Saturday 24 February 2024

Trout bum or mildly eccentric ?

 This year I am starting the process of getting into retirement.  I think initially it will be a day a week less work and then over the next years slowly increase fishing time and decrease working time.  I enjoy my work still and I have the pleasure of working with nice people in an interesting profession but its time I just did a bit less of it .  

I am most fortunate that I have a understanding wife who tolerates my fishing obsession , I have access to beautiful rivers to enjoy which are  full of wild trout and Grayling .  I have plenty of rods and reels including spares for sons and daughter to use. But there is something that I haven`t quite got my head around though it is making that transition from being a normal hard working professional gent to that of a retired crusty old git who talks to himself and can put out a suitably strange aura to keep being pestered by well meaning passers by with the inevitable "had anything mister “?

It isn`t that I want to be rude or even indeed a crusty old git although I do have some work colleagues who consider the transition to full crustiness would be absolutely easy and indeed a seamless transition. Its just that it would be nice if people looked at me from afar and there was just something about me that made them veer away rather than endeavour to engage me in polite conversation .  Fishing is about solitude or the company of suitable companions. Not about exchanging meaningless platitudes .

To deter the curious I have been known to get engaged in a raised voice heated argument with myself and that routine has often deterred passers by who were indicating an intent to engage me in polite conversation, it is not consistent though and relies on my having early sight of intruders to give me time to get into the routine .  It is the appearance I need to work on .  Perhaps old Hugh Falkus had the right idea I read that he simply Painted FUCK OFF on the gateway to his cottage .  Perhaps a more direct approach would be the answer but I am struggling to come up with something that would be acceptable to my fellow club members .  I will have to stick with more subtle messaging.  

It would be even better if it worked for dogs too.  I seem to be a dog magnet especially for Labradors, I am especially fond of them and I am convinced they know it .  I am clearly to much of a temptation when I am stood midstream in a river they clearly believe I am there for their amusement .  Charging up to me all wagging tail and presenting themselves for an ear rub. When I was a young fella I was useless with woman but here I am an older gent now I am positive magnet with labs, there is no Justice in life . 

The other thing I wrestle with is what should be my image be ? I don`t think I can carry off the full John Gierach trout bum approach I haven`t got the beard , attitude or fishing ability to do that ,  I do quite fancy the  mildly eccentric old fashioned eccentric approach , After watching his delightful Rod and Line you tube recordings from a good few years ago I could see myself as 50% of a Michael Horden but crossed with 25% Tom Skerrit ( the Rev Maclean ) from a river runs through it and perhaps 25% Jack Hargreaves  .  The non British amongst you will need to consult the wonders of YU tube to understand the effect I am aiming for. 

To complete the transformation  I think I am going to have to ditch the chest pack and fish out my old Orvis Waistcoat mainly because it will better hide the one recent purchase that was for comfort rather than tactical efficiency , My  new Vision Chesties have a Zip.  So much more convenient, If you aren`t sure what I mean ask your dad,  I certainly need them to stop looking so new though .  Crusty mature fly fishermen with attitude shouldn`t be wearing sparkly new waders .  Waders should appear to be fighting a losing battle with age and abuse , just as wading boots should not have matching laces and should have the odd aquasure repair , when tied the odd lace hole or hook should be missing .  Finally of course is the icing on the cake the hat.  My old canvas fedora style affair has sat up top for many years and I haven`t the heart to start breaking in a new hat .  It keeps of most of the sun and most of the rain . For that it is perfect .  I will also continue to wear my old flat cap at times .  It was my late Fathers hat I wear it fishing quite often its like I am taking him with me. its something I wear mostly in Winter when Grayling fishing . The Grayling was his favourite I am sure he would approve .  He was a a crusty old fella too but must confess that he is one of the few folks that I would love to have out on the bank with me just one last time. 

Wednesday 31 January 2024

Shack Nasties and Muggles


Monday 8th January 

I had a walk from the office this lunch time.  Grey Skies , Northerly wind coming straight in over the North Sea , pretty depressing weather really ,  I had to drive to Newcastle and back on Sunday the North Moors looked cold bleak and desolate , Standing water everywhere on back roads mud everywhere after it has washed out of the fields . The Weather was well grey and it rained.  I haven`t fly fished for more than a month.  All in all a pretty miserable state of affairs ,  We have another month to tolerate before we start to notice the days started to lengthen. However there is already just a chink of hopefulness coming .  I have already received and paid my first fishing club renewal for this year.  I have received emails from clubs regarding upcoming meetings and functions.  So perhaps the sun has not risen on the new season yet but I feel it is just below the horizon .  I have started to re fill the fly boxes and have sorted out the boxes from last year.  There will be no new waters this year,  Although my intended part time working in a month or two will mean I can just make better use of the fishing I have . Also being semi retired will allow me to live up to the "miserable old twat" identity that I quite fancy  

Sunday 28th January 

As the rivers have been pretty consistently bank high for the last couple of months I have yet to get fly fishing this year .  I don`t seem to have got on as well with fly tying as I should have .  I have managed a couple of trips with a trotting rod and some bait for the Grayling .  It has presented a bit of a relief from the otherwise complete abstinence .  I have tried to do the trotting with a bit of style and in keeping with the manner in which my late Father would have done . Bamboo Rod and proper centre pin.  It would have been his Birthday on the 6th Feb and this coming weekend if the river is fit I will take his Millwards featherlight and Rapidex reel out for a fish .  Before he died he said I should sell them my reply was no pops every year on your birthday I will take it on a river .  

30th Jan Its the evening and I am feeling hopeful now about the seasons changing . 

I am becoming very protective of fishing time and particularly  the solitude that it brings.  I say solitude as I often get asked, "don`t I get lonely spending all them hours alone"?.  Truth is I have always enjoyed solitude but many people seem unable to identify  that loneliness and solitude are quite different . I am finding that I am actively protecting my time in the river . There is something quite satisfying in standing fishing and starting to have an animated conversation with yourself when you see approaching folks who you fear may try and engage you in light hearted conversation .  Other anglers are ok they appreciate that giving each other space is an important part of the game,  None fishing folk or Muggles as a few mates and I have christened them are oblivious to it and happily stand on the opposite bank and point at the bow waving fish speeding away .  Greeting you with "had any luck mate " or "Hope my dog didn`t disturb you" ?.   As a four stone Labrador  careers along the stream in front of you . The dogs I don`t mind its the people I am starting to struggle with.  February is when preparations get going .  I have fly boxes to fill . I am treasurer at a local club and the accounts are to do and then prepare myself for the battle of getting folks to pay on time .  I have Meetings to look forward to I may even put the silk lines back on the reels ,  I am planning my annual trip to the BFFI in February but am determined to keep my wallet closed I am just looking .  It will be good to catch up with friends there though. See you in February .

Wednesday 13 December 2023

A Christmas Reflection on rivers and Bamboo and Silk...


Firstly I wish any body who is still reading Blogs a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year . An especially hearty wish for those of you are return visitors to my blog. Its been a strange year and it is ending as a pretty soggy one.  My winter grayling fishing has been buggered in fine style by the never ending rain.  One trip with a guest a few weeks ago during a break in the rain found a river that was less than welcoming to the guest whom I had hoped would have a good day.  There have been no trips since and my fishing fix has been ltd to fly tying and tackle tinkering whilst trying hard not to buy anything I don`t need.  Which to be fair is almost anything although a recent online offer on Hardy Perfect reels caused me to stumble.  

Whilst looking at the state of the rivers I can only hope that the huge volumes of water can remove some of the accumulated leaves and silt from the local rivers which in places have been very extensive after a few years of low flow but also hope that the same huge flows do not do to much damage to the local watercourses from fallen trees and the like.  It will be interesting to visit my local rivers in the spring and see what changes have been caused , Indeed  one of the fascinations of my local streams is just how much the nature of them changes year by year ,  Fish holding features change every year but winter floods can really alter things substantially. On my streams A new wedged tree stump of washed out depression can be a big attraction in the small world of streams 

I have had a number of   conversations this year with longer term fishing friends who have spoke with some puzzlement with my increasing fascination of using cane / bamboo rods ,  One guy who is a fine angler a club secretary and a part time river keepers words were , "why go backwards when companies and technology  has developed tackle that does the job more effectively" ?.   I guess on the face of it it is a fair enough challenge .  But I did note that his statement made no mention of enjoyment, satisfaction or indeed anything on an emotional level , it was purely a statement made about efficiency and almost mechanical advantage.  

I suppose my answer is and I guess it is all down to personal preference but I would say this...The guy who first coined the phrase " You throw a line with a Carbon rod but you cast a line with a bamboo rod. Understood what its about I also find that the cane rods are more accurate too so it isn’t just about emotional stuff although there is a certain effortless beauty in how a bamboo rod casts a line . Also there is nothing at all to match the feeling of playing a good fish on a bamboo rod . You can feel every twist and turn especially when using a silk line.

Modern silk lines are extremely efficient and relatively easy to maintain and are not much more expensive than a premium plastic line but last way longer. But putting the nuts and bolts of tackle aside the plain truth is I have reached that time in my fishing lifetime when what matters is the quality of the experience and not the theoretical technical efficiency of the gear I am using .  feeling a silk line load a cane rod and then watching it elegantly unroll across the stream and then being able to easily mend the line and perhaps pick it off the surface with a deft roll ,  seeing the fish rise and then after the take feel every twist and turn through the none stretch silk and the sinewy bamboo .  that feel is very different to plastic and Carbon  and yes I have tried the Sage SLTs , the Sage LL and the Winston B2T staff of Moses and most of the rest.  Nothing feels quite like cane,  As for the photos well they are all of my local streams where I will be returning next summer .  

Friday 20 October 2023

Autumn Update

Sorry about the pretty meagre  posts this year Its been a strange old year .  Having the new club water to fish has been great and I have caught a few notable specimen fish , A new PB grayling at 2lb 12 and recently a lovely Barbel on a killer bug which was twitched along the bottom have been real highlights .  But the sad truth is what has been really lacking this year is a decent evening rise .  In fact in many ways a decent rise at any time of day has been missing .  The Hawthorn hatch brought some good fishing although short lived ,  The mayfly came and went with a bit of a whimper .  There has been a few rising fish but much like last year they have been sporadic.

Two fish that stand out this season,, The Barbel was on a day when the river was kind to me ,  The fish saved a blank .  After struggling to even see some fish I was tempted to try for the barbel which occupy a Pool on the way back to the car ,  I have often tried to tempt one without success, That day was difference and my old Stream flex 4 wt was given quite a work out .  

Another change to my gear has been the purchase of some Chest waders with Zips, for a gentleman of mature years the convenience is fantastic .  A call of nature now no longer requires extensive dismantling of gear .  I love them . 

fishing with my Son as always is a highlight although to often the stars don`t align and a young man wants more exciting days and has more distractions than Dad ,  The shared days are special memories though ,  This is him above in action after Grayling , In his favourite river ,  

One highlight was a trip to a southern chalk stream,   I had received a very kind offer of a day on a River Test carrier the place was picture book perfection . Manicured, with a perfect fishing hut and crystal clear water with a healthy population of Trout and Grayling . A brilliant day was had with good numbers of Grayling over 1 lb with one hovering around the magic 2 lb number ,  

The Bamboo fascination has not reduced and has resulted in another nice rod arriving .I don`t think there will be any more but never say never . I have actually sold more rods than I have gained this  year changes to my fishing habits have meant some stuff will never be used .  Also I have gained a 10ft 6 inch 3wt Vision nymph special .  I have decided its time I gave euro nymphing a proper go .  It has been to the river a couple of times and have found the lightness and sensitivity somewhat of a revelation especially for something so long . The strange non existent fly line  has felt odd ,  But results so far are good 

Despite my gloom about rising fish my local small streams are still showing nice fish long may it continue .  

Tuesday 13 June 2023

So heres another post to bring the year to date....

 last year the blog and social media in general got under my skin a little . It  both occurred to me and concerned me that I got to wondering was I going fishing for pleasure and just sharing my joy or was I going fishing to get something on the blog .  When you think about it the blog and social media in general is a strange beast . Anyway just to let the world out there know that I am still alive. Although the heat is proving somewhat irksome.  I thought I would drop in a cheeky post really saying nothing at all other than I am enjoying the fishing this season. Enjoying the cane / bamboo rods and enjoying my new fishing place. 

Season started cold but at least the chalk stream was at a nice level all my other local spate streams were bank high 

I fully enjoyed using the cane rods and silk lines for these fellows , I am really getting into the bamboo thing ,  playing a fish on them feels brilliant . The one in the Picture is a particular favourite firstly because it fishes beautifully and because it was an amazing bargain 

Still use the longer carbon rods for nymphs though I bought that rod below  as a present to me for the season , not a fan generally of long rods. mainly because a lifetime of using shorter rods has made me struggle with the cast timing and also to be truthful not the greatest tracking. But that rod, a Marryat tactical pro 3/4 9ft 6 inch has bonded with me like no longer rod ever has. Delicate but able to stop fish like the one below bury themselves in the weed.

End of May saw me and Mrs becks and Brown trout in the lake district for four days she even let me have an afternoon on the local river Derwent ,  Not easy fishing but I had a few , the river and the scenery are stunning 

Well done to Keswick  Anglers Association for a great website and bargain priced day tickets 

The reason for the short break 

I have been to the lake district dozens of times and believe me the weather is not typical ....

When we got back it was mayfly time which around here is end of May to mid June 

There were a few Danica around but the fish largely either hid from them or splashed at them 

The natural and my imitation....

I love this time of year , it tempts me to get all romantic and arty with the pictures I  take but they usually turn out well rubbish 

The fish in that little stream are just about perfect though....

More recently the hot weather and bright sunshine have made things tougher but still managing a few ...

The rod is a Hardy Hollolite Hollokona  I had always fancied a classic Hardy and well you cant have to many rods...

the bankside vegetation is at last growing back up. Which makes Stealth a little easier . This one took twenty minutes of stalking and casting it took the third change of nymph . Maybe it was the pattern or just the first time I got the drift just right.


Wednesday 22 March 2023

When something is worth Saying...


Despite me really thinking that I wouldn't come up with anything worth saying sometimes you just have to change your mind.  The sometimes this time was that Mr Whitehouse stimulating and somewhat depressing two programmes about the state of the countries water ways ,  this was combined with a thread on a fishing forum on how fishing had helped quite a few of the people on there with their sanity and depression.  My own fishing journey started when as a boy I saw my dad fishing ,  the long journey took of from there.  But in the years just before teenage and through teens my life went of the rails somewhat ,  I was sent to a boarding school for kids who were challenging .  It was not an easy place to be such places in the 1960s and 70s were challenging.  I have no doubt that been able to fish in the ponds lakes and local small rivers were a godsend that helped me a great deal.  the fishing was free and the river , a small tributary of the swale was a clear stream full of shoals of chub and streamer weed .  To my young eyes it was paradise.  I am sure it also provided a place of tranquil reflection to many others .

I have revisited this paradise in the last few years and the clear water, the streamer weed and I am sure that the fish as well have all disappeared.  So sadly for local kids that wanted to fish are now snookered.  It is no longer a place that is pleasurable to fish in , walk by or picnic near.  Such spaces are so precious and disappear almost without any one noticing them,  If the Wharfe on in the Yorkshire dales and next to huge population areas can be dealt with so badly whilst under the full public spot light by the water companies , the EA and successive governments then what hope is there for this country and we should look at ourselves and the present society and consider what we are leaving for future generations.  

The only way this will change is if the Govt wishes it.  They certainly have the power to do it . It would appear that what is missing is the will to do anything . Perhaps the MPs have friends in the water companies and are shareholders.  I have written to my MP on many occasions on this matter .  His responses are clearly those standard " party line " responses that offer fine words , rhetoric but little substance ,  It will be interesting to see if the labour party get in at the next election , I fear they will offer more fine words lets hope that it is linked to some proper action.  As a first if everyone writes to their MP or challenges them at the next public surgery then things may change ,  The govt needs to know that people think this matters . That its a vote catcher ,,  then and maybe then things may change. 

Perhaps if every angler , Kayaker , wild swimmer , bird watcher and other concerned citizen just decided to cancel their water rates , I wonder if the water companies would have the stomach for taking them all to court.  

Monday 23 January 2023

Over and Out....


One way and another its been a turbulent few months.  My good friend Peter passing away suddenly was a blow his passing has also meant me picking up the reigns as Secretary of my local club for at least a while . The club will miss him greatly .

Truth is my appetite for writing the blog has been on the wane for a year or two .  Eventually We run out of things to say . I find myself looking at the blog and being less than happy with its content. So I think it is a good time to put it to rest for a while. Perhaps even permanently .  

This year  I am looking forward to membership of a new club which has been a long time waiting, the wait has actually been nearly as long as the blog has existed .  Also I have another  project in mind that will take up any scraps of creative content that my blog would have absorbed ,

So thanks for following along over the years ,  I wont close the blog and feel free to message or comment but I doubt I will be putting new posts.  But I will be checking on it from time to time . Generally I am intending to reduce the time I spend on Social media. It has become to much of a thief of time . 

If you want me the chances are if I aren`t at home or in the office I will be here....



Trout bum or mildly eccentric ?

 This year I am starting the process of getting into retirement.  I think initially it will be a day a week less work and then over the next...