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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

The single brown from Earith, - you don't see many people using chestpacks when fishing still-waters

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.

Monday, 21 March 2016

In Limbo

High Riser
No need to hold the fin up
It's that time of year again, no mans land, the coarse season has ended and the start of the trout season is two weeks away in my part of the country. I ended the coarse season last Sunday having a final crack at the grayling and I certainly wasn't alone, there were many reports of people making the most of the fine weather and fined down rivers.

The winter season has been chaotic, each week brought a new storm or two from the Atlantic and certain parts of the country were left devastated by severe and prolonged flooding. I guess it was fortunate that I was otherwise preoccupied for three months and although I managed the occasional trip none were on my club rivers, which have been a perpetual chocolate milkshake all winter, only the river levels varied.

Back to last Sunday, the 13th. Steve and I journeyed up north to Sheffield to fish the River Don, this was our first trip back there since the end of September and the river conditions were in stark contrast to last year. We were greeted by a full but clear river - if you discount the dark peaty colour of course - this did make wading precarious, in fact there were times when I genuinely thought I was going to end up swimming; this was the first time I felt panicky and unsure and made me question why I didn't put in the studs that were provided with a pair of new wading boots I bought. A lesson learned for next time.

White Bead Melanistic PTN
White Bead-head Pheasant Tail Nymph
A short walk down took us to just past the point where we started before. Setting up at the tail of a tantalising pool that lay at the end of a long run that flowed against a wall, Steve chose to set up a klink and dink as he only had his 8' 4# Hardy Zenith, I set up the Lexa with a Hends Camou French leader, this allowed us to cover most options. For the first time in a very long time three flies graced my leader; something that was mentioned to me a while ago had stuck in my head, this combined with the fact I have never fished with spiders led me to tie on a Pearly Butt Bloa on the top dropper. Initially I tied a squirmy wormy style fly with a 3mm tungsten bead and a white bead-head PTN on the middle dropper, I chose these because of the colour of the water and in fairness they showed up really well - even at depth - however, the squirmy came off quite quickly, but only because a slight flaw with they way I had tied them meant the bead slid down to the bend. This was replaced with a pink bead biot nymph and the fly selection didn't change after that.

Pink Bead Biot Nymph
Pink Bead-head Biot Nymph
Just as we were finishing setting up a coarse angler set up at the top of the pool, we don't think he saw us and as he had settled and started fishing in rather quick fashion we clambered up the back and walked upstream past him. I started by fishing a deep hole without success and I recalled that I didn't catch anything there last time either. Walking a little further upstream we noted that the river had drastically changed, a S-bend had been replaced with a straight section, no doubt by some substantial flooding throughout the winter.

Steve's First Fish
I love seeing the Lexa bent round
Passing the rod to Steve as I stripped off a couple of layers - a precarious attempt to cross the river had warmed me up - he started at the bottom of a long run; it was this area where Steve had filmed me landing a 15" trout. It didn't take long for him to catch our intended quarry, a small grayling that took the middle dropper and meant he wouldn't be blanking today. I didn't feel under any pressure just yet and told him to carry on, I was still faffing on the bank.

First Grayling Of The Day
Steve's first fish of the day
As Steve continued upstream he concentrated on the deeper water against the far bank, this left quite a bit of water on the inside and with Steve's approval I started to search the shallower, slower section of river. Keeping a low profile by crouching I maintained a short lead of a couple of yards fanning casts across the nearside half of the river. After around ten minutes of relatively slow progress the klink sunk out of view, lifting into the fish I was met with a substantial amount of resistance, a large shape twisted and turned in the shallower water, this immediately led me to believe I had hooked a grayling. Very quickly I knew I was wrong, the fish powered off across the river into the main flow, this really tested the 0.15mm tippet and it didn't take long for it to point itself downstream taking me with it. Thankfully it stopped in a small back eddy, I stood and watched as it tried several times to rub the fly off of the end of its nose. I'll have to admit, the trout was in charge, I couldn't get its head up and every time I tried to persist it to my way of thinking it would just surge off somewhere else. Eventually the fish began to tire, standing in a strong flow with an uneven bottom made things difficult for me, I ended up unclipping the lanyard to my net and tossing it to Steve who was downstream of the trout. At the second attempt of trying to lift the trouts head up Steve scooped my hard earned prize, in the bottom of the net lay a truly buttered beauty with the most intense red spots I'd ever seen.

It Was Supposed To Grayling Fishing
Deep intense red spots
A good few minutes rest in the bottom of the net allowed the fish enough time to recover. Steve had some lightweight scales and we quickly weighed the fish whilst still in the net, this gave us a figure of 2lb 12oz, the net weighed 10oz after the trout was released. A few quick snaps and the trout steadied itself as it was released into the flow. First fish of the day, 2lb 2oz and 17" long, but no one had told this fish it was five days early.

It Was Supposed To Grayling Fishing
You cannot grumble catching fish like this, even if they're only just out of season
Continuing upstream fishing the remainder of the run, our drifts were not interrupted. The next pool up was wider still, this allowed us to fish side by side dissecting half of the river each. We used our own set-ups and very quickly I caught a grayling, we then proceeded to have a fantastic fifteen minutes of catching; together we caught ten fish, a mixture of trout and grayling and all fell to nymphs. What did stand out was that we could only catch when fishing a small area ahead of us and only the bottom third, nothing in the edges or the top end of the pool. Twice Steve and I simultaneously caught and played fish together which gave us some amusement. We left the pool feeling jubilant and hopeful this was a sign of things to come, but alas it turned out to be a false start and we carried on the day fishing and making our way upstream.

Double Up
Double up - one of each - notice the colour of the beads
Plenty Of Trout

Sprats are the future
We weren't alone on the river and it was no surprise, the weather was glorious if slightly fresh and much to our surprise the trio we had to keep leap-frogging were also fly fishing, however we observed they didn't deviate much from a downstream and across approach and I couldn't say whether they had any success.

Barbour Paraloop Dun
Barbour Paraloop Dun - the dark version
Garyling On A Barbour Paraloop Dun
Dark version Barbour Dun doing what it does best, representing LDO's
Pink = Trout
One of Steve's last fish
Pearly Butt Waterhen Bloa
Pearly Butt Bloa - tied a little too long but lesson learned
The highlights of the day were two grayling that I fooled on a Pearly Butt Bloa and a Barbour Paraloop Dun. The take that registered on the indicator when the spider was taken was so animated and aggressive, I have never seen an indicator move so much before. The grayling that took the Barbour Dun is the first fish I have landed on a dry fly this year, it's not that I'm a purist but I do love surface action and it was a welcome change from dredging the depths with tungsten. We finished with over twenty fish between us, the ratio leaning towards me and there was a good mix of species with neither one dominating. Something we noticed with regards to which species took which fly, was that most of the trout were caught on pink bead-head nymphs with the grayling mostly taking the white bead-head nymphs. What was also interesting is that my pink bead nymph was on the point and would have been fishing much deeper than Steve's which would have fished quite high in the water owing to the method he was fishing. This does replicate similar results when I fished with Tom in September on the same river, very interesting indeed.

Pretty Lady
My first spider caught fish
All that remains is a short wait for the trout season to start in East Anglia, bring it on!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

It's been a while

It's fair to say things have been pretty quiet on the fishing front for me, I don't think I was prepared for how disruptive changing jobs as well as having a newborn would be. I'm certain a balance has now been reached as I have settled into a routine and begun to find time to tie flies and even a trip or two fishing recently.

As mentioned in the last blog post I have been tying dry-flies for the Wild Trout Trust annual auction, these are now finished and the box is complete and ready to go. Of course calling the selection early season dry flies is stretching it a little as I have included the devastatingly effective Adams Klinkhamer, which in certain parts of the UK fall foul of a dry-fly only rule and a variation of Gwilym Hughes' Cul-de-Canon which is another emerger pattern.

So now that the box is finished, what is included:

WTT Auction Early Season Dry Fly Box

Barbour Paraloop Dun
10 size 14 Barbour Paraloop Duns in dark variation
JT Olive
10 size 16 JT Olive
Cul-de-Canon Variant
10 Size 12 Cul-de-Canon variant
10 size 14 Jingler
March Brown Jingler
10 Size 12 March Brown Jingler
Adams Klinkhamer
10 Adams Klinkhamer - 5 size 12, 5 size 14
Along with the box of flies I am also offering a days fishing guided by me on my club rivers; you can see the illustrated catalogue on the Wild Trout Trust website here, lots 32 and 247.

Winter Serenity On The Dove
Tom Changing flies
Tom and I took a trip to Dovedale in the middle of January, perfect conditions greeted us, it even felt like winter after recent snowfall. I have always found the Dove a fickle temptress, this was only the third time I had fished the river, luckily I saved myself from a blank again as did Tom.

A real winters day
Tom took a few black and white pictures
We both caught trout and grayling although our ratios were opposite, Tom catching three trout and one grayling, I caught one trout and four grayling. One of those grayling was around a pound and a half and gave a very good account of itself which Tom caught on film, unfortunately as usually happens with grayling it slipped out of my hands as I was measuring it so there is no trophy shot.

I also managed a short afternoon on the town stretch I fish, the river was well coloured but fishable and the trout agreed as that was all I could catch, all three of them; I could not find the coarse fish or grayling that day.

More recently I visited this years British Fly Fair International at Stafford, a mob of four of us went to spend our hard earned dosh and take in all the excellent flies being constructed on Fly Tiers row. I didn't quite manage to fulfill my shopping list and came home with a sum of unspent money, but Tom and I did go halves on a couple of superb Whiting Coq de Leon saddles in medium pardo and ginger pardo. I also picked up a new partridge skin from Cookshill along with a chickabou pelt from Chevron Hackle. Picking up a few extra spools of silk from the Langleys stand, a superb bright yellow was pointed out to me as being the colour for the Partridge and Yellow spider so naturally I bought a spool and I have of course tied with it.

Grey Partridge
The highest quality, as you'd expect from Cookshill
Partridge and Yellow
Partridge and Yellow - rather pleased with these
I'm hoping in the near future to really start knuckling down and tying streamers, I have a few sculpins which I have shown previously but I really want to get on with some baitfish patterns, having struggled to find hooks that are made small enough for my needs I found some Sakuma 410 in sizes four and six from the Funky Fly Tying stand; ideally I would like the find hooks similar to these in sizes eight and ten to satisfy my needs.

Chickabou Bugger
Brahma Bugger using the Chevron Chickabou complete skin
Coq de Leon - Medium Pardo, Ginger Pardo
Medium and ginger pardo Whiting Coq de Leon saddle
Quilled Coq de Leon Dry Fly
A generic hackled dry-fly using CDL for wings and tail, the hackle is a cree sent to me by Hugh Rosen
Quilled Coq de Leon Dry Fly

More recently I took part in a little social gathering on the Dove at Dovedale. I met Steve on the way and we traveled together and Tom drove with Eliot. We met up with Mike Johnson, Jon Kerr and their companion Lester. We spit up a little and made our way up and down the river in small groups spending time fishing likely runs and pools. Meeting up at one, Jon pulled out his Kelly Kettle and set about boiling some water for a much earned hot drink. Only Steve didn't join us for lunch, he had yet to score and was determined not to blank.

Get The Kettle On
At the watering hole
Pink Always Works
Pink shrimps = grayling
Eliot Dredging A Run
Eliot working through a likely run
Pink Bead Biot Nymph
Pink bead-head nymph
The biggest fish went to Tom, indecently it was also his first and by the end of the day we had all caught fish, grayling predominantly but also a number of trout. No particular type of water favoured either species and fish were caught in some surprisingly shallow fast runs as well and deeper slower water. I caught fish on pink shrimps and small tungsten bead head nymphs and my final tally was ten - seven grayling, three trout. I was hoping to catch a fabled dry-fly caught winter fish as there were a number of olives seen coming off and a member of the party saw a rise late morning but that was all, I will have to wait a little while longer before I catch off the top again.

Tom's biggest fish of the day
Pink bead-head nymph caught for both Tom and myself
Pink Shrimp
Skinny pink shrimp caught me several fish
Dovedale Bathed In Sunshine
Our view of lower Dovedale, the sun greeting us as we made our way back to the cars