After what can only be described as a very wet and wild holiday in Scotland. I was somewhat relieved to be greeted by blue skies on my return home. It was a quick turnaround though to pick up my rivers kit and head back North to Leeds. My last visit I managed a Trip to both the Swale and the Wharf and was keen to add another venue to my list. Del Spry freshly returned from Turkey and Graham Lumsdon who is at home for once in New Biggin all arranged to meet up in Appleby to fish the Eden. Del had kindly sorted out a couple of tickets and arranged for us to have breakfast in a local hotel, very nice. We parked the cars in a public car park and the river was a short stroll from there. As we walked it was great to catch up on all things fishy and domestic.
The river was running at a nice depth and as we strolled up the banks we saw the odd fish rising. The water was holding a little colour but generally, visibility was good. After walking downstream for about a mile or so we passed a particularly good area with many rising fish. We had all set up with duo except Graham who was yet to set up, I offered Del first crack of the whip and he entered the river downstream of the rising fish. A stealthy approach ensured the fish continued to rise untroubled. With an audience del made his first cast slightly short of the fish, the next cast was bang on the money. Del struck and the rod buckled over, this was a good fish. I scrambled for the camera and moved down to the riverside. Del safely netted the fish and moved into the bank for the photo opportunity. What a cracker the fish was in excellent condition a fully finned wild brownie, what a fantastic start to the day.
Graham and I were both keen to get started so I started about eighty yards up from Del and Graham who opted for straight dry fly dropped below. I had a couple of great looking runs in front of me and was confident my first fish was at hand. I moved up very carefully as not to disturb the rising fish in front of me. I had discarded the nymph as the fish seemed to be free rising. I only had a small selection of flies as I had only brought one box of flies. After throwing everything I had at them and nearly the box I relented and tied a size #16 Mary nymph onto the bend of a big sedge and tried again. A couple of casts in was that the bottom on striking the rod met with no resistance and I quickly switched direction to another part of the run. The sedge dipped again and this time as I struck the rod met with a nice bit of resistance. A lovely trout around the pound mark left the water in a bid for freedom, as I reached round for my net another leap and the trout was on its way. Bugger......this has been happening a fair bit of late! I continued up the runs but acrobatics of the escaped fish had obviously spooked the remainder. The rises had all stopped and the fish had gone to a state of high alert. I had blown it, oh well plenty river to go at. I had kind of lost track of the time and my buddies who were now gone from sight.
I figured they had moved upstream a little and began moving up the bank side. I had not got far before meeting a small wood, which seemed easily negotiated, at first. The fact that the wood got thicker and my language got a lot more colourful. We have all been there rod and line tangled in a tree, temper fraying and your two mates chuckling away down by the river. After extracting myself from said wood I found myself about ten foot up from the river and Graham had come the same way as me. Del exclaimed it was better to have crossed and come up the path, cheers for that! I was a little surprised when Del and Graham both reported no more fish. I slid down the bank and made my way across to Del who was watching Graham fishing. Some banter was exchanged before Graham started catching Grayling one after another. One took his fly as he returned another to much abuse from Del and I. We all decided to move upstream a little further, Graham stopped off at a likely spot while Del and. I moved further up. We got to an area where some stepping stones crossed the river and I stopped to fish up some runs. Del had moved further down to fish some marks.
The water in front of me looked good if a little shallow and I fished up through fairly carefully for nothing. It was only when I got into the water around three to four feet deep that the sport began. My first fish in the net was a modest little brownie which fell just short of 20cm. The next fish was a decent Grayling around 25cm. I felt like I was getting into the groove a bit now and another brownie followed in short order. Del came by me moving upstream and reporting good catches of both Grayling and trout. He had joined Graham on a small island in the middle of the river as I continued to fish upstream. I spotted a little run of the main flow on the other side of the river and went to move across. Totally misjudging the depth, as I glanced up Graham had his camera at the ready! On my tiptoes and with only a couple of inches of chest waders left I made the leap of faith and was extremely relieved to be rewarded with solid gravel beneath my feet. I have been caught free swimming by Graham far too often!
Graham had faired pretty well and said he had not moved his feet for the last hour, as a shoal of grayling came back on station. He had worked his way through various methods taking one to the straight dry and another to duo. The revelation was when he changed to spiders. The fish took these with confidence and Graham bagged another three or four fish. Living in the South and generally fishing chalk streams I own only a few spider patterns none of which I had with me. Del offered up some and explained how to fish them. We all wandered a bit further downstream until we came across some free rising fish Graham offered to give a practice demonstration while Del and I watched. I would like to say it was textbook but the fish were not joining in. They continued to feed hard untroubled by Graham's presence in the water. Eventually one fell to a small nymph and Dell and I left Graham to his fishing. We moved yet further down and came to some deep powerful runs. We both rigged up double nymph and singled out a run each to fish. The banks were tree-lined and casting was difficult but worth the effort. My second decent cast was met with firm resistance and the Brownie which I had hooked upstream kited around I knew it was a good fish and frantically tried to bring it to the surface. When it shot downstream in the powerfully current I was sure the hook would peel away. After a few nervous seconds, it came to the net, whoop whoop!
The day was wearing on and we decided to push back towards the car dipping in here and there, all of us taking the odd fish. We had reached water that we had walked past in the morning and I nipped into a small run just above Del, with instant success. I had only caught one Grayling all day but another three were quick to follow and one dropped from an area the size of a single bed. Totally emerged in the fishing I spotted a rising fish in a tiny side stream to the main river and crawled into position to cast a dry at it. Most of my dries had already been refused throughout the day, but not this time a fairly big Sunray was savaged by the small brownie and I was really chuffed. I met up with the others and there was still some water to go at. It was near half five and with no food nor water since breakfast I think we were all suffering a bit from dehydration. Undaunted we fished on and boy was it worth it, we fished about a hundred meters apart. At the same time the river just came alive, we all started to catch fish regularly in amongst the sport Graham took his best fish of the day a grayling. Del was fairing well catching a good mix of Grayling and trout. I only managed one more grayling but as conciliation I had to fight good brown trout off.
Starving and thirsty we made our way back to the car, big grins adorned our face, it had been a great days sport. Fishing a new river with great friends and a few fish thrown in what could possibly be better!