5 June 2015

Wild browns on the River Darent

Had an hour on the river at lunch time today, between meeting the farmer about some fencing and heading home for a conference call. The crazy lives we lead!!

3 fish in an hour, all to adult Mayfly imitations. 

Life is good!

3 June 2015

Mayfly madness on the Kennet

I was very lucky to get an invite from a very nice man to fish a very nice stretch (8 miles!) of the Kennet last Saturday... slap bang in the middle of the Mayfly season. Thanks Phil!

While tying on a spinner pattern a spinner lands on my hand!
Actually, while there were good numbers of duns coming off sporadically the main feature was a huge spinner fall that built from about 3:30 and peaked at about 7 in the evening. The week prior, Phil tells me, there were no spinners about and the fish were focussed on the intense dun emergence.
Long shallow riffle heaving with mayfly and rising fish...

I went for a pee in the woods mid afternoon and found myself in a massive mating column of mayfly. This video barely does justice to the density of the swarm.

Video of one of the mating columns

This fish ate a dun imitation and tore off upstream, I thought Phil would be spooled!

The spinner fall hots up

Iron blue spinner?

Amazingly, there were fish that were not on the mayfly but focussed on the sporadic olive/iron blue hatch (not sure which it was).
Close up of a piece of stream at the end of the spinner fall... unbelievable!

25 April 2015

Mayfly spinners are go!

Prepping for the Mayfly (Danica) hatches to come...

Inspired by Oliver Edwards and others I've added this spinner pattern to my family of Danica imitations. 

The recipe:

Hook: #10 light wire scud/emerger (yes, this is a big fly!)
Tail: Pheasant tail fibres 
Body: 2mm white foam worked into shape using a tube fly needle mounted in my vice.
Hackle: Cock dyed Iron Blue
Wings: White Tiemco Aerowing with mottling created with a dark brown marking pen 

The spinners on my home water, the Darent in South East England, are normally mainly black and white, with little of the tan and green left that we see in the dun: So I've used an Iron Blue Dun from Christina at Chevron Hackles for the hackle. Better than black. 

I've used an extended body because long shanked hooks in large sizes offer a long lever for angler and fish to become detached. A short shank hook will hold much better.

I like the realistic effect achieved by pheasant fibres but they're so brittle! Anyone got a better material for this? Please let me know.

Only a month to go to the mother of all hatches!

15 April 2015

Goodbye Simms G4 Guide boots, hello Simms G3 Guide boots

I've used Simms wading boots for over 20 years. I still have my first pair of Simms Guide boots as spares.

Today my new G3 Guides arrived so I can finally toss the G4 Guides which are the worst wading boots I've ever owned from any manufacturer. Bad design, bad materials, bad build quality.  

The G3 Guides look and feel great! Comfortable and seemingly hard wearing... I'll let you know in a few months.

1 December 2014

Co2ld Waters- Flyfishing brands speaking out about climate change

"Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act"- Albert Einstein.

We Flyfishers spend more time in amongst river systems than any other group, so we see the trends.  

We flyfishers must speak up about Climate Change. Go to http://co2ldwaters.org/  to see major flyfishing brands speaking out.

I've always been impressed by Yvon Chouinard the founder of Patagonia. He is a no nonsense guy that does a lot of good. Once again he steps up, this time along with other major flyfishing brands including Rio and Orvis.

28 September 2014

Last day of the season on the Darent

I was supposed to be hosting a Wild Trout Trust raffle winner on the river today and when he didn't turn up I had a few last casts in my favourite glides and riffles. 45 mins, 4 lovely fish! Until next season then...

19 September 2014

Atlantic Salmon, Brown Trout, Grayling- 3 salmonids, 5 days

First it was the salmon:

Mark working down "Hudley Bank" (I think) on Chesters Beat

It started last week Wednesday evening when I caught up with the rest of the crew at the cottage in Humshaugh on the North Tyne in Northumberland. Early the next morning I stepped into the river with a 14 foot 9 weight Double Handed fly rod. I was going after salmon with a fly for the first time in my 35 years of flyfishing...

my first salmon- a 14lb cock fish
the #12 Bann Special Shrimp did the business
Simon, Mark, Seth and Gary all nudged me in the right direction, explaining the fundamentals of taking lies, swings and other bits of apparently important technique... well it worked! The guys told me to tie lots of Bann Special Shrimps (BSS) in sizes 6-16 and they were spot on: the #12 did the trick.

The Bann Special Shrimp
1 fish in 2 and a half days of intense focus is apparently not bad given the low water conditions. We got 20 fish in total including sea trout to 9lbs and salmon to 18.

The salmon and sea trout populations of the Tyne have rocketed back from near annihilation after sewage works and chemical polluters in the lower estaurine stretch of the river in Newcastle were forced to behave due to new clean water laws a few decades ago. We fished patterns as small as 16's. I am amazed these huge predators will eat flies this small (and nothing else sometimes)... there is so much to learn about migratory salmonids.

Simon with a 4lb sea trout that became dinner

Then it was the high country Brown Trout:

The River Tees just below Cauldron Snout (highest waterfall in England?)... loaded with hungry wild browns
On Saturday afternoon, after a large fry up, I said good bye to the salmon crew, climbed in the Landy and drove up to the top of the Penines: camping and fishing far off the beaten track on the upper Tees.

the camping spot
It took some work to find a spot to hide the Landy and pitch tent but eventually I found somewhere sandwiched between reserve, reservoir and Ministry of Defence training ground.  It was a bit of a hike from my tent (which got hidden away at dawn) down Cauldron Snout to the Tees, but it was worth it!

Little, aggressive, Tees brownies.... no push overs though!
I caught a lot of fish, probably 50-100 in a day, but only when I got in the groove, working drifts into the lip of the current at the tail of the tiny pocket water or in currents passing bigger boulders.

Lunch of pork pie and ale went down bloody well after hours of hunched over stalking.
A magical combination!

the Red Grouse were everywhere, with their shrill "go back go back go back" call

The obligatory selfie :-)

And finally the grayling:

not a monster, but rewarding nonetheless
On Monday morning, after a few nights of solitude in the mountains I dropped down out of the Pennines and into Cumbria where I met my friend Jeremy Lucas in Appleby for a day on the River Eden. Jeremy put me onto 2 beats both of which produced trout and grayling. It was hard work with the river low and slow. Fish were showing and perfect drifts with #18-20 dries convinced them...

The first fish of this journey weighed 14lbs, the last one weighed 1.4lbs.... weird.

the last fish of my journey, 10 times smaller than the first fish
What an amazing week on the road, 5 full days of fishing.
We should all be taking these journeys regularly!