Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Things you learn..

 It is an interesting truth that the best why to learn is from someone who is better than you either from listening or observing .  It is also an interesting truth that having to do things differently and getting you out of the routine of a comfort zone can reap rich rewards too.  In the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of the company of two fine Grayling anglers. The first reminded me about fishing the Duo.  

To be honest I never much liked the duo I never really liked fishing with the Klink as a dropper, on larger open rivers ok but on small streams with many overhead snags I found that tangles were to much of a hazard.  and with the New Zealand style of the hook bend I never could bring my self to trust that the dropper would not drop of.  Anyway I had seen the patterns with a 2mm rig ring caught in at the bend within the dressing so tied a few and gave it a go. I was impressed by the rig,  easy to cast and delivery was more accurate.  On my next trip out that rig brought me some success and the change of presentation was I am sure part of it allowing me to fish a section of river more effectively , but the point is more that I am as guilty as the next guy of getting into a routine ,  Yes I do fish the usual methods and catch enough but it does demonstrate that I and I suspect others get into a rut and we all need the proverbial kick up the arse

As well as getting into a rut method wise for those of us that fish the same water regularly I would hazard that there are many like me who on every trip fish pretty much the same runs and pools .  Now on Sunday a friend accompanied me , now the truth is he is a more experienced and much more efficient grayling angler than I am and so doesn`t need my assistance but as a guest in my book he gets to fish the favoured runs and glides that I would prefer,  So that leaves me steered towards the  areas that usually I walk past because the access to the river was poor or historically its an area that hasn`t really delivered .  I have fished this stretch of water now for about 15 years so I know it fairly well.  

Anyway the point is I found myself fishing different areas in different ways and actually caught my best of the day from a corner that I had not really tackled seriously for years as I figured the wading was to deep and the silt too soft  after trying it a few times over the years.  But I guess as most of the river changes constantly that little area had shallowed of over a winter and what was head high was now just above waist high but wade able. The lesson is keep things fresh and your catch rates improve.  

I am definitely a pleasure angler , a keen one I grant you but truth is I know that my casting needs to improve I also have been told my work rate needs to improve, My answer to that at the time was If I had to work hard to catch fish them my advisor at the time could stuff it where the sun don`t shine , these days stopping and watching wildlife and even better a chat with another angler is all part of the day for me. Another friend has a successful angling business , so successful he hardly ever fishes himself, that to me would be the worst result imaginable but I also appreciate that his success is down to the effort and time he commits. But after saying all that I love catching fish anyone who knows me has my permission to kick my arse if I claim that blanking doesn`t matter.  It does matter but just not as much as it used too and it amazing how little extra effort is needed to improve your catch rate and enjoyment ,

 I have spent the last few years working hard to build a small business and that is what working hard is for.  Fishing is so I can keep my head sane to keep working hard.  As for fishing hard generally I have found that for me less is more, on the rivers taking your  time and casting less often has increased my catch rate,  If I had to give any prospective small stream angler advice it would be just stand still and watch for a bit,  it is amazing how often that single bit of advice helps. Usually when I wade into a new river section before I start to work upstream I stop and take of the fly, change tippet well you know the rest but its amazing how often in that pause you spy a rising fish or even just notice an interesting current, even before that its a good rule to stop and look a minute or two before you wade in , How many times have we waded into a stream to see a bow wave of a fish that you had missed speeding upstream spooking everything else?. My very first fishing mentor 50 years ago told me of for always just trying to cast to the far bank, he pointed out that from other side this was the far bank. It was a lesson I never forgot. 

 Fishing should not be hard it should be leisurely and pleasurable or at least it seems that to me. It is also something that is aesthetically pleasing.  I think part of the reason why I have fished so much with Bamboo and silk during the last few summers is more about the quality of the experience and less about technical excellence and the numbers game.  It could of course be that I am simply getting older and have fished for so long that there is simply no urgency any more also cane rods and silk lines do seem to slow everything down and enhance the experience.  

Friday, 21 October 2022

What a strange back to front Season

 So that`s it then the 2022 trout season done and dusted.  " dusted" being the operative word. Never have I seen so little rain and the rivers so low and here we are in October with warm dry weather still.  local wetlands and ponds are in many cases completely dried out .  It has been a strange old year and my first trip of the Trout season resulted in a fine catch of ....out of season  Grayling all of which were caught on dry flies it was a perfect opening day except that I couldn`t catch the correct species.  Now here we are a couple of days after the season has ended and my first trip of the season started on a local river and all I could catch was trout .  

In fact if I continued I could have probably had my best days trout fishing of the season .  I reckon the recent rise in water levels had triggered them to feed.  They certainly were beating the Grayling to the nymphs. In the end I decided to up sticks and move to another favoured stream just 10 minutes away .  This stream is small , overgrown and like the other is completely un-stocked. In form though quite different the first has a bed of slab rock limestone .  High water quality but not a lot of silt and fine sand . Where as this stream flows through clay and gravel beds .  Lots of fine aggregate in the water course with lots of good invert and spawning areas. It can have an amazing mayfly hatch and has a lot of BWO.

The first couple of runs didn`t show any fish and was initially taken aback on how much colour it was carrying , I did catch a couple of trout but kept moving to known Grayling lies and eventually got into some small fish,  finally hitting on the fish below which was the first proper fish of the day and then on on the very next cast  the fish at the top hit. At 15 inches and at about a 1lb a very good fish for the river. 

It was an enjoyable day ,  but I fear that even on the following day the extra water was dropping away fast,  We really do need some serious rain quickly it needs to last a while as successive dry years have depleted the aquifers . ideally a month of heavy snow would be good. then a long gentle thaw ,  Then maybe a very wet spring just be certain.  So if you are listening God, lots of wet weather please. I know you are close as you are still working from home.. In Yorkshire ,,,

Friday, 16 September 2022

At last we have some rain so my first and last trout session.


This summer has seen the worst drought for many decades, for the last couple of months the rivers have shrunk alarmingly , however a week on the Greek island of Crete did remind me of how even in a drought year the climate here is still very green and temperate.  This last week or so has at last seen some rain and the rivers have settled .  So awarding myself a day out of the office for good behaviour I went to one of my favourite little Yorkshire streams.  As you can see from the pics it was still carrying some colour ,  in fact the first river I visited had a couple of cars already parked up and as I had other places that may be quiet I moved on , then the second was very coloured , I decided that another main feeder must have had some serious water in it , Luckily for me I have access to four stretches of river within a ten mile circle.  

The season generally has been pretty poor for trout fishing the first day of the season started amazingly apart from the fact all I could catch was out of season Grayling.  Anyway this week there were no rising fish so nymphs were the order of the day and a little size 18 bead head did the trick larger nymphs were ignored.  This fish was the prettiest and also the hardest scrapper these wild fish are very strong and it needed a big bend in my old Hardy featherweight to keep it out of the roots . When i saw that the little nymph was right in the neb as I drew it towards the net I blessed the soft action of the fly rod .
I guess saying that about the fly rod people will immediately say its rubbish but The reason why I use such soft rods for this close range fishing as they do allow you to apply good pressure whilst also protecting fragile tippet and tenuous hook holds ,  I am not a great fan of hardy rods but this one is exceptional.  For the same reason I am a great fan of the Sage Circa range ,  they are a bit to marmite for many but I love them. 

I was expecting that the day would end up being about Grayling ,  I sometimes think that there are more grayling in the river than trout ,  this season it has certainly felt like that , today only two showed there face . there were plenty visible as many sardine size fish were rising in the skinny water areas. 

In the end today the day was about trout I was surprised getting into double figures of fish  and the two shown were very welcome .  Generally each season I expect a good few of this quality but this year even the mayfly failed to wake them up. 

As the pic shows the river was still carrying some colour and it was dropping in level fast as the dry ground soaked up the water ,  We need a month or two of serious rain to refresh the ground water . lets hope we get a wet winter ,  

I have to say that seeing that trout makes me think I should make it the last trout trip of the season ,  So the first really decent day of trout fishing may also be the last of the season.  but that would be a very hasty decision. Lets see what the last couple of weeks of the season brings ,

Friday, 19 August 2022

An old itch is bothering me,

 I was recently out in the car between home and York .  I drove over a bridge over the river Derwent at a place where I fished probably 35 years ago . As I wasn`t in a rush I decided to stop and take a look at the place I caught my first Yorkshire Barbel.  It was a memorable and strange day that has stuck in my mind for several reasons firstly for the fact I remember well that I had set out to catch some decent chub , So the capture of a first Barbel was a surprise , a modest fish by current standards but at just shy of 5lb a good first fish , sadly in those days a camera did not always go with me fishing so all that is left is a memory of watching my little samson scale not quite hit 5lb  , What was also a surprise was hearing a voice behind me as I lifted the landing net under the fish and turning round to see Michael Clegg of Cleggs people stood on the bank behind me now those young readers will not know him but he was an interesting character a professional museum curator and naturalist  who had a TV show travelling around interviewing and meeting people.  There he was,  large bearded and imposing smiling and offering congratulations.  He sadly confirmed that they had missed the fish capture being filmed but nonetheless he stopped for ten minutes he was interested in the fish as it was the first he had seen in the Derwent and he stayed for a chat until his camera man told him it was time to go .  Was a shame that I didn`t make it on to the TV , my Dad was a great fan of his show he would have been capped ( Old Yorkshire Expression ) to see Son on the TV ,  Sadly not to be .  

This is Clegg, older readers may well recall him for the Yorkshire TV series 

Anyway enough rambling the point is that standing there on the bank a few weeks ago has irritated that old itch to do a bit more coarse fishing , To that end I have opened communications with the club that now runs the stretch of river and am hoping that membership may be a possibility as early as next year .  I even spent an hour in the garage finding where my coarse fishing stuff is stored , It is probably about 20 years since I have done any serious coarse fishing ,  apart from occasional Grayling trips in Winter the rods are still there MK4 Avons , Float rods all sorts Reels too Mitchells , Shimano all carefully put away certainly the lines will need replacing . Luckily the bag with keep and landing nets has been hung up high above mouse range.  Even the bait droppers and float tubes were still good to go.  The seat box was given away years ago ,  Anyway these days I think my rear end and back need something a bit more comfortable .  As I unboxed and reviewed everything on the patio in the sunshine my Wife happened past ,  She just looked at the mountain of stuff , looked at me , shook her head and went back inside after so long married she knows the signs...

The Fly fishing will always be my first love but well I keep getting that itch so watch out on the blog next year for a bit of Coarse fishing ,,,,,,

Thursday, 4 August 2022

Fascination of Vintage gear and a little fishing report...

 I am a member of a couple of online forums and have been for very many years and it has be apparent that there is a growing interest in the use of Bamboo rods  and silk lines .  But also an increasing interest in the use of vintage gear ,  The bamboo rods that I own are primarily recent builds but I also own an old Fosters and a South bend 290 with two tips from Thomas Turners , it was built around 1950 So actually older than me .  Lovely rod and it is still as straight as a die and casts beautifully. Also I acquired it recently for a little over £200 so great value ( Cane shouldn`t cost the earth )   it is also actually a pretty useful rod, one river I fish is very open and plastic 3 and 4 wt lines get blown about something wicked , that rod is designed for a 5 /6 wt,  I use a silk DT5.5 on it . It has a similar line diameter to a 4 wt and deals with the wind with much less effort.  So when its blowing that is what I pick up.  As the rod is a 7ft 6 inch its at home on most of my local streams .  Even though its a 5/6 even modest fish still put a nice bend in it.  

I came across an interesting article about this very subject today here is a link to it, It was one of those reads where I found myself nodding and smiling agreement to myself , I just thought I would pass it along. Also there are cane bargains to be had I noticed a unused and mint MR Zhu 7ft 4 wt with two tips went for £120 on ebay the other day , They are a very fishable rod and a great way to experience that first cane buzz.

This year I have come across a number of guys fishing cane / bamboo and also a few last year but I am struggling to recall any similar experiences over the previous 10 years. A good friend has a couple of "modern " bamboo rods and I recently came across a guy fishing A fosters cane rod that belonged to his Grandfather,  I don`t foresee that cane will overtake carbon ,  but there is for sure a growing minority of anglers that are tiring perhaps looking for something different out of the game, 

 I am not saying that I only fish bamboo now , my last trip was on a very low Yorkshire stream where I explored the upper and more overgrown stretches and for that day my weapon of choice was an Orvis Superfine touch 6ft 2 wt, which to those who are not acquainted with them is delightful full flex range of rods that are probably among the sweetest that Orvis produced , sadly  long since discontinued.

The run below was interesting , a difficult back cast and I was sinking into the mud at a fair rate as I cast and landed this fish first cast, my cast was a good one ( amazing for me ) I landed the fly about 4 inches from the far bank where the tiny patch of grass is next to the briars.  I didn`t see a rise but there had to be a fish there its just a perfect lie. the fish came up and nailed it instantly happy days as it was the best fish of a tough day which had the little two weight well hooped over.