It is very heartening for me and the committee to read your very enthusiastic June reports. Despite the rain and wind in the middle of the month:, the fishery really has been on song for most of the time, and the June totals of takeable browns are almost exactly on a par with May. At least two trophy fish were taken; one was killed and weighed 4lbs 9o z. The other was fractionally larger but returned – probably around 7lbs: very well done to the two members who managed to get those into the net. Once again this year the Mayfly ran on well into the third week, dropping off quite abruptly after the 21st. But at that stage (and even before) many of the fish as well as some of our wiser members had switched on to small olives, of which there have been some good hatches. C de C emergers and the parachute style Adams seem to have been very effective, and it was pleasing to see that a lot of the success has been on dries rather than nymphs. After all we are a “Dry Fly Fishing Association”(!), and although in high summer the nymph is an important tool in the box during the day, dries are usually much more effective in the evening and arguably more fun.
For what it is worth, my advice as the summer progresses is to have some small (size16) Elk Hair Caddis in your box – they really are a great fall back fly if you cannot be certain what the fish are on. A warm late evening particularly can be a good time to use this fly and can produce a magical half hour or so before dark. But when there seems to be no obvious hatch but plenty of surface movement from the fish it is very likely that they are on small, spent Caenis in the surface film – which are invisible. I have had success with very small, simple, sparsely hackled North Country spider patterns in those circumstances, but I am sure many of you will have your own solution.
I hope the weed cut passed off without causing much inconvenience. As I warned last month, it was a difficult balance to strike as it was essential to leave some weed blocks to hold up levels in this low water year. Consequently, there is still some cut weed in places where it has lodged up against the blocks, but this will rot away very quickly and apart from being a bit unsightly does no harm.
I am afraid we are experiencing the usual crop of poaching incidents – including one very unpleasant one where violence was threatened. Our committee rightly advises avoidance of confrontation, but do note down descriptions and in particular the VRNs, and let me or the Secretary have the details. We should be able to build up a log of persistent offenders and can then take some action. With the arrival of new units under the re-basing programme I know that some of the incidents have involved military personnel, and of course we can deal with these relatively easily – an explanation and a warning should suffice.
Please do record mammal sightings in your catch return. Water voles are certainly still present, but in much lower numbers than when I first took over the keepering. Some of us suspect that the young are being predated by otters, which have displaced the mink - the water vole number one enemy. As you all know, otters are well established on the fishery and it is always helpful to have a record of any sightings as we can then work out the territories and family structures. They have recently made a determined but unsuccessful attempt to undermine the expensive new fencing on the stock ponds, so they are well aware of what goes on there! Would you please also let me know about any damaged or diseased fish. On the whole, you have been very complimentary about the condition of our takeable browns, and one interesting observation is that they are better eating as a result of the de-silting of the stock ponds. But there have been one or two reports of fish with skin lesions or deformed fins and it is important that I know about these.
Finally, the committee has asked if you would you take a reminder glance at our rules (on the web site). The 100 yard rule, the use of arrows on the dashboard of your car, and the catch/kill limits have all been breached at some stage this season, and I am sure this is avoidable.