Sunday, 15 April 2018

Continuation


Clear Water, Gravel And Ranunculus
Clear water, gravel and ranunculus = trout
My first trip of the season was closely followed by the second the day after. Forsaking my club waters I headed elsewhere, somewhere that should be clear even if it was running high and I was pleased to find my predictions correct. It was a much more pleasant day compared to Thursday, although it was overcast with a hint of mist, the wind had lessened and it felt altogether warmer; more April than March.

Walking through woodland I headed downstream to start on a section that usually proves fruitful, the river here has frequent small pools interspersed by riffles, the faster pace provides many opportunities to find fish with the ruffled surface helping keep the angler concealed. Arriving by the waterside I sat on a half-submerged log, recent rains helping to elevate the height and flow to levels I haven’t seen for a long time and at times the push of the current took me by surprise when I found an increase in added depth. There’s something quite enjoyable about sitting and taking your time to set up while observing the surroundings, I never rush, the extra time allows the inhabitants to settle and this normally means you can catch very quickly, if you’re really lucky first cast.

Larch Cones
Larch cone buds
As the river can often be enclosed I rarely use anything other than an eight foot rod, either my Lochmor four weight or the Lexa nymph special three weight in its eight foot configuration, the choice always dictated by conditions and chosen method. In April a four weight is standard, unpredictable weather along with heavier nymphs means you need a line weight capable of delivering, there were times on Thursday when I felt a five weight was needed due to the gusting cross wind. 



Copperhead PTN
Copper bead pheasant tail nymph
Opting for the double nymph again I elected to use a tuft of indicator yarn at the tip of the furled leader instead of using a furled leader with an indicator butt and tied on the same flies as the previous day, the increase in depth and flow in this river also necessitated the use of even heavier tungsten beads with a three millimeter bead on the point fly and a two and a half millimeter bead on the dropper. I have absolute faith in copper beaded pheasant tail nymphs, it has become such a staple it rivals and in the early season surpasses the use of my favoured JP pupa which comes to the fore when caddis become more prominent as the season progresses. It’s funny how attitudes and opinions can change over time as I’d written in a previous blog post about preferring to use and tie more complicated semi-realistic patterns whereas now with time being more precious I opt to use simpler patterns that are no less effective and which allow me to tie a couple of dozen in an evening instead of half a dozen; a much better use of time.
Dave Wiltshire's Baetis Nymph - With Added Silver Bead
Wiltshire's baetis nymph

The beaded Wiltshire's baetis nymph is a new addition to my fly box and it came about because I had a selection of silver tungsten beads without an obvious pattern to use them on and thought the baetis nymph would suit either the silver or a black bead - I already have plans of which hook to use when tying some black bead versions. The plain baetis nymph has already served me well, I caught a two pound plus grayling on my trip to the Dorset Frome and a number of trout when I have used it. I saw no reason why the addition of a tungsten bead should change its effectiveness, but it does mean it can be fished much deeper.

As I was setting up, I caught a glimpse of a goshawk I had seen recently when walking around the woods before the season start, I have a fond interest in falconry so to see wild birds of prey does excite me, I've been fortunate to have watched the majority of easily seen birds of prey in my part of the country, but the goshawk is right up there, hopefully I will manage to get a worthwhile picture at some point.

1st Of The Day
First trout
Unbelievably I caught second cast,  a well conditioned trout of around ten inches gave a good account of itself in the strong current, a good omen I thought and the baetis nymph did its job,. I have fished this section before and almost caught a fish a cast when working up the run, it wasn't quite that good this time, in fact it was much worse, I fished up the run without another take, this was odd. Happy with my fly choice I simply changed flies to change bead size, I was worried the flies were not getting down in the deep fast flow. It was a little while until the next fish came along, this time to the PTN and the third fish took just as long to follow.
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Snagging a tree forced me to retie my tippet and I took the opportunity to change tactics. I had seen the occasional olive hatch off and although I hadn't yet seen a rise I was hoping as the day progressed they may start to look up. Although I hate that I use the klink and dink set up far too frequently, it is just such a devastating method on the small rivers I fish, if it was the only method I could use I wouldn't feel too restricted by it. As it happened my catch rate improved drastically, I can't really explain why, it could have been a combination of the nymph being presented at the right depth or that I had found an area that held more fish or that as the day advanced on they began feeding with more food items becoming active, but whatever the reason I caught over half a dozen fish from a pool located on a bend with an overhanging yew tree.

Carrying on upstream most of the productive areas where the deeper slower areas, the trout hadn't moved into the shallower riffles and faster runs and productivity was intermittent as I found areas and sections that held feeding fish; I missed a couple of takes to the klinkhammer as I was taken by surprise. I caught several sighted fish and some skillful angling led to a fish that took me under a fully submerged branch; I allowed the fish to run taken the fly line through the branches and thankfully it wedged itself in a thick clump of ranunculus, this gave me time to weave the rod tip under water releasing the line and I reconnected with the trout and safely landed it, not a big fish by any means but I do enjoy catching sighted fish no matter what the size.
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A well earned prize
I had decided to call it a day and headed back to the car when walking past a productive but difficult pool I spotted several good sized fish holding near the bottom. The rod was already broken down and I umm'd and ahh'd while still watching the fish trying to size them up as the occasional smooth patch of water flowed down the pool giving me chances to see the bottom better. It was earlier than I had anticipated on leaving so the decision was made to cross the river and set up in the cover on the opposite bank, hoping this would give the pool sufficient time to settle before I tried extracting its occupants.

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I returned to the double nymph and indicator yarn and the tow flies from the beginning of the day. slipping into the river there was ample bank-side cover to hide my approach. Within half a dozen casts I was latched on to one of the larger trout I had seen, I love the sight of the rod hooped over as a quality fish tries its best to lose its link to you. For the first time that day I uncoupled the net as I readied to land the fish, this was a good fish, not huge but a fair size for this river which is more about numbers than size. After a short rest a took a few pictures and released it facing downstream, it skulked as the current took it downstream and I returned my efforts to the pool.

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I fished this pool for half an hour as fish after fish came to my net or hand, both flies were taken and it appeared that I had timed it well, a small number of olives were hatching and it seemed as though the pool was switched on, this was the most productive I have ever found this pool, normally two or three fish is it but I had around eight fish before calling it quits as time had run out for me. This was how your season should start.

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Thursday, 12 April 2018

Commencement


Dave Wiltshire's Baetis nymph
Dave Wiltshire's baetis nymph
Second attempt this month and my trout season has started. I had arranged a shift swap on the third but has happened with too much frequency this winter the weather forced a postponement, even my banker river had turned into an unappetising latte of sorts. Another significant rise at the beginning of this week had me feeling despondent, I genuinely thought it was going to be another week before I could wet a line, I watched the gauges with compulsion as the drop was as steep and quick as the rise but settling some two inches above the pre-rise level. Figuring the actual height of water would be acceptable it was the colour that concerned me; I didn't know what would be greeting me.

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What greeted me as I peered over the bridge
A decision had been made to check the upper beats first, if these were unfishable then it wasn't worth looking elsewhere, a high and well tinged river was what I found as I peered over a small hump-back bridge. Easy it wasn't going to be but the opportunity was there. As it was sill early I decided I would look downstream, I had a desire to fish a beat lower down the river that has been productive for me in the past and it only took fifteen minutes to get there so it wouldn't have been too much trouble to head back if it wasn't any good.

Dave Wiltshire's Baetis Nymph - With Added Silver Bead

Dave Wiltshire's Baetis Nymph - With Added Silver Bead

There was slightly more colour to the river but the want to fish here overrode any concerns. Setting up the Lexa nymph special I opted for a 2.5mm copper beadhead pheasant tail nymph and one of Dave Wiltshire's baetis nymph adorned with a 3mm silver bead - this is the first silver beaded fly to join an established selection of tungsten beadhead nymphs; the usual 9 metre Hends Camou French leader connected to ample backing on my Lamson Litespeed completed the outfit.

Grannom
Grannom
Well there's isn't a great deal to say but I spent two hours not catching except for a lonely grannom, which looked a little worse for wear when it came round to photographing it.

A little after lunch I drove back to where I started the day, the Lexa was packed away and a change of tactics but not flies was decided.  I set up my Lochmor-X eight foot four weight with a furled leader incorporating a hi-viz orange butt section, I think it's easy to forget simple upstream nymphing in favour of the ever popular European leader techniques.

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Within five minutes I had caught, a small trout of around six inches took the silver bead-headed Wiltshire's baetis, this saved my day from the dreaded blank, relaxation and enjoyment could now begin. It took a little longer before the next one came along, a fluky one really because I had hooked a sunken branch and in my effort to wiggle the fly free the second trout took the copper bead PTN as it dangled mid-current and coincidentally freed the stuck fly for me.

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A lack of practice saw me hook more than the occasional tree branch and a swirling, gusty side wind really didn't help matters; anyone walking past would have thought me mad swearing at trees. The third and final trout for the day came from a tributary that flowed clear just above the junction - above that point the main river was actually more coloured, the trib diluting the river considerably.

An aching shoulder called time on the day, I had manged three trout in an hour and wanted to finish on a high for the first trip of the season.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Apologies

It has been a while since my last blog post and I apologise to those of you who have been patiently waiting for an update.

You can never be certain what lies around the corner when it comes to life, sure you can try and plan for most eventualities but a curve ball can really throw you off. I guess you have all been wondering where I have been for the last two years; well my personal life had been affected by major changes and as a result fishing took an expected minor role and I rarely went out, I had really lost my mojo for it and in stark contrast to two seasons ago where I’d be out minimum once a week I have hardly fished at all in the last two seasons.

This winter just gone saw a shift, the desire to go fishing returned and I managed a few trips out although the weather hampered most efforts. This years club membership has been renewed after a break for one season but still the weather has delayed the start of the season for me.

Some may have noticed a subtle change in the blog; I have slowly started to update pictures from older posts that have been affected by photofuckets effort to ruin the internet and all will be transferred over to Flickr in the near future.

Thank you to those who continue to visit the blog and be rest assured it shouldn't be two years between posts again.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

North country wet flies - retied

I won't lie, I rather impressed myself with the tying and photography of the Partridge and Yellow earlier in the year. As a result I set about re-tying and photographing some more spiders.

Last year after purchasing Rob Smith's excellent The North Country Fly I got into a frenzy and tied a lot of spiders and wet flies, I had a lot of fun, however, I had made the mistake of tying the bodies a little too long, merely aesthetics of course but it bothered me enough to have another go. These I feel are much. much better, I'm still impressed with myself, I hope you don't mind and now I've restocked with some more Partridge Classic Spider hooks I'm going to do a few more.

Procter's Pearly Butt Bloa
Paul Procter's Pearly Butt Bloa
Olive Partridge
Olive Partridge, something I tied to show off a partridge skin I had dyed
Waterhen Bloa
Waterhen Bloa
Hare's Lug And Plover
Hare's Lug and Plover

Monday, 25 April 2016

Rain, rain it's here to stay.

Rain, pah, what rain. No fair weather fisherman here, not these days, I can't afford to be that choosy anymore. Twice week before last I've fished in the rain, my new Taimen wading jacket that came with a pair of waders I bought has done a fantastic job at keeping me dry.

A short three hour trip in persistent rain took me away from my usual rivers, experience tells me not to bother with my club rivers after a substantial amount of rain, the rivers colour up far too much to risk an hours drives only to end up finding unfavourable conditions. The river I fished can almost be guaranteed to be clear, even in the depths of winter. Arriving at lunchtime on Friday the 15th was no different despite a mornings worth of rain. I started the day fishing two nymphs with a small New Zealand indicator on the leader. A size ten short shank copper bead PTN and a size fourteen cream JP pupa were my choices.

Sitting on a log in the rivers margins while tackling up allows the immediate surroundings to settle from the minor disturbance caused by approaching and entering the river, it also allows you to observe the water ahead for any signs of fish. I caught on the second cast and the tally was up to three before I had moved my feet. The rain really helped to conceal me, usually you send tens of fish darting upstream as you make your way upriver; the biomass is huge, but in numbers not size and the ultra clear water can make things especially difficult.

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Looking upstream, although clear the rain really helped to conceal my presence
I have been toying with the idea of getting a GoPro, the first fifteen minutes would have made for some frenetic filming as fish after fish nabbed the flies as they drifted down. I was playing one fish which had darted down and was level with me when another trout took the remaining free fly, I've not had many double ups and the fight was interesting but short lived as one of them quickly shed the hook.

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Not many pictures, it's difficult in the rain - must invest in a waterproof camera
The next two hours were much the same, short periods of frantic activity with a small number of fish caught in quick order as each new pool or run was fished and the overall tally steadily increased. Most of the trout came to the PTN on the point, however, the JP Pupa caught enough to earn its place on the leader and the New Zealand strike indicator performed superbly.

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Rising fish all the way up, I fished to just round the corner to the left
I was conscious that time was ebbing away and there was still some areas I wanted to fish. Climbing out of the river I bypassed a large section of the river for no other reason than wanting to fish a particular stretch of water further ahead. Scanning the river in front of me, I saw a fish rise directly opposite where I was stood, another rising fish upstream only served to confirm I had found a good spot. Dropping slightly downstream of the first fish, I eased into the margins, thick sediment held together by bank-side vegetation oozed as my body weight sank while I settled into position. The river here has been narrowed, the fast water current quickly washes away any disturbance and by keeping a low profile I re-tackled without disturbing the fish in front of me.

Barbour Paraloop Dun
Barbour Paraloop Dun
A decent number of large dark olives were hatching off and now fully in position I could see fish rising to drifting duns all the way up the run, I had truly stumbled on what all early season fly-fishers hope for, a proper hatch of upwings. Catching a dun as it drifted down I could see that these were slightly smaller than expected and were best imitated with a size sixteen Barbour Dun. Stripping off all of the old tippet I tied on a fresh length to the furled leader, I use 0.129mm Drennan supplex and tied on the dry fly. I found it hard to properly apply floatant to the fly due to the cold wet weather, I normally use mucilin, but it just gunked up the fly, especially the mallard wings which tend to clump up when mucilin behaves like this; I really should look into some other alternatives, especially for use in colder conditions.

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On a dry-fly, that's what I fish for
Oddly this was only fish that didn't need the forceps to unhook
I didn't catch the first fish in front of me, it mattered not as there were now so many fish rising all over the river, some were even leaping out of the water as the took hatching flies. I worked up the river and fished no more than twenty five yards of water and in around forty minutes I landed ten trout, changing fly once as it refused to float; I called it a day when I snagged up on a thick branch hidden by overhanging vegetation. One thing that really stuck in my mind was that every fish except on hooked on the barbour dun had to be unhooked with forceps, the fly was taken with that much enthusiasm, I think it is a great olive imitation. Despite the almost constant rain I'd had a great afternoon, foremost I was still dry and reasonably warm, besides I'd soon be warm walking back to the car. Nothing I caught was over eleven inches long, but that didn't matter, at last I had fished a decent hatch and found an area full of rising fish. Numbers wise, I kept an accurate record: thirty nine fish hooked, thirty four landed, ten on the dry-fly. It goes to show how well you can do even when faced with adverse conditions, I'm a firm believer in trying to get out regardless of weather conditions, it's only really dirty, high water that will stop me from getting out

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Rain forces a change

I was on holiday last week, a free pass on Tuesday gave me opportunity to meet up with Steve. The morning greeted us with persistent rain, however our plans were already made so with a little hesitation I made the hours drive to our club river. We planned to have a brief fling on the urban stretch before deciding which beat to go and fish. Steve arrived before me, the opening update from him made for grim listening, the outflow beneath the white bridge was spewing out a substantial amount of brown, yucky, urban fluid; this ruined the river immediately downstream but despite this I knew the river could well be clearer downstream as I have found out in the past.

Jumping back into our cars we took a short drive to convenient parking spot downstream, driving over a bridge we peered below to see a reasonably clear river, the murk hadn't made it down yet. Deciding to have a go two beats down, we parked up at the next parking area and began to tackle up, this was an area neither of us had really fished before and although we anticipated worsening conditions we were upbeat about exploring a new stretch. Walking downstream we scanned likely runs, pools and areas we expected to hold fish, as we continued walking along the river we decided to head to the bottom end of the beat, that would allow us to view the whole length, probably more for future reference. A weir marks the end of this beat, a short double-back along the path we had just walked took us to the end of a short run. I sat on the edge of the bank with my feet in the water and finished setting up, Steve set up behind me.

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It was still raining, because of this I wanted to try a different method, well not method as such more a different set-up. Something that had caught my attention was the New Zealand indicator kit, I'm not adverse to the classical upstream nymphing and in the past it was a go to method for me, but lets be honest klink and dink has become the mainstay for many of us, myself included and I will happily admit to being lazy and frequently choosing the perceived easy option and I do have to force myself to fish other styles. So getting back to the New Zealand indicator kit, I bought the mixed selection of wool and opted to put together my own kit, I find the thought of spending thirteen pounds on what is essentially a baiting needle and silicone tubing a little excessive, especially when I had bits at home already, it was only some silicone tubing that I needed to buy.

Procter's Pearly Butt Bloa
Pearly Butt Bloa
Ultimately there wasn't really any deviation in how I would normally set-up other than the addition of a small indicator on my tippet, I still used a furled leader - they rarely get taken off. I tied on two flies, a pearly butt bloa on the dropper with a copper-bead pheasant tail nymph, the indicator can be moved depending on depth and I had mine around two feet above the dropper.

As I had spent time quietly tackling up I felt the run would have settled from any disturbances we may have caused, slipping in gently I slowly waded over to the far side. The river held a fair depth, which only heaped on the anticipation, I was sure this run would contain a few fish. Peeling line off the reel, the first cast sent the flies around ten yards upriver. It only took a dozen or so casts before the indicator disappeared, in fact I didn't see it disappear, it was the noise Steve made that caused to me to look back and notice it was no longer there, a firm lift and fish number one was attached. It fought well in the strong flow, giving the impression of a much larger fish, my day was opened with a well conditioned trout of about eight inches.

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Buoyed by this early success Steve took his turn and begun making progress up the run, it didn't take long before his klink sunk from view as he hooked a trout about the same size, this one was an acrobat repeatedly jumping, I actually netted it just after it landed, a lucky catch! Swapping again - it usually wouldn't happen this quickly - I carried on, a little while longer the indicator again performed perfectly as I hooked a bigger fish. Although not as lively as Steve's fish this one jumped a couple of times as well as shooting downstream past us trying in vain to gain sanctuary in the vegetation at the side of the river. A better fish of around ten inches had us dreaming of a superb day ahead; Steve finished the run without another touch which surprised us both.

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The next run was seperated from the previous by a sizable overhanging jungle, casting over our wrong shoulders was in order but a smaller bush slightly up the opposite bank meant casting was trickier than it ought to be. Steve was still trying to catch his second fish and the jungle proved too bothersome and we had to scoot past it and recommence above. I decided to do some light trimming as Steve fished up the run, I keep a small fold-able saw in my chest pack for times like these and set about opening the channel up a little more while still preserving the essence of the overhang.

While clearing out a raft of floating rubbish I was met by something quite gruesome, a dead duck was caught up among the branches, it had been submerged for a while by the looks of it. Now this was no ordinary duck, it was a drake mandarin, despite the macabre nature of the find I wasn't going to waste an opportunity; the flank feathers on a mandarin and the closely related carolina wood duck are valuable and useful. I set about plucking both sides, the feathers were still in good condition and I had a plastic bag in my chest-pack which provided me with something to put them in until I could clean them later.

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One mandarin drakes worth of lemon and barred flank feathers
Steve had fished up the next run while I had been busy, unfortunately without success and also during this time the water had coloured significantly with lots of debris coming down in the flow. Steve tried another area a little further up but things were not improving, he persisted and insisted fishing to the top of the pool. With no more success we discussed our options. I put forward to go back upstream and have a look at the upper beats, suggesting that maybe all the murk was only coming from the town and upstream above it the water may be in better condition.

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Filthy, you wouldn't want to drink it
Barbour Paraloop Dun
Barbour Paraloop Dun
A brief drive via McDonalds took us to the bridge where we started our season. As expected the river was in top condition, clear as it was on opening day. I was still one fish up on Steve so he started on the section directly above the road bridge, it took a little while before Steve struck gold and caught a small trout on his dink. My go took a little longer, I lost my flies to a sunken branch in the margins though I could see where they were because the indicator was waving around in the flow. A rising fish caused me to pluck out a Barbour Paraloop Dun from my fly box, a size fourteen dark version to imitate the large dark olives that were hatching off. The fish I saw rise wasn't fooled by my attempts as we waded past its position, another fish rose on the inside, close to the bank, a lightning cast before the rings had subsided brought the trout immediately back up as it instantly took the BPD; there's no better feeling for me than fooling a rising fish.

Small Beginnings

Barbour Dun Strikes Again


One On A Dry

We carried on. Steve remarked how much better he had done on opening as we failed to extract anymore from what is normally a productive stretch. At the top a tributary flows into the river, spring fed, the little brook flows clear all year round and contains a lot of smallish trout, Steve diverted up there and hooked and then lost a fish in the first pool, I carried on up the main river which oddly has less water flowing through it than the brook. Working my way through a series of small pools the river here is tight and constricted, my rod really was two foot too long as I struggled not to get caught up in overhanging branches and debris hanging in the margins. Occasionally the odd cast would work and land on the water, at the tail of a short pool I landed a small trout, near the head of the pool a couple of fish were rising and after snagging up again and ruining my tippet I opted to tie on a BPD. Unfortunately I only succeeded in putting the fish down and a final hang up on vegetation told me to call it time.

Upper Beat Trout

I met up with Steve who had made steady progress up the brook, he had caught two more trout which put us on evens, by this time we both needed to leave and headed back to the cars. I feel I need to conquer beat, the plan is to go back with the six foot rod and not let this stretch get the better of me.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Opening day: Expectation vs reality

Three Stooges
Peering below a bridge, an image every angler recognises
April fools. I think the joke was on me Friday.

On Thursday as a pre-season appetiser Tom and I went to Earith Lakes fishery for a short morning session. Neither of us hadn't really cast a fly line during the winter using a french style leader mostly, it made for good practice. It also allowed me to have a proper go with the Daiwa NewEra I bought last year; although I have used and caught on it, I really wanted to give it a proper work-out.

Inspired by Dave Southall's writings about success with micro buzzers on small still-waters, I had been busing prepping during the week tying some simple patterns in sizes 20 and 22. Keeping on the simple theme I restricted the colours to black and olive with contrasting wire ribs, red on the black, black wire on the olive; 1.5mm tungsten beads added necessary weight.

Tom arrived before me and had been fishing for fifteen minutes before I arrived, I quickly paid for a four hour ticket and wasted no time in setting up. Tom was fishing an area which was conveniently in front of the car park, but for sound reason, there were quite a number of fish taking emerging buzzers, head and tailing as they patrolled around. With this in mind I set up a two fly leader, a size 22 olive buzzer on the point and a size 16 black magic spider on a dropper around two feet up from the buzzer. 0.16mm tippet was attached to a nine foot tapered leader and I de-greased the whole leader initially.

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The successful micro buzzer that scored well
Still fishless after a couple of hours things were getting desperate, the fishing were still in front although they had disappeared for a while, perhaps disturbed by our repeated casting. I decided to change some things, despite the small sizes, I felt that they were perhaps sinking too deeply. The leader was promptly greased up to about six inches above the dropper, I also changed the buzzer to a size 20 black version, this one also had a small red holographic tinsel butt. After the second cast I hooked a fish, a scrappy rainbow that was lean and fit, fought strongly giving a good account of itself. Not long after I caught another one, it seemed the code had been cracked, quickly informing Tom of the changes, of course I passed over my fly boxes.

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The single brown from Earith, - you don't see many people using chestpacks when fishing still-waters
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In the next couple of hours I caught four rainbows and a brown, all on the same black buzzer and though I think a couple of fish went for the spider I didn't connect with anything. Although Tom fished a practically identical set up to me he couldn't get a take, not a sniff; funny how it works like that.

On Friday Steve, Tom, Eliot and I opened our season fishing the upper sections of our main club river. As always on opening day the expectations were high, the river had dropped back down and cleared after recent rain earlier in the week, there was also hope of a decent hatch of large dark olives. We paired off, Tom and Eliot started just above a road bridge, Steve and I headed further upstream. We were both using eight foot four weight rods, I set up with two nymphs: a copper bead-head PTN on the point and an Oliver Edwards baetis nymph on a dropper about two foot above, Steve fished with the ubiquitous klink and dink.

Steve Casting Around A Bend

All I can say is I had a mare of a day. A strong wind blew rather predictably downstream, this coupled with plenty of bushes, trees, spent nettle and cow parsley stems conspired to snag and steal flies and tippet material from me. I won't lie, I got mad -  really mad - I could have given fishing up, I had to take a breather, refocus and calm myself. Steve's day so far wasn't much better, same issues and after Tom and Eliot had fished their section and walked up to us it became apparent we really had picked the wrong area to start as they had caught a number of fish already. The downstream wind had also troubled them yet the openness allowed them to cast properly compared to our struggle to roll-cast into the wind. After a quick catch up they continued upstream as we set our sights on a couple of promising pools and a short run that flowed hard against an old brick wall. After snagging up and ruining the tippet I changed over to the klink and dink too. Apart from a splashy rise from a small fish to the klink we both continued to struggle.

Wading through a pool we had just fished I spied a trout holding behind a small rock in an otherwise featureless, even bottomed glide. Crouching down I crept up closer towards it, before reaching position the flies were changed to a single fly, a size 16 OE baetis, this I felt would be the best option in the slow steady flow. Tying on the new fly clearly gave the trout time to re-evaluate its position in life as it had disappeared by the time I was ready to fish for it - typical. We had however watched another fish rising frequently a little way further upstream, Steve allowed me to carry on with a change of target. There was nothing visible that I could see on the river surface, to cover many bases the nymph was taken off and replaced with a size 18 Adams paraloop emerger. Not a bad decision as it was taken after half a dozen casts. At last a fish! A short spirited scrap and the blank entry on the catch return card but a distant memory.

One On A Dry
First fish of the season, on a dry-fly too, you can't beat it
 Around the corner and in the shallow tail of the next pool Steve spotted a fish on the bottom, he queried if it was an eel, I crept up for a closer look, it wasn't an eel, my first thought was a brook lamprey. This was quite exciting as neither of us had ever seen one before and as far as I'm aware they're fairly uncommon although I had heard they have turned up in electro-fish surveys. We spent time watching them - a second one was spotted close by half tucked under a rock - Steve got some great footage on his GoPro and I took a few pictures. Satisfied but still feeling raged about the morning I settled on a fallen tree some distance away from the river and sat quietly watching Steve try his luck at some rising fish.

Brook Lamprey
Brook lamprey
After a while I decided to leave Steve to it and headed back downstream. Slipping into the river just above the road bridge, a number of large dark olives were coming off and I saw a rise upstream. The wind blew stronger here due to the open nature, a poplar plantation that grew close to the bank had been felled during the winter leaving the area exposed. A size 14 Barbour paraloop dun makes a great match for the LDO especially the dark version, casting proved difficult and frustrating, there is nothing worse than seeing your fly blown below the end of the fly line. One more snagging and fly loss proved too much for me, I'm not afraid to admit, I lost my rag and stormed out of the river. It was only a few minutes after I returned to the car I could see the other three heading back. Tom and Eliot had more luck, Steve had still yet to catch and I told them that that was me done and that I was leaving, I really was pissed off. They did there best to get me to change my mind. Steve decided to carry on where I left off as Tom and Eliot headed downstream to the next beat. I milled around by the car, I was reluctant to give up despite my foul mood. In the end I decided to carry on and also headed downstream, I figured the other two had walked right down to the limit of the beat, I walked to around the halfway point starting where a cattle crossing spanned the river. My only reward for fishing a short section was a brief encounter lasting a second, before a small trout decided it wasn't my day.

Walking back to the car I really was in two minds, I wanted to go home, but I also felt I couldn't end the day like that, not opening day. With that my mind was made, a short ten minute journey took me to a the town the club river flows through. I knew where I wanted to fish and I was hoping it wouldn't let me down, a long run which really is a couple of pools with riffles connecting them has been good to me in the past, usually gifting me a few fish.

It is easy to fall into a complacent routine and I am guilty of that when it comes to fishing with a klink and dink, but its effectiveness can't be ignored and when prospecting it can be deadly. Of course this is how I fished the run ahead of me. I won't lie, I only tie one klink: the adams version, I don't need any others, a copper bead PTN hung below. Within five minutes I had caught a fish, I felt relaxed at last, at peace almost and I fished up with a steady purpose. By the time I reached the end my tally was on nine, this is what I had wanted from my opening day, I questioned why I hadn't just come and fished here from the beginning.

Decent Handflu
Finally catching some fish
Urban Brown
Copper bead PTN, a very versatile nymph
I was running short on time, the wife had been on at me about when I was going to get home, I delayed my departure as I wanted to have a few casts in the outfall pool. Because of the slower flows I changed the dink to a JP Pupa, a cream bodied version with a standard copper bead, I didn't want this fly to plummet through the depths. In quick succession I caught two trout, the third fish was what I was after. I knew it was big, not just because I saw it but also from the way it behaved. The power was smooth, the head shakes meaningful, they felt frightening and unlike most trout that thrash around in the air when they jump this fish just leaped like a salmon, no thrashing, no great height either, its size was significant. It was one of those moments where I wished I wasn't on my own, the fish lay in bottom of the Glen Pointon LTD floating net, genuinely I didn't know what to do with this fish, I couldn't get a proper hold of it to lift up for a picture and I was still awestruck at the size of the it. This is when I made a fatal error. The floating rim of the net allows you to lay your rod across it keeping it out the way and frees up both hands too. kneeling down I took hold of the trout with hands, lifted it up to hold against the rod to gauge the length. Eighteen to nineteen inches is the figure I got, then the inevitable happened. The trout thrashed out of my hold landing outside of the net, then it was gone. A scream left my mouth, then a single swear word was uttered, and uttered again, and again for around five minutes, I felt such a loss, I hadn't experienced that feeling for a long time and I felt pretty devastated. Understandably I ended the day there, still muttering that single swear word as I walked back to the car. I still cannot believe I failed to take one picture, I know I have the memory in my mind and I doubt anyone would question my integrity, but I do like to keep a record of substantial catches, better luck next time I guess.