Thursday, 25 September 2014

A mixed bag on the last official trout session

I was determined to catch one last whopper before the trout season ended; a late start for work gave me a morning to try my best. On the last couple of trips I haven't seen my nemesis or the other two fish I've previously caught, I have however seen a new large trout of around four pounds.

A new fish, but I've only seen this fish twice
On my last session I fished in the afternoon. As I was heading towards the car at the end of the day, I stumbled across a small group of barbel. I knew there were barbel in this stretch; I regularly used to see one small individual shoaled with a group of bream and roach. That was some three years ago, and I hadn't seen it since coming back to fly fishing last year. This time not only were there more barbel - more than half a dozen - there were some substantial fish in the shoal; I'd estimate a couple of six pound plus fish. The last half an hour of that afternoon yelded two small barbel, one around a pound and a half, the other slightly larger; tremendous fun on an eight foot four weight.

As my car was parked near the barbel hot-spot, I went to have a quick look before I headed anywhere else. I found most of the shoal where I expected, but certainly not as many as before. A stiff downstream breeze ruffled the water surface, hindering my ability to spot the fish. It wasn't long before a small barbel intercepted the fly as it slowly fell through the water. A spirited fight ended with me landing my third barbel on the fly.

My third fly caught barbel, just like mini exocet missiles
I tried to catch another - two hand-sized rudd were all I could entice - this species of fish perhaps reflecting that this part of the river is not fast paced as you'd expect for barbel to take residence.

I dropped into a weirpool without much hope due to the water clarity; the only way you can enter and approach this pool, leaves you liable to be seen when the water is this low and clear. One dace was the small but pleasant reward for this spot.

A small section of river upstream revealed rising fish. I watched for ten minutes as numerous grayling quartered and intercepted small items trapped in the surface film. Leaves scattered across the surface led me to tie on a size 24 green paraphid. Two grayling agreed with my choice.

Further up towards the lethiathon stretch and my nemesis'  lair, I was left wanting as nothing was in residence. Three weeks now I have not seen the nemesis, I fear my chance may have gone, but I hope it is still around.

I visited another weir that holds much more depth and seemingly has a stronger flow than the weir further down, despite the water volume being the same. A french leader and small fluorescent orange indicator, teamed with a duo of JP pupas proved a good choice as I landed three trout and the same number of grayling. Satisfied at finally catching some trout - I was beginning to think it was going to be a coarse fish only day - I headed back downstream.

On route I came across a group of primary school children. They seemed fascinated that someone would fish in their local river, one teacher commented that there must be fish in the river as someone is fishing for them. I kindly posed for a picture they could put up on there board back at school.

I walked ahead of them trying to pick off fish as I headed back to my car. As I stopped to fish, the children would catch me up, tell their teachers there's the fisherman again, say hello to me and walk past heading downstream. After a couple of times of overtaking each other I found myself ahead of them and with a fish in the net. I waited until they arrived at where I was and showed them a lovely chub of around two pounds. The kids loved it, they were completely entranced seeing a fish first hand come from their river. Another pose, providing proof of the existence of fish in the river to be displayed in the board.

The last place I looked at was the pool below the white bridge. A couple of trout could be seen cruising around the pool, rising occasionally. I already had tied on from earlier a JP pupa, and despite a couple of interested follows nothing took the fly confidently. I changed over to something lighter, and a killer bug succeeded in seducing a decent trout. This was in front of another audience of school kids, a different group this time but they were no less impressed. They watched me play, then land the trout, which was just shy of a couple of pounds, then asked to take a picture too.

That was my day done, no logs, but I was thrilled that I had shown the children some fish that live in the river flowing through their town. I hope I have inspired some of them to pursue their own monsters in the future.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

My nemesis

I have a nemesis.

This fish has alluded me for nearly two seasons. In the picture above, the fish is lying in around 18" of water, and where this trout is holding station is directly below a busy footbridge. Due to its prominent position, a great deal of pressure is placed on the fish, any one wrong move and you'll have blown it and you only get one chance.

In the past few weeks I have hooked then lost and on another occasion pulled the fly right out of its mouth. I won't be too disappointed if I don't land this fish this season. I continue to relish the challenge faced in trying to land this trout; it certainly won't be my biggest, but it will be by far the hardest fish I hope to eventually catch. Fingers crossed it will be before the end of this month.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Dyeing with picric

A cheeky inquiry with Gareth at Cliff-Harvey Angling - about paying for some materials to be dyed in picric - led him to kindly offer to send me some.

As soon as it arrived, I set about transferring the liquid into a larger container. As there were still some undissolved crystals in the bottom, I knew I could increase the volume of liquid, allowing me to dye larger items.

L-R Picric dyed melanistic, dyed yellow, natural and natural dyed picric
I only had a couple of materials I really wanted to dye, these being deer hair and heron herl. Once I got started I couldn't help but put more stuff in the solution. In the end I dyed half a dun grizzle cape, a normal and melanistic pheasant tail feather and a bleached elk hair patch along with the intended deer hair and heron herl.

Whiting dun grizzle dyed in picric
A close-up
The results were mixed, the heron didn't turn the expected olive shade, however the deer hair went better, it turned out to be absolutely right on the money in colour for the wing in the mohican mayfly.

The heron herl didn't really take on much colour, despite leaving it in the solution for several days 
Picric dyed roe deer
Picric dyed deer, natural roe and bleached elk dyed in picric
After the initial lot of materials I moved onto half a squirrel skin, some peacock eyes and a piece of woodchuck with good results.

Thanks to Gareth for sending me the picric solution to experiment with.

Friday, 5 September 2014

A few pictures from Exmoor

I managed only three short sessions whilst away on Exmoor; two on the Barle, one on the Exe.  My first trip was a very short, one hour, spent flicking a balloon caddis between boulders in pocket water. It was such a contrast to the sedate, smooth surfaced rivers I usually fish. The action was instant and constant, actually hooking and landing fish proved problematic. Three trout and a salmon parr came to hand, many more missed, but I had a great time and remained in the good books as I kept to the agreement of one hours fishing.

The next trip was just as short, but for different reasons. It rained everyday at some point, some days it rained most of it. So arriving at a rising river it didn't take long to become un-fishable, although I missed a couple of nibbles on a woolly bugger.

Having such a great misses, she allowed me a chance to fish for a bit longer when we went to Tiverton. I fished the Exe years ago - I knew exactly where I wanted to fish - a long pool with the main current running along the near bank; trees and bushes prevent much fishing from the bank. In the past I had plenty of trout and grayling and this time proved no different.

I intended to fish the pool using long leader techniques, I rarely get the chance on my home waters, they're simple not suited to it. Arriving at the bottom of the pool the fish dictated otherwise. Plenty of rising fish all over the tail of pool, slightly altered my intentions. Most of the rises were small affairs, nothing visible hatching and a gusty wind pointed towards something small and terrestrial being taken. A very small black KlinkhÄmer tied onto a 0.10mm tippet proved successful enough and landed me several small trout including a particularly silvery one - a sea trout perhaps?

I worked past the rising fish heading up the pool and changed over to a french leader. A strong flow and reasonable depth saw me chose a size 12 JP pupa with a three millimetre tungsten bead on the point, a hydropsyche larvae in the middle and a baetis nymph on the top dropper.

A size-able trout started things off and I caught a succession ranging from 6-10 inches. I only started to catch grayling as got near the head of pool, again a mixed range of sizes. I caught on all three flies, with the JP pupa taking the majority. Fishing this one pool left me more than happy and it proved to be the last session of the week.