Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Season starts now......




I have had a few trips in the last few weeks. All of them had a common denominator in that at this time of year expectations always exceed reality One trip was to foston beck on the easter bank holiday, surprisingly for a bank holiday it did not pee down all weekend ,  In fact weather wise it was pretty good.  Cool but not cold and not to windy. A friend had visited a day or so previously and had bemoaned the low water.  At first things looked poor .  A cold breeze and very low clear water was not promising and it was 15 minutes before I saw a fish.  Well actually what I saw was a rise , the Culprit was the small wildie a couple of pics down.  He fell to a size 16 IOBO humpy.  The humpy has become my go to general olive pattern imitation.  




After getting a few hundred yards upstream I started to spot more rising fish.  There was a few olives trickling of the water.  and for the next 60 minutes it was as if summer had come and fish came to the net regularly .  A mixture of overwintered and new stock fish and a few wild fish .   It was nice to see enough rising fish to be able to concentrate on dries.


The river is very low , probably at a level not unlike where it was at the end of last summer .  This corner of the country has had one of the mildest and driest winters I have ever known and so ground water levels are very low .  For a stream that is totally spring fed thats not a good position to be in.


Whilst bringing one fish to the net I spotted a truly huge fish following it ,  That is a fish I will be looking out for as the season progresses .  ( Postscript) I returned for a very short session a few days later and went looking for the large fish .  I deceived it almost straight away with a small weighted nymph .  We remained in contact for some minutes until the fish got bored with the scrap and buried itself in some weed and we parted company.  The nymph was barbless and am sure will have been spat out by now. I will return to try again later in the season It is a very substantial trout and would certainly be a river PB for me if I get it into the net.This overwintered stockie was about the best of the day .


Another trip was to the river Dove ( the Yorkshire one ) it should have been a perfect day the weather and water levels looked right but to my bitter disappointment I discovered that the Environment Agency  have been in over the winter and whilst they have removed some almost complete river blockages they have removed swathes of superb bankside cover.  Although not permanent damage I fear that very many fish will have moved of downstream, certainly it will be next year before the fishing improves to its normal level.  It was interesting in that I managed a couple of fish from this untouched area. 


But this area which now has a few hawthorn stumps last season had a canopy extending halfway across the stream and always held many fish .  On the day I didnt even see a fish.



 A highlight of the day and a real sign of spring was sitting and watching this ewe give birth to a pair of twins.  Not something I have seen before and was amazed by how quickly they were up and about on their brand new rubber legs. 




Saturday, 28 March 2015

First fish of the season and small signs of spring



Setting out on the first trout fishing trip of the season my local scalby beck looked bright , clear and very low. In these parts we have had virtually no rain for the last few months and the season is starting with water levels below normal summer levels.



 The cold instantly striking through my waders as I entered the beck reminded me its still only March.  This is the view that started my season .  I paused and just enjoyed watching the stream in front of me . Rod in hand a quick check behind and the first cast was formed .  This  moment  had been in my mind for a good few months now .   Evenings at my desk tying flies and more recently checking lines and cleaning reels all with a common purpose of preparation for the seasons start.  



The first signs of spring are everywhere now.  Tiny pockets of colour hidden along the banks give hints to warmer times .



Somehow the wild snowdrops are so much more graceful than the cultivated ones.


Further downstream the big weir pools showed no signs of life ,  Soon the fish that are there will take to the fin and  give themselves away taking surface flies .  The fish pass boxes are empty now the sea trout that ascended them just a few months previously have all either fed the otters or dropped back to the sea. The only evidence of their passing are the big redds still visible in the gravel beds. 


So here it is my opening day trophy that most important of captures, the first fish of the season.  Not big in fact not even average but a small fish that was ever so welcome .


A few more fish followed it all bigger but none had any significance no more would be the first fish . Below was the last view of the stream today the banks starting to flush with green with the thick beds of ramson or wild garlic .  In another month a shower of rain will fill the valley with the heavy perfume of garlic.



Monday, 23 March 2015

Scarborough Scalby beck an opportunity not to be missed....



I was out on the beck this weekend, not fishing but working towards putting some of the recommendations in place from last years WTT advisory visit.  A friend and I spent a few hours trying to ensure that the amount of cover that is available to both the wild brownies and particularly the sea trout smolts which end up shoaling up in a couple of big pools at the bottom end of the fishery waiting for a lift of water before taking to the sea.  It was a rewarding morning and even though no fishing was done it was nice to have a purpose to get in the river again.



I have known the beck all my life it is a fishery of about 3 or 4 miles.  In its length it drops a considerable height and contains several large weir pools, some interesting pocket water ( great fun for tenkara fishing ) and runs through both fields and wooded sections with a fair few natural small falls for good luck.  It contains a healthy population of WBT and grayling with a few chub and perch showing up. It also has a run of sea trout that can run to a good size although on average 2 to 4 lb the club record stands at 10 and a half pounds.

scalby beck wild brownie 
The beck is a haven for wildlife last year I shared a pool with an otter, there is also abundant bird life and the banks in places have adders and slow worms.  Deer and badgers of course exist in good number.





The club has a small membership of approximately 30 and the subscription costs are very modest .
If you interested in membership then please contact me and I shall be pleased to offer any further information you may require.  There are ltd vacancies this year ,  if you search back through my blog there are a number of posts on it. It is a lovely water .



Friday, 13 March 2015

Zen , and the art of upstream spiders



I walked along a section of my local beck the other day , its a section I have not fished for a couple of seasons , in fact I think the last time was the first day of the season a couple of years ago.  Its a heavily treed section that suffers badly later in the season from low flows and shade  But it contains a large head of small eager brownies and now as I can see the trout season approaching like a long awaited sunrise after an arctic winter it is  just the ticket for an opening day venue.  Early on in the year its an attractive series of runs and pools . Later in the year the series of falls dry out and there is very little movement.



Here is a photo of the stretch in mid july during the dog days of summer. It always beats me where the fish hide when those months of low water strike.


The first trip will be as usual both a celebration of things getting going again but also a bit of a trip down memory lane. I usually rake out an old Bruce and Walker, a rod that I have had for twenty odd  years and the only rod I have ever worn out, well when I say I wore it out I had to have the handle rebuilt as I had worn holes in the cork. That was not due to poor quality , quite the contrary it was built superbly but I simply wore it out. Back then for very many years I only had one rod.  It was used for small streams , large rivers and even still water fishing . If I was going fly fishing it was the rod I took.   Nymphs , dries and anything else . If it was too long I have been known to just take the two sections apart and cast the top one. If it was to short I held it at arms length.  When I look at all the rods I possess now and there is more than a few I wonder how it happened. How did I manage to convince myself I need such a range of rods when for very many years I managed very well with that one rod? it was so well used it became an extension of me allowing me to not even think about  anything apart from the fly at the business end.  Line choice wasn't an issue as the rod is rated 3 to 5 weight.  In fact if today someone told me I had to just use one rod for the rest of time it would be that one. Even with all the fancy stuff I have in the rack.


Anyway you might say I am just been soft but I like to hang on to something of the past and using that rod and fishing familiar water on the first day of the season provides a certain continuity to things.  Just as the  method I will utilise is a nod to the past. As although I will be hoping for rising fish I am pretty sure a team of spiders fished upstream will probably find me the fish. That old rod is perfect for spiders its full soft action is great for close range fishing. In fact it has all the qualities that new manufacturers seem to be rediscovering for river fishing.  Incidentally I have learnt over the last few seasons that the method of upstream spiders is very effective for small streams , you the reader might be shaking your head at this and muttering didnt he know that well despite fishing a stream thats had fly anglers on it for nigh on 140 years and most of that time they would be fishing spiders its been a new one on me for the last few years, I have learnt it aint easy and it really requires becoming one with things and getting into that  zone .  Fishing with that rod certainly wont harm that. Neither incidentally will getting into the beck about half a mile below where I will be expecting action . It gives me time to work the wrinkles out of an arm that hasn't cast in months and to get into the rhythm that the method requires. I have  learnt that concentration is everything you have to more than just look you have to see the leader in the water checking for movement and at the same time you have to look for a sudden flash of a turning fish or a boil under the surface at first I found it bloody hard. I would say its a bit like learning to drive a car lots to do and a few places to watch all at the same time and until it becomes automatic your no bloody good at it.   Incidentally  I have occasionally wondered if there really is a sort of hunters sixth sense that we still have. Hugh Falkus mentions it in one of his books and other anglers have spoke of it.  I know in my coarse fishing days sometimes you would suddenly  be aware that something was about to happen . Perhaps its just the moment when your senses become truly in tune with your surroundings but at times when fishing my senses would sharpen and I knew a take would follow.  Coincidence ? well perhaps but I am not sure.   Fishing the upstream spider has proven to be a bit like that I have found myself tightening into a fish and thinking I am not really sure why I lifted the rod.  Perhaps a half hidden flash of silver did lodge in my brain but the tired old eyes didn't actually see it.  Perhaps there is more than a hint of zen around all this , Certainly I have always thought meditation and fishing share many things . Perhaps I should take the tenkara rod and sit cross legged on the bank for half an hour of meditation before entering the water.

“The more you look, the more you see.” 
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


Monday, 9 March 2015

Back to it...



This year I am way behind with things.  Jobs around the house, work everything. My crumby start to the year has left me playing catch up.  Work has come first and now I am back on course with that. Now jobs around the house have been prioritised; Two categories; more urgent than fishing preparation and not .  After careful thought the more urgent list has become quite short and dealt with quickly, its worth saying that the shortness of the list was the matter of some discussion between myself and my good lady.

Most years my fly fishing preparation starts with fly tying which usually starts straight after christmas and the vast majority of my fly tying is done in January , February and March. Fly tying whilst been enjoyable is not the fascination to me that so many fellow fly anglers enjoy.  I tie flies because I am largely disappointed in what you can buy.  CDC flies seem to be very difficult to get and any fly other than a size 14 or 16 was hard to buy when I started tying.  My tying is best described as fit for purpose ,  the flies catch fish but wouldn`t win a prize.   I suppose I should put more of my flies up on the site it may persuade those who either don`t tie there own or who have tried and failed to realise that the flies often shown on the net as superb examples are no better catcher of fish than those with scruffy hackles, untidy heads and lumpy dubbing.  Something my own examples demonstrate to perfection.

Years ago I bought a copy of Oliver Edwards fly tyers masterclass and I set myself the task of creating the mohican mayfly .  After countless hours and I mean countless I produced half a dozen passable examples. The mayfly hatch that year was heavy and the fly worked a treat but my old faithfull packing foam special as below worked just as well and lasted longer.  Also I was a lot more likely to risk that tricky under the bushes cast to dislodge a good fish when the fly hadnt cost me hours of effort and many cups of coffee.  Now I am sure that under certain circumstances that mohican mayfly would perhaps fool a fish my simple pattern wouldn`t but in my world of percentages I will stick with something simple.




For the interested amongst you this is the pattern I have used a year or two. The foam body makes the fly just about unsinkable , the fly is dead simple tails are black micro fibbet or PT fibres if you dont have microfibbets ( paint brush fibres also work well) the body is that really thin packing foam you get around electrical items. I cut it into 2mm strips and wind it on ,  the ribbing is black floss . Hackle is of course a badger hackle. The hook is a size 12 longshank from a packet I have gained over the years their age betrayed by the fact they are in a small wax paper packet and the size of the hook barb which I have flattened with pliers. 



Anyway I will continue through March and hopefully restock the boxes before April which is trout season around here.  I may even show a few more of my efforts to inspire the struggling amongst you and to amuse the more accomplished.....