A few inches of rain have added a little colour to the river but not raised it’s level. We really do need many weeks of prolonged rain to recharge the aquifers for next season. The fish in the river have all but done with spawning and many have returned to deeper water for some R & R and to regain condition. Any hatches of fly at this time of the year are welcome fodder for a post-natal Trout.
I have also stripped a few fish for eggs to lay down in the hatchery. Normal mixed sex eggs, nothing exotic. For the last few years I have taken the eggs from two-year-old Brown Trout, as opposed to fish of three years or more. The eggs are slightly smaller, more can be fitted into a basket and they are easier to pick. This year as always I went through the pond around Bonfire night for fish to strip, for some reason the two year old fish were not ready to strip, the eggs had not been released from the ovaries into the body cavity and as a result could not be expressed from the vent, the few three year old fish that I had left were ready and almost over ripe in one case. The two year old fish ready for stripping two weeks later than in previous years.
The weed has now been cut and the blanket weed almost all rolled away. Despite the hint of colour in the water the freshly turned gravels have a silt free sparkle, another welcome anomaly at this time of the year are the low numbers of fish in the river and stew ponds with fungal infections. A perennial problem when the river warms up or cools down, the fungal infection is clearly identified by white patches on the head and body of the trout. Some years losses in ponds and river can be devastating but so far this year we have lost none in the ponds and I have only seen one infected fish in the river. The Grayling are also in tip-top condition and will rise to a fly around midday.
The Pheasants area still scoffing maize and if we shot at them tomorrow we would have a good bag, fingers crossed they are still about in a couple of weeks time for our first day. A few ducks are pitching in on the pond but numbers are definitely down on previous years although there are twenty or thirty on the river when I walk up with the dogs first thing in the morning.
Most trees have now shed their leaves bar an Amber tree that has now turned a deep maroon and Winter feels like it is definitely here. We have had a few hard frosts but the stingers through the wood remain head high in some places and will need a bashing from further frosts if we are not to finish a shooting day covered in welts.