The table below shows the results of the first week and as you can see it makes for impressive reading:

Results for the first week of the season are:

Chew 1270 fish 254 rods rod average 5.0
Blagdon 1107 fish 176 rods rod average 6.3
Barrows 147 fish 53 rods rod average 2.8
Litton 146 fish 29 rods rod average 5.0

The reasons why there has been such a good start are not hard to determine; everything has "come right" at just about the best time possible. The water levels having been really low all winter benefited from the heavy spring rainfall, the winter generally was incredibly mild, leading to good development of invertebrate life, and opening week itself saw wonderful summer-like weather.

The fish that I caught on both Blagdon and Chew had a variety of food forms in them; many had bloodworm of considerable size, they had midge pupae and significantly quite a lot of daphnia. Daphnia play a pretty important part in the life of our lakes and good quantities of what some anglers refer to as a "water flea" can only be good for the fisheries over the next couple of months. Apart from giving the trout an energy rich and relatively easy to eat meal, daphnia themselves feed on the different varieties of algae that live in the lake. To have an early population of daphnia should mean that the lakes will remain clear for some time to come and that usually signals good fishing on our lakes.

It certainly means that with clear water the sunlight will penetrate to the depths and promote vegetation and enhance the growth rate of the midge or buzzers as we call them. For the last couple of seasons the early season buzzer fishing has been amazing. Back when the world championships were held in this country so many of the visitors from overseas couldn’t believe what good qulity fish and fishing was available to the public! Those fish that were being caught then were really getting their condition from just the food sources that I have talked about today – in fact everything about this season seems to be mirroring that one in 2000!

Regular readers of this column will know by now that I am not too heavily into "limititis" – the need to "bag-up" or catch your quota on every occasion that one visits a water. A day out on one of our lakes is a pure pleasure in itself. Sure, I like to catch a few trout; my family all enjoy eating trout, and I still thrill at the "take" or "rise" of a fish to the fly. There are so many other aspects of a day out that are important to me. High on that list has to be the company that you spend the day with. There are some great characters in this sport and during the course of a day’s fishing we regularly sort out the world’s problems. I have heard it said that more politicians should be anglers – I am sure that they would get more things in perspective!

But there is no doubt that more and more people seem to feel that need to heave out as many fish as possible and that more than anything else is why those statistics that I put early on in this piece are so high. Opening weekend saw good conditions for nymph fishing, but it didn’t stop the majority of people going out with fast-sinking lines and the inevitable boobies. I have no great problem with this, for after all the fish are put into the lake purely for anglers to catch. No, if I do have a slight "problem" with anything it has to be the lack of adventure amongst the anglers going afloat. There is a real "sheep-syndrome" as John Horsey and I used to call it! Opening day a few years ago would have seen boats trying here there and almost everywhere. This year on Chew there were at least half of the fleet in the Wick Green area all day - simply because the season ticket holders "privilege" day two days earlier had seen good catches made on the bank in that area. Most anglers loaded their boats went straight across the lake, stuck down the anchor, caught plenty of fish and then went home! Call me old-fashioned, but I like to have a bit of a drive around and see some different spots.

My partner and I ended up there at about five thirty – and only because John hadn’t boated a single fish all day. He soon made amends at Wick though. To be fair, we had chances at every spot that we tried and had we been a bit sharper we could well have had a decent "bag" of fish by mid afternoon. We stubbornly stayed with the floating lines and small flies, and maybe the water was still just a little cold for this approach.

Last weekend saw me working with a complete beginner to the art of fly-fishing. This guy came with no experience or preconceived ideas. He was a delight to work with and picked up the casting skills really well. In fact he was ready to cast a fly on the water well ahead of most newcomers. His actual fishing skills were great too and it wasn’t long before Rafe was into his first trout. It is a good feeling to help someone to catch his or her first fish. Rafe will soon be going along to his local fisheries in Kent and pursuing his newfound sport there. I wish him luck.

Tight lines.

Martin Cottis