Monday 16 December 2013

Trout Survival, the Odd Fish, and More Idle Chatter.

Well, what a shame.  The rain arrived a couple of days ago in force, and the rivers, being spate streams, have all become far more difficult to fish.   So difficult that usually I tend not to bother, certainly for grayling.   The levels are up substantially, and the flow rate has increased quite dramatically.   The leaves that were deposited at the river edges as the levels slowly decreased last week, have all been in motion again, having been washed away from the banks.   Finding the fish has become harder, and it has become more onerous for the fish to find bait, in between trying not to get washed downstream.   Maybe looking good for tomorrow though, although Sundays are not my favourite days to go fishing. 

A Very Thin Out of Season Trout of 3-2.   Huge Jaw.
But I did manage a couple of sessions during the week before it got too damp.    The first session was to a swim I have only fished once before.  It gave up one of my only two rainbow trout from the river about three years ago.   A fair old fish of about two pounds.  This second session was all about chasing the grey ladies again. Fishing for them was difficult, but a couple of fish did grace the old landing net, the best being a nice fish of a pound and nine ounces.     The trout proved a substantial nuisance ( where are they all during the trout season?).  Four small trout were followed by four far better fish.  Two spotties of about a pound and a half, which may well have been the same fish.   If so, it managed to find its way back home, some twenty yards or so, and become so hungry as to take the same bait, in the same spot, after only about 45 minutes.  Mind you, trout are silly buggers and I had one fish three times in an afternoon last year.  The other two trout were bigger,  one of 2-7,  and a 3-2.    I stopped fishing then, for it was obvious these trout had fairly recently spawned, and were desperate to regain lost weight and condition.  It didn't seem very fair to continue catching them.    Look at the photo of the three pounder.  It demonstrates quite clearly why we need a long trout close season.  The fish has lost so much weight that its BMI would be lower than that of Kate Moss divided by Twiggy. What weight would that fish have gone in the last week of the trout season? Anyone any ideas?  Five pounds anyone?  In the Winter, with minimal food in the river, a spawned out trout is likely to recover very slowly.    Why do trout not ignore the past evolution of their species, and start to spawn in the Spring like sensible fish?    What are the advantages of spawning now?    I gain the impression that the ova lie dormant in the gravel until the water has warmed up.  During those months they sit there praying that there are no heavy floods, or are the eggs so sticky that they can make it through the nights until April?    Crayfish permitting. Coarse fish seem to have their heads screwed on far better than do trout.  Come to think of it why are they called "coarse" fish.  The word implies something of a Grimsby fishwife, all mouth and obscenities.    But coarse fish seem to be far more logical, much brighter than trout.   Trout do seem to be the daftest of our native fish, far too eager to snaffle any baited hook.   Maybe that is why fly fishing was invented, to give trout fishing a level of difficulty, and therefore trout anglers a level of apparent sophistication?   Trout are certainly at the thick end of the IQ and coarseness spectrum.  Does any coarse angler really believe all the guff about  only such and such a dry fly works under certain river conditions?  Come to think of it, does any game angler really think that?  Or is it just nice to have a fly box full of pretty things?  Ah well, I probably upset a few carp anglers the other week, it was time to target the game anglers.   Who next I wonder?  :-)

The swim I fished was what I would call a big swim.  Odd things rivers:  you can get what looks to be a very "big" swim, wide, with good flows right across the river, and then a short distance downstream you will get a "small" swim, which appears to carry dramatically less water.   It doesn't of course, but can really give that impression.   The strange thing is that the "big" swims always seem to hold far more fish, and so it is not just me that is being hoodwinked by the river.

The following day I fished a "well known" swim on the river.   And probably suffered for my art.   One tiny grayling, three tiny trout and a couple of trout that were somewhat larger, one just about besting a pound.  Again, the largest was showing signs of having spawned, whereas the three smallest were just creeping out of the parr stage.  But, despite sport being slow I was well enough entertained by a pair of dippers, that
Pair of Dippers. Photo Taken in Spring
chased each other past me, very low over the water, whirring their way across the stream.   They spent a lot of time feeding at the edge of a gravel bar, going in up to their knees, or more probably their ankles.  One bird did manage a couple of full Cousteau underwater trips, but the morning chill had maybe kept them out of the water.   Like the rabbits the other day, without their white chest patches, they would be brilliantly camouflaged.   In their case though, maybe the white helps hide their silhouette against the sky, reducing the chance of prey items spotting them.  Or maybe, more likely, I am completely wrong in suggesting anything of the sort.  I was watching one, thinking that it was very much kingfisher sized, when a kingfisher flew past me, heading upstream far faster than the dippers.  And then I missed a bite. Bloody kingfisher!    But it didn't really matter, as, a few minutes later TWO kingfishers came flying rapidly back
Treecreeper at its Nest Site
downstream.   There was one wonderful moment when I could see a pair of dippers and a pair of kingfishers.   Other birds seen: a buzzard, herons, goosanders, cormorants as usual, crows and jackdaws, a treecreeper and two unidentified flying ducks. Not mallards, but similar in size.    Too fast for my ageing eyesight. 

I had to pack up about 11.00am, because I had booked, a couple of weeks ago, two tickets to see West Side Story at the Manchester Palace Theatre.   Lucky to get the tickets, very few were still unsold, and to get two adjacent seats I had to book the afternoon matinee. Oh dear!  Full of schoolkids and drama students.   Our seats were near the top of the "Grand Tier",  about as high as you can get on a Wednesday afternoon without the help of illegal substances.   It was really far up.  And steep too.   I was very tempted here to tell the old joke whose punchline is "Yeah, deep too".  But I am not going to.  It was so high that we could see the very top of the porticoes over the various posh boxes that lined the sides of the auditorium.    My wife commented that the tops had not been dusted for years.   Now my wife and I continually differ on what constitutes a tidy room.  I had always hoped to convert her to my way of thinking, that a room can still be tidy whilst littered....strewn?....I'll go with "furnished" I think.... with various items of fishing gear, a few half read books, most of last week's papers etc.   But her complaining about the dust in the theatre has finally convinced me that we will never be able to agree and close that particular gap in our thinking.   So I considered, once again, the steepness of the tiers, and figured that if she were to crowd surf from our seats,  she could build up just enough speed, as she approached the edge of the balcony, so that when launched into the auditorium space,  she would just about be able to take out the first violin in the orchestra pit.  

Getting more or less the last two unsold seats meant that we were plumbed into the ultimate in restricted legroom seating areas.  It was impossible to sit with feet pointed straight towards the stage.  Not enough legroom, and so my feet had to be turned slightly out.  Most uncomfortable, sitting there, with widely separated knees projecting over the seat in front.   I can assure you that it is NOT enjoyable to  spend a couple of hours with a young blonde art student's head between ones knees.  Of course the lack of space propagates backwards too, and I made the mistake of turning around during the interval.   My head was also between someone's knees and I rather embarrassingly came face to close up face with a pair of flowery pink knickers.  I cricked my neck quite badly, due to the speed I felt was needed to get back to a respectable eyes front position.  Four rows below us two fifteen year old schoolgirls decided that the interval was a good time to have a fight.  The one whose nose was bloodied was allowed to remain, but the girl who had hit her was quickly muscled out by the schoolteacher.  Well done Miss!  I used the rest of the interval to convince everyone in row M, that, if we all sat pointing 45 degrees to the right, thus placing our legs in front of the adjacent seat and its occupant, we would all be rather more comfortable, and I would probably be able to stand up and walk on leaving the theatre.   The second half was therefore suffered in only minor agony. The first half had made the prospect of a Japanese WWII prison camp seem almost inviting.  Although suffering less, we were so high up, that the top curtain cut off our view of all performers on the staged balconies.  It is difficult to recognise a character when you can see nothing above her waist.   I had to ask the wife which performer was wearing the pink trousers.  My wife both notices and remembers this type of thing.
All went well with the second half of the musical until the long intense silence of the death scene.   I felt quite embarrassed for the old dear a few seats away whose mobile phone rang at that very moment.   The embarrassment turned to incredulity when she answered it.  "Hello Mary....Bingo? Yes.....what time tonight....."   I swear I saw the corpse corpsing.

OK,  show's over,  time for the applause and then you can all clear off home. Maybe take this thought with you:

Today you are the oldest that you have ever been.   It is also as young as you will ever be.  A very special day...and you have just wasted part of it reading all this crap.

A Nice Plump December Grayling
P.S.  I did fish today, Sunday, and the river responded well.    I would have said brilliantly had 10 of my 12 fish not been out of season trout.   Only one showed signs of having bred, and it would seem as if only fish of a pound and over breed in this stream,  the smaller individuals maybe still being too immature. The other two fish were a chub something over two pounds and a grayling that I judged to be 1-6.  A beautiful fish though, and caught as I watched a peregrine falcon perched atop a very tall tree. I had been hoping to see it fly off,  or maybe chase a woodpigeon, but it sneaked away unseen as I played the grayling.  Fishing the river on a Sunday was indeed a pain.  I was the only angler around, fishing a stretch I have not been near for about three years.  It was heaving with dog walkers, dozens of them.  One batch even came by the dozen, twelve dog owners each with their precious pooches gathered together in a wildebeest sized herd.  And not a lion in sight.  None of the twelve dog owners was bright enough to suggest to the others that maybe they should go elsewhere to throw their sticks into the water.   My swim was constantly churned up by canines for a good twenty minutes.  Absolutely no consideration at all.    I moved swims several times during the day, more to seek other fish than to avoid the dreadful plague dogs. Sorry:  plague  of dogs. No need to take that personally Mr. Adams.  The dogs still jumped in the water, or ran amok scattering my gear. Of thirty or so owners whose dogs caused me pain today, only three apologised.   Whilst they were apologising I was thinking "All I want for Christmas is a 12 bore shotgun and open season on poodles, labradors and dalmations.  Especially dalmations."

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me.
One twelve bore shotgun,
Eleven cormorants croaking,
Ten dalmations drowning,
Nine yorkies yowling.....

Oh come on!   Join in, you all know the words.  Get with the festive spirits.

I'm going,  Obviously way past my bed time. 


  1. a rant if there ever was but im with George on this one ....cant wait for next weeks!

  2. Thanks for those two comments. I hadn't noticed just how much of a rant it was until you pointed it out Ian.