Thursday, 30 July 2015

Fly Fishing - Summer Madness - Day 30

30th July 2015

It's been a whole week since i entertained the fish and it's been a whole week of rain. Even yesterday there was a short, sharp spell at 2am, and being a dad of a young child i am up at that time.  Today was much better, windy but warm and with plans to fish in the morning with Mark i thought i'd go check on the river to see how it is and remove anything that might have washed down.

All seemed quiet i reached my 'testing' run and was into a fish straight away but it was off no sooner had i hooked it. Not bad considering water visibility was about half a foot. I had a Czech-mate beadhead and the zug bug on. A little light for the fast water but it had worked. As i worked upstream towards 'big fish hole' i spotted several children swinging from tree branches, with 4 of them on 1 it was clear they was trying to snap it.  I worked my run a little hastier as they began throwing boulders in when as i got closer the worst sight came upon me. Around 20 or so children aged 2-14 and around 8 adults all messing around in the river. Throwing stuff, swinging on trees, picnicking and they didn't seem the 'take it home' type. Jumping in the river, paddling in it. Well i don't think i'll get much in this run today so i cut through the bodies and one parent had the audacity to ask if i had caught anything. I ignored him as i had a few too many replies. One being 'i'm sure your kids have caught more off this water than i have today' little did they know that they was yards from a huge forest of hogweed.

It was pretty quiet all the way round, 1 fish rose twice but nothing else. no knocks or nothing. Until i reached my end run.  Oh i don't know if it's the fly or i've lost my touch but i had easily 20 takes and misses. 1 fell off as it came to the net but i managed to land 2. Nothing special but trout all the same, at one point i had 3 takes cast after cast and still failed to set a hook.

After 20 minutes or so of being into fish, a few dog walkers with children came down, 2 of them left as i heard them mention someone was fishing and the rest decided to throw stones. so i packed up sticks and headed home, checked the family fun day spot earlier and they were all still there. it's a shame the river can't be private sometimes. but with the summer holidays here i can only expect more of it.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Fly Fishing - Clear Water - Day 29

23rd July 2015

With a couple of hours to spare and the weather holding good, a nice cool, cloudy day where i hoped to find a few trout rising and get one on the dry. Also wanted to check out my new camera which i am hoping will let me video my trips in future.

I used the same nymph as i used the day previously and a new nymph i had bought but after going through the first few runs i had only caught a small minnow. i felt them hit the flies each cast so i moved on up. Didn't want to be catching minnow all day. Now i still hadn't seen anything rise strangely as they usually do at this time of day, it was 7pm and actually seemed to be getting darker.

After reaching the first deep pool i ran my nymphs through it till i hit something big, it was solid and unmoving so i knew it was a snag. A tree root perhaps? i waded in, to the top of my thighs, so probably around 4 feet deep! Followed my line under the water till i felt the snag. it was metal, it lifted thankfully and out i pulled a cross bike. One less snag in the river then and one less in my pool!
I decided to switch flies as nothing was interested and put on 2 new ones, a white and red czech nymph and a zug bug.
 I fished up the next run but still to no avail and then i bumped into a good friend of mine Matus who was spinning. We had a chat but things had been quieter than usual for him also, and we continued on our own paths. I reached a large shallow riffle bank that runs into a very deep pool but with nothing showing in the pool i fished the tail end of the riffles as the riffles are literally 2 inches or so deep. I was sure i spotted some rises in the riffles but was difficult to tell but i tried anyway and was rewarded with my first trout.  Was quite tricky to land as with the Polaroids on i found it tricky to follow the fish in the riffles. 

I headed upstream to the tree valley and found nothing there though up ahead i could see plenty of fish rising. so off came the nymphs and on came the dry they took here last time, it seemed when i got 20m near a rise they'd stop and after i had passed them by around the same distance they'd rise behind me. i was hugging the small rocky ledge on the bend to so i wasn't disturbing the water. A fish made some big waves when it rose 3 times in as little seconds and even that wasn't interested.  With daylight fading i had my final run to check.

I reached the final run and saw minnows jumping so moved to the shallows and hit a trout, it did a half spin over a rock and tangled itself around the other hook. i brought it in flopping sidewards and untangled it before taking a picture. I cast back in the spot it had just come from and boom! again! well maybe not boom but it was another trout, flopped over the rocks again but didn't tangled itself up.  A few more casts and i was at the end of my run and in good time as the phone rang. 'where are you, you only said you'd be an hour' i got ready to go when a large fish jumped and landed with a smack in the deep almost still run up ahead. the same run i saw that huge trout a few trips ago.  Probably feeding on the minnows on the surface.

It was an interesting day, slow i guess, 3 hits and 3 fish is a good result however, still can't fathom these damn rising trout and need a trick to fish the almost still deeper sections.  Funnily, all fish were caught in inches of water when i expected them to be in the deeper sections due to the water level.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Fly Fishing - New Waters - Day 28

22nd July 2015

Had made plans with Mark who I've fly fished with previously to check out a new stretch of the river, Google maps can only give you an outdated perspective of what to expect and upon arrival in a heavy fine rain we made our way through the overgrowth to the river. It was alot narrower than we had fished before as we were in the upper reaches of the Irwell but it was clean, alot of plant life lined the banks and in the river which would make for tactical fishing.

We had arrived at a footbridge but we decided to head downstream a little to fish under the bridge only to spot a nice 'fishy' looking run, a small weir with bulrushes and cow parsley lined the banks. After planning our method of attack, Mark below the weir and i above we fished our way around the sides and channels. Both using the klink and dink at barely a foot as the water was shallow.  As i reached the weed bed at the top of the pool i looked to check on Mark, the river bed was slippy were the rocks were and very silty, suddenly i felt a hit and i turned to see my klinkhammer shoot under the weeds to the left, 'I'm in' i laughed, what felt like a trout pulled me deeper into the weed and with a sort of jump in the weeds it lost the hook and gave me a nice blob of weed.

A great start, was going to be pulling them out all day if it was like this. However, it wasn't. We both worked our way back upto the footbridge but saw no movement. Despairingly i checked under rocks, nothing, nothing, 2 decent freshwater shrimp, cased caddis. Interesting. So it seemed there was little food but it was big, but then again i only checked one section. With nothing to report after the first hour we decided the weed was choking the river to much and decided to trek downstream.

We followed a sort of path till it began to lead from the river so we headed through 6ft+ grass trying to find the river again. I lead the way being 6ft 8 i could see the direction we was heading.  Once we reached the water we discovered a strange tree, twisted and torn it wove itself like rope.  With the grass being shorter on the opposite bank we scaled the tree and climbed across.  Agreeing to head downstream for more of a mooch than fish, as it was new water we wanted to find where the best spots where and despite it all looking good with clarity of the water and the depth pretty much showed us there was nothing there.

Finding a small clearing we edged to the bank to check it out, in our horror we saw a large trout easily 6 or 7lb spook and swim downstream. Damnit! it had been on our nearside so as we had edged to the bank we had scared it, if it had been on the opposite side we would of seen it.  We followed it 20m up the river until we found it again, Mark seen it swim under a willow so we positioned our selves at either side of the swim and tried to tempt it out.  As i watched i noticed a shoal of silver fish feeding on the bottom, roach? dace? they would not look at the fly though so i switched my olive to a red copper john, it hadn't been in the water long when i saw a fish swim from under the tree and grab my fly, i struck! i was in! but not to what i expected. it was a perch! first perch from a river so i wasn't bothered at all.

i tried to tempt the silver fish to see what they were but they would not give up the food from the bottom. a  kingfisher sped along past like a motorbike on the highway  We continued downstream round the bends of the river, until we met a fence, crossing over we had to duck under a pipe barely above the water but that wasn't the last of our limbo moments.

We fished a few spots downstream but still nothing, removing rubbish, trolleys and full trees that blocked the flow and were in danger of damming it up with any future rain until we reached another footbridge. this was barely 4 feet high and that doesn't include the water, we both managed to edge our way under the bridge, faces only a foot above the water when we spotted a long run, now the silt we kicked up was dirtying the river so agreed to climb the steep banking and follow it, it eventually reached an industrial estate and was choked with weed. We decided to go upstream of where we started and see where the weed ended.

Stopping at where i lost the fish we decided to have a quick dab at it and i set up to my original set up. Just as Mark had stopped fishing his run a fish rose just downstream of him.  He cast and let his fly drift over again and again, nothing. I decided to have a pop at it, several casts and my line lay on a cow parsley, i flicked it off and was planning on fishing the weedy section when whoosh my klinkhammer shot under towards the reeds on our near side, i was already leaning over as we was on the bank.  I managed to get it out and it tried to swim across to the far side but i had got it on its side now on the surface. Managing to reach a couple of inches of net into the water i managed to slide it in.  Wooo we was chuffed. It had taken the nymph despite it having risen not long ago and it was a nice average trout for the Irwell.  We had seen a fish rise and caught it so we was equally chuffed.

Continuing our search we found a couple deep runs with reeds either side and the odd weed bed. probably about 10-20m of river that was easily fishable but nothing again.  As time drew in and we knew we had done very little fishing to walking we headed back.  It wasn't a bad day, it was a very interesting recce of new water and we have planned our tactic for next time.  With barely any riffles and plenty of slow runs we have to approach it different and we will see if our new tactic works next time we are there.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Fly Fishing - Meeting the Idol - Day 27

17th July 2015

Today was a pretty special day. Since seeing that first trout rise as i walked past the river, to researching the River Irwell and Fly Fishing techniques to finding Arthur Hamer's blog and learning so much about the local river, i finally met the man himself.  Now I'd say from todays meeting that Arthur was a modest guy but in my eyes he is a prolific dry fly fisherman, which is why i was hoping he would be able to show me how to pull these damned trout out of this stretch of river. But it never is simple fishing.

We started fishing upstream of a rise or two and after catching the knotweed weed and hogweed, had to leave a fly in the top of one hogweed plant, we swapped sides due to us being opposite handed. Made things easier but nothing was interested. So off we trotted up to the first riffle section, again nothing, so as i always do at this point with no takes, i changed from the depth charge to a czech nymph and an olive. 

We worked up the next slow section but to no avail and it was ever so quiet, barely a fly around either.  Just as i reached the start of the riffle water i got a hit and a nice little trout on the olive.

Still no luck for Arthur but we had a little chat and as i cast while we talked i had another take, i saw it run towards the riffle before it pinged off the hook and was away.  A small trout rose up ahead so Arthur went in search of it while i worked the pools and the riffles and as we both worked our way upstream after Arthur found another trout rising i bagged another trout. This one was a funny little fish as it took it in a 5m stretch of water between 2 large riffles and instantly sat under a rock when it was hooked, i waded up so my rod could extend past the rock and the little sod was off darting round my feet and was a tricky little fellow to net.

With the fish that Arthur was after now hiding we headed up to a stretch that is prolific in rises and as we got there a fish was rising which i left Arthur to chase. I nymphed upstream and lost a tiny trout and had a big hit but nothing more so i switched to dry and watched Arthur after this 1 trout.  4 times it jumped where his fly had been cast and continued on its crusade to taunt Arthur, who offered me a crack at it, several drifted flies later it had a slight pull on the fly but nothing more and it started rising further downstream.  I headed up with Arthur not far behind and had 2 good rises for the Klinkhammer but they failed to grab the hook and we was left with nothing on the dry fly.

With one final stretch to fish and a trout rising in the slow water, i switched back to the previous nymphs i had been using and fished the riffle water as Arthur went in search of the rising trout, i bagged another trout and that was to be the last of the day.

I felt for Arthur as he had taught me so much but i knew this was a difficult stretch on the dry, they are very very picky and stealthy.  With the good deeds we had done all day including tire removal and the removal of over 10metres of 15lb+ line we wasn't repaid and i hope Arthur isn't put off from fishing with me again. Maybe with his Tenkara stick with the nymph next time

Oh and i forgot to mention we found a bright orange inflated lilo in the river, offered the chance to float back down river but instead we binned it to avoid further pollution in the river

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Fly Fishing - Canal Run

14th July 2015

With the river still recovering from a few days of rain and weather conditions improving i decided to take the rod with me on my bailiff run on the MBB canal.  After doing my run and watching a few carp and tench swim i headed off to the end of the canal where i could just sit and relax.  With a bread fly acting as the indicator and a lone size 16 barbless Kamasan's with maggot as the dropper i was soon into a shoal of fish.  I managed 36 but could of had easily double that but missed alot due to striking too soon and lost a lot due to barbless but pulled out a couple of nice perch and the roach underneath the perch weren't too bad either.

2 or 3 were slow takers and decided to swallow the hook, some blood but all recovered thankfully.

Hopefully i can hit a shoal like this on matchday and just have fun pulling them out. 

Here are some of them (unless you want me to post 36 pictures? i will happily do so)

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Fly Fishing - On the hunt - Day 26

10th July 2015

With my tally of trout since beginning fly fishing 25 sessions ago surpassing the 100 mark i have still so much to learn, and am still testing various techniques and combinations.  One thing i have not had too much success with is dry fly, why? the area i fish bar 2-3 very deep runs that are not safely wadeable thus the fish like to sit on the bottom, bar very quiet periods later in the evening.  These deep stretches i have always seen trout rise there but one section is overrun with knotweed and hogweed and is only accessable via the bank due to the depth and the over has a slight platform of rocks that allow limited access but is down a 80' slope. Now i may be 6ft 8 but i am quite nimble (i used to be a goalkeeper before i dislocated my knee and broke my wrist) and have an advantage of being able to climb bigger footholds, in this case roots. 

I had caught 2 and lost 2 trout nymphing, 1 i lost at the bottom of the weir with an audience of teens who stopped playing in the river to watch, which was a pleasant surprise, the fish wasn't willing to play ball and got off after a tough fight, nothing special just alot of large rocks to navigate.

I was on my way home as i had to meet Mike France as we was going up to LBA HQ for kick sampling, and seen at least 4 fish rise and 1 very big rise, all in the space of 30 seconds. it was something i couldn't ignore.  This was the first time i'd risked this climb but it was pretty straightforward for me, how Mark Thomas handles it we will see haha.  Now a Hawker Dragonfly had taken a liking to me and had been on my fishing jacket for most of the day, and that coupled with the sheer number of dragonflys and damsels i'd seen i tied on a large cranefly imitation. (o.e Mohican Mayfly BL)

Now there was a big rise again but it was still to far for my casting capabilities without risking spooking it so i aimed for the small rise that was just on the drop off on the edge of the 'platform' of rocks i was stood on, it was only 15 feet or so away.  I cast and within 2 seconds, an almighty splosh as a huge rise took the fly, i struck instantly, felt the fish turn it's heavy head and it was off.  Damn it.  Now as i have little oppurtunity to dry fly i talked to Mike on the way up to LBA about what i could of done wrong. And we came to the conclusion i probably struck to early, as the fly is larger than the hook, the fact i struck instantly meant the fish hadn't had chance to fully take the fly meaning the hook had a high chance of missing, which it did. I now know to be a little more patient for a rising take.  It could of been a trout or a chub easily, was it the same fish that rose further upstream? a good 20 feet or so distance from the rise to the take so maybe it is a nice holding area in this quiet spot.

I look forward to having another dabble on the dry and i promise you i will get you a new PB soon. (15inch is my PB so far)

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Fly Fishing - Morning Raid - Day 25

9th July 2015

It had been some rough weather since the last time i had properly fished with some brief encounters on the river but with the Mrs off work for the day i decided on an early morning raid for some 6am fishing on the river.  It was a very cold and frosty morning, my breath hanging in the air but i still donned a t-shirt and my new waders! I expected the water to be quite murky after several days of constant rain, enough breaks for the water level to drop to a decent summer level thankfully. With murky water expected i planned on a parachute BWO and a nymph klink 'n' dink method. However upon arrival visibility was around 2 feet tops which was more than enough.  Sat watching there was no fly activity, probably too cold for a hatch and definitely nothing rising so it was the Czech Nymph and black and white rib flashback nymph set up. Black should stand out well in these murky waters.

Starting off in the 'testing' run i caught a small trout, quite girthy, in the tail water but had no further hits.  Reaching the pool i have caught my biggest in i snagged on some overhanging crap and had to snap the line as the pool is too deep to wade, noticing the flies were moving a little fast through the water i kept the BnW Ribbed but put the good old depth charge back on. Alot of water fished and nothing showing, barely any insect activity and was a struggle through the knotweed which has grown well since i last fished here.

As the sun rose above the trees i reached a section that allowed light on to the water in a small section. I watched the bite and struck and felt a good fight.  With the rising sun being right in my face it was a little difficult also as i could barely see where my line was.  The Trout was in a decent pool around 2 feet deep surrounded by large rocks and it was dragging me between them, rod high and arm stretched to allow the line to not lie on the rock it then swam straight at me, disorientated with a mixture of tiredness due to only having one hours sleep and the rising sun i had trouble netting the fish as it swam round my feet, my rod held as high as the trees allowed me. Luckily i found composure and netted the trout. A nice 10' specimen, colored well in the rising sun.

I lost what felt like a small one in the same sunlit pool before i moved on, on the last section i usually fish i fished the tail water which leads into a long slow glide, this stretch is a hotspot for trout with over 30 coming from this section alone.  Wasn't long before i was in again, a good take and quite a decent fight from the little guy, finding it easier to fight them under the water but i still think they could come off anytime. 

As i reached the start of where the riffles run into the pool i got a slow hit as my line reached it's 'lifting point' as the line runs out and it rises in the water. It was a good hit despite the slowness as it instantly began running some line. Feeling the pressure the trout leaped out of the water and i waded a little faster after it as it pulled me downstream. allowing it to have enough line to swim deep it turned and swam upstream which didn't work too well for it as i put the brakes on and had it swimming on the spot to tire itself out. Confident i could pull it across into the shallows i got an easy net and another 10' trout. A little leaner than the first but a good fish none the less.

On my way home i decided to have a quick look at the croal, lost one fish but then was surprised to see a woman chanting in the river. At one point dunking her head under the water. This is why i avoid areas like this as traffic in the water must be phenomenal.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Fly Fishing - Fishing among chaos - Day 24

3rd July 2015

With my waders out of action i decided to fish a lone stretch of my river that was easily accessible and shallow enough in areas to wade in wellies.  Unfortunatly that makes it a hot spot for people coming down to the river in the hot weather, from kids throwing stones to dog walkers to teens drinking beer. I had only gone down for a quick hour or so, it was around 7pm were i hoped to avoid the crowds but unfortunatly there was 2 families sat there throwing in the river and splashing around and 1 dog walker throwing a ball in.

I worked up and down the stretch looking for fish, i knew they'd be hiding but i just hoping for the lapse in noise for them to come back.  In an hour i got take but it went for the nymph as i pulled out to recast meaning it just jumped at the fly and missed.

With time against me i gave myself 5 last minutes which is strangely when everyone else decided to go home. I fished the spot were i missed the fish but nothing. then moving to the deep section which i hadn't been able to fish due to people sitting here previously.  2nd cast and i was in, a slow take but then a big jump, heading downstream about 6 or so feet in one bound, panic set in as i lose so many fish like this, and it wasn't a bad fish either.  giving it some slack i let it pull me down stream, it wiggled like a staffie pulling on a lead, luckily it didn't notice it was heading for the shallows, i waded into the deeper water to get riverside of the fish just incase it managed to get off i had a better chance of netting it, it held on thankfully and i netted him.

A huge sigh of relief, i hadn't blanked, i knew they were fish here it was just tempting them in amid the chaos and a nice 11inch brownie to make amends.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Fly Fishing - Passing Storm - Day 23

2nd July 2015

It had been a a stormy night previous with a huge storm sweeping the Irwell Valley, being out in it was quite refreshing to be honest but my plans for fishing on Thursday, i knew, had been scarpered.

None the less i decided to go for a walk on my stretch to clear the debris that had no doubt flooded down with the flash flood, it had been a short burst of rain so the water level had almost returned to its summer level within 12 hours.  The water was still thick and colored from the overflow pipes according to the smell, visibility was less than half a foot but i had still took my rod with my 'just in case'. I worked my whole stretch clearing debris and several trees, i even hooked a few under the water in the pools and somehow landed full tree branches on 4lb line. Why won't it hold a damned fish when i want it too?

I reached the end of my stretch where i hit my first bite and caught a very small trout, nice purplish hue however, couple of metres upstream and i hooked and lost a second.  Was happy with that considering the conditions and i wasn't really out fishing.

As i was out i decided to walk the canal and was greeted by carp, carp and more carp. Switching to a white cased caddis nymph which looked like a big white maggot and using a twist on indicator as a 'float' i cast in front of them. There was a hive of activity all down the stretch from carp and tench and my indicator was bobbing up and down under the water as something was clearly playing with it.

With no solid takes only brief hits 2 older gentleman arrived, map in hand.  They were from Stockport and was trying to walk from Moses Gate to Ringley but had got lost, thanks to previous bad directions from earlier. Luckily i showed them there route but not before i let them try on the poloroids so they could witness the activity they were missing.

Not long after they had gone i had a take and caught a very small perch, this was what was probably playing with my fly for the past half hour.  Then one of the paler carp swam under my indicator, round and round, before sinking into the murky waters, the indicator went under and i struck. I had a damned carp on, i was aware of my 4lb line and the sheer size of the carp but was surprised to see it not fighting but swimming slowly off. Unaware why i kept the line tight and tried to steer it towards me, and as it's head turned the hook came out.  The fly must of literally just been right on the edge which is why it wasn't too bothered.

Not long after it began to rain, i knew this was here to stay for a bit so i headed off home. Hopefully my stretch will be debris free still next week.

Oh and clearing the debris i caught my waders and almost ripped the whole leg off. So looks like i need some new ones. Again.