My guests had chosen the day weeks beforehand – the mid-summer solstice. Surely the weather would relent and for once we would have a fine day? Not a chance. The rain was hammering down as I picked them up from their hotel. The EA River Level Gauge for Buxton showed little movement but I was under no illusion that we would see the level rise at some point during the day. As we tackled up at Duffers the river looked a little coloured but not unfishable. We set off with the intention of exploring Cheedale but in the end we only made it as far as Slitherford. My advice to anyone new to the Wye is to keep moving and cover as much water as possible, advice that is usually ignored, this occasion being no exception! So we never made it into the Dale.
It was to be a day of calamities – Giles not only managed to break the tip of his brand new Hardy rod as he was tackling up, he also broke the wire of his Boa wading boot fastener. Fortunately he had a spare rod and the boots were fixed with 12lb Maxima! I had previously suffered a breakage to the tip of my new Sunray 2 weight and this was the first time out with the replacement tip. After only three fish, the tip collapsed in exactly the same place as before, shearing off just above the joint as I was starting to cast. I’m sorry to say that the jury is still out on this rod.
So without a rod, I became a guide to my two guests for the rest of the day. The river came up a little, with a bit of that ochre stain which I always think puts the fish off. However, there was a good hatch up in Slitherford and we all had fish, mine to a small LT Klink before the rod broke, my guests doing well with a small Grey Wulff. We spent the afternoon on Beat 7, where the river was still relatively unaffected. However, despite a very good hatch of Iron Blues and Agepetus Caddis, the fish behaved like sullen teenagers, much to my annoyance. Giles did have a
lovely wild brown on a fly that looked a bit like a Beacon Beige, in the fast run into Lupton’s. I had the presence of mind to check its stomach contents with Crofty’s
little stomach pump – Blue Winged Olive nymphs and Agepetus pupae. This prompted Giles to put on a small nymph which produced another wild brown.
After tea we went down to the Bobbin Mill and fished up from the Bottom of Beat 8. Jenny Spinners (the male Iron Blue spinners, which tend not to fall on the water) were dancing in the setting sun, which was also highlighting the tail feathers of a Redstart, repeatedly hawking over the meadow. It would be nice to report that the fish eventually went wild but still nothing showed. I stood for a good twenty minutes watching a pool intently, waiting for Giles to fish up to me. At last I saw a
quiet rise in a little bay and then another in the middle of the “V” of the run-out. For the next ten minutes or so, these fish continued to rise sporadically. When Giles arrived, I pointed out their relative positions. I wasn’t particularly optimistic for both were rising in flat water where the fly would be vulnerable to drag. I didn’t tell Giles this of course! After a couple of ranging shots he got the length and then dropped his fly into the little bay. Bang! The fish had it straight away, leaped once to show us its size, then let go. The same thing happened with the second fish. Oh bother. Never mind, it had been a good day, fish had been caught and although the river hadn’t been at its best for my guests they were very complimentary about it.
A couple of days later I was host to Simon Johnson, Director of the Eden Rivers Trust. I’ve known Simon since his days with the WTT and it had been too long since his last visit. We had a good catch up over lunch and then went up into the Dale. I got a bit disorientated in the jungly bit and getting into a pool I thought I hadn’t fished before I realised too late, as I slid down the bank, that I did know where I was and that I’d got in about half way up the Island pool. If I’d gone in further down I would have been able to fish up to two fish that were rising in the food lane. As it was, I had to cast downstream to them and they just weren’t having it. I turned back upstream and noticed a few Iron Blues coming down. As I waited patiently, I saw two quiet rises, one in the seam of the current and another in the back eddy of the run-in. I put on a s21 Plume Tip and addressed the first fish. After a couple of trips down the seam the fish rolled right over it and all I had to do was hold back as it turned down. A lovely brown of about a pound. Now for the one in the rotating back eddy, which promised to be a trickier proposition. I got as close as I dared and dropped the fly and the leader into the pot. Fortunately he had it first chuck, before it could drag. Another brown, virtually a twin of the first.
Pressing on up into the Stones, I changed the fly to a small light olive Klink, thinking it would be a bit more visible and robust in the fast water. It was also a passable imitation of a Yellow Sally, of which there were numbers on the wing, egg laying. It was immediately of interest and continued to bring up small browns all the way up the pool, until I reached the run – in. Here was the home of wild rainbows, several coming to hand after fighting like demons. We are now into the BWO season and if only the weather would behave we might have some good evening hatches. I have had a few fish already on Oliver Edwards’ BWO Nymph. Stuart tells me that the Agepetus Caddis have been in full swing recently and his ACE, drawn across the current has been bringing up some very good fish. We should also be seeing Soldier Beetles on the Cow Parsley by now but I haven’t seen any myself as yet. Maybe the poor weather has delayed them. As ever at this time of the year it pays to stay as late as possible to enjoy the best of the sport.
It’s not too late to book a place for the Hog Roast at Cressbrook Hall, 12th July. I look forward to seeing you there.