Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Fly Fishing - Meeting several pretty ladies - Day 47

29th September 2015

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So the proposed plan to go grayling fishing on the 1st changed to an earlier day for a couple of reasons. The day before i had somehow had a 6 hour 'nap' when trying to get my daughter to have a nap, waking at 6pm i had that horrible hang over feeling i get when i've slept through the day. That night at 2am i was wide awake, so i thought i would check the weather for October the 1st. Dry all week it said. Not the best as it hadn't rained much in a while so i knew the river would be low. 3am came and i was still awake so i decided to make the most of it and get ready to go to the river. I managed a quick hour nap and at half 5 was ready to go. It was black cold night but it would be light by the time i arrived at my location.

Arriving at the river i was pleased to see it was a murky start, fog over hung the lower reaches of the area and the odd bit of moisture hung around.  Using a 3 nymph method i lost 2 small trout very quickly, the shallow water meaning the trout were splashing around on the surface, slipping off the barbless hooks. I walked slowly up the river when, in the clear dark brown water i noticed a large fin hugging the bank. I had an oppurtunity to cast at it but i decided to risk my luck this once and capture a video of the grayling in it's natural state. It wasn't spooked as i leaned forward and i captured some nice footage. Shame the river hasn't got much weed, in fact i can only remember 3 or 4 plants the whole stretch, it would of made a better shot.

I cast to a small pool behind a overhanging tree and was into a grayling, a nice 15 inches! The problem i have with grayling is they are very very moody, you try to take a quick picture and they kick their tails but as soon as you put them in the water they don't want to swim off. A small trout followed but then the great silence began. I was getting constant takes and losses of small trout but for probably 2 hours i failed to land a fish. There was the odd decent take in between but i was mainly losing my flies on the sharp shallow rocks and the odd one in a tree after flicking out of a snag.

That duck was eventually broken by a grayling but it wasn't good enough so i decided to head into the slow moving water up ahead. Now grayling are said to love the fast oxygenated water so this was a risk. I could of just pulled trout all day at this point and in the slow deep water i caught a couple of trout. I lost something big after it pulled me under a snag and refused to come out, meaning i had to snap off myself, recovered the top fly but lost the pink bomb and point fly.

In a pool around the corner i surprisingly caught a grayling and then 2 small trout, 1 cast after another. That stopped so fishing the riffly area above i expected a fish but again nothing. Climbing the weir in this heavily industrialised area i reached a pool, this is practically motionless as we all know weir pools. A deep pool hugs the right while a bank made of silt hugs the left, surprisingly i got a couple of tugs before a big take. It was a grayling! It was a good 16/17inches but i noticed on one side it had a 'slash' mark where something had grabbed it. A fish of this size being attacked by predatory birds is a bad sign showing that even these aint safe!

After pulling another grayling and a trout from this pool i continued up, pulling a grayling every 50 yards or so. One had an old pierce mark through the top of its back. A through and through, it was well healed but again showed that there was predators attacking these fish, maybe explaining why they were hiding in the deep pools while the water was low.

I reached the bridge where we usually park and fished a small but very deep pool and pulled 2 grayling and a trout from it all within a couple of casts. These pools were very productive, as i waded under a bridge to climb out of the river and make my way home i pulled another 2 trout in the slow water.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Fly Fishing - End of the Trout Season - Day 46

September 24th 2015

Today was my last official day trout fishing in my first season of fly fishing. It has been a joyous one, with, including todays catches, totaled 178 in trout alone! Having not blanked since my first 5 trips when i first started self teaching i have had some impeccable days, it could and should of been alot higher, but i am still a rookie, i can only imagine the amount of fish i would of caught if i never lost one or missed a strike. They'd be a couple of monsters in there too!

Regardless of all that i knew today wouldn't be easy. It had rained the day and night prior and i expected a raised river and murky water, that it was, but with a gale blowing through that only more impeding my fishing. I decided i would go for a mooch around, more of a long walk, fish some holes i had fished before and then making my way back closer to home fishing spots i'd never fished.

I reached the river and with a couple of grayling trips coming at the beginning of October i decided to pop on some pink and see how the trout liked them. Hell, might even catch a miracle grayling in the Irwell! Setting up with the klinkhammer and 2 pink flies below it started to pour down. It was still sunny but it was hammering it down none the less, the wind blowing it into my face. Now rain doesn't deter me so i wasn't to bothered. I am English after all! I was just hoping we didn't have too much that the river would become a raging torrent.

It took an hour or so before i got my first take, the water was quite heavy but a crappy weed hugged the bottom meaning a heavy fly would just cut up in it, even the weightless ones were pulling it in every few casts.  It was a small trout and wanted to jump down the rapids, which i tried to avoid, mainly as the current was enough to push it to the bottom and hurt the fish. However it didn't take long before it was in the net.

Now still in familiar territory i made my way upstream to the pool below the tree. Following the 'food lanes' out from the riffles i got a hit but after a couple of seconds it was off. I persisted and a couple of casts later i was in again, this was a bit bigger so made losing the first not a bad thing. The current made it tough to bring it up but once there it was easy to net.  A nice 12 or so inches.

I moved on up and forced my way through a forest of knotweed, reaching a pool i had fished earlier in the year when it was easily accessible. It was a big deep pool and even the shallow side was balls deep and i'm 6ft 8 so chest height to normal people.  Thankfully the bottom is ok after you get off the slippy rocks, a mixture of silt and sediment you can stand there quite comfortably. It was probably the third cast when i felt a slight pull and a struck into a solid fish.  It stayed deep for about 40 seconds before i even caught glimpse of the fish. It was a good trout. A floating stick attempted to create havoc by catching on the klinkhammer but i flicked it off with a flick of the rod.  It was fighting just below the rod tip now, feet away from me, swimming towards me at one point and turning away at a cheeky net attempt.  A few more pulls left and right and i had it back on top and close enough to slip the net under. It was another solid fat 14 inch trout.  It's tail was quite small compared to some of the other ones of a similar size but it still gave a solid performance.

I fished the pool for 10 more mins or so but nothing came of it, so i headed further up. I reached another pool. This was not that deep but offered good cover after the heavy riffled section. I hooked into a trout and whether it was the force of the water or the fight in the fish, it fought well for it's size. Saying that it fought that well it jumped out of my hand during unhooking and avoided it's picture altogether. It couldn't avoid it's fight being captured on camera though.

Heading up to where i have had some good fish of late i hit in again to another trout. This was not as big as the others from this spot but it was a trout none the less. They were loving the pink flies at this point.

Moving  slightly up i reached the point where a trout grabbed the klinkhammer last time but this time it was the nymph it took.  The current played it's part again in pulling the fish downstream of me creating extra workload for me.

The wind hadn't helped and was still hammering away, it played havoc with my line as i nymphed my way around the river so i decided to head home. I decided to fish a spot which normally has a dog or two in it. Thankfully that dog didn't arrive till i had landed a trout.  Again this trout wanted to stay deep, and after playing it for a minute or so, it's first time on top and it was in the net. Another 14 inch trout. Leaner than the other but a good trout! This was the only one not on a pink fly, this was a black gold head with tiny diamante's. yes, grayling bling. No sooner had it gone back a dog had come in to say hello. I didn't mind much as i was on my way home and had just ended it with a decent trout.

So i lost a few flies in snags, probably crap washed down in the rain, but i got to test a few flies out which should work wonders on the grayling on the 1st of October. The date might change due to weather but i'm hoping to kick off the close season with a few ladies. I'll catch trout still, that's unavoidable on a fish that eats everything edible in a river.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Fly Fishing - September Success - Day 45

22nd September 2015

With a couple of hours spare in the early afternoon i took a risk in heading down to fish the river even though the school kids would be finishing shortly. It had been raining the night before and the day before that so i expected murky raised water and upon arrival it was evidently that. I started lower down which is away from the main stretch as the rest is hard to reach due to hogweed and water depth and upon reaching the run, a long slow sweeping gradual bend, i saw no movement where i usually see the odd rise. I chose to put a klinkhammer with 2 barely weighted nymphs below. One fish rose as i fished the swim but nothing was showing, so i set off the long walk upstream.

I reached the entrance point and decided to fish as i waded across, usually only ankle deep but had an extra half foot today, and i hooked into a small trout, several splashes later it was off. At least i knew the flies were right. I moved on up and as i reached the riffley bend i hooked into another trout and landed this one.

As i moved a few yard up to the middle of the riffle, the current runs straight under a tree causing a back current. This leads to a swirling pool in the centre while 2 riffle runs push past it. Ultimately alot of the food builds up here as it swirls around. I call this big fish pool as i have lost some big fish here, mainly due to the over hanging tree and the roots and probably the motorbike i pulled out of there had a part too. My klinkhammer was practically motionless when i sensed a bite. Striking up i felt the fish. Keeping it in the swirling pool i was quickly able to net the trout.

At this point my klinkhammer started sinking as the nymphs were very slightly heavy compared to the buoyancy of the fly. I didn't mind as i then kept my eye on my strike indicator but that was not needed for the next fish.  Moments after the klinkhammer sunk a trout torpedoed downstream grabbing the klinkhammer under the surface and as i struck i missed it. As it was swimming downstream i had struck the wrong way pulling the fly from it's mouth. 

The next 3 were caught in quick succession in a long riffle rocky run through some overhanging trees, or tree valley as i name it. All nice little trout, the latter was photobombed by a spider walking across my camera as i landed it.

In the long sweeping bend ahead there is usually a hive of rises, but despite the large amount of flies buzzing around there was one one fish which rose twice. Further upstream i reached another riffle which runs into a nice pool. The pool i bagged 2 14inch trout from last time. Confident as the nymph was working well i fished this pool slowly. It wasn't long till i was in, another slow take, almost unnoticeable, my wrist twitching to the motion and setting the hook. After a short fight it pinged off the hook. Dissapointing as it was over 10 inches. 54 seconds later according to the camera and i was in again. De ja vu happened! 'what! not again' i begged! Again it had been a bigger trout.  Thankfully it was 3rd time lucky, this pool was giving me fish on request. It was a nice trout, around 11 inches or so and my biggest yet.

The pool had gone quiet after that fish so i headed further up. This area was very shallow but that has never stopped them before and i was into another small trout. It was a fun fight as midway through it swam into a weed bed and sat there, hoping that i would go away. I walked closer and held the rod out and gave it an enticing pull to edge it from it's hidey hole. I didn't want to risk netting the weed and losing it, regardless of size. It swam out and it was soon in the net.

I worked my way back down river to the pool when a fish popped up and grabbed the klinkhammer from in between the weed beds. This one didn't hide there though and like the rest was in the net.  Reaching the pool below i had a faint tug but nothing more so decided to head up to the pool above which has never produced anything before.

I only decided to fish this pool because of the weed beds, sometimes there great sometimes there a pain, with the last 2 in and around the weed beds i was hoping the same tradition was continuing above and i was right.  However i wasn't expecting it to be the size it was.  Now the water looks motionless here but when your pulling a fish back the opposite way it is swimming and the current is fighting to you realise how strong it is. i turned it round and round until i got it on the surface and on it's side. I reached out to net it and it shot away just at the rim.  It headed towards the riffles which i wanted to avoid so i pulled it away, the current working against me. It was tiring now and was splashing on the surface but doing enough to pull away so waded towards it. This time it was in the net and was a lovely 15 inches. It still had plenty of energy to torpedo away on release though!

It was a fish good enough to call it a day so i headed home. However my nose was twitching as i reached the pool where i lost the big trout last week on the dry. This time i had a nymph on and nothing was rising so i thought hell i will only be 5 minutes. It didn't take 5 minutes.  Popping the nymphs in the 'food lanes' i waited and watch, nothing, i raised the rod to cast again and i felt a fish on the other end of the line. It had made no indication on the line or klinkhammer, so it had either literally just grabbed it or just been sat there moving with current.  Upon feeling the fish i set the hook the best i could, hoping i hadn't missed it. It was a solid fish but i was unsure of it's size until it flew 2 feet out of the water. Squeaky bum time. Obviously it wasn't happy with the judges scores so it jumped again! pure muscle these fish! It was fighting to get back in the pool under the tree and i know what lies there. That damned rock! So i used it's own pulling to let it drift to the right and into the shallow water. It swam towards me so i pulled its head up and tried a quick net but again, like the previous fish, it saw the net and shot away! Maybe i rush them but they should fight to stay away longer! Thankfully it was still on.  It was tug of war pretty much for the rest of the fight. As it got closer i played the fish with the rod behind my head so i could pull it closer and reach further with the net, it was soon sideways on the surface and slidding into the net. It was another cracker at 15 inches!

The extra fight tired this fish so i played with it under the water, allowing it to have a good kick before i let go off it's tail for the final time. September has been a good month for me, it's a shame the season ends so soon.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Fly Fishing - Beauties on the Nymph- Day 44

18th September 2015

With a couple of hours to spare i headed off to the river in search of some late season trout. Reaching the pool where i lost the big one, the sun lay behind me but thankfully the trees shadows hid mine and the the trout were happily feeding off the top.

With the same set up as last time i cast towards the rises and on the second cast i hit into something big but unfortunatly it was off in a matter of seconds. Strangely, unlike last time, the rises continued constantly. After 1 small miss and 6 different dries later i decided enough was enough and they must of been having a Friday night party as they just didn't seem interested. 

I popped on a klink hammer with 2 nymphs below. no weight in them at all and headed off upstream.  I lost 2 small ones after they flopped around on the surface but was finally into one as i fished under the canopy of trees. I had just pulled the weed off the hook for the upteenth time as even with no weight i was dragging the bottom. It was a average size trout but a positive as with losing 2 on the nymph and missing the ones on the dry i thought it was going to be one of them days.

With no further hits i headed to the last run, it was strangle quite despite the off rise where i caught the same trout twice in a week. This time i was nymphing however so i fished the riffles which where heavily weeded so wasn't worth it before moving to the pools. The mid pool, a 10 foot run between 2 shallow riffles, produced one fish but after it tried to become Tom Daley it was off the hook. Frustrating but my own fault. I was keeping the rod to high rather than fighting the fish.

Moving to the slower pool and the riffles tail water i was quickly into a trout and it felt a good one. It initially stay down deep which made me think it was a chub but i quickly realised i was making the mistake, i was trying to pull the fish up rather than fight it. As soon as i started turning its head i was on the surface and into the net. It was a cracking 14'' trout. Plump and with great markings. The nymph i was test driving seemed to have gone down a treat!

5 minutes later i cast and saw a large flash of trout colours where my nymph had landed, I had spooked a decent trout but a couple of casts later i saw a flash just below the surface and i was in again and this bugger wanted to give a fight. It fought hard as i got it towards the shallower water but a quick turn and it was heading into the deep water, my rod bending with it. Pulling it back and forth, constantly turning its head i got it to the surface and with a lunge i had netter it. It was the same length as the one previous but a whole lot fatter. The butter cup yellow belly lighting up the gloomy water. 

It was a great way to end the day after an interesting start, hopefully i can pull a few more of these trout out before the season shuts!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Fly Fishing - Big Flies Big Fights Big Fish - Day 43

16th September 2015

With the close season just 2 weeks away and a unusual misjudgement from the weather people. It was supposed to rain heavily all week. The rain only happened a couple of days prior but i was surprised to see the river still clear, around 3-4 feet visibility and was up about half a foot or so.  A strong wind tore over the river when i got there and there was no signs of rising fish as there was no flies hanging around in the wind. Going for a klink and dink set up i stuck on a huge dry i had never used, it was sort of a mix of everything and a good 2 inches. I wanted to use this fly as with the raised water level the riffles were faster moving so a heavier nymph would sink a klinkhammer without question.

It was a slow start with nothing for a long time. A small rise here and there but nothing worth switching to a dry. It was only when i was going through a heavy riffle section when i got my first hit but it wasn't how i had expected it. Instead of going for the heavy nymphs i had trailing below, the trout had gone for the large dry on top. It's size made it visible in the rapidly moving water. The fly was bigger than the trouts head, and the hook i'm sure was a size 6 or something so i'm surprised it caught the hook so well.  It destroyed my rig with the jumps and twists it did so i headed above the riffles to the slow pools where the fish tend to rise.

It was quiet at first, a brown labrador had a swim while i set up on a dry. Still no respect from the majority of dog walkers.  Up ahead the riffles that led into the pool were alive with rises but with the huge amount of currents going against each other it was impossible almost to present a fly. The water flows to the far bank where it is dangerously deep but a great holding pool. I had a few casts but to no avail. Thankfully fish had started rising beside the boulder i caught my PB dry trout. So i walked back downstream, slowly made my way into the middle of the river and cast to each rise.

After several minute and switching back and forth between flies. BWO, Blue dun and finally back on the Adams (this time one with a yellow butt). I had my polaroids on my head at this time as there as it was easier to see the rises, but i seen a dark shadow go towards my fly then swim away. Was my mind playing tricks? I popped down the polaroids and low and behold i seen the trout that was rising so confidently. It was swimming around its pool all happy and dandy, it's bright orange fins giving it away as it cruised around. A couple of casts later and after a double rise from the trout it took my fly.

It was a soft take compared to the rises it had been doing but once i struck it made an almighty splash. It pulled hard, my rod keeling over and i fought back, turning it round it swam towards me. Gaining some line back it pulled away again and went into a 'death roll' several huge splashes on the surface that got my heart pounding, giving it a little slack it calmed down and swam back towards me, i got it near the surface for a brief second but as i pulled it towards me grabbing my net i allowed it get it's head back down. Seeing me step towards it i spooked it and it show off. Realising where it was headed i dropped the net and tried to pull it to the left away from the submerged rock i lost my last big trout. But it was too late and the extra force from the boulder snapped the line clean.

I almost threw my rod in after it as i reacted angrily at this misfortune. It knew where to go, it was probably the same trout hence it used the same trick. I sat on the bank sulking for 10 minutes as i let the adrenaline pour out of me. Honestly, i was gutted, it would of been a great way to end the trout season, my first! But if they were easy to catch it wouldn't be fun. The fight is the sport in them.

I headed upstream as the rises stopped. The commotion from the monster clash had caused the rest to go to ground. I seen a small rise on the right but as i began to cast towards it, in the distance a trout leapt a foot or so clean out of the water.  Do they grab flies midair? It was difficult to judge size but i didn't want to spook it in this long perfectly calm run so i teased myself with the thought of a long cast. Hell why not, i had all the room in the world behind me. A single 30m or so cast hit it's target, and the trout didn't wait long.

It rose straight away and having judge the distance right my line was in good stead to strike. It was a good strike and it was a solid fight back, i realised the risks in long range casting when it decided to swim towards me, trying to get line back in, i stripped a good 20m but had to reel it in to avoid tangling. Keeping my rod in a position to try to keep the line tight as possible i reeled in as much line as i could before the trout swam to me. Grabbing the line with my hand i guided the trout up and towards me net and it was in. It was a beautiful trout. The colouration of its grey smokey patterns and it's yellow belly where a bonus to it's size. A joint PB on the dry, 13 inches. (Thought it would of been miles smaller had i landed the previous fish)

It boosted my moral and put a positive spin on the day. I guess even with losing the trout it wasn't a bad day, i had still managed to outwit the old dog but now it is 2-0 to the trout, or do i award the points to the boulder?