Sunday 30 December 2012

CDC emerger...

I have been restocking fly boxes over the last few weeks.  One interesting aspect of that is by inspecting the various boxes I have it gives a pretty good review of what worked last year.  The box of mayflies and sedges   was pretty much untouched all year apart from the daddies.  The wet year meant that the crane flies had a bumper year and when the rivers were fishable the daddies did well. My  box of yorkshire spiders was virtually intact from last winter.  Whereas the small dries were largely unused apart from the tiny size 18 and 20 adams.

One box that was virtually empty was the CDC box.  F Flies and IOBO humpys were thin on the ground and my version of a CDC emerger had been completely exhausted despite tying some more misd season..  This fly has been a killer for me the last couple of seasons and seems as useful for Grayling as for Brown trout.  Tied in sizes 14 through to 18 .  It seems to be effective across the board.

Sometimes I include a light dubbing of rabbit around the root of the wing . It is a fly that has caught a very large proportion of all the fish landed by me this year.  A very simple tie but very effective .  I have recently started to reinforce the stripped herl body with UV resin .  The hooks can be the very light Varivas 2200 or my preference the Daiichi D900.  These are all tied with natural quill but of course dyed quill can be very effective...

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Happy Christmas

I wish all my readers wherever you are a very  happy Christmas and tight lines for the new year....
I wish you all a spring and summer of perfect river levels and soft summer evenings filled with rising trout.

  My evening fishing was perfection, kingfishers buzzed me and swifts screeched. Columns of mayfly spun their magic. Casts were straight and fish rose.  The evening blessed me with 8 or 9 fish all various sizes of perfection.  Cocooned between the deep banks and wrapped in the clear water for just a short time, like the river. I became a part of the whole. 


Sunday 25 November 2012

Autumn reflections....Amadou and floods

Well what a year we are having ,  our weather has been  even more unpredictable than usual for the UK.  At the start of the year I am posting a prayer for rain and the authorities are predicting a drought of biblical proportions and what did we get we got the wettest summer ever , as I sit here in my hilltop house three of the four roads out are flooded and there is water coming up out of all the drains instead of the usual way..
Fishing is something thats best read about at the moment and apart from fly tying none will be done for a few weeks .  Its an opportunity now to do some jobs and work some brownie points for next year.

Yesterday a reasonable day I indulged in one of my other pleasures , namely walks with my lab. We started out in the morning down my local beck which was fining down nicely .  I spent 15 minutes trying to get a shot of the sea trout taking a weir their struggle is fascinating I can sit and watch them for ages.  Anyway in the end took a short video as I couldnt capture a still.   As well as these smaller fish there were some in the 6 or 8 lb class going through.

Later in the day I decided a proper walk in the woods was in order ,  We went to a part I visit only a couple of times a year it is the area that has yielded the fungus for Amadou for me  I found a few poor specimens and some on a tree in a completely different area.

The interest around this amazing fungus is astonishing since posting about it on here a couple of years back the number of views the post gets and the number of emails asking questions is amazing .  I guess mainly driven by the Ray Mears type program and using it for fire lighting . As for drying flies which is the reason I started looking for it 30 years ago buy it.. Plenty available now at low cost.  Certainly its better than any I ever made..

.Mature broad leaf woodland is a special place.  Unlike the sterile conifer plantations around here these woods are a rich diverse place.  

Full of wildlife and a fascinating place to be .However one other thing that occured to me yesterday was how much damage the mountain bikers are doing to the forest tracks especially with this wet weather the erosion and damage is worrying .  There are deep rutted tracks in areas that didnt even have footpaths a few years back.

Last night it rained all night and taking ruby out in the half light this morning this is the state of the local beck.  Sorry about the pics it was very dark.  I couldnt even get to the weir on the video above the bank footpath was under water...

Our new fish pass is under that lot lets hope it survives.  There was nearly a metre of flood water on the gauge this morning if it survives this it should be ok for years...

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Pleased but irritated .......

Recently I  posted on here showing the completing of our fish pass. Following its completion there have been many anxious hours waiting to see if fish can use it.   I am now assured by several members that fish have been seen ascending the ladder.  Something that I am very pleased indeed to report but bloody irritated that despite visiting it on a number of occasions I am yet to see anything using it......

What I want now is some pics of fish jumping out of that top box.....

Wednesday 24 October 2012

October Grayling and winter comforts.

Shorter days and colder nights foretell the coming of winter there has been a frost and this week has seen mornings with shrouds of fog and fallen leaves starting to carpet the roads and verges “Taking of their clothes before going to sleep” was how my Grandad described autumn trees to me when I was a small boy. It is a time when all angling opportunities need to be seized, the slide into winter offers less and less opportunity for fly fishing. Both myself  and the grayling become lethargic once Christmas has arrived. January and February ..tend to be the time when more than any other I tie flies and contemplate the forthcoming season.  March is keenly anticipated but to often does not realise its is spring time

Regardless of the calender I view the first of October as the first day of Autumn, the trout season has now finished and the ladies of the stream the Grayling become my target for the next few months. I have come to regard them perhaps even more highly than the brown trout. Present in the local rivers since the last ice age they are a fish of simple beauty and offer an enigmatic quarry to pursue through the winter. They really do offer the river fly angler a quarry that reaches its physical peak as the rivers head into winter.

A recent weekend was my first in pursuit of the ladies. I started with dry fly but catching three brown trout on the bounce made me switch to a nymph to try and find the ladies. Above was the first Grayling of the season , small but showing the beautiful markings and delicate lines.

This out of season brownie was one of the few I caught that day . I do not recall a season end where the brownies have been in such superb condition some of the local becks seem to have been brimming with above average fish.  

So far this month I have fished little a solitary trip to the Yorkshire Dove and a visit the Ure with a guest when the river was high and coloured .  The wading was challenging and the fishing hard but a few fish were caught.   For the next few months fishing is confined to weekends and short visits.  Restocking depleted fly boxes is now a priority .  One recent development is courtesy of my good lady who after suffering years of me spending winter evenings in a different room to her tying flies has bought a new bureau for the lounge its tucked away in a little corner and half of it is all for me After years of working at the dining table I now have a fly tying station . 
as she sees it 

As I see it......
 Its next to the wood burner and comes with its own bottle of malt. Suddenly the winter doesn`t seem so bad

Monday 1 October 2012

At close of play take two....

last week I thought the weekend trip would be my last trip of the season but becks like mine that flow quickly can run of as fast as they rise. So on Sunday when I was out doing the monthly invertebrate monitoring I saw rising fish, which together with the clear water was enough reason to fit in one last visit, without it been the last day of the trout season .  I reckoned I could escape for maybe three hours down my beck.

I decided to fish an upstream section a part I only ever fish into Autumn /Winter.  The beck had recovered completely  from the spate of earlier in the week.  This time of year trout can really switch on to feeding and I reckon after two or three days of hiding out of the current they were certainly in the mood.

There was little surface activity a few fish were rising even though lots of small needles were on the wing .  I fished with a small klinkhammer a fly that has proved time and again to be as good at searching for fish as any. A good few decent brownies came to hand.   In fact several of them were as good as you can expect from this stream. For this beck a 1lb fish is a good one and all fight with a tenacity born out of the tough conditions.

An unexpected bonus was catching a Grayling in a stretch that I had long suspected held fish but so far I hadnt located any.  The fish was returned quickly without a picture today was about brown trout.  I will return to that swim further into the Autumn.

 Winter is fast approaching,  but unlike previous years the summer is ending with good water levels. The last spate has helped to clear the summer algae from the rocks and gravels with spawning approaching it has to be a benefit to the river.

The first signs of Autumn are clear falling leaves are now starting to scatter the stream bed.  It wont be long before the first frosts will fill this little stretch of river.

The few hours went quickly aboout a dozen brownies were the result.  The day finished when I needed to change the tippet but when I looked up saw the dimples of rain and looked at the time I realised that the season was finished.  The season had run its course and it was the time to leave the trout alone till next year.

Sunday 23 September 2012

Home water at the close of play

The trout season is just about over now,  in fact looking at the weather forecast and my diary for the next weekend I think its unlikely I will be fishing for trout again this year.  As visitors to my blog may have already learned I do like to start and finish the season on home turf.  This little beck is 5 mins from my door and has been a companion either as a playground or more for nearly half a century.  It is very very low at the moment but I felt it had one more days fishing for me it was a day for soft footfalls and long leaders...

I like nothing more than to start on the beach and walk upstream I have caught many trout in the first pool up from the beach a freshwater pool full of sea weed from the high tides. But working upstream the beck changes from an almost upland beck falling quickly along a rocky valley to a tumbling stream hidden in a tree lined valley all that in less than a mile.

The trout here are small but beautiful.  Rising freely to a well presented fly but soon hiding from a careless footfall.  Usually you get one chance at each little pool , the leader should be the only thing that lands on the pool in fact I often aim to drop the fly line on a rock at the tail of the pool so as not to disturb these tiny little oasis.  If you miss the first rise you rarely get another chance so you have to keep moving ...

 Within half a mile it chances from the beck above to the one below. Here it fishes like a totally different stream .  The fish hiding in the roots and dubs that are often no more than a yard wide.  The wildlife and plants change from  the wild orchids and slow worms of the open banks to the dragon flies and deer of the valley sides.

Pools like the one below start to develop after a few hundred yards into the woods the resident fish here are small rarely over a pound but they test the reflexes of anyone rising quickly . Today the fish rose well to a size 18 red tag. I reckon I hooked a third of those I rose.

When you do manage to persuade one to join you this is what they look like :  Perfect small wild brown trout  full finned and beautifully spotted. just as nature intended.

 Personally I cant think of a nicer way to sign of another trout season . A good match on home water. On a beautiful September day.  Now its Grayling time bring on the lady of the stream....

Monday 10 September 2012

A bit late but a day to remember.....

Well the trout season finally got under way , there is three weeks to go before the end of it but today I felt that the trout season has finally started .   In September you have to take the opportunities as the arise . Sunday the weather was set to be fine, My wife was working so I had the chance to escape for the day . When I arrived at the river it was low , in fact very low and very very clear .  Bright sunshine and the gentlest of upstream breezes with little rising .  It was going to be a tough one.  

Recently I had been outfished by my guest who was using a leader to hand set up.  The river here is difficult to fish drag free.  Many current lines across the river mean that achieving a  drag free drift is pretty hard unless of course you are directly downstream. I have been toying with french leaders for a while and been out fished a week or two ago had put the method back in my head.  looking at the river today I knew any edge I could get with presentation would make a real difference.  So a Greys Streamfllex 9ft 6 inch 3 wt was armed with a 3wt line with a 9m Hends french leader which was sightly cut back with about a 9ft 3lb tippet added .  I decided to really give it a whirl.

I have only used the 9ft 6 rod a handful of times since getting it in the summer in readiness for the grayling this winter.  It has impressed me.  I have really enjoyed fishing it.  The added length really helped control the line and with the french leader holding line of the water was a doddle.  The slight upstream breeze was just enough to help rather than hinder and I was very impressed by the delicacy of presentation the method allows. Things need to be slowed right down but casts can be manufactured .  Careful wading was required in the low water but once in range the lack of a fly line allowed supremely delicate presentation.  I am sure that the method made a huge difference on the day. 

The fish were spread right across the river I had quite a few smaller grayling and about 20 brownies with the best of them shown here.  I even had a few salmon parr. Many of the browns are showing signs of getting ready for spawning cock fish are starting to get kypes and females looking heavy bellied. All the fish were returned, the better fish after a quick snap. 

It has been a long time coming this season , the season started poorly with low water then for a couple of months it was a wash out.  The mayfly after so much early promise with the sheer numbers of nymphs in the sampling ended up as a non event.  The rivers have been up and down like the proverbial hoers drawers .  Its been a season that so far was very forgettable.  So it was great to have the sort of day that you can look back in the winter and remember with a smile. 

As for the french leader, well on the day I reckon it was ideal and made a huge difference and I will be fishing it in the future . Initially I had intended only using the approach for nymphing but  It works well for drys to. The fly I used was a size 16 CDC quill bodied emerger that I showed a post or two back its caught me a hell of a lot of fish this season. As for the method I will be using it in the future.  That is for certain.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

At last a new fish pass.....

This weir has appeared on the blog a few times , until the other day it was as far as the sea trout can get up our little beck.  For the last few years members of the club have worked hard to get the permissions needed from all the agencies to put in a fish ladder or pass. This picture shows it in fairly high water a week ago with the steelwork in position 

Last weekend a number of the members turned out to finish the job by getting all the wood planks in place to form the fish boxes, a good day helped by onlookers and a few cans of beer.

It was brilliant to see it all taking shape and lets hope that the fish are able to make suitable use of it.  Certainly the boxes should be deep enough to allow them to use the ladder.

It is only a small club with limited membership but it shows what can be achieved .  Most members have helped and some have put in many hours.  Here the temporary dam was removed and the water poured down into the boxes 

Then looking at the finished job,  The same method of construction was used in a pass on a weir downstream . That has lasted 20 years lets hope this one does as well...

I put a pic of this on a fishing forum and a lady member said she thought it looked pretty , I have to say I think shes right.....

Wednesday 22 August 2012

August ... A time for standing still...and flying crayfish

The last week or so have offered a couple of opportunities to be out on the bank , Saturday was a day that I had looked forward to for a while.  My daughter had expressed a wish to come with me I think more out of curiosity to see what I do when I vanish for hours on end than a longing to try it for herself.

My plan was to visit a favourite small stream, she appreciates  nature and animals and a trip here means farm animals in abundance and also kingfishers and well pretty much anything can turn up.  The plan was get her in some chest waders and in the stream with me, when you are in the stream rather than looking at it the whole thing takes on a different perspective.  I hoped she would enjoy the experience. The river was not ideal on the day still carrying loads of colour after a recent lift but I reckoned fish were a definite possibility.  The day ended with a few trout and grayling and It was lovely to share the day and hopefully she will want to come again .

A couple of days ago I visited the Yorkshire Derwent courtesy of a guest ticket.  I fished the river regularly as a member up till 12 years ago and have fished it from time to time since.  On the day alone exploring I discovered a few changes some excellent some not so good.  The river was in fine form, higher than you would expect mid August and still carrying a tinge of colour but looking very well.  A few new landmarks to see but the pools were pretty much unchanged.  The grayling seemed to be spread further upstream than I remember. Also the number of small grayling looks good for the future.

I fished for about 7 hours although as usual for me a good bit was lost, I spent some time chatting to a guy who I knew from my membership years ago and to the keeper .  Also time spent watching looking and thinking something that  seems to sometimes overtake actual fishing time these days , I long ago realised the value of just standing still and looking before blundering in to the river. On several occasions over the years my best fish have come after been stood mid stream perhaps changing tippets or the like when everything has gone quiet for maybe 5 or ten minutes, coincidence maybe but its made me realise the value of doing nowt but watch.  I always stand back and watch before approaching a new stretch after five minutes or so its surprising what you can see .  I will often cast a speculative cast across the grass so just the tippet lands on the near margin and have had many fish like that. On small streams a spooked fish can ruin a whole stretch of river before you even cast a line. I have never forgot  the advice an old guy gave me once watching me struggle to cast to the far bank.  " remember this is the far bank from over there lad.." Good advise that even now I am sometimes guilty of forgetting I found myself telling a young angler the other week to catch more he had to fish less and look more.  I wish someone had told me more often, pity its taken me 30 years to learn.

I caught my first blue trout on the day and only the second one in my life ,  it took a little dry fly with a ferocity that took me aback it seemed to hit the fly and carry straight on up about three feet out of the water.  Striking was not required all I had to do was keep up with the little begger it was more like flying a kite .  It seemed strange to catch one in a quiet Yorkshire stream I know the river stocks some rainbows and blues but they tend to sulk in the dark corners and deep holes waiting for a goldhead to land on there head.  I wasnt expecting it at all.

I was pleased to see a good stock of grayling.  I fished the dry fly all day a little size 18 stripped quill bodied F fly with a tiny bit of rabbit dubbing as a thorax my general go to fly when there is no major hatch and I concentrated on the faster glides and riffles.  I caught many small grayling and plenty of wild brownies and even a couple of big stockies that looked as though they were well established and had survived long enough to learn to rise to a fly as well as their wild cousins.

I was surprised to see a crayfish drop from the sky I think a sea gull had dropped it.  It had a nipper missing but seemed non the worse for the adventure .  It landed in very shallow water a few feet from me at first I thought it was dead but it was just stunned .Pity they cant talk just imagine what it was going to say to its family.  "you arent going to believe what happened to me"...

Sunday 12 August 2012

What sticks in your mind...

Its a been a strange couple of weeks.  I have had quite a few trips out since last encountering Mr and Mrs Perambulator . The weather lately has been kind and the fish have on the whole been willing.  The rivers are on the low side but not as yet on their bones , which considering the amount of rain we had this year is to be expected. I fished the upper Dove once more and I guess probably for the last time until the leaves are once again telling me winter is on the way.  In my view the upper waters and small becks around here are best fished early and late, the dog days of summer are a time when they should be left to survive the lack of water.  This year through the deluge they were my season savers and have earned a rest now.

I visited the Ure this week with a guest there were a few things that stuck in my mind from the day.  Firstly having not been for a while I remembered why I bother to make the 90 minute drive .The place is stunning, a river that even low as it was at the weekend had the ability to make you stop at the bank top and just lean on the wading staff and stare a few minutes. A Yorkshire Dales river in its perfect state sufficiently matured to have a certain tea stained grandeur but still bustling enough to have the riffles and glides beloved of the fly angler.   Much as I love the small rivers and becks, I have taken to this river big style and dont intend to give it up in a rush.

Sadly after hooking and landing a big raggy rainbow trout and dispatching it for the freezer and hooking and losing another that would have weighed a good 4 or 5 lbs, ( I had previously heard a rumour that about 4000 had been accidentally released into the river ) .  I wonder how anyone can be so bloody careless to do that, the rivers are under enough pressure as it is without someone dumping a few tonnes of fry eaters into the equation.  It beggars belief how such things can seemingly be so easily done. And pass of with so little comment.

Lastly on the day I took a guest ,  I hope he wont me saying it but he is an accomplished angler.  It does me good to fish with such people he caught many more fish than me but I enjoy watching fine anglers at work its like beating yourself on the back with a stick.  Watch them fish the places you fish and watch them do a better job of it than you. I would advise anyone who wants to improve to do the same.  It is like being prodded in the ribs with a stick much as the teachers at my Quaker boarding school used to do.  A pointed reminder that effort and application are more important than anything else and that the route to angling nirvana is through chanting the mantra....................achieve a drag free drift...........................and not through if only had that new 9ft sage.....

I am hoping that the next few weeks will provide a few more opportunities for fishing in the run up to Sept when for me the cream of the grayling sport starts,  I have some leave coming up and planning that the Ure will not be such a stranger to me.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

The evening Rise after the style of the Compleat Angler

After work yesterday I went to a lovely small section of the river Rye , A beautiful river made special for me by the wildlife, the fish and the sense of peace and tranquility.  After an hour or so fishing I was surprised to become aware of a couple of hikers on the bank behind me.  This is an accurate account of the following encounter with the couple of walkers related in an older style.....Why dont people use maps?

Mr and Mrs Perambulator: Sir , Pray tell me does this public footpath extend to Helmsley ( name changed but a place I was unfamiliar with )

Piscator : Good evening Sir, Forsooth I am afraid that you are mislead that footpath is not for public use. You will find the path extends only another half mile. There it stops.

Mrs Perambulator : Sir you are mistaken I know there is a public footpath beside this river and this is clearly a footpath. 

Piscator : Madam in that you are correct, however the path on which you stand is mown by the riverkeeper for the anglers convenience. The public path is on the other bank.

Mrs Perambulator: Sir no you are mistaken we will take your leave and continue.

20 minutes pass , A couple of Grayling are added to the tally….

Mr and Mrs Perambulator: ( now travelling back along the bank from wence they came)

Mrs Perambulator ( Stony face stares at Piscator)

Piscator ( smiles sweetly ) Touches the rim of his hat..

Mr Perambulator: Sir it seems you were correct about this path. It stops some distance hence.

Piscator ( trying to fish) Sir verily it does I did disclose that information to you.

Mr Perambulator: (After a pause ) :So can you tell me where we are

Piscator ( trying to fish) Sir you are currently walking east along the bank of the river Rye

Mr Perambulator: (After a pause ) Sir we are trying to reach Helmsley , Tell me how did you reach the river?

Piscator  ( trying to fish) I travelled here in my horseless carriage

Mr Perambulator; We saw such a device stationary at the old bridge but from wence did you come

Piscator ( trying to fish and losing patience) I journeyed from ancient York

Mr Perambulator: ( now sounding desperate ) But along which route and road ? I fear Sir that you are being less than helpful

Piscator ; ( having been distracted and just missed a rise now irritated) I journeyed along the route I always use, the roads are small and unmarked, merely farm roads the final track to the bridge is a private road across an estate . I always venture along it with windows shut as savage dogs roam freely and the gamekeeper has an itchy trigger finger. I suggest Sir that you venture back along the road you journeyed from. Or cross the bridge to the path on the far bank.

At this point there was added a sound to the babbling of the stream it could have been the harsh screech of a tawny owl from along the bank , but I fear it was the demanding calls of Mrs Perambulator.

Mr Perambulator ( after longer pause and through clenched teeth ) Sir you are most unhelpful we are visitors to these parts and we find your manner wanting.

Piscator ; Sir I have helped to the best of my knowledge of these parts , Such knowledge you chose to not partake of.

Mr Perambulator : Your knowledge is sadly lacking: We will be forced to take the track along which your horseless carriage journeyed:

Piscator : Sir as for Knowledge I at least know where I am and how to travel to and from this point. I also know that the evening rise is waiting , I bid you safe journey. But would suggest that you let Mrs Perambulator lead the way along yonder track. I was not jesting about the dogs.

There followed a longish silence I was dearly tempted to turn and look upon the countenance of Mr perambulator but feared my own countenance could be less than beneficial.  This silence was followed by the sound of fading footfall .

The evening was otherwise very beneficial to my health ,  Although still very high the river was splendid and  I managed to fool half a dozen fish..  I do hope that they got home safely....

Sunday 22 July 2012

Back in the river at last ...

Today was the first time for three weeks I have been able to go fishing.  Rain, high rivers and a foot that has been somewhat burnt..have kept me away from the rivers for what seems an eternity . Today was a day to get stood in a river and wave a stick.  A day to relish being out and enjoy some strangely seasonal sunshine. Although it was pretty breezy it hasnt rained for at least a couple of days.  But to be honest just been able to get some boots on again and chase some rising fish was all the medicine I needed. Jewels like the fish below cure damn near anything.

The Dove has been a saviour for me this season recovering quickly after rain and fishing well every time I visit it a truly  lovely river,  today there was very little hatching but the breeze and surrounding fields inspired me to start with a daddy long legs pattern , it was an inspired choice and successful from the start.  This little run yielded up two fish.

The fish are not large this is fishing in lilliput land,  A 12" Trout is a good one and the grayling are perhaps a little larger.  The fish are all wild and dont give themselves up .  They will take freely but do not tolerate heavy footfalls or a splashy cast.

After years of flirting with the short at 7ft and even ultra short 6ft and even a 5ft , I have decided that 7ft 6" is the shortest rod I ever need to employ,  It is for me the perfect combination of being short enough to get under just about anything whilst being just long enough to be able to combat drag and have some use in holding line of the water.  Its been a long haul getting there and many rods have come and gone but I think I am happy now.  

The Grayling were up for playing today I think they are truly the most beautiful of fish they were certainly in the mood for feeding they to had a taste for the daddies,  I ended the day with six of these all perfect .
 The day has been a real pleasure, no big fish no great challenges probably 20 fish some small and some really small but all welcome.  Furthermore I felt I earned every one and paid them due respect by returning them safely.

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...