Thursday, 17 May 2018

Savour every day like its your last

There is no doubt that if ever I was given the chance of starting again in life then becoming a fly fisherman is one thing that would not be changed .  I am hard pushed to think of anything other than my family which has given me such pleasure during my life .  It isn't always easy and doesn't always bring you the success that you want but it is always gratifying .  I wrote a piece recently in Fly fishing and Fly tying magazine taking a humorous look at growing old and fly fishing ,  one of the serious points in the writing was how the pleasure gained from fishing has become more holistic as I get older .  The pleasure coming more and more from the whole experience ,  the catch whilst important is not the be all and end all .  

The places that I am privileged to fish are in themselves places of true beauty .  Peace, tranquillity and nature combine to provide me with a place where the everyday stresses are banished .  I know I am fortunate that the corner of the country where I live is a little less congested and a lot less unspoilt than so many parts of the UK .  But for many of us when we are fishing the "place " where we are has little to do with the physical surroundings .  

I visited my Dad the other evening as I do a few times a week.  He is nearly 90 and due to ill health is in a nursing home .  My interest in angling was stirred by him and also encouraged .  Sadly he is increasingly frail and struggling with Alzheimer's. Recently we chatted about fishing and it saddens him that he can not recall so many of the incidents I remind him of from when we fished together .  He said to me "Savour every day like its your last" You will never know when your last days fishing could be and you damn well will want to remember it.  A sobering thought but I guess none of us knows what lurks around the corner. 

Dad was a coarse fisherman , his favoured quarry was the roach and I think he always thought I had betrayed my roots by becoming a "posh" fly fisherman .   I have to say that there is nothing coarse about fishing for Roach its a fish that demands a high level of skill and delicate tackle.  He always loved fishing in rivers , he went to a commercial still water once many years ago that day he caught the biggest roach he had every caught and also the biggest perch but he never wanted to go to one again . There was no wildlife and it was like fishing in a bloody goldfish bowl was his considered opinion.  I showed him the picture above , ( ipads are great for that ) and I was pleased to say that he did say it was a river he could enjoy .   He also asked if the bluebells were out last week and was there plenty of wildlife around the stream.  I guess old Dad understands about the holistic thing as well.  

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Worth the Wait

They do say that is something is really worth having then its worth waiting for .  Well this last month I got the phone call I have been waiting for for over eight years ,  a place had become available in the small fishing club on a beautiful North Yorkshire stream.  This isn't a expensive club but what it has a few miles of the most pristine of wild streams in some of the prettiest surroundings anyone could wish for .

Tree lined and pretty much unspoilt ,  challenging fishing in a pristine stream for wild fish what more could you want... 

My first day was on a work party , an ideal way to meet some of the other members , have a chat and generally relish the thoughts of warm summer evenings here with rising fish,,,

I know it sounds weird after waiting so many years but knowing that the river is there for me now whenever I wish meant that yes I needed to fish but I also knew that if I couldn't catch one on the dry then I wasn't going to bother,  now it was bloody cold and I hadn't seen a rising fish all day .  My back was hurting and my dodgy knee was playing up.  But I did want one fish .  Well after wandering and watching I saw a rise and after a few casts with a little cdc IOBO.  This was the result.  Small but a definite harbinger of things to come. Roll on Summer .......

Saturday, 28 April 2018


Two weeks in to the season and things are starting to warm up. Another trip to the little Foston chalk stream was in order .  A fascinating stream with very high levels of invertebrate life .  Although these days it can be impacted during the summer by low levels of groundwater , as are most of the southern chalk streams .  In the old days aquifers were left pretty much untouched . These days deep boreholes allow agriculture to pump millions of gallons of water onto ever thirsty crops.  Sadly this leads in part to low flows and some impacted gravels which then impact on the fish life.  However for all that the stream is comparatively lightly fished and allows me to explore a unique style of fishing .  The stream is one of a small group of chalk streams that occur in the northern UK ,  they rise from the same chalk bedrock that rises again in the south to give birth to the famous Southern chalk streams such as the Test and Itchen .  Over the last few years I have been fortunate to fish The Itchen and one of the smaller  streams the Anton.  I have to say they are generally both over manicured and overstocked.

The real joy of this stream is that it is relatively lightly managed and therefore it is more interesting and challenging in my view than the stereotypical English chalk stream.  The levels of surface activity are very good.  The fishing is fascinating and there are fish that offer real surprises .  They also fight like the devil.

The amount of natural food there is in this stream is incredible ,  the fish tend to be butter fat and very strong . Especially the wild fish and the stock fish that have overwintered. The above fish scrapped like something twice its weight .

There is plenty for them to eat,  On opening day this year despite the cold weather there was a decent hatch around lunchtime .  The first day of the season gave me a decent hatch and every day I have visited I have seen rising fish .  The stream has tremendous up wing hatches .

Whenever I look at this willow I cant help but wonder how many anglers have past beneath it .  Its very old the base of the trunk must be 10ft Diameter.  This end of the river is very much in the mould of what a chalk stream fishery is meant to look like.  The lower half of the fishery is in some ways  less picturesque but is lightly fished and  holds some real surprises.  It also gets pretty overgrown , Which is very much at odds to the usual image of a manicured chalk stream

The tremendous water clarity makes more interesting periods of fish watching ....

There are a couple of real brutes lurking there . I recently spent an hour trying to get one fish to take...

Thursday, 5 April 2018

"First on a Dry"... Don`t you just love those words

First on a dry.. I just love those words .  It signifies so much more than just a fish caught .  It signals things are up and running , the shack nasties are banished and I can start to festoon the trees with all those flies I have so carefully tied during the winter.  It means the Grannon, Hawthorns and Mayfly times are just around the next bend .  Warm sultry evenings with rising brown trout or even splashing sea trout.  Yes the good times are here again.  Well when I say here its more of a nearly here .  Actually here we have blown flooded rivers, bank collapses , trees down and assorted other damage. 
But the season is now officially up and running and I am happy that I rejoined the little chalk stream syndicate this year and can enjoy a spring fed river that resists the worst of the deluge. 

last Sunday was the first day it was open.  I left the driveway in a hailstorm and drove through heavy rain and eventually along the farm track that bore a remarkable resemblance to WW1 pictures of the Somme .  Even the chalk stream was a little cloudy .  Not the usual Gin clear perfection of summer . 
After an hours fishing in the cold something happened which changed my whole perception , the day seemed warmer the harsh wind softened and the water cleared ,  in reality I saw a rising fish , then another and then I saw them.  Large dark olives a mere smattering of them but enough to bring the fish to the top.  The first I missed foolishly rushing the strike.  The second I hit but the fish jumped and threw the barbless hook.   But the third came to hand , a small fish but oh so precious..

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Change is in the air.

For the benefit of those people who don`t live in the UK there is an old joke here about us not having a climate , we just have weather .  Well in the last month we have experienced a lot of "weather" ; something that was dubbed "the beast from the east".  Which basically was a pretty severe blast of snow carrying cold air from Siberia .

Now to those of you from Canada and the like: I know you will think what the hell are we talking about ? ,  I accept that you guys really get real cold and proper snowfall.  But you see here in the UK.  Weather wise, we never really get a proper anything .  When we get a "hot" summer ie it gets above 20 C people faint and mutter about global warming ,  dry summers meaning at least one week of no rainfall inevitably bring about discussions about water rationing .  Where heavy rainfall occurs it soon causes flooding due to over zealous upland drainage and the clinical straightening of water courses allowing water falling on the uplands to almost instantaneously overwhelm lowland rivers and create floods.  Truth is despite is despite an national obsession with the weather we have no bloody idea how to deal with its ill effects on our ageing infrastructure and new housing stock which has been built on the flood plains that were dry during the few hot summer.

Anyway today was a very special day.  The first day of the trout fishing season .  Astonishingly it has been a day when a window of  fine weather has held sway.  Our little beck is for sure running very high but at least the colour has dropped from the high water.   I had just one fish to show but as is always the case the first fish of the season is indeed a special gift and it was a small but perfect wild brown trout . More snow is forecast for next week, Easter it seems will be a cold affair this year.  But at last things are on the up.  Today the primroses were blooming and the wild garlic is coming through. 

This year I intend to change the blog a little I pretty much lost my way with it this last year.  You will see a bit more of a diary look to it and the odd smattering of fly tying too.   Blogs seem to have fallen from fashion somewhat of late , I can't  quite decide if this one has run its course or just needs a change in direction .