Tuesday 21 November 2017

Another season gone

"Hello my friend I cant resist having a word with you seeing what book your reading" Were the words I heard delivered with a rich welsh accent. I have just returned from a holiday on the canary islands , it was a real "the wife and I quality time and no fishing planned or expected type of trip" . It was a very nice sunny and relaxing ten days .  I took just one hardback book .  Sea Trout fishing by Harris and Morgan .  Together with my kindle loaded with a few general novels and a few Roderick Haig Brown titles .  Anyway I was laid by the pool with the sea trout book and heard the above words.  "Im sorry but I saw what you were reading and couldnt resist a chat".  Smashing Welsh guy who fishes the welsh rivers for Sewin as they call them.  Sat and chatted for an hour or more talking about how the rivers and our catches fared and about our shared worries regarding pollution and declining insect populations, during the holiday we then exchanged pleasantries whenever we bumped into each other. Afterwards it occurred to me how much of a common bond this fly fishing is,  Would a golf book or a football book have stimulated such a meeting ,  somehow I doubt it. Yet the old expression "a brother of the angle" really does seem to have some real meaning.

Cant believe another season has rushed by, there has been as usual a lot of small streams and some bigger streams to.  The Yorkshire Derwent has fished beautifully and has produced some stunning small brownies that on 6ft 3wts are great fun.  Its small stream with a little S ..

The trout above was living under  in the deep water under the big oak in the following,  must say if I was a trout I cant think of a better place to live .  I can confirm he was returned safely..

Anyway so back to the present. Here we are my fly fishing season number 47  finished,  these days I regularly meet fellow fly anglers out on the banks and discover that so many that are about my age or a little older often retired and newly taking up the gentle art.  Virtually all are envious when I say that I started fly fishing all them years ago. its hard to believe that I have fly fished for nearly 50 years .  I can still remember those first attempts and realising that what seemed so simple in the stick man illustration in the book was actually a bit more difficult.  Apart from the local undertaker who at some point later took pity on my feeble attempts and gave me lots of help my one source of knowledge was "Trout and how to catch them "  which the local library had , well it had it occasionally when i didnt have it,  a smashing little book and still a good read for newcomers.  I sought out a copy a few years ago,  reading it is a trip down memory lane.

The year started well in fulfilling my long held desire for a stalked bonefish on a single handed fly rod and on a self tied fly. It was a great memorable day, I had caught loads a few days before on a boat but it wasn’t wading and wasn’t stalking , certainly it didnt make the same impression on me. That and using a self tied fly.

Since then I have joined a migratory fish river association and started the year with a few nice sea trout and even netted a lovely 14lb salmon for my fishing companion ,  sadly on that day I was the bridesmaid and not the bride but was glad to be able to net the fish successfully, I hate netting fish for people especially someone’s first salmon in a inadequate net.  I know that should the worst have happened he would have been gracious about the loss but the shame oh the shame.

The first of my sea trout came on a spinner , yes yes I know you will say this traditional English fly angler chucking metal about .  Well guilty as charged the high water conditions meant it was a mepps that was first to give me success.  However as the season continued my taste for spinning diminished and for fishing the fly increased.  Not saying I wont used the spinner , I certainly will but will pursue any opportunity to use the fly rod even if I fear it reduces my chance of  fish.

An imitative fly ....

So this closed season will be tying up a range of absolutely deadly sea trout and salmon flies .  Well it will be my perception of what a deadly fly is and I must confess as the seasons pass and I gain more experience i realise is that I only ever seem to gain more awareness of all the stuff I don`t know.  Particularly with regard to fly patterns .  Sure there is the imitative theory  that says your fly should offer a perfect lifelike imitation of the insects on the water, but what I cant fathom is why should that fly which has just caught you have a dozen fish with the last one taking the fly with even more enthusiasm than the first do so for a fly that by then looks like a hook with snot stuck to it and some fluff out of your pocket squashed into it.  Beats the hell out of me .  I suppose thats one of the main attractions of it.  That glorious sense of the unknown

So for next season there will be no new clubs but there is a half formed idea of a trip or two with friends .  I am sure a new rod or reel will arrive soon.  Christmas would not be Christmas without some new fishing kit or a book or two.  As for the next few weeks up till the end of December It will be about an odd Grayling trip and starting to plan for the festivities and getting my fly tying done and boxes put together for next year .  Really could do with a new fly tying vice , not saying I really need one but really feel like I want one. Mind you I didnt  need the last two rods I bought or the last three reels but well you know how it is.

Finally dear reader I swear that if this is my last post of the year then next year I will do better...

Tuesday 10 October 2017

So where in America should I pick

This year I have managed to scratch a couple of itches that have troubled me over the years. Not least wading the flats for bonefish , certainly those few days in Cuba were the highlight of the year.  But there a few real irritations that remain ....

Itch number one are brook trout, I have always been mesmerised by the sheer beauty of those and would love catch one , on a dry in a small stream would be best . 

Itch number 2 is the Arctic Grayling I love grayling fishing and they are becoming a severe irritation as I get older the Arctic species look bigger more fiesty and just so damn pretty.

Itch number 3 is a surprising one for me as in the UK we have rainbow trout here but they always seem like a pale imitation of the ones I see pictured in their native rivers. 

So blog readers if you are from that big place over the pond ( America / Canada ) is there a single destination I should consider where the above trio could be captured????


Becks and Brown trout

Thursday 17 August 2017

Rumours of my death....and old love affairs

It was Mark Twain who coined the quote "rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated  "  Or something along those lines . However someone commenting to me that the owner of "Becks and Brown trout" must have died as he had been quiet so long .  A comment which spurred me to to put the metaphorical pen to paper and I can confirm that the rumours are just that and whilst not been in extreme rude health I have sufficient faculties remaining to spend whatever time I have free on the river bank.  Which is actually the reason for the sparseness of activity .  Work , family illness and the stresses of life have contrived to restrict my fishing activity this year.

 However there have been highlights the wet summer has kept the small streams in fine fettle .  So a few excursions among the overgrown upper reaches have resulted in some very good days . These are all short rod territory and this year I have had the added distraction of trying a short glass rod by echo .  Bought basically as new from someone who could not get along with it .  Must say I was impressed , very cane like and very easy going with a short line .  However this then inspired me to rake out one of my long time favourite rods . A Hardy featherweight 7ft 3wt , a rod I bought new about ten years ago and one that I had foolishly lost touch with but a trip with it was like a chance encounter with a long lost love.  Speaking metaphorically of course.

This year I have also invested in membership of another syndicate for sea trout and salmon one which one would also describe as "posh" .  Wasn't sure how I would take to it tbh but it was an itch I just had to scratch.  Despite been a bit reticent to part with a substantial membership fee.  Remember after all the writer is a typical Yorkshire man,short arms and deep pockets .  A shaky start on the river was due in part to my stupidity but of late I have felt as though I will enjoy a long and fruitful partnership with it.  Helped of course by catching a few.  The water suits spinning which is something that I am not particularly fond of or particularly good at but after a few small sea trout the one above was the first decent one.   However I will be focusing on the fly fishing as i get to know it.   This new water has also encouraged me to start up another old relationship , again a rod I bought years ago for the sea trout and one that I have now brought out of retirement.   A Sage SP 9ft 6" 7 wt..  Fishing it again has reminded me just how sweet a thing it is.   There are a few old friends in their tubes in my rod corner that haven't seen the light of day for a few years.  I wonder if I am to old to have multiple infidelities...

Sunday 4 June 2017

Times a passing....

Not sure how I feel about this year Its brought a rather significant milestone. I suppose the truth is no birthday is any more signiificant than any other and for me having a birthday mid April only meant hey chaps the Trout season is on us again... But none the less the birthdays that come around every ten years seem to have a little more significance and always seem to sting a bit more, I remember I was a bit miffed when I turned 30 .  But this latest one is double that and I really dont like how fast time seems to be passing .  The one positive that comes out of it , well apart from the one that is "Ive made it this far" is its an excuse to treat yourself .  My treat was two weeks of Cuban sunshine .

Truth is that i have always viewed with some envy videos or films of people tropical flats fishing and I bet I am not alone as a fly fisher who has wondered about that ghost of the flats the bonefish.

To me the idea of wading and casting to a cruising bonefish with a well presented fly was a very attractive idea. Boats and me dont really get on but wading well thats a different proposition.

Anyway a decision was made about a year in advance checks revealed that my birthdate was actually a pretty good time to be visiting cuba .  Information on line isnt that detailed but its there for you if you hunt for it .   Initial contact with guides was made and a two week all inclusive hotel package was booked .
 All I needed then was the gear, now I dont know about you guys but researching for and buying gear for a new fly fishing interest is a fascinating pastime.  Online purchases started to mount up .  Reels by the likes of Tibor and Abel were bought of ebay preloved is the word I prefer. 
Quality reels are something I will buy used .  Carbon rods can have hidden chips and damage that can be catastrophic so new rods were purchased.  An interesting year and a not unsubstantial investment was made .   Also i set myself the challenge of tying the flies I would fish with .  After considerable research and help from a online aqaintence I spent an inordinate amount of money in order to fill one average size box .  

Eventually the date for departure came around everything was packed into one half of the newly purchased fishing expedition case .  Clothes and normal holiday stuff in the other half .  Its a nine hour flight to cuba long enough to get to know a few other angling passengers .  Long enough to listen to hero tales  of 70ft casts in 30 mph winds and try to decide who's much is bravado and who much the truth. 
Anyway eventually we arrived and spent a couple of days acclimatising .  The wind was a pain gusting to 28 knots red flags on the beach .  My allocated guides face was a picture .  Your first time ?  You never fished in salt before ? You a trout fisher ?  Delicately holding an imaginary rod between thumb and fore finger making little swishing noises as he mimed a perfect 10oclock two o clock cast...I guess he had enough first time greenhorns and apparantly the bad weather had meant catches had been bad for a few days.  So some reticence was expected .  On the day first trip on a flats boat wind was gusting and sight fishing was a non starter .  But thanks to a good guide and despite my casting I finished the day with 10.  I was pleased and the guide was smiling. The next trip the wind had died down and I was to wade with a guide.  The day was enthralling, the fishing was hard .  Bonefish are spooky, fast and damn addictive . I loved it and next year i will be back.  A final note when I Departed Cuba 28degrees.. landed UK 1 degree above freezing back in time for spring fishing....

Since getting back gone are the 8 and 9 weights and back to the three and four weights .  Wading was once again with the added protection of socks trousers and waders.

The local trout are still damm pretty and the countryside still looks good and as I write up this blog in June I have spent the day exploring a new river for me.  Later in the summer when the rains come Im hoping for Sea trout and Salmon from it. 

Must confess that the quietness on the blog was due to my general malais . But after a day on the river today I realised that actually I am still one of the luckiest blokes I know and I need to stop been a misery .  Then to top it of I saw a few mayflies today how can you be miserable when the mayflies are start to hatch. 

Friday 10 March 2017

Warming up nicely

As the title says it’s warming up nicely.  Which as the central heating suffered a catastrophic failure a few weeks ageo  is actually a very good thing. Then the February short very mild spell was a bit of a false dawn and the amorous frogs appearing in the pond disappeared just as quick  as they were definitely a couple of weeks or so early in their noisy nuptials. Things are starting to happen though. These are often some of the first flies to appear around here . Just two more weeks to go. then there will be something decent to write about...

But I do love these days of lengthening hours and the rising sense of piscatorial anticipation that comes with it.  February was the month of fishing club bills landing on the mat, of annual general meetings and particularly my local clubs AGM and annual duck dinner.  A great night of renewing friendships, banter, fishing stories (some tall and some real) and reminiscences.  Also as club chairman an evening when I can pretend I know what I am talking about.  All topped off with the annual fund raising raffle. 

last month also saw me attend for the first time the annual BFFI (British fly fair international) a grand gathering of fly fishing and fly tying businesses wares and a tiers row of over 50 fly tiers from all over the place giving live demonstrations.  I spent a good few hours there and quite a lot of money on fur feather and tools.  Tools wise after watching Swiss Mark Petitjean demonstrating his CDC magic tools and having the chance to talk to him I bought the magic tool clips etc.   Once I get to grips with them I am hoping it will increase the range of CDC patterns I tie, (Initial results are promising).  Also this season I intend to fish a lot more for salmon and sea trout than ever before and have joined another syndicate to pursue that, so suitable materials and hooks had to be purchased.  It was great to be able to actually get your hands on the stuff you’re buying instead of the usual internet experience that so much materials buying has become.

I remember with fondness when a local fishing and shooting shop (now long gone) where I used to buy all my tying stuff. A couple of times a year they used to get in a huge box of cock capes pretty much direct from India, local anglers all tried to get there first to sort through them and select the most promising capes. This was long before the internet and before genetic capes appeared here.  Thinking back to the tiny selection of materials I managed with back in the 70s and 80s it’s amazing how things have developed.  I remember that for quite a few years all my tools and equipment managed to fit in a box the size of a couple of shoe boxes.  Now I seem to occupy a fair amount of a room and the shoe boxes have turned into a roll top desk and cupboards full to the brim.

Recently I had a bit of a tackle check and overhaul before the season starts.   How an earth I have managed to collect so much gear is beyond me.  Dozens of rods and myriads of fly boxes.  After a big sort out I seem to have 6 fly boxes holding probably a 1000 flies and whats the betting on my first trip I wont be able to find the fly I want. So a very late new years resolution is to thin it out the rods and reels .  Trouble is after creating a spread sheet cataloguing all the rods and reels I can find a reason to keep every one of them. Yet I probably only used a quarter of them last year. 

Wednesday 8 February 2017

Its getting to that time again.....

Activity on this blog over that last few months has been pretty dreadful,  I am rather afraid that the general malaise caused by my lack of piscatorial activity has resulted in bugger all of any substance been added to the blog.  Its not that I haven't been thinking about fishing, after all in my idle hours I think about little else ,  the planning of trips , renewing and adding new club memberships.  It is on my mind often.

However at last I am starting to get organised for the forthcoming year ,a pair of Sims waders that are only a couple of seasons old which have all the water tightness of a pair of crutch less tights ( not that I have ever worn any) have now been dispatched to Diver Dave who has reported leaky seams and pinholes but very repairable,  I have been stepping up my tying of various shrimp patterns for upcoming Cuba trip and I am waiting on responses to my application to a different fishing club for migratory fish just to mix things up a bit this year.  In a weeks time I am heading down into the midlands to the British Fly fair.  An event I have been planning to visit for a few years but haven't managed it before.  I will return with even more fly tying paraphernalia to add to the large collection of thread ,fur and feather lurking in my fly tying desk. I will be searching out stuff for salmon and sea trout flies.  Retail therapy my wife calls it.

The season certainly cant come soon enough its been a winter beset by bad news .  Both at a personal level and in the wider theatre every facet of the things we as anglers hold precious.  I listen and read with dismay the ongoing tragedy which is the Scottish salmon farming industry with the state supported polluting of the coastal waters with huge quantities of toxins to support a badly run salmon farming industry that does untold damage to migratory fish.  In Wales the tragic pollution of the Teifi. Our precious rivers seem under attack on every level.

In the last year I have seen a friends fishing business forced to close due to flood damage but also due to the shift to Internet shopping and also to the widespread increase in cut price stores selling a range of fishing gear.  A factor that was significant in the loss of my friends business but it also occurred to me another added pressure on the rivers ,  I was in such a shop at the weekend to buy some motoring stuff. As I passed the fishing display I noticed an eastern European man with two grown up sons eyeing up a heavy spinning rod set up .  Rod , reel line and spinners hooks and stuff £25 . Now I have in the last season or two had cause to move on many such people who illegally fish our river. I am the chairman and will challenge those I know to be poaching.  I couldn't help overhearing the purchase at the till.  In a nutshell...

Polish gent. .Broken English. Can I fish anywhere with this ?
Young Shop assistant ... Ye sir you will be fine with that ..

Purchase made and of he went.. Now I am stood there thinking was he asking about the capability of the rod or seeking approval of his fishing location.  Now if that same question had been asked by Polish gent in my old friends shop or at one of the few genuine tackle dealers around I am sure the answer would be different.  Proper advice would have been given. Now I accept that such advice could also be ignored but at least an effort would have been made . Next time I stop such a guy down the river and he says I was told I can fish here by the tackle shop it will make me think....

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...