First after work fishing session on the River Ribble – May 2017

It had been dry and sunny all week and the River had continued to fall to below its typical level (0.89m @ Samlesbury). Since my last visit I had been keen to have an after work session to see how the river fishes in the evening and see if any sea trout had entered the lower beats. My son, George, was also keen to fish the Wigan Anglers beat of the Ribble for the first time; so on Thursday we arranged to go after work. It had been a warm sunny day but during the afternoon a easterly wind had developed and by the time (ca. 6pm) we had parked by the river it was gusting down the river valley.

Our plan for the evening was to first fish the fast run at the bottom of the beat and then as the light faded, move towards the top of the beat to fish the fast runs. I set up two rods: one with a team of wet flies on 3lb copolymer (point: size 14, March Brown Spider; middle dropper: size 14, Black Hopper; top dropper: size 14, Iron Blue Dun); and the other with a team of Czech nymphs (point: size 10, 4mm tungsten bead caddis grub; middle dropper: size 16, 1.5mm tungsten bead black nymph; top dropper: size 16, 1.5mm tungsten bead Hare’s Ear).

While I was setting up the second rod and sorting the boot of the car out, George rushed off to fish the tail of the pool (point 2) with a team of wet flies. As I walked down to where he was I could see his rod was bent into a fish; the evening had started well for George. In the first 15 minutes he had caught: a one sea trout to about 1lb on a size 10 black cormorant; and a slightly smaller brownie on a size 14 Black Hopper. I continued walking down to the head of the fast run (point 1). As I waded past the line of bushes I disturbed a barbel (ca. 5lbs) resting in 1ft of water, which drifted under the bushes when it saw me.

I started fishing though the run with the team of wets but this was not easy because the setting sun was shining directly into my eyes. Towards the end of the run felt one pull on the line but I didn’t connect with. After returning to the top of the run, I went through it again with the Czech nymphs. About halfway down, opposite the rock close to the far bank, the line stopped and I lifted into a good fish that took off down river, taking about 30 metres of line before I go it under control. After a couple of minutes a full-finned, wild brown trout (1 ¼ lbs) was guided into the net, that had fallen for the size 16 black nymph.

I continued fishing down through the run but only picked up one small grayling. By this time George had worked his way down the fast run. He had seen a shoal of big barbel moving up through the shallow fast run into the pool opposite where we had parked the car. It must be 30 years since I last caught a barbel; therefore, I think I will come back when the coarse season opens to try and catch one of these beasts!

At 8pm we went back to the car for refreshments and to change my change my wet fly rod over to a 10lb leader sporting a size 10 Olive Muddler. After this short break, we made our way up river to fish the fast channel (point 6 to 5) above the bridge. Starting at point 6 I worked my way down through the main channel, by casting the fly to the edge of the rock platform and letting it swing round in the current. This didn’t produce any interest to this, so I switched the Olive Muddler to a black fry pattern. After a few metres I hooked a small brownie close to the near bank, which threw the hook during its mad aerobatics. I worked my way under the bridged (point 4) with no other interest. There were a couple of fish rising on the far side of the fast channel but were not interested in the fry pattern. George fished down through the pool below the bridge but he didn’t get anything. At 10pm, we decided to call it a day because we had work the next day and the strong wind was making it difficult to cast as the light began to fail.

Overall, we had a reasonable evenings fishing but I felt the decision to switch from 3lb to 10lb leader was made too early in the evening and it would probably have been better sticking with the small wet flies until the light had completely faded. Anyway, tight lines till next time.

Andrew Overend (4/5/17)

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