Jeremy Lucas describes his highlights from 2012 season.
Here we are at Christmas and the shortest days of the year. What weather we have had, all over Europe during 2012, and England has not been spared, with the longest, wettest period I have ever experienced. I hope you have had a good year with the fly rod. I have thoroughly enjoyed it all, though have been kept off the river quite a bit with the mixture of very high water and lots of work, but I have certainly fished enough and have delighted in the use of the leader, both western-style and fixed line (tenkara), mostly with dry fly (actually, mostly plume tips, of course). I did not catch any giant trout off the Eden this year, but did manage a dozen over the two pound mark, with two over three pounds; nothing like the huge fish I saw or heard of being caught, such as Steven Dawson's and Howard Croston's near five pound fish, but I did notice that the general size and condition of our Eden trout was outstanding this year, probably as good as I can ever remember, though this might be something to do with the very gentle and controlled presentation that fishing leader-only allows. Similarly, we had a terrific year with the big grayling (every one of mine coming to the plume tip). Tom Speake caught more big grayling (40cm+) than anyone, mostly on nymph, with the best of them nudging the 50cm mark, all from the Appleby waters.
The overseas trips were excellent, particularly in Slovenia where the numbers of both trout and grayling caught were vast. On one day on the Savinja, close to the Austrian border, I caught 101 measurable fish on the plume tip, while Paul Fear managed over 60 mostly on nymph, including a magnificent 63cm rainbow. On another day I fished the confluence pool of the Sava tail water as the water release was at a minimum and experienced the most incredible dry fly fishing of the period (a mixture of midges and pale wateries), amassing 40 good rainbows in a three hour period. Hooking one of these reminded me of steelhead, because it crossed the pool and ran off downstream, almost reaching Lawrence a hundred metres away, in just a few seconds. It jumped twice and we estimated that it was close to 10 lbs. The hook pulled clear shortly after the second leap; but it was tremendously exciting.
We had a lovely family holiday in northern France, where we managed to meet up with Bertrand Rossert, who fished with me here on the Eden a couple of years ago. We found a surprising amount of trout water, including the L'Aa in nord pas de Calais, and I can hardly wait to get back there. I am so envious of the French with their enormous country of varied landscape where in spite of them being masters of taking the most they can via the Common Agricultural Policy, have managed to look after huge areas, including rivers, such that the environment and wildlife are healthy. The contrast between France and England, in this sense, could hardly be more extreme.
Late September was reserved for the San, in Poland, and again the fishing was magnificent, with very low, clear water, and great hatches of pale wateries, midges and the awesome blue winged olives. The trout fishing on this river is astonishing now, throughout the size range; so much so that it can be difficult to find the grayling because the very competitive trout seem voracious. It is a case of fishing through them, before one seems to be able to access the grayling. I did this on one day, catching double figures of good trout for over an hour before – from an area of the 'No Kill' sector of about 100 square metres - I took my first grayling. The next nine fish were then grayling, still in the same area, and all in the region of 35 – 45 cm!
Let's hope we get together again this year, either here on Eden or on one of the European trips. I am going to publish the calendar on the website (www.presentationflyfishing.com) soon, with some details, but so far as Europe is concerned, the trips will be: Slovenia, first two weeks of July; Czech, third week of September; San, last week of September, first week of October. If you are interested in any of these do let me know as soon as possible, because apart from Wojtek and me there can be only six guests per week.
Have a lovely Christmas and I look forward to spending time with you by the river next year.