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.  

Monday, 24 September 2018

A couple of strangers

 In the last week we have had a fair bit of rain.  Now that isn't a complaint ,   on the contrary we are in desperate need .  Rivers are on their bones and the reservoirs are revealing long abandoned villages , its been a very long dry summer.  However this Saturday despite the recent rain I went to my local river .  The view from the bridge was well.. Brown.  Yep the river was carrying a lot of colour .  But as normal I was faced with a simple dilemma , fish or go home . So in the end no real decision to be made .  I got into my waders and as I got ready a couple of dog walkers appeared .  Now I knew the walkers in question it was the VET and his wife who have looked after my Choccy Labrador for the last 11 years ,  we had a chat , mainly how he couldn't understand why I would be fly fishing in such a  swollen muddy river . Now I could have explained about the pleasure of the challenge and how it presents a different set of circumstances ,  in the end I made light of it and pointed out the alternative was watching TV,

Despite looking like this I was into fish pretty quickly and the river cleared markedly in the few hours I fished ,  There was odd fish rising as it stood there and the final few fish came to a dry.   Just shows doesn't it that I could have easily turned round but poor conditions or not I still had a great few hours.

Anyway starting of downstream ,  I had Grayling on my mind ,  I guess I should make a confession in such coloured water there is a "fly" that is particularly effective .  It is and I hesitate to confess the dreaded squirmy worm in bright red , a shameful creation of soft latex and a heavy bead .  50 years ago I would have been shot by the keeper for even owning such an abomination .  Shame forbids me from putting a picture up here but if you google squirmy worm you will get the idea.  Anyway the fish above took it with confidence.

The day started well, a few small wild fish then a thumping great stocked rainbow that I lost at the net .  Probably my fault as I had to bully it hard to keep it out of the tree roots.  Then a biggish stocked brown trout that was rising to something small in a crease under some willows I was pleased with the cast it deserved a fish,  The fish that in the end was nearly the last of the day was a surprise ,  A Chub a fish that I haven't caught for a few years on this river .  Would love to see more of them,  they are a strong fish that I am pretty sure would grow bigger in the streams than the native browns ,  they even rise to the fly and watching them take a black gnat is my earliest fly fishing memory .  I have always viewed a Rainbow and brownie and a Grayling as a triple on this stream.  I guess that I will have to rethink that as a Grayling a Brown trout and a Chub .  Its going to be tough to replicate .

As an aside last week a colleague asked me to identify a fish that someone had photographed acting strangely in the Ouse right in the centre of York.  I was pleased to able to help but it struck me as sad that the only evidence thats visible of the runs of salmon that go up the river through the city was a diseased fish .  This one showed the unmistakable signs of UDN . Probably made worse by the low water and high water temperatures this year .  Sad that such a beautiful fish as a the bar of silver that is an Atlantic salmon can be should end up like that .  I saw a lot of this that year .   I guess this year I just haven't been on the river enough to see them.  The river that I fish for Salmon and Sea trout has remained desperately low all year.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Strange stuff falling from the sky....

I have been having a think and I reckon that its a year since I last fished in the rain and you know what,? I bloody enjoyed it . I enjoyed that feeling of rain trickling down my neck , I enjoyed the fact that there was no risers and the fish I had came to the nymph.  I enjoyed that major irritation of a raindrop getting on my hearing aid , ( other wearers will sympathise ) .   It also reminded me that doesnt the rain make a lovely plooping noise when it hits the water surface. There wasnt enough rain to do a lot of good for the shrunken streams but hopefully the showers signalled a change in the climate and we may yet get some respite from this long hot dry summer...

The rainy day meant i spent a little extra time just walking along the bank and checking out the stream. remember this is a new stream to me this year and the very low conditions means that those under water features are very visible right now.  The day was in many ways a welcome change I have just returned from two weeks on the Greek island of Rhodes .  Most days saw mid thirties temperatures , some days up to 40 the change is lovely , seeing some green grass and feeling a little chilled was great. Eventually we will get some proper rain and  then I will be back on this stream when it is at a winter level with Grayling in mind.

For now the trout were still up for playing .  Although I must confess that I was hoping for a Grayling when I ran a nymph down through the deep run under the trees.  The little pink bead head nymph probably gives that away .  Although the next few months signal the tail end of the trout season .  With some significant rain there is a still a chance of Sea Trout and Salmon and the cream of the Grayling fishing is still to come. Lots to look forward to.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Down to its bones

The picture although clearly not a fish is something that I was very pleased to see.  This Sunday I ventured up the headwaters of a local river although as the pictures show the river is struggling for water and the quantities of rising fish were pretty low. The rivers are generally struggling, which is as to be expected given the long hot and dry summer.  levels of in river invertebrates are very low ,  however in the fields and woods on the banks the insects are thriving.. 

As you see the river is way below its normal levels.  long stretches are barely flowing and only the long deep pools are holding decent volumes of water .  Luckily there are many of these deep slow pools where fish can hold up..

This stretch is usually a continuous riffle about six inches deep ,  as you can see its just about dry now.

There was less rising fish than I would expect .  The level of invertebrates in the water must be having an effect on hatch levels .  However the high number of terrestrials will be offering an alternative food source .

One thing I noted during the day was the number of ladybirds that were visible ,  now that means to me that there are certainly big numbers of Aphids on the trees.   Certainly leaves on the trees are quite sticky from the residue the aphids leave behind. 

The days catches were less than I would expect at the time of year but as the fish were bunched up in the deep holding pools the long stretches of previously " pocket water " were now pretty much devoid of fish .  You can see on the photo below where the usual summer level of the pool is .  We need rain and fast...