Tuesday, 16 April 2019

What a difference a day makes

Oof. That was a pretty clichéd title but I couldn't think of anything better suited. I'm currently on leave and that means the odd bit of time to myself. And what do you think I'm going to do with it? Well, there's lot of possibilities but it's been fishing that sprang to mind.
My missus needed to visit the Stockport section of the company she works for and I kindly offered to give her a lift. It so happens that it's within half an hour of the DNMAC waters. The Goyt was a lovely sight and it was good to visit a section I've not fished before: from the picnic spot upstream.

Sadly, it was not the day I had planned. In the past, the Goyt has always been a guaranteed 'go to' river for me so it was a bit of a shock. I fished up in the water and down. Dries, spiders, and nymphs. Big and small. Nothing, nada, dot. It was a bit low and I think I was a week or two early. Next time.

That was yesterday and this is today. There were no children at home and my missus was at work. I needed to undo the blank, I needed to fish. So, today, I went to DRAC's stretch of the Derwent. In my mind, I've divided the miles of left bank we have into the lower, middle, upper, and 'new' sections. I won't bother outlining them because my mental map is entirely arbitrary. Suffice to say, if you know the DRAC beat, I started across from the cow barn, on the corner. And what a start I had. I fished today for the same amount of time as I did the Goyt: 3½ hours. In that time I caught nothing. I didn't even catch the merest hint of a rumour of a fish. Today I caught sixteen and 10 of them cam on that corner. Nine to a size 16 black and pink weighted nymph trailing behind a #16 red-ribbed black klinkhammer.

There was a sustained hatch of caddis but only the very occasional rise but they were rises. The first I've seen this year. So, naturally, I was very excited but also a bit reflective after yesterday's travails. I figured the fish were there but mostly feeding subsurface. It was a guess that paid off. Every fish I saw rise went for the nymph. Fishy places where I though fish might be yielded more. It was a joyous hour when everything clicked. Lovely, lovely fishing. One fish came up for the klink, the klinky little devil. My first to the dry this year. And here he is...

Thursday, 11 April 2019

I hope the rest of the season will be full of days like this

It's two weeks since I last got a chance to go fishing and, on the surface of it, not much was very different. The day was sunny with little fluffy clouds drifting across the sky on a light but chilly breeze. In fact, it was a touch colder than it was at the end of March. However, the average temperature has been a little higher and I was glad I've not yet got around to checking my breathable waders for holes and so still reach for my neoprene ones. I was glad of the warmth.As the day wore on, though, the water and I were warmed by the sun. The first morning fish were caught prospecting with nymphs through slack water just off the current. A trout and then a grayling. I think I just caught them by surprise. After that I saw nothing for a while until I found a big grayling in a favourite spot; it was about 17 inches but I didn't measure him accurately as they're out of season until June and so had to wave him off. It's just a little upstream from the location in the photo below and almost always has a big trout or grayling lurking there.

I had another grayling as I worked my way up to 'the corner'. But I was hurrying because I love that spot. Maybe you've got a corner like this one. I love to fish here but no more than once a month. Maybe even less frequently. I like to think I'm resting it but I know there are other anglers visiting it. Perhaps on some level I'm hopeful the river spirits know I'm being respectful because they can be bounteous in their gifts on the right day. And today was as good a day as any. I spent an hour there today and had nine fish in that time. Four trout and five grayling. Two of the grayling were tiddlers and none of the others matched the biggun from downstream but the trout were silver and golden and all 12"-15" and in fighting form. The pinnacle was a rainbow who'd made its way downstream from the Wye, all muscle and colour and white-edged fins. LDOs were rising all around in the sunlight but all the action was beneath the surface with weighted nymphs bringing every fish to me. This was the titchiest of that purple patch; smallest but most buttery. Its larger friends all refused to pose for a picture and I wasn't in the mood to argue.

The nymphs I was fishing with deserve a quick word. For my birthday, my mother-in-law bought me a subscription to Trout & Salmon. Evidence, perhaps, of a thawing of the cold war after just 13 years. I was, and remain, very grateful. In the April edition an article on nymphs and shrimps ('Tumblers and Swimmers') caught my eye. Not because it said anything I'd not heard or read before but because the nymphs themselves were a perfect distillation of a series of principles that I've tied to for a while now: colourful, contrasting collars, CDL tails, compact and scruffy shrimps and a little bit of shimmer (like the infamous Troggs outtake tape 'You've got to a put a little fucking fairydust over the bastard' - check with a grownup before clicking on the link. It has some swears). Anyway, the nymphs. I tried the quill olive (#14 point fly) with a black and purple (#16 dropper) as well as a variation - using the closest substitutions I had - on the 'funky shrimp peacock and ginger' (#14 on a dropper with a heavier one of my concoction on point). They too 12 of the 13 fish I caught today. They weren't the only flies I used but they were deadly especially when they were drifted through the water where the hatches were. Perhaps I could have used anything but I used these and they worked a treat. Thanks, Sue!

Monday, 8 April 2019

It's been a while but a new season beckons

The passing of cherished dreams

It's no accident that I've logged back on to here after a long hiatus. I spent a lot of last year enjoying my fishing but feeling a little disgruntled by something. The unnervingly low water conditions for much of the trout season was part of it but a larger part of it was the realisation that I'd come away from something I'd hoped would give me joy but didn't: the club membership that I'd got excited about in the last (or last but one) post that I wrote. Those were early days and my excitement ebbed over time. There was nothing specific but an aggregation of experiences and conversations that led me to the conclusion that the priorities of DCAC were with stillwater fishing and mine are very much on the rivers. Whilst the club have some nice bits of river my favourite memories from last year all came from my 'other club', the cheaper one: DRAC. A cast on a bend of the Derwent to small but powerful brownie, catching a grayling from spot that I'd thought was maybe too difficult to cast to, a deer watching me reel in my season's best brownie on the club's new stretch (which, incidentally, to the best of my knowledge, they outbid DCAC for...). So, I hoped for a great deal from a club but it turned out that my hopes for their fishing wasn't matched by reality. We live and learn. Next year I may wander peripatetically round the various water of the Prince Albert club and treat myself to a year (perhaps the first of many) with the Peacock club. This year I'll renew with DRAC, rejoin Disley and New Mills (I can't wait to fish the Goyt again), and probably rejoin Fenton and District. Between these three clubs, and for an annual outlay of about £160 for all of them, I will have miles of river to fish: the Derwent, Dove, Goyt, Churnet, Sett, Etherow, Blithe, Ecclesbourne, Sutton Brook, Sow, and Trent.

Enough talk of clubs and whatnot. I have been fishing but only once so far this season. Not by choice, I've been busy with work. A good busy but one that kept me away from the rivers nonetheless. My one trip came not long after the trout season began. I had just shy of a couple of hours on the Derwent above Darley bridge. I had a couple of trout and a grayling to nymphs. In all honesty, I don't even recall what the nymphs were. The river was a bit up and clear and I probably could have caught more if I hadn't been splashing around like a Labrador puppy, excited to be back in the river.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

A few days in April

Coming off the back of a long, cold March, April has been late in its unfolding. But even then its not been predictable and my forearms are still smarting from a 25° (77°) day in Wolfscote Dale. Which, in itself, was an upside down day of fishing. Five fish in four hours was not exactly prolific but the surroundings were sublime and so I shall not complain.

As you can see, the water was crystal clear and with no clouds in the sky I wasn't expecting a lot of action anyway. So when the strikes came I was more than happy. But the fish were either drunk or have been thrown out by the weather's unpredictability. Three trout came to beadhead nymphs. Two to a PTN-style 3mm natural tungsten bead on a #14 jig hook. Rather than pheasant's tail I used Andrew's Scruffy Dubbing in his 'Cinnamon' blend with a Hends sparkly collar and coq-de-leon tail. The other two were grayling and they both came to a waterhen bloa lightly greased with floatant (red Mucilin) across the back.

So, get this. Mid-April and the grayling are rising whilst the trout are taking sparkly nymphs. The mad little bastards.

That was Thursday. Before that I was out on the Derwent on Sunday evening for a couple of hours. Five grayling. The Sunday before that the Dove gave me seven grayling. I was, of course, looking for trout as the season demands. Those fish, they just don't have a clue.

This was the Derwent on the 15th

I half expect to see leaves on the trees by this time. Hopefully this blog will help me keep track. In the shadow of the hope of the hatches and rises to come I've tied some Kite's Imperials as I had some heron feathers in need of a use.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

It's been a while. New season. New Club

It's been an atrocious few months weatherwise and it's seemed as if every time the rivers dropped a bit I was up to me neck in work. But I have made it out a couple of times in the new season. I finished the coarse season (or 'grayling season' as I know it) pretty well when I got out. I've been fishing the Derbyshire County Angling Club waters for the past few months and am pleased to say that I didn't blank on their grayling waters. With that said, it's the trout season I've been looking forward to and so, on the Spring Equinox, I almost skipped to their most local section of river to me: the Derwent at Cromford. I had a few grayling before tricking a fine, fat, buttery trout on close to my last cast. He was tucked in close to the bank and took a quill-bodied beaded nymph as it rose on the swing. Happy days.
On my next trip out I blanked. It was disappointing but I took my ten year old daughter and we had a laugh and ate lunch in a cave overlooking the river. What's not to like? In fishing terms, the river was a bit up, the temperature had dropped a few degrees overnight and there was a cold, cold wind blowing down Wolfcotesdale so I wasn't too surprised the fishing was dour.

The next time I'm out I will be giving one of the club's stillwaters with my youngest son, 11. I hope we have better luck and just as much fun😁

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Derwent, Klinkhamers, Fancy, monsters

Today was the day I decided to put my 'limited fly choice' plan into action. I had two types of dries, nymphs, czech nymphs and three types of spider. Apart from a barren period on the spiders I only used the dries.

There's a stretch I fish that starts off with a glide that always has a few grayling in so, remembering that source of my pattern for dry #1 (a Sturdy's Fancy as per Dry Fly Expert) suggested they were good for grayling I tied one on and... third cast in this little fella came up for it

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..and so did half a dozen more. Grayling on the dries? Brilliant fun 

I moved up river casting spiders to spots I know tend to hold fish. Upstream, across and down, down and across. I couldn't tempt a thing except two little tugs that I couldn't make stick.

I moved on to a pool that's always disappointed me in the past. I caught a couple of pretty nice trout at the end of last season but nothing since barring one middling brownie with a kinky dink early in the season. Trout were rising right in the middle of it. 3 or 4 clustered together stretching up the pool to a couple that were out of subtle casting range. They were sipping or head and tailing so I hoped my dry #2, a black klink, would do the business. After a practice cast just below the first fish, I cast...and caught! I lively fighter of about 12". I was pleased enough with that. I moved up a step and cast to the next one. It was feeding across a small area and it took a few casts until it too came up and sipped in my fly. I was in. This one had more fight and I could tell it was a bigger fish but it came to the net in the end. According to my measuring net it was 17" and without a doubt my river fish of the season so far. I was elated and waved it off as it swam away..

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It took me quarter of an hour to sort my line and fly out after the fight but I was ready for the next one. They'd all moved upstream a little but were still rising. The closest was just on the edge of where I could cast without starting to worry about the trees behind me. My first couple of casts were a bit short as I was playing it safe. My next caught a leaf and forced me to wade down and back upstream after disentangling it. I needed a time to get my eye back in and work out where the trout was. I made what I thought was a good cast and watched the black klink go down for a third time. This time the fish pulled line off the reel and I could really feel it fighting against me. It zig-zagged down and up the pool but I drew it in and was laughing all the time. It was a big fish again and I could see it was a brute. I eventually lifted the net beneath it and saw the measure ran from '9' at his nose through to '11' at the crook of tail on the other side. 20". By far my biggest river trout to date. I wish my big hands didn't make it look so small haha! I was grinning away to myself for the rest of the afternoon. I still am! 

Click the image to open in full size.

It was eye-opening using just a handful of patterns. I had no chance to blame the fly and swap them. Instead, I was forced to think about my approach, target, cast, and drifts much more than normal. I wanted to get the hang of dries this year and I really feel like I'm getting somewhere.

Catching the grayling on the Sturdy's Fancy would have made for an enjoyable day to remember but the trio of trout really made it special 

Friday, 18 August 2017

Three days on the Derwent. Meeting the Nemefish

I had a great therapy fish on Sunday night. (Wife returned to work on Monday after two bad experiences and six months signing on - she sent me out whilst she watched Disney with our little girl.) It did its job. A nice, relaxing two hours chucking dries at likely spots and the occasional rise. Five grayling rose to my klink. I also managed The Cast. The Cast is a cast I've tried to make for the last year. There's a fish that rises just in front of the detritus gathered in front of a downed tree. The tree angles out but the fish rises hard in, about six inches from the bank. 12 inches in front is a drooping branch from another tree so there is a very limited space in which to land a fly, drift, avoid a tangle on the build up of river junk. I managed it. Twice. The first time I felt like I had reached a new casting level. Awesome. Second time, BANG, the impossible fish rose for the juicy deer hair caddis I hoped it would go for. To cut a long story short, in my excitement I lost it after about 30 seconds. It was big. I have a new Nemefish.

On Monday I had another couple of hours and nymphed a stretch that I don't fish enough. 10 grayling and a brown trout. The brownie and the best grayling came from the same 2'x2' spot of flat water behind a submerged rock just where the current picks up speed. Both were about 13" but the grayling was a touch skinny.

I really enjoyed it but the best part was a family with a dog coming down to the riverside to watch. They had a girl of about 3 or 4 and watched until I caught a fish which I dutifully took across to show the little girl before showing them it swimming merrily away. We had a chat about the hidden ecosystem beneath the water's surface and i suggested that their daughter come back in wellies and try kicking up a few stones to see what lurks beneath. They were already pretty much into it but asked a few questions about fish and habitats. Hopefully, the rivers gained a couple of new friends 

Thursday: the return of my Nemefish
Basically, I thought the river would be trashed by the rains. It wasn't. But it fished as if it was.

I had an even balance of trout and grayling. Both to a sparkly GRHE with a pink collar and white head. Yes, both. That was it for an hour and a half's fishing. Still, it was bloody lovely out this afternoon. Until... a fish rose. It was Nemefish from the last time I was out. The only one in the river to rise and it had to be The Evil One. I've got the tricky cast sorted now and was able to get a dry where I wanted with my less than perfect 10' Airflo Streamtec nymphing rod. But Nemefish was having none of it. Klink? Nah. Smaller klink? Nah. Bare hare? Nah. Parachute Adams? Nah. Tup's Indispensable? Nah. Griffiths gnat? It rose...nah. CDC emerger? Nah. Bare hare again? Yes!! And...off in three seconds. Bastard.  He started rising again after five mins but my casts were off and I started losing flies to the riverside flora. Time to head home for tea. I'm going to get that fish. Maybe not today but one day and soon.

In retrospect, I don't think it was taking from the surface but in the film or just under so I should have given a spider or two a go. Nevermind, I'll not make the mistake of forgetting about them again.