I snailed my way upstream hoping to spot the odd rise here and there, resulting in a few wonderful specimens like the one below, absolute perfection in my opinion. These fish won't pull your arm off but they demand respect from the palm of your hand, totally mesmorising and truly wild fish but pretty difficult to catch if I'm honest. The picture above is a wider open section and anything longer than a 7ft rod would leave you struggling in many parts. Today I found myself using every cast in the book from some hard to imagine positions, even offering slow motion casts like a golf swing, making sure my rod wouldn't catch the trees both above and around me.
There were a few olives coming off in small patches but the river was absolutely bouncing with these cranefly shown below. Everywhere you placed your hands, on the bank, along a wall and even under the bridges, they were taking off by the dozen. As I understand there have always been a trickle of early season cranes followed by a larger influx of them later in the summer months, but I've not experienced any where near this amount early season. I am happy to stand corrected, and even happier for an explanation of why so many this year, hope the Mayfly hatch is as good.
I took the liberty of a photographing some recent works carried out on the Manifold showing the huge effort being made by DCAC, Trent Rivers Trust etc all for our benefit. Narrowing the channel and reclaiming the bank has already proved very effective elsewhere on the Manifold, providing habitat for all these little beauties like I caught today for a start. No doubt we will all reap the rewards soon enough. If anyone fancies reading up on river habitats/restoration the Wild Trout Trust do a Wild Trout Survival Guide advertised on their website, very informative and worth putting every penny to a worthwhile cause.
The pic below shows my monster of the day, with his full belly on show, growing fast for my future enjoyment hopefully. I did connect with 2 larger specimens today but decided to go for the long distance catch and release method, but they'll be other days. Be assured there are always a few surprises lurking when fishing the Manifold, if you make the effort that is.
Finally making my way back to the car I bumped into Andy Heath from Trent Rivers Trust who has earned himself a fabulous name within the angling fraternity for his efforts around the Derbyshire/Staffordshire rivers. Part responsible for the Peak Passport Scheme, offering wild fishing to visiting and local anglers up for the challenge. Anyway he made a good impression on me and he seemed thrilled I'd caught fish on a virtually unknown section so we sat on the bank looked at my pictures while chatting away. We both noticed a fish rising below us and I made my way to make some tricky casting under a bank. Up he came to snatch my take on a Greenwells Glory and although I felt the fish, it came off instantly. I was disappointed not to lay that wild brown across Andy's palm but who wants an happy ending all the time, that's just not fishing. My only regret of the day was not having a few hours to waffle away but hopefully we'll meet again soon.