Monday, 1 February 2021

Small Brook Fishing Pt.16 - Embouchements and Elf Cups

Now the The Scarlet Elf Cup or Sarcoscypha Austriaca is a species of fungi native to the United Kingdom and many other parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Their common name comes from the folklore tale that Elves drank morning dew using scarlet elf cups. When looking at them, it’s easy to see how that story came about.

They usually grow in clusters on dead wood among the leaf litter of the forest floor. They prefer damp conditions so are more likely to be spotted after periods of heavy rainfall.They are easy to recognise for their striking red colour and bowl-like form, though they can also be orange.


They grow up to 4cm in diameter, with the outer surface appearing paler and slightly downy in texture. Their stems are barely perceptible under the concave spore surfaces, which sometimes makes an audible puff when it releases spores into the air.

Scarlet Elf Cups mushrooms are accepted to be edible, though care is needed when eating raw. It is recommended only to consume small amounts and always try a small amount first to make sure there are no adverse reactions. They are difficult to confuse with any other fungi, apart from the visually identical Sarcoscypha Coccinea or Ruby Elfcup which has similar edibility.



Anyway back to the fishing, my angling apprenticeship was served on the banks of a stream hunting the sticklebacks that could often be seen moving in vast shoals above the billowing masses of submerged weed; and if could start all over again I would not change this.

Small stream are great teachers. The angler who wishes to understand fish, to observe them at close quarters, and to learn how to catch them cannot do better than start by angling in these small, overgrown waters. The larger rivers may offer greater scope, more room to fish, and larger catches of fish, but in none of them will the angler ever find the same opportunity to observe and catch fish at close quarters that he will find in the small streams.


To catch any fish can be an exciting and rewarding experience but that experience becomes more satisfying and more meaningful if the angler has a sound knowledge of the fish and its habits. You see the angler who fishes without this knowledge can still catch some fish.

He might, with luck, sometimes catch a lot of there but his fishing will lack direction and understanding, and some measure of enjoyment. By contrast, the angler who has his finger on the pulse of the river will learn to understand its many different moods, and much that is valuable about its fish.


He will learn when his chances are highest, and when they are lowest' where t meek each species in many different conditions of water and weather, and what baits they are most likely to take. His fishing will not he based on the flimsy foundations of luck and chance, but rather on sound knowledge of the water and its fish, built up over many years of fishing and observing. 

And no water is so well suited its the acquisition of this essential knowledge than the small, stream. The overgrown nature of many of the swims permits him get close to the fish without being seen himself.


Any angler who wishes to succeed in these small waters also learn to be versatile. Each swim is different in someway, and each poses its own special, individual problems. 

Some swims consist only of tiny pools, fringed by tall reeds or bushes. Some are densely overgrown with thickets of willow or alder. Some shallow and swift-moving. Others are deep and slow-moving.  No swim should be overlooked, no matter how small, how insignificant, or how overgrown it may appear. Quite often, the largest fish will be found in the most unlikely swim. 



Take this session, the water had cleared significantly in 24 hours and in some swims the gravel could be seen. The slack swim produced one small roach and that was it. The fish with less water over their heads moving away to find the deeper swims.

They are quite easy to spot though when the water is like this, turbid not so much, but dark submerged logs can just about been seen, unless the swims is very deep, then the first thing you'd know there was a snag there is after a few turns of the reel and a curse would spoil the tranquility. 


I really did struggle to find the dace, roach and a couple of swim wrecking trout kept me entertained but the bites from the silver darts were hard to come by.

Eventually after moving swims the fifth or sixth time a couple of small taps from a minnow I thought, was actually a dace hanging on to the maggots. It wasn't a big'un but at least I knew they were there. I switched to a beheaded worm tipped with a red maggot and sure enough a proper bite after a few minutes a dace was on.


Not quite the stamp of the one I caught here yesterday, but a lovely sight to lift the gloom of the day where the temperature was hovering above freezing and the sun not showing at all.

I thought I was on to something as another dace of similar size was teased out from the shoal, or so I thought because that was it strangely, the swim went dead, the fish vanishing from this steady glide where at the head of the swim was a secluded pool where I thought they were hiding.

I'm always learning on these waterways though, long may it continue. 

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