For last Sunday I had planned an early trip to a section of the stream that is beyond the stretch I am allowed to fish. I purchased a day ticket and was at the water around 06:00 watching dozens of fish rise.
As with the trip last Friday the banks where virtually inaccessible. The only way to safely reach the water was by means of the steps at the small gage house. I fished a small blue dun pattern and the first fish of the day was a small bleak. Most of the fish rising where small bleak but some chub where mixed in.
The water was just too deep to move around in hip waders. Next stop was the fast riffle above the weir that was accessible by wading from the bank. No fish where rising in that section and blind casting a big mayfly or dropping nymphs in the current yielded no bites.
I moved down to the end of the riffle where the weir started. On the calm water I noticed one rise so I made a few casts with the mayfly. One one of the cast a fish came up and nailed the fly, it was a trout. I only got one jump out of the fish as it threw the hook, bummer.
Further downstream in the shaded part I noticed a couple of chub behind a tree in the water. Casting from the bank would not cut it so I had to go in. The sediment left over from the recent water was tricky though and I landed faster down the bank than intended … in the drink again. With only some wet waders and a covering of mud I continued fishing,
The part of the stream that flowed through the open landscape had no visible fish in the surface. Too early in the season I guessed. I noticed one big chub under a tree but the banks again overgrown with a very steep incline. The water was also deep, once you fell in almost no way to get out. I tried one hot spot upstream but nothing present so I left for the home waters.
At the home waters again no fish visible. I blindcasted a know hotspot with the mayfly and a very big chub came up to suck the fly in. Unfortunately that was at the end of the drift and when the fly began to drag the chub disappeared into the depth.
Next stop the feeder stream, talked with a guy who walked his dog and he told me some big chub where present at a bend in the stream. I went there and behold a few big ones where moving around but rather deep in the water column. Fished from the steep high bank in the outer bend was no good so I had to go to the other bank. I guessed the depth would be just right to wade through but I was wrong, anyways I was focused so I moved on,
The big fish would not surface to intercept the mayfly, I only managed small fish. Obviously these fish where not easy to fool and I guess they did not like my presence. Last stop was the clubhouse where some fish where present in the wide shallow section. Again the mayfly did not generate enough interest for a strike. The only big chub I spotted in the open was not interested in my mayfly as it was pursued by a rather large pike. Both fish disappeared out of my vision, hint for the next time to run a streamer through there.
At the shallow section I noticed small baitfish jumping out of the water and suspected a perch or pike might be present. It turned out to be a chub so I tied on a woolly bugger and blind casted some spots but no hits.
Got a call from my friend that they where fishing the main stream and where taking a break at the pub later so obviously I had to go. Left the pub late and a steady run back home until I came on the bike path through the moor. They had recently installed a set of gates with a cattle grid to give the cows access to the pastures at either side of the bike path.
The cows had decided the bike path was a good place for a blockade. Cows a big and stupid so there is an element of danger, I was locked in a stare down with them. I had no intention to around several miles so I slowly pushed forward and was ganged up by the lot sniffing and inspecting my fishing gear. They made way though in the end … no bulls present this time.
Last Friday was the day with the highest temperatures of the week. With the end of spring in sight I found it time to go after the chub so I took a day off from work. I had gathered intel from the locals and they said it was too early yet to spot the cruising chub.
It turned out to be true as I could not spot any free moving fish. The first stop was in de middle of a small village, difficult to cast but I noticed roach in the surface. I fished a small blue dun dry pattern with a foam post and got a few hits on the fly. The noise of early morning traffic bothered me though so I moved on.
The outflow of a mill albeit shallow was my next spot of focus. It was shallow but with the water being a bit murky I figured I could get away with fishing on close range. I fished a perdigon nymph and hooked a couple of small chub and roach. Small chub but in size larger than the roach and dace I had caught upstream recently.
Further downstream the usual chub hotspots where empty. In general no fish where to be seen. The main stream was obviously not yet in summer mode. Plan b was to visit the shallow wide section of the feeder stream at the clubhouse of the syndicate. That stretch usually held smaller chub with dace.
The clubhouse stretch boasted a few fish and the one chub I saw was a decent one. The small blue dun pattern however did not yield any interest of the larger chub.
My thought where that a larger fly pattern would be the way to go. I had scared of most fish at the end of the stretch by casting so I moved upstream and found a pod of larger fish. The big mayfly I fished caused interest and in the end one of the fish went for it like there was no tomorrow. I spotted a big fish near the other bank but it has seen me to and ran off before I could make a cast.
With the targets running out I went downstream to a stretch that usually was guaranteed to hold fish most of the year. When I looked down from the bridge I noticed big chub. The problem was that the steep banks where not mowed yet and the grass was manhigh so I could not toss a fly from downstream. The approach from upstream utterly failed as I was spotted by the fish and caused the fish to run.
The last spot of the day usually good for fish was quite overgrown by the aquatic crowfoot. No fish where cruising and as I battled the long grass I finally found a spot with rising fish. All I could muster was one small chub although I had seen one large fish. The heat really got to me, in order to survive the day I had to visit the beergarden where I enjoyed my dinner under the cool shade of the trees.
Before the weekend summer storms brought lots of rain to certain local areas. I skipped fishing Saturday as the stream was blown out. I watched the river gage carefully during the weekend and figured on Sunday conditions might be fishable.
I went out early to beat the crowds at my first spot of the day. The water was dirty and flow was fast but I had confidence I would catch something. Last week yielded some nice trout and I hoped to get a few more.
With the low visibility the weapon of choice was the squirmy but I hardly got hits. I probed the deeper spots but could only scrap a few fish together. With heavy cloud cover insects activity was minimal. Nevertheless I noticed some small dace rising to the few insects that where around.
I also spotted a few big mayflies and hoped trout would go for them but it did not happen. The spots that yielded the trout last week did not produce fish either. I took a break midday at the water’s edge and sat down on an old deadfall. I failed to notice how rotten it was, before I knew it the deadfall gave way and I landed several feet lower in the stream.
Luckily only my ego was bruised and all equipment though wet survived without any damage. I however looked like a pig, dirt everywhere and the waders filled to the brim. I dried out the gear as best as I could, cleaned up and headed up the nearby hill in order to dry out.
That hill was the first major high point to the east. It housed not only a communication tower but also a derelict missile base from the good old days (detachment of Dutch Airforce and an US army artillery). I nested onto a bench on top of the hill and the wind dried out my wet clothes.
When I finally found myself presentable enough I went on my way and made a short stop at the new pond of our local fishing club. One of the members was feeding the fish and I watched the roach and grass carp go berserk, alas not open for fishing yet until further notice.
I continued my trek and eventually landed at the beer garden where I met up with my fellow club member. The cloudy weather had scared the crowds off so I could pick any seating I wanted. This was the first week when the full menu was available so I got the tasty Parmesano burger with as desert a piece of cheese cake, good days.
I Saw a news report that the Netherlands was no longer considered a high risk area by our neighbors to the east. This meant I could once again visit the good fishing waters of my German syndicate.
The trout where still on station where I expected them and soon I had the first one hooked. Water was a tad high so I fished most of the time with a squirmy to offer some substantial to the fish. I also managed to catch a few dace and roach along the way.
Big mayflies where sporadically on the water but not many fish on them. mostly the small dace. I noticed a big splash near some flotsam and figured it had to be a trout but a big mayfly pattern did not coax a reaction of the fish.
I fished some small deeper ridges at a steep wall when I got a decent hit on the squirmy. The fish got off though and I was not sure it had felt the hook. I fished some other spots downstream from the last hit and returned later in the day to give it a second try. After a few tries I got again a good strike and landed a nice brown trout.
The early start and the warm water had made me thirsty and hungry so I tried to get a seating at the beer garden of the pub. Managed to get a spot in the end and enjoyed some cold ones and pork chops. With months of bad weather and everybody holed up it was no surprise the crowds where out today.
A windy and wet start of the day with quite a disappointing temperature to start with. I went south again to fish the small stream that I had explored recently. Maybe the rain that fell recently would improve the fishing. My theory was that the increased flow and murkier water would make the fish less wary. I soon found out it was not the case as I only managed two small chub and a tiny perch.
I spotted plenty of insects and quite a few large mayflies. There was nothing on them expect the gulls with the fish going awol. I also did not see any flanking fish indicating feeding fish.
A loud splash almost made me think a big chub had taken a mayfly. It was a common grebe who scared the little fish that where present away. I explored the stream further upstream to see if I could find larger fish. The water was very clear but alas I did not see any fish running.
The next stop was local stream back home. I walked for miles and did not see a living thing, completely dead. I found it odd as mayflies and other insects where on the water. No rising fish to be seen all day. The last hope spots yielded a tiny dace and roach.
Water was a bit up, visibility still ok but no action on the surface. This month was unusually cold and wet so we have to wait if things will improve in June. As I am up for a vaccine shot I might be visiting the other side of the border again to see if fishing is better there.
Last Friday was another day off for me but it rained most of the day so I did not go out fishing. With the last blank still on my mind I put my plan in practice to visit the feeder stream that was put in use as a bypass of the main river.
I had picked out a spot from the satellite imagery and it actually looked as good from close up as from space. The water was clear and looked well … fishy. But again … no signs of life on the surface or elsewhere.
On my regular water seams between slow and fast water would house roach, dace and the like but here they seemed empty. When I explored the stream further the depth diminished rapidly to only 2 ft. At a slightly deeper pool I noticed the silvery flash of a fish on the bottom so I tried to catch it.
No big fish but at least something to avoid being skunked. After a few casts I had actually caught a small chub, very rare in my neck of the woods. Think the bigger chub might not be far off I tried further sections of the stream. Unfortunately no big fish to be seen, I only managed a few small yellow perch.
I followed the stream until it flowed into the main river but even there no fish where to be seen. In the afternoon the skies brewed up some rain and I just made it to a shelter before being soaked.
I was now at the section of the main stream that formed the border between the Netherlands and Germany and I just could not resist to visit the other side. I found a neat border stone from 1766 marking the border between the Duchy of Gelre and the Bishop of Munster, still the border today.
Dark clouds of the showers I just dodged headed north in the direction I had to go so I killed some time trying to fish the main river. Nothing was moving though, it is not a good sign when a mayfly can sit on the water without a murder attempt of a trout, dace or chub. When the coast was clear I made a run north with in my pursuit some nasty clouds that brought the next batch of rain just as I got home.
The whole shiner fishing obviously is not up to par right now. In a few weeks’ time the closed season for pike and perch will be in swing and fishing with streamers will be allowed again, I think I give it a try.
Another public holiday meant another fishing session for me. With the proper fishing spots still off limits due to the covid restrictions I had planned to visit a new water further south. The route led me again close to the border, easily recognizable by the wind turbines common on the German side of the fence,
The river in question was not a fly-fishing water in my book. I had been destroyed de facto in the sixties and seventies in the name of agriculture and progress. It meant the end of a free meandering river and the loss of migratory fish species. In recent years some work had been done of the section near the border so I had a look.
The upper section looked good from the satellite images and when I saw the water from a distance I had hopes that maybe some fish where to be caught there. A closer look however made me think otherwise. The water was extremely murky and slow moving. Despite the presence of insects (even some mayflies) nothing was moving.
All in all not inviting but I tried anyway and dropped a nymph at various locations where I suspected fish would be hanging out, No luck though as I only dragged debris from the bottom. After the restored part the river entered a basin used to collect the sediment brought in from upstream. A large weir retained the water, on of those killer weirs with a strong undertow right behind the dam.
Fishing seemed useless so I explored the canalized section of the river hoping to see some life. I found life at another weir where dozens of large fish where milling around in the fast water. They looked like ide to me, a large shiner species that migrates upriver in spring to spawn. Seemed they had missed the bypass further downstream and where stuck at the weir.
Tried nymphing for a while but with no takes I called it quits and went north again. I passed the local stream a few times where some tiny fish nibbled at the nymphs but in general it looked pretty dead. Again plenty of insects around but no fish to eat them. I did spot a few rises but that turned out to be tiny fish of a few inches long. I fished a small dry F-fly to see what was rising, hooked a tiny dace when I struck on the take. Yanked the fish almost directly on the bank but it landed in the water before I could grab it,
Seeing all those ide in front of the weir puzzled me, I thought I had red that the river was fully passable again for migrating fish. With some further research I found out that one of the feeder streams had been issued with fish ladders. The feeder was then again connected via another manmade ditch to the upper restored section of the river. Seeing the ide meant obviously that that plan did not work but then again the feeder is my next target in search for fish.
With a sudden rise in temperature I hoped fish activity might be on the up today. Still not able to get to my waters across the border due to pandemic issues I fished the muddy stream on my side of the fence again. Insect activity had increased but I could not spot a single surface feeding fish. A few nibbles of small fish was the only thing I could muster fishing the nymph.
When I finally hooked a small roach and thought skunk was avoided a pike came out of nowhere and took off with my fish. Now I had to battle the pike on very light tippet, but believe it or not the pike remained connected. I made the net ready but at the last minute the pike let go, apparently not hooked. What remained was the little roach which consequently fell of the hook.
Bites where scarce but finally I hooked another small roach. Fishing was not going great, the water was a bit higher than usual and murky. The faster shallow water behind a weir yielded one dace and another small roach. The last spot of the day was also pretty dead, nothing at all was moving. The sudden heat had brewed up some dark clouds during the day so I called it quits early. My skills of forecasting electrical storms had let me down in the past so I was not going to risk it by staying out.
The blank of a few days ago had to be erased so it was off to the stream again. We had a public holiday due to the Kings birthday and for a change we actually had nice weather. The sun was out, the easterly wind was manageable and the temperature was ok.
I went out in the afternoon to enjoy the highest temperature of the day and started fishing at the spot I had blanked recently. A deep fished nymph actually yielded a dace which was a good start of the day. Forgetting the memory card in the camera was not so good. It had happened before so I was prepared and soon was in business again. and actually caught a dace at the first mark when I That second fish however would not materialize.
I had to try another spot and soon found a nice set of weirs. There was a rising fish but it only came up once so I continued nymphing. The faster flow behind the weir yielded dace nr. 2 of the day, a good size fish for this water.
Although the insect activity had increased due to the warmer weather it was not enough to bring fish to the surface. With the sun getting low I had one last spot to visit. The stream at that spot had been put back in a more natural state and boasted some interesting features.
Dace nr. 3 came from a shallower stretch after a couple of missed takes. To bad I had not brought my hip waders with me because some spots required a little wading to get the best drifts. Three fish was not bad, the sun was already moving behind the trees so I called it quits.
I took the shortcut through the moor and circumvented all the highland cows that where laying on the road. Best not to startle them when they have offspring moving around. As usual the roe deer came out at dusk so I managed a few snapshots of them along the way.
The new covid restrictions in neighboring Germany had cut me off from the good fishing grounds across the border so I had to hit the B-waterways at home. As if the pandemic troubles where not enough we also had the coldest spring on record. With the constant northerly winds temperatures dropped deep and fast during the night which was not very helpful for fish activity.
The weather forecast foretold clouds in the morning and sunshine in the afternoon so I left pretty late for spot nr.1 on my list. Tossing small nymphs on an indicator yielded some subtle strikes but nothing stuck. When I went to spot nr.2 another fisherman had setup on the location I had in mind. I tried further downstream but did not see any indications of fish … totally dead.
About two before sunset I was back on spot 1 … but now occupied by a flyfisherman which was pretty rare. Turned out to be a tourist from the west of the country who tried his luck. Talked a little shop and watched how he falsely hooked a little bottomfeeder, at least he was fishing deep enough. He had the same problems though … just dead water.
When he left I tried as the sun was setting and it was getting cold again. The last cast was extended dozens of times and I finally hooked a fish which I subsequently lost. As we still had a curfew I had to stop otherwise the day could end expensive.
Tomorrow we have a public holiday, might give it a go once again but with an east wind and a cold night I fear it will be tough.