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It is always a great pleasure after a long and very wet back-end to the year, to think about what the potential of the impending season will be. The people we may meet, how the pools have changed on the beats after the winter floods, the runs of salmon that may come, the quality of the trout population, to name but a few thoughts.
Looking back at 2011, it was a pretty good start; the weather was quite exceptional, during March and April it was about as perfect as it gets for that time of year. There were good numbers of salmon in the pools; they were willing to take a fly and all was well with the world. The trout fishing was truly world class with fin perfect fish and of a very high average weight for the Eden. Insect activity was excellent with large dark olives in substantial quantity, olive uprights and a blizzard of Grannom. Sea trout were in the river by early April, a good number of herling amongst some bigger fish.
Whether we were lulled into a false sense of security or we had peaked a little too early, I do not know. By mid-May the endless low pressure weather systems that came off the Atlantic, never let up right through the rest of the year. This made the salmon behaviour very strange and erratic; they came into the river in good numbers and just ran right through the beats without stopping with the swollen river. The unsettled weather pattern was not helping either; the running salmon were not settling in the pools at all and were proving to be very reluctant takers. This scenario persisted for the remainder of the season, the main contingent of salmon coming earlier than usual in mid-August, leaving only a trickle of fish entering during September and October.
The trout fishing during the same period also suffered, insect activity was compromised due to the inclement weather and poor conditions, making fishing on the top very difficult. The sea trout had moved up the river with the high water leaving the lower beats void.
The winter grayling fishing has been a non-starter due to flood water, a great shame as the Eden has some exceptional specimens with fish well over the two pound mark.
The new salmon season begins this Sunday on the 15th, at present the river is fining down nicely at around two feet above summer level. There is always potential this early on for those willing to get out on the river and have a go, the reward will be well worth it, there is nothing so beautiful as an early fish. Using sink-tips and sunken lines at this time of the year is the order of the day. Any flies on double hooks whether a tube or an iron of around two inches with yellow and black or green would be my preference, although most patterns will work just fine.
There will be a lot of kelts and the odd baggot dropping down the river until around April. Although these are no the intended target, they often take quite freely and fish should be played firm and released while still in the water to reduce damage.
The Eden has a fantastic potential for a spring fish given the right water conditions, for the best chance it will have to be on the lower river. Salmon tend not to run too high up the river due to obstacles like weirs until the water temperature is above 42oF, it is then around April they will be on the middle beats.
15th January - The water conditions are about as good as they can be for this time of the year. The clarity is excellent and with the water height at just over a foot is all one could ask for, the water temperature is now at 37oF. A high pressure system that had moved in over the UK along with a cool south easterly breeze has seemed to suppress any fish activity. I have not seen any movement of fish at all the first three days of the season, usually there is the odd Kelt or trout that will show itself in these conditions, but they remain with their heads down. It never ceases to amaze me how a "wrong" wind direction can often put paid to any response from fish; we have seen it so many times over the years.
Last week anglers who were bait and fly fishing for grayling got some decent sport with fish over the two pound mark. This week with a better water, it has been a real struggle with little or no interest from the grayling. We know there are fish there and this just confirms that not all weather conditions suit the fish.
There are plenty of goosanders on the river for those of you that like that sort of thing, they seem to be active unlike the fish and they look pretty well fed!
It is early days yet; it is also good to see quite a few anglers out on the water enjoying themselves, the potential is there and it is just a matter of time before we get a result.
27th January - Persistent rain and wintery showers are keeping the water levels fluctuating between one and two meters on the lower river. We just need a settled period of weather for a week or so to bring the right conditions, we can then get out on the river and see what the prospects will be.
The much needed high pressure bringing settled dry weather and cool conditions has dropped the water levels to just over a foot above summer height. On the 30th January we have a report of two fish of ten and fifteen pounds caught on the Carlisle Angling Association waters. These salmon at this time of the year are something special, compared to an autumn fish there is no contest in the beauty stakes.
Historically the river Eden was arguably the best of the spring rivers for early salmon up to the mid sixties, pre UDN. The spring run was depleted somewhat and although still not fully recovered, has hung on and is year on year beginning to show signs of improvement. There have been a lot of misconceptions about the numbers of fish that enter the river these days during the early spring. March has always proven to be reliable for a spring salmon, especially late on, the weather is warmer and more people are out on the river. Anglers that are willing to venture out at this early time of the season to fish the right places and methods in good conditions, are also often rewarded.
The more anglers out on the water early season, the more these fish can be monitored, we can then get a better and more accurate picture of what is actually happening.
Best wishes, Glyn.
Glynn Freeman : A.A.P.G.A.I. (Association of Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors). Glyn’s qualifications include: AAPGAI Masters in Salmon and Trout disciplines, Advanced Fly Dressing, He is a memver of the FFF (Federation of Fly Fishers USA) Masters Trout, has full liability insurance, is CRB (criminal records bureau) checked, child protection, L20 assessing, licensed coach and first aid.
Glyn has fished in Cumbria and the Borders for over 20 years. He is based on the River Eden where he is a river keeper on the lower river and fly casting instructor/guide for John Norris of Penrith.
He holds an I.F.M (Institute of Fisheries Management certificate) and part of working with our youth in Cumbria and S.W Scotland for Borderlines and a member of S.A.N.A
There are many Spey casting, salmon/trout fly fishing courses/experiences and one to one tuition sessions available throughout the whole year, and they are all done in a relaxed friendly manner. All are on private water on the river Eden, see list below and on the adult couses page. Each of them is tailored to suit whatever your ability and requirements are with the fishing included.
They put you in real fishing situations in the water, (not on the grass or platform), I can supply photos , quality fishing, tackle, waders and safety equipment on the day if you have-not any, free of charge. These can be run as a half day, full day, two or three day or a series of sessions. I will take you to some real nice places.