Monday, 6 December 2021

Grayling, Meditation and The Old Fellas hat

An interesting effect that Covid has had is that fishing has been mentioned on the news and social media a great deal, with  fly fishing in particular being hailed  for its therapeutic qualities . It perhaps feels strange to some  that such an abstract obsession can have such a positive effect on your psyche, for me it just reinforces what I have always known that it is the closest thing to meditation I have ever indulged in .  My wife also acknowledges the benefit always referring to it as my Prozac.  The effects are very real and the club I help to run has seen a big increase in membership enquiries ,  the waiting list is longer now than I ever remember clearly people are looking for something different . 





  Anyway as i have mentioned on the blog before the blame for the obsession sits firmly on the shoulders of my dear departed Dad . It was seeing him bring a fish home that triggered the obsession and then it fell to him to take me out fishing, not nearly often enough for me as a youngster but I guess like all Dads he had other things to worry about. Indeed I owe my very existence to my Fathers love of fishing . He was fishing around the local lake as a young man and met my mum when she was introduced to him, she was the sister in law of a another fishing friend. My mum even used to fish with him when they were courting.  I have a few photos of them from their early days ,  rivers and countryside feature in many .  

However apart from the love of fishing and the memories What he did leave me was his love of a certain fish and now probably my favourite too. he was a Coarse angler and loved the Roach but the Grayling  Ah the grayling that was his favourite river fish and these days it is mine  ,  I remember fishing the Yorkshire  Derwent with him about half a century ago and he caught one that at the time seemed huge and was probably around the magical 2lb mark I really don`t recall him ever being so excited at the capture of anything else. 

Apart from his rod and reel There was just one other thing passed to me and it came in the box of possessions from his room at the care home and that was his favourite flat cap.  I must admit that the box remained  un touched in my office for a year or more. There is something very sad  about the clothes and most personal possessions from a passed loved one.  But when i eventually felt like sorting the box out I spied the hat and I thought the best thing I could do with it was to take it with me fishing especially for the old fellas favourite fish.  So the hat now lives in my tackle bag I am sure Dad would approve.



So last week I was out on the river fly fishing for Grayling ,  The day was cold , a little breezy but the grayling eventually came out to play for an hour or so. My dads hat was doffed to the best fish of the day pictured above ,  I am sure he would have appreciated the gesture.  I think it brought me luck. It will definitely be on my head again when I pursue the lady of the stream.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

River fly fishing .... So whats that all about?

 I was chatting to someone a few weeks ago we got on to the eternal so what do you do with your spare time .  My answer was "do you mean the time that is spare between working and fly fishing" ?.  or the time apart from work?.  That stopped him for a moment and then I got the " No Seriously" and the questioning look. My response was look I have given you my response which do you mean?.  The blank expression turned into a frown .  


Look I said this is how it is for me. I have always fished , my earliest memory is of seeing my Dad bringing home a fish or two before I was old enough to go. I think the first time I went I would be 8 or 9 ,  My first fish was a perch caught at the local lake with my Dad.  In the years that followed it was one the one thing that kept me sane during a difficult childhood when sent away from home at 11 to a challenging boarding school , escaping to a local river and the lake in the grounds gave me some sort of continuity and safe haven, moving to another Boarding school at 13 gave me the opportunity to fly fish which stuck with me all my life .  Some of my most precious memories are of days fishing with my late father and Grandfather ,  Hopefully there will be memories of fishing with my Son and Daughter as well.  


It has been and still is a life long obsession ,  true I have been a bit of a specimen hunter for Barbel and Carp and various other species and done a bit of sea fishing along the way. I think partly due to the difficulty and cost of getting into decent fly fishing clubs going back 20 or 30 years  . But these days my priorities have changed, a few posts ago I talked about how fishing is for me a holistic thing.  I suppose everyone treads a different path and I have friends who love spin fishing , friends who love still water fishing and some who seem to get more pleasure out of fly tying than actually fishing ,  it is a sport/ pastime / Way of life which allows such divergences ,   For me I love the purity and  peace of a wild river ,  My two favourite rivers are both that and are un stocked . These days I resent the presence of stocked fish and delight in catching and of course returning wild fish. Also it has to be said that this time of year has its own special beauty from the changing colours to the vivid sunrises .  here is one from just the other day across the North Sea near to home ,


For me a good day doesn`t require the capture of loads of fish. This weekend the trip was cut a little short as the rain that started lifting the river meant a lot of leaves drifting down and the rain from above just took the edge of the day but the  pleasure from the 3 hours or so on the river came from unlocking a little more of the code, in detail it was realising that the way I had been approaching one section of stream wasnt perhaps the most productive . Also that the fish hotspot wasnt  actually where I had convinced myself that it was.  Now given another day and different water levels it will be a different puzzle.  but the pleasure was in the small victory and new knowledge stored away.  I think that`s partly the key of why I love fishing rivers so much . 


 It is the ever changing challenge that works for me. I love the challenge of fishing somewhere new. trying a new technique but even more I love fishing on a favourite stream , learning its secrets and gradually unlocking the code.  But with the ever certain knowledge that come the winter floods so much of what you learn is wiped away like a teacher wiping the blackboard clean in preparation for the next years tests.  

Monday, 27 September 2021

So that’s it then

 

So another trout season ends ,   I reckon that was my 51st,  Not I might add my 51st fishing season but it is the number since I picked up my first fly rod.  Hard to imagine how much time I have spent planning , dreaming and actually fishing for trout since I caught the first one . I can still remember that first fish, I can recall that moment of disbelief of fooling  that rising fish as if it was yesterday.  When I lift into a rising fish still gives me the same buzz now . 

This lovely small stream brownie was my last of the season and the only one of the day , I think partly because i actually wanted it to be that way. I switched to targeting the grayling straight away.

There were no large grayling today ,  I was briefly connected to one better fish but an underwater snag allowed it shed the barbless fly 



In one run there are always Grayling and felt sure that I would get some interest from a fish from a well presented dry.  After a fruitless 10 minutes I switched to a nymph .  The result was four fish in six casts the first two in consecutive casts .  They were clearly feeding hard but not looking up. Despite the water been at best 2ft deep and running very clear .




I have never been a great fan of newer Sage fly rods.  Always seemed to fast for my style of fishing ,  However last year I picked up a Sage Circa 379 on a well known auction site ,  For small streams it has been a whirlwind romance .  This is a 279 sister for it.  perfect for these smaller streams .  I paid a bit more than I would have liked for it on the same site but so far I have fished it 3 or 4 times and am mightily impressed.  When I think back to my first fly rod , an ABU fibreglass job and compare the performance to this lightweight creation it does make you realise that sometimes progress is a good thing..


This small river is very narrow and tends to retain a healthy flow even in the driest of years ,  it is very intimate fishing .  I learnt a week or so ago that the EA have been to walk the river.  To be fair in places there are some huge trees blocking it and causing massive erosion problems . It sounds as though they will be along in the winter with heavy machines. lets just hope they dont do to good a job .  As we may suffer a few years of leaner pickings while the river recovers.  About ten year ago they cleared out some obstructions and the fishing wasnt great for a year or so.  Proof that as my friend Dave says trout live in trees. 


The grayling generally seem to be thriving here ,  The head of grayling seems to exceed the trout ,  must say that this one seems well fed 


On the way back home I passed a couple of service stations with long lines of cars waiting to fill up . For the benefit of the foreign readers  Panic buying has broken out due a newspaper reporting that BP had a problem with tanker drivers , The result panic buying creating a shortage ,  There is plenty of fuel but if everyone fills up at the same time a shortage becomes another self fulfilling prophecy .  But there again people have a habit of making the same mistakes ,  Whilst I was fishing today I spotted this sheep totally tangled in the fencing , so wandered up to the farmhouse to let the farmer know..  Interestingly my son made the same journey last week as there was a sheep caught in the same fence.  the farmer reckoned it was the same sheep.  I guess people and sheep have things in common. 


I think i only made half a dozen overhead casts today . its mainly roll, spey and general make it up as you go along casts are the order of the day , With a few bow and arrow casts thrown in. I love that about the river so much interest . With many a surprise along the way ,  




Anyway heres to the Autumn and Winter grayling fishing , Hoping that I catch a few a bit bigger than little chap.  If the rain that is forecast next week arrives we may even get some sea trout up one of my other  local streams. 





Just as a postscript.  Hippo from Angola left a comment on the last blog post .  Comments like that remind me that there are a number of folks scattered around the globe who read this . It reminds me just how fortunate I am .  The mine clearance work is amazing Tom.. 


Sunday, 8 August 2021

Fishing in the summer heat...A good time for friends and Family...

 Summer can be blessing but also a curse... Currently we are in a heat wave . it means low water , low oxygen levels and often means confining the fishing to the last hour or two of daylight...It also means some different tactics.  in the current heat wave the Brown trout seem to have become night shift workers . For the last few weeks virtually all of the rising fish have been smaller grayling.  They are great fun though especially as my little stream has some great BWO hatches late on in the evening ,  small flies though, the evening hatch is often a size 20 affair ,  Where as earlier in the day BWO hatches are around the size 16 mark.  As I have got older and a little wiser about this whole fly fishing malarky I have realised that famous tongue in cheek addage of size isn`t important really doesn`t stack up in fly fishing terms ,  when I started out on the the never ending fly fishing learning curve I had size 12 and 14 flies in Christ knows how many patterns.  These days I have far fewer patterns in Christ knows how many sizes.  Years ago a size 16 was a midge now its a size 22 or a 24,   its strange but the fishing flies I use seem to have become smaller almost perfectly in line with my decreasing ability to see the buggers.  These pictures  were from the start of the hot weather. the stream is a fair bit lower now...



Fishing with and teaching a beginner who is also your son is very precious , Just need to get my Daughter going as well.....The first few fish are very important .  His casting is coming on a treat...



Anyway back to the point . Hot summer evening fishing for me is arrive at a sensible time and take it easy ,  The river will tell you when it is time to start fishing , start to early and you will disturb things and probably kill any chance you may have had .  one recent evening I got to the river a little early probably around 5 pm .  It was still bloody hot and by the time I walked to the bottom of the fishing I was hot and sweaty .  So the solution to that tricky fishing problem was easy. bend the knees place rear end at the base of a willow , Straighten out the old  legs and enjoy the shade and watch the river for at least half an hour... .  Different river but I love this stretch..



Now those high energy types amongst you will be aghast at the approach ,  but watching the river lets you see what`s hatching and wait for the mood of the river to change my plan was simple . I wanted to wait till I had a couple of hours or so before dark.  maybe three at most . The approach was going to be fish the faster runs only, where the oxygen levels were higher for the fish and end up at the top of the stretch and back near the car by dark.  As the sun dipped and the shadows lengthened you could feel the heat dropping out of the air. I think you can sense when it is the time to start fishing again. You can start to hear and see the insect life, I think its about being in touch with the river. " bullshit" you may say but honestly I think if you fish enough and settle in to the environment you can sense such things ,  My simplistic view is if I am starting to feel comfortable then the fish are .  



I the summer its a great time to share the river with friends  This friend is one who i learn of... but I like to keep out of the way as well... . I dont know about you readers but when the trout season starts I do fish a lot harder . its like I am trying to banish those close season blues so early season I fish hard and often and then as the season runs on and that urgency reduces , usually coinciding with high summer it becomes a good time to share your river with guests ,  Its a strange thing fishing with guests on small streams ,  after all small stream fly fishing is essentially a solitary occupation so for me its a case of agree starting and meeting points then head of alone. 


Monday, 14 June 2021

Mayfly on a small Yorkshire stream .

 Its been a miserable long cold spring.  There has been to much rain then not enough rain then it was cold again .  But the last couple of weeks warm weather has arrived and right on time the mayfly have started to appear.  Up in Yorkshire the Mayfly generally appear in the first two weeks of June..  No massive hatches yet but on Friday evening for a couple of hours there was a proper hatch that switched the fish on ,  a Sunday afternoon visit with my Son was good with a few duns about to keep the fish interested.  This is a lovely little stream that has a good number of decent fish it is all wild fishing and all the better for it.. The pictures tell their own story...it is fantastic fun on a 7ft 3wt rod.  


A lot of the fishing here is close quarters combat style fishing ,  Roll casts are a must.I picked up a lovely fish just of centre where the bubble line is on the far side. kneeling down and a roll cast of only perhaps 20ft after a careful shuffle into position.  



There are some very nice fish in here and they know where the snags are 



A lot of the river has combinations of gravel bottom and plenty of soft silt as well the mayfly nymphs love that 


Thhis was a very pretty fish the camera really doesn`t do it justice..


I extracted one fish from in there...



Here it is....





and on the menu tonight was....