Friday, September 23, 2011

Two weeks to go

Intense showers have freshened the river and fishing continues to improve, although high wind for a few days resulted in difficult conditions for flicking flies. Several large fish have been caught, along with many between one and two pound, most of which have been returned. Daddies have caught the most fish but emergers and small drably dressed nymphs have taken their share. With two weeks of the Trout season remaining it wouldn’t be unusual to see some of the Cock fish colouring up and chasing around, but no sign of any change yet. We have some very big Grayling in the river at the moment, and this week a fish of well over two pounds, the biggest this year, was taken on a PTN, October and November fishing for Grayling could well be some of the best in recent times. The Roach also appeared to have fed well this summer and we have a good head of fish over the pound, when I cut the weed out at the start of next month the small pockets of Roach join up into larger shoals and it will be easier to make an assessment of their numbers.

Currently the river is crystal clear, and has a hint of late season sparkle, the only blot on the copybook the verdant blanket weed that is currently smothering what’s left of the Ranunculus and Celery, any Ranunculus that is free from the shackles of blanket weed is in spanking form, emerald green and luxuriant. Mental notes are also taken at this time of the year as to which trees need sorting out over the winter, everything looks a little different when the leaves are gone and the branches have lifted. Some spots need hitting quite hard, with Crack Willow to the fore once again.

Away from the river, the Pheasants look pretty good, although a little friendly. They spend much of the morning in the long grass next to the river. Ten minutes of Otis tickling them up has made them a little less domesticated and shoved them back into the wood although they keep coming back for more. The Maize is some of the best we have had in recent year and the sooner they find that the better.

On the pond the early feeding appears to have paid dividends and we have good numbers flighting at night. I have cut the duck hides, and in a few days we will shoot the pond for the first time this year. Cover is still thick around the pond, so picking up in the dark (should we shoot anything) will be a test for a Labrador, who desperately needs to buck his ideas up. There have been ducks on the pond throughout the day. This may be down to the thicker cover around the pond or the presence of half a dozen plastic ducks bobbing about, that Otis will no doubt retrieve one by one in the pitch black and dutifully lay at my feet.

I have also spent some time pepping up the electric fences around the stew ponds. Cold weather and an empty belly sharpens the mind of the Otter who will look for the easiest meal possible once the frolicking of summer is done.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

He can fly, he can fly, he can fly!

Summer is over, apparently. High winds and heavy showers have swept across the county and several thermostats have clicked as the central heating has kicked in for the first time in months. I haven’t given up on summer yet, the river can still sparkle well into October and daytime temperatures still hit the high teens and low twenties. September fishing is normally pretty good, although the wind and rain is making things difficult at the moment. On dry days the fish have risen throughout the afternoon, mostly small stuff, but several stately lunkers batting for close of play can still be tempted to flash outside off stump on a balmy afternoon. Several big fish have been lost on the surface, mostly to emergers but one to a Terry’s Terror, a fly that is always worth a try, late season, on this stretch.

Much of last week was spent shuffling our fish in the stew ponds. Our pond full of Rainbows achieved great exam results and have now gone off to the University of fishing life that is the neighbouring “Big Fish” water, we wish them well and trust they will not return at Christmas with a bag full of washing like Child A who is set to follow a similar path. Their departure set in motion a chain of events. With empty ponds, more Rainbow trout were brought in for growing on for next year, and all of our Brown Trout moved up a pond to give more space. Five days of lumping fish that put my healing hernias to their biggest test yet.

The Pheasants look fantastic, there is nothing like a belt of bad weather for bringing their feathers on and this lot look pretty good; and despite the wet, no gapes. Let’s hope they fly as well as they look.

We have Ducks. I have been trickling the feed into the pond each day, and most mornings there are a dozen or more still on the pond with plenty of feathers on the surface. I have started to clear around the hides in preparation for our first nights flighting, but am toying with the idea of leaving more cover around the margins. The pond has always held ducks at night, but few stay for the day. A little more cover may keep a few on the water to get up in the air on our Shooting Days.

Much of our Apples and Pear crop are ready. Four Pear trees have a good crop of small fruit, Of the five different varieties of eating Apple, two are laden with big fruit, the Russet and Cox have lots of small fruit, while the best of all, a tree that yields fruit that would not be out of place in a production of Snow White, maroon skin, ice white flesh, firm, crisp and of a size that fits perfectly in the palm of your hand, has had its best crop in years. King of the fruit trees around here is a Bramley that ought not to be alive having large parts of its trunk stripped of bark. Bestriding the paddock at the bottom of the garden where smaller fruits stand sentinel, it produces a huge number of apples. This year the fruit is small, but twenty feet up hang some large “easy peelers” In recent years, to gain access to the best fruit, I have used a trampoline that my employer purchased some years ago for her grandchildren. Like Eve on springs, two or three bounces get you to the crown of the tree and the best are plucked one by one. Far more fun than ladders, and probably safer too, Should apple picking by trampoline be a late addition to the Olympic schedule, I am a shoo in for a gold medal.

Some years ago when the Trampoline was delivered, I assembled it in afternoon in early June when all jobs for the day had already been done. With the last piece clicked in, I clambered aboard for what “Health and Safety” would term preliminary tests. After initial staggers a rhythm was found and height was gained. A fisherman was enjoying the Mayfly fishing on the bottom bends, and as I cleared the roof of the Bothy I asked him how he was getting on. The man with the rod stayed focused on his quarry while I interjected each time I rose above the roof line, five minutes of fishing chat followed while I bounced up and down, and to this day I don’t know if he was aware of what I was doing. He may have been politely ignoring the actions of a madman, or attributed it to an enthusiastic riverkeeper empathising with dancing Mayflies, whichever, it’s the best trampoline I’ve been on and it’s a great way of picking apples!