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..

Sunday, 20 January 2019

First signs ...

It is mid winter , cold and misty the river is carrying colour and the days are short but today was a good day .  We are told that bad weather is on the way snow wind and rain.  The white frost is hanging in the shade of the trees and hills are shrouded and white .But the river is so close.  The winter storm is not yet here the river was fishable and it was an opportunity not to be missed.

The day didnt get away to a great start the little chap below was the first fish to come to hand but then before to long several of his larger brothers turned up.   The fish taking a black beaded caddis .  It looked to be carrying the scars of an earlier bird attack.  You will notice the gloves ,  its not very often I have to resort to them but it was pretty thin...to use a local expression.

The colours on Grayling are superb these and are superb for banning the shack nasties in the middle of winter .  they scrap well in the faster water , especially on the soft action 3 weight I use .  The fish are still in the faster water they havent shoaled up in the deep slacks just yet .

This year seems to be showing more Grayling than we have had for a few years , with Good numbers of various sizes of fish which bodes well for the future.  I even had my first minnow sized fish a week or so back.

 These were not the only sign of things changing these snowdrops are starting to show in the sheltered corners .  Such delicate flowers and yet the first things that is tough enough to brave the winter cold

Back at the car  the tups were been taken back to their spring paddock .  Either they were preparing for their duties or had just done them.  Perhaps spring really is just around the corner.

Friday, 4 January 2019

So that was the year that was....

So 2018 all done and dusted ,  fishing wise a pretty indifferent year , Rivers were desperately low due to a long summer drought .  This was a season with no real noteworthy fish .  In fact it is a year that is only memorable because of the opportunities it offers for the future ,  2018 saw me gain access to a small fairly local fishing association that offers a few miles of beautiful wild river that is brimming with fine wild fish. It is as unspoilt a place as you can find in this overcrowded island .  Indeed I suspect that I will subconsciously limited myself to the times I visit .  Natural rivers with quality fishing are by their nature vulnerable because of their own qualities . 

I have visited my local river twice in that last few days .  Firstly on the day before New Years Eve and then again new years day  after returning from a New Years eve party on board a cross channel ferry.  The first fishing trip was only notable for a couple of Grayling the best and the last fish of 2018 is shown above.  The fish has a damaged mouth ,  Hypocritical? I guess. I know but I hate to see fish with damaged mouths .  I have this naive delight in catching a pristine wild fish such damage just highlights that it has been caught before and apparently by someone who perhaps did not handle it as gently as he should.

My local stream is well known to me I have fished it regularly for the last 20 plus years ,  and yet as today it gives surprises ,  today I waded a stretch I have waded many times before to find that although looking similar a familiar bank side tree has keeled over and gone and a stretch of river 100 yards long has changed completely new deep holes and fast runs created like magic. For the last few years I have been a member of a local syndicate offering salmon and sea trout fishing.   I have tried very hard to love it, much as I have tried to bond with the chalk streams.  But there is to much of the rough stream brown trout fisherman in me.  I think I have it out of my system now.  

January the first gave me another surprise was the sight of a single cherry tree throwing out blossom on the first of January .   Made even more un seasonal by the fact that today the wind has changed and that bright sunny day that you look at through the windows is in fact one with a lazy NE wind, lazy as it goes straight through you rather than going around. February and March are not my favourite months.  They are to cold and to dark.  Its a time for a break from fishing and concentrate on fly tying and heightened anticipation for the approaching spring.