Low water levels and rapid rise in water temperatures slowed the move to the spawning beds. The usual beds were empty of any moisture whatsoever forcing the hens to spawn in a more hostile environment. Disappointing personally as I look forward to seeing these wonderful animals frolicking in the shallows with dorsals, heads and tails regularily breaching the surface.
All through April pike fishing was good with best results going to the enigmatic fly. Water temperatures were ideal for fly fishing as the pike were in the shallows however this quickly changed toward the latter part of the month due to a hot spell. April is a great month for pike fishing and this one has been no exception.
Each year at this time the where abouts of the big hens is always a great topic for discussion among dedicated pike anglers. I am always perplexed as to what exactly happens during the spawning period. One thing I have done over a number of years is to have my observers alert me to movement to the spawning beds so I can go and see first hand this wonderful sight. This year I had only one such chance to see these great fish do their thing. Unlike previous years it was a brief occasion one I very nearly missed. This year it happened very quickly and the trigger was a rise in water levels at the end of February and the beginning of March and a water temperature of 45 fah approx. The water went down very quickly in March and the pike disappeared into the first level post spawning. This level is different in nearly all the lakes I fish so putting a figure on it could be misleading. However those same fish are now deeper and are ready to start to feed up on the next level. The water is now starting to warm up to the 50 mark and this will see the movement of the next phase of spawning that of the course fish. On a recent outing it was obvious that the jacks were finished with their amorous excursions into the shallows as they hit shoals of roach over deep water. Let me say that you will still find pike that have not spawned right up into May as I have experienced on a number of occasions. These are of course exceptions that sometimes end in fish succumbing as the water temperature increases. To conclude my strategy for catching big pike this month is to look for the holes just off the beds.
Looking back on the year's trout season it will be the one I will remember most for some outstanding fishing often completely unexpected and in conditions contrary to all the rules. With a quiet start in the olive hatch where nothing spectacular happened to A May fly where all hell broke loose in cold harsh North Westerlies and big trout on the move. My good friend from Derbyshire on his second day of fishing responded to a dimple on the bow side of the boat and landed a 9 lb plus brown, just like that, no fuss. Some days later similar conditions a 7 lb plus again no fuss. These type of fishermen have one thing in common, they don't get excited and know when and when not to apply pressure. The following week everything went into reverse, bright sun and flat calm and consequently no fish caught except by one chappie with the help of a very gentle breeze which caused a slick paralell to a very small island. The result was amazing 4 fish 40 minutes for 16.5 lbs. This was a performance which was flawless by an absolute dry fly genius. Ofcourse there were a few days when things did not work out. My Bowman after a day of many small fish in the 11th hour struck a cracker which immediately broke water and broke an 8 lb tippet was one such occasion. What weight was this fish ? perhaps 7 lbs and a big bit. I should mention that all of the fish mentioned were returned save a few ( smaller ) which were taken for eating. These are a few snippets of the season past which made for me a memorable experience, ones to be treasured until the light goes out.
Ephemerella ignita has arrived on the river Boyne in considerable numbers and the trout have responded accordingly. Last evening was my first outing with the bwo and what a great one it was. Trout after trout came to the surface to take this medium sized olive unique on the Boyne as it is the mainstay invertebrate on the diet of Trutta Trutta . The spinner of this upwinged fly is of particular signifigance as dark approaches and the female is the most sought after. Male spinners tend to be more obvious in the early morning as light is coming but from my experience are not taken with such vigour. The sheer volume of the hatch last evening was very impressive and was only shadowed by an equally strong showing of Brown sedge with some Grey flags interspersed. The Boyne is in a very healthy state when one sees these great hatches taking place however this was not reflected throughout the club stretches on the same evening. Perhaps hatches are unique to individual areas of the river just like our large Loughs and that factors influencing the hatch are not just right all at the same time.
The trout I caught were in very good condition, fat and well muscled. Many were from a pound up, of course this was due to selection and all were returned into the luke warm water. I was delighted to see the Boyne in such great order reminiscent of those great days many years ago when islands and secondary banks abounded. The Boyne is coming back and is nearly to where it was over 40 years ago one of Irelands greatest wild brown trout fisheries not to mention its prowess as a salmon river.