Thursday, 17 August 2017

Rumours of my death....and old love affairs

It was Mark Twain who coined the quote "rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated  "  Or something along those lines . However someone commenting to me that the owner of "Becks and Brown trout" must have died as he had been quiet so long .  A comment which spurred me to to put the metaphorical pen to paper and I can confirm that the rumours are just that and whilst not been in extreme rude health I have sufficient faculties remaining to spend whatever time I have free on the river bank.  Which is actually the reason for the sparseness of activity .  Work , family illness and the stresses of life have contrived to restrict my fishing activity this year.

 However there have been highlights the wet summer has kept the small streams in fine fettle .  So a few excursions among the overgrown upper reaches have resulted in some very good days . These are all short rod territory and this year I have had the added distraction of trying a short glass rod by echo .  Bought basically as new from someone who could not get along with it .  Must say I was impressed , very cane like and very easy going with a short line .  However this then inspired me to rake out one of my long time favourite rods . A Hardy featherweight 7ft 3wt , a rod I bought new about ten years ago and one that I had foolishly lost touch with but a trip with it was like a chance encounter with a long lost love.  Speaking metaphorically of course.

This year I have also invested in membership of another syndicate for sea trout and salmon one which one would also describe as "posh" .  Wasn't sure how I would take to it tbh but it was an itch I just had to scratch.  Despite been a bit reticent to part with a substantial membership fee.  Remember after all the writer is a typical Yorkshire man,short arms and deep pockets .  A shaky start on the river was due in part to my stupidity but of late I have felt as though I will enjoy a long and fruitful partnership with it.  Helped of course by catching a few.  The water suits spinning which is something that I am not particularly fond of or particularly good at but after a few small sea trout the one avove was the first decent one.   However I will be focusing on the fly fishing as i get to know it.   This new water has also encouraged me to start up another old relationship , again a rod I bought years ago for the sea trout and one that I have now brought out of retirement.   A Sage SP 9ft 6" 7 wt..  Fishing it again has reminded me just how sweet a thing it is.   There are a few old friends in their tubes in my rod corner that haven't seen the light of day for a few years.  I wonder if I am to old to have multiple infidelities...

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Times a passing....

Not sure how I feel about this year Its brought a rather significant milestone. I suppose the truth is no birthday is any more signiificant than any other and for me having a birthday mid April only meant hey chaps the Trout season is on us again... But none the less the birthdays that come around every ten years seem to have a little more significance and always seem to sting a bit more, I remember I was a bit miffed when I turned 30 .  But this latest one is double that and I really dont like how fast time seems to be passing .  The one positive that comes out of it , well apart from the one that is "Ive made it this far" is its an excuse to treat yourself .  My treat was two weeks of Cuban sunshine .

Truth is that i have always viewed with some envy videos or films of people tropical flats fishing and I bet I am not alone as a fly fisher who has wondered about that ghost of the flats the bonefish.

To me the idea of wading and casting to a cruising bonefish with a well presented fly was a very attractive idea. Boats and me dont really get on but wading well thats a different proposition.

Anyway a decision was made about a year in advance checks revealed that my birthdate was actually a pretty good time to be visiting cuba .  Information on line isnt that detailed but its there for you if you hunt for it .   Initial contact with guides was made and a two week all inclusive hotel package was booked .
 All I needed then was the gear, now I dont know about you guys but researching for and buying gear for a new fly fishing interest is a fascinating pastime.  Online purchases started to mount up .  Reels by the likes of Tibor and Abel were bought of ebay preloved is the word I prefer. 
Quality reels are something I will buy used .  Carbon rods can have hidden chips and damage that can be catastrophic so new rods were purchased.  An interesting year and a not unsubstantial investment was made .   Also i set myself the challenge of tying the flies I would fish with .  After considerable research and help from a online aqaintence I spent an inordinate amount of money in order to fill one average size box .  

Eventually the date for departure came around everything was packed into one half of the newly purchased fishing expedition case .  Clothes and normal holiday stuff in the other half .  Its a nine hour flight to cuba long enough to get to know a few other angling passengers .  Long enough to listen to hero tales  of 70ft casts in 30 mph winds and try to decide who's much is bravado and who much the truth. 
Anyway eventually we arrived and spent a couple of days acclimatising .  The wind was a pain gusting to 28 knots red flags on the beach .  My allocated guides face was a picture .  Your first time ?  You never fished in salt before ? You a trout fisher ?  Delicately holding an imaginary rod between thumb and fore finger making little swishing noises as he mimed a perfect 10oclock two o clock cast...I guess he had enough first time greenhorns and apparantly the bad weather had meant catches had been bad for a few days.  So some reticence was expected .  On the day first trip on a flats boat wind was gusting and sight fishing was a non starter .  But thanks to a good guide and despite my casting I finished the day with 10.  I was pleased and the guide was smiling. The next trip the wind had died down and I was to wade with a guide.  The day was enthralling, the fishing was hard .  Bonefish are spooky, fast and damn addictive . I loved it and next year i will be back.  A final note when I Departed Cuba 28degrees.. landed UK 1 degree above freezing back in time for spring fishing....

Since getting back gone are the 8 and 9 weights and back to the three and four weights .  Wading was once again with the added protection of socks trousers and waders.

The local trout are still damm pretty and the countryside still looks good and as I write up this blog in June I have spent the day exploring a new river for me.  Later in the summer when the rains come Im hoping for Sea trout and Salmon from it. 

Must confess that the quietness on the blog was due to my general malais . But after a day on the river today I realised that actually I am still one of the luckiest blokes I know and I need to stop been a misery .  Then to top it of I saw a few mayflies today how can you be miserable when the mayflies are start to hatch. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Warming up nicely

As the title says it’s warming up nicely.  Which as the central heating suffered a catastrophic failure a few weeks ageo  is actually a very good thing. Then the February short very mild spell was a bit of a false dawn and the amorous frogs appearing in the pond disappeared just as quick  as they were definitely a couple of weeks or so early in their noisy nuptials. Things are starting to happen though. These are often some of the first flies to appear around here . Just two more weeks to go. then there will be something decent to write about...

But I do love these days of lengthening hours and the rising sense of piscatorial anticipation that comes with it.  February was the month of fishing club bills landing on the mat, of annual general meetings and particularly my local clubs AGM and annual duck dinner.  A great night of renewing friendships, banter, fishing stories (some tall and some real) and reminiscences.  Also as club chairman an evening when I can pretend I know what I am talking about.  All topped off with the annual fund raising raffle. 

last month also saw me attend for the first time the annual BFFI (British fly fair international) a grand gathering of fly fishing and fly tying businesses wares and a tiers row of over 50 fly tiers from all over the place giving live demonstrations.  I spent a good few hours there and quite a lot of money on fur feather and tools.  Tools wise after watching Swiss Mark Petitjean demonstrating his CDC magic tools and having the chance to talk to him I bought the magic tool clips etc.   Once I get to grips with them I am hoping it will increase the range of CDC patterns I tie, (Initial results are promising).  Also this season I intend to fish a lot more for salmon and sea trout than ever before and have joined another syndicate to pursue that, so suitable materials and hooks had to be purchased.  It was great to be able to actually get your hands on the stuff you’re buying instead of the usual internet experience that so much materials buying has become.

I remember with fondness when a local fishing and shooting shop (now long gone) where I used to buy all my tying stuff. A couple of times a year they used to get in a huge box of cock capes pretty much direct from India, local anglers all tried to get there first to sort through them and select the most promising capes. This was long before the internet and before genetic capes appeared here.  Thinking back to the tiny selection of materials I managed with back in the 70s and 80s it’s amazing how things have developed.  I remember that for quite a few years all my tools and equipment managed to fit in a box the size of a couple of shoe boxes.  Now I seem to occupy a fair amount of a room and the shoe boxes have turned into a roll top desk and cupboards full to the brim.

Recently I had a bit of a tackle check and overhaul before the season starts.   How an earth I have managed to collect so much gear is beyond me.  Dozens of rods and myriads of fly boxes.  After a big sort out I seem to have 6 fly boxes holding probably a 1000 flies and whats the betting on my first trip I wont be able to find the fly I want. So a very late new years resolution is to thin it out the rods and reels .  Trouble is after creating a spread sheet cataloguing all the rods and reels I can find a reason to keep every one of them. Yet I probably only used a quarter of them last year. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Its getting to that time again.....

Activity on this blog over that last few months has been pretty dreadful,  I am rather afraid that the general malaise caused by my lack of piscatorial activity has resulted in bugger all of any substance been added to the blog.  Its not that I haven't been thinking about fishing, after all in my idle hours I think about little else ,  the planning of trips , renewing and adding new club memberships.  It is on my mind often.

However at last I am starting to get organised for the forthcoming year ,a pair of Sims waders that are only a couple of seasons old which have all the water tightness of a pair of crutch less tights ( not that I have ever worn any) have now been dispatched to Diver Dave who has reported leaky seams and pinholes but very repairable,  I have been stepping up my tying of various shrimp patterns for upcoming Cuba trip and I am waiting on responses to my application to a different fishing club for migratory fish just to mix things up a bit this year.  In a weeks time I am heading down into the midlands to the British Fly fair.  An event I have been planning to visit for a few years but haven't managed it before.  I will return with even more fly tying paraphernalia to add to the large collection of thread ,fur and feather lurking in my fly tying desk. I will be searching out stuff for salmon and sea trout flies.  Retail therapy my wife calls it.

The season certainly cant come soon enough its been a winter beset by bad news .  Both at a personal level and in the wider theatre every facet of the things we as anglers hold precious.  I listen and read with dismay the ongoing tragedy which is the Scottish salmon farming industry with the state supported polluting of the coastal waters with huge quantities of toxins to support a badly run salmon farming industry that does untold damage to migratory fish.  In Wales the tragic pollution of the Teifi. Our precious rivers seem under attack on every level.

In the last year I have seen a friends fishing business forced to close due to flood damage but also due to the shift to Internet shopping and also to the widespread increase in cut price stores selling a range of fishing gear.  A factor that was significant in the loss of my friends business but it also occurred to me another added pressure on the rivers ,  I was in such a shop at the weekend to buy some motoring stuff. As I passed the fishing display I noticed an eastern European man with two grown up sons eyeing up a heavy spinning rod set up .  Rod , reel line and spinners hooks and stuff £25 . Now I have in the last season or two had cause to move on many such people who illegally fish our river. I am the chairman and will challenge those I know to be poaching.  I couldn't help overhearing the purchase at the till.  In a nutshell...

Polish gent. .Broken English. Can I fish anywhere with this ?
Young Shop assistant ... Ye sir you will be fine with that ..

Purchase made and of he went.. Now I am stood there thinking was he asking about the capability of the rod or seeking approval of his fishing location.  Now if that same question had been asked by Polish gent in my old friends shop or at one of the few genuine tackle dealers around I am sure the answer would be different.  Proper advice would have been given. Now I accept that such advice could also be ignored but at least an effort would have been made . Next time I stop such a guy down the river and he says I was told I can fish here by the tackle shop it will make me think....

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Saving blushes and a Tups indespensibles

I had a day on the river on Tuesday my last for 2016 , Two words could describe the few hours fishing, cold and hard.   Strangely I was unable to find many Grayling only two small fish came to hand.  There was a couple of out of season brown trout and three large Rainbow trout left over from the summer stocking.   I am afraid they didnt make it back into the river.  In my opinion rainbows have no business in our Northern streams, In an effort to keep the blog losely about fishing I would say that once again It was the french leader method that accounted for the fish.  A superb method for close range fishing with extreme delicacy during the low and clear conditions we are faced with.
The day had so far given me very little to really smile about and I returned to my car through a field where there is a small group of rams,   As I walked along the bank a couple of walkers approached from the opposite direction,  Two ladies in their fifties. This is the conversation that followed:

Ladies ,  Good afternoon can I ask are you a local, was enquired of me in a refined voice,
Me ,  Good afternoon , Aye I am local, I live just over the hill.
Ladies , Oh thats good can you tell me what type of sheep those are ? are they swaledale
Me Well I am afraid I dont know what breed they are but I think swaledales have black faces
Ladies Oh it was the lovely horns they have that interested us.  they look so pretty
Me ah well ladies you see they are all Tups
Ladies Tups ? I have never heard of  Tups Sheep.
Me No you misunderstand they are Tups , er  Rams
Ladies No they cant be all rams they would fight.
Me , Well they dont fight because there are no ewes to fight  over ,
Ladies No no i am sure they cant be they have udders for their lambs .
Me er Actually they arent udders you know .
Ladies of course they are what else can they be pointing at the large coconut sized scrotums
Me in an effort to avoid blushes they are their indespensibles
Ladies . Their what ??
Me Ladies they are their testicles  ,,,,

As I watched their eyes look towards the rams with renewed insight Inwardly smiling as I viewed the coconut sized indespensibles and looked to see the two ladies scuttling of down the bank.  One of the rams caame up to me I think he enjoyed the conversation as much as I did.  For the record this was the best Grayling of the day . The Tup gave me far more amusement.
Anyway the year is virtually over but the blog will be back next year.  I will be fishing the Yorkshire Ure again , I will also be in Cuba in the spring.  Hoping that a couple of weeks in the sun chasing bonefish will help me over my 60th birthday .  Happy new year to you all..