I fished in an area that marked the start of my fishing season last year. There have been significant changes since then; notably the weather, it is in stark contrast to last year and the river levels are the highest they have been for a number of years. The previous season I didn't start fishing until the middle of May, even with a late start I struggled to find fish. However, as I wasn't alone I wasn't particularly concerned, most people were finding it difficult locating fish, and the blame, lay mostly with the cold spring that gripped the country.
As the season progressed, I fished other areas, concentrating on stretches that proved more productive. I simply forgot about the section that started my season. A full free day gave me the opportunity to revisit; I had a plan. There was a run that has always alluded me, the current sweeps tight against the near bank, cover overhangs the water making it a tricky spot to fish.
On my arrival the plan changed instantly. Someone had been busy over the winter; the whole stretch has had massive habitat improvements; narrowing, islands, brushwood and flow deflectors. With this revelation I headed much further downstream.
I found an inviting set of runs and settled down on top of a trunk laid in the margins. The river ran fast and clear, ranunculus swayed in the current. I took my time setting up, a brisk downstream wind necessitated a short steeply tapered leader. I tied on a klink I made up the previous day; herl, flash and drab. A cream JP pupa with a 2.5mm copper tungsten bead accompanied it underneath.
I caught a small trout within a couple of casts, a tiny trout around three inches. The next cast produced the same and so the day continued with succession of trout falling mostly to the JP pupa, with enough slashing and taking the klink to prove it's worth. Most of the trout were around five inches with the odd fish going bigger. The largest of the day barely measured nine inches.
I lost count relatively quickly. I would say I hooked fifty plus fish and landed over thirty. The one thing that surprised me was the sheer number of small fish I came across. Normally the fish would average ten to twelve inches, never have I caught so many small fish. This got me thinking about last season. I wonder now if the reason there were so few fish to be found was because they simply weren't there. I think the fish I came across were two year old's so they would have been there but too small to catch. I suspect the river has been poached, this may explain the lack of sizable trout; the biomass having been replaced by the numerous smaller fish. If nothing else the future bodes well.