Wednesday, 27 May 2015

A busy day

How long has it been since you woke up early because you were excited to go fishing? Although I always look forward to going fishing it has been a while since I felt this excited, like a child again.

I have been waiting to fish the mayfly hatch for a long time. I missed out on last years hatch because of a set of nights falling at completely the wrong time; by the time I had finished them I had missed it all. This year the nights fell two weeks earlier and I have been busy preparing, many hours were spent at the vice tying nymphs, emergers and a few different dun and spinner patterns.

Lay ahead of me was a busy day, after dropping my daughter off at the childminders I set off straight away and arrived at the river after an hours drive. After a quick recce I finally met Joe Reilly who had popped down to say hello; we have been swapping snippets of information about East Anglian trout for some time and it was nice to put a face to the name. We chatted briefly, Joe gave me advice on where to start and where to fish up to.

HIdden Gem
It wasn't all flat water, there were some nice pools and riffles and I'm told the current gets faster further upstream.
I made my way to the river once Joe had left and was confronted with a slow, crystal clear, flat surfaced river. I saw some fish immediately which gave me encouragement. Entering the water slowly, I stood at the edge of the river and began to tackle up. This gave the river and its inhabitants time to settle. Because of the intimate nature of the river I opted to fish with the six foot rod but teamed this time with a three weight line, mainly because of the size of fly I anticipated using.

Bob Wyatt's DHE
Bob Wyatt's Deer Hair Emerger - deadly!
Ahead of me I could see fish rising sporadically, it was still early and nothing specific could be seen. I tied on a size 12 Dhe; I have so much faith in this fly, it has caught a ridiculous number of fish so far this season.

About ten yards ahead of me a fish was rising gently, porpoising occasionally, its tail gave away its size. As much as I tried, and I probably tried too much, and although it took the fly twice, I didn't catch it. I had to move forward slowly so not to make the fish in front of me aware of my presence.

After passing a low branch that almost touched the surface I came across a group of fish, a mixture of trout, chub and dace. It was a chub that took the fly first, followed quickly by a small but very welcome trout. I hadn't blanked and could relax a little as I moved upstream. The water clarity allowed me to target individual fish and I caught a succession of trout as well as another chub and a dace. The fish were spooky, often darting upstream alerting others ahead, but a gentle approached allowed me keep catching.


Brown Trout

Brown Trout

Brown Trout

I planned to fish another river in the afternoon, it was about forty minutes drive from where I was and by about midday I decided it was time to leave, but not before tying on a mayfly and catching a couple of trout as a departing gift from the river. By the time I left I had only fished around a third of the stretch, there was no doubt I'd be back to finish the job, I was so impressed.

Brown Trout

1st Mayfly Caught Trout
First mayfly caught trout of the year.
Mayfly Caught Trout
Second mayfly trout of the year
The second river I fished was stark contrast to the first, deep, sluggish, coloured with a clay bottom, it looked more like a typical lowland coarse fish river, evidenced by a chub being the first species of fish I saw. I walked a good distance down stream noting sections of river worth targeting, it was a while before I saw a trout.

There Be Trout
One of the more faster sections of river.
Mohican Mayfly
Oliver Edwards Mohican Mayfly - deadly as well!
I chose to use an eight foot, four weight rod on this river; the wind was stronger and I felt a lower line weight would simply not of coped casting a bulky fly, I only intended to fish a mayfly here as there were quite a few hatching off. Concentrating on the faster sections of river it didn't take long to catch a trout, again I breathed a sigh of relief, I'm always anxious about not catching on a new piece of water; fishing was a mixture of targeting sighted fish or casting at rises.

First trout from this river.
Biggest Of The Day 16" Brown Trout

16" Brown Trout
Biggest of the day.
16" Brown Trout

My biggest fish came from the head of a pool. The river narrowed upstream to around a third of its width and flowed into a deep pool, the colour of the water obscuring any fish it held. I cast the mayfly into the fast water, the current brought the fly back towards me and was taken just as it drifted over the the deeper water. At around sixteen inches it fought well and was in immaculate condition. I finished with six trout and two chub, I lost a few fish and missed many more as the smaller fish struggled to take the fly properly.

As I arrived at my car I was greeted by swarms of mayfly spinners dancing in the afternoon sun.

Spinners In The Air

Monday, 25 May 2015

It's an Iron Blue Jim, but not as we know it.

A picture of a Baetis dun I posted on the FlyForums caused a bit of a debate. At the point of posting I didn't have a reference guide to work with and searching online didn't help. With most adult Baetis you need to get a clear detailed image of the hind-wing to properly identify the species; even then some species are still almost indistinguishable.

Normally the general size and colour will help get you to the point where you can start to narrow it down, the main issue myself and other posters had was the colour didn't come remotely close to what the hind-wing was telling us the dun was.

The hind-wing identified the dun as one of the three Iron Blue dun species - what wasn't especially clear is the presence of a third vein on the hind-wing - the forked vein is only found in the Iron Blue species. Only Baetis muticus, the Iron blue possess the third vein; B. niger, the Southern Iron Blue and B, digitatus, the Scarce Iron Blue have two veins one of which are forked, as is the middle vein of B. muticus.

Close up of the hind-wind showing the visible forked vein that identifies the dun as one of the Iron Blue species.
Enough of us agreed that the specimen was probably Baetis muticus, but we were all puzzled by the colour of the fly, looking more like a Medium Olive (Baetis vernus) than any of the Iron Blue duns. Of course in fishing terms, knowing the identity of the duns hatching in front of you down to species level is largely irrelevant, as long as you match general size, shape and colour you ought to catch the fish on front of you. You can see from the pictures a light Barbour Paradun tied with plain yellow Pearsall's silk matched the dun well, the hook was a size 18 Partridge Supreme Dry, not your typical Iron Blue pattern.



Thursday, 21 May 2015

Ephemera danica: our wonderful Mayfly

There were the occasional mayfly duns hatching off last week; I caught one so I could take a few photos and I'm rather pleased with them.

Ephemera danica The Mayfly

Ephemera danica The Mayfly

Ephemera danica The Mayfly

Ephemera danica The Mayfly
Messing with depth of field, really like this photo.
Ephemera danica The Mayfly
More depth of field antics.
Matching the hatch
Matching the hatch. The Mohican Mayfly is my go to pattern for freshly emerged duns.

Friday, 15 May 2015

A horse's lair

Yesterday I told of a large fish that snapped my line, I caught a glimpse of the fish and it left an imprint on my memory and I vowed I would return. Today was about unfinished business. It took me a while to actually decide where I was going to fish, almost spoiled for choice really. As I had such a good day yesterday I felt I had to start where I finished and intended to start further upstream, but couldn't resist having another go at the monster.

Adams Klinkhåmer
Adams Klinkhamer
I quietly eased into the river below the main pool and sat on the bank taking my time to set up. Although my main target was the large trout I hoped to open the days account in the pool above me. As the duo had proved successful yesterday I rigged up the same again, size 10 Adams klinkhamer and size 12 JP Pupa with a 2.8mm copper bead; I also used the same outfit as yesterday as I enjoyed using the six footer that much.

After a couple of casts I hooked a good fish in the main pool, despite putting quite a bit of pressure on, it acted as though it wasn't aware it was hooked and was quickly brought to the net; at 15" it was a great start to the day. As the fish stayed at the bottom end of pool I was hopeful of another trout but nothing else materialised.

15" Brown Trout

15" Brown Trout

Caddis green scruffing dubbing JP Pupa
Caddis green JP Pupa
With the pool out of the way I could concentrate on the horse's lair. Same as yesterday, I cast above the undercut in the fast water and allowed the current to sweep the flies into the hole. The fish showed itself as it darted out to intercept the fly. I went through several fly changes as well as giving the fish time to rest; I tried a hydropsyche, a gammarus and a woolly bugger with out success. The main issue I was having was that the flies weren't being drawn under the over-hanging vegetation, I then tried a caddis green JP Pupa.

Horse's lair
The horse's lair
After a few casts a sixth sense told me to lift, the line gave no indication but I found myself attached to a fish. Within a few seconds the fish realised it had been hooked and started to charge around trying to get in the undercut, as its plan failed it shot past me into the pool below. After jumping many times I started to gain control - I really wish I had a picture of the little rod hooped over. The fish was powerful and stayed deep throughout the fight, it was a relief to get the fish in the net. Bright sunshine bathed its butter yellow body, much brighter coloured than other fish I've caught from this river. I had my scales in my bag since I caught the 6lb'er, this fish measured 17" and weighed 2lb 6oz, my day was made.

17" 2lb 6oz Brown Trout

17" 2lb 6oz Brown Trout

I walked upstream feeling very pleased, there's nothing to beat the feeling of catching a targeted big trout. Walking up to the point where I came across the hatch of olives, I dropped in the river and was greeted by a rise ahead. With nothing particular hatching but the occasional fish rising I tied on a size 14 DHE, I really rave the fly since I started using it last year, it pulls fish up from nowhere; hats off to Bob Wyatt.

Bob Wyatt's DHE
Bob Wyatt's Deer Hair Emerger
I progressed up the river catching several fish including one of 16", all on dries. The weather was complete contrast to yesterday with bright sunshine eventually turning the fish off as I spent the last half an hour not stirring a fin despite changing flies and methods. I'm starting to fall in love with this little river and there's still more to explore.

Brown Trout

Brown Trout

16" Brown Trout

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Oh the pain having to leave a river mid-hatch!


I took a trip to a different river today, it is a much smaller river that forms part of another river catchment to the main river the club has fishing on. I fished the river once last year and didn't fare too well only catching one fish. The main reason for my choice today was a stiff easterly wind, this meant an upstream wind, which should provide a more comfortable day. On arrival I found a slight tinge to the water, I hoped this would make conditions favourable. I chose to use my 6' 2# because of the close confines in parts of the river, teamed with a Waterworks Purist1 and Barrio Smallstream, this was the first time I had used this outfit together.

I started almost at the bottom of the beat just above its confluence with the main river. The river at this end is reminiscent of a freestone river, there are lots of pools and riffles despite this being a spring-fed river. As it was cold I opted to fish the duo, nothing was moving so I figured I'd cover the top with an Adams Klinkhåmer and the bottom with a JP Pupa. The pool I started on looks so tantalising, yet twice in a row it has failed to produce a single fish. It wasn't until further up that I finally caught a fish, a sprightly little six incher to the JP Pupa.

6" Brown Trout

Next pool up produced two more fish, a slightly bigger trout again to the JP Pupa and a plump twelve inch fish that engulfed the klinkhåmer like is was its last meal. Just up from the main pool the current sweeps to the right hand bank and cuts a small deep hole under the bank before it flows into the pool proper. A deft cast placed the flies into the fast water, the current took the flies along the edge of over-hanging vegetation. As the flies drifted down, the line stabbed forward and it tightened violently snapping instantly. This was 0.15mm tippet - that has never happened - I have landed 6lb fish on 0.129mm tippet, but the 0.15mm tippet snapped like cotton. I wasn't disappointed, but I left the pool in awe at the power of that unseen fish.

8" Brown Trout

Continuing up the river the next fish took the JP Pupa and led me a merry dance for over five minutes; the rod coped brilliantly, hooped over but with plenty of grunt in the butt. At 16 1/2", this trout was the biggest of the day and it gave a great account of itself, I was truly made.

16 1/2" Brown Trout

16 1/2" Brown Trout

16 1/2" Brown Trout

Above where I caught the the 16" fish, the current flowed against the left hand bank, a drift close to bank proved perfect as the klinkhåmer disappeared in a vicious swirl. Another great fish at 15" wasn't much smaller than the last. These fish fight dirty though, they make the most of any over-hanging vegetation, undercuts and generally anything they can try and snag you up on. The day really was becoming great.

15" Brown Trout

15" Brown Trout

I continued up the river without much success, there were very few flies hatching and even fewer fish rising.

Arriving at a really deep pool, it was just the sort of place that might yeald a truly monster trout to a streamer, As it happens I caught two fish from the pool, a smaller fish that came off just as I was about to land it and a trout measuring 13" that took the klinkhåmer at the head of the pool.

As the day progressed more duns began hatching off, I even saw a mayfly dun hatch that was promptly nailed by something small in the edge of the river.

A little further up I came a across a full-blown hatch and lots of rising fish. The duns were small, a size 18 Barbour Paradun imitated them perfectly and I caught several more fish as well as loosing a few. It was great to be able to target individual rising fish; of course more fish were put down than caught, the upstream wind that helped with casting the light line now straightened things too much and drag became a major problem, inventive casting was employed and many wiggles added. I forgot to take any pictures of the fish, they were all between 7-10", but I did manage a couple of scenic shots.

There be rises

There be rises 2

I was having a ball, but time was running out, my daughter needed picking up at half four and I was about forty-five minutes away. It was hard pulling myself away, flies were still hatching, fish were still rising - there's always next time; I really like this river.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Danica Mayfly Nymph

I missed out on last years mayfly hatch; by the time my nights had finished the hatch had been and gone and I had only managed a couple of short afternoons beforehand. This year sees my nights brought forward by two weeks - it's a fifty week pattern - and my rest week falls on the last week of May, right in the middle of the hatch.

For some reason I didn't tie any mayfly nymphs last year - I am a confirmed dry-fly fan, but that is not to say I don't fish with nymphs, of course I do, but there is always a preference. I think it is the visual aspect that I has me tying on a dry-fly when I can; you cannot beat seeing a fish rise and your fly disappear.

This time around I have managed to tie a number of nymphs. In the past I used Steve Thornton's Mayfly nymph that he tied with his Virtual Nymph Skin ( see here for a very old SBS I did a few years ago). In homage to this fly and to Oliver Edward's Wiggle Mayfly nymph I have been tying a fly that utilises the tightly wound yarn body from the Wiggle Nymph with the overall profile of Steve's pattern and incorporating kinked rubber legs.

Ephemera Danica Mayfly Nymph

Hook: I use a curved longshank hook, for example Tiemco 200 or Veniard Osprey VH115.
Thread: White 50d GSP
Underbody: Adhesive lead sheeting
Tail: Dark brown goose biots
Body: Cream wool/yarn
Gills: Golden brown dyed ostrich herl
Wing buds: Dark brown goose biots
Legs: Medium Flexifloss/ Large Montana Fly Co. Tentacles in tan, kinked with a hot tip cauteriser
Thorax: Cream dubbing, I used the same wool as the body shredded
Thorax cover: Virtual Nymph Nymph Skin 3mm translucent coloured with dark brown marker
Head and Protonum: Same as thorax.

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS1

Place your hook in the vice - this is a size 10. Wrap a layer of adhesive lead sheet starting just above the hook point - this will vary depending on hook size, but you are looking for the initial layer to be around 2/3rds the hook shank - wrap to just short of the eye. Start a second layer of lead roughly two turn lead wraps forward and finish just short of the first layer.

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS2

Start your thread at the eye and securely tie down the lead, as you work your way down to the bend smooth out the lead layers so the underbody has a smooth tapered profile. Wrap the thread to a point  halfway between the point and where the bend starts. Tie in a single biot on top of the hook. Select your biot from high up the quill where you will find the thinnest biots.

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS3

Dub a small amount of dubbing and form a small ball immediately where the first biot is tied in. Next tie in two more biots, one either side of the dubbing ball. Tie these so they are just shorter than the first biot, but running parallel with it.

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS4

Next prepare a length of wool or yarn. To do this, trim off a piece around three to four inches long; you may need to remove a ply or two depending on the thickness of the wool. Taper the end by shredding the fibres between your finger and thumb, starting at the tip and working along roughly 3/4 of an inch of wool. This will help produce a taper when you wind the wool to make the body. Tie in the wool so that it is tight to the dubbing ball and biots. Then tie in the ostrich herl at the point where the first layer of lead starts, making sure it is tied in nearly underneath so that when the gills are wrapped they start from the side of the fly - this is more for aesthetics than anything, but note that the naturals gills are on top of the abdomen. Then tie in two biots at around the point where the second layer of lead begins. Tie these either side of center so there is a gap in-between them.

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS5

To make the body, twist the wool the direction it is already twisted to tighten it, this will give you a segmentation effect and wind the wool up the hook shank, keeping the twist tight as you wrap. When you reach the ostrich ensure that it remains in place in-between the segments and continue to one or two segments past the biots, again ensuring they remain in place.

To note, if you are wrapping the wool from back to front - opposite to the thread wraps - it will help immensely to tie the wool in the end where it has been cut from the ball. This way you will be twisting with the wool and the twist will remain as you wrap it around the hook shank, rather than the twist loosening as it would if you tied in the opposite end.

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS6

Next make the gills by winding the ostrich herl following the direction of the wool body and tie off;  trim the gills underneath either now or when the fly is finished. Then tie in a length of Virtual Nymph Nymph Skin on top of the shank, tying in tight to the last segment of the body. Tie in shiny side up and it will help to pre-colour both sides of the Nymph Skin with a marker prior to tying in.

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS8

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS7

Tie in two lengths of Flexifloss for the legs, one either side of the hook shank. The back set of legs should be tied in against the last segment, this will help to push the leg out away from the thorax. Wind the thread forward trapping the Flexifloss; these will form the middle set of legs. The middle set of legs should be fixed in a position around halfway between where the thorax starts and the eye of the hook.

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS9

Dub a noodle of dubbing onto the thread. I used the wool that formed the body to make the dubbing by chopping and shredding to mix up the fibres in to usable dubbing. Wind the dubbing, filling the gap between the legs and finishing approximately one wrap in front of the middle legs; use the dubbing to help position the legs, the back legs should point back slightly, the middle legs should roughly be 90 degrees to the hook shank.

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS10

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS11

Pull the Nymph Skin over the dubbing to form the thorax cover, you will need a small amount of tension to make the Nymph Skin behave, tie the Nymph Skin down to the eye. Then tie in the biots, you can do this individually or together at the same time, try to keep the gap between the biots.

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS13

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS12

Apply a smallish amount of dubbing to the thread and form a small head behind the eye, pull over the Nymph Skin and tie down securely with a couple of wraps of thread. Then tie in another set of legs each side of the hook; trim off the legs pointing backwards so the front set of legs point directly forward.

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS14

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS15

Again dub the thread and fill out the remaining part of the thorax, again use the dubbing to position the legs. Pull over the Nymph Skin and cover the last section of thorax (officially called the protonum), whip finish and cut the thread and trim the Nymph Skin. Re-colour the thorax cover and head if necessary. Readjust the fly so it is pointing down and kink the legs using a hot-tip cauteriser, cut the legs to length.

Danica Mayfly Nymph SBS

Danica Mayfly Nymph

Danica Mayfly Nymph

Danica Mayfly Nymph