Your faithful blogger's Mother river is the Derbyshire Wye, particularly in its lower reaches. The rules have always been very simple: no wading and dry fly only. In 2004 the management policy of the river was changed and changed for the better as events since have proven. Stocking with farmed fish ceased and another rule was added to the other two - Catch and Release! The view being that at least for some years it is best if all fish were returned so that the larger fish, which were traditionally killed for the table, would get chance to pass on their genes by being allowed to breed.
The effect was almost immediate, certainly by the end of the second season there were many more trout and grayling in the river than had previously been the case and... there was a greater variety of sizes!
Now, ten years on, it would appear that the size of the fish at the top of the food chain is getting bigger, much, much bigger...
Arrived at the water and seeing a rise to a Drake (traditional Derbyshire speak for the sub imago of the mayfly Ephemera danica, sometimes the less common Ephemera vulgata) and having already tied on an EBM a cast was made.
A mistake and a thoughtless one too! The poor little trout was not much more than 5 or 6 times longer than the fly...
An immediate decision was made to leave all trout alone until it was certain that the cast was being made to those of good size, ten inches at least. This meant that the tactic had to be to search out the bigger fish. A few minutes watching the water led to the conclusion that all the best fish were in the edges and under overhanging branches and other vegetation.
|Places like these, just upstream of those yellow Fleur De Lys on the opposite bank.|
What you can see here is a feeder stream coming in near the top left of the picture. See those bubbles and the crease in the main river flow? This version will be easier to see what was happening:
Onwards and upwards to further overhanging alder and hawthorn (and no, I will not illustrate the place for selfish reasons that will become obvious in a moment) and a beautiful brown trout of just under eighteen inches took my fly, which by now had been changed to a PPSG as there was a good return of spinner from just before two o'clock that the fish were seeming to prefer over the Drake.
|That blue grey dot behind the eye and the three dots like a partial paw mark above the pectoral fin will make sure she is easily recognised again...|
This is the second very big trout I've seen in the last two seasons (ignoring the Town fish) and the other one was only a matter of 100 yards upriver from this monster.
I believe it is due to managing the river for wild fish only and the catch and release policy that we are now about to benefit from some very exciting developments. Of course I will be back and watching carefully, even if I never catch the giant, knowing that it is there is very satisfying.