A YEAR OF CHANGE
As the seasons pass, fish prefer different water types and move to take up positions in different areas of the triangle. Trying to read the river and how the seasons affect your quarry is hugely important. I would encourage you to walk the river under different water conditions as this is the easiest way to find the features and potential fishholding areas within a pool. Fish can become much harder to spot and less visible under low-water conditions and time on the bank when not fishing is always valuable. What follows is only a guide, as trout or grayling will always turn up in the strangest places at unexpected times.
SPRING: MARCH TO APRIL
When the season starts, trout are out of condition and at their weakest, having spent the winter months spawning. There’s the added problem of a reduced insect population and therefore less food. As such, they cannot yet take up position in the fastest flows and broken-water pockets. Instead, most fish lie further back, hanging on the edge of the seams and creases between the fast and slow water. Any insect life that makes an appearance can be picked off with ease, and there is no need to fight the fastest flows.
SUMMER: MAY TO MID-JULY
By now, trout have fed well and gained strength and condition. The rainfed rivers start to lose their power as the flow velocity decreases and air and water temperature increase. Fish seek the broken, faster, oxygenated water at the very head of the pool. Trout and grayling will take up position in very shallow water as long as there is broken water to give overhead cover. Any areas with broken water are worth fishing during the summer months – look for pools studded with boulders.
AUTUMN: LATE-JULY TO SEPTEMBER
The river is warm and finding aquatic insects can be a scratchy affair for fish. In late summer and early autumn, they feed heavily on terrestrials and as such are spread throughout the pool. Towards the end of autumn, aquatic insects – olives and stoneflies – reappear, but I find the fish are so dispersed they stay that way until the season ends.