Friday, 27 April 2018


A Little Trib
What a view.
So where have I been fishing during the last two years? Well there have been two trips to the Don in Sheffield, more specifically one of the tributaries, the first time was with Tom and Steve joined me a few weeks after. When Tom and I fished we went as a party of five; Myself and Tom drove up from East Anglia and Mike and Jon travelled a much shorter distance from Cheshire and picked Danny up in Sheffield. The initial meeting at Owlerton greyhound stadium was the only point in the day when all five of us were together; Tom and I did meet up with Mike later on in the day on the main river. This was the first time I had fished this trib, Tom fished with Danny the year before as part of the five-rivers challenge when he won an auction lot provided by Danny on behalf of the Monnow Rivers Trust. Tales of that day captured my imagination as although they didn’t quite achieve the goal Tom told me of the excellent sport provided by the little river that day.

A short walk from where we parked took us over a bridge on the main river – it’s always uplifting to see rising trout early in the day and I pointed a good-sized fish stationed behind a boulder close to the bank. We started our day directly at the confluence, looking upstream the trib looked so inviting if a little clear and low, the gradient was immediately obvious as the river tumbled down small chutes and riffles into the occasional pool, little rivers like this are just my thing – I’m not afraid to admit larger rivers are intimidating to me, but only through a lack of experience on them, small rivers and streams are my undoubtedly comfort.
A Little Trib

The first pool was deceptively deep for such a small river, the current syphoned through a small channel and under a large tree trunk spanning the river. There were a number of rising just off the main flow on the seam with a large section of still water. Tom succeeded in capturing one of the rising but the remaining fish from that pool took the nymph; we were using the ubiquitous klink and dink of course. Actually what is normal when I fish with either Tom or Steve is that we both set up our rods differently, one will be set up with a klink and dink and the other, which is usually a Lexa is set up with a French leader and a couple of nymphs. This suits our style of fishing which is to take turns in catching fish, or fishing a pool or run each depending on the day, this is what I call fishing with someone rather than two people turning up and separating to fish different areas.

Sheffield Brownie

The day carried on with both of us catching steadily as we continued up the river changing flies and tactics where needed. One slower paced run was lined with rising trout and chub taking midges off the surface. Paul Procter’s All Purpose Terrestrial and a diminutive black klinkhamer caught us several trout, but neither of us could deceive the chub, some which were comfortably two or three pounds – spooky fish. Walking through a shallow riffle I disturbed a very large fish that was holding in some very smooth deep water below a road bridge, there is nothing more disheartening than seeing a substantial bow-wave speeding upstream. A slow heron-like stealthy wade through this section took us almost through the bridge’s tunnel, a lively run flowing down a concrete embankment on the nearside meant we waited a few minutes to allow any disturbance to subside. Within a few casts Tom hooked a big trout, we both saw it as it swam past Tom close to the surface before somehow shedding the hook; Tom let out a devastated shout, that trout looked easily over two pounds. Carrying on we caught several more trout before reaching the next pool.

Sheffield Brownie

We were a little envious of the owners of a house who’s balcony overhangs the river at the next pool, although not large it was a typical pool in dynamics and absolutely stuffed with fish, it was in this pool we saw grayling for the first time that day - they are present throughout the lower section of the river, only a large sloping weir prevents their range from expanding, but they are not as populous as the trout - unsurprisingly we caught a good number of fish but the large grayling in that pool eluded us.

A Little Trib

Further upstream I hooked a good trout of around a pound and a half as I guided my nymphs underneath the tightest overhanging tree I have ever fished, I also think because of a lack of room I failed to set the hook properly and despite playing the fish for a length of time it came off after one somersault too many, I was gutted now we had both lost a good fish, that said it showed the calibre of fishing available in this little river.

The river tumbled over and between some large boulders immediately upstream of the pool I had just been fishing and Tom took the honours of catching the days smallest fish here. The largest pool so far on the river sat above the pocket water, the drop between that pool and the one I had fished was some four foot, it was very noticeable when looking ahead. This pool provided a lot of action for Tom, he landed a nice grayling, the biggest of the day – not that we caught many, in fact I don’t think I caught one – most of the fish were found directly at the point where the river bed dropped almost cliff-like at the head, we didn’t attempt to wade the main body.

Sheffield Brownie

Sheffield Grayling

Sheffield Grayling

We carried on a little further catching fish on the way, I forget our total but when we reached the long weir we had caught a considerable number of fish especially in tough conditions, I’d expect when conditions are optimal with an increased volume of water and a slight tinge  the numbers you could catch would be staggering, in fact I know this from the numbers Tom and Danny had caught last year in a much shorter time frame. We left the tributary at around three to meet up with the others on the main river, it was only Mike that we met up with, Jon and Danny were further upstream. I won’t lie, we struggled on the River Don, the river looked in good condition but we struggled to catch many fish and reports from Mike confirmed it had been a hard day for him, this made Tom and I more thankful for our choice on venue for the majority of the day.

Uh Oh! Dirty Brown
A dirty brown River Don

Two weeks later I fished the same little tributary with Steve. There had been quite a bit of rain in the days leading up and the levels looked good, the sight of the main river saw our hearts sink, looking over the bridge we were greeted by a fuller river that ran the colour of watery hot chocolate – had we driven for two hours for nothing. Luckily the little trib was largely unaffected, an increase in flow and water volume as well as a small amount of colour lifted our hearts back up and really raised our expectations for the day.

Sheffield Brownie

Fishing in much the same way as I did with Tom we caught steadily throughout the day but surprisingly some areas where I expected to catch more because of the better conditions failed to produce any fish at all. There were no big fish hooked or caught although we did see the group of fish below the bridge, some thought needs to be given as to how I’ll go about catching one, which is difficult as I’m not a local. The only thing different that Steve and I did was go much further up the river, more to explore as we didn’t really fish that efficiently by the time we got that further up.
Steve With A Little Trib Brown

Sheffield Brown

I also had a couple of trips to the coarse sections of my club river, the large trout that we found last year haven’t been visible, at least when I have been, that’s not to say they haven’t been around. As usual the grayling and coarse fish provided most of the sport, trout of all sizes were conspicuous by their absence and the few I did manage to hook did an impressive job of tangling the fly tine and leader in over hanging vegetation as they cartwheeled around the river, only a couple of smaller individuals were landed.

This leads me to some very exotic fishing, for me at least, but that is another post........

River Itchen Winchester
First leg of some very exotic fishing......

Sunday, 15 April 2018


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.
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.
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.


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.



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.


Thursday, 12 April 2018


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.

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.

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.


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.


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


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.