Photograph by Steve Barnett

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Opening Day - Peacock Fly Fishing Club - Haddon Estate - Derbyshire - England...

A solitary sport like fly fishing means we may hardly ever meet our fellows, let's face it, not everyone wants to meet others whilst actually fishing.  The Peacock Fly Fishing Club invited all members to meet for an opening day breakfast at the Baden Powell Fishing Hut, which is perfectly placed on the right bank of the river Derwent in the Haddon Estate.  It was a chance for us to meet and wish each other well.  Henry was happy to help in disposing a little of the splendid breakfast and your faithful, although absent of late, blogger was very happy to beat Henry to the bacon, egg and black pudding.  It was comforting to be so well set up for the first few quiet hours of the new season, on a favourite tributary of the mother river, the Derbyshire Wye.

The Haddon Estate is a wonderful thing.  Nothing in this world is perfect but much of the way this place is run is very near perfection.  It's almost ancient history now how the river keeper, with the blessing of the owner, revolutionised the fishery as the first commercial operation to rely entirely on wild fish to satisfy its anglers.  The project worked amazingly well and, as an angler here since 1969, your blogger can vouch that there are now many more fish, in a greater variety of sizes and the biggest are now very big indeed, with a few gaining such ascendancy that they weigh in the teens of pounds and match Henry for length if not girth.  There are other excellences about this estate that maybe do not get the headlines that the fishery earns.  How about this?

Snake's Head Fritillary

Snake's Head Fritillary
This delicate, vulnerable, wild flower is now rare.  England has lost 97% of its wild flower meadows since 1948.  Once common enough to be collected and sold in Covent Garden, in the wild, Snakes Head Fritillaries now only occur where the landowner has neither drained the meadows, nor fertilised them, nor changed them into monoculture silage and haylage fields.  These places are few and far between.  Haddon Estate is one of them.  Imagine the delight of finding these this morning, on the walk down to the bottom of the beat.  What a great way to start the season.

The fishing wasn't an anti-climax either.  Here's the first.

First of 2017

Tenth of 2017
Above is the tenth.  The photograph does not do it justice.  A beautiful "red" trout, typical of this stream. Any fish after this would certainly have been an anti-climax so the decision was made to head for home and tea.

The water had been as clear as gin.  The wind kept the angler honest.  The flies were abundant during any spell of sunshine and the fish were happy to eat them on the surface.  Days like today remind me how lucky I am to be an angler...

Here's a little puzzle.  In this picture, notice the tree is potentially a hazard whilst casting, especially on a day of breezes.  It's no good settling in down river to make a long cast upriver, as there is a chute of fast water here on the right.  That fast current will whip your fly line down in no time and your fly will be a helpless water skier, frightening all the fish in the vicinity.  The remedy is simply to sneak in to the tree and sit next to its trunk on the upstream side.  You won't tangle in the tree because you will side cast under the branches and you are far enough away from the fast water to keep your fly line nicely under control.

Fritillaries in the meadow, King Cups in the margins, Henry in everywhere and everything...

Here's wishing you all a wonderful 2017 fishing season.

Regular Rod

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