22 June 2010

SIM Festival at Castel di Sangro in Italy

What a weekend!

For a few years some friends have been telling me that if there is one show in the world you want to be invited to demonstrate fly patterns at it's the SIM Festival. Finally I got the invite and the dates worked.

The show is held in an ancient building that also houses the Italian museum of flyfishing which in itself is amazing. I did two tours of it on saturday and again sunday to take in all the fly patterns, paintings and tackle.

The Sangro river and one of its tributaries flow through town and is full of brown and rainbow trout... it was crystal clear and apparently a little low when I fished it (I thought it was perfect) .... and both are stuffed with fish... and they're classified "reserva" so no fishing is allowed in town... apparently late at night the old men of the town do throw spinners at some of the submarines we saw swimming around in gin clear water engulfing chunks of bread fed to them by villagers.

I left England on Thursday afternoon, flew to Rome and then spent 3.5hrs being driven by Lionello to Castel di Sangro. Lionello speaks nearly no English and my Italian sucks a lot... I used google translate to help me with the key phrases such as "let's buy a couple of beers at the next filling station we pass".... thanks Lionello!

I had Friday to myself as the Festival kicked off on Friday night. I got a lift about a kilometer downstream of town and then I walked down a farm track alongside the river for 20minutes until I was well away from the worn paths.... then I bush whacked my way into the river and strung up. It was beautiful, I caught and landed at least a dozen fish in 3 hours ranging up to about 18 inches. I lost two massive fish (at least 4lbs each) that both ploughed into tree roots in under cut banks. I saw a further monster but could not get a cast to it. what a morning!

walking up to the bridge in town for my pickup to take me to lunch I noticed this picture lying on the fisherman's path on the river bank... why would someone be carrying this fishing??? worrying. disturbing. a few hundred meters upstream I disturbed a couple having sex! obviously summer in the mountains makes the locals a little frisky.

Dales in a shirt that only he could carry off!

"The tiers!"

the "award ceremony" where certificates were handed out and participants thanked. I was a little taller than the average Italian and went down on my knees to fit into the photographs. Oswaldo, in the centre, organiser of the show and leader of the SIM flyfishing school and on the right Chris Reeves from England.

and then the wine kicked in!

What a great festival and weekend... next year I'm going for a week and I'll hike the Sangro until my feet bleed!


2 June 2010

great fishing on the Usk

I spent a few days in Wales last week fishing with my friend Mark Lloyd of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal (boy those guys do great work fighting for our rivers, lakes and sea fishing).

the fishing started with a bang on friday noon when I stepped into the water on the Meadow Bridge beat on the Usk... caddis (I think they were Welshman's Button) were present in huge clouds of what looked like egg laying females, not sure. Also, yellow mayfly, mayfly (E. Danica) and small black gnats were all hatching.

The fish were tough but I got a few through the afternoon. I took a little power nap on the bank in the late afternoon, about the time I woke up Mark came down to the river with a couple've pints of Rhymney Export, just the thing to get me setup for an evening's dry fly action...

saturday was a bit of a wash out although we did get the occasional riser along the bank-side bush.

Sunday morning I fished the Grywne Fawr, a tributary of the Usk, for a few hours by myself with my little 5 foot 2 weight Hardy Glass ALN: I love this rod. I've owned it for about 6 weeks and refer to it now as the "feather duster" because it is so light and agile. It took a while to fine tune the leader construction for such a short, soft rod and I've paired it with a Cortland 444 Sylk WF2F which is absolutely miraculous.

after a few hours on the Grywne Fawr I had a chilled out 3 hours drive back to Kent, brain-dumping new fly pattern ideas onto the dictaphone on my mobile.

ahhh.... what a brilliant weekend.