A Day on the River Eden

A few days of cooler weather and scattered rain made the middle stretches of the River Eden an obvious choice to target trout locally. Many rivers in the north remain low, but it is cooler, and rain is due. Because of this, much of my focus has been on trout fishing rather than salmon. On the upper stretches of the River Eden, the water is very shallow, and as a result, the best fishing has been at dusk when the fish are less spooky. In these conditions, Lazonby is one of my favourite beats. The Lazonby water is split into an upper and lower beat. Each takes three rods, and each has more water than you could hope to fish in a day. In a dry summer, as we have had, one of the main attractions of Lazonby is the abundance of fast high oxygenated water. I have always found that boisterous pocket water like this is some of the most exciting to fish.

River Eden, Trout Fishing, Cumbria

Rather than kitting up straight away, I take a brief moment to study the water in front of the Croglin Hut. In ten minutes of watching, I see only a few rises from smaller fish and little hatching. Nymphing seems the logical choice, and I set up ten-foot two weight. I have found in the past when nymphing the River Eden that it can be a danger to fish with tippet too light. The Eden is a river that holds some truly giant wild fish, and I have yet to meet a trout there that does not pull extremely hard for its size. Because of this, 5X has become my standard tippet when nymphing with a dropper.

My friend and I work at each bank upstream of the hut. He is fishing a single nymph suspended under a tuft of wool and hooks into a good at the top of the first riffle. In the shallow water, I missed several. Trout holding in this kind of water can snatch at the fly and often take on the drop. It can be hard to register the takes. The best solution I have found is to brush some high vis paint or wax to the tippet just above the dropper. This helps, and I start catching. Few trout are holding in the deeper, slower water. All of our hookups are coming from the pockets. The key seems to find bubble lines of the correct speed and depth. The size fourteen I tied over my first coffee and with crusty eyes appears to be doing the trick. I only made one. We scramble and slip over the algae-covered boulders working our way upstream and bending into wild shoulder strong brownies up to two pounds. Given the low water, I find it hard to imagine many places offering such fine trout fishing anywhere in the country.

River Eden, Trout Fishing, Cumbria

The pocket above and on the left looks one of the best yet. The main flow tumbles rocky lip into a small pool spanning about eight meters wide. Halfway down the pool, the most prominent bubble line flows into a meter wide boulder. On the right of the boulder, the water is slack. I cast into the bubble line and track the nymph down with my rod tip, trying to keep the tension so that I can register the take. The line stops, and I strike. The rod bends into the cork straight away. It is not just another two pound Eden fish but something more significant. I try to keep a short line to guide the fish around obstacles. For a while, this helps dull his power, but he soon takes back control and charges to the tail of the pool. Slipping and sliding on the greasy rocks, I follow. Five minutes later, I guide the net under a stunning River Eden brown. He is very long but not all that thick, and I cannot help but think that he would weigh at least a pound more on a typical year.

Sipping pints that evening, we reflect on the day. I have had some wonderful and challenging days on the River Eden. This was undoubtedly one of the good ones. When the River Eden fires, there are few better places to cast a fly. Not only can the fishing be spectacular, but it is also a truly stunning location. I often have to pinch myself when fishing some middle reaches of the river to remind myself that this is in the UK. It feels otherworldly and almost Jurassic. It can be wild and unforgiving, but at the same time, it is spectacular.

River Eden, Trout Fishing, Cumbria

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