Eden has been magnificent since the spring, with numerous anglers reporting consistent catches, and also noticing the phenomenal hatches and windfalls. Various upwing species have hatched in better numbers than I can ever remember. I believe the huge floods actually benefitted the river habitat, clearing away some of the polluting silt from the environmentally-damaged landscape of the upper Eden valley.
For the last month of so, the dominant food-forms have been either pale wateries or aphids, and these species are notorious for producing difficult fishing. Any sort of big fly is a waste of time when fish are pre-occupied on these small insects.I think the most successful approach is to fish a dry pattern sub-size 20. My heron herl plume tip has been devastating. It consists of a single wound strand of heron primary or secondary with a single CDC plume tip, at about the length of the hook, with a loose, tiny dubbing of CDC at the thorax.I fish this on a 0.10mm tippet, which should not be greased. If the fish are feeding on aphids, I even pinch out the dubbing in the thorax. The trick is to have the fly well bedded down in the surface film, and to fish it very accurately on the fish’s feed lane, particularly for grayling, which are much less forgiving that trout.
We can expect pre-occupation on such food forms for quite some time yet, particularly the pale watery which will be hatching into October. As usual, though, the wonderful Blue winged Olive (BWO) will make its show and produce among the very best fishing of the whole year. The plume tip, again, is a great fly for the BWO (actually for any upwing), in a size around 18/19. Most anglers try to simulate the lovely green colour of the the abdomen of the BWO, though I do not bother anymore, finding the ever-faithful heron herl close enough – at least this is what the fish tell me.
It has been a very odd experience: back in the grayling close season, until June 16th I did not catch a single grayling on the Appleby waters, among almost two hundred trout caught! Yet, right now, as I write this in mid-August, I think grayling are more prolific than trout. All year groups appear to be present, predominating with one and two year group fish, though there are a good number of those gorgeous Eden giants popping up throughout our waters. The best fish usually turn up in numbers from October through to the new year, so prospects are good, and we still have the BWO to enjoy before all that.
Please let us know of any notable catches (Jlucas135@gmail.com) and do try to fish barbless and return your fish unharmed. Catch and release works, if practised carefully. We owe it to this remarkable river, which is the very best surviving in England, on such a large scale.
Posted in River Eden