Sunday, 20 January 2019

First signs ...

It is mid winter , cold and misty the river is carrying colour and the days are short but today was a good day .  We are told that bad weather is on the way snow wind and rain.  The white frost is hanging in the shade of the trees and hills are shrouded and white .But the river is so close.  The winter storm is not yet here the river was fishable and it was an opportunity not to be missed.

The day didnt get away to a great start the little chap below was the first fish to come to hand but then before to long several of his larger brothers turned up.   The fish taking a black beaded caddis .  It looked to be carrying the scars of an earlier bird attack.  You will notice the gloves ,  its not very often I have to resort to them but it was pretty use a local expression.

The colours on Grayling are superb these and are superb for banning the shack nasties in the middle of winter .  they scrap well in the faster water , especially on the soft action 3 weight I use .  The fish are still in the faster water they havent shoaled up in the deep slacks just yet .

This year seems to be showing more Grayling than we have had for a few years , with Good numbers of various sizes of fish which bodes well for the future.  I even had my first minnow sized fish a week or so back.

 These were not the only sign of things changing these snowdrops are starting to show in the sheltered corners .  Such delicate flowers and yet the first things that is tough enough to brave the winter cold

Back at the car  the tups were been taken back to their spring paddock .  Either they were preparing for their duties or had just done them.  Perhaps spring really is just around the corner.

Friday, 4 January 2019

So that was the year that was....

So 2018 all done and dusted ,  fishing wise a pretty indifferent year , Rivers were desperately low due to a long summer drought .  This was a season with no real noteworthy fish .  In fact it is a year that is only memorable because of the opportunities it offers for the future ,  2018 saw me gain access to a small fairly local fishing association that offers a few miles of beautiful wild river that is brimming with fine wild fish. It is as unspoilt a place as you can find in this overcrowded island .  Indeed I suspect that I will subconsciously limited myself to the times I visit .  Natural rivers with quality fishing are by their nature vulnerable because of their own qualities . 

I have visited my local river twice in that last few days .  Firstly on the day before New Years Eve and then again new years day  after returning from a New Years eve party on board a cross channel ferry.  The first fishing trip was only notable for a couple of Grayling the best and the last fish of 2018 is shown above.  The fish has a damaged mouth ,  Hypocritical? I guess. I know but I hate to see fish with damaged mouths .  I have this naive delight in catching a pristine wild fish such damage just highlights that it has been caught before and apparently by someone who perhaps did not handle it as gently as he should.

My local stream is well known to me I have fished it regularly for the last 20 plus years ,  and yet as today it gives surprises ,  today I waded a stretch I have waded many times before to find that although looking similar a familiar bank side tree has keeled over and gone and a stretch of river 100 yards long has changed completely new deep holes and fast runs created like magic. For the last few years I have been a member of a local syndicate offering salmon and sea trout fishing.   I have tried very hard to love it, much as I have tried to bond with the chalk streams.  But there is to much of the rough stream brown trout fisherman in me.  I think I have it out of my system now.  

January the first gave me another surprise was the sight of a single cherry tree throwing out blossom on the first of January .   Made even more un seasonal by the fact that today the wind has changed and that bright sunny day that you look at through the windows is in fact one with a lazy NE wind, lazy as it goes straight through you rather than going around. February and March are not my favourite months.  They are to cold and to dark.  Its a time for a break from fishing and concentrate on fly tying and heightened anticipation for the approaching spring. 

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Bugger me its nearly Christmas again

Well readers its here again , its nearly Christmas and the headlong rush to stuffing our faces with turkey has begun, once again we have spotted a household down the lane that has managed to demonstrate both bad taste and a total lack of respect for the calendar at the same time by having illuminated reindeer on the lawn outside their house in November .  Its not that I am a misery as despite what my long suffering wife says I am generally of moderately cheery disposition .  But we seem to get our senses bombarded by one event after the other once the nights draw in .  Halloween , Bonfire night ,  Trick or treat . that hideous Black Friday  made even worse by the fact that it starts the previous Saturday and finishes more than a week later so its actually black ten days  .  Next the carol singers will descend in droves. soon two lines of " We wish you a merry Christmas"  followed rapidly by a row of outstretched hands .  I think this year I will place a humbug in each outstretched mitt.  I wonder if grubby teenagers understand irony . Anyway enough of this jollity.

This year I have excelled I have completed my Christmas shopping already to avoid the rush and having to mingle with Christmas shoppers.  I have, I think managed to put together a suitable selection of "surprises "  for the good lady .  by surprises I mean real ones and not the ones that magically arrive in the bottom of my wardrobe that she has carefully selected for me to wrap so she can act all surprised on Christmas day .  No I mean real surprises. Of course I am running the risk of that killer of all statements " Oh darling its lovely do you still have the receipt" .  But after more than 30 years I am starting to understand her tastes and I reckon I am on  a winner.  I confess along the way I have made mistakes my gift of a a griddle pan in the early years of marriage still holds painful memories, an experience that I learned much from.  This year we have both "discussed not spending as much this year and agreed that we get no surprises for each other " will if she thinks I am falling for that old chestnut she has another think coming.

Its been a pretty grim year fishing wise ,  the hottest and driest summer for nearly 50 years has seen rivers dry up and runs of migratory fish almost go completely .  A high spot was getting into a very small fishing club on a delightful river not far away .  Its a small river , delightfully unspoilt and full of wild brownies .  The waiting list is around 9 years ( took me a few months short of that ) a duration due in equal parts to the standard of fishing , its annual cost and people who only leave for the saddest of all reasons.

 The little club that I am chairman of and supposedly run , well that I pretend to run while the secretary does bloody everything has seen a poor year because of the lack of water but our membership is pretty solid .  Interestingly  we are noticing a trend from prospective members that are looking for wild fish rather than larger stockies,  a definite greater interest in quality over quantity .  There is a simple formulae that I think some clubs fail to recognise .  Heavy stocking costs money which leads to high subscription costs and that leads to low membership. I think high membership costs also encourage over zealous land agents to ramp up rent prices .  I really beleive that some clubs that do not change their model they will run out of customers.

Finally in the last few months we have a couple of new fly fishing magazines , an on the shelf glossy and the other a subscription only job that on first impression appears to very good.  Called " fly Culture " its a very good read .  It is also a potential present idea for one of my two sons.  It may well replace that old and much appreciated classic the Orvis voucher.  The fly culture is a good idea . The traditional "how to " or "look at what I`ve caught"   column really have run their course .  Brand new radical fly patterns that are in fact old classics with a different colour thread really do become rather tedious.  The idea of a magazine looking at the culture of fly fishing is a good idea,  the challenge I guess will be keeping the writing standard high. I wish the team luck.

Which brings me rather smartly on to the whole point of the post which is to confess that I have felt for some time that this ere blog feels to me rather old aged ,  I have greatly enjoyed the writing of it.  But cant help feeling that its all become a bit flabby and unexciting , A lot like the writer .   The blog will continue but will change hopefully for the positive .  I will endeavour to serve up more fulfilling dishes however there may be a considerable period between courses .  Anyway unless something startling happens between now and Christmas have a bloody good Christmas ,

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Remembrance of a fishing companion

Sorry dear Blog readers I am going to be serious for a moment.  As we are nearly at remembrance day and it is 100 years since the end of the war to end all wars. I will give thoughts to  the family members who fell and particularly my Grandfather on my Mums side . WW1 veteran Born January 1899 joined up at 17 lying about his age  just in time for  the Somme and then at Passchendaele with the Northumberland Fusiliers.  He was the perfect Grandfather.  Always willing to tell me about the war always full of the tales Grandfathers should have.  Although his tale telling was usually when we were out side the house often in the Greenhouse. Grandma didn't approve of him filling my young head with war stories so usually when I visited them after a few minutes it would be "come outside lad there`s stuff in the greenhouse I want you to see" That's when he was in his territory the house was Grandmas .  Big guy in every sense 6ft tall which in them days was unusual.

He was very proud of been a crack shot in the war paid 6d a week extra ( about two and a half pence in today's money)  .  He was a devil with cards and told me loads of time about him fleecing his army mates of their money.  He never gave an inch when playing cards with me either guess he thought I should learn the hard way. I do wish i had been older when I knew him there are questions I would love to have asked him with a more mature head.  He had a elder brother who died at the Somme. Also on my Dads side of the family there were two victims of the war Sydney who is buried in Belgium and won the MM.  Visiting his grave a few years ago was a sobering experience .  There was another brother who until recently I was not aware of he was invalided back to England in the war after been gassed , He died after a couple of months .  What a terrible waste it was.  I bet they would have all had made good grandfathers given the chance .

As can be seen in the picture he was a keen sea angler to .  I remember with immense fondness our trips together as much for his company as for the fishing .  I remember a day we were fishing on the sea front at Scarborough . That rod Lent against the railing and the lead weight about 40 yds out firmly anchored on the bottom .  Along come three Blokes on holiday.  "Doing any good mate "  was said to Grandad , had a few came his cheery response , "Wheres your float Gramps " quickly followed . Now knowing Grandad wouldn't like the term Gramps I wondered what his response was , "That's it out there lads" was his response as he pointed to a Crab pot buoy about 400 yds away .  Giving me a sideways glance and wink.  What happened next was unexpected as Unfortunately the three blokes proceeded to lean on the railings to watch his float for activity.  After about ten minutes I couldn't resist a cheeky "isn't it time you checked your bait Grandad " the result was another glance and a friendly scowl.  Eventually the three lost interest when they had moved away he bust out laughing I thought they were never going to go he said .  Its worth adding we should never complain about modern rods and reels . I still have the rod and reel in the picture . It weighs a ton. and casting a 8 oz lead weight with that gear is I can tell you difficult and is it some risk to your hands and knuckles as that 8 inch Scarborough reel has no brakes.  No doubt our generation has had it easy in lots of ways.  

Monday, 15 October 2018

Signs of Change

Well that's another Trout season over.  The fish below was my last fish of the season .  A decent enough stock fish that  has been in the river a while .  I am sure I will be catching a few more by accident when Grayling fishing but they won't be photographed for posterity. I try and release them without taking them out of the water .  Despite the low water its been a decent season with a lot of fish on the bank.  But that's the trout season done it always passes far to quickly.

The little ladies  below are however another story .  We are very lucky in that most of our local rivers hold decent stocks of Grayling.  This little one is my first deliberate catch of the season . I have had a few already this  year but this is the first since the end of the trout season.   I think as a species in some ways  I appreciate them more than trout .  A beautiful native species that provide great sport  right through the winter .  The only down side for me is that really nymph fishing is the way to go for these.  They do rise but they are predominately bottom feeders .  But in terms of there ability to extend my fly fishing season right through till the new year the are superb.  This one fell to a little pink nymph fished short line a rods length away 

 The signs of Autumn are starting to show in plenty now , the mushrooms are showing in the grass at the edge of the lane where I walk the dog on a morning ,and the woods are full of all varieties of fungi, Wish I knew more about them generally I love the taste of mushrooms and wish I had the knowledge to forage some wild ones . I'm OK with the occasional chicken of the woods which is hard to mistake , but as for the rest I am pretty clueless.

I have been looking forward to the last weekend for ages ,  there is a friendly competition run in the Yorkshire dales .  Organised by the Dales river trust and the salmon and trout association for Sunday . Well as might be expected following the driest summer for 25 years the weather decided to change just in time to cause the competition to be cancelled for the second time in its over 50 yr history.  Sods law at its finest ,  as the website screen shot below shows the river went from summer low to a 2 metre spate in less than a day. Anglers well and truly blown of the water.  The salmon anglers on the river will be loving that big lift of water but it ruined my day for sure,  Another really annoying fact as well is that my local Salmon river missed all the rain and remained on its bones.