Friday 30 December 2022

Month by Month Highlights

 January was a slow start

February was gloomy 

March no fishing fly tying , walks and work parties 

April season start but no trout only grayling 

May my favourite month 

Flaming June 

July low rivers 

August not much fishing 

September trout season closes 

October , Grayling starts 

November more grayling 

December much needed rain and then it bit more foreign sun….. but just had the word that next year I will be fishing a new Yorkshire chalk stream…..
 Happy new year everyone 

Monday 12 December 2022

2022 I was hoping for a lot better


Well following Covid I was hoping that 2022 would provide a welcome return to normality.  But I guess catching nothing but Grayling on the first day of the trout season , and pretty much all on dries as well should have warned me it was going to be a strange year .  The season started slowly and then went downhill from there , one of the worst droughts on record hammered my local rivers .  Creating the lowest levels in living memory .  What fish there were certainly weren`t rising , all in all a dismal season .  It started to improve a couple of months ago when the first rains arrived and the Grayling responded with enthusiasm providing some good sport .  One local river seems to have more Grayling than trout these days ,  A three hour session with a friend a few weeks ago resulted in over 40 fish between us.

Perhaps the year could finish on a high I foolishly thought . But then three weeks ago I received the very sad news that my friend Peter Kay had passed away suddenly .  Not only a friend and fishing buddy he and I ran a local fly fishing club together me as Chairman and he as Secretary.  So of course he did all the work as Secretaries do.  Actually he loved it and refused all help .  Pete was always firmly of the belief that his way was of course the right way .  I have lost a friend and the club has lost its driving force.  It will of course continue . It has been going since 1890 .  But a chapter has finished and someone else will pick it up and move it forward .  For the time being that someone is me.   I was asked to speak at his funeral ,  something I was pleased to do .  listening to the other speakers and talking to his widow since his death has also made me realise how little I knew about Pete and his past , he was a very private person. It is to late to get to know Peter but I hope I endeavour to understand and get to know people more in the future.  I do know that speaking as the new secretary his will be  a tough act to follow .

Wednesday 2 November 2022

Things you learn..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 21 October 2022

What a strange back to front Season

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

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

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

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

Friday 16 September 2022

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 19 August 2022

An old itch is bothering me,

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

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

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

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

Thursday 4 August 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 14 July 2022

Summer time blues and a whiter shade of pale

Apparently we are in the longest period of hot dry weather for 50 years sadly this means that all the local rivers are struggling and consequently of late fishing has ended up being a late afternoon and evening activity. This was the other evening and as I approached the path up through the woods it struck me how perfect the light was . At the risk of sounding poetic the air had that very heavy quality long hot days bring,  If there had been even the hint of a cloud in the sky I would have anticipated a thunder storm.  The late afternoon sunshine picked out the blue flowers and there was a real glow about the scene ,  I loitered for a minute to try and capture the mood but sadly my photo doesn`t do it justice.  I wasn`t in a rush as I knew that any fish activity was probably an hour away. 

Incidentally I have recently bought another bamboo rod , a nice little 6ft 9inch Jim Becker from the USA . It occurs to me that this year I have fished with Bamboo a lot more often than Carbon. I haven't actually been able to define to myself why I have taken to bamboo as much as I have.  I have a fine selection of high quality carbon fly rods.  They are lighter than cane, more powerful than cane and I guess when you consider all logical and factual ways to measure things then they are superior .  But the bamboo just manages to leave me with a broader smile.  My evening trip out was to put this new rod  through its paces its only its second time out and me and the rod are already blood brothers as the first time out included a puncture wound on my right hand that meant constantly washing blood of the handle was required.  I have to say that the finish on the rod is superb apart from in certain lights there is slight red staining now. 

These were typical of the trout that came in the last hour or so of surface activity,  earlier even nymphs had failed to tempt anything but as the light levels and temperature both dropped the first risers appeared in the faster water,  these both took little f flies.

The previous Sunday I was fortunate to have received an invite from a friend to fish the Driffield West beck Chalk Stream ,  The water is 100% spring fed and this allows for water at a constant temperature and the PH is very beneficial to plant life and aquatic bugs ( fish food) the clarity and the unbroken sunshine on the day meant that the fish were to put it lightly , spooky.  There were also very few rising fish ,  The fish I caught were all caught on nymphs which in itself was fascinating as you cast to fish you can see, and actually watch the fish take the nymph.  Sometimes the fish moved slightly or you saw a flash of white as the mouth was opened or even just a flare of the gills , sight fishing is a different game to the nymph fishing on the rough streams I usually do.  For this fishing the bamboo stayed at home and a light 9ft 6 inch 3 wt managed the water more easily. 

I ended up with four trout , nothing huge and all stock fish there are no photos as after scrapping hard they  would have not appreciated hot hands in near 30 degrees temperature ,  The one fish I did waste time over was this grayling in the picture below ,  my friend who knows the river said the water there was about 6ft deep and the fish was on the bottom.  We both estimated it at 3lb plus I tried tempting it with nymphs of all shapes and sizes and actually managed to drop one on its head at one point.  It was completely indifferent to my feeble attempts at deception.   What did surprise me was when a trout darted in and took the nymph it darted around the pool and splashed on the surface above the grayling and almost colliding with it at one point.  The grayling barely stirred I expected it to disappear . 

When I bought the Jim Becker bamboo I was going through the usual ritual of swapping lines about on to a suitable reel, I seem to have a lot more lines than reels and at times it is a reel pain ( notice the spelling ) .  Also many of the reels I have are large arbour jobs for the Carbon rods.  So have been getting a small collection of reels together to suit the bamboo rods , traditional pattern ones and as I was having a browse on the interweb I came across Marryat reels I have been aware of them for years and always fancied what I considered a very pretty reel anyway as I did a quick search on ebay and the like I came across this one which was been sold by a Classical fishing tackle house "Thomas Turner" it is from the estate of the Late Gary Brooker he of Procol Harum and "Whiter Shade of Pale " fame,  The price wasn`t much more than a reel without any interesting history and it is a nice early made in Japan model and has the Gehrkes plate on the back which only the early ones had and I am afraid I couldn`t resist it .  As a long time fan of Whiter Shades in particular , a song that was released when I was going through an episode of a challenging childhood which meant I was largely away from home for a few years with fishing as a constant comfort . this and a couple of other songs and Artists bring back many memories. So it has a found a good home and it certainly will be fished.  Certainly his collection seemed to be of someone who enjoyed fishing and bought what he liked and it was fished not just displayed.  

From a Whiter Shade of Pale :

We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
The crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
As the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
The waiter brought a tray

I guess not many people know that he actually recorded a song about fishing , apparently he was in the states for a couple of weeks steelhead fishing and managed one on the last day so went back to his accommodation and hit the beer and wrote the song below . A perfectly logical conclusion if you ask me. Anyway his reel will be going fishing with me pretty often now I hope he would have approved of the use I will put it to. he obviously appreciated bamboo rods as there were plenty in his collection. I have left the backing on the reel I certainly wont take it of, so Imagine that me fishing with backing by Gary Brooker....

The search is over, the battle done
The fish is beaten, the angler's won
But simple stories make longer tales
No consolation if he had failed
Through wind and desert, Blackberry Hole
Coyote and rattler had made him old
No it ain't easy, it's on the borderline
Between health and madness, the way he bides his time
Fin to fin in every log-jam
This is where they lie
The Deschutes is hot, the bottom's black
They're eye-to-eye
My oh my what fun to be on your own
Down foaming rapids into the deep black hole
Through thorns and rockslides for to reach his goal
And golden chances, he let them slip away
Or was he waiting for the Judgement Day?
They really nailed 'em on the deadline
This is where they lie
Where the water's fast, the current's strong, their eye-to-eye
My oh my what fun to be on your own
But on the thirteenth morning when the sun was high
He tricked that steelhead and saw the line go tight
Two spirits fighting, two creatures bold
Bad luck and trouble had finally lost their hold
Fin to fin in every log-jam
This is where they lie
The Deschutes is hot, the bottom's black
They're eye-to-eye
I see why he spend his time on his own

Why Bamboo? because its its a joy, thats why! and they are effective....

 After pretty much a lifetime of fishing and being a fly fisherman for 54 years now I have learned a bit about fly fishing ,  mainly I have ...