Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Good things come to those who wait - Fly Fishing

With a trip to Wales for my daughters birthday over the weekend, having a hire car to get me a few places opened up alot of oppurtunities. The weather would vary across the weekend (Friday - Tuesday) and to start we headed off as a family to mainly help Emily catch some fish in the nice weather.

Unfortunatly the river we got the day ticket for was teeming with Grayling so my daughter caught a few out of season grayling and the odd trout. She was limited by where she could fish as she was fishing from the bank so needed to fish pools which had a bit of depth or features close in and thankfully we found a natural weir.  She hooked her first fish without even noticing, i thought she was struggling with her casting so took the rod off her to again show her how to cast and i realised she had a fish on. Passing it back to her she quickly brought it in while i netted it.

The weekend days were all holiday, zoo's, theme parks, beaches etc we did get to do a bit of crab fishing which Emily excelled at (Emilys mum losing out despite catching a crab first) 24' heat on a jetty as a family was a great experience. The end of the holiday though the weather turned, we had 30' heat on the Saturday where we went to a zoo but after that it thundered and rained. Heading back to our caravan as the storm came closer after walking to a lighthouse. Made it just in time to watch the natural lightshow in the sky.

Using the rain as cover i headed on to a river in Wales i had seen but was unable to find if anyone had rights to it, i didnt see any signs but i blurred the background anyway incase anyone has a moan about it! There was a few rises in the rain but i opted for a streamer first to get a sense of size and boy did i realise it was going to be a good day.

First cast a decent fish came up for the streamer (Martins Smiths Minnow) but i was a little rusty, then i had a nice fish to start off with. I barely fished 100m but i had missed 3 more fish and had 2 more, another 18inch trout and a 20inch. I was more than happy with these but i opted to carry on. The rain was pouring down and the river was now colored but the next pool gave me the fish to reward me for all my efforts earlier this season.

It came up slow, i seen it turn underneath the fly and i was unsure if it had took it, i struck anyway and it slowly turned away, then it realised it had been hooked. It pulled down deep using its weight and i held firm, it turned towards the nearside bank and i had to reach out in to the river as my rod was bent right over as i tried to pull it away from the safety of the bank and it's snaggy trees. I knew it was a decent fish but with my polaroids being prescription glasses so i can see better it gives a false impression on sizes and distances. However when it splashed the surface i realised it must be big, with experience of big fish i have lost and caught they have a very distrinctive splash. It fought hard but after a couple of minute i had tired it enough to land safely.  With Becky waiting in the car nearby incase i wasn't allowed to fish here i rung her to come take a picture and the rest is history.

It was a beautiful fish, immaculate condition and so thick from top to bottom. I was soaked through but it had all become worth it, all the poor days previous have built up for this moment and thankfully i didn't mess it up.

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Saturday, 14 April 2018

In the middle of the hatch - Fly Fishing

14th April

It was another late start in the day, with my daughters first swimming lesson in the morning and the river charts showing them slowly subsiding after a steep rise in river level i was apprehensive of what condition the river might be in. Though as it came to half 11 i decided to go have a go. The weather had warmed up nicely so i knew there should be a 12 o clock hatch and after the ardious walk to the river i found myself in the thick of a of blue winged olives, paraleptophlebia adoptiva, and black hawthorn flies, bibio marci.

The hatch was probably the strongest i have seen on the river since i started fly fishing, you could see them bouncing on the surface, taking flight, crawling on the inside of my cap and the inside of my polaroids. I'm quite insensitive to them being on my skin, though the odd one did go in my eye and i'm sure i ate a few.  But there was one thing missing, rises. The river was up yes, but it still had good clarity and had plenty of areas for rises to happen. Nothing.

The first hour was tough, with the higher river level the water slapping sound made me think fish were rising that i couldnt see in the current so i was constantly chopping and changing my set up, from duo to dry fly. Nothing. Extra weight, nothing. So i moved downstream after an hour or so and found a secluded pool, first cast, fish, it wasn't big but it would turn out to be the biggest of the day. The fish gradually grew smaller and smaller. They were a pleasure to catch, infact it was the type of fishing me and Graeme had been chasing last week. I did bounce of something bigger and did have the line indicator shoot off twice but as i was using my dry fly reel the long range casting with the nymphs meant it had let go by the time the strike had fed through the line.

The little trout caused issues with their frantic flapping, causing a rerig on each one but it reassured me that the trout were managing to spawn successfully at least. It did however also make me think were the bigger ones were and why were they still not feeding on dries. I have had plenty of good fish on dries in March/April over the years but not one yet with barely a rise anywhere. The small trout were all in the right places though, in calm pockets behind big rocks in the main flow, or just alongside the main current in the channels. The size of the fish, especially the last one kind of showed me the big fish were not there, as i have caught fish on streamers bigger than that.

Below is my trusted Bendles bug and a few of the fish i had today, below them (the biggers ones) are fish i have on dries earlier or around this time over the past couple of seasons.

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Monday, 9 April 2018

The 'perfect' day for fishing? - Fly Fishing

8th April

Well it finally came, the perfect day for fishing, how? i do not know considering the rain the day before, it somehow didnt affect the river levels nor the clarity. The weather was warm and overcast which opened up into breaks of sunshine, it was dry fly weather, so as i was off out with Graeme i only took my dry fly rod.

Our intentions were to catch alot of fish, not big fish, though a bonus they would be, so we headed to a river we have fished and had plenty of action. Why? The start of the season had been rough, temperatures and weather ruining the limited days we get to go fishing, the cold waters seemed barren and cold, with little fly life and plenty of signs of poaching over the winter.  We won't know if the poaching has taken effect until mid season when we get an idea of our catch counts. But in comparison to last year, i ended todays session with my 8th fish while this time last year i had already caught 19, with the april storm bringing the river levels way up and with the irwell pollution incident thrown in the middle of that for good measure.

With my total for the year being only 8 you can probably guess the plan for alot of small fish didn't go to plan. The first hour was awfully quiet, fishy looking pools going by silently, eventually i found a trout in a shallow run, small as expected but we thought that would be it. As we continued we found more evidence of poaching, all of them next to the best looking pools. Graeme missed a nice fish for this river and we headed up into more precarious waters were access was limited to the water level. Holding on to the cracks of a sheer cliff that had worn away over thousands of years as edged round a deep drop off we found a nice pool which held a couple of fish, but we only managed to land 3 of them between us.

Upstream a few more pools were quiet and coming up to 12 o clock the hatch i predicted occured. The hatch on my locals isnt spectacular but it always brings plenty of rises, except today. Nothing, the surface of the water lay motionless bar the ripple of a tire breaking the surface, or a sanitary towel berg swinging off a tree.

We upped sticks and moved off to another river in the hope it would come up trumps too, but again it didn't. With evidence of peculiar behaviour on the rivers our hopes were dashed again but after seeing a rise after an hour or so there i immediately pulled out the dries. It rose again as i was tying on, sat under a over hanging bush i cast in between, i watched an olive land on the surface and the trout rose up beneath and sucked it in, 12 inches above my dry, it had gone further into the bush, i edged my fly inch by inch further upstream under the bush into a small alcove of branches but on the 3rd cast i snagged a branch and had to break my dry off, the moving branches scared the fish off so Graeme helped me recover my fly.

Eventually though after switching back to a klink and dink i found a small trout, were it should of been, but where were the rest of them. In hope of it being because of the poor temperatures at the start of spring affecting the fishing rather than the astronomical amount of poaching that has clearly been occuring. I will return here again, to compare, in hope it was just an off day for the fish on a perfect day for dry fly fishing.