One week to go before the season starts. We have our first Swallows and the Cuckoo has turned up. Lady’s smock and marsh marigolds are all out in the meadows and each morning the dawn chorus builds. The river is low, Hawthorn flies are about and we have had the obligatory flush of April Daddy Long Legs. A dry winter normally results in us being inundated with Daddies midsummer and imitations will catch a fair share of fish. Not seen too many Olives on the water this week, with Brown Trout taking smaller stuff off the surface, with the weed yet to get going many of the Browns remain bunched up in the deeper holes. The Grayling look to have done their business and have also vacated the shallows. I have caught a couple of magpies in the Larson trap, but currently lag behind the neighbouring Trout lakes who currently have birds to spare. For whatever reasons the number of Jay and Magpie stalking this parish appear to be down on recent years, which is good news for the remainder of the bird population.
With low flows, tinning has been a waste of time this winter, and some silt remains on some of the bends, there is nothing like good winter flows for scouring and cleaning the river, in motherly terms the equivalent of a rough face scrub with a wet flannel. It looks like we are in for a summer of letting the margins grow in, and leaving as much weed as possible to make the river channel as small as possible to maintain maximum speed of flow. Right now we are stuck with what we have got, as little rain is forecast for the foreseeable future. The fish in the hatchery are tubby and huge (about half an inch) and will soon be out in the pond supplied by river water, while the Rainbows that we grow for the neighbouring big fish water are ravenous and would eat twenty four hours a day if asked.
Earlier this week, we pushed the defrag button and headed off for a few days Carp fishing. Two Dads and two lads sitting behind bite alarms on a five-acre lake in the Champagne region of France. In fishing terms, a beach holiday anywhere in the sun. If pushed, it would not be my first choice of fishing, but it is very relaxed with cheese, wine, books to read and much joking from all quarters. The weather was fantastic, apart from one night when we had frost, and every night we were serenaded in our bivvies by a trio of Nightingales in the trees around the lake. We all caught fish from this newly opened lake, with three fish over thirty pounds and twenty something over twenty pounds. All the fish were in fantastic condition and provided great sport at all hours of the day. A similar lake that we fished a few years ago has recently been hit by an outbreak of SVC, a devastating disease that requires the culling of all stock and the lakes lying fallow for a considerable time and all bookings and income for the season have dissipated. In the Carp fishing business, stock and a reputation for quality fish is everything and a huge proportion of money invested is tied up in the fish in the lake. An outbreak of SVC can finish a Carp fishery off, as can predation or fish theft.