Sunday 27 December 2015

Flooding concerns.....

Despite saying that I wouldnt be posting for a while the flooding that has so devastated areas of Yorkshire and the rest of the North over the last few days stirred me to put the metaphorical pen to paper .  I have huge sympathy with those that have been directly affected by the flooding and hope that those poor unfortunate victims are both asisted now and will in the future be better protected,.

But I fear that once again the opinion of how to provide that protection will make us  hear the clamour for higher longer and more expensive flood defenses . Which I also fear will do little else but shift the problem further down the catchment.  The same with dredging  a hugely expensive and futile operation , especially without correct upland and famland management to avoid silt erosion and depostion.

The arguements and expert opions are well known and well publisised but seem largely to fall upon deaf ears .  The few that seem to be willing to put their heads above the parapets and dare to suggest that perhaps the answer may lie in upland management and holding the rain where it lands are dismissed as radicals .  Yet the experts agree and the governement ignores them, desperate not to upset the landowner and farming lobby . The governent not only denies the experts it even kills its own EA report which states that dredging is not the answer

The health of our watercourses gos beyond the angling community, its wildlife and the people that live along and around it .  Isnt it about time when we can send men into space that we learn to manage the rainfall that falls on the land,

All that water in the picture is simply rain that fell on the land and then we contrived to allow it to run off the land quickly and flow through a network of rivers that we have managed into highly effective drains , the conclusion is obvious . It reaches a pinch point which is usually a valley bottom  around a settlement and bursts its banks . Its obvious to me surely its obvious to everyone.   Ignore the global warming and climate change red herring the facts are plain and simple but it seems the government just cant see them.

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Having a bit of a break... but as they say.. I`ll be back

If you find yourself landing on my blog for the next few  months . Its entirely possible that you will see absolutely nothing new.  Now this may make a refreshing change for you or you may feel a need to rush about wailing knowing that one less thing is available to break the shack nasties otherwise known as the close season.

This winter through till the spring I have taken a contract to work for a client who will send me to various far flung corners of the country. Beleive me from what I have seen so far it doesnt get much far flunger than  Somerset .  Oh and I know flunger isnt a word but I kind of like it.  If you are from Zummerset dont be offended you know how us Yorkshiremen are for other counties...

Anyway that and the fact that I have just lost my mum after she suffered a long battle with dementia has rather left me in the state of mind that I really dont think I will feel like writing much for a while.

Should a I awake from the torpur sooner than the spring . I shall get back to it.  As it is have a tremendous Christmas and for those hardy souls amongst you still fishing , Tight lines.....I will leave you with a pic of what it`s all about.....

Friday 16 October 2015

Funny how things turn out.

Yesterday was a lesson in how you never know how things are going to turn out.  After only realising at the weekend that my daughters passport was out of date and us travelling abroad very soon ( I know I know such things shouldnt happen but its a long story) . Anyway I had to reschedule my already very busy works diary around when I could get an appointment at the Durham passport office to get a 4hr passport turnaround.  I really wasnt a happy chap knowing that my day was ruined and that I would be hanging around Durham for at least 4 hours.

But then the penny dropped and I remembered that I had this spring paid to join a small angling club up that way with fishing on the river leven.  The leven was where I caught my very first trout on a fly way back in the 1970s and havent fished it since .  It was an itch that needed scratching .  It would be about 30minutes to drive from Durham to the river and I reckoned I could easy squeeze in a few hours fishing. Id heard the stream had grayling.

Well kit was loaded and following my passport office visit I shot of down the A1 . I had never fished or even seen the stretch of river and arrival it was certainly a little larger than I remembered but it was a long way downstream of my old stamping ground.  Parking  at the bank I was foolish enough to answer a phone call and ended up back in work mode for 30 minutes.  I then got kitted up and headed off to inspect the stream. Very wild very overgrown and steep banks but it did look fishy.  After walking downstream for a while I fished one run and blanked ,  A little further down I tried another nice looking run. Straight away I was into a small grayling then a better one of probably a pound which hook pulled when at the net.  Another couple of casts working up through the pool resulted in no fish but my feet told me where the deep point was in the pool and I probably had walked through the best of the fish. 

Anyway after walking downstream a while and only having a couple of tiny trout to show I thought I would head back to the car.  As I passed the pool I had caught in earlier I just thought I would work through it again as I reckon I had not fished the best line the first time.  Second cast in and wallop, trout I thought as something very strong hooped the 9ft 3wt around.  The as the grey flank showed I though shit better be careful.   After a fair scrap I only realised just how big and fat the fish was when I drew it to the net and realised its head was halfway up the handle before its tail was over the lip.  At the second attempt I netted it . Note to myself buy a bigger scoop net. The scales went exactly 2lb1 oz. Couldnt beleive it.. Waited a long time for a 2lbr and to catch one in a Northern stream made it even sweeter.  After writing last month that the season hadnt seen one notable fish I would like to retract that statement. PS sorry about poor pics, I had such low expectations of the day I didnt even take my camera, So pics courtesy of my iphone.

Monday 5 October 2015

End of season reflection and talking bollocks.

Well it's that time of year again , its the time of year when I try convince myself that this is the start of the Grayling season and not that my season has ended, I try to convince myself that the trout season closing doesn't matter even when I know it does ,its the time of year  when I reflect on another summer passing and think about its highs , lows and memories.  This year I struggle to remember a single fish that was out of the ordinary, Those highlights that come to mind are those little victories and successful skirmishes that are a part of every day on the bank,  That almost perfect cast , the successful stalk, the fish extracated from that impossible lie.  The time when you knew a fish would be hiding in that current crease and the cast produced an instant response,  You will notice that all these things are about the moments before the capture.  Of late the result its size and ensuing battle seems somehow less important.  Not sure what has led me to this way of thinking. Perhaps I'm getting old.

Also this last year I have found greater pleasure in fishing with companions and have also grown increasingly intolerant of the on line community. Why does the on line world and in particular social media so often seem to bring out the worst in people?  For many years I enjoyed membership of an on line fishing forum . Increasingly I became frustrated with the trolls the cliques and the chest thumping idiots not to mention the hypocracy, I had enough and left. I have at times even wondered about keeping the blog .  But the great thing about a blog is I can sit here in the lounge right now and say what is on my mind, I can type rubbish if I want, this may even be rubbish but I'm enjoying writing it and I hope that just perhaps someone may read it and nod or smile to themselves take some pleasure from it and make a connection.   Perhaps they may read it and say whats the tosser talking about ?, But I wont know so I wont care.

 Over the years many people have collared me either on the bank or in a club meeting and said. " Are you the guy with the blog"? .  In all but one case I have been told how much they enjoy reading it and to keep it up , perhaps they were just been polite but for you guys who read it , thanks. Those comments mean a lot. For the one guy who told me he thought it sucks, well I repeat what I said on the bank , "Dont F......g read it then". There is the pleasure of the blog I get to enjoy the writing and don't have to worry about critics and trolls.

This year the rivers have been very very low.  Two years of low rainfall have sucked the life out of the local streams . Sport has continued though. tiny flies and fishing the skinny water and broken riffles where the oxygen levels are better has paid dividends.  Fishing into the early dark has paid dividends too. It has also demonstrated to me how important the maintaining of a wild fish population is .  Where the stocked fish have disappeared for weeks on end skulking in the dead deep pockets the smaller wilder fish have continued to feed.  Strange thing is catching smaller fish  hasn't bothered me.  I confess whilst not been a anti stocking evangelist I do get more pleasure from the capture of a wild fish what ever its size.  Its a strange thing but its important to me. I confess I puzzle over the conundrum of stocking and how even among anglers who are mad keen on maintaining high levels of stocking a fish that is newly stocked is often looked down upon by many." Just a stocky "  we have all heard it said. Funny thing about new stockys its like dating a girl of easy virtue. Great at the time but when youve done it a time or two its all just a bit easy. Yet a stocky that's been in a year or more and had chance to grow back its fins is somehow different and worthy of a grip and grin shot.  Same fish but the year or so its had in the river has perhaps eased the anglers conscience and wised up the fish.

Truth is I suppose none of it really matters what matters or what should matter is the enjoyment we all gain from those hours we spend on the river bank or in the river. I guess the truth is for this angler. Fly fishing has become about the battles and not the victories its about the preparation and fly tying. Its`s about the fishing day, the bugs in the river and the birds in the trees.  Whilst saying that a 2lb Grayling still eludes me and knowing what it would mean to catch that fish.   I would fish in a ditch with Jeremy Corbyn. So I guess once again I am talking bollocks.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

A bit of a shower...

A night or so ago I was woken from deep sleep by the sound of very heavy rain on the roof.  Now in these parts we are suffering from historically low ground water and been woken by rain was a welcome interlude.  In the morning the sky was blue again and the lawns green with more than a few puddle about the extent of the rain was plain to see.. Here is the Environment agency website for a local stream showing how short and sharp the shower was. In real terms in that photo the stream went from where it is shown. A rise of about 6ft ie to bank top and back down again in under 24 hours.

The sad truth is such a short sharp shower does bugger all good . The same rain over a few days may well have done. 

Saturday 12 September 2015

Summers Ending and the birth of a new stream....

Fishing opportunities seem to have been thin on the ground of late.  An increase in my workload from "steady " to "daft " whilst always welcome does has a flip side to it and as the evenings draw in and the weekends get used for work fishing time gets pushed out. Although I did recently manage a trip to Foston beck , which due to the EAs sudden embargo on weed cutting due to health and safety concerns is looking pretty overgrown but thanks to our great keeper and volunteer helpers has managed to keep some sections fishable.

The stock fish that were put in early on in the season are colouring up and continue to increase in weight.  In a stream where the food supply is well able to support them.

Whilst the smaller wild fish are consistently providing surface sport even on those cold days when little seems to be hatching.

This lovely small pool always seems to hold fish rising in the faster water at the head.  Even when the fish stay low the clarity allows you to watch a nymphs progrees as it tumbles through the current.  Of all things it is the extraordinary clarity of these streams that has fascinated me.  To be able to target individual fish and watch their reaction to nymphs drifting past is an ongoing delight.

Fish of this size seem to be constantly feeding smaller fish and bigger fish are much less frequently caught . Well by me anyway .  Could it be that the smaller wild fish are feeding on smaller fare whilst the bigger wildies are to smart for me? 

The river is undergoing some real changes at present . A team from the EA are removing a section of stream with an old mill the effect of inpounding water has resulted in a huge build up of silt. Which is slowly backing up the channel. 

The works are blocking of the old impounded section and opening a new route with effective gradients along the line of the old overflow channel. 

The new route diverts around a field to provide a new stream section with suitable gradient .  The effect on the stream bed above has already been plain to see, It will be a interesting to see how things settle when we get a decent flow down the beck again.  Please God can we have some rain and snow this winter the stream is so so low...

Work like this is tremendous and in my minds eye I can already picture this in a years time .  Over here in the North East have had a 12month long drought and the water flow is very low . But already fish are taking up station in the newly opened stream .  

It always impresses me how people can operate 20 and 30 tonne excavators with the delicacy to provide such delightful bends and gradients .  

Sunday 2 August 2015

Question What makes a perfect evening ?

Last night following dinner.  I decided to visit the nearby Derwent whiich was fining down nicely after some recent rain . The evening had no wind knots,, no tree trout and no other people . Just me and the river and,,,,,,

Perfect free rising wild fish 

Small dry flies 

Light lines 

A beautiful stream

And one last cast and fish . Perfect 

Oh and a suitable sunset.....Nowt else to add really......

Tuesday 28 July 2015

The Usk brown trout and chips with everything ...

  I have just returned from a week away in a cottage in the brecon beacons .  It was a chance to combine a bit of fishing with a weeks holiday with my wife or should I say fishing widow?, she never complains that everytime we book a cottage somewhere in the country there is the certain knowledge that close by will by a tumbling stream or rolling river.  The river this time was the Usk.  This is a river I have fancied fishing for a long while.  Rising in the Black mountains of the Brecon beacons of South Wales .  It is a river that reminds me very much of the Ure .  

I booked the beat that ran at the bottom of the cottage garden it was the Glan-yr-afon beat of the Wye and USk foundation.  I booked the beat for 5 days with the intent of been able to fish early mornings and evenings ,  During the days the river was well populated by kids and dogs so fishing was out of the question anyway.

Hatches of small olives happened nearly every evening . The fish responded to a size 20 IOBO humpy anything bigger was ignored .  Mornings was a time for prospecting the faster deeper runs with a nymph .  I caught a agood few wildies and a few better fish that looked like well conditioned stock fish.  

One early morning nymphing session saw me hooked into a real beast of a fish which although I got it close dived under the rock ledges below my feet and ended up breking the tippet.  A big fish that resulted in some choice words shared with the early morning air. Early morning not a single fish was seen rising so nymphing was the logical choice.  

I enjoyed the fishing immensley but not sure how much I would enjoy the wading at high water levels.  The very clear and low water meant that you could always see where you are putting your feet. My mate Peter ( He of the old walks and fishes blog) warned me of the dificulties of wading the Usk. I understand what he meant.

I am always ammazed at how brown trout from different river systems vary so much in their colouration . Most of those I caught had quite blurry spots and few with the bright vivid red spots I see in the local spate streams up north.

Many like the one below had quite a distinctive olive colouration.

Whilst I did some fishin this was essentially a quiet week away with My Mrs in a very small cottage which had the Usk at the bottom of the Garden which enabled me to fish in the last and first hours and leave the day free. I am pleased to say that the cooker in the cottage remained nicely unused local pubs were chosen at random and by checking menus.  We spoilt ourselves every night but were puzzled with the constant fascination for chips with everything....
First night : Tempura lobster with green salad, asparagus and new potatoes....Accompanied by huge chips...
Second Night: Chicken curry with Bombay aloo. Garlic naan , popadoms and dips , Pilau rice...And orange yes orange chips 
Third Night Sea Bass in a salt crust seasonal vegetables New potatoes and yes you guessed it     
The other with chips dishes included lamb shank and Mash,  Roast beef and Yorkshire puddings at Sunday lunch with roast potatoes .One night the chips were made with sweet potatoes but cant remember what is was with ....
Final night was steak night at the local Pub I had the rump , wife had rib eye with veg the menu said, itll be chips the wife said good says I steak and chips is good . What arrived ? Game chips sodding parsnips put through a potatoe peeler and deep fried.......Wont be eating chips for a while....

Anyway despite the chips.  A lovely river and friendly people  in a stunning part of the world....

Monday 13 July 2015

The good the bad and the ugly....

First of heres the good .  We have a good few of these on the beck.  Marsh Orchids, delightful things
its just a shame they arent more prolific and about 16ft tall.

Now the bad and the ugly...Went on a work party the other day ,  well it was more of a skirmish in our clubs ongoing battle with invasive species .  We have the full set down the beck , himalayan balsam even a little patch of knotweed and of course Mr triffid himself the Giant hogweed.  Again this year the clubs brave volunteers have been employing the usual armoury of physical and chemical weapons since spring to try and get to grips with this stuff ,  spraying started early at the upstream end but even then as we worked down the becks watercourse plants have had chance to get established at the bottom end . During this skirmish two members ( myself included) donned hats,gloves and full clothing to attack in an advance party cutting flower heads to prevent seed ripening.  Followed by the chemical weapons swat team . Spraying to kill the rest of the plant. 

  Its a battle we are determined to win .  Its just a pity that the local council whos land it is arent doing it for us. 

Wednesday 8 July 2015

So that was flaming June was it ?

Well so much for the expression "flaming June" , June was cold, breezy and harder going than It was in my day dreams when I was tying flies in the depth of last winter.  After a dry winter which meant that the rivers awoke in the spring to low water flows and cold temperatures. The rivers pantries continued to be strangely out of balance, on my local beck my last kick samples showed an almost complete lack of baetis nymphs with other species down as well. All the rivers I fish have had fewer fish rising and the Mayfly hatch just didnt .. Not that Ive had no success its just been odd.  Fish seemed to be ignoring the upwings that were hatching whilst small midge patterns were taken happily

In the winter its all dreams and hopes for the year ahead, then as the spring and summer pass it constantly amazes me how each year the fishing differs .  The chalkstream started the year very low due to the dry winter and now the weed growth is making fishing difficult.  Fish have generally seemed reluctant to rise.

The fish are still there to be caught though.  The smaller fish coming to the surface eagerly this one snatched the fly away from a very big fish that I was targeting . Always nice to catch but I cant say I was pleased at the time though.  I had spent quite a few minutes watching the biggie , then spent ten minutes getting into position . The fly alighting perfectly a few feet upstream of the biggie and this little devil shot out from under a weed bed and took it . The biggie of course melted away.  

At water level you get a different perspective .  Unlike many chalk streams wading is allowed although it isnt always productive.  The trout are very very spooky and there are some real good fish in here , many in the 2 to 3lb class but they are all pretty wary.

My best fish that day was this lovely little wild fish , the big fish didnt want to cooperate  . Low water bright skies meant for tricky fishing. But it was a pleasure to be out sharing the river with kingfishers, Barn owls and Buzzards.

One benefit of the time of year is the long evenings . One recent evening I pottered down to the Derwent and headed of downstream. With the intention of fishing back up. I got as far as the mowthorpe sluice this is now technically the start of Scalby beck ( the beck that features so often on my blog)  or to be absolutely correct the sea cut, an artificial channel which was created in 1804 to alleviate flooding in the Derwent valley by diverting high water away down the scalby beck .  The Derwent is unusual in that although at this point its only a few miles from the sea it now heads inland and enters the Ouse many miles inland below York.  Before meeting the sea in the Humber estuary. 

As these two photos show the low water levels mean that the sea cut is completely dry . Scalby beck doesnt really start flowing until a few miles down where feeder streams join it.  

That evening we had a decent evening rise in fact I would say the best evening rise of the summer so far with about a dozen fish falling to a size 16 IOBO humpy in the space of 45 minutes.  All sorts was hatching , sedges . olives and even an odd mayfly in among the countless midges.

These pretty little wildies are great fun and although the river is well stocked with additional brownies and rainbows . Fishing dry fly I didnt see one stockie in the 15 or so fish I caught.  The fish were in the shallow heads of pools enjoying the evening cool and the faster flows. The stockies I think were sulking in the few deeper areas.  It certainly shows one benefit of wild fish with there apparent willingness to feed in low water conditions.  I dare say a big goldhead tossed in to the deeper pools would have found a stock fish or two but why? .  To me its not what fishing is about. 

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Just a couple of hours

Sometimes perfection comes without warning,  The day had been chilly the wind a little too strong , The river level was a little low,  the mayfly hatch has been woeful. But a couple of hours was available after work.

Sometimes just been in the river can be enough .  But as I worked upstream searching the riffles and pockets,  The chill went the wind dropped and the mayfly not hatching didnt matter anymore.

Two hours passed in an instant .  Half a dozen fish were taken from the pots and riffles . All perfect fish on what turned into a perfect two hours.

Friday 29 May 2015

May a mixture of blessings.

Well the season has started properly but so far its been a strange year. Seasons start saw rivers running exceptionally low due to one of the driest winters on record.  The local spate streams I normally fish have been so low they have been full of algae and pretty much unfishable so my early efforts were concentrated on Foston beck, which being a spring fed chalk stream whilst being very low has been very fishable although the cold winds that have marked this year so far meant the visits were not always the balmy warm days that May usually heralds.  

and here its been a story of mixed blessings one visit here and I hooked into a trout of biblical proportions , not quite as long as my leg but certainly a fish that had it not shot under a weed bed and threw the hook it would have been something to remember when staring at the log fire in the winter to come.  I got enough of a view of it to estimate the size to be well into the category of a lost fish  that I need a few minutes of solitude to mourn when it left me with no fly on the tippet...

These crystal clear waters which are stuffed with food certainly hold some substantial fish that have grown fat on the well stocked larder.  They seem to fight above their weight too.  Aided by the abundant weed they certainly dont give themselves up. 

Even fish of these size can be a real handful .  The clear water demands long slender leaders and fine tippets.  A combination not designed for bullying a stubborn trout away from a dense weed bed.

The Yorkshire Derwent now we have had some rain has had most of the accumulated debris and detritus washed away and is fishing nicely. Although curiously the recent fall of Hawthorn flies whilst been plentiful has not seemed to have caused the same enthusiasm amongst the resident fish whom this year seem so far to concentrate on the small stuff , midges etc. 

One of the few fish that fell for the charms of a hawthorn.  Certainly this year there will be plenty of unused hawthorn flies staying in the fly box till next year.

Although its been a cold May on a couple of days the temperatures have been sufficiently balmy to encourage me to look for the evening rise.  I love the colours this time of year .  Fresh greens and soft evening light.  Sadly the clouds of dancing spinners that makes an evening complete seem to have stayed indoors in the warm. 

I love the colours of the fish from these Northern spate streams butter yellow bellies with bright red spots , little jewels one and all.

There is something wonderful about fishing these streams . Slowly working upstream and like a pickpocket working the seams and pots stealing the jewels from it , admiring them briefly and then slipping them back. 

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...