Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Fly Fishing - A weekend of chasing trout

23rd & 24th July

It seems the days go by so quick during the open season and i already can feel time running out as we edge closer and closer to the close season, be it a few months away still the winter closed season lasts forever. The weekend of the 23rd came at the end of a very hot week turning into clouds and rain but still mild temperatures. The Saturday was 32' in the early part of the day, when i was at work, but with an early finish i had taken my gear with me too work and headed straight to the river. I knew it would be busy with the school holidays combined with the weather but with clouds heading in there wasn't that many people actually riverside.

I hadn't been fishing long in the oxygenated white waters where i had pulled 2 trout out in quick succession did i meet someone else. I noticed a head watching and the pleasantries were said and again that question 'Is there anything in there?' 'I hope so 'cos i've just had two' i joked. I beckoned the couple down who were in there 50's or so and gave them the basics of what and why i do what i do, it's not just fly fishing, its not just an escape from reality, it's so much more. I said give me 5 minutes and i'll have you a fish, in fact it didn't take that long but with the fish welfare priority it wasn't too happy with the ordeal and was quickly back in the river and away. 'There will be one just there' i explained, 'how do you know what to aim for?' and so the explanation on feeding lanes and adjusting your bodies of water based on weather, depth and oxygen etc and i was in again. This trout was happy to hold still and be the star of the show and he was himself back in the river once more.

We bid farewell and i continued upstream, with a couple more trout i noticed an unusual rise in a large back eddy. With all the foam in the eddy it was hard to figure out if it was a big trout or a small one but either way i set up the dry fly rod. It had stopped by now and despite covering it with several casts, nothing. I headed on up to a run that should hold more trout than i have been getting her lately, it's just below waist depth, plenty of cover, plenty of oxygen running through a long pool yet nothing. But just above it, a small rise. I covered it but it was moving around but eventually it took the dry, a small trout but another on the dry. They are very slowly building up.

At the end of my run a South African sounding man and his daughter were playing in the river but i knew they hadn't affected the short run i wanted to fish and first cast i was into a small trout. This prompted a very slow walk over by an inquisitive father but not fast enough as i couldnt hold about too long so i released the trout, knowing that i would probably catch another should he want to show his daughter. I didn't fail to live upto expectation and i hooked into another trout. They didn't engage with me much, more interested in seeing the fish but i offered the girl a better view of me releasing the trout back into it's home.

I don't mind fishing with an audience, well if people are gaining positives from it anyway. I hope people start to realise the life that is in these rivers and help protect them more, i hope people see that me releasing them encourages them to do so if they decided to take up fishing. In all i had 14 trout averaging around 1 every 8 or 9 minutes and a lone minnow, not had many of them this year!

The Sunday i was fishing with my good friend Mike France. We had a job prior to do which was water sampling to test it's levels of ammonia etc. We continued afterwards to fish and i was soon into a trout, a good start, the water here was visibiliy clearer than the previous section and was deceivably deep. The second trout had the fight of a big trout but was only a 1lb 1lb 1/2, it took the nymph after i let it drift under a tree and ran 20 foot of line of my reel as it stormed up the far bank. It turned and i got it into the deeper water infront of me, it started shaking it's head violently and it was off. It hadn't slipped the hook it was an error of my own. I had been experimenting with tippet rings to help the line sink a little quicker but the dropped hadn't been tied on perfectly, despite a check i hadn't double checked it and the fish was gone.

We continued upstream hitting into the odd trout, the river was really on it's arse and we had to do alot of water searching, i even got one through a punt at running a nymph through a very deep but still pool, with how they have been lately (staying in fast oxygenated water) i really thought i had hit a snag. As we proceeded upstream Mike got a nice trout but the weather continued to worsen. The rain was on and off and as we hit a nice pool which again should of held more fish it became torrential. We continued for half an hour but as we were entering narrower valleys we were running the risk of getting caught in rising water so we called it despite some very fishy water around us.

The weather this year has been very unpredictable and has made fishing trips hard, but i do enjoy fishing with Mike, it's nice to enjoy the moments together and have a laugh. Hopefully i will see him again soon and we might even go after Grayling again, it has been 6 months since i last held a lady of the stream, just don't tell my Mrs.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Fly Fishing - The 'dead' river

14th July

With a break in the bad weather i gambled with the river conditions and decided it was worth the hassle. Rain is still very much predicted and today was a bit of a fluke. A hot sunny day was sure to bring people out and there were out in their droves, alot of them hunting around the rivers and through the bushes for pokemon, though it is good to see people outside enjoying themselves.

The river was up a foot or two but wasn't a raging torrent, visibility however was very poor.  I set up the nymph rod as nothing was rising and opted for a orange tagged version of my nymph and a heavier black one on the point due to the raised water level. It wasn't long until i was in to a fish and despite it's size it was a start and within 20 minutes i'd bagged 5 more trout. Nothing spectacular but all pretty fish. The fish were showing in what you call 'summer water' despite all the rain we had, i fished the deep pools still but to no avail.

Heading up i ran into a man and two women who questioned my intentions, "Are you fishing? Is there anything even in there?" "Oh yeah" i replied enthusiastically "Trout and the odd chub." "Really? In that? I'm surprised if anything can live in there." "Well you know, there's just enough about it to keep them going, it's up to us to make it better" This exchange must of been intriguing or hilarious to them as one of the women pulls out her phone and starts videoing. Determined not to star in a video labeled, 'Idiot fly fishing in a dead river of sewerage' i positioned myself well and cast my nymphs so they landed near the back end of a low hanging tree. An almost instant take and almost breaking news for the audience, 'Man catches trout in River Irwell'.

Another one soon followed and a 3rd made an acrobatic leap through the air before popping off the hook. The fish had done the business for the audience, a positive show, high fins all round, a pat on the dorsal.

I continued upstream and again were only finding trout, bar one, in the 'summer runs'. A heron startled from the river were i caught the trout in deeper water which may explain why it was there. Funnily it screeched when it noticed i had a trout as it sat high above me in the trees. I tried to get it in the background shot but i think my finger covered it.

In all none of the trout were spectacular in size, taking a mixture of both flies, didn't even lose a fly in the end funnily enough and they accounted for 16 trout in total. 3 more had slipped the hook throughout the course of the trip. After packing up and squeezing my sock out, i had forgotten to fix the leak. I sat back in the sun and enjoyed it for a bit plus it helped dry my pants off!

Monday, 4 July 2016

Fly Fishing - A break in the rain

4th July

It was a spare of the moment thing, with over the next 2 week predicted for rain a dry murky day while i was on a 11 hour shift didn't come into my mind too much. It had been torrential of late so the river wouldn't recover in a day but the day after, today, was something that wasn't expected. It was warm and sunny, like summer should be and it was then i decided to get some fishing in, hopefully it had recovered just enough! 

It was just after 11 i reached the river, all my gear in a rod tube and a backpack, i'd managed to condense it down enough so i don't need anything in my hands, waders on and the nymphing rod set up (i brought one for dry fly) i was all set, with the loss of my action-cam there's no need to wear my fishing pack which held it as well as my gear so i stuffed my tippet and fly box in my wader pocket and left it all in the backpack.

5 casts or so and i was in to a small trout, a great start and hopefully a sign of things to come, the water clarity seemed good at first with the sun beaming down on it but in the shallows it always does, anything over a foot was still a murky brown but it was enough. Not much later and i was in again, bigger trout this time, with it's beautiful blue hue on it's cheeks. I was using my polish nymph i tie which has become pretty much my main nymph, i tie it in a couple of different sizes and weights and maybe a change of color or thread for water conditions but it's the same fly and it has been very good for me this year.

I started selling it on eBay after a lot of messages off Instagram and they've gone off to Italy and Argentina! But the most rewarding message came last night where a guy starting out fly fishing messaged me saying he had his first trout on the fly with one he bought off me! One day he may progress to tie his own and fulfill that milestone too!

I continued upstream and only missed 2 takes while landing 6 small trout, the color variations differing so much, trout have more chromosomes than humans (almost double) allowing them to have more variations due to their genetic diversity. They are a sight to see, no matter what size, some of them have truly amazing patterns, like little works of art, religious men will say god painted them, but i myself believe that nature is a beautiful thing which makes catching these trout, regardless of size a great thing to do.

I saw a rise around 20 feet above me, so i set up the dry fly rod and waited, it never showed again, so i continued nymphing upstream and hit into another bigger trout, another beautifully made trout which is always a shame as you never see them long in reality, hence i take a picture of most of them, my harddrive is pretty much a compilation of trout patterns. Taking a picture is effortless and quickly done. Net the trout, keep the net submerged while grabbing phone out of pocket, hold phone in mouth while wetting left hand, grabbing phone ready in right hand and reach in to grab the trout. Quick lift, pause, picture, release. I even think dripping water adds to the image, some pictures don't go to plan as without having a firm grip on the fish it is free to jump free if it wishes hence why it's always taken over the water.

 I fished a long stretch which disappointed me really with only 2 small trout, i've had plenty of big trout from it and the conditions seemed ideal but i didn't catch until i was fishing the pocket water in the riffles above. I then spotted a solitary rise upstream, just in front of a large boulder. It wasn't a big rise so it had possibilities of being a big trout. I watched and watch this rise, there was no clear indicator of what it was taking but i had put a quilled f-fly on which i had tied, olive color. Then it gave itself away, a small trout lept clean out of the water and then continued to rise. i decided to go for it regardless, a bit of dry fly action i had been missing for a while and it was in a tricky position. I allowed the fly line to land on the boulder rather than drift round in the current flowing around it, which minimised drag and allowed for a good presentation. It took it with a little plop off the top. It will hopefully learn to not break it's cover when it's bigger.

There would be no more rises unfortunately, but 7 more fish came on the nymph bringing the total for the day to 21. I stayed while the rain came in the hope it would attract a rise but it didn't. So i packed up and headed home, it was a warm rain so the fact i had no jacket didn't bother me, but i have discovered a small leak in my left leg of my waders which i need to locate, half an inch of water from 4 hours fishing means it might be a tricky leak to find.