Reports to 30th November 2009
Updated on 2nd December 2009
ENGLISH LAKES FLY FISHING WITH PATRICK ARNOLD. ANGLING IN THE ENGLISH LAKE DISTRICT (165A)
This Report now covers Game Angling only.
November is often a wet month but this year it was exceptionally so – taking the Country as a whole it was the wettest November for 58 years as the month saw 8.5 inches as against the previous highest of 7.5 inches in 1951. This, however, totally belies what happened in Cumbria during November – where two to three times this amount fell.
The month started with strong winds and very heavy rain with some localized flooding – the full moon on 2nd November seeing this change in weather with our normal lows from the Atlantic – conditions more normally associated with October.
The rain continued to fall and two consecutive week-ends brought very stormy weather with strong winds, heavy rain and localized flooding leaving the ground saturated and water levels high. In between there was a mixture of breezy, showery days and others when it was pleasant and mild.
It was the warm winds from the south to south west bringing the especially mild conditions for most of the month with temperatures several degrees above the seasonal average which played an important part in what happened next.
Over the 18th and 19th November a deep low came in and with the warm air it was carrying a lot of moisture which came into contact with the cooler air over the Cumbrian Fells. Instead of moving rapidly across Cumbria as normally happens it became stationery on the coastal side of the Fells with its centre over the catchment areas for the rivers Derwent and Cocker, the wettest place in England. The rain that fell was an unprecedented deluge with just over 12 inches falling in a 24 hour period – England’s wettest day on record. All this fell on already saturated ground with lakes and rivers full.
The lakes overflowed with becks and rivers swollen into raging torrents bursting their banks in many places bringing extensive flooding which has been well documented. It has been said that this rainfall was of “Biblical” proportions and possibly a one in one thousand occurrence.
Flood defences are generally built to withstand a one in one hundred occurrence, it is not practical to construct them beyond this. Arguments will rage for a long while as to the causes and what should be done for the future.
What is, however, clear that the natural flood plains did what Mother Nature intended – flooded. Man may try to do many things but trying to bypass what Nature Intends will never succeed.
Yet again the folly of more and more concrete on flood plains rather than leaving them to absorb the water, rise slowly, hold the water and then drain away slowly, has been witnessed. Sadly this is little comfort to the bereaved after tragic loss of life and to the misery of thousands who have seen homes, businesses severely damaged and not very well publicised the devastation to farmland and livestock at a time when the farming community are struggling for survival.
Towards the end of the month “the late summer / autumn temperatures” with warm winds from the south to south west and the extensive flooding rapidly gave way to our first taste of “early winter temperatures” : feeling raw in the bitterly cold north east wind and blustery showers, heavy at times, occasionally with hail or sleet – there was a light dusting of snow on the tops of the fells.
December also started with strong winds and rain some of which also fell as a further light dusting of snow on the higher fells ; temperatures dropped to the seasonal average for the time of year – feeling raw in the wind. The immediate forecast is for more unsettled weather.
A BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF THE EFFECTS ON OUR RIVERS AND LAKES……..
Rivers have been in flood with those on the West Coast the worst affected, especially the Derwent and its tributaries where the damage is undoubtedly severe to banks and thousands of tons of boulders, stones and gravel deposited in fields ; no doubt damage will be reported from other rivers too.
Anglers will, understandably, be concerned about damage to Redds and spawning Salmonids. It is too early to assess the situation which will have to be done on a catchment by catchment basis as each one will be different. It is hoped that as November was exceptionally mild, most Salmon have yet to spawn although some spawning areas will have been lost on some rivers.
Both Sea Trout and Brown Trout will have almost finished their spawning so there will be a loss of Redds, not just on main rivers but also in the becks flowing into the lakes which were at record heights.
The Eden system was not generally as high as the floods in 2005 with the exception of its tributary the Eamont which carried substantial flood water from Ullswater.
Mother Nature does have a way of compensating and it was found after the 2005 floods, especially on the Eden, that although some Redds were lost the survival rate from spawning was higher than normal, so maybe this will happen this year too. Sea Trout runs were generally slightly higher this year so this should help offset some of the losses.
It is feared that perhaps Wild Brown Trout may be the biggest loser, especially those that inhabit our main lakes – Ullswater may well be particularly badly hit as the level rose some 6 – 7 feet the highest that locals can ever remember with severe flooding and the becks very swollen.
The adult fish themselves are usually quite resilient.
Between 15th October and into early November some anglers were out with catches of Grayling at Warwick Hall and Lazonby Estate on nymphs and dries.
Since then the river has been and still is in flood with no chance for anglers to go out Grayling fishing – at the end of November at Lazonby Estate the river was running at 4 feet.
With the ground saturated, feeder rivers and becks very high, it will take a long dry spell, preferably with some heavy frost at night, for the river itself to start dropping down – with rain falling as I write and more rain forecast unfortunately this is not going to happen in the immediate future.
Counter Figures from Corby :
Below is the updated data to the end of September 2009 released by the Environment Agency.
As always the counts have been verified and the down counts subtracted as appropriate but they are not species specific and, therefore, include not just Salmon but Sea Trout, Brown Trout, Sea Lamprey, Grayling etc.
Also, and as always, if you are totalling figures for the year-to-date then Andy Gowans ( Environment Agency) suggests using the 12 month period from February to January rather than January to December as January tends to be late running autumn fish rather than early springers.
Month 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
January 41 51 142 243 267 460 536 38 343 285
February 15 70 174 19 60 28 37 8 75 84
March 19 44 75 153 115 197 79 57 134 143
April 217 194 223 322 250 222 155 214 282 336
May 411 556 680 752 744 746 652 435 442 790
June 1417 546 534 460 566 763 556 1559 1061 1577
July 1140 1300 752 636 927 490 725 95 805 1563
August 818 586 1074 341 1419 1165 908 687 2128 1151
September 1019 1275 797 952 1902 2267 2291 2614 1389 1394
October 775 1408 2238 649 2887 1958 2401 1945 2822
November 940 868 994 1613 1575 636 980 1647 845
December 522 376 960 607 1518 682 196 1113 996
Looking at the data the figures for February to May are broadly similar to previous years, whilst June and July are relatively high and, it is suspected, reflect higher numbers of Sea Trout this year than in the last few years which is encouraging but these figures will also include Sea Lamprey.
In contrast, the counts for August and September are moderate at best and reflect the relative lack of Salmon – especially Grilse – in the summer and early autumn. With the high June and July counts it means that the total net count for the year to- date is reasonably good – as always when analysing data “the devil is in the detail!”
IMPORTANT NOTE :
In the section below on the river Kent there are two paragraphs pertaining to the smaller run of Grilse this year and observations made. These points apply to the river Eden – and indeed many, if not most, other rivers.
Counter Figures from Basinghyll
Below is the updated data to the end of October 2009 released by the Environment Agency.
Month Salmon Sea Trout Herling TOTAL
January 24 26 6 56
February 36 8 17 61
March 22 16 18 56
April 47 16 29 92
May 43 161 20 224
June 136 878 171 1185
July 51 403 345 799
August 131 237 194 562
September 121 101 81 303
October 384 359 116 859
TOTAL 995 2205 997 4197
Unfortunately this data for the river Kent does not make good reading. The month by month analysis clearly highlights the poorer Salmon runs in the summer months. Last year was similarly poor and it had been hoped that this was just a “one-off” but that is not the case.
The lack of any significant numbers of Grilse this summer is not just a local phenomenon. There is National concern about the returns of Salmon this year, especially Grilse. The precise reasons for this are not known but undoubtedly it is mainly due to factors at sea with speculation inter-alia about the small increase in sea water temperatures effecting where the Salmon are feeding.
There is a lot of concern about where Salmon fish farms are located in estuaries where Salmon (and Sea Trout) return.
On the river Eden anglers, including Patrick Arnold, who fishes the Eden on a very regular basis, came across Salmon in the 5 lb. – 8 lb. Class during September and early October.
Initially it was thought that these were predominantly late running Grilse but then the thoughts changed to whether these fish were in fact small Salmon that had spent an additional winter at sea. On talking to Fisheries Scientists at the Environment Agency they confirmed that the latter thinking may well be correct and that these thoughts had been expressed by anglers on other rivers Nationally.
If this is correct it confirms the perception that there was a much lower run of Grilse. The only way to ascertain whether this class of fish are Grilse or small Salmon is from scaled readings – samples of scales can of course be taken from fish without damaging them when catch & release is being practised.
In 2008 the Salmon counts were significantly down on recent years and the worst since 1999.
Fortunately, for the time being anyway, the Spawning Targets for the river Kent are being met (See comments in the above section on Redds following the possible damage subsequent to the floods in November 2009).
Anglers fishing the river Kent – and indeed all rivers – must really take note of what is happening to our Salmon (and Sea Trout) runs and practise a much higher incidence of catch & release. It is imperative that everything possible is done to protect our Salmon and Sea Trout stocks.
Sea Trout numbers, however, appear to be showing a slight increase. Whilst this is good news it should be set in context and noted that there is no room for complacency as Sea Trout and Herling runs in 2008 were similar to 2007 also 2006 but were considerably down on the long term average, a very significant decline.
For those anglers who wish to study the statistics the following tables with the monthly analysis of counts for the full years 1997 to 2008 (a 12 year period) inclusive for Salmon, also Sea Trout and Herling are shown below.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec TOTAL
1997 19 20 10 7 95 140 273 29 340 287 209 44 1473
1998 12 12 8 32 166 542 542 270 60 304 144 74 2166
1999 4 7 10 1 10 32 185 431 142 107 85 9 1023
2000 232 57 45 0 16 44 164 582 299 517 263 135 2354
2001 0 35 19 1 9 137 164 870 654 545 343 105 2882
2002 17 7 4 20 49 192 336 938 267 827 402 89 3149
2003 26 10 11 33 90 214 193 140 490 260 1150 124 2741
2004 25 10 16 35 17 118 98 738 558 384 651 332 2982
2005 75 12 33 32 29 100 24 361 893 872 373 278 3082
2006 92 12 47 35 35 77 117 585 435 543 374 273 2625
2007 8 28 29 71 32 83 32 234 575 447 463 302 2304
2008 16 23 18 35 18 63 49 108 187 303 143 184 1147
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec TOTAL
1997 Sea Trout 0 0 6 23 516 45 129 52 619 630 260 0 2280
Herling 1 11 5 10 12 12 24 62 56 69 40 34 336
1998 Sea Trout 0 0 1 31 149 3039 1442 610 334 378 35 3 6022
Herling 1 0 0 8 8 43 223 64 50 1222 42 10 1671
1999 Sea Trout 0 6 14 22 220 873 682 273 649 554 234 16 3543
Herling 6 5 12 5 7 48 143 110 117 118 36 6 613
2000 Sea Trout 0 0 0 10 119 512 257 192 412 218 108 0 1827
Herling 23 49 19 23 33 621 1396 324 286 122 81 84 3061
2001 Sea Trout 0 0 0 28 96 788 779 463 319 434 105 85 3097
Herling 28 6 3 15 13 102 1060 404 -32 5 58 26 1688
2002 Sea Trout 31 20 11 16 152 712 591 490 184 505 375 76 3163
Herling 10 4 6 16 6 45 456 299 46 -21 79 57 1003
2003 Sea Trout 18 15 11 28 238 651 1084 73 239 123 297 35 2812
Herling 6 5 6 27 -4 69 581 102 49 46 112 25 1024
2004 Sea Trout 30 15 10 9 41 436 461 669 459 241 130 106 2607
Herling 17 5 6 11 7 121 382 216 45 31 152 25 1018
2005 Sea Trout 85 9 15 10 69 575 228 295 338 510 254 42 2430
Herling 16 5 6 7 7 92 119 261 77 86 67 12 755
2006 Sea Trout 33 16 11 6 90 280 637 281 277 219 167 101 2118
Herling 4 11 55 5 24 61 405 118 25 3 46 32 789
2007 Sea Trout 5 11 21 11 78 433 257 436 356 229 160 109 2106
Herling 4 17 8 45 0 110 220 146 76 217 71 21 935
2008 Sea Trout 29 19 22 27 27 326 478 279 228 562 137 97 2231
Herling 5 17 11 11 9 137 196 95 64 168 58 35 806
November is often a wet month but this year it was exceptionally so during the first half. Two consecutive week-ends brought very stormy weather with strong winds, heavy rain and localized flooding. In between there was a mixture of breezy, showery days and others when it was pleasant and mild.
Stillwater anglers who picked their time very carefully recorded some good catches. The smaller Waters have been fishing have been fishing particularly well.
Fishing for Rainbow Trout was severely disrupted for almost a week. Although water levels rose it was not, with the exception of Esthwaite Water, the flooding on our stillwaters that caused the problem but the atrocious weather conditions of gales and driving rain that kept anglers away. The very few fishermen who braved the elements actually caught well.
This Water continued to perform well even in the most horrendous conditions ; the Rainbow Trout were often seen topping in the waves. Several anglers recorded double figure bags. Floating lines and long leaders with Buzzers, Nymphs, Black Hoppers and Daddy-long-legs consistently accounted for quality fish. James Timmins was again top rod with 11 to 4 lbs. but Chris Egar took the heaviest fish of 6 lbs. 4 ozs. on a Red and Black Buzzer, fished static. Intermediate lines with lures especially Orange Fritz and a steady retrieve also worked well. The best time was during the middle part of the day.
The level rose 8” but quickly dropped back 4” to hold at 4” above winter level. When the new walkways and platforms were put in they were raised several inches to allow for high water levels and avoid the problem of being submerged that used to occur here. Those who know the Fishery will appreciate all the hard work that Ken Dawes has undertaken and continues to do during the past 3 to 4 years – it really has all paid off.
Those who visited Bigland had good numbers of Rainbow Trout to a variety of techniques : Malcolm Proudlock 12 and George Swain 11 to 4 lbs. on Nomads and James Timmins 8 on Daddy -long-legs and Buzzers. Between the heavy periods of rain fish could be seen topping throughout the day to hatches of small Black Buzzers. Some found floating lines and long leaders was still the best approach whilst others used intermediate lines stripping the fly steadily back took good numbers of fish, including some of the larger ones. On calmer days anglers concentrated their efforts around the middle of the day when the temperature was best for feeding fish.
Best flies : Daddy-long-legs, Buzzers and Montana Nymphs.
Best lures : Nomads and Orange Fritz.
The level of the lake rose to winter level, was coloured and the water temperature dropped a couple of degrees with all the fresh water. These conditions always unsettle the Rainbow Trout and for a few days fishing was dour. When the level started to drop the Trout were feeding 8 feet down on Fry and boat anglers caught using sinking lines with Minkies and Cat’s Whiskers. During mild and calm spells the Trout were higher in the water again feeding on Fry and at times tiny Black Buzzers during sporadic hatches.
With further rain the level of the lake rose once more and the Trout went off the feed.
Mid / End November
Esthwaite Water was the exception as the lake rose some 6 – 7 feet to the highest level on record with severe flooding. With the influx of so much fresh water the water temperature dropped and this combined with the rapid change in level the Rainbow Trout were dour. Only the occasional angler was out before and after the worst of the atrocious weather. From a boat John Burtle 6 Rainbows using a sinking line and lures. The level has now dropped back considerably.
Now that some colder weather has arrived the best approach for boat anglers will be a fast sinking line and lures with Cat’s Whiskers and Boobies firm favourites with a very slow retrieve. When the Trout do come back on the feed they will be shoaled up where the Fry are, predominantly in the area just in front of the Ticket Office and along the shore towards the Car Park – often very close in to the bank.
The best area for Rainbow Trout was still The Shallows at the top end where anglers used a floating line, long leader with Buzzer pupa and small nymphs, but during calm spells changed to small Black Emergers. Another approach was an intermediate line with a Damsel nymph and a slow figure of eight retrieve.
Mid / End November
There was some flooding which quite quickly subsided.
From now on slow winter fishing for Rainbow Trout here with the best chance on calmer days. The best area will be The Shallows at the top end with small Buzzers or nymphs the best approach, alternatively fish deep with small dark lures.
Not many anglers were out on this exposed Water. The Rainbow Trout started to shoal up as is always the case at this time of the year and it paid to keep on the move until you found them. When cool those anglers that were out used sub-surface tactics – a floating line, long leader with nymphs and Buzzer pupa or alternatively an intermediate line with a Damsel nymph. During any mild spells the Rainbows moved up to the surface to feed on very small Buzzers and Smuts. These fish were very finicky and difficult to tempt so good presentation with a fine leader and small imitative patterns increased the chances of catching.
Mid / End November
There was some flooding which quite quickly subsided.
As this is a very exposed Water it is essential to pick your day carefully during the winter months. The Rainbow Trout are shoaled up now and confined to just a few areas – so keep moving until you find them. The Trout are educated so using imitative flies will do better.
Whilst fewer anglers than normal were out here the catches of Rainbow Trout were excellent : Dave Hoggarth and Raymond Harwood each landed 13 on Buzzers and Black lures respectively ; Geoff Waites and Steve Trow 10 each on Nymphs and Fritz lures respectively ; Steve Short 8 on Grey Buzzers and Carl Jackson 7 using a variation of flies from Daddy-long-legs, Buzzers and Fritz lures ; also with 7 all on Buzzers was Dave Huson ; Keith Lamb recorded the heaviest Rainbow weighing 6 lbs. on a Damsel nymph.
The Rod Average was 4.5
Mid / End November
The flooding here was not as bad as on other Waters.
Many of the anglers who ventured out at Wych Elm recorded some exceptionally good catches of Rainbow Trout given the conditions prevailing with the best from : Raymond Harwood 16 on Black lures ; Keith Fenton 12 on Bloodworm patterns ; Ian Caulfield and Chris Trinick 10 each on Buzzers and Damsel nymphs respectively ; Norman Rogers 9 on Buzzers ; Dean Taylor 8 on Nymphs and Mike Devaney 7 also on various Nymphs.
The Rod Average was 5.3 – exceptionally good given the conditions prevailing.
Anglers recorded the best catches of Rainbow Trout for quite a while ; in breezy conditions and the Trout taking off the top, Gordon Swain had a fantastic session with 28 to 4 lbs. 8 ozs. on Daddy-long-legs ; Malcolm Proudlock 12 on Blue Buzzers ; Chris Trinck 11 to 5 lbs. on Black lures and Mike Whilby10 on Green Fritz lures.
Mid / End November
Similarly here the flooding was not too bad with the strong winds causing more of a problem for those anglers going out.
Despite the conditions anglers brought Rainbow Trout to the net : Raymond Harwood in action again with 18 staying with his trusted Black lures fished on an intermediate line ; John Morris and Jim Gough 7 each on Black Fritz lures and Orange & Black Fritz lures respectively.
IMPORTANT NOTE :
There are some new Winter Opening Times from 21st December 2009 : the Fishery will be Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays but OPEN Thursdays to Sundays inclusive from 8.30 a.m. until dusk (approximately 3.45 p.m.) with the last Ticket sold 3 hours prior to this. The Fishery will also be Closed on Bank Holidays over Christmas.
Until then the Fishery is open every day except Wednesdays.
Anglers wishing to contact the Fishery should do so on Mobile 07967020334.
Outlook for Stillwaters
With the immediate forecast for some unsettled weather it will be very much a matter of picking the right day.
CUMBRIA’S FIRST ‘FESTIVAL OF FISHING’………..
The Festival was certainly acclaimed as a great success.
The Festival 2010 will be from Saturday 15th May 2010 to Sunday 23rd May 2010.
Further information will be added as it becomes available.
PATRICK ARNOLD and ENGLISH LAKES FLY FISHING
Patrick is a passionate and very experienced Game Angler, regularly fly fishing the rivers, lakes, tarns and stillwaters in the English Lake District. He has also fished throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and Austria. When time allowed he was a competent fly fishing competition angler on the National Circuit.
He is a professional Fly Fishing Instructor, Game Angling Ghillie / Guide offering Fly Fishing Tuition – Individual, Group and Courses – also Guided Fly Fishing Days, Corporate Hospitality Days which can also include other Countryside Activities and Angling Holidays. When asked, he gives lectures and less formal talks on a wide range of angling topics including “Anglers and Conservation”.
Patrick’s speciality is fishing for Wild Fish with a love of the river Eden and Ullswater lake. When on the riverside searching for Salmon, Sea Trout, wild Brown Trout and Grayling, Patrick has Rods available for clients at Lazonby Estate on the river Eden (just north of Penrith) – Prime Beats in some really beautiful and peaceful surroundings as the number of Rods are strictly limited on any one day. He is a very knowledgeable and accomplished boat angler and on Ullswater (from Glenridding) he has access for clients to a 17 ft. Angler’s Fancy boat which is ideal for true loch style fishing for wild Brown Trout. When fishing for Rainbow Trout, Patrick takes clients to a number of stillwaters in the South Lakes : from the bank at Bigland, Ghyll Head also High Newton and from a boat at Esthwaite Water, where there are also facilities for families with young children. When requested, Patrick will travel to Waters further afield. Rod Hire is available when out fishing with Patrick.
Patrick is an Agent for Greys of Alnwick. He has been appointed by Fisheries as a Game Angling Instructor and Ghillie / Guide, also by a number of nearby Hotels as their Resident Fly Fishing Expert.
He is a Member of the Angling Writers’ Association, a prolific Angling Writer and his Award Winning Reports aim to help anglers, especially visitors to the area, to find out : Where is fishing well and What are likely to be the most successful tactics. The Fly Fishing ‘Hints and Tips’ are based on his own experiences. He features from time to time on television and radio for issues effecting conservation and angling in the Lake District – the protection of the environment and development of sustainable game fishing. He is a member of Angling Clubs, both in England and Ireland. For many years he was an active member of a number of National, Regional and Local Committees.
For further information contact Patrick Arnold at English Lakes Fly Fishing :
e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: +44 (0) 1229 889792 or +44 (0) 1229 889365
Address : “Fellside”, Kirkby-in-Furness, Cumbria LA17 7UF, England.
Websites : www.lakedistrictfishing.net and www.englishlakesflyfishing.co.uk
When Patrick is out with clients, Jill, will do all she can to help you.