Friday 31 December 2010

New (Fishing )Years Eve

Well here we are again.  Another year has gone.  Its always been said that Britain doesnt have a climate it just has weather. Well if this year is anything to go by we now have a climate ,  Long dry summer and a very cold winter.

The dry summer suits me, in the spring the smaller becks warm up quickly and fish beautifully and then as the levels in them gos down the valley bottom rivers get a settled summer and fish well through the into the autumn. 

The only thing that did badly suffer was our local beck . It has a very ltd catchment and soon suffers in dry years, also the sea trout dont run the beck unless there is a good spate for a few days and some years like this one  they hardly make an appearance at all. 
The grayling fishing has suffered this year despite a promising start.  The Autumn descended into severe cold and ocassional spates far to quickly. So either the rivers were out of sorts or the roads were damn near impassible. 

However on balance its been a good year there have been no memorable fish in terms of size.  But the fish seem to get prettier as I get older.  Some of the little wildies I have caught this year had colours like a handful of precious stones.

As for resolutions well I dont usually go in for them.  But for a few years I have considered one and am determined this year to do it,  I want to walk and fish one of the becks / rivers I fish from its very source as a trickle on the moors top down to the point it joins the main river Derwent in the valley bottom.

Generally I shall try to improve my skills and get out fishing more . That big Grayling has eluded me this year lets hope that next year it doesnt,

Thanks for reading my Blog this year I hope that you continue to read and enjoy......


Friday 24 December 2010

Another year ends but has a silver lining...

As this year draws to a close and I reflect on the season there have been plenty of lowspots.  But there have been high spots, which include fishing related ones.  This years mayfly hatch was extraordinary in its abundance and the summer drought whilst taking some of the smaller becks I fish down to their bones allowed some of the larger streams a long settled summer and they fished superbly.  I have fished from the tiniest of becks on the top of the moors and caught trout from pools the size of a dustbin lid and have fished a large river for the first time in many years,  that beautiful river Ure in North Yorkshire.  I intend to return to it many times. 

This years pre christmas freezing weather and  heavy snow have done little to extend the grayling fishing.  At first the roads were impassable and then the rivers themselves became choked with ice.  However last weekend I was determined to have one last fish in 2010. But as the report on my previous snow bound fly fishing expedition related I think that for me it needs to warm just a little for the fly rod to return.

So I decided to get the trotting gear out of the store.  However much I love fly fishing there is still sufficient of the small boy within me to love float fishing.  There is a real satisfaction in watching a small bright float been carried along by the current . Its path relating a constant report on the river bed,  that dragging weed bed the hidden snag that sudden depth drop of.  Properly fished and interpretated watching a floats progress is an absorbing way to pass a hour or two.  The constant anticipation of the bob and slide away of a take lends that endless anticipation. 

The fishing on the day as could be expected was slow and the water oh so cold,  But after a couple of out of season small brownies the the float once again slid away , a different fight this time not a trout for sure but what a grayling? , after a short tussle the answer came, a dace.  A fish I havent caught for years.  That beautiful lttle bar of silver came to me to finish the year.  I hope that it is an omen for the year ahead...and  however next year gos that it should at least end with a silver lining....

Friday 10 December 2010

Grayling and a nativity in the snow....

Tuesday had been booked as a days holiday for some months. The intention was a day with friends on a Yorkshire chalkstream for grayling. Sadly the weather scuppered it. However I was in desperate need of a day out as the cabin fever is really starting to bite. So I chose a venue that I reckoned I could get the car to and headed of. The water levels should be ok as the freezing temps meant no meltwater was about. After negotiating a well frozen country lane I arrived at the bridge and entered a winter wonderland.

The idea was to fly fish , temperature -6 when I arrived and I am going fly fishing , the wife is right I want my head looking at. Anyway spent ten minutes forcing myself into numerous layers of clothing. During this time I ask myself why are bootfoot neoprenes nearly impossible to get your feet into when its this cold..

As I waded into the first swim I expected that cold chill that you get immediately with summer breathables but hey no chill maybe this wouldnt be to bad. Good job short casting a nymph doesnt require unrestricted movement as I was walking like a michelin man. The water was clear and only slightly higher than normal, and started to search the deeper pockets with a heavy nymph. Second cast I was in, a magnificant tree trout , a sycamore I think. After carefully releasing it and sorting out the leader I was fishing again. As I waded along the beck I had that strange sensation that your been watched I looked up and a couple with dog were watching me. The look on their face and the shake of their head said it all. Silly old sod chest deep in a freezing beck with ice on his beard they must have let him out for the day.
Hoar frost by the beck

A Beck Grayling
To say the fishing was slow is an understatement the line kept freezing in the rings and little bits of floating ice pack kept dragging the line. Eventually I did catch one fish a tiny Grayling I was pleased to have some company and it avoided the dreaded blank. Although these last few years the fear of not catching seems to have diminished and the contentment of just been out there with a rod in your hand seems to have increased. Anyway by now the feet were cold so decided to move upstream. And warm up in the process.
As I approached a favourite swim I was stopped in my tracks as I crossed a field I was faced with an early Christmas nativity scene, granted there was no crib, wise men or shepherds but there was sheep and they did look awfully like they do on the Christmas cards the little barn was even decked out with genuine icicles.
Nearly a nativity scene
I fished on for a while but eventually the cold started to get into my bones as the temperatures and snow kept falling , so back to the car and a hot drink from the flask. After warming up by going through the intense physical exercise of getting out of the neoprenes I was sweating and reflecting that however hard they are to get into they are twice as hard to get out of……

Yorkshre beck in the snow

So what is the winter equivalent to mad dogs and englishmen.....

Wednesday 24 November 2010

A beautiful summer evening and its cold outside

The river is in beautiful condition the flow is gentle but the surface is alive with the rises splashes and dimples of the minnows, dace and tiny trout.
At the head of the pools and in the broken water the larger fish are holding station,  Across under the willow a large fish is rising he  is taking his time ( all large fish are he) The waters surface is alive with flies. Olives ,  Sedges and all manner of terrestials are there he doesnt need to rush.  Anything that needs him to move more than a couple of inches of line is ignored.

As I moved upstream wading gently and keeping the banks of weed between me and him . I was careful to take note of any fish between the banks of weed or tucked in under the bank. A spooked fish would shoot of upstream and scatter everything.  The river is shallow here at most a couple of feet but the clear water can give both the angler and the fish an edge it just depends who is the most careful.  The fly was selected,
I am a fan of the traditional patterns, a greenwells a size 16 just dressed with a hackle, no wing.  What with my bad tying and the leader twisting effect I leave winged patterns alone.  Casting is a gentle affair a gentle side cast with a roll start to lift of.  The first cast is perfect the fly touches down 2 ft above him the leader carrying enough slack to avoid any drag.  As the fly drifts over him I sense the quivering fin and he rises and sips in the greenwells. I tighten into him the rod bends as he gets his head down he turns to dive for cover but of course I am prepared side strain and a low rod tip force him back.  he darts back and forth between the weedbeds but each time I am ahead of him . After a few minutes he is beaten and I beach him . A few moments admiration and he is released.

The river Rye

As I work my way upstream several fish are taken.  My casting is the best its been for months . I am picking the right flies and everything is working as it should.  If only every visit worked as well.  The fly keeps floating and the tippet keeps sinking.  Its wonderful when everything comes together .  I love this river it offers a wonderful mix of long streamy glides and hidden corners . But the cream of it is the bridge pool, when approached from downstream this pool is hidden until you are almost upon it high banks and trees hide it from prying eyes.Tonight the evening sun was framed in the centre arch.  The tail of the pool was alive with rising fish but the fish here are the most difficult an upstream cast to the fish means that drag from the faster  water sets in almost instantly and wading upstream to keep your line of the water is a dangerous game .  The only way is to skirt the pool to the right there is room behind and above for a short backcast  

The Bridge Pool

I am tucked in under the bank the cast is an improvised spey sort of a thing.  False casting on these little streams is kept to a minimum the clear and shallow glides mean the fish dont miss much.  But tonight my casting is perfect. a roll and a single back cast with a bit of a haul and the line clears the high bank behind me, The forward cast stabs out and the quick check puts some slack onto the water.  A short drift over the small group of fish and a rise and take ,The group of fish scatter as the hook takes hold fish tear of in every direction.  The little bow waves marking their track like a pod of torpedos.  A short struggle and a lovely little wildy comes to hand , After exhanging looks we part company .

I take my leave of the river and retreat to the side of the pool ,  a seat is placed there and I enjoy a well earned pipe , a perfect end to a perfect day.  As I gaze out over the pool reality returns and I stare into the log fire the dog is sat looking at me and I wake from the day dream.  Outside the hail batters against the doors the wind shakes the windows and the reality of another Autumn evening  returns , I hope that next year my angling skills match my dreaming.

Sunday 7 November 2010

The Compleat Angler , More than just a book?

I love old Angling books , I have several bookcases devoted to them with some wonderful titles by distinguished authors, but one title stands above them all though.  The compleat angler is a wonderful title its a book that is surely unique among angling titles in the style of its writing and the historical period in which it is placed

The Compleat Angler

There cant be many people , anglers and non anglers alike who haven’t heard of the title . It’s an incredible book a title that’s many 100s of years old and known about by millions, and yet I would suggest very few people have actually read the book fully. Also It’s a title that all non anglers assume every angler owns and has read. It has almost become a book symbolic to the sport and with over 500 separate editions its one that can not be considered rare.
When you read the book it becomes apparent that the author was a real angler the descriptions of the fish and their habits is accurate and in some ways differs little from the standard stuff regurgitated time and time again in modern magazines and books. You cant help thinking that if you brought old Izaac here he would soon be catching with the best of them.
I have several copies of the work, some fine and collectable some that were given as gifts and yet one alone draws me back to it time and time again. It’s a very average copy but what makes it stand out for me is the connection that exists within it to the owners in the past . This book was given as a gift back in the 1920s to a man of the cloth no less and over the following few years the owner appears to have collected contemporary newspaper cuttings and articles regarding Walton and the compleat angler.

Izaak Waltons Cottage
The book seems to have notes and marks on every page, numbers refer to lines and paragraphs almost as if the owner is cross referencing the complete works.  I have been unable to conclude what the numeric references were or their purpose but the owner has obviousley expended much effort on noting the references. I hope that one day I will understand the notes .

The inscription inside the cover demonstrates a few things to me , namely people 90 years ago wrote with a finer hand  than they can today and also that books were valued more highly then than now. 

Throughout the book there are countless notes and references and  dates on specific pages which would suggest that the book was also used as a reference by the owner to revisit the places that are described in the title. I read these notes and I feel that there is a connection not only between me the reader and the author but also with the previous owner. Now I wonder how many contemporary titles will have the same effect on those that own the book.  How many modern titles will inspire owners and readers to follow the owners footsteps after many hundred years?.

His love of the title was obviousley no secret as the card below appears to have been sent to him by a nephew , that is judging by the cards inscription.
As for Izaak himself I wonder what thought went through his head when he decided to write the book there was no format to be followed , few other titles to compare or mimic just a a wish to set down the knowledge that was there.  personally I love the style of the book, The journey that the author takes you on and the discussion between the two main characters .  Perhaps it is that journey that inspired the former owner to retrace some of his steps.

I feel that as the custodian of this title I should add to its history. So this year I shall be hunting out a couple of the places referred to and illustrated in the book and adding a new note to that effect. Sadly my writing will not be as good as the inscription and modern day newspaper cuttings in the Times regarding the state of Waltons cottage are rare now but I feel that as long as my additions are in the spirit of the previous owners the the additions will be worthwhile…

Monday 1 November 2010

Saturday on a Yorkshire Beck looking for Grayling

Saturday morning was spent in the office. The demands of the job make such times a necessary evil. However this presented an opportunity to have a couple of hours Grayling fishing on the way home. Several of the waters I fish are strategically placed along my commuting route this allows me to maximise lifes fishing opportunities. I had intended a trip to the Ure but the prospect of the tortuous route home due to road works and diversions made me change my mind ,

The little beck I headed to was accessible and unlikely to be out of sorts due to the recent rain. Arriving at the layby the presence of a car I knew meant that at least one or two were fishing the stretch. A quick phone call to the owner confirmed his position on the river. So I knew where to head .
Autumn sunlight on a yorkshire beck
The beck was a little up above summer levels and looked better for it . The rocks had been scoured of the algae and the water had that nice clean sparkling quality like the water had been freshly made. The low water of summer seems to lack that vibrancy and sometimes seems to even have an oily quality. The trees are starting to wear their summer livery now the golds and russets are taking over from the greens of summer. Those colours are one of the very few things I like about this time of year.
Anyway into the river for the first time this year wearing neoprene waders to combat the autumn chill. A size 14 klinkhammer ( I use this fly to much in the Autumn but I have such confidence in it) it was cast into every likely run as I worked my way upstream. I love this type of fishing, casting to where fish should be instead of to rising fish tests your belief in your own judgement and of your fly. As usual the first rise took me by surprise and the fly was in the air again on the backcast before my brain awoke to the rise.

Sharpened now the next rise brought a small wild brown to hand . It came jumping about like a possessed rainbow trout a small fish that looked several sizes to small for the big klinkhammer, I continued up the river exploring the rapids and pools I took a couple of decent stocky browns from the deeper holes but no Grayling seemed to want to show their face. I missed lots of rises it seemed that a smaller fly didn’t raise the fish but a larger one did but made them a lot harder to hit. Eventually one very small grayling gave itself up it was in barely 12 inches of fast water.
A beck grayling

I will fish with bugs into deep pools but I am amazed every winter as to how long the ladies keep rising in the faster water. The afternoon lasted maybe three hours of fishing, no large fish , not even any medium fish but the pleasure of been outside in the autumn sunshine made the day a treat.

Sunday 17 October 2010

Grayling. Shy ladies and some not so shy.

So here I am with a winter grayling ticket on the Ure at Masham a stretch I have wanted to fish for many years and its the end of the second week in October So a trip to the river was way overdue.  The trouble is I need a pass from my Sergeant major.  Now evening passes during the summer are easy to get.  a willingness to decorate and help earns sufficient points to get an evening pass which is all you need in June and July , but in October and November what is needed is a full days pass..This is a different problem tact and diplomacy are needed .  However after convincing Sergeant major that a girlie day shopping with number one daughter was way over due the pass was stamped.

Now I have the pass and a reasonable weather forecast so the day is set. Arise early and walk dog,  Then away towards the river only to be met with problem number 1 a market town along the way is the scene of a war time recreation celebration.  many hundreds of of people in 1940s clothing and jeeps and trucks all decked out in 1940 kit.  So wastes 30 mins getting through the choked town on route and then 20 miles further on they have a bridge out and theres a 15mile diversion hope this isnt a omen for the day ahead.  Eventually arive at the river.  First impressions are its worth the journey

River Ure at Masham

The Ure is much bigger than the streams and becks I usually fish, but that was part of the attraction.
The river combines long slow pools and some nice rapids and deep run offs . It looked delightful but a bit daunting for one who is used to be able pick out the fish holding areas at a glance on the smaller rivers. The trees are starting to show Autumn colours and the air has taken on the feel of Autumn. "Thin" is how my father always described Autumn air, I think I understand what he means.  The river looks beautiful and is the colour of weak darjeeling.  I had read about the tea colour the river shows and it is correct definately a darjeeling.  Its a beautiful place I had only walked a 100m and had seen two kingfishers generally the river has a lovely quality although on first inspection there seems to be little weed growth and the wading looks interesting due to the nice smooth looking boulders that seem to be scarttered everwhere. 

River Ure

I spent most of the first hour just heading up stream and inspecting the water looking for the holding areas.  As the river is still at summer level the next time I come it may well be a good bit higher so any observation made now will be useful in a month or so when the river is more cloured and the levels higher.  A few minutes after the wind put in a good gust the leaves were thick on the water surface and the fish were rising among them.  So in I went with fine tippet and an aphid pattern. 

The Ure
After working my way along the stretch above casting to rising fish under the overhanging trees results were trees 3 small out of season brownies 4 and grayling nil . Hope the ladies arent going to be shy today, when I reached the end of  the stretch I left the river to find this lovely little fishing hut.  First thought was I wasnt issued a key but amazingly door was open and inside was a table with a few glasses and a visitors book, Opening the first page the book had the entries you would expect regarding fly hatches fish caught etc written in well educated hand however it was also obvious that the hut used by the local teenage population and judging by the entries not all the local girls are shy , Several  girls are mentioned by one presumes the local boys. I shall hope that the entries are due to over active teenage imaginations and are not factual as one young lady was mentioned in glowing terms by several hands. I have to say that the entries did make interesting reading maybe there is an idea that could be copied in other catch return books as it was more interesting than many but there again perhaps not .

Below the bridge at Masham

Anyway moving on.  After returning to the car I tried a different section of the river and at last the ladies came out to play a klinkhammer into a nice deep fast run brought four fish in quick succession, its amazing how freely the ladies rise to a dry but they are frustrating as they seem to miss the target so often, the first three I captured managed to get back into the river before I could take the traditional fish in hand shot. So it would appear some of the local ladies are shy .  Eventually I decided that the best way was to save their blushes was to take a quick pic before I took the next from the river , so there you have it a Ure Grayling shy maybe but pretty non the less. Cant wait for the next visit

A river Ure Grayl;ing

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Making Amadou , Fomes fomentarius or the Horses Hoof Fungus

As the autumn leaves start to fall and been out in the woods with the dog reminded me that once again it is Fungi season. As I am trapped indoors and havent been anywhere interesting fishing for a few weeks I thought would post on my blog a piece I did a year or so ago for a Fly fishing forum on Amadou. A fungus that is of interest to the angler is Fomes fomentarius or the Horses hoof fungus. Anglers know it better as the plant that gives us Amadou.

This is the bracket fungus that is the source of Amadou that wonderful material for drying your dries....
every year I take a few brackets and make some amadou for me and a few buddies.  This the same fungus that makes firelighting tinder.
The time of year is right for the brackets to be at their best. On Sunday morning myself and number one dog visited a stand of silver birch trees that have always provided a few brackets for the production of amadou.

Fomes fomentarius or the Horses hoof fungus

The fungus fruiting body  is usually found on dead or dying Silver birch trees ( The fungus actually infects and kills healthy trees then lives on the dead tree).  So you need to find yourself a nice mature wood that isnt kept to tidy I have been taking mine for about 10 years from the same stand of trees. But the only advice I can offer is that it seems to be most common on the edges of woodland and in areas that arent to wet. Northern hillsides seem good, Once you have found an area that produces it keep the area to yourself and dont take to many brackets of the same tree let it mature to spread for future years. This stuff lasts for years and I tend to give bits away as its free so usually end up with none for myself and have mates that have had bits ive given them for years.

The selection is shown below, the largest and darkest was collected as an example of what not to get, the ones you want are the lighter grey ones around 4 or 5 inches across or even smaller but these are all good examples for you to recognise .

Fomes fomentarius or the Horses hoof fungus

I have taken a saw cut across three of the brackets to show which is the layer you want. Its the fawn layer that looks like chammy leather that is underneath the outer grey shell this area varies in thickness . The area that looks like rays needs to be cut away
This the oldest bracket and the layer under the outer skin is very thin and not really useable

This one is a cracking example and shows a nice thick layer of fairly soft material
Amadou layer

The first stage of preparing it is to trim up the amadou section. After trying various methods I have decided that the best way is to first trim of the hard grey layer and the best way for me is with a sharp serated carving knife. It isnt to hard to do but if you try and use to old a bracket you need a hammer and chisel. I think that is where many people struggle. Doing it this way allows you to have a good firm grip on the rest whilst yu are removing the hard outer layer and you end up with just having to cut of the rays under the amadou layers, A good tip when you are out looking for this stuff is if you cant get into the grey outer layer with a sharp penknife you are going to struggle with the rest of itYou can see the layer of amadou now is at the top of the brackets and is already looking like the finished product. Next all the soft tube like gills underneath the top layer  should be cut away leaving the layer of Amadou.

The Trimmed up amadou layers need to be soaked in a washing soda solution,  This cleans up the pieces and removes all the black spores and also allows you make the pieces flexible . Once the pieces have been soaking for a week in washing soda solution they need to be softened up.. I have found that hammering while they are wet rather than dry gives best result I use a fairly heavy hammer and just let the weight of the hammer do the work if you arent careful you can just mash the stuff and when it dries it just breaks up...

After initial hammering the pieces spread and become softer.

Amadou nearly finished

Different pieces need different times I have found that old really hard pieces are better soaked for a week than gentle hammering to just soften then soak for a week, and so on...The older and harder the longer it will take After just a week soaking a bit of a beating and a thorough rinse out this piece is already nice and soft and very absorbant and is very close to being finished


Once this is dried I will trim to shape and glue two seperate squares on to a leather or fabric backing , A ringlet and zinger completes the job,

Thursday 30 September 2010

Another season passes and here come the blues….

I don’t know if I am alone but for me the passage of another year is marked as much by the passing of the fishing season as by Christmas and New year. I struggle for the next few months the longer nights make the hour commute a real task and I crave the early dawns of summer. I miss fishing the evening rise and watching the morning mist. The gloom seems to descend now and is only briefly lifted by the Christmas celebrations. The dark cloud only starts to clear in February, it always seems that it is the first week in February when the days really start to visibly lengthen and by then the new season can be really anticipated.

The end of the trout season is only softened by the beginning of the grayling fishing. This season I have a new grayling river to explore. I have a winter membership on the Ure in the Dales it is a river with a great history for the lady of the stream, sadly like many northern rivers the ladies seem to be much smaller now than in decades gone by. Not a reflection on general society it would appear. I am hoping that the anticipation and exploration of the new river will ease the winter misery.

Also I intend to go about my winter fly tying in a more organised manner I have even listed the flies and sizes that are need to replenish my boxes. I will try to approach the tying in a organised manner and not spend all winter experimenting and then realise with a month to go that I have tied non of the go to patterns I rely on. I have invested in a new vice a Peak model from the USA so as its American I guess I should say vise. This was a substantial investment for a Yorkshire man with deep pockets and short arms. But it looks like a fine piece of kit that will last as well as the current one that I have had for 20 yrs.

Highlights of the year?  It was a very good year generally for upwinged flies with some amazing hatches.  With a mayfly hatch as good as any I have seen and the best for at least ten years. It was a very long dry summer that really suited some of the rivers I fish., Lowlights well the dry summer decimated some of the other streams I fish. So I guess it just gos to show you cant have it all ways….

Sunday 26 September 2010

The rains have come but the sea trout havent...

At last my local beck has seen a decent rise of water.  The water a couple of days ago was about a 18inches up and it did coincide with some decent high tides  but it was running very very dirty .  It has been dry for months and the accumulated filth and debris was been wshed down.  The water is fining down now so took the rod and the dog for a walk down to the head of the section where the sea trout can get to.  If they had come up with the spate they would be visible....

The water certainly looked good but there was no sign of any fish,,,The next pool down is where the fish ladder is. The fish get held up here. I tried every pool with the little mepps and different lures to get to the depths of some pools. It should be said I dont like spinning but this water needs a bit of metal chucking to get the best from it. Anyway not a touch not a sight of a fish.  I guess the children of the tides are like this sometimes they come sometimes they dont .  

I have fond memories of this pool . I caught my first sea trout from the beck in here and remember one early morning sitting and smoking whilst pondering next move and had the pleasure of watching an otter swim up through the bottom pool and catch a trout in it and carry it up onto the cill of the weir using the fish pass as a ladder,  It was felt quite privileged to be able to sit and watch it like that. However this morning despite spending a good while fishing and watching the only person having any luck was this foul thing : Anyone got a gun.....

Friday 17 September 2010

Mayfly and more mayfly

Mayfly were in huge numbers this year .I have just come across these videos on my camera. This was the second week of june this year and was taken during an evening trip to the river Rye. The conditions were not ideal and if I am honest the superb quality of the fishing at the same place just a week before was making me reticent about repeating the trip. I felt that it just couldnt match up to that evening . On reaching the river it was running a little up on the previous week and was carrying some colour , not ideal for the dry fly. But I was here and not in the office so down to the river .

To say I was astonished by the evening is an understatement the hatch of mayfly was the heaviest I ever remember and these videos do not in any way do justice to the evening , the fish rose and rose and very many fish came to hand. Only to say its an evening that I will find easy to remember and will call upon the memory to ease those long cold winter evenings when the countryside seems bereft of life...

It would be easy to say how i deceived fish after fish with skilled deception , but for once it was easy a simple mayfly put anywhere in the glide resulted in fish throwing themselves on it with abandon. The description "duffers fortnight" is right enough .

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Fishing stuff, memories and tackle tartness:

There is a debilitating condition called Tackle tartness. A peculiar condition that afflicts us anglers turning that sensible “need” sense in your head into that troublesome “want “ emotion that gnaws in your brain to convince you that the latest shiny sage rod or new fancy reel or whatever will improve your fishing. I suffer with it from time to time especially in the depths of winter when the lack of been out there fishing combined with the feeling that you cant tie any more flies. Results in time spent dreaming and wondering and perusing magazines and web sites.

It occurred to me recently that this condition must be truly a modern phenomenon. Among my most treasured physical possessions is the rod and reel that belonged to Grandad who is sadly no longer with us. The rod he left me is a magnificent Greenheart and Lancewood Scarborough sea rod and 8 inch diameter mahogany and brass Scarborough reel. He could cast a good 80 yds with that which I can tell you is no mean feat.

I fished with him often on the rocks around the town when I was growing up, He showed me the fishing marks and explained the effects the tides and weather had on those places. He was the most perfect of Grandads he taught me to fish was a good friend and was full of stories of the Somme, Ypres and Paschendale and it only occurred to me recently that here was a man who fished pretty much his whole life through with one rod and one reel. Its hard to believe it even after I wrote it but I have memories of him telling me he bought the rod and reel when he returned from France after the war and he was still using it up till the time Grandma wouldn’t let him fish anymore. I went with him the last time he fished. I wish I had a decent memory of the time but sadly I don’t. Incidentally Grandad always referred to WW1 as the war, Not the great war or the first war. He didn’t much talk about WW2 I think mainly because the Army wouldn’t let him join up as he was to old . He took that personally I am sure he still had unfinished business with the Germans even till the time he died.

But the point is he was a man who loved fishing but yet the “stuff “ The rod and reel were tools, a means to an end what made him a good angler (and he was) was the hard won stuff, the local knowledge understanding the tides and the weather knowing which marks fished on what tides, and the real value of that stuff is that it can be handed down or passed on. Give a learner another fancy rod or whatever and he is still a learner give him some hard won knowledge and he becomes an improver and is then on a better pathway. I restored the rod recently, Varnished the wood and polished the brass and it now hangs on my study wall It hangs above the fly tying desk and this winter when the tartness starts gnawing I shall look at the rod and convince myself that I would be better studying Falkus or Edwards and trying to learn things instead of buying more stuff. Well I will try anyway…….

Reasons to be cheerful part 3

One of my favourite Artists from the 70s was Ian Drury and the blockheads .And after a long driving session a few days ago when I explored m...