Traveling North in this country on a Bank Holiday weekend is not fun. I was not looking forward to the journey, I had resolved to leave at 8pm to try and avoid the worst of the traffic. As it was the plan was a good un and I arrived at my mum's before midnight result. I was up bright and early to make my way across to Penrith where I was meeting up with Del Spry. We agreed to meet at John Norris, I had seen a jacket in the sale and wanted to try it on before buying. The jacket was spot on and the price was right. Del and I had planned to have breakfast in the local Wetherspoons as it happened so did around 100 Hartlepool fans dressed as Rastas. I didn't ask and was amused when one of them asked me what time they could get a drink! It was only half nine and as far as I am aware you still can't be served alcohol until 11am. We decided to beat a hasty retreat and grab a bacon sandwich at the new Sainsburys. The girl behind the counter was definitely not normal and if she asked me once for a Sainburys reward card, you get the picture. We did not have long to travel and we were at the parking spot for the river in 10 mins. Del is spoilt for choice in regards river fishing and we could have visited half a dozen venues but today he had opted for the Eamont. We tackled up and Del mentioned the chill in the air it was still early though and the car said about four degrees. Perhaps it would warm up later.
We strolled down a steep slope to the river and with the railway bridge in the background, it could not have looked nicer.
The river was running clear and seemed to be at a perfect depth for fishing. Despite the cold, the very odd fly was coming off but still, the cold wind persisted making it feel much colder than 4 degrees. As we started there was an island to negotiate Del went up the left fork and I the right. Some great looking runs on my side produced nothing which surprised me; we met up at the other end both reporting zippo! I moved up into deeper water and standing waist deep in the water you could not help but notice how cold it was. I was beginning to wish I had put more clothing on. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a fish rise and moved into position to get a cast on it. First cast and the fish came straight up and devoured the fly, a brief fight and it was in the net. What a stunning looking wild fish the spots were tightly packed together. Del had told me to look out for the blue gill plates but they were not evident on this first fish. After a couple of quick photos, I moved back to the same area and one after another two more fish followed. Perhaps the cold was not bothering the fish as much as I thought.
Del and I were leapfrogging each other and I caught up with Del who was yet to get an offer. We kept moving upstream fishing likely looking spots for nothing. On one particular bound, I found what can only be described as perfect water. Overhanging trees would provide cover for any trout lurking below, the pace of the river seemed perfect. To cap it all a large number of beautifully coloured swallows were working the water taking olives from and just of the surface of the water. I moved into position and made several casts at likely lies everything seemed perfect. The fish had not read the script though and in the whole fifty yard stretch not one offer. I sat on the bank and waited for Del to catch me up. We both sat looking at the water I had just fished shaking our heads. We were both bitter cold by now the icy wind doing its job. Moving upstream I bumped into another angler accompanied by a small child who looked bitterly cold. He had been on the main river the Eden for nothing and had come to the Earmont for some shelter and the hope of a fish. Unfortunately, I could offer little hope. Another half mile I met another angler fishing wets downstream he had managed a little interest but no fish to the net.
Del and I made another big bound in order to find some fresh water. I had moved into a fairly overgrown stretch of the river and it was difficult to get to the water but after much cursing and stumbling I came to a fast deep looking run. As I was watching the run I saw a good fish pop up and take a fly from the surface then again. Getting on my knees I shuffled up to a position I could cast. The fly landed just where I wanted it and the fish obliged it was quick and I struck at the swirl. The water exploded in front of me and the fish bolted for the faster current. It was a cracker maybe close to 2lb I was careful and patient and the fish re-emerged near the bottom of the run. I could not get below it however and managed to get alongside the fish. I could see the prize still fighting hard in front of me and I stretched out my arm with my landing net. The rod pinged backwards and at first, I thought the fish had spat the hook. This was not the case though it had snapped. A huge groan escaped my lungs I might not see another fish today! I moved back up to the head of the run where another fish was up and feeding. My previous bad luck forgotten I was now focused on getting this fish. The first cast was a bit away but the next cast was on the money and this time there was no mistakes the briefest of fights and the fish was in the net. What a stunner, this one had the iron blue cheeks that Del had spoken off just a perfect looking little trout. We had fished up almost three miles and Del was yet to get a chance. We were cold and pretty despondent what should have been a lovely spring day had ended up colder than most of my Grayling sessions this year! Almost defeated we decided to walk back keeping an eye on the river for any signs of life. At one particular sweet run, Del spotted the tell-tale signs of a rising fish. As he moved into position several more fish started to stick their heads up Del switched to a size #22 Griffiths Nat and struck into a cracking fish it careered around the pool as I moved across to try and net it for him. The fish was strong and led Del a merry dance, but eventually, we got it into the net. What a cracker and the best fish of the day. After reviving and safely returning the fish Del had another go with the dry and another good fish succumbed to the Griffiths, good angling. We made the long walk back to the car the icy wind in our face on the way we bumped into two more anglers reporting nil points for their day. They looked beleaguered and beaten but we're going to persist.
Del and I got back to the car round quarter to five and fell on our lunch starving and thirsty after the long walk. Note to self, take your drink and sandwiches with you numpty! It was a great day despite the wintry conditions we managed a few fish between us when it would have been easier to just give up. I hope to return to the Eamont on a better day to enjoy these stunning fish when they are feeling a little more obliging. Many thanks to Del for sorting the fishing it was great to catch up and put the world to rights. Looking forward to my next visit to the grim North, back in the South now makes me appreciate how warm it is down here!