No Rush in Rushen
It's been very dry on the Isle of Man but we had a bit of drizzle and rain on Friday and Saturday. Sunday was looking like a good day to get back on the rivers and see if they have picked up at all. Glen Rushen, just down from the mines on the Glen Maye river is one of my favourite places to fish. It's one of the places that has put me off getting a new car. There is a road, sort of, to the river but it's really only used by horses and trials bikes these days. I can squeak the car down through the brambles and gorse but it's not for the precious. That squeaking is the mud being wiped off the paintwork.
It really is fabulous Tenkara water. The vegetation is light and overhead obstructions well are few. You can fish a long rod with a light line. Well, you can when you haven't got a serious breeze coming downstream at you. I had to go heavier with a #3.5 line and even then had to shorten up a little to keep control and allow for an accurate delivery of the fly.
Up here there is very little living under the rocks of the very acidic water. More of the trout food is terrestrial so you'll not go far wrong with a size 12 or 14 black dry fly. It doesn't have to be anything special.
Even the smallest of trout will try to get a face full. Notice how ragged the dorsal fin is on this fish. It's obviously been in the wars, possibly from squeezing under rocks to hide from predators.
The thing about this river, below the mines, is that you can't move quickly. If you rush to fish the best looking spots you miss out on a lot of fish. You'll also send panicked fish into those spots and kill them before you cast a line.
Where the water goes a little slack but still holds some depth there will be a fish lurking. You probably won't see them. However, they are there. Deliver your dry fly into the pot and wait a second or two. A fish will appear from nowhere and nail it.
Not the biggest fish in the world up here, but all very welcome. Here's the thing though. If you miss the take and just prick the fish you'll not be able to get it to come again. Once you've messed up, it's game over for that holding place. You may as well move onto the next one. Not that it really matters because the river full of them.
Then there are other places you can cast a line which as are much larger in area. This deep, crystal clear pool gave up 3 fish before a larger specimen came to hand and back flipped over my thumb to dash back into the depths while I fumbled the camera. Nothing else came after that bit of agitation.
This is the deepest hole on the stretch. I picked up two more fish in the run off area just below it. While I was watching a six inch fish came over the lip and into the shallows. It was promptly chased back into the depths by something twice it's size. A monster! This monster of a fish kept patrolling the edge and I put my dry fly out to the middle. Three drifts were ignored. The forth drift took the fly into the scum to the right of the picture where the fly sank a few inches. The monster came tearing over the lip and took it. I lifted, felt the fish on and felt the hook give way. In my excitement I'd lifted too soon and plucked the fly from it's mouth. I might have said a couple of rude words. Certainly nothing printable.
It didn't reappear after that. I knew there must be a big fish or two in that hole. I've never seen the bottom and I know it's undercut beneath that lip. Mask and snorkel one day perhaps, but I'm nervous of the current in there. Perhaps a good rope to haul me back out if I get pulled under the lip might be a plan.
In this section of the river are slabs of hard slate. It makes for deep pools where fault lines have left a weakness the water can exploit. In these deeper gullies there are good fish. Provided they don't see you coming.
This chap was good for eight inches. I'd seen a few on my way up, but the difficult, low water, bright sun conditions makes them tricky to catch. One of the few bits of vegetation on the river was coming up next.
Sheltered from the wind and mostly in shadow there are a couple of deep pools to go at without having to collapse the Strooan rod to a shorter length or reduce the line further. I had another little one from here before I hung up in a tree. I blame the wind.
I'll admit I was a little gutted when I retrieved the fly. In the deeper water there were fish going in every direction to get away from my big feet invading their home. There were at least two of the 10 inch bracket. It would have been wonderful to take one of those for the camera. I had to wait a little longer.
You can see how low the water is in this picture. You can also see how crystal clear the water is. The sediment is very iron stained, red from the mining activity. This would be a tricky ask to take fish from here, yet I got two out.
Still not big, but loads of fun as they dash about the river looking for a rock to hide under. This one had stunning bright white edges to it's fins. You can see the oversized tail that is responsible for their fighting above their weight.
Once out of the steep sided ravine you get to a bridge. Above it is more good water but the wind was more than a match for me up here. I could have put on a titanium line and fished on but I was tired and it was getting late. With over twenty fish on this short stretch I had done enough to reaffirm this as one of my favourite places to fish. It's tricky, but rewarding. There are fewer people to distract and no dogs jumping in the river to scare the fish. If you do come to the Island to fish then this has to be one on the list, as long as you're not in a rush chasing trophy fish. Although, there is at least one monster up here!
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