Friday, 29 July 2016

Dad , When we of fishing?

Its taken a while for me to hear someone say the above, In fact its taken twenty years or and I will be honest apart from a trip or two when my daughter decided she would like to come fishing with me when she was a kid.  None of my children had ever shown any interest in Dads passion. Until that is number two son home for the summer from University decided he would tag along one evening .  The prospect of a pint of best in the pub on the way back probably influenced that early decision. I am pleased to say that he enjoyed that evening and seems to want more .

My poor long suffering wife even asked if I needed to buy anything for him  to wear or use. Obviously the multiple hiding places and hidden away corners that conceal countless boots,waders, rods reels and all the other paraphernalia have remained well hidden.  No i`ll manage was my shy response.  I am not expecting him to go down with the affliction as badly as me.  But his interest will be carefully nurtured with care not to overpower his enthusiasm,  After all he is a young man and lives most of his time in the big city with all its inherent distractions particularly of the beer and female variety.

But when he returns home the river will be there and his access to it will be as free as the son of the fishing club chairman can be.  He has a houseful of tackle to go at.  He has however been told to keep away from the Split cane and Winstons. His casting isn't up to that yet.  I have already booked a day with a guide . Morning for my casting and the afternoon for his general introduction.  All of a sudden things are looking hopeful.

Monday, 20 June 2016

A tale of two flies

Sunday was fathers day and when asked what I wanted to do it was a simple response . " A few hours down the the river". Wish granted....Once i had found somewhere to park I headed of downstream to start fishing up....Now the river was still up a an inch or two and was still carrying extra colour fining down from the previous days.  After walking downstream for 15 minutes, a distance that I reckoned that would take me an hour or two to fish back up.  These little spate rivers cant be rushed containing lots of pocket water and bankside runs that need careful searching.  Also slow wading is the name of the game.  These small wild fish rise freely but soon head for cover if careless wading send advance notice of your presence ,

The colours of these wild fish always amazes me.  and although the fish are small they resist capture with a great deal of airborne acrobatics.

There didnt appear to be a great deal of surface activity but as is often the case a bit of searching located fish.  It was in the places that usually appear lifeless during summer low conditions where I started to see activity and as everything seemed to be hatching my fly of choice was once again a size 18 IOBO. This was the fly after 4 or 5 fish after a dusting with the frogs fanny.  

This was the same fly half a dozen fish later . There was a discussion in a magazine last month on the supposed lack of resilience of cdc for fly dressing. Well this fly went on to catch between 12 and 15 fish before a tree trout claimed it.  After each fish a quick swill in the water and a squeeeze in a piece of kitchen roll and a dust up with frogs fanny and its just like new. 

Now I bought some Roman Moser miracle float at the start of last season after fishing with Dave Southall and hearing him praise it but initially I wasnt impressed .  This season I have given it another whirl after another chat with Dave.  So before using a CDC fly I apply a smidge of miracle float. 

Now when I say a smidge thats what it was.  On reflection I had been using way to much . Barely a tiny drop rubbed between finger and thumb  just so your skin feels a little greasy see photo below,then  the CDC is worked between your fingers.  This just coats the cdc without clogging it .  After maybe four or five fish I would re coat the CDC.  otherwise just a swill and a squeeze in tissue then a quick brush with frogs fanny . It makes a real difference to how the CDC holds up. Thanks Dave...

After luch there was quite a few mayfly hatching .  A switch to a mayfly pattern brought a few fish . TBH I think the IOBO would have been just as effective if not more so.  But  its nice to catch on a mayfly it makes me feel like summer is here .
As for the frogs fanny I bought a big tub of the Silica stuff from some bloke in the states on ebay about 3 years ago .  I find it identical to the real frogs fany. I just keep refilling the original bottle. 

I dont think it was a concidence that the mayfly brought a few big stockies up .  When they have been in the river a week or two will rise at anything so uneducated or not a big visible fly is going to tempt them.

The little wildies also were up for a big mouthfull.  the mayfly hatch was really isolted to one slow stretch where duns were trickling off for a while. Hopefully the main hatch should get going this week.

Heres one that ended up on my waders .  After I let it float away it dissapeared after about 15yds all that was left was just circles in the film...

Just as an aside I picked up a Snowbee little nylon case with fly boxes last closed season. I had spotted another mate using and liked the looks of the handy size and whilst trolling ebay noticed these for sale compartment boxes pretty much identical to snowbee except for a fraction of the price. 

There brilliant , so slim that I can fit five in the pocket of my chest pack.  You can see whats in them easier through the clear lid and there magnetic so the wind doesnt blow everything away. I think the big chunky old fly boxes are a thing of the past for me...

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Something missing and something found..

Over the last 9 months or so  or so. Something hasnt been right , not the weather or anything else tangible but inside me.  I have felt as though something has been missing.

Then the other day  I think a part of the answer came to me I was somewhere near Peterborough sat on a train heading back from London towards gods country wedged on an aisle seat between passengers frantically trying to preserve their personal space whilst standing in a crowded train and on my left I was wedged against a fat woman who had an iphone in one hand a kindle in the other, a laptop on her knee on the keyboard of which was balanced a bag of toffees which she was juggling to her mouth by balancing them on her mobile and steered them towards her mouth.  I must confess to being hypnotised it was like watching a cat toying with a half dead mouse whilst batting a ball of string around.  I looked around me deperate to avert my eyes and everywhere I looked I saw people staring at mobiles or with headphones on and eyes shut oblivious to the world about them. The astonishing thing was that I was the only person not on a phone or with a laptop.  Then as I trie'd to look out of the window I saw it, that unmistakeable twinkle of a river only a fleeting glimpse from the train but a sweet looking stream none the less with the sunshine sparkling along it .

It was then that it dawned upon me what was missing, actually there isn't anything missing , frankly what is wrong. There are too many people and what was missing was solitude. The sight of the stream made me realise how long it's been since I had a proper days fishing .  Now to me a days fishing isn't just a statement that I have taken a rod to the river to deceive a trout.  "Gone fishing " is more than just a saying its a statement that you have entered another place entirely . Less to do with fish and more to do with a state of mind .Henry David Thoreau had it right " Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after "

With my renewed urgency I knew I had to do something about it. So a couple of weeks ago the winner of my WTT auction lot on the Yorkshire Dove enjoyed reasonable weather and although it didn’t show its best at least the stream gave us both a few rising fish.  On the day I even saw an odd Mayfly Dun, surely a harbinger of summer if ever there was one. Either I missed them or the hawthorn “hatch“ this year failed to materialise to anything much. Sure I caught the odd fish on them but I think the really cold spell we have endured has messed around with the rivers clock.

Only in the last week has warm weather really showed its face and as my long suffering wife was working all weekend what’s a bloke to do but go fishing,  I visited the Yorkshire Derwent a river that is a  mere 10 minutes from my door and a delightful place to while away a few hours.  As I arrived the usual car parking spaces were full of cars, picnickers and walkers as well as the odd angler people were in abundance.  Like migrating birds people seem to arrive in flocks with warmer weather. 
Parking up I wandered down to a favourite starting point in anticipation of fishing the riffles and broken water up through a tree lined section.  It was a very hot and bright day.  I figured the shade and broken water was the place to be.  After about half an hour I rounded a bend to look up a long straight which is a series of shallow pools and faster water.  Now about 15 yds above me was a favoured crossing point for anglers, the steep banks have wooden steps down into the water on both sides as it’s immediately adjacent to a car park.  

The keeper does a great job in maintaining these steps as many of the members are not as agile as they once were.  Anyway as I looked upstream I thought I saw a dimple right under the bottom step.  Sure enough there it was again a definite rise.  Not sure what it was rising to a size 20 IOBO was on the tippet and  without moving a cast was despatched and second drift it took.  Not a huge fish but a very nice wild brown and probably the best of the day.  After I released it I waded up to see where I had taken it and of course when you think about it a perfect lie.  The fish was sitting right in the foot hole as people step down of the steps.  It got notice of approaching anglers as those from the steps above and the opposite bank would be in plain sight.   But not only that it would bolt upstream and probably spook a good few.  Certainly this anglers future approach to that stretch has now been altered forever.

As I made my way upstream picking of small wildies in the pockets and broken water. “Skinny water” as Dave Southall and others refer to it.  I came across a father and son fishing in a deep long slow section stood midstream and short line nymphing, stood in the sun it looked hard work and slow going, Son was fishing and Dad stood behind.  Must admit to some envy as sadly neither of my two sons or my daughter has ever showed signs of sharing my obsession.  But it did occur to me that they would have had more chance of success and fun in the faster water picking of risers. But I am also sure that such thoughts are best kept to yourself. 

Anyway I moved of upstream.  As the afternoon developed the cool breeze got up and the rising fish disappeared but I had fished for say three or four hours and ended up with 20 + fish , none large but tremendous fun.  With a lesson learnt and knowledge stored away for the future as well. In all a very good result.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

A springtime christening

Recent visitors to this here blog will know that a recent gift from me to myself has been a small built cane rod that my good friend Chas Burns built for me. It has been in the rod rack for a good few months now.  I could hear it calling to me as I walked past. Well despite my intentions had been that for its intended christening was for flicking tiny dries to rising brownies on a warm evening on a favourite couple of small streams here abouts, last weekend I couldnt wait any longer.  The day was sunny enough to kid me not to take wear my wading jacket just a light fleece, but as I walked up the dale the Northerly breeze that last passed over the Arctic made it feel more like February and made my bravado seem all the more foolhardy.  

There was very little sign of hatching flies. The water was reasonably clear and fining down after the recent rains .  I had made a decision that on this rod the first fish would be on a dry even if it meant blanking in the process. After 20 mins or so prospecting with in the likely runs and riffles away from the main currents I had the little brownie above and it was quickly followed by half a dozen more.  All on the dry and all showing no sign of rising before the fly passed over them .  These small stream brownies are suckers for a a little dark dry drifting over them.  About then the wind speed increased a few notches, the clouds appeared and the rain started .  So far that day I had experienced typical weather from three of the four seasons . I packed up and headed back to the car . A few minutes later the three seasons became four as a hailstorm swept down the valley.

I have fished a few times this last month, when the biting cold or high water has allowed it. I had a day on the river Derwent with a friend of mine,  A strange sort of day where we seemed to have all four seasons in an hour never mind a day.  The signs of spring are unmistakeable enough ,  plain to see but here we are with May just a few days away and we are still getting hard frosts and snow . Global warming ...Yeh right

A feature of the early season this year is the amount of Grayling I have caught out of season.  I have been very pleased to see them as the cormerant plague seemed worst than ever this last winter.  They seem to be more active than usual and are rising freely.  Although out of season i couldnt resist a quick snap as it was slipped back in.

An aspect of the built cane rod has surprised me . When the rod is picked up without a line on it and given a wiggle I must confess that the degree of flex had initially if not unerved me certainly confiirmed it is very different to my usual carbon rods even the winstons that I use that are quiet an unusual action and very different to most carbon rods..  But unlike a carbon rod the rod almost seems to stiffen when its loaded with a line its almost like the rod becomes one with the line and changes completely.  Not a very scientific description but it is a fair reflection on how it felt. I can confirm however it casts a nice tight loop and is a delight to fish with.  

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Cause and effect....

The season has at long last got underway .   The 25th of March heralded the new season in on my local beck. Which as long time readers of my blog will know is my preferred opening day location.  It also happens to be the only fishing I have access too that doesnt wait until April first to get going. Its been a long winter, I last cast a line in October last year.

First fish of the season. Small, a bit scruffy looking but very very welcome...

Usually the week before opening day is a tantalising clement period of warmth which culminates in an opening day of cold winds and driving rain and sometimes snow.   This year however the weather gods smiled and blessed us with blue skies , sunshine and a gentle breeze. Butterflies and bumble bees were awake and the wild garlic was starting to lay a heady fragrant carpet under the trees.

The river looked stunning it was clear and at a perfect level.  There was even a small hatch of olives a  at around 12.15 and for an angler on opening day  a more welcome sight than a good few upwing duns skating about is hard to imagine.. Perhaps for an hour they appeared and mostly drifted downstream unmolested . Rising fish were a real rarity but a net result of two fish to hand from four risers seen was on the day and for the few hours fished was a fair result, a size 16 cdc IOBO doing the damage,  The risers were all from tiny pockets in generally shallow bouldery areas, One riser was put down due to a combination of poor casting and the target been in a very tight lie under overhanging bushes, not helped by a rusty casting arm and I confess the best fish seen was  lost due to user error and an over eager strike. Apart from targetting the odd riser  despite searching all the deeper pools and runs there was not a sign of a fish. Nymphs , spiders all untouched.

During the winter the beck has undergone some significant changes , the obvious ones are the landslips, the new obstructions and even the odd new pool and gravel bank left behind by the winter floods.  The less obvious are the sudden large rabbit and greater deer population , no doubt a result of the very large housing development in progress across the fields You could say we have a touch of the watership downs.  Already the bankside areas are showing signs of rabbit browsing . except that is where the young hogweed are coming through.  All  these things , these changes are effects with a cause.

We  have witnessed all winter the ever present cormerants and goosanders on the beck and in greater numbers than ever before .  The worry to me is that the effect is a stream now largely devoid of fish.   I am not naive enough to say that because the river showed little sign of life on opening day then conclusions can be drawn ,  but the beck does not carry a huge head of fish and I do know this small stream intimateley and the very marked absense of fish in good holding spots was difficult to ignore lets just hope that the rule of cause and effect doesnt hold true in this case .  Sadly the steady decline of grayling over the last few years is a fact, the total dissapearence of chub is also a fact as is the now banning of stocking diploid trout , So now we are totally dependent on the future breeding success of the native stock,  lets just hope that authorities have got their facts right and that they have factored in the increasing population of sawbills which seem to be growing fat on a diet of wild trout. Somehow I doubt it.