noticed what appeared to be a good fish rise a few times whilst I had been fishing further below. The white post of my paradun sailed along no more than 12” when the trout leisurely took it off the surface. On tightening he bolted down the tongue, past me and into deeper water. At one stage he strived to get into the roots of the Sycamore and serious side strain was required to steer him away. Once in deeper water it was a question of disorienting him, with strain applied this way and that, till eventually he slid over the net. He weighed 2lb 9oz and measured 18.5”.
This fish was caught after the hatch had faltered a bit and on scanning the pool above there was no activity, or in the next few pools above, so I wandered upstream for 10-15 minutes until I arrived at a pool my mate and I have christened ‘Bankers’ (so named because on tough days if you find a rising trout it is likely to be here!). Again I had almost walked past it without seeing anything until I spotted a trout on the far side of the river, lying in shallow water (less than 12”?). I crouched down immediately and watched it take a couple of items below the surface, so it was not just out, it was also feeding. I slid down the bank and walking on my knees, got into the water. I could see him with my polaroid’s, a grey shadow, moving to intercept what I guessed were trapped terrestrials and also the odd Olive Upright from the surface. The first couple of casts with the paradun did not elicit much response, so after I satisfied myself that he had seen the fly I reckoned that unseen drag had caused him to ignore it. Another cast after a few minutes, this time with an Olive Upright ‘F’ fly and still no response; rather than persisting from the same spot with a different fly I moved downstream slightly. The water was no more than mid-thigh depth when I was kneeling so I had to be careful. I had not disturbed him and he continued to feed and then moved 4 yards downstream…no more than three rod lengths away from me. Carefully I pitched the fly again and it landed a foot short. He saw it and flicked his tail to intercept it, turning towards me as he did so. Up he came and a white maw showed as he took the fly. A bit of a wait and then I tightened, and on feeling the steel he did not seem sure what to do, which enabled me to get control quickly and pull him towards the net. However, he then saw me and went on a powerful run downstream and thrashed on the surface, sending spray everywhere. I piled on the pressure and he jumped clear of the water, showing me his full length. I had full confidence in my terminal tackle, which was a 5X tippet of 4.9lb Frog Hair. A few more head shakes and runs before I got him over the net, and he was done, sliding over the waiting net. At this stage I thought he was another mid-two pounder, but the Weigh Net told me differently and showed that he was 3lb 6oz. On measuring, he extended the tape to 20.5”. My best trout from Eden this season and a belting fish. I cradled his head and faced him into the flow for some time, before he had the strength to swim off and recuperate fully.
A walk 300 yards upstream proved fruitless and it was now 2:30pm, so I decided to walk back to the car and try a different stretch-one that was new to me. On parking the car and walking upstream I again saw a trout rise just as I was walking past a pool, so backtracked and carefully clambered in. He appeared to be a good trout, but was not feeding very hard. By now I had swapped my F Fly for an old favourite which has somehow not been used as often in recent times, in favour of other patterns..a small black Klinkhamer. A couple of good casts over him drew no response, and I could see no drag on the smooth water. However, he then ambled downstream, clocked me and shot off(my mate managed to get him the week after and he went 2lb 10z). I managed a trout of 1lb 9oz next and then spent 30 minutes stalking what I was sure was a large 2lb + trout before finally getting him. I could see him clearly lying close to a stone in 8” of water. He fought well but only pulled the scales down to 1lb 14oz, so was not as large as I thought. Another followed from the run above where I discerned a small rise and he too was a decent fish of 1lb 11oz.
The rest of the stretch revealed no more trout and after jumping in the car to go to another stretch had resulted in no more trout (though I did lose another which would I think have been close to 2lb or over) I decided to call it a day at 7:30pm. So not a fantastic day numbers wise, and after the flurry of Olive Uprights I did have to do a lot of walking for my fish. But 7 trout with not one under 1lb 9oz, and two in a row of 2lb 9oz and 3lb 6oz, is fishing that is not to be sniffed at!
Our river has never been so busy with anglers as it has been this season. No doubt they come in search of its wonderful trout like we all do. However, from what I have seen the general standard of ‘river craft’ is found wanting and it is rare that I see anglers sneaking about below the trout’s horizon. More often I see others’ bolt upright against the fence line-these anglers outlined against the sky undoubtedly scare trout and once this is done, they take a long time to come back on the feed. We do not generally have deep pools of good flow, which mask both angler and trout, and care needs to be taken on approaching these fish, or success will be scarce. Anglers wanting less challenging fishing and a guarantee of more fish would be better heading downstream past Appleby onto other waters, where Eden is broader and stocks of trout are more plentiful. Kirkby Stephen is not the easiest stretch of river to be successful on if your approach and presentation are found wanting!
As I write this it is over 23oC outside, the river is bone low and surely evening fishing has kicked in. However, business takes me away for the rest of the week, so in a way I am glad day time fishing is not fantastic as I will not be missing much!