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! 

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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!! 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.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Afon Teifi. Cellan to Pentre. Llandysul AA

I'm sitting here looking across at a glass of red which is just out of reach of my aching body. I've got the satisfied glow of an angler who has had a good day on the river. There would probably be a lot more of this post except I have knackered myself out exploring miles of what was, to me, an unknown river: Afon Teifi.

The Teifi is known as the Queen of Welsh rivers and I fell under her thrall today. I was worried about the day ahead of me for a couple reasons. Firstly, the Teifi suffered a terrible pollution incident at the end of December, 2016. It wiped out miles of life in the river not far upstream of where I'm staying and although the pollution didn't reach the section I was hoping to fish I wasn't hopeful of a lot of action. There's also been a bit of rain and the river had seemed up yesterday. Not knowing the river I couldn't say for sure but the measuring gauge at Pont LLanio suggested it was high but falling when I set off from the holiday home we're staying in. (Glandulas Uchaf, if you were wondering - idyllic and dog friendly. A big thumbs up from my family and the kids love the games room.)

I set off for Lampeter to visit Alan Williams, Hairdresser, who sells day tickets for the LLandysul Angling Association. £10 for brownie hunting upstream from Lampeter bridge. There's also a hotel in Llandysul that sells them. There's also a £25 ticket that includes miles more river downstream of Lampeter and includes the salmon and sea trout that frequent the Teifi. After a friendly chat with Alan Williams and some helpful advice, I set off for the river. 10 minutes I pulled up at the bottom of the Cellan beat and wandered down to the river.

It was pushing through a bit and was a bit peaty looking. I say it looked peaty but I've no idea if the colour was down to peat or not. Anyway, it was coloured and pushing through so I tightened on my long leader reel and chose some 3mm white beaded nymphs. One dark, one light. Approximations of a GRHE and a PTN but with my own blend of dubbing with a bit of sparkle in it. Flies buzzed around and olives trickled off the water. Idyllic. This feeling of perfection was heightened by the electric blue line of a kingfisher streaking by; buzzards and kites wheeling above.

The fishing? The fish started coming not long after. I had 15 by the time I headed back to the fry-up my wife made for tea. Almost all of them coming to the dark/light white bead nymphs despite trying dries, klink'n'dink, and spiders. The fishing? I had a couple of salmon parr among the brownies but none of their big brothers or sisters. The trout weren't particularly big and my biggest for the day were 13" and 11" but they were all feisty buggers. I wish I knew the river better because I know there'll be bigger in there. There's two days of our holiday left. I wonder what the chances are of another day with the Queen....

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Two in a row. Derwent.

I managed to get out on Monday and Tuesday and both had good and bad. The river was a little up and coloured both days; more so on Tuesday and even had a little current pushing through. I swapped things round a bit on Monday, fishing a mix and match of nymphs (weighted and not), spiders, and Czech style shrimp patterns. I had 13 fish during an afternoon session including a couple of decent grayling of 18" and 16". Normally, I'd be delighted but I had a weird day. 

To cut a long story short, my missus lost her job unfairly earlier this year and was very upset over it. She just got a new job with an organisation that is extremely thorough in their vetting - including the circumstances behind her job loss. Essentially, they weighed up the evidence and believed her version of events. which is great and a total vindication of her honesty and character. But on the river, I relaxed....and then got overcome with such an anger at the unfairness of the bastards who stitched her up in the first place. So, I probably caught my best grayling of the season and didn't get to enjoy it     I felt better once I'd got that out of my system and I think it was only because I on the river that relaxed enough for the feeling to flow out of me. Fishing = therapy sometimes!

On Tuesday, I was determined to have a better day and was really enjoying myself. I fished the same two flies all day. A light, sparkly nymph and dull, dark one. Both with 3mm white bead heads. I was having a great day. A couple of grayling, what I think was a wild rainbow (we're about three miles downstream of the Wye), and three nice brownies (14", 12" and 10" or so), Just as I got to my favourite quarter mile stretch I heard what I thought was a lorry passing in the distance. And then another, closer. And, oh shot, is that thunder? A black cloud creeping closer brought deeper rumbles and I recalled that standing in a river holding a carbon rod might not be the best idea so home I went feeling thwarted but still happy with my morning 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

A catch up. July so far. Derwent and Dove.

27th July. River Dove

My good news for the day was that the 'Sticks like Shit' glue kept my boots together. Result! 

My bad news for the day was that the stretch of the Dove I was fishing was having an off day. I can never predict when this stretch will fish well or badly. It has occurred to me that it might not be the river and it could be me. I'm more than happy to admit when I have a shocker but I know I wasn't doing too much wrong.

The river carrying a bit of colour from the recent rain but it was a good amount of colour. There was a bit of wind but apart from two or three gusts it was never enough to affect my drift too badly. Even though the river was a bit torpid I could find likely lies and fishy stretches. But, despite all that, I only managed three tiddlers (they weren't even 'smallies' ). All grayling. I hooked and lost a decent trout and an average (10" or so) grayling but both times I started off thinking it was weed and wasn't ready for an actual fish 

I ended this afternoon giving my mother-in-law and unexpected lift so earned enough Brownie points to get my mojo back on the Derwent "soon". 

24th July. River Derwent

My boots are falling apart. The soles and body are not talking. With my soles still flapping I had 3 hours out last night. After dodging some well-fed cows and to the strains of an Abba tribute band playing somewhere close, I fished one of my favourite stretches. Except it was hard going. The recent rain had only added an inch or so and a touch of colour. The cows had been in the field by 'my' stretch and they can get down to the river; judging by the freshness of the pats they'd left they'd been in the field earlier in the day and I think they must have disturbed one of my most productive pool edges which is close to where they get in. After (verbally) encouraging a pair of out of control dogs to get out of the water after one nearly drowned chasing ducks (great dog ownership there, unseen lady) I decided to wade down and come back up in a bit. I fished a pair of nymphs upstream the whole session with a slightly sparkly GRHE, a beaded black magic, and fairly dark PTN in 14-16 taking 9 fish between them.

I have to wade down to fish the bottom 2/3rds of that section because there's no easy access from my bank. I lost a fish in the spot I usually lose a fish (this is the third time it took and escaped in three visits) but then got my first river rainbow of the season followed by a young grayling from faster water. Wading back up to the now calmer top end I was still not finding any fish. Out of blind optimism I targetted a small back eddy behind a tree where I'd lost a decent fish a couple of weeks ago. First cast and I was in. It was a decent fish. A 15" brownie who looked deeply pissed off and a little ashamed to fall for the glitzy grhe - sparkly tail? That was a grayling fly you just fell for! 

I moved back down the river to a stretch notorious in the club for a belligerent home owner on the other bank who gets shirty whenever a fly crosses teh imaginary line he can see in the middle of the river. Apparently no appeals to reason, tradition or fair play are ever heard and he rants away. Well, the lights weren't on and it seemed like no one was home so I thought I'd fish it. It cracked me up. I spotted a nice bit of slack water behind a weed covered drop-off on the river bed. I lost three big fish - taken by surprise each time until I finally kept a beautifully coloured and spotted brownie of about 12". I'll be back there for the others, no worries.

Further down still and I hit a purple patch. Two more grayling and three brownies including another decent fish of 14". Again, from faster water or heads of pools. I'd set off with the intention of targetting the big bruiser that I'd lost last time. However, it was pretty much time to go home for tea so the mini streamers I tied for him stayed dry. At least until next time 

Hopefully, my boots will dry enough to fix them tomorrow and I can get out again soon. I'm really enjoying being on the river at the moment and every trip yields new surprises 

19th July. River Derwent

The fishing today was a bit patchy. I had seven fish in my two hours but they were all spread out and I didn't feel like I got a rhythm going, Everything was on nymphs. A dirt coloured size 16 with black ribbing and a copper beadhead (2.4mm) took most with an olive turkey biot beadhead taking the rest. I had 3 grayling and 4 trout from a 2" grayling to a 14" trout.

For the second trip in a row I lost a big'un and this one dwarfed Monday's. There's a pool I always try. The most obvious bit for trout (slack water just coming off fast, deep, tree hanging over) has never yielded a bite but I've always felt sure there must be something there. I was letting my nymphs just drift into off the fast water today when I felt a pull. I struck and fuck me, there was a big fish on. I had it on for about 10 seconds when it leapt a foot out of water. It was silvery brownie about 2 feet long. It was a cracker. I'm still sitting here with a sense of awe at it. And disappointment. It threw the hook when it leapt. If only I'd been putting side on! 

Never mind, I know where he lives and I have a plan.

17th July. River Derwent

I had a chance of half a day on the river today and grabbed it with both hands. It was a sunny, hot day but the river had a little colour in it; I'm not sure why as there's not been any rain I've noticed - maybe upstream somewhere.

I started off fishing the klink and dink in progressively smaller sizes but had a barren first hour. I saw no sign of fish at all despite stalking quietly upriver. My casting wasn't quite thistledown but it was definitely dandelion clocks. I sat down and had a think whilst I had my sarnie and mini cheddars. 

I decided it was the heat and decided to ditch the duo and try small nymphs in the fast, airy water upstream. It was a good idea. Over the next 2½ hours I had 10 grayling and 2 trout. All from faster, bubbling water. I had my smallest grayling of the year so far through to a decent one of 13" - slim fella though. I lost the best trout I've seen in that river. It was about 18" and I'd picked it out from the head of a pool, just behind a rock that broke the water. I'd got him into the slack water to the side and he...I don't even know what he did  It was some kind of wriggle back on himself, show off a long, buttery yellow belly, and he was off the hook and with a flourish of his tail was gone.

It was a really good day with the majority of fish going for a sz14 PTN with peacock black glister thorax and 2.4 tungsten bead (I think I've mentioned this before. I should read my own posts and take note of what worked )

This chap stalked me *all day*. At least he didn't seem to put the fish off.

14th July. River Derwent

I had four hours on the river today and made the most of it. I was on my usual river but went to the top of my club's stretch for a change. I used to love fishing there but have concentrated on cracking other sections of river. I was all ready to carry on where I left off on Wednesday evening and fish the bare hare dry but there was a touch too much breeze and the top section has lots of broken, fast water. So as I got closer to the river I decided to fish nymphs. 

The river is low at the moment and had lost the extra current it had on Wenesday. Some of the sections I used to love fishing are entirely changed. There was one section that had fast water rushing into a relatively deep pool which always held a few grayling. Not today. However, with that said, the trout were definitely on the feed. I had 16 fish - a dozen brown trout and four grayling. Most of them to a size 14/2.4mm bead PTN (black peacock glister thorax). A lot were in the margins and I didn't seem to be finding any in the deep, middles of pools. But I wasn't complaining. 16 in 4 hours with the river on its bones is practically a red letter day for me. There were a couple of decent fish among them - two 14" brownies (one skinny, one burly) and a grayling that was a touch shorter, maybe 13" but built like a fighter. 

Scrambling around the banks has left its mark; I'm not sure what I did to my left wrist but its bloody sore  Definitely well worth it tho'! Time for some celebratory medicine 

13th July. River Derwent

I was back on the river this evening after a few days away and it felt good. I thought I was in for a cracking evening session. There'd been a little rain and there was a touch more current; the water was lightly coloured not overly so. No wind to speak of and enough cloud to keep the trout happy. I decided to fish a couple of stretches I've not spent much time on: a longish glide and some broken, faster water running into a long corner. I started on the glide with a size 14 elk hair caddis and 16 olive turkey biot nymph with black peacock glister thorax. I rose a couple but didn't hook up either time. I don't know if I snatched or if they rejected the bushy caddis. Either way, no fish.

I tried the fast water with a pair of nymphs. There's very little room on 'my' bank but enough current and slack water to make me think there must be fish there and worth battling undergrowth and sliding down the bank. ....Just not today.

Nevermind, I'll slip into the river and try the glide/rapid/glide I usually have luck on. After a few minutes.. a fish! A flash of silver on a GRHE and then it was gone after the rumour of a bend in my rod.

And then the duo for the glide. Nothing doing. All the while the fly life above the water was getting denser. And then. The watery pop of the river surface broken. And again. And again. Fish were rising all around me. I switched to dry. Elk caddis, Klinkhamer, black Klinkhamer, parachute Adams, grey duster, this, that, the other. No interest. They kept rising tho' and I kept trying.

Finally, the breakthrough came with a fly I'd seen on the homepage of Rob Denson: the Bare Hare. The fish were taking nothing-y little flies so I tried this nondescript but very suggestive little fly. Bingo! I was already late for the meal my missus had cooked so scarpered after a couple of brownies and a couple of grayling but was elated to have finally cracked the river's code tonight. 2¼ hours with no fish and then ¼ hour and four fish. The moral of the story? Always fish that extra ¼hr