Hidden Waters

10/04/2017 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

Time to go out fishing again. I'd decided I'd have a trip back to Glen Helen to see how the trout up there were doing. Pulling into the car park on a warm sunny day there were plenty of people turning up to walk in the Glen and play in the children's park and why not? It was a fabulous Sunday on the Isle of Man.

I started at my usual place, where the culvert comes in. Didn't raise a single fish to the dry. I put on a nymph and immediately caught a submerged flappy bit of plastic that disturbed the whole pool. Great start! It wasn't until the the corner at the end of the picture I raised my first fish to the dry.

Not the biggest fish you've ever seen but a relief all the same. The water was so crystal clear that any casting error laying line on the water sent the fish scuttling for cover. Glen Helen is not very forgiving with it's vegetation making casting a technical challenge. Keeping low and using the bank side as cover was going to help.

Having reached the bridge and looked at the wire retaining cages filled with rocks to keep the banks stable, it looked too snaggy, even though the pools beneath looked like they'd hold plenty of fish. Taking into account the number of people in the Glen, with rock throwing children and swimming dogs I had a think for a while. I've not fished lower than this for quite a distance. Is it possible? I've driven past often enough and thought it looked interesting although you can't see the water. It's hidden beneath a steep bank.

Climbing out, crossing the bridge and walking down the road. There are two green fields with wicked barbed wire. Not recommended climbing and I doubt the land owner would be impressed with any damage. Once past the fields there is easy access back into the river.

Stunning looking water. Crystal clear pockets of deep water to hold fish and more low hanging branches and snags to eat flies and leaders than is comfortable. Currently the twigs are only holding buds making them super hard to see in the pictures but, trust me, it's not simple fishing.

I shortened up my casting line to a rod length with the Strooan set at it's mid length (10' 8") I find that it is comfortable for accurate casting with the rod set at it's shortest or set at its longest in this configuration. I was going to need all the settings up this stretch!

I elected to try dries first then swapped to a spider after a couple of plucks after the fly had sunk. Then I had one on and in the hand. That was why the dries were plucked at. These little ones were struggling to get a mouthful. The soft hackle of the spider was easier for them to wrap their mouths around and allow me to set the hook.

The crystal water continues to punish poor casting. With no more activity I swapped to one of my favourite nymphs. It's a bit of a hybrid. Part nymph, part caddis, a bit of red, a flash of pearl and a carrot shape with thorax.

It's always served me well on many rivers I've fished. This was no exception. A couple more small trout came to hand before I'd finished exploring the run.

The water was about 3 feet deep at the far bank and you could see every pebble. Keeping low with careful casting landing fly first while keeping the line off the water was the only way not to kill the pool.

The amazing water just kept on coming. The odd little fish coming out here and there. I paused to turn a few stones because the wading was like skating on glass. Algae on the rocks was challenging my footing every step of the way. Apart from a caddis case and one shrimp I didn't find anything. I admit I was a little disturbed by the lack of life in the rocks. I wonder if this river sees much light when the leaves are fully on the trees? Possibly not.

A deeper slower pool. I put the dries back on but again, there was splashing at the fly, but no firm takes. Back to my nymph and an instant hookup. Not a trout this time.

I think this one is a salmon par. Note the much greater "V" in the tail and the different shape to the dorsal fin. There is a large weir downstream of here. Obviously the salmon are getting over it in the floods.

Pools and glides keep coming. As do the low branches. A number of times I was fishing at the Strooan's shortest length to cope with the vegetation. Only twice did I manage to get it fully extended. I do try to fish to the rule "the longest rod you can in a given situation". I'm not sure my pictures are doing justice to the strategic placing of these low slung line catchers.

The fish were getting bigger though! This one at the 8 inch mark. A few fallen trees made life tricky but none more so than this one, which completely blocked the flow and needed some creative yoga to get over/through.

However, there was a good fish lurking in the deep water in the far corner. I did battle with it for a minute or so before my rod caught in an overhead branch, the line went slack and the fish was gone. The next cast snagged in the fallen tree and that was that for this pool. Time to struggle through to the other side.

It was worth the contortions. It's not the longest stretch of water but it keeps on giving in terms of fish holding water to flick a fly at. A couple more fish before getting to the neck of this pool.

Another quality fish to the hybrid nymph. I had tried other patterns but this was the one they wanted today. The trees had been far less fussy with the flies they consumed.

There is some odd debris in this section of river. The iron rail above at the neck of the pool. There are some cast iron rails embedded in tree roots that have grown around them. Thee are slabs that look like a sort of concrete. I wonder if there was some mill activity here once upon a time?

The sky had clouded over and the temperature had dipped sharply. All feeding activity had stopped. However, I was now almost at a narrow pinch in the river where I could climb out onto a path that leads from the road to the start of the green fields. Following it back to the bridge and car park.

It had been an interesting afternoon. 10 fish to hand and numerous plucks and losses where the rod in the trees let the line go slack. Checking where you will land a fish after you have caught it is one thing. Now I've just got to get in my head to check how I will play a fish in the tight conditions to get to the landing part.

Slippery wading, but with promising water. One to put on the list to try again later in the season to see how it fairs.

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