Another tricky week for fishing, July is always a hard month on this stretch of river this one particularly so; there was even a four day period when no fish were caught despite the stocking over the previous two weeks. Some rods would put a fishless day down to the keeper not stocking and the river being devoid of all fish; it is a small river, the water is clear, we must be able to see everything in the river channel. Occasionally when stocking with Brown Trout at this time of the year they will put their heads down, tuck themselves away and concentrate on sub surface feeding, this is particularly the case if hatches of fly are poor. To counteract this quirk of mixed sex Brown Trout, some beats stock with Rainbow Trout that are more free- rising in the second half of the season. As we have a “ mixed sex Brown Trout” stocking policy, rods have to accept that this is the way the fishing may go at this time of year and develop tactics to deceive the Browns that feed for only a short time during the day.
As I have stated previously, a batch of hatchery reared mixed sex Brown Trout will all be different in appearance, some will be completely clear of spots, others will have a line of ten or more red spots on their bronze flanks. Some will have a complete covering of large black spots, some covered in fine black spots. Each one is unique, and when it comes to stocking the story is the same. Some will be caught within the day, others within a week. Some will take a month to rise while one or two will tuck themselves away and occupy a particular lie for three or four years. Several seasons ago we had a stocked hen fish in the middle of our stretch of river, that we would see for the first two weeks of the season and the last two weeks of the season. I witnessed her spawning for three years in succession, and on the final time I saw her she was approaching double figures in weight. For three years she disappeared for the majority of the season, tucking herself away under some tree root or overhanging sedge mat, feeding well and packing on weight. She was never caught, and probably died without any one knowing, unless she has grown so fat that she can’t get out of her hidey-hole.
This stretch of river is twenty feet across at its widest point and gin clear; yet canny Browns with no real hunger can still conceal themselves with ease.
An improvement in the midday hatches of ephemerids would help matters, hatches of sedge from late afternoon onwards remain good, a lower flying insect than the Olive, their ability to get back to the water to lay eggs less impaired by the wet and windy weather of twelve months ago. A sure sign of a dearth of hatching Olives during the day are the Swallows, Swifts and Martins who climb ever higher in the sky in their quest for an afternoon snack. If Olives are hatching they will all be swooping low over the river to snack on the hatching Olive Duns. Wagtails too will also be darting out from the fringe to take the hatching insects, along with the rapidly maturing juvenile waterfowl. I have spent several days this week preparing for the arrival of the Pheasants. Eight weeks old they will have their flight feathers clipped to prevent them flying out of the pen. The pen comprises a wooded area surrounded by a six feet high wire fence; this has a ten-inch high electric fence around it to deter foxes. The pen is wooded but has clear areas cut through it to provide areas of sunlight, there is a radio playing- the human voice deterring predators, and several flashing lights that serve the same purpose. The birds are fed with pellets and have a ready supply of water, within one or two days all the birds will be roosting at night in the trees in the pen. As the birds’ flight feathers grow back they will be able to fly over the perimeter fence and spend the day in the woodland outside the pen, although they will continue to return to the pen or the trees surrounding it to have an evening feed, listen to the radio, and roost at night