Advice

EARLY SEASON TIPS FROM MARK WHITMARSH:

The long winter is over and heralded by the start of the trout season. Those first few weeks are tricky with sporadic fly hatches where often fish do not oblige with a rise, the thought ‘why didn’t that get snaffled, they must be hungry after winter!” springs to mind, where I take a deep breath and admire the beauty of our Wharfedale and Littondale surroundings. The new season brings the joy of meeting of old friends and new where the chatter soon returns to fishing, the where and how?

The last few seasons my first line wetting began ~10am at the bottom limit marker stone of White Beck Down and depending how busy with other members I fish through to the top of Lower Conistone Byrom. This is excellent varied water that lends itself to the full spectrum of fly-fishing techniques. 

  1. The first 15-20 minutes I spend in observation, useful time spent when setting-up and hope for a hatch but at 10am at the season’s start this is very rare.
  2. Targeting the quick water, I start using a French leader 2 nymph setup, weighted 2.5 – 3mm (occasionally 3.5 – 4mm) tungsten nymphs size 14, fishing an upstream semi-circle I search the riffles thoroughly. Water close to banks may appear quick but beneath the surface there are pockets of slack that hold fish where I spend more time. 
  3. If a hatch starts, I slow my fishing down and look for hard to observe rise forms, even if seeing no rise forms and fed-up with nymphing I switch to a size 12-14 Deer Hair Emerger, the flies are not small at this time of year and encourages fish to rise for a big food parcel. I concentrate on zero drag, this means very short casts and keeping the line off the water.
  4. To target the flowing deeper water at the base of riffles where wading is restricted and I will use a single nymph, standard leader setup with a bunch of Ginked sheep’s wool set with a half-hitch knot at a distance from the fly the same as maximum water depth, too long and take sensitivity is reduced.

I mark my fishing season by the hatches and in the first week of May black gnats make an appearance and the opportunity of catching the larger fish increases tenfold.

This YouTube link gives a basic overview of French Nymphing:

Tight lines everybody as I wish you a thoroughly enjoyable trout season…