Monday, 25 May 2015

Fly Fishing - Bank Holiday Mondays - Day 12

May 25th 2015

It was a cold May's mid afternoon on a bank holiday. Fishing the Irwell with every man and his dog and youths finally opening their bedroom doors and going to the river to lob bricks in. But hell i wasn't bothered, well not with the forecast for rain from Wednesday to Friday.  Setting up with a emerger and a nymph duo i worked the first set of riffles. A take and a small trout, but with not much else happening even in the pool above. I soon had a dog walker talking to me, he stayed for 5 minutes and got bored.

Reaching the next set of riffles it was again quiet, i'd gained the attention of a small family as they thought everytime i snagged it was a fish. 'oh what was that then' trying to save myself from embarrassment i caught another trout. This caught even more peoples attention and even as i headed upstream the small crowd followed. Fishing a pool too deep to wade i stood on the bank about 4 foot above and caught a 3rd trout. Bringing it downstream to the shallower water so i could get down and take its picture.  I then seen several trout rise very silently, so moving to them i worked the spot with no luck. The next area had several families and groups all throwing dogs and bricks into the water so i climbed the bank and walked further upstream to a quieter spot.

My next spot was 20 feet down a slope from a large group having a barbeque, wading up from a more precarious position to avoid their attention i found a nice eddy on the back of a shallow but fast riffle. 3 trout in 5 minutes, each swimming deep in the pool of the eddy in fast circle and then jumping when they neared the surface. One of which was a nice size but was the most battered trout i had ever caught, a small chunk of its tail missing and a V like scar near the tail, symmetrical on both sides. probably a old bird attack scar. A group of youths then appeared and started throwing in the water, obviously expecting a reaction but i just continued to fish knowing the swim was probably ruined now.

 Had a phone call off the mrs at this point and through some reason or another i thought i had put my phone back in my pocket. i zipped up and stood up from the kneeling position and splash. off my phone went into the river. 'no no no no no' diving in after it (only about 1ft and a half mind) grabbing hold of my phone, with bank card and rivers license also in there, i pulled my cloth out and dried it the best i could. Somehow it was saved. Miraculously!

Moving on up ready to go home, i caught a tiny trout fry again, luckily the hook missed its eye but i actually felt it take the fly this time. Little bugger.

All in all 7 trout in difficult circumstances, an enjoyable day and a phone that still works. tried a few John Tyzack​ poses today too!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Fly Fishing - Learning to fight - Day 11

May 22nd 2015

 Another day fishing and was out for a early afternoon shift. Despite the sunny forecast it waa a constant drizzle. The river level was lower but no where near summer level and a slimy green weedy scum blanketed every rock on the river bed. Dangerous going i found out losing my footing and falling to my knee. Ripping my waders at the repaired hole. Grrr what a start! Fishing the spot i bagged 2 last time which takes some getting to nothing showed. Despite the nice large rocks acting for cover i found a solid rock bed underneath. Giving me the thought that not alot can live in that area invertebrate wise. Regardless i tried every rock with a duo nymph and didnt catch anything but avoided all the snags this time!

 Making my way back up the steep banking i headed off to my usual holes. First cast and i was in! Only a small trout but a nice fish none the less. After a quick phone call with mike i worked my way up the riffles and cast towards a eddy at the back. 5th cast in that area bang! Huge hit and it was off! I seen a flash of colour and could see it was a nice trout but it was off downstream! No jumping from this one! Head down and foot to the floor this fish was using the water to get as far downstream as possible. I let it have 10 feet on dragged line. Wading down with it till it was over the last major riffle. Rod high up avoiding the over hanging trees i started to fight the trout back. After gaining around 5 feet the swell of the current caught the fish and it took off again. Giving it some line while i waded to a suitable landing area i pulled the fish in. Visibly tired as it gliding across the top of the riffles and into the net. Was a very nice fish and the fight had tired him out enough to get some nice pics. Releasing him back and picking my rod up i realised my line had snapped during landing so i was very fortunate enough to land it first time.

Moving upstream i hit another small trout but shook the hook. It was strangely quiet. Checking my hook every cast,  as weed was on the hook every now and again but often enough to be a problem. Due to the lack of takes i reach new sections of the river i had fished. A tiny trout took the fly just under a over hanging tree but again nothing. Reaching the end of my path i fished an awesome looking spot, surely there had to be a few here? Just one take and one fish. Water was deeper here so had to lean on the bank to safely get my phone out. Working the pools and riffles i hit nothing else. 4 out of 5 is good but expected more from the water i fished. Though the nice sized trout more than made up for it.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Fly Fishing - Bad Starts Mean Great Endings - Day 10

May 20th 2015

So it was a strange day, 4 hours sleep with the daughter being ill in the night i was strangely invigorated. the bleak weather the week had given us pondered on my thoughts as i checked the weather app. hmm not rained yet and may stay dry today. it was worth the hope. A cold wind blew but at 5pm i was out the door, wrapped up like it was a winters morning.

Not far down the hill some 5 minutes away the sun came pouring out the clouds, typical, best get in the water then to cool off. Now i knew the river would be quite high and the highest i'd have fished it but with no rain that day i knew it would be 'clearer'. Now you may remember last time i risked a new spot but decided against it, well today i was tired and stupid i went a more difficult route facing a sheer cliff, but i was set up with a nymph and dry duo and ready to fish by 5.30.

The water raged over huge rocks and the countless debris trapped, but i cast and snagged. too dangerous to retrieve i forced a snap, i cast again and snagged my line i'd just lost. miraculously the nymph snapped off both and i reclaimed both my drys. Annoyed i stuck on a PT tungsten bead solo and cast, running the channels. it was hard to judge depth as i hadnt been here before and the raging water made it difficult for me to see. i was on my 3rd cast when boom a snag. No! a fish! i pulled the trout out of the torrent and up towards my net, a single jump as i pulled him into my net. a nice size and a great set hook. Releasing him downstream i cast in the channel next to where the fish had just come from. Another hit! the white water forcing the fish under i let the fish swim itself out but it struggled, pulling it into the net i realized the line had wrapped round the fish in the torrent but the hook again was very well set! i fished one side of the water as didnt want to risk wading too much in fresh water at the speed it was flowing.

So after nothing else i worked my way back to where i usually fish. the water is only usually inches her but raging riffles had appeared on the usually dry bank. I cast around and felt a few takes until i hit into another trout, a lovely blue hue to his body. Working my way through these riffles i hooked another trout maybe 4-5 inches but one jump before the net and it was off. If it aint in the hand it don't count! I worked my way up and onto the usual place the riffles are. Nothing at all, well except the damn tree! lost my fly. so i decided to try a duo nymph, hell why not, i've had snags all day so lets double the chances. Wading through and across the raging drop which was very strong flowing i cast into the pool i caught a small trout last time.

Instantly a huge hit, but a miss! dang it! i cast again, and another this time smaller. readying the net it slips off, dang it! the curse of the 3 trout. Now, my last 4 fishing trips have earned me 3 fish each time. So at this point i was thinking that was somehow this weird limit. i cast into the heavier flow and hit a snag again. wait. snags don't storm off downstream! I struck, holy hell, it jumped! a great trout! my biggest yet, i just had to land it. my rod bending as it used the heavy flow to race downstream towards the drop, thinking off the 8million snags i couldn't let it run over the edge, i pulled the line with my hand, it jumped in anger and dove down to the bottom, straight into a huge boulder, realizing my line could catch the rock and snap i gave slack enough for the trout to try to swim downstream again. it was a yoyo battle everytime i gained line it jumped ferociously trying to pull the hook, this trout was a jumper, after at least a dozen leaps of fury i learnt the pattern the fish took before it jumped, i stepped forward, just as it lept in the air, pulling the slack it fell just in front of me, after a lunge with the net it was in. Lifting him out and moving to a 'calmer' pool i laughed.

The trout was pure muscle, the fight had been fantastic, all the risks of losing the fish and the fight it put in as well and i'd won! trying to take a picture one handed was troublesome, especially after the hook came out in the net, thankfully i got the pictures and released him back. i usually release the fish caught her in the calm back eddy but it was a raging torrent so ended up releasing him in the shallower water were he could happily swim to his own area.

i worked my way up stream to the next spot, but nothing showed interest and i decided to head home. What a day it had been, and what fish they had been too. a dreadful start with the snags but perseverance paid off and i was duly rewarded.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Fly Fishing - Record Breakers - Day 9

May 15th 2015

So today was another unexpected day, after a meeting in the morning in scorching sun i decided to try grab a few hours of fishing before my weekend of work. I wanted to try a new area that looks very promising, the only problem is getting there. I trekked through the overgrown woods, to the river bank to a wall of hogweed, after strategically making my way round i came to the river bank to be greated by a large drop, placing my rod down i lowered myself into the water and onto the bottom, however this area was very soft and i sank about 1 foot into the riverbed while still supporting my weight, so rather than sinking into the river bed i pulled myself and admitted defeat and trekked back to my usual area.

Now i was upstream and decided to try to make my way downstream to the spot i wanted, nymphing on the way down. I got a hit under a overhanging tree but missed the strike due to the fish being downstream, cursing my luck i continued down, casting my way along the opposite bank where there was a hole and tree cover. Then just as i was about to cast, i noticed some rubbish on my fly, pulling it towards me i noticed it was infact a very greedy fry! hey they all count right?! laughing and letting the little bugger go i carried on down.

Reaching the next tree i hit into a big fish, easily my biggest fish, my #6 wt bending over as i seen it flash and turn under the water, i hadn't noticed 3 lads around 15/16 on the bridge messing around, until i heard them shout 'he's caught a bin bag'. Then a huge splash, and another, they had decided to lob bricks at me, distracted my line slackened and the fish slipped the hook. The throwing continued, wading to the side i hid my rod in the undergrowth, pulled myself up the banking and walked up the path on the hill. The little bastards ran, maybe not realising that being waist deep in the water was hiding the other half of 6ft 8 me. Grabbing my rod it suddenly started raining, and again the fish started rising upstream, so i decided to try my first duo.

With a sedge and a olive damsel nymph rigged up i waded upstream to my usual holes. Nothing, no takes, was it the weather? Got to my 3rd catching area and bang a hit off the top! but missed the hook! The fish were jumping in the still pool far across the river so i knew there was a couple hanging around. i cast again and boom another hit on the rise this time the hook set, nice coloured trout with its red spots, but the hit ruined my rig and i had to reset up. The rain had become heavy at this point and i considered going home but i stuck at it. Moving up to a new spot which is only 4 inches deep i hit into another fish on the nymph. Biggest so far.

Having worked the riffles there is a huge slow moving area of about 100m but i could see hundreds of fry jumping with the odd rising on the left, working my way up in this deeper water (above my waist so around 4foot) i cast but to no avail. then, as i looked upstream a huge silvery coloured trout lept out the water, the splash was like the bricks the lads had thrown at me, just a good old 'kaplunk' i made my way still going upstream but my nymph had started to pull my dry under in the deeper water, and with the practically still water i had, i wasn't sure how to fish this effectively. so with night drawing in i turned back and headed home.

3 fish again even if one was a personal best for smallest fish.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Fly Fishing - Learning to adapt - Day 8

May 13th 2015

So last week the weather said it would rain for the next 2 week. Hmmmm well it hasn't been really has it? Suited and booted i headed off to my usual hole and worked my way up. Nothing. Very strange, i usually get at least a take, but no. Seeing the amount of people around, however, made me think the water had been disturbed. So moving across a rocky pool, hugging a bank of hogweed i dropped my fly into a deepish pool with a undercut, the line moved suspiciously and i struck, a take! Within seconds the trout was in and i was pleased to see there was fish in this spot i usually ignored as it was my crossing point. After running the fly down the undercut a few times and deciding there was nothing else there i moved on.

Heading upstream about half a mile i found nothing taking, then after a single take and loss after the fish jumped and then several snags and wading in i eventually lost my fly onto some thin metal wiring that is spread all around the area and i need to really remove at some point (it is attached somewhere)

Popping a dry on i walked upstream looking for rising fish that are usually here. I seen 1 rise but hugging the bank, i eventually snagged the bank and waded up to retrieve. Strangely in this part the bottom of the river is covered in what i can only describe as giant weed membrane. As i got to my fly my foot sunk in the ground. Strange. I looked down and a whole 2 metre radius around me was seeping bubbles like spawning carp. Fearing i was about to disappear in a sink hole i made my way back downstream and onto the bank.

Heading back to where i was but on the bank i decided to pop on a wet again and try at the riffles. The water was shallower than i was last here but the huge eddy on far side looked promising. Eventually i hooked a tire and i went out to retrieve. Stepping lightly as the water got dark i couldn't feel the bottom, so dipping my rod in it came to the first eye above the reel on my 9ft rod. About 7-8 foot deep! I decided to snap off rather than drown and i headed back to where i started.

I knew the fish where here usually so i tried a different color nymph. Green this time instead of grey. I cast, straight away i was in, even if it was the smallest trout i had caught to date it was still a fish!  It was not far bigger than the larger trout fry i had spotted earlier when i was dry fly fishing. Now with time setting in, i decided to fish the river home which was downstream. Walking down i spotted a eddy next to a very heavy riffle area. i cast several times till i got the fly just inside the eddy but enough for the current to take the fly, bang i was in, it was a strong take and i was confident enough to video the fish coming towards the bank (cutting off to wet my hangs to handle the fish) it was my biggest of the day and taught me a couple of lessons. unfortunatly kneeling down while taking the picture i knelt on glass and put a hole in my waders so i waded and walked home with half a tonne leg of water. It was worth it though! A great day and some great fishing in the end, as despite only have 4 takes, i landed 3 of them.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Fly Fishing - The wife attends - Day 7

May 11th 2015

After watching the weather intently, and rain forecast for the whole week, i put my hopes on a rainy Monday to be a sunny one, after sorting out arrangements for my daughter to be at her nans with the plan to take my Mrs fishing to see what this river fishing crack was. Day license purchased for her and after she finished work we got ready and trotted off. Myself in waders, Rebecca in wellingtons, at the water side i told her she would be getting her feet a little bit wet. i guided her best i could over the shallow rocks but it didn't take too long for it to go over the top. After reaching the spot i fished last time i showed Rebecca the basics of French Nymphing, while i set up the other rod she fished. Now with 2 rods we worked a wider area, but her choice of a shorted rod seemed to impede her, (longer rod next time) but i was soon in, a small trout took the fly and i told rebecca to come look, she offered to take the pictures and the little bugger went safely back. We continued in the hole and both got knocks, several snags too obviously requiring me to silently wade in. After a quick break (barm and a brew) we got back to it and a cast to the far bank saw my fly go again, another small one, all good colors though, and safely away. Rebecca pointed out some small fry were at her feet and i had a look, their speckled backs told me they were trout fry which was a great sign! i told rebecca we'd move on up but not before i waded back in and removed a snag that had bothered me last time. A divan bed frame with cloth covering wrapped over a large rock. A nice spot for a fish to take cover behind now it's clear. Moving further up we cast into the rougher waters. Now we were taking turns with my rod as it suited her better. a man sat on the path opposite with 2 dogs, i begged in my head that his dogs didn't jump in. I cast into the waterfall and got an instant hit, i struck and felt the fish move, swimming upstream under the heavy current, bam, it was stuck solid. was i snagged? no, the force of the water on the fish was pushing it down on to the river bed, rather than pull the fish up through the current i pulled it sidewards and out downstream. it was another small trout but a fish all the same. releasing it in the back eddy we continued fishing but nothing else other than snags. we carried on upstream and found the fish rising, popping a dry on i cast to them, nothing, then a man shouting his dog, i look behind me and a black labrador has swam out to say hi, i did laugh a little, nothing else rose after that however so i told rebecca to come upstream as i pulled a bmx out of the water and we carried on around the bend. Rebecca continued to nymph down the sides, almost waist deep at this point, not caring her jeans were soaked through. while i followed the rising the trout on the left bank, some decent rises but with time against us with our daughter due back home soon, we decided to turn in. All in all a good day and the mrs enjoyed herself despite not catching, 2 big snags removed and put in a place were the council will remove them. (2 of a million but its a start) and some healthy fish despite their size. Will try to make it further upstream but this bend gives me alot of takes, so progress slows.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Fly Fishing - First Blood - Day 6

May 8th 2015

So decided to try to fit a couple of hours of fishing in before the rain came, went down to the little spot on Irwell that Mike France and Tony had spotted the day before while Kick Sampling and started down stream. After going up stream about 150m i came to a small pool and had a good feeling about it. Allowing the fly to bounce down rocks i saw my line move suspiciously, a strike, a slight pull but nothing, probably a snag, bare in mind this is snag city and i'd already been waist deep with my head almost in the water reaching down to unsnag the hook. I cast again, the fly bobbling over the rocks and then a knock, i struck, a fish! these trout don't have fight despite it's size, got it out of the main current and up, safe enough to wet my hands and reach the fish. Only small but it was my first Irwell trout! Releasing it a little further down stream i watched it swim away and take cover behind a rock. A few more casts and a few knocks and i hit a snag again, having to go in to the stretch i decided to move on up as i had probably disturbed the swim. The next spot was alot rougher, with even bigger snags, but with a nice calm spot on the far side i aimed on the edges of the current and was constantly missing small takes (didn't miss the snags though) so brought a few sticks a shore. Cast again, a hit and a fish, little bugger came off the hook just as it got half way across about the same size as the previous. A couple of casts later and another good hit, i struck and i caught another trout very similar in size to the first. Releasing it in the small run off stream behind i cast. The hook straight into a rock. I tried all i could to reach it, too deep too fast. so i made the decision to snap off and rerigged with a copper john and a caddis duo. Moving upstream as again trying to get my fly i had disturbed the swim. I found a nice slow bend with a overhanging tree. I cast. damn straight into the tree and the copper john was lost. It had started to rain at this point, and just as i contemplated setting another duo up, a trout rose, then another and another. at least a dozen trout were rising. Now when i course fished i always fished very close to the top of the water and cast beautifully under the tree with the trout jumping all around. Not knowing a guy was watching me on the hill opposite i finally got a hit. Oh boy it was solid! I tried to pull it across from the current but it decided to jump, the hook came out... FUCKK! i shouted. Hearing a laugh i looked up an apologised to the guy watching, i checked the fly and cast again, it drifted slowly along, plop, it was gone, striking up i felt the fish, and again it was nice, probably similar to the one i'd just lost. It was fighting it's way down to the far bank deeper and deeper and i was pulling it across. it tried to jump but my line was tight enough to bring it about 6ft towards me and in reach distance. (i am netless till my net arrives) reaching into the water my hand clasped around it and i practically crawled out the water. I had got it, a hattrick and fish on both dry and wet. This fish was a very decent fish and put a bigger smile on my face despite the heavy rain now. The fish had moved on from the ferocity of the fight. So i decided to go home and bathe in my own glory. Much thanks to Tony and Mike who had given me so much advice the day prior and to Liam Mcdougall who helped me realise i better weighted rod in terms of balance.

Monday, 4 May 2015

A Few Days on the Canal (Fly Fishing)

Was on the canal today to see if the carp where still in the basin, they weren't a huge shoal of roach had taken place and were feeding off the surface. now i'm fly fishing so this was trial and error. what would they take? several flies later and they only ever went for the midge but they were pretty uninterested. however i got a chance to test dry fly fishing on still water and managed to get used to allowing the line and leader to gently land on the water millimetres above the roaches head without starting them. bank casting is hard for me at the moment. i have a few 'spots' were there is enough room to cast with a small double haul at a low angle. not wanting to roll cast as it will disturb the fish. changed to a pike fly and took a walk down canal, hit into a 4lb looking pike but hook didnt set proper and off he went, carrier on down to meet a kid with his dad throwing stones all along the canal. bit my tongue and walked down. hard to spot anything here. algae and weed and shadows. only saw a baby pike less than a pound. moved back up hoping the water had settled after the kids when my mrs rung. said she'd come up to see me. showed her the roach which were now deep down, had changed back to a midge fly at this point with a piece of worm to add some meat to it. walked back past the basin showing her were the carp was day before, some chinese guy was sat fishing with a stick and line here on the opposite bank, so carried on just past the bend. mrs seen some ripples so i looked and a carp had come from under the tree, followed by a second, about 8-10lb cast out in front. swam past. then again, boom a hit! hell this was an easy fight? blimin' perch! still a nice specimen even if it was a tiddler. proceeded to follow the carp down back to the basin but with the perch being caught so close to them they weren't for sticking around. slipped back under the algae in the basin.
things learned:
strike indicators make to much impact on surface so startled anything in the vacinity.
a perfect cast can put a bait on a fishes head without barely making a noise
bit of meat on the fly makes it more interesting, maybe as the water is so still and clear then can tell its fake.
things to test:
thinner line, it was only orvis' 6lb but i could see it!
artificial corn as a floating bait with a fly or maggot below
strangely i think the fly fishing method is the stealthist, as i barely break the water, a pole moving across or a float landing would scare them, plus the weed underneath is so high the water is very shallow so surface baiting is pretty much all that can be done effectively.

Did a bit of fly fishing on canal today again, carp everywhere, one literally popped it's head through the algae 2 feet away from me and took a gulp. they not feeding as the water hasn't been oxygenated for a while, the pike definatly are, seen a jack pike rip a roach apart as i walked the banks for inspection. pick a spot in front of some reeds and put a dry foam fly on and a wet fly. i'm not good with fly names as of yet, casting is good on the fly line, just watching the back cast with the trees but nice placement on water and was easily getting within a couple of inches of the reeds opposite. had plenty of takes but finding it tricky keeping a tight line when the breeze comes as it pulls the line across, maybe i will try fishing diagonal. was on 2.9lb line? seriously why not make it 3lb. the takes were probably small perch as they were mainly hitting the fly as i 'wiggled' the line to give some movement. nothing on the dry but was acting as a good float as to keep the wet below sinking to far in to the weed (and yes i still got a lot of green slime) perch were small and also got a lone roach, all in very good condition, had a slight scare as a carp moved towards my bait but it swam past, on a 2.9lb line i would of give it a good fight but until my new net arrives i'm putting off attempting for carp. had a chat with old guy who opened the convo with 'not had out' told me he hadn't seen anyone catch anything in years and he hadn't seen the carp in a year so thought they'd all died. 2 swam past during the 20 minute chat were i happily lent him my polaroids to reassure him they were ok, told me about the golden carp, i told him i had seen it and it was still here. he walks the banks every week for many a year. told him about the changes etc and he looking forward to see the canal in a better light hopefully in his life time.

Well it was an exciting day today even if it was a blank, was on canal flyfishing, went as i had flu and the air does me good, set up on a 2.9lb line, floating artificial sweetcorn acting as a 'marker' and a fly at the end of the leader, so setting up on the bank not much showing, no movement, water seems mixed up not as clear as it had been so slowly walked down. Holy hell, bump into mr goldy with 2 friends. they were swimming in a threesome up and down a reed bed. i thought hell why not, had a cast, ignored it, i followed them up and down past this reed bed for about an hour, always aiming in front. they were getting more and more curious, i didn't think they'd bother as it looked like they were making friends wink emoticon but i cast short and was just about to retrieve when one of the carp left the pack, came up and pulled on the sweetcorn, at this point i was very aware of my lines breaking strength, it let go and swam back to the other two, they did the same patrol for the next half hour, occasionally following the wet fly down but nothing taking. they swam off into the dark and i was left alone. still it had been exciting, i walked the bank and only seen another carp deep down swim past. a couple of silvers jumped but very tricky. have ordered a normal reel for when the fly fishing is tough but will use similar rig. bad weather for next 2 week still so god knows how the hogweed will be when im next on.