New Season, New Water
Since the end of last season I've been very fortunate to buy some land with a glen and a small trout stream. It's quite rough and overgrown but I had seen a few fish in the stream before I decided to buy. Confusingly the stream is called Sulby River and should not be confused with the major Sulby River in the north of the Island.
In the run up to the opening of this season it's been very cold with periods of heavy rain and snow. I was expecting the trout not to have come out of their over-winter hiding just yet. I was not wrong. In my few hours, batting through patches of thick undergrowth, picking flies out of overhead snags, getting stuck in he mud and falling over (3 times). I did have a good chance to check out the water thoroughly, even though I caught nothing.
Oh my goodness, it is beautiful. Pools to maximum depth of 4ft deep, riffles, glides and pocket water up the whole length. Just no fish, well not quite true, I did disturb at least 3 fish that I saw. They were hard on the bottom of the deeper pools and totally unresponsive until I got very close indeed. The first one I thought was a long rock of about 8 inches. Rocks don't swim off and vanish though.
Was the river lacking in fish food? I turned over a few rocks to see. Nope, every rock had something on it, from cased caddis and mayfly larvae, to this inch long Plecoptera (stonefly) nymph pictured above. The river is not dead and has plenty for the trout to eat. There was nothing hatching on this cold and drizzly day so I guess it is a little too early in the season for the trout to be really showing.
The glen has some other interests as well. The Abbeylands Mine is down by the river here. It never produced anything significant but the old building and 170ft shaft are still here! Along with the shaft is the casing for the "Jane". A 20ft water wheel named after the mine owners wife.
The building that holds the shaft if on the other side of the river to the wheel casing and I, for one, am not putting a foot inside that structure. The shaft had a few boards put over it and then backfilled. There is no way to know how stable the arrangement is today. I'll work something out to make it more secure. Higher up the river is the remains of the old powder store. It's the first time I've seen this little building. It wouldn't take much to get it water tight and a door back on. Access to it, that's a totally different conundrum.
The powder store is only really accessible at river level. Most of the Eastern bank is very steep and swamp like. If you stand in the channel, that was ground working or a seam, you stand a chance of being well over knee deep in no time. I speculate that the ground working also worked as a channel to supply water to the water wheel. It's origin is supposed to be at a ford much higher up stream.
Fortunately for me, it appears the best of the pools and features are within the boundaries of my land. There may be others further downstream but upwards of the powder store it gets very thin indeed. The last pool of note is just below the powder store and pictured below.
Once the weather warms up, and I've had a bit of a hack and slash at the vegetation making casting to the pools very tricky indeed, I'll be back again. With the abundant invertebrate life in the river and the few fish I did see, I'm sure there will be plenty of fish to be caught when they do start to show.
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