Monday, January 19, 2009
The weather warmed up this week, a difference of twenty degrees from last weeks nighttime low of minus twelve to a daytime highest temperature this week of plus eight. We have also had several welcome spells of prolonged rain, colouring the river up and lifting it a few inches. On the warmer days there was a hatch of fly early in the afternoon, mostly small stuff with the odd Olive, but enough to get some of the Grayling feeding on the surface. The odd Brown Trout in the river is showing signs of fungal infection, although the fish in the stew ponds are clear. The fish in the hatchery are feeding well now; losses to gas bubble diseased caused by a dearth of dissolved oxygen in the spring water have been minimal this year.
I have moved the fry from the hatching trough into a much bigger eight foot by four-foot tank. It is easier to keep clean and the fish have plenty of room so don’t pick up fin deformities early in their life. If you want nice natural looking stockfish then space, low stocking densities and good water flow are key. I t may make less economic sense to put fewer fish in a pond to grow on but it is really a choice between quality and quantity.
Several years ago an artist friend of my employer came for the day to take some photographs of Trout for reference with an underwater camera. We got several freshly killed fish from a variety of sources and spent a morning sewing fine fishing line into parts of their body so that they could be held like puppets in a particular pose underwater. The toned and firm muscled fish that had spent much of its life in fast flowing water with only a few friends for company struck any pose you threw at him. The flaccid fleshed fish from a densely stocked pond struggled to hold any pose at all no matter how many strings were pulled.
We have more and more Little Egrets in the area at the moment, along with the Geese that have turned up in the meadow upstream from us. We also have a huge number of Pigeons on the fields around us with the farm putting out several gas guns to boom away and keep them on the move. A Peregrine is also in the area, his presence possibly having something to do with the high density of pigeons. Several years ago a friend of mine was pigeon shooting near the top game cover and had already shot a few, that he subsequently arranged as decoys held with wings out four feet from the ground on long bouncy sticks. A few minutes later looking to the sky for his next shot he could see a small dot growing bigger at a remarkable rate. Hurtling towards him at an incredible speed a young Peregrine was stooping on one of the dead pigeons he had just placed out as a decoy. The Peregrine hitting the Pigeon Decoy at a million miles an hour, taking it onto the ground in a cloud off feathers before taking off with the decoy.
An invitation fell through the door this week, to attend an Institute of Fishery Management meeting where we are to be told “The Facts” about the stocking policy for Brown Trout. Many keepers I have spoken to are going, a very big noise is coming to relay these facts and explain the science on which these strategies have been determined.
This week my son turned fourteen. He wanted his own fly rod having shown interest in it for the first time this past season. He and his mate are keen coarse fishermen and had already been having a go at fly-fishing for Carp. For the river here an eight-foot rod with a four-weight line is ideal, with the emphasis on presentation rather than powerful casting. Several qualified instructors I know have recommended starting juniors on bigger rods with a seven-weight line, although I am in two minds. Powerful casting on this little river can often have an adverse effect, presentation rather than distance is key and the cast must show a little more refinement and settle on the water with the minimum of fuss. Fishing on bigger rivers and lakes requires the angler to feed in the power and go for distance. To use a cricketing analogy, a boy who uses a lighter blade is more able to develop his range of strokes and can then add power to these strokes as he gets bigger and develops and is able to use a bigger and heavier bat.
The Friendly local Trout Fishery up the road kindly agreed to allow my son and his mate to try their new rods on the lakes, living the “Dever Dream” they managed to haul out a nice looking Rainbow of Five pounds on a very sparkly fly with plenty of bling. The wind got up so we all came back aqnd shot a couple of brace of Duck before a Howling gale and heavy rain bought the day to an end.