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!

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