Thursday, 28 April 2016

Fly Fishing - Snow in April

I had planned for a early morning session before my 2 weeks off work ended but after waking up at 6 i decided to go back to bed. Waking up at 9.15 i followed the usual routine and was off out at 10.30. Reaching the river at 11 i did some clearing to ensure safe passage for the entire season. I eventually got set up and was ready to fish around 11.45.

The river was still clear despite the rain the day before and made good fishing. However again, those fishy holes were not producing. I managed a small trout further upstream and eventually hit a slow long motionless glide were i saw a rise. Anticipating another i changed to a dry fly and got in position. As i did the wind started blowing harder as the clouds rolled in. The wind was bitterly cold and my left hand was starting to numb. The river resembled a choppy lake so i soon moved on after no let up in the weather.

Switching back to a nymph the snow began to fall, it was fairly light with a mix of hail but only reassured me of how cold it was. I hit another 2 up here and lost one of them, again only small but a fish none the less. It was nearing 2 which was when the rises tend to start happening. However it was still windy cold and snowing. So i stuck to the nymph, i caught another 2 on my way up and the weather swung in my favor. The snowing stopped and the sun came from behind the clouds so i prepared for a quick hatch and set up with a dry. 

A small hatch did happen and as i sat and waited, nothing rose. I moved up and down to a few swims were i have seen rises before but not today. Within 10 minutes it was snowing and blustery again. Popping on a nymph i was caught a little off guard when i hit into my biggedt fish of the day, probably about a pound but it soon slipped the hook from the poor strike as i had been repositioning my feet on my first cast. 2 casts later and i was on a snag which wasn't very forgiving in the weather which had turned to sleet. The point fly came off and my hand was too cold to tie on another fly despite my efforts so i packed up and headed home. 

Sods law was the weather subsided on the way home and steam rose off the road as the sun shone bright and warm. My only thoughts were that had i held out i'd be sat in the middle of a hatch right now. I need to invest in some form of glove, but then again it is almost summer!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Fly Fishing - Fishing a small brook

Now it is no secret my eyesight has been bad a very long time, i credit it to float fishing for 11 years from the age of 3 with the water glare and focusing on a small float for several hours including in choppy water. So i came to decision to finally get glasses and some prescription polaroids while i was at it. On pickup day i decided to, i was up that way, seek out some of the smaller tributaries of the Irwell and endured a nice 80 minute walk.

I reached the small brook and noticed that the weather had certainly took it's toll, with no rain for a week the water level was low not helped by the fact the amount of silt that has shallowed the river off. It was a matter of scouting ahead then fishing the pools available. The tree'd sections held good pools last year but now they were only inches deep now, i spotted a trout but it was circling the pool and took flight once my flies hit the water, however in the next pool i faired better, again the trout was moving so i cast my nymphs ahead and it turned to face, a small opening on the mouth and i struck into it, it gave a good fight for its size under the rod and with the high banking in places i was lay down flat in nettles reaching down to net it. Once in the net i moved to a shallow bank were i could get the trout in the water.

Moving up the river i found less and less water, some bends held good depth but lay practically motionless, i jigged my nymph through these but nothing. Heading into the open fields i spotted a nice trout on the far bank, however several other trout lay there too and it became a game of little and large. I was fortunate in the fact there was a herln nearby as everytime i cast and jigged the nymphs through the pool and got a take, those that spooked would go no further than the heron and would after5 minutes of so, settle back in the pool. This continued for a couple of trout before they stopped taking. I suspect they grew suspicious so i climbed in. Now the water was only a foot deep at most yet the silt was really deep. At the side i sunk down to my knee and that taught me to be a little bit more careful, it was a slow process getting my leg out but with nearby banking it was very possible. After the mishap i was in the middle of the brook which is 8 feet wide or so, it was more stoney in the middle thankfully.

Now in the centre of the river i could get my nymphs to hit the water softer as i was no longer in a high position. It didn't take me long till i had the trout i was chasing and it was beautifully marked with its plentiful spots and bright red spots lining its flank. There were still trout in the pool but i wanted to see what else was around so up i continued to a more canalised section as it runs past farmers fields and public paths.

I saw a small shoal of perch which i would of chased had it not been closed season and continued upstream. Reaching the only pool for a distance i worked my way through it and was soon pulling trout out of it. Then i hit into a chub, only a pound or so (not good at measuring chub) but was very fat which led me to believe it was spawning, so i hastily put it back and moved on upstream as not to catch any more chub.

As it neared 2 o clock i eventually came to a more urbanised stretch and was greeted by an alley of rises. They were big splashes, not very inconspicious if you look at their location. Now fishing in a 6foot wide section from a high bank with vegetation either side and trees above it's never going to be easy and i lost half a dozen dries or so. A passerby had stopped to talk and was watching me chase two rises under a big tree, they were rising all around it with big old splashes.  Eventually one took the dry and i was into a nice trout, fighting it away from the banking i climbed down the 6 foot bank and eventually tired the trout out enough to land it.

It was a beautiful trout and of good size and the biggest of the two i did manage on the dry. After the rises stopped i headed home and stopped at a pool which i saw 2 rises from the distance.  I'd tied on a nymph as i'd lost the last dry i had on and after jigging it through the pool i got a big hit.
It tried to take me into the far bank and as it came up i realised it was an even bigger chub. After landing it and releasing it i decided to call it a day, as not to risk catching any more chub.

All in all it was a good day on a tiny brook. Witnessed a deer run past and had a small fishing match with a heron, which i won if i might add. Funnily it did look over when it heard the splash of the trout. The problems with small rivers like this and their build up of silt means the pools are smaller and easier to find creating a huge potential for poachers to have a field day.

So for anyone who witnesses illegal fishing remember to report it to the EA at 0800 80 70 60

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Fly Fishing - Meeting JT

This week was a funny old week. With my 2 year daughter having fallen off the windowsill on her adventures i spent the morning (2am) of her birthday with her being xraysd. It was only a small fracture but enough to cause her alot of pain but one that should heal quickly. If she stops bliming diving around the garden i guess. We had a check up on the Wednesday to see how she was and it was a wasted effort. 'Leave it on till Friday then see how she is' anyway on the way home i had a message off the big man himself. John Tyzack.

Now this man has played apart in alot of my learning passively as my good friend Mike gave me alot of pointers and info that JT had showed him himself during a guide. I'm hoping to have one with hin this spring/summer but for now JT wanted to explore some new water and who better to ask than that idiot who can't swim. Me. After sorting everything out we was down on the river and i showed JT my usual spots, explaining my fortune and misfortunes in certain pools, explaining the tricky bits like bedrock which would snag you once you touched it. I honestly didn't know what to expect from JT, we had spoke on facebook etc but there i was with an England International. Equivalent to playing football on your local park with Joe Hart. But all in all he was 'one of us' a normal guy who just so happened to be bloody good at fly fishing and wading i might add, like a mountain goat of the river (that's one for the quote book)

We took it in turns fishing holes, about a dozen or so casts each or a small run each, purposely allowing JT to fish sections i'd had trouble to pull fish from. Admittingly he was surprised that some holes didn't reveal a trout as they were very fishy spots. JT eventually spilled first blood in a spot i'd only ever caught on dries so was good to see one out on the nymph. It wasn't a guided session but i was analysing as much as i could, i know being a 'pretty' fly fisherman is one thing but i'm still lacking in areas which thankfully JT has already seen and can address them.

We headed up two runs of the river and only spotted 1 fish rise which munched down a freshly tied JT olive on its 3rd pass. On the narrower run JT pulled out 5 in total and i lost one. We moved up to the wider section and devised tactics, i sent JT up to the bridge pools which held some good fish last year while i fished below the bridge, this water was deeper and uncharted so i was unwillingly to wade any further than at the side of the bank. Not due to the fact i'd asked JT to hold my wading stick earlier and he'd took it hostage!

I believe JT had a miss on the streamer then lost it in a tree only to catch what presumably was the same fish moments later, i had hit into a fish which felt decent but when JT came to look i'd hooked it up the arse which explained the lack of control and it pinged off as soon as it went downstream. JT headed off upstream like Bear Grylls, i took my time and headed to a spot i had a couple of nice browns last year, JT was already fishing there and had appeared to have pulled two from it already. Fishing my way up to it JT had gone further ahead as i made my own path through the river, about waist deep with deeper drops either side.

I cast in between two wooden sleepers and at the end of the drift i got a good take, infact it was a very good take, i was stripping the line back to keep in contact with my nymphs but that line was soon stripped back and then some as my reel whirled away feeding line as the fish ran straight upstream. It was heading to the wooden sleepers so i put my hand on the brake but i was a little too late, it had enough line to take me behind the sleeper, i shouted 'got one' to get JT's attention but he was miles away at this point.

With my rod held straight above my arm outstretched above all 6ft 8 of me i somehow managed to allow the fish to swim only feet behind the sleeper with the line inches above snagging it. It tried fighting further upstream and it was an arm tiring effort to keep my rod high and play the fish side to side to keep it going in one direction that would cause me to snag up. With so much line out when it decided upstream was no longer an option it burst downstream, right past a rock that was between me and it. I was trying to retrieve line to maintain contact and wade closer to avoid a line snapped snag, luckily i held off long enough before the line came in contact with the rock and as it did it was the fly line that made contact.

As i waded closer, one eye on the line and one on the bottom of the river the line pinged from under the rock and chased the fish downstream. I edged closer trying not to kill myself and the fish made for the current, it started to tire and it came up to the surface, as it did it shook its head and tail and the hook pinged away. It was over and the fish had won.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Fly Fishing - a brace of big browns!

14th April 2016

The day started off cloud and calm, good weather really but to the west ominous clouds loomed. It wasn't long till the rain began to rise. After checking the weather channel which stated it would start raining at 2. It was 10am and heavy drizzle was intensifying. I monitored the weather radar and came to the conclussion the heaviest would soon pass and it would ease off. 

It was around dinner when i arrived at the river and the rain had all but eased off. This weather of late seems perfect for hogweed as the amount it has come up already in 2 weeks is unreal. Some are over 2-3 feet already. The river was in good condition, slightly coloured and raised a little but easily fishable. I popped on a duo with heavy beads to offset the water speed and made my way up river. It was slow progress, and for a couple of hours not much happened other than a change of flies. 

I came to a long section which last season was relatively calm but the current runs further down it allowing flies to drift. The weight i had kn was too much which i knew but i stuck at it as i knee here had a lot of large boulders so the flies would be ip and down tumbling. 

Half way up the channel and i got my first take, it was a good weight from the initial strike and it was off. This was a jumpy trout which made me a little tense considering it was withing grabbing distance. It was a good fish and with all the jumping on a barbless hook it is nerve racking especially when you haven't landed one yet. He came close a couple of times to the net but i wasn't rushing him and got him. I let out a little cheer due to it breaking a blank and being a nice fish. 

After releasing i caught the tree behind and i messed around for a minute removing them. About 10m upstream i got another take. This one felt bigger as ot cruised off downstream and ping the hook popped out. A little gutting but i'd already had a good fish. 

I continued upstream and started nymphing a pool when i saw a rise. A quick change of set up and i was chasing browns on the dry. This particular spot was awkward, the rises were under tree cover (6 feet gap between) and the area i was stood led into a fast ripple meaning the line eas accelerating quickly causing drag. I added a 'reach' into my cast which Mike taught me and i had 4 misses on the dry. I saw one and it was about 6-8oz but they seemed very snatchy. 

I moved on and came to my final bend. I was fishing the seem which pushed against the far bank when i saw a tiny rise . 3rd cast and it took it and it was a good old friend. After a tough fight with my #6 bending right over and 2 failed netting attempts (i need a bigger net?) i had it. Again. Patterns told me it was the same fish from 2 weeks ago and boy had it been feeding well. Ironically caught on the same fly in the same spot. 

Now that doesn't disappoint me as it shows catch & release is rewarding! It gave me a brilliant fight both times. One bad point was while unhooking a woman watching who had asked me if i kill them?? Her dog ran down and tangled in my line almost dragging my rod in and almost ripping the hook through the fished mouth, luckily as i was unhooking i managed to snap the line before it could tighten. 

Barry, as i've named him, will probably be there alot, seems to own that eddy. However he isn't alone as i found out. I witnessed strange behavior which i'm hoping someone can explain. I kept hearing a fish rise with a plop, then i saw it, across a large riffle that lend into the bend was a small patch of still water and something was rising high up against the bottom of the bank. As i tried to catch it as it was constantly rising i caught on some debris only feet away from the rises. Practically crawling i retrieved my hook and continued to attempt to woo the trout? 

Then. I saw the unmistakable shape of a trout and i  popped my polaroids on. There it was a 2lb or so trout cruising out of the corner (downstream) so i backed up very slowly. I kept dropping a dry on its head and it gradually got closer and closer to the point it was inside my rods reach. Then a second one came along side it and they both swam off downstream. a truly strange moment to have witnesses up so amazing. Having kept very motionless other than my casting arm i'd been able to see trout enjoying themselves in their natural habitat. My initial thoughts was it was grabbing bugs from the roots of the banking and possible mating or fighting for position. 

So with the way the year has started i can only
Hope that this isn't the best and that theres plenty still to come.