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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


16/04/2014 - April Is Grannom Sedge Time

River coarse fishing ended on March 14th the river and stream fly fishing for brown trout in Lancashire started March 15th many anglers like myself couldn’t wait to cast a fly in the hope of catching a fish on the first day. If we’re lucky a few olives will be coming off between 1 and 2 o’clock, but most occasion it’s a case of going downstairs with a wet fly or nymph. Alan Roe and myself have been fortunate to have some good days over the past thirty years. On one occasion on the River Ribble fish were rising in profusion to olives and these were not stockies. As we sat on a riverside bench watching the olives drifting downstream with trout sucking them down Alan said “Life doesn’t get better than this” Suddenly our peace was shattered by an oaf dressed in the latest clothing with top tackle saying “Its Czech nymphing today” as he plunged into the stream waving around his rod around like the Sword of Zorro. As he stomped upstream the fish started rising again five yards downstream of this fool. I said to Alan “Why don’t you follow him up and take the fish off his shoulder” An hour later this big oaf come out of the stream saying” They are not feeding today” Thankfully he disappeared and peace returned to the river valley. We had a great day fishing size 16 olive patterns on a 12 foot leader.


This year the first three weeks of the season on river Ribble wasn’t so good for fly fishing, easterly winds, river up and down like a yoyo water very cloudy even when the level had dropped. Yes, a few trout were caught but in my book it wasn’t trout fishing water. I had one short session in early April olives were coming off in profusion, in fact it was like a mini yachting regatta but it was short-lived. Within half an hour the flies had disappeared along with the trout as the cold wind ruffled the water surface. Wednesday 9th April I spotted a few grannoms the first of the sedge patterns, by Saturday there were good hatches despite the cold wind that ruffled the water surface every thirty minutes or so. This sedge is the first of the flies that hatch off in large numbers, though within a couple of weeks all we are left with are a few stragglers. With a light wind and warm sunshine you can expect these flies to hatch off between ten and four o’clock with the big swarms between noon and three o’clock. These should be followed by the Hawthorn fly another fly that can often be found in large numbers, though for the past couple of seasons they have been very sparse, hopefully this year will be different.


Sunday 13th the weather improved with an  warm sunny spells but with a cold gusty wind, every now and again a few grannoms could be seen. About one o’clock as I sat on the bank looking for a rising fish, grannoms suddenly they appeared in their hundreds, it resembled a mini snowstorm. But the fish were not gorging themselves on these flies, every now and again there would be a rise, providing I quickly dropped a size 16 Silver Sedge pattern close to the rise I often got a take. For all my effort I ended up with two brace of fish.


Next day Monday my friend David and myself are back on the river with a strong upstream wind no fish showing, David chose to fish a nymph, I sat on the bank hoping the grannom's would put in an appearance. About eleven o’clock a few grannom’s appeared, half an hour later I watched wave upon wave of grannoms being pushed along by the wind. As they reached the sanctuary of a pool shielded from the wind they started dipping towards the water surface laying their eggs, a few spent flies drifted downstream and were greedily taken by the trout. David and myself enjoyed some fast and furious fishing hooking and landed many fish which were all returned, we also lost a few. It could be described fast and furious fun fishing , when we packed up the fish were still taking flies off the surface.


Seeing all these grannoms has given me a tremendous amount of pleasure, I’ve spent the past six years encouraging the growth of water crowfoot ( Ranunculus ). The larvae of the grannom live in this plant collecting their food from the water as it flows past them, without plant life in our rivers they would resemble a desert. You certainly wouldn’t have many grannoms or other fly life. Once the trout started feeding on grannoms you could describe the fishing as being quite easy. If you haven’t tried river fly fishing why not take the opportunity. All you need is a rod reel line some leaders with a few flies, though we all have boxes of flies all you really need are half a dozen patterns.

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Martin James Fishing
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