Friday, 24 June 2016

Fly Fishing - Sight fishing on a small brook in a thunderstorm

23rd June

It had been an interesting start to the day with the EU referendum result and it caused a stir in the weather too, from 23' the day prior to a murky muggy wet morning. I had hoped to have gone fishing today but i knew my options were limited and as i sat and watched the radar as the heavens opened outside i spotted a potential break in the weather. The problem was, as i don't drive, i would have to walk an hour or so in the rain, in fact its an hour and a half and i lost half an hour of dry weather as i was still enroute. It was nice to dry off, i only wore a shirt as it was warm, and as i passed a small lake carp and pike basked on the surface, tempting i thought but no onwards i must.

I reached the river which is one of them totally urbanised brooks, more of a drain than anything but i know its secrets. Anyroad as i headed up to the more fishable stretch i thought i should look over the wall  to see how good the clarity was considering the rain earlier. It was good, a foot is all you need i say especially when it isn't even a foot deep in most places. But something else caught my eye, 2 trout just lay up taking nymphs in the shallow water. The trout at the back though was a beast, i was at least 10 feet above it, the path is raised above the water level thus adding to the 5 feet of wall. It was probably 3lb or so, the trout on this stretch are fat, probably from eating the rats that i see roaming here.

I was in no way prepared with my 10ft #4 no waders on and i wasn't even set up. In honesty i didn't expect much, i flicked the nymph off the wall and held the indicator above the water, it went past but it turned and chased after it, i saw the white of it's mouth and i struck! I nipped it but missed! Damn! It went straight back in position so i cast again this time i didn't fail in my strike it was on! I lost my camera last time i was out fishing so i grabbed my phone and videod a short clip of it as i tried to work it out of a small tree at the side, which i did and numerous times i had to pull it from under the overhanging back on the far side, now i'm used to a #6 rod so the level of bend was a bit frightening especially after the snapped rod incident but after a good few minutes it was on the surface. Then it dawned on my, how the hell was i going to net it. I couldnt go upstream or downstream because of obstacles and even if i had line of a breaking strength to haul a trout of that size 10 feet up a wall it would go everything i preach for as a catch and release angler.

Have you every tried to get your waders on one handed? Not recommended! Luckily i managed and knew what my only option was, to jump over the wall. I climbed the wall, not helpful in waders, and perched waiting, were are the dogwalkers when you need them, i was hoping one could hold my rod so i could grip the wall facing it  with both hands and jump down. But no, so i turned rounf lowered myself down with my rod horizontal in my mouth, gripped the wall with my boots, bent my knees and pushed off, i landed safely, a little rough on the legd but i was ok, i pulled the rod tight but it was slack, the line had snapped, it must of caught on the wall or the shrubs as i'd jumped! But the trout was still there! Tired and recovering, i had 2 options, rush it or sneak up on it, i chose to sneak, i crept up behind with my bet outreached, it was lay on the bottom, its a shallow river and a big trout, as i went to put the net under it to scoop it, how it would fit hadn't crossed my mind yet, it bolted, like a freshly released trout it was off.

Thinking back i don't even think i had one bad thought, i can remember saying 'that was worth the walk alone' but i knew i hadn't thought every possibility through and thus it was my fault! I moved upstream as the rumbles of thunder groaned in the distanced, i knew i was running out of time, with the brook very overgrown it made spotting quite hard but i eventually spotted a feeding pair, the rear trout on nymphs and the other on drys, poorly positioned i might add as it chased each one downstream. They looked similar size from this distance so i went for the back trout, with trees all around on my side, the bow and arrow cast was fairly accurate and tempted the trout out of its lane to take the nymph. I practically dragged it downstream to try to avoid spooking the other trout and it used the vegatation to its advantage as well. I'm used to fighting in vegetation though from my course fishing days, popping a float in front of a tree or reed bed 5m away. It was soon in the net and it was a lovely trout.

I headed back for his friend as the first rains hit the water, i was very conscious of the thunder but there had been no lightning yet, it took it first time, it was smaller so it could of been a different trout but it was a trout none the less and not long after the rain became torrential. The river almost instantly became a solid brown mess. I headed upstream and camped out for an hour or two under a bridge, watching the inlet pipes grow in intensity as the deposited all their crap in the river, it was strange as the river went up about 2-3 feet then dropped a few inches despite the rain continuing and eventually the blue came and the rain eased off till it stopped. The damage was done now, it would be unfishable for a while and as i walked the long walk back home i only wished the weather had been like this earlier.

On the way home i came across a mother duck and 10 or so ducklings huddled on the path, this was a very bad situation for the duck as it is prime dogwalking ground. So i knew i had to try to move her on, she wasn't far from the water but she was on the wrong side of the path and was not for moving.  She bigged herself up and hissed so i lowered myself so i didn't appear as threatening and tried to calm her, she did, so i reached forward to usher her towards the water and she went quackers! Bit me on the knuckle, it didn't hurt but i admired her courage, it would be no use on a dog though. So i stood behind her and put my foot near her to target on, she got the idea and attacked my boot and got hold of my jeans! it was quite funny having a duck swinging off your jeans as it flaps away trying to scare you off, but luckily it spooked the ducklings who made a break for the water and the mother duck chased after them, wrapped her wings around them and ushered them into the water. It was mission complete and i was much more satisfied when i passed two Jack Russells off their leads a couple of minutes later.

Now one thing i have noticed with my pictures is they don't give a clear indication of size, i noticed this when i was with John Tyzack as usually i take the picture of the fish myself. Here i am with the same trout in my pose and how it looks if someone else takes the picture.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Fly Fishing - Stranded

15th June

It was my first day back out from guiding and some practise at home was due a real test, until i got a lighter weight rod things would still be tricky as the rod wouldn't load as well as it should for the method i was fishing but i was confident none the less. The weather was stuffy but cloudy. There had been heavy rain for a couple of days but the day prior was fine so the river levels had started to drop. Visibility was around a 18 inches so easily fishable.

I bobbed around my usual runs, concentrating on what i had learnt previously but was surprised to not get a take for around half hour, in fact takes were very few and far between. They were small trout but a fish none the less, and there's always a bigger one lurking.  Strangely the fish seemed to be right up in the riffley water which i didn't expect after the rain fall, i had expected a few to be lurking in the deeper pools.

Around a hour and a half in i saw my first rise, it was a lone rise and never rose again, however when i was watching i saw a flash of a fish just ahead of me under the water and i cast around 2 feet infront of it, i got a take from a small trout but i knew the flash was a bit bigger so i cast again and on the second cast i hit into a slightly bigger trout. It was a nice trout and ended up being the biggest i landed.

Further upstream i fished a long glide bubbling with cover yet didn't provide till right at the head of the pool, 4 casts 4 fish, 3 were small and one jumped off and the last was around a pound a half which after some violent head shaking underwater managed to slip the hook much to my frustration.

I then made an almost fatal error, i waded across a section of river i usually hit bigger trout (on average) however in my waist waders i hadn't anticipated the depth change due to the rain and was litterally an inch or so to being watered down, it was still raining too.  I fished around 20 metres until i get to a section of river i needed to be closer to the current but the river bed here is notoriously bad, big boulders around a foot, each one like ice, seems when your on them you can't find your way off them.  So i'm stood pissing around in the river trying to jam my stick into a crevice to gain some grip in the pouring rain when i think i need to call it, with so much sun and lower rivers i've forgot how to handle myself in a raised river.

However, by this time i know i cannot cross the river as the shallowest point i crossed previously is now above my waders, so i look to the hill, flowering hogweed and 10 foot high knotweed. Last time i was here i had a little path carved up this steep embankment, but christ how this stuff has grown. So i'm literally wading through this stuff trying to avoid a rogue hogweed leaf i haven't seen, and gently pushing past the knotweed, soon as i start hacking the stuff then i'm in trouble. It's a steep embankment so i need to see my footing and if i fall then hogweed a plenty is down at the bottom. Eventually after 5/10 minutes i managed to get up the hill, it's only 50m or so but it was the choice of drown or burn.

After reaching the top of the hill i noticed my camera was missing, ripped away from my by the knotweed no doubt, chances of finding it in all that? Not worth the risk, so it was a lesson learned today in a number of aspects.

 Half way up
 half way down

Friday, 10 June 2016

Fly Fishing - Guiding with John Tyzack

So i had come to the decision that there is only so much you can read from books and watching youtube videos of fly fishing in New Zealand, there's only one English channel i know of and that's about it.  Now there was some debate of guided fishing in one of my local groups but the age old argument of learning yourself off your dad showing you, which is effectively guiding, is all you would need.  But after a season of fishing i had a few quips in my method, books and videos don't tell you what your doing wrong that is affecting your catch rate. Whether it be presentation related or something else, i needed that second voice reminded me of what i was doing and as i tried to get my brain to remember it to constantly keep that form, obviously i would drift back to my 'natural' style but with reassurance it improved throughout the day to a point a went from catching the odd fish now and then to catching very often.

Now why John Tyzack, well if your going to get told what to do by someone why not get told by someone who i class as the best fisher catcher in Britain. Not only can he be dependable in that sense but he is just a normal guy, like myself. Don't get me wrong he is still serious in his role but from someone who doesn't really take orders very well i never felt pressured. He never forced me to do as he said, though it'd be pointless if i didn't listen, but i wasn't being barked at like a military sergeant. Now i have fished with John before and JT knew my style and method etc and i today i had a few specifics i wanted to change but with that comes alot of change from the 'natural'.

So here we are on the Irwell, i river i know well, i've got alot of information running round my head so at first i find things a bit tricky adapting, but with Johns reassurance and reminders and observations i eventually picked up the skills to a degree and began getting praise. Now one thing JT can't teach is reactions and though i always thought i was quite fast at reacting i realised i paused for a split second. Things started off ok, the odd couple of small fish here and there which was good. As we headed further up the river my confidence and technique improved and John would say his approval and like magic i'd get a take. Now if fish had pockets i'd say he'd been giving them backhanders but these fish were brasic. Despite their small size they were plenty fat so had obviously been skipping their salads this spring.

We had a laugh further up when a old man with a stick started waving it at us saying we was fishing in off season, we reassured him it wasn't explaining the law but he got more aggressive and wove his stick more, luckily at John more than me, and with the final words of 'Well i hope you don't get caught' he was off. Not long after while fishing a slower seam of the current i hit into a nice trout, plenty of girth and plenty of fight, keeping it downstream of my run i guiding it into John to net and we grabbed a pic or two and it was off.
We hit into a lot of small trout and the average size ones but managed a couple more decent trout. The colours varied but we had a lot of silvery grey trout with shimmers of blue on them. But other than catching fish it was a very productive day, i had learnt alot and had felt improvements in my fly fishing, i knew i still had along way to go but i had improved and knew what i had to do to continue that way. Like golf, breaking a bad habit is hard but once it becomes second nature then it is easy.  Hopefully next time i see John he will be impressed in my newly developed techniques and we can try something else.