Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Fishing while forgetting your tackle

 So with heavy rain during my last session the majority of my tackle, (flies, tippet, leader, indicators etc) we’re still in my wet fishing gear. I fish quite light as I carry a lot of equipment from rope and saws etc for dealing with fallen trees and climbing equipment to help with the more riskier spots. So all essential tackle is usually in my pockets. However with.a beautiful hot day and trying to leave the house at a reasonable time I packed everything including dinner except what I really needed. Who needs a drink anyway?! 

I only came to this realisation when I put my reel on my rod, I’d already walked an hour to the river so I knew going back wasn’t really an option otherwise it’d be another 2 hours wasted going there and back. So I had to improvise, I still had around 4 feet of 10lb leader attached to the fly line and I pulled everything out of my bag and found a lone fly at the bottom of it, old and used it was a bit tatty but it was a fly none the least. I couldn’t find anything to act as a indicator so I would have to make do, it would be hard to stay in contact with the fly and keep it at a level where the fish were as it was a very windy day. 

I set up in a very badly polluted section between an industrial estate and didn’t get any luck, I didn’t expect it but it looks a lovely fish holding area but obviously the fish didn’t agree with the water quality. This river was totally wiped out near its source around 15 years ago with an estimated 10,000 dead fish and that is shown in the size of the fish. However I have fished here before and have hit into bigger trout but none have ever stayed on long. 

After probably walking another half hour up river out of the industrial site, reporting pollution on the way I found my starting spot. Though 3 teens were there smoking weed and having a camp fire I left them to it and carried on a it further. 

Frustrated by the lack of opportunity I was given hope by the sight of 2 king fishers, one landing opposite me, I carefully knelt down to get my big camera out and it did one before I even opened the zip. Regardless one of my first casts into the pool as I felt a fish, which was progress but I was still a little disheartened as I felt it could have been one of few opportunities with the set up i had rigged together. The fish here obviously being of smaller size and in clear water a 10lb tippet tied to a size 16 nymph isnt exactly ideal.

Next i reached the pool were i knew a bigger fish lived, a tiny stepped weir no bigger than half a foot in a series of steps about 10 metres apart, i cast ever further into the pool, and as i hit the more rapid water, i felt tension and i struck, i immediately knew this was the one i had hit last time and lost, and after a few seconds and a dash into the weir it was off. Frustrated again i continued to fish each weir pool and finally managed a small trout, it had been about an hour and a half since i had started fishing so it was a bit of a relief.

I waded further upstream, inspecting huge natural dams were a fallen tree had forced the river to flow around it, eroding the bank and causing the trees opposite to fall into the river creating a dam made of several huge trees, the depth around these trees, caused when the river is in flood, was intimidating as the silt sunk sharply down into blackness. As i came to a riverside house i took a break next to a nice clear pool, it was around 4 feet deep but clear to the bottom. I managed 2 trout in this pool with the faster water helping mask the line.

From here on in, fish were in abundance, only small trout but as i waded up through the shallows no more than 6 inches, trout were swimming around me hiding in any crevice they could find, a sure sign that this river was well on its way towards recovery. Every pool i found i was pulling a trout from at this point. Though these pools were a good few hundred yards apart the fishing became steady. I eventually came to an old weir in disrepair, where i hooked a further 4 trout of a bigger size but i failed to hook them properly, possibly reacting to late with the mixture of trying to keep in contact with the fly in fast flow conditions.  I ended the day with 13 fish in total but overall the day had been enjoyable despite my initial cock up and i intend to go back here fully equipped next time!

Thursday, 7 April 2022

2022, the season reopens!

 2022 started like most UK years, a mild February heading towards March then a cold snap, no surprise there but somehow come the start of the season the weather was warm! I eagerly anticipated many rising trout on the March browns which were even present were I live now about 5 minute walk from 2 rivers. 

However upon reaching the river the fish were not bothering on the hatch, then again the first river I chose is crawling with freshwater shrimp, which showed 5 minutes later when I hooked a trout on the nymph. However this early trout was a bit misleading as in a 4 hour session I managed 5 trout. The concerning thing was finding a 3lb dead trout below another incident of pollution (reported several sewerage incidents along the stretch) so this river unfortunately been screwed hard over the winter. Despite being a popular walking route no one seems to care about reporting pollution. 

I fished another river the week after and blanked the whole session, I did see one rise but it never rose again but I did take my camera with me and got some nice pictures of the local wildlife. Even caught someone fly tipping down the hill at the back of their house. So disrespectful that people choose a house that overlooks a river but use it to fly tip their excess shite. 

The week after I ended up on the opposite river to the one I fished last, the confluence is about 10 minutes from my house though this river is reservoir fed but tends to hold small fish and a 12inch trout here is a monster. The river was inches deep and with no rises again?? So I stuck a very light nymph on and hit into a trout in the faster flowing shallows rather than the deeper water. It was barely bigger than my hand but it was a break of the duck.

 Not far round the bend there was a large pool, the rivers here follow the hard rock walls so deep pools have formed over thousands of years with the sandstone river beds being carved away. I was surprised not to get a hit in the pool until a cast right to the top of the lip of the pool were the shallow water quickly drops off into the deep waters. I knew it was a nice fish as usually if you struck normally (you have to lightly strike here due to the small trout) the fish would be straight in your hand. It gave a hard fight and on another river a fight like this would have been a much bigger fish but this was the king of the pool and probably for quite a large section of river. It safely found the net and it was a beautiful bar of gold. After a quick snap it was back into its throne room and I continued upstream. 

I hit a couple of fast flowing small pools which held around half a dozen fish in each, until I hit a bridge pool. This pool gave me 25 fish easy. Many barely longer than my middle finger but good fun and showing that the trout here had successfully spawned. Ironically with all these young trout you’d expect to find a beast of a trout somewhere and I aim to find that eventually but a lot of this river is ticketed with a small amount of anglers and a long waiting list. I continued upstream and unblocked a bridge which had been jammed with trees, found another pollution incident were a sewerage pipe must have burst behind the stone wall as sewerage was leaking between the large stone bricks and hit a few more fish in the fast flowing pools, ending the day on probably 50+ trout. 

After a rainy week I went to a river that holds big fish and with the murky sewerage filled waters it gave me the cover I needed for a streamer. Unfortunately my streamer game was off and I missed all 7 takes, one take I wasn’t to blame for as the fly was hovering on the surface as I stepped forward to get into a different position a very good trout had took it off the surface, I saw the whole fish and was surprised to feel it as I struck but as it levelled out on the bottom the fly came loose and it was gone. Disheartened I went onto the Stillwater nearby and ran some steamers through it, catching a small Jack pike of 2lb, which was just as overjoyed to see me as it jizzed on my coat… so avoiding the blank I headed home. 

So the first 4 sessions of the season have been a mixed bag but hold plenty of promise for the season, with more pollution to find as well I’ll constantly provide a head ache to UU, the EA and to locals and their businesses who think illegal dumping is fine. I’ll also try to hit a few grayling on the Irwell away from the locations they were introduced to see how far they’ve got. 

Thursday, 16 December 2021

2021: The year i wish would end.

 2021, what a year it has been, many might have noticed i have gone slightly 'off grid' which is true somewhat. I suffered a break down in my relationship with my, now, ex-partner, resulting in me becoming homeless and not being able to see my daughter. My mental health suffered massively but i ensured i kept my physical self as well as possible. My dads terminal cancer continued to worsen and i have watched him slowly start to become a shell of his former self despite his determination and grit. I have slowly managed to clamber back onto my feet, sold alot of the stuff my sister was able to salvage that had been thrown out and meet someone new. Though the trouble with my ex still persists and money issues and stress are paramount, juggling a new life, my previous life and solicitors etc taking its toll. i did manage to get some fishing done but very little. So may this blog be brief as so much has happened in 12 months and very little of it actually fishing i'll leave a few pictures to speak the 1000 words instead. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Friday, 16 October 2020

2020 - The year a virus affected fly fishing

 2020. Just that simple number is enough for us to roll our eyes, in future years someone will say 'Remember 2020? What a year that was." The thing is now, it will probably roll into 2021. One of the strangest decisions im 2020 regarding fishing was the fact we was banned from fishing. Starting the 24th March and ending the 12th of May we wasn't allowed to fish because of social distancing measures? I mean have they ever been stood in the middle of the Irwell, fly fishing is something i do to become socially distanced, pandemic or not.

I think i have fished three times not on my own this year, which was odd but a necessity none the less. Oddly though despite the shortened season i still managed to get out 16 times in total, equaling last year. Nowhere near as much as i'd like to but each time was a total mental refresh especially due to my working environment. Though i only managed twice on the Irwell itself. Why? Well after the lockdown was initially relaxed and i bumped into the hundreds of people who were unemployed or furlough i ended up traipsing through densely wooded (brambles & hogweed included) areas to find sections of river off the beaten path. If you follow my youtube channel you've probably seen the video of me battling a forest of hogweed.

I usually do the yearly summary at the end of the actual year not the trout season but with restrictions to travel and the Irwell not fully established with grayling yet (even though i have caught 1 of them now) traveling to more grayling filled waters is something that is unlikely to happen till this pandemic relaxes its grip on society. So in terms of catch rates, i had my best year averaging 14.6 fish per session (which did include a blank, more on that later) my previous high was 10.3 fish per session so a massive increase. The cause of this is well known. Thankfully there has been an influx in small trout showing spawning went well last close season and after seeing none of either last season, minnows and stickleback are back in the catch count. I could easily sit in one spot for 10 minutes and catch a fish a minute (and in fact i did at some points) with many more bouncing off the hook or missing it with their small mouths. Elsewhere i was losing big fish to snags in trees, sunken logs and underwater drainpipes. Sometimes the only bonus to landing a fish is you get a picture of it to show everyone but sometimes its the crazy fights you have with the bigger and braver fish that throw themselves into survive mode and pull off some crazy escapes that give you the best memories, which makes fishing for me not even about the catching sometimes. One fish i almost had which was always in a pair in this pool. Once i had hooked it it swam into a pipe in a wall twice, easily a 3lb fish, i managed to pull it out both times and it managed to simply flick the hook out in normal water as it twisted itself. I went back for it 6 weeks later and a huge tree had uprooted right in the pool and it was still happily swimming in its pool, protected by a bundle of branches. A rough winter will hopefully sort that tree out for me so i can try for him again next season.

Alot of my time spent out was fishing more polluted waters, which is when i had my blank. Fishing up the Croal towards a spot a reported a broken sewerage pipe 12 and 6 months prior. I blanked and have no doubt in the reason why. The pipe was still leaking raw sewerage into the river, the pipe isn't fixed properly, in fact i am planning on doing my own repair work on it when i get the chance (and material) it isn't a bloody hard fix. An old pipe only a couple of feet above a river has rusted on its underside creating dozens of holes probably not much bigger than a £2 coin. But these were too hard to fix apparantly (for a company that has just announced it was going to spend billions upgrading the sewerage network) Apparantly some rubber strapped to it will suffice (even though it had already started slipping).

One of the things i did change was the way i make my videos, i am trying to be more 'involved' in them by talking to the camera and also i have slowed down my fishing, just to enjoy where i am more. I try to add this sense of freedom in the introduction of the video. Any suggestions for my videos are welcome, whether people want fly tutorials or how i set up my line, even if someone wants me to fish a specific location i will try my best to satisfy peoples ideas. As i don't drive alot of my fishing spots are found on google earth not far from a road with public transport and i show in one of my videos the transition from going under a underpass to being in the middle of a forest. The wild isn't far from our doorsteps which is both beneficial and detrimental. It obviously benefits us, as we get to enjoy it and be a part of it but the detrimental side to it is again, us. Fly tipping is absurd and is only getting worse by all cultures. Lazy businesses disposing of their waste, especially garages, scrapyards and builders.

Next season i am hoping to meet a new face which should be a great experience for  both parties involved and i am hoping to be able to get out more and generally enjoy my time on the water. I'm sure i'll have a run in with United Utilities over this bloody pipe again and i will say it now as an early prediction, that i will beat my PB this year. Only time will tell but i hope you guys will continue to read the blog, watch the videos and please give me more feedback. I will leave you guys with some pictures of the season and the graphs compared to previous years fishing.