Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Waking up at last

So it has been a very strange year . It is as if  the weather was waltzing it wasn't quick quick slow it was cold cold hot then cold again..  After a long cold early spring Easter towards the end of April was the warmest on record ,  bringing out thousands of tourists and a few rising fish.  Then the beginning of May has been cold again .  With that horrible lazy cold wind , lazy because it couldn't be bothered to go around you it just went straight through you .

My usual early season rampant enthusiasm has been tempered somewhat by the cold weather , fishing has been hard the rivers are very low after the dry winter and they are crystal clear, combine that with bright sunshine and cold temperatures fly fishing is going to be slow.  Although this year we are already seeing huge numbers of aphids and yes the fish are taking them upwing hatches are rare.  Size 24 s and lower are the order of the day for them.

As I write this the weather has at last warmed up .  Heading towards 20 C today , I must make an effort to get out one evening . The "evening rise " you know  it makes me feel better just saying it .  There is something very special about being on a river as the light goes and the Olives are hatching . Listening t the sound of rising fish .

The above was a fish from the other evening , A perfect example of a wild fish .  Someone asked me the other day what was the biggest fish I had caught last season ,  you know I really couldn't remember .  I could remember a few different ones . I can remember the fish I got to take a dry after making a hero cast under a overhanging bush where there was about a 9 inch gap.  I can remember the fish I caught high up in the headwaters where the moorland feeder stream was brown and the fish was almost black and the spots were like drops of blood .  But the largest well actually i can remember it was on the Itchen a southern and very posh chalk stream .  Probably about 4 lb and noteworthy only for its size . It had obviously spent a long time in the hatchery .  Although it had been in a while and slimmed of a bit ,  in Hogwarts terms to would have been a mud blood and definitely not pure blooded .

One factor that I find encouraging is that these days the enquiries we receive to join the fly fishing club I help run is the tendency for people to want wild brown trout and grayling , I hope it is a sign of people wanting more than the flabby stump tailed stockies that seem to grace so many social media pages .  Most of the rivers I fish these days have excellent wild fish stocks and in those a pound fish is a good one . A two pounder is something to celebrate .  Which is partly why I have started to fish two weights more and more .  They are absolutely a practical fishing tool.  Not a toy as I sometimes read in the fishing press .  I have four now ,  from a magic wand of a 6ft 2wt Winston all the way up to a 9ft 6" 2 wt which is a very effective nymphing rod .  I think getting the right line for them is a bit more of a challenge than rods with a heavier weighting ,but get it right and they are brilliant.  A fish like the one above gives a good account of itself on such tackle..

Saturday, 27 April 2019

A sad farewell

last week was a pretty sad affair , Our Choccy lab that has been part of the Family for the last nearly 12 years was taken on her final trip to the Vets.  She had struggled with ill health for the last couple of years .  But still had a healthy appetite and an ever wagging tail .  Sadly though the signs of pain and suffering were becoming clearer and clearer .  In January our Vet had expressed surprise that she had made it to 2019 .  But finally and not without much soul searching the final decision to remove her suffering was made .  A very difficult decision but here two weeks on I know i made the right decision .  So in recognition of a great fun filled life here is a blog entry just for Ruby ...

She was a dog that could eat anything , No actually I will say eat almost anything and if it wasnt fit to eat then it was perfect for rolling in .  Badger Shit is a case in point for those not familier with badger shit imagine super glue mixed with crushed earthworms , rotten fish and green slime which contained a secret ingredient making it detergent proof.  Oh and the smell ......

My early dream of a fishing companion came to nothing her love of water was so intense that despite early efforts the nearest I got was a kick sampling assistant .   Winter or Summer fresh or saltwater she loved it all .  Living as we do near the sea seaweed was a popular snack for her , unfortunately the effect on her stomach was like a mixture of epsom salts and napalm only more smelly .  She soon sussed that eating seaweed would result in us shouting at her so she would grab a lump of kelp and race in the sea and sit amongst the waves , chewing and I am bloody sure she was smiling at us..in the winter the the place in front of the wood burner was hers... We had a blanket to cover her with when we loaded the fire to protect her from embers ,  She sure as hell wouldn't move..

She was for all that a perfect dog ,  friendly always ready for an adventure and always ready for food.   Amongst her talents was the ability to sweep up pedestrians .  This involved running along country footpaths carrying a stick ,  well when i say stick actually small trees would be more appropriate .  I have seen her take out whole families .  She even wiped herself out a couple of times , she never really grasped that you cant get through two trees 4ft apart carrying a six foot branch especially whilst running ...

So I will forget the stomach upsets and vets bills , I will forget the tick removals , I wont forget the earthquakes under the dining table when a food morsel is carelessly dropped and she chased it down . I wont forget when after a bit of wine my animated conversation wielding crackers and stilton about resulted in a perfect timed interception and the morsel was plucked from my hand. Last I dont think I will ever be able to use the toaster again without expecting to see the head peering around the door as the toast pops up...

Friday, 5 April 2019

So start the clock again

Well folks here we again.  A new spring is here and a new season started .  As has become usual over the last couple of years , opening day has come and despite recent rain the rivers are still pretty low and I an sure that come the summer we will pay the price for the last mild and dry winter.  The results of the winter inactivity have been a decent enough winter Grayling total , to be honest the best I have had for a few years . but it will be nice to hit the rivers for trout again.

I have as always been unable to resist the temptation of a few new bits of gear .  This year a new to feed my growing light line fetish , a Loop 8ft 6" 2wt arrived as did a Scott 8ft 8" 4 wt .  Did I need them ?. Well probably not .  I need stuff like fly floatant and new tippets. But the honest truth is I dont actually need anything significant but there is always stuff that i want.

The river looked stunning but fish have been hard to come by .  Nothing larger than parr size so far.  I guess if I put a nymph on I might do better but determined to have the first of the season on a dry.  So far have had three rise to a fly but to bloody slow or maybe even to anxious. 

The wild Garlic is brilliant right now dense aromatic carpets of it.  As usual a bag full went home with me for chicken and wild garlic soup..  I suppose right now I am just grateful for the first signs of warmer weather appearing. 

This weekend the first few butterflies were around in the sunshine .  The odd bumblebee is waking up to. 

Not to mention the spring flowers ...  oh and I have joined a couple of new clubs this year so will be visiting a couple of larger rivers again.. Watch this space . 

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Small Stream rods...

Its that time of year again ,  I decided that yesterday would be my last trip of the season .  The mild weather and sunshine that seemed so warm when I was stood in a sheltered corner of the garden seemed to be different in the sheltered river Valley. So despite the couple of hard won Grayling and the one out of season Brown trout thats it until April.  

So as I do every year its time to give the reels a clean and oil and the rods need their handles wiped and the whippings checked .  First up were my small stream rods . Pictured here all nice and clean well as clean as they can be after many seasons of use ..Surprising how different they are when you see them all lined up .  Its amazing what memories there is in those handles ..

On the right a couple of Winston B2Ts , 8fts ,both a three weight and a four delightful rods that have caught many many fish . Now for the unitiated Winston's are a bit different,   if you like a fast rod that can propel a WF line at mach 3 then you probably wouldn't appreciate one but if you fish streams and want to drop a dry on a trouts nose like an angels kiss then you may well take to them.  A relaxed casting style is obligatory .Third from the right is an Orvis T 3 pretty old , I bought it used years ago its a 7ft 10" 2 wt .   delicate wisp of a thing that is actually a proper 2 wt that loads beautifully with a DT .  A nice full action to.  There is a stream it suits beautifully when the summer levels have hit dead low  and the trout are super skittish.  In the middle is that rare thing , A hardy rod that I like , 7ft 3wt featherweight I have to say that its one rod that Hardy got bang on , A sweet casting sensitive small stream wand for me perfect in every way.  Third from the left is Harry Potters magic wand another Winston a WT 6ft 6" 2 wt ,  small delicate and perfect for tiny streams and diminutive trout .   Second from the left is another favourite  an Orvis 7ft 4wt Superfine , delightful when the mayfly are out and I like the heavier line to whip those big bushy mayflies into tight corners .  Just think that the handle is way to small. Despite having an office job I have always wondered why I have blacksmiths hands, On the left and new to me is a Vision Cult 6ft 6inch 4/5 wt. Yes thats correct 4/5 wt . Very full actioned as near to cane as can be and works a treat with a three weight .  I am just not sure about that chunky cork handle though.  Cant help but wonder what memories I will have about that one by seasons end . if it gets that far.....I say that because as I look at the rods I remember all the rejects that have come and gone that little collection is the result of more than 20 years of sifting , refining and buying and selling and even the odd swap.  

Tuesday, 29 January 2019


I have treated the blog to a new main photo..  It is one of my much loved North Yorkshire streams on a nice sunny spring day .  If nothing else but to convince myself that this miserable damp and cold weather will soon change.   Keep wrapped up it will be over soon..