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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


21/04/2021 - My First Trout Session of the Season.

pair of toads spawning

I arrived on the river around 0630 hrs finding conditions were quite good, a light north easterly wind, warm sunshine with some cloud ensuring the sunshine wouldn’t be too bright. I reckon it could be a good hour or two before there was hatch of flies to encourage the trout to rise, the water was low and gin clear, I could count the stones on the bottom, thankfully the gravel runs were free of that horrid brown clodorpha weed, though it will appear when we get low flow rates after a week or so of sunshine, clodorpha creates a horrid blanket on the bed of the river, also stones and rocks. I took a walk along the river checking out the various pools for signs of fly life and rising fish. I did come across an incredible sight of toads going through the spawning process, you could even see the string of spawn coming from their rear, I’d never seen this before. A hundred yards further upstream another group of toads were going through the spawning process, also several toads were swimming across the river from the opposite bank. Behind me ten curlews with that lovely haunting call were circling the big field, hopefully they would nest as they did successfully as last year, early in the day I had seen 5 roe deer, 4 hares along with a pair of ravens, I’d never seen ravens in Lancashire before 2017.

Some Trout Were Nymphing

As I walked upstream I caught sight of a nice brown trout making a head and tail rise a typical sign of a fish taking a nymph, perhaps midge or caddis pupae might be the right choice to use? I find too many river trout fishers ignore fishing midges thinking they are only for still waters. I’ve had many great day’s river fishing with midges often down to a size 24, the best book I’ve read on the subject is Midge Magic Don Holbrook & Ed Koch, it should be available from your local library, better still go out and buy a copy. If you want to catch more fish then read this book, not once but several times, it will pay dividends with more fish. As I continued my walk I enjoyed watching 4 oystercatchers putting on a great flying display which lasted some minutes, a further few yards I was at the Sandbank pool where dozens of sand martins were getting ready to nest, to help protect these delightful birds, I have put down 2 mink traps. Hundred yards further on I arrived at a small copse with many willows and alders over hanging the river several trout have taken up residence, where there are several decent sized rocks which the trout lie alongside picking off food items as they drift downstream. Making my way through the copse, I quickly climbed up the steep bank, a bit further on I found a moorhen’s nest, hopefully they will have a successful brood, though mink or even an otter could wipe out the eggs before they get a chance to hatch, if they do hatch, then the youngsters could be lost, our ground nesting birds are under threat from so many dangers including grey squirrels and rats, let us not forget dogs that are allowed to roam free instead of being on a leash. Having seen 2 more nymphing trout I walked back to the car park, on the way I spotted a duck with 15 ducklings probably three days old. Back in the car park it was time for a brew, waiting for the kettle to boil, I put together a 9 foot 4 weight T&T glass fibre rod wehich I hasd field tested befor they went on sale, I matched it with a small Ross reel holding a 4-weight floating line, with the river low and gin clear I decided on using a 15-foot leader with a 2lb BS tippet.

Grannom Hatch Is On

After sorting out my gear, I finished off my tea, then took another walk across the meadow to the river, there had been a slight change, with a bit more warmth, I noted that fish were still nymphing. On some evidence I collected yesterday, when guiding, I spooned a fish that had been caught, it was stuffed with Whirligig beetles, most were just like a thick black soup, as I always carry a small bowl when spooning fish, it’s easy then to distinguished the full bodied flies, if there are any. On that evidence I chose a size 20 black & Peacock spider, I also used 18 inches of 2lb fluorocarbon tippet. In a half hour session I hooked and landed three fish losing two others, the fish ceased feeding, or they were feeding deeper down which is nothing new.

The grannom were now hatching in big clouds, similar to snow falling, I never spotted a fish take grannom off the surface, this fly is the first of the caddis flies to emerge, we can expect the hatch to last for around 24 hours up to 2 weeks, last season it lasted just a few hours, you might see grannom hatching for ten minutes, then if a cool breeze happens, the grannom will switch off like turning the light off at home, thirty minutes or more later, the rise might start again, perhaps lasting for an hour or more if conditions remain good. I made my way back from the waterside to collect my gear from the bench, back on the river, I chose a green sedge pupa, as the pupa in real life has a light green body. It’s a pattern I have used for some years with success, in fact it’s been a winner. I walked slowly upstream towards where I could see a good fish feeding avidly, quickly working out the angle and distance of the cast I pulled off some line, making a back cast I released the line on the forward cast dropping my imitation about 8 feet above the fish, as it glided downstream I took in the small amount of line keeping in contact, I thought the cast and drift were perfect but the fish ignored my offering, I made another cast then with no success I moved on to the next fish. This time I was lucky as the fish sipped down my imitation, I was forced to give a few feet of line as the fish moved downstream towards some structure in the water, these over wintered brown trout are really fit and give a good display. eventually netted a nice brown around 2lbs neatly hooked in the scissors, slipping out the barbless hook I lowered the net in the water so the fish could swim free.

Birds are in a feeding frenzy.

It’s not only the fish that are feasting on natures food source, the wagtails, chaffinches and sand martins are feeding on the wing, while ducklings are moving around in the scum feeding on the trapped flies, soon to be joined by a moorhen. I spotted a nice fish alongside a big rock, it looked a good fish, making my way upstream to a gap in the bankside briars, nettles and other vegetation, I kept low so as not to spook the fish in the low and clear water, again my cast was spot on the drift was a good one, so it proved as the fish moved a few inches away from the rock to intercept my offering. Another good over wintered fish powered away downstream, as I couldn’t see any danger I let the fish soak up the pressure of well-balanced tackle, a few minutes later I netted another good brown trout like the first. Moving on upstream to another rising fish, I hooked it, then bumped it off, in the next 5 casts I spooked 2 fish with bad casting the other fish ignored my imitation, suddenly the hatch was over, the river looked lifeless, not a single fish or fly could be seen, all the birds had gone, the feast was over. My fishing for the day was over but it had been a great few hours on the river bank.



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Martin James Fishing
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