Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Usk brown trout and chips with everything ...



  I have just returned from a week away in a cottage in the brecon beacons .  It was a chance to combine a bit of fishing with a weeks holiday with my wife or should I say fishing widow?, she never complains that everytime we book a cottage somewhere in the country there is the certain knowledge that close by will by a tumbling stream or rolling river.  The river this time was the Usk.  This is a river I have fancied fishing for a long while.  Rising in the Black mountains of the Brecon beacons of South Wales .  It is a river that reminds me very much of the Ure .  



I booked the beat that ran at the bottom of the cottage garden it was the Glan-yr-afon beat of the Wye and USk foundation.  I booked the beat for 5 days with the intent of been able to fish early mornings and evenings ,  During the days the river was well populated by kids and dogs so fishing was out of the question anyway.




Hatches of small olives happened nearly every evening . The fish responded to a size 20 IOBO humpy anything bigger was ignored .  Mornings was a time for prospecting the faster deeper runs with a nymph .  I caught a agood few wildies and a few better fish that looked like well conditioned stock fish.  





One early morning nymphing session saw me hooked into a real beast of a fish which although I got it close dived under the rock ledges below my feet and ended up breking the tippet.  A big fish that resulted in some choice words shared with the early morning air. Early morning not a single fish was seen rising so nymphing was the logical choice.  




I enjoyed the fishing immensley but not sure how much I would enjoy the wading at high water levels.  The very clear and low water meant that you could always see where you are putting your feet. My mate Peter ( He of the old walks and fishes blog) warned me of the dificulties of wading the Usk. I understand what he meant.





I am always ammazed at how brown trout from different river systems vary so much in their colouration . Most of those I caught had quite blurry spots and few with the bright vivid red spots I see in the local spate streams up north.




Many like the one below had quite a distinctive olive colouration.



Whilst I did some fishin this was essentially a quiet week away with My Mrs in a very small cottage which had the Usk at the bottom of the Garden which enabled me to fish in the last and first hours and leave the day free. I am pleased to say that the cooker in the cottage remained nicely unused local pubs were chosen at random and by checking menus.  We spoilt ourselves every night but were puzzled with the constant fascination for chips with everything....
First night : Tempura lobster with green salad, asparagus and new potatoes....Accompanied by huge chips...
Second Night: Chicken curry with Bombay aloo. Garlic naan , popadoms and dips , Pilau rice...And orange yes orange chips 
Third Night Sea Bass in a salt crust seasonal vegetables New potatoes and yes you guessed it     
chips
The other with chips dishes included lamb shank and Mash,  Roast beef and Yorkshire puddings at Sunday lunch with roast potatoes .One night the chips were made with sweet potatoes but cant remember what is was with ....
Final night was steak night at the local Pub I had the rump , wife had rib eye with veg the menu said, itll be chips the wife said good says I steak and chips is good . What arrived ? Game chips sodding parsnips put through a potatoe peeler and deep fried.......Wont be eating chips for a while....




Anyway despite the chips.  A lovely river and friendly people  in a stunning part of the world....



Monday, 13 July 2015

The good the bad and the ugly....



First of heres the good .  We have a good few of these on the beck.  Marsh Orchids, delightful things
its just a shame they arent more prolific and about 16ft tall.


Now the bad and the ugly...Went on a work party the other day ,  well it was more of a skirmish in our clubs ongoing battle with invasive species .  We have the full set down the beck , himalayan balsam even a little patch of knotweed and of course Mr triffid himself the Giant hogweed.  Again this year the clubs brave volunteers have been employing the usual armoury of physical and chemical weapons since spring to try and get to grips with this stuff ,  spraying started early at the upstream end but even then as we worked down the becks watercourse plants have had chance to get established at the bottom end . During this skirmish two members ( myself included) donned hats,gloves and full clothing to attack in an advance party cutting flower heads to prevent seed ripening.  Followed by the chemical weapons swat team . Spraying to kill the rest of the plant. 



  Its a battle we are determined to win .  Its just a pity that the local council whos land it is arent doing it for us. 



Wednesday, 8 July 2015

So that was flaming June was it ?


Well so much for the expression "flaming June" , June was cold, breezy and harder going than It was in my day dreams when I was tying flies in the depth of last winter.  After a dry winter which meant that the rivers awoke in the spring to low water flows and cold temperatures. The rivers pantries continued to be strangely out of balance, on my local beck my last kick samples showed an almost complete lack of baetis nymphs with other species down as well. All the rivers I fish have had fewer fish rising and the Mayfly hatch just didnt .. Not that Ive had no success its just been odd.  Fish seemed to be ignoring the upwings that were hatching whilst small midge patterns were taken happily

In the winter its all dreams and hopes for the year ahead, then as the spring and summer pass it constantly amazes me how each year the fishing differs .  The chalkstream started the year very low due to the dry winter and now the weed growth is making fishing difficult.  Fish have generally seemed reluctant to rise.


The fish are still there to be caught though.  The smaller fish coming to the surface eagerly this one snatched the fly away from a very big fish that I was targeting . Always nice to catch but I cant say I was pleased at the time though.  I had spent quite a few minutes watching the biggie , then spent ten minutes getting into position . The fly alighting perfectly a few feet upstream of the biggie and this little devil shot out from under a weed bed and took it . The biggie of course melted away.  




At water level you get a different perspective .  Unlike many chalk streams wading is allowed although it isnt always productive.  The trout are very very spooky and there are some real good fish in here , many in the 2 to 3lb class but they are all pretty wary.


My best fish that day was this lovely little wild fish , the big fish didnt want to cooperate  . Low water bright skies meant for tricky fishing. But it was a pleasure to be out sharing the river with kingfishers, Barn owls and Buzzards.


One benefit of the time of year is the long evenings . One recent evening I pottered down to the Derwent and headed of downstream. With the intention of fishing back up. I got as far as the mowthorpe sluice this is now technically the start of Scalby beck ( the beck that features so often on my blog)  or to be absolutely correct the sea cut, an artificial channel which was created in 1804 to alleviate flooding in the Derwent valley by diverting high water away down the scalby beck .  The Derwent is unusual in that although at this point its only a few miles from the sea it now heads inland and enters the Ouse many miles inland below York.  Before meeting the sea in the Humber estuary. 



As these two photos show the low water levels mean that the sea cut is completely dry . Scalby beck doesnt really start flowing until a few miles down where feeder streams join it.  



That evening we had a decent evening rise in fact I would say the best evening rise of the summer so far with about a dozen fish falling to a size 16 IOBO humpy in the space of 45 minutes.  All sorts was hatching , sedges . olives and even an odd mayfly in among the countless midges.



These pretty little wildies are great fun and although the river is well stocked with additional brownies and rainbows . Fishing dry fly I didnt see one stockie in the 15 or so fish I caught.  The fish were in the shallow heads of pools enjoying the evening cool and the faster flows. The stockies I think were sulking in the few deeper areas.  It certainly shows one benefit of wild fish with there apparent willingness to feed in low water conditions.  I dare say a big goldhead tossed in to the deeper pools would have found a stock fish or two but why? .  To me its not what fishing is about. 










Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Just a couple of hours



Sometimes perfection comes without warning,  The day had been chilly the wind a little too strong , The river level was a little low,  the mayfly hatch has been woeful. But a couple of hours was available after work.




Sometimes just been in the river can be enough .  But as I worked upstream searching the riffles and pockets,  The chill went the wind dropped and the mayfly not hatching didnt matter anymore.




Two hours passed in an instant .  Half a dozen fish were taken from the pots and riffles . All perfect fish on what turned into a perfect two hours.




Friday, 29 May 2015

May a mixture of blessings.



Well the season has started properly but so far its been a strange year. Seasons start saw rivers running exceptionally low due to one of the driest winters on record.  The local spate streams I normally fish have been so low they have been full of algae and pretty much unfishable so my early efforts were concentrated on Foston beck, which being a spring fed chalk stream whilst being very low has been very fishable although the cold winds that have marked this year so far meant the visits were not always the balmy warm days that May usually heralds.  



and here its been a story of mixed blessings one visit here and I hooked into a trout of biblical proportions , not quite as long as my leg but certainly a fish that had it not shot under a weed bed and threw the hook it would have been something to remember when staring at the log fire in the winter to come.  I got enough of a view of it to estimate the size to be well into the category of a lost fish  that I need a few minutes of solitude to mourn when it left me with no fly on the tippet...



These crystal clear waters which are stuffed with food certainly hold some substantial fish that have grown fat on the well stocked larder.  They seem to fight above their weight too.  Aided by the abundant weed they certainly dont give themselves up. 





Even fish of these size can be a real handful .  The clear water demands long slender leaders and fine tippets.  A combination not designed for bullying a stubborn trout away from a dense weed bed.



The Yorkshire Derwent now we have had some rain has had most of the accumulated debris and detritus washed away and is fishing nicely. Although curiously the recent fall of Hawthorn flies whilst been plentiful has not seemed to have caused the same enthusiasm amongst the resident fish whom this year seem so far to concentrate on the small stuff , midges etc. 





One of the few fish that fell for the charms of a hawthorn.  Certainly this year there will be plenty of unused hawthorn flies staying in the fly box till next year.



Although its been a cold May on a couple of days the temperatures have been sufficiently balmy to encourage me to look for the evening rise.  I love the colours this time of year .  Fresh greens and soft evening light.  Sadly the clouds of dancing spinners that makes an evening complete seem to have stayed indoors in the warm. 





I love the colours of the fish from these Northern spate streams butter yellow bellies with bright red spots , little jewels one and all.




There is something wonderful about fishing these streams . Slowly working upstream and like a pickpocket working the seams and pots stealing the jewels from it , admiring them briefly and then slipping them back.