Tuesday, 9 August 2016

River swale with a fly rod


I have just returned from a week in the Yorkshire dales , a lovely area to visit . Especially for me as it doesn't seem to matter which part you stay in you are never far away from one of the beautiful Dales rivers .  This time we were in Richmond and the local river is the Swale , in fact the river flows right through the town. Apparently the Swale can be the fastest rising river in England .  Due to its extensive high ground catchment catchment and steep valleys .  When we arrived it was dead low due to the last few weeks lack of rain. 



Despite the idyllic scene above its sad to report the litter  muppets still manage to spoil things , the shingle bank showing was liberally scattered with dozens of broken bottles and the remains of a good few bonfires .   Sadly it's an all to common story of many people's lack of respect for the countryside.  


I managed a few early morning sessions on here , not an ideal time to fish but under dead low summer conditions it has a good few things going for it.   The river has been un disturbed for a few hours and water temperatures will have dropped slightly .  Also the procession of dog walkers , fire lighters, bottle smashers and other bank side dwellers has been absent for a few hours .  The river is as quiet then as at any time of day. Swale dale certainly  is a very handsome place . The first fish of the day and in fact all he fish I caught came from Runs less than a foot deep fast broken water ,  "skinny water"




The river was a cracking place to be early morning ,  I shared it with Buzzards, Kingfishers , Dippers a couple of foxes and butterflies in abundance ,  should know more about butterflies but it's something I have never got to grip with , not sure what these are but there sure were a lot .




The run below was pretty typical of where fish came from fast, and generally less that a foot deep with a few pockets a bit deeper , a size 16 Klink with a nice visible post was the best on the day. Rises were sometimes amazingly small given the speed of the water often the fly just seemed to sucked through the film. A highly visible fly was essential.  Its also worth mentioning that not one fish was targetted as a riser.  All fish were taken by casting to likely lies and holding spots.  Fish that were visibly rising were small fish splashing in the dead slow pools.



I caught a lot of the size below and a few better fish , my best of the trip was about a pound and a half   But stupidly allowed it to flip out of the net after carrying it to the edge of the current .  Barbless hook came out and the fish bid me farewell before the camera could be deployed 




The run below was where I had my best success between one and two feet deep of very clear  fast water over a very rocky bed in a 100yds I had five fish , one released at the net as stated above and four to hand , the best photogenic one is below.  They put up a tremendous scrap in the fast current , great fun on a 10ft four weight .




Just as an aside , I like a lot of anglers can be guilty of indulging in expensive posh label gear , I do love Winstons and have several , but last year needing a 10ft 4 wt for exactly this kind of occasional use I took a risk on a cheap ebay Trabucco 4 pce.  Quite a sweet rod think it was about £75 quid. Just shows whats out there in the marketplace.




My few days in the dales were delightful , The rivers although low and full of spoooky fish were great fun. 


Until the last couple of days when overnight rain demonstrated why this river is known as the fatest rising in England.  From dead low to bank high in just a few hours..

Friday, 29 July 2016

Dad , When we of fishing?


Its taken a while for me to hear someone say the above, In fact its taken twenty years or and I will be honest apart from a trip or two when my daughter decided she would like to come fishing with me when she was a kid.  None of my children had ever shown any interest in Dads passion. Until that is number two son home for the summer from University decided he would tag along one evening .  The prospect of a pint of best in the pub on the way back probably influenced that early decision. I am pleased to say that he enjoyed that evening and seems to want more .



My poor long suffering wife even asked if I needed to buy anything for him  to wear or use. Obviously the multiple hiding places and hidden away corners that conceal countless boots,waders, rods reels and all the other paraphernalia have remained well hidden.  No i`ll manage was my shy response.  I am not expecting him to go down with the affliction as badly as me.  But his interest will be carefully nurtured with care not to overpower his enthusiasm,  After all he is a young man and lives most of his time in the big city with all its inherent distractions particularly of the beer and female variety.


But when he returns home the river will be there and his access to it will be as free as the son of the fishing club chairman can be.  He has a houseful of tackle to go at.  He has however been told to keep away from the Split cane and Winstons. His casting isn't up to that yet.  I have already booked a day with a guide . Morning for my casting and the afternoon for his general introduction.  All of a sudden things are looking hopeful.

Monday, 20 June 2016

A tale of two flies



Sunday was fathers day and when asked what I wanted to do it was a simple response . " A few hours down the the river". Wish granted....Once i had found somewhere to park I headed of downstream to start fishing up....Now the river was still up a an inch or two and was still carrying extra colour fining down from the previous days.  After walking downstream for 15 minutes, a distance that I reckoned that would take me an hour or two to fish back up.  These little spate rivers cant be rushed containing lots of pocket water and bankside runs that need careful searching.  Also slow wading is the name of the game.  These small wild fish rise freely but soon head for cover if careless wading send advance notice of your presence ,





The colours of these wild fish always amazes me.  and although the fish are small they resist capture with a great deal of airborne acrobatics.




There didnt appear to be a great deal of surface activity but as is often the case a bit of searching located fish.  It was in the places that usually appear lifeless during summer low conditions where I started to see activity and as everything seemed to be hatching my fly of choice was once again a size 18 IOBO. This was the fly after 4 or 5 fish after a dusting with the frogs fanny.  




This was the same fly half a dozen fish later . There was a discussion in a magazine last month on the supposed lack of resilience of cdc for fly dressing. Well this fly went on to catch between 12 and 15 fish before a tree trout claimed it.  After each fish a quick swill in the water and a squeeeze in a piece of kitchen roll and a dust up with frogs fanny and its just like new. 




Now I bought some Roman Moser miracle float at the start of last season after fishing with Dave Southall and hearing him praise it but initially I wasnt impressed .  This season I have given it another whirl after another chat with Dave.  So before using a CDC fly I apply a smidge of miracle float. 





Now when I say a smidge thats what it was.  On reflection I had been using way to much . Barely a tiny drop rubbed between finger and thumb  just so your skin feels a little greasy see photo below,then  the CDC is worked between your fingers.  This just coats the cdc without clogging it .  After maybe four or five fish I would re coat the CDC.  otherwise just a swill and a squeeze in tissue then a quick brush with frogs fanny . It makes a real difference to how the CDC holds up. Thanks Dave...



After luch there was quite a few mayfly hatching .  A switch to a mayfly pattern brought a few fish . TBH I think the IOBO would have been just as effective if not more so.  But  its nice to catch on a mayfly it makes me feel like summer is here .
As for the frogs fanny I bought a big tub of the Silica stuff from some bloke in the states on ebay about 3 years ago .  I find it identical to the real frogs fany. I just keep refilling the original bottle. 


I dont think it was a concidence that the mayfly brought a few big stockies up .  When they have been in the river a week or two will rise at anything so uneducated or not a big visible fly is going to tempt them.


The little wildies also were up for a big mouthfull.  the mayfly hatch was really isolted to one slow stretch where duns were trickling off for a while. Hopefully the main hatch should get going this week.



Heres one that ended up on my waders .  After I let it float away it dissapeared after about 15yds all that was left was just circles in the film...



Just as an aside I picked up a Snowbee little nylon case with fly boxes last closed season. I had spotted another mate using and liked the looks of the handy size and whilst trolling ebay noticed these for sale compartment boxes pretty much identical to snowbee except for a fraction of the price. 




There brilliant , so slim that I can fit five in the pocket of my chest pack.  You can see whats in them easier through the clear lid and there magnetic so the wind doesnt blow everything away. I think the big chunky old fly boxes are a thing of the past for me...



Sunday, 12 June 2016

Something missing and something found..



Over the last 9 months or so  or so. Something hasnt been right , not the weather or anything else tangible but inside me.  I have felt as though something has been missing.

Then the other day  I think a part of the answer came to me I was somewhere near Peterborough sat on a train heading back from London towards gods country wedged on an aisle seat between passengers frantically trying to preserve their personal space whilst standing in a crowded train and on my left I was wedged against a fat woman who had an iphone in one hand a kindle in the other, a laptop on her knee on the keyboard of which was balanced a bag of toffees which she was juggling to her mouth by balancing them on her mobile and steered them towards her mouth.  I must confess to being hypnotised it was like watching a cat toying with a half dead mouse whilst batting a ball of string around.  I looked around me deperate to avert my eyes and everywhere I looked I saw people staring at mobiles or with headphones on and eyes shut oblivious to the world about them. The astonishing thing was that I was the only person not on a phone or with a laptop.  Then as I trie'd to look out of the window I saw it, that unmistakeable twinkle of a river only a fleeting glimpse from the train but a sweet looking stream none the less with the sunshine sparkling along it .





It was then that it dawned upon me what was missing, actually there isn't anything missing , frankly what is wrong. There are too many people and what was missing was solitude. The sight of the stream made me realise how long it's been since I had a proper days fishing .  Now to me a days fishing isn't just a statement that I have taken a rod to the river to deceive a trout.  "Gone fishing " is more than just a saying its a statement that you have entered another place entirely . Less to do with fish and more to do with a state of mind .Henry David Thoreau had it right " Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after "



With my renewed urgency I knew I had to do something about it. So a couple of weeks ago the winner of my WTT auction lot on the Yorkshire Dove enjoyed reasonable weather and although it didn’t show its best at least the stream gave us both a few rising fish.  On the day I even saw an odd Mayfly Dun, surely a harbinger of summer if ever there was one. Either I missed them or the hawthorn “hatch“ this year failed to materialise to anything much. Sure I caught the odd fish on them but I think the really cold spell we have endured has messed around with the rivers clock.







Only in the last week has warm weather really showed its face and as my long suffering wife was working all weekend what’s a bloke to do but go fishing,  I visited the Yorkshire Derwent a river that is a  mere 10 minutes from my door and a delightful place to while away a few hours.  As I arrived the usual car parking spaces were full of cars, picnickers and walkers as well as the odd angler people were in abundance.  Like migrating birds people seem to arrive in flocks with warmer weather. 
Parking up I wandered down to a favourite starting point in anticipation of fishing the riffles and broken water up through a tree lined section.  It was a very hot and bright day.  I figured the shade and broken water was the place to be.  After about half an hour I rounded a bend to look up a long straight which is a series of shallow pools and faster water.  Now about 15 yds above me was a favoured crossing point for anglers, the steep banks have wooden steps down into the water on both sides as it’s immediately adjacent to a car park.  





The keeper does a great job in maintaining these steps as many of the members are not as agile as they once were.  Anyway as I looked upstream I thought I saw a dimple right under the bottom step.  Sure enough there it was again a definite rise.  Not sure what it was rising to a size 20 IOBO was on the tippet and  without moving a cast was despatched and second drift it took.  Not a huge fish but a very nice wild brown and probably the best of the day.  After I released it I waded up to see where I had taken it and of course when you think about it a perfect lie.  The fish was sitting right in the foot hole as people step down of the steps.  It got notice of approaching anglers as those from the steps above and the opposite bank would be in plain sight.   But not only that it would bolt upstream and probably spook a good few.  Certainly this anglers future approach to that stretch has now been altered forever.



As I made my way upstream picking of small wildies in the pockets and broken water. “Skinny water” as Dave Southall and others refer to it.  I came across a father and son fishing in a deep long slow section stood midstream and short line nymphing, stood in the sun it looked hard work and slow going, Son was fishing and Dad stood behind.  Must admit to some envy as sadly neither of my two sons or my daughter has ever showed signs of sharing my obsession.  But it did occur to me that they would have had more chance of success and fun in the faster water picking of risers. But I am also sure that such thoughts are best kept to yourself. 


Anyway I moved of upstream.  As the afternoon developed the cool breeze got up and the rising fish disappeared but I had fished for say three or four hours and ended up with 20 + fish , none large but tremendous fun.  With a lesson learnt and knowledge stored away for the future as well. In all a very good result.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

A springtime christening


Recent visitors to this here blog will know that a recent gift from me to myself has been a small built cane rod that my good friend Chas Burns built for me. It has been in the rod rack for a good few months now.  I could hear it calling to me as I walked past. Well despite my intentions had been that for its intended christening was for flicking tiny dries to rising brownies on a warm evening on a favourite couple of small streams here abouts, last weekend I couldnt wait any longer.  The day was sunny enough to kid me not to take wear my wading jacket just a light fleece, but as I walked up the dale the Northerly breeze that last passed over the Arctic made it feel more like February and made my bravado seem all the more foolhardy.  






There was very little sign of hatching flies. The water was reasonably clear and fining down after the recent rains .  I had made a decision that on this rod the first fish would be on a dry even if it meant blanking in the process. After 20 mins or so prospecting with in the likely runs and riffles away from the main currents I had the little brownie above and it was quickly followed by half a dozen more.  All on the dry and all showing no sign of rising before the fly passed over them .  These small stream brownies are suckers for a a little dark dry drifting over them.  About then the wind speed increased a few notches, the clouds appeared and the rain started .  So far that day I had experienced typical weather from three of the four seasons . I packed up and headed back to the car . A few minutes later the three seasons became four as a hailstorm swept down the valley.



I have fished a few times this last month, when the biting cold or high water has allowed it. I had a day on the river Derwent with a friend of mine,  A strange sort of day where we seemed to have all four seasons in an hour never mind a day.  The signs of spring are unmistakeable enough ,  plain to see but here we are with May just a few days away and we are still getting hard frosts and snow . Global warming ...Yeh right



A feature of the early season this year is the amount of Grayling I have caught out of season.  I have been very pleased to see them as the cormerant plague seemed worst than ever this last winter.  They seem to be more active than usual and are rising freely.  Although out of season i couldnt resist a quick snap as it was slipped back in.


An aspect of the built cane rod has surprised me . When the rod is picked up without a line on it and given a wiggle I must confess that the degree of flex had initially if not unerved me certainly confiirmed it is very different to my usual carbon rods even the winstons that I use that are quiet an unusual action and very different to most carbon rods..  But unlike a carbon rod the rod almost seems to stiffen when its loaded with a line its almost like the rod becomes one with the line and changes completely.  Not a very scientific description but it is a fair reflection on how it felt. I can confirm however it casts a nice tight loop and is a delight to fish with.