April has seen me spending some time on the river Wye, both at Monsal Dale as well as lower down on the Peacock at Rowsley water. As is normal for this time of year the main activity was around lunchtime with fish rising to sporadic hatches of small olives, with sport easing off by around 3.30pm meaning a relatively short fishing day for those using the dry fly. Others who fished nymphs at Monsal caught more fish, which are more active sub-surface at this time of year. Indeed, it was clear from the rise forms that many of the 'rising' fish were actually taking transitional nymphs just below the surface. The early April trips were on cold windy days but by the middle of the month the hot spell had started and, apart from the limited hatches, one could have been forgiven for thinking it was June. One of the days on the Peacock water, which is dry fly only, saw fish taken on a small sedge imitation as the Grannom were making their short lived appearance in the middle of the month. It is such a pity that this little fly is not more widespread and with a longer season than it's few days of frenzied activity, because the fish like them. Small olives were also hatching sporadically all the time we were there but particularly during the lunchtime and early afternoon period.
As well as the rivers I have been over to Yeaveley Estate just outside Ashbourne as well as Carsington during the month. At Yeaveley the fishing was good, with fish taking static or very slowly retrieved black or olive buzzers and there were fish rising all over the lake all the time we were there. As well as seeing the buzzers it was slightly surprising to see the numbers of crane flies flying around this early in the spring, not only here but also on the river Wye. I normally associate them with May at the earliest. Yeaveley is a small stillwater of about 1 acre attached to the Yeaveley Estate Shooting school. A ticket here will cost you £30.00 for a 3 fish limit plus sporting catch and release. It has a small hut on the lake and toilet facilities at the Shooting Lodge by the car park. The day I was there saw 7 fish, ranging from one and a half to two pounds in weight, caught by a complete beginner at fly fishing. For more details go to www.yeaveley-estate.co.uk or email email@example.com .
Carsington has maintained a good rod average right from opening day and I took time out from guiding and tying mayflies to have an hour or two myself the other day. Typically it was boiling hot bright sunshine without a breath of wind, conditions not conducive to good fly fishing on such a large water. Fish were rising all over, including out in the middle over 90 feet plus depths, again something we expect in July not April. They were impossible to target though because they would not tolerate an approach much closer than 50 yards before they went down. However, after a little hunting we found one or two pods of fish and managed to land one, loose a couple more and miss a few as well. The natural flies on the water were buzzers, predominantly small black ones, and this dictated the fishing method adopted. After trying static and straight line buzzer fishing first, the tactics that worked for me were 'skinny' cormorants and diawl bachs fished figure eight style on a floating line and it was very interesting to see how localised these taking fish were, something that often happens here and which is why I always try to drift rather than fish at anchor. The latest Fly Casting course there saw a very high wind coming down the lake so we sought as much shelter as possible by working behind a row of trees. Here, where there was little wind, the air was thick with small black buzzers, black gnats and Hawthorne flies, in fact we were covered in them, a pretty good indicator of the flies to be using for the next week or so, or maybe even longer. As these hatches begin to fade in the middle of May we will be looking towards the Mayfly and the smaller olives and sedge flies that will become more prolific on the rivers and to larger buzzers, caddis and lake olives on the stillwaters.
A special treat for me again this year was sharing the bay I was fishing with a great northern diver, a regular spring sight at Carsington now. He even showed me the way, coming up with a half pound fish, probably a rudd, about 50 yards from my boat. I did manage to get a few fleeting shots with my camera before he moved away - there's more to fishing than catching fish even if he is better than me.
This blog was brought to you by Philip White