Sunday, 14 May 2017

Fly Fishing - Fishing 'The Drain'

 14th May 2017

It was a long time coming but myself and Graeme finally managed to arrange a trip out and it would be on my beats we would fish first. With the pollution on the Irwell making things tough and a sunny sunday alot of my stretches are prime habitat for dog walkers and such. I opted for a small brook that leads to the Irwell, known locally as the drain, as the usual thing the locals say is "I didn't think you'd find fish in such dirty water."

The rivers are on their arse up and down the country, even with last nights rain it wouldn't have an effect on the river level. This brook rises and falls very quickly but also colours up quickly to but it was at around 50% visibility when we arrived. As Graeme didn't know the area i told him where to park, he asked if it was safe round here too which i reassured him. As we came to the road to park we came round the corner to find a burnt out car sat in a parking space. I'm not sure what Graeme was thinking but i told him to park just round the corner and we parked amongst several other cars.

Tackling up we headed to the river and fished a few fishy holes. The flow was slow, the water was shallow and snaggy and the overgrowth was starting to come up quickly.  We both opted for the same tactic in some sense, Graeme with a New Zealand indicator while myself opted for a klink and dink method. The big difference we had was the length of our rods, i was fishing with a 10ft and Graeme with a 7ft rod. In these tight spaces we was fishing a short rod would seem a must, but with the overgrowth becoming so wild a long rod proved the only plausible method in some situations.

Trying to blend in when your 6ft 8 isn't always easy
With the water clarity down our initial plan of sight fishing 2 weeks early was out the window, but we could see weird fish like shapes in the water, was it a fish? The key sign later on turned out to be when the silt was kicked up or a strong bow wave storming up river. We fished each pool one at a time, discussing the channels and the flow line and where the deeper run lies with whoever wasn't fishing acting as a forward spotted. Any snags here will ruin a pool. It started a little quiet, some very fishy pools were quiet and i told Graeme that these fish were greedy fish and they will usually take it first time (if they want to take it). Graeme found a nice channel running under the far bank with a big tree for cover and the indicator slipped under, he struck and he was into a nice brownie. It thought well for a minute or two before finally slipping into the net. It was a cracking fish and would prove to be the first of many immaculate fish.
Giving the rod a bend on the first fish of the day
A cracking trout to start the day
My first came not long after and it wasn't where it should have been, after fishing a deep pool, Graeme spotted the tiniest of pools on an inside bank and with the overgrowth and snags below it i opted to fish above it and allow the fly to drift in. It was taken straight away, another lovely trout in the bag.
My first of the day pulled from a small hole
We moved on up to one of my favourite little pools in the summer as i catch alot of roach here but it still had some depth in it. Graeme had just snagged and was rerigging when i hit the next fish at the bottom of the pool, this would prove to be the only 'marked' fish, infact it had a birth defect, at the time it was difficult to tell if it's face had been ripped with a spinner but on closer inspection of the photo the jawline is complete and markless it just happens to break off to one side. Regardless it put up a fight well above it's weight and managed to get me nettled from my face to my arms. It was an ugly bastard i admit but a great sign to see a wild trout overcome it's struggle and survive despite it's natural disadvantage.
A birth defect no doubt, jaw is fully intact with no scarring. A wild trout defying natures law by fighting to survive.
Graeme was in the hot seat again and fished the pool further up where he struck into a big fish, it bounced the hook off and only a brief glimpse of it was all we was left with and to top it off Graeme ended up in a tree again a few casts later. Just before he went into retrieve the fly we spotted a long rise further up. With me having the only dry fly on i went ahead and let it drift down, out of the near side bank i saw a head rise up out of the water, it rejected the fly at the last second and i half twitched at the anticipation of having to strike. As i did i felt tension and realised it had taken the nymph so i set the hook and the trout was off! It trundled upstream towards the snags taking me under a fallen tree trunk, with my rod held low and using the length of it to pull my line from under it i was free from the snag but it was heading upstream to more of them. I had to jump in as it went into the tree lined section, it was running out of water due to the depth so it tried to turn back, i went for a cheeky net as it came on my left side but i only pissed it off further and it swam round my right hand side and headed off downstream. I tried guiding it away from more and more snags but at this point it was steam rolling downstream, the reel screaming and clicking away as it dragged line off the spool. Graeme told me it was heading for the worst snags, i had to stop it somehow, i slowly applied more and more resistance and it slowed down, it swam to inside bank, gave a kick of it's tail and snapped me off.

It had won, with a hand on my head and my mouth open in hope it would just swim back and apologise, i laughed as i looked at Graeme. He was gutted for me but i'm glad he was there, we both shared the experience it had given us and the fight that it gave, it deserved to get away in some sense, it took a minute for my adrenaline to ease off before i climbed out. As we headed upstream to the next pool the rain started. A heavy downpour in fact, as i rerigged Graeme found a lovely pool and hooked into a nice trout in similar fashion to his first. Another lovely trout in immaculate condition.

Graeme defies the weather with a cracking brownie
That trout would be the last one we had for an hour or so, the heavy downpour stopped and the water coloured up abit more, probably reducing visibility to around 25% we didn't think this would affect it too much, but for the next hour we fished some lovely fishy pools with no luck. But with dinner time looming i thought i saw something, but it could of been more of a hopeful sign, but a telltale cloud of silt gave it away. Graeme hit the first trout quickly followed by my own, we had both just adjusted our length and had aimed for the undercut on the far bank. Unfortunatly, i lost mine after a short fight, i was trying to get it to stay down but it thrashed too much on the surface and shook the hook. Graeme then hit into another and i finished the pool off with a 4th from it. After some frustration and a little self doubt from myself (what was i doing different to put the fish off) we had hit 4 fish in 10 minutes in a tiny pool.
One of the 4 fish spree we had, this is the one that got away
One of the 4 fish spree we had
Heading upstream we opted to wade the next section which could of proven the wrong idea, despite our very stealthy fishing it seemed the fish weren't interested. We could see bowwaves moving upstream and a fish dart from the side of me as i passed it's lie. They were there but something wasn't quite right, i guess the flow wasn't giving enough movement. We seen another big bowwave head upstream but as it hit the shallows i was sure it turned round, sure enough a few seconds later i hear a splash and i turn to see Graeme recovering from what seemed an almost fall. Turns out the bloody trout had only swam round me straight under Graemes foot at the time he was putting his foot down and he almost squished the bugger, thankfully due to it's size it ended up wrong footing him. It was pretty funny to be fair as i had fallen in here a few weeks ago in a similar spot due to the silt.

We climbed out and decided against future wading just incase we was being a bit noisy. As we hit the deeper runs we started to see a couple of trout swimming around, and soon enough i was into a good trout. A couple of people were walking past at the time and were watching with children and i joked to Graeme "Imagine we was them people who would just smack it on it's head and take it home to dinner" i'm not sure how the parents would have taken that.

Looking highly amused after Graeme commented that i make any fish look small
Against my arm it measures at about 16 inches
The the rest of the pool would prove unwilling and as we walked upstream Graeme spotted another pool, i was surprised of this pool as it is usually full of ranunculus fluitans and he dropped his fly in. Again first time a trout took it, another little gem of a fish which then proved it didn't believe in social media and jumped it's way out of Graemes hand to freedom.

Moving on up to the deeper runs which were almost motionless, at one point i jigged my nymph through a pool and ended up with a trout. But we hit a fair few trout here, Graeme did better than me in this area which was good as i was leading so it showed we wasn't spooking them.

The typical sized trout we picked up on this run
But the highlight of the fish Graeme had was the one he had at a weir, i told him i don't fish the weir as i struggle catching at them, i've only ever had 1 fish at the bottom of a weir and he pings his fly in to the main flow. It barely touched the water before it disappeared, i asked if he was on and Graeme responded enthusiastically that he was. I then seen the fish and knew he couldn't drop this one before his picture was taken. I jumped in downstream in the shallows. Which helps keep it in the deeper water but also ready to net it. Graeme then earned his own little audience with people gasping in awe that this shitty little drain that people dump their crap in held some nice fish. It have a tough old fight but with not many places to go due to it being sat under a weir it was a battle of endurance and after a couple of turns away at the net it finally slipped in. A woman asked could she take a picture to prove to her daughter that fish live in here, i'm not sure if she did but hopefully she'll spread the word on looking after your rivers a little better. It was a lovely trout, they all were, all very fat and full from a healthy insect population but it thoroughly topped off the day for us.

It was a pleasure fishing with Graeme, we would probably go back there in summer when the course season opens to hit some of the course fish too and the water should be back to summer level and not drought level.

A great trout to end the day, all solid fat fish

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