Friday, 12 December 2014

Reflections and thanks.....

The last month has seen my fishing activities grind to a complete halt , so anything truly fishing related  to write about is absent but there has been a sad event that certainly relates to my love of fly fishing.

In the last few months I have learnt of a teacher of mine who has sadly left us. My woodwork and craft teacher from when I was at boarding school at age 11. He was called Brian Guy, Brig to those who knew him,  looking back he was one of the most influential people in my younger days. He was also the first person I ever saw catch a fish on a fly. As a kid we used to bait fish in the river whiske near Thirsk.  One day whilst we were float fishing he was fly fishing. I can still picture him kneeling on the bank and casting to a pod of circling chub I was even trusted with the net to land one .  The fly was a very simple black gnat. The act of deception amazed me then as much as it still does now .  It truly was a inspirational moment in my life.  He was also a real guiding light at a time when things were not going well for me,  I think at the time the escape fishing offered was one of the few things that helped.  Sadly now he has gone and also sadly has the stream .  I have returned once to that river bank in the nearly half century since I watched him there, the clear water and streamer weeds and the shoals of roach and chub have been replaced with a fetid muddy channel that seemed totally bereft of life.  I would have liked to be able to return there and try to emulate that act of deception but sadly like Brig the river of my childhood has sadly departed.

 He was a guy who was capable of really surprising you  he had a great love of fishing and yet 10 or more years after I left school I met him at a reunion I asked him if he still fly fished, I find his answer as surprising now after another 20 or 30 years have passed as I did then , he said he loved to cast a fly and loved to rise a trout but he felt a deep sadness for the fish once he had hooked it . It was a conundrum that deeply troubled him. He was a remarkable man. If you can read this Brig thanks for everything not least for casting that fly and lighting that spark all those years ago.  There was a memorial service for him recently in Hawes in the Yorkshire dales, sadly I could not get there but the day it was on I sat for an hour and tied a few black gnats and one summer evening next year they will rise a trout for Brig.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Itchen grayling

Recently I was away down south and was lucky enough to receive an invite from my friend Peter ( he of walks and fishes blog) to fish a beat of the Itchen with him. Although I am now fishing a chalk stream on a regular basis the Itchen is one of those hallowed southern streams that carry a certain mystique.  So it was an opportunity to be seized  .  I arrived at three minutes past the appointed meeting up time due to the hideous southern traffic,  something  I was not happy about as to quote Norman Maclean " there's three things we're never late for: church, work and fishing" and personally I think fishing is by far the most important.  Being late for fishing is something I regard as pretty bad manners.  Peter however was oblivious to my late arrival. 

After a quick hello it was rig up and of fishing , Autumn days are pretty short affairs and time shouldnt be wasted on over indulgent pleasantries. After a quick demo from Pete on his tried and trusted rigs . I was away and fishing after 3 casts bingo fish number one .  I started with a two hook rig a size 16 bead head on point and a size 18 gammarus pattern on the dropper. It became apparent pretty quickly that I was picking up all the fish on the point fly and as the river obviously carried a very large head of fish I ditched the dropper shortly after starting,  

The top fish was pretty typical of the better fish I caught with perhaps 5 or 6 like that coming to hand the rest were smaller with a couple of tiny rainbows and a couple of very chunky OOS native brownies also throwing themselves in to the mix.  It is astonishing how many fish were in that length of river , some of the grayling were pretty big too with a few that looked around two pound. Sadly none of those decided to play ball. 

The river is very very pretty and even though it is into November the warm Autumn meant the trees still carried more than a hint of green.  The sunshine encouraged a hatch of olives and soon they were been intercepted by fish. So of went the nymph and on with the dry , catching a few on a dry was an unexpected bonus for me .  A short heavy shower killed the hatch and drove me back to the decent fishing hut where I found Peter also heading for cover. After the shower the rise disappeared so it was back on the nymph and another good few fish finished the day until we called it a day a little after three. 

The beat has two small fishing huts . I figure that this one doesnt see a lot of use. Not quite what I would expect from a posh southern chalk stream. I must say the beat did not appear to be over manicured there was plenty of weed and overhanging branches and plenty of stuff growing in the bank sides too. In fact as nice a stretch of river as I have seen for a while. 

One thing i did notice, the grayling seemed to be less steely in appearance than my local spate stream fish.  But they did seem to like the same bugs I use up north.  Personally my thoughts are with grayling they are pretty catholic with their tastes but I do think they get wary of seeing the same things,  I rarely use brass beads for that reason. I reckon i finished the day with about thirty fish . I probably could have caught a few more if I had stuck with the nymph instead of playing with the dry for an hour or so,  but fishing is about more than just catching ,,,

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Grayling Party time but with a gatecrasher.....

This last month I have been out on my local rivers enjoying the start of another Grayling season. Although I have caught a few during the summer and the season for them runs right from June I dont feel as if the party starts till the end of September when the Trout season finishes,  This weekend was typical grayling season weather ,  Windy and very Autumnal with the river surface covered in leaves and even the odd branch floating by.  But at least things got going I  had probably a dozen grayling with nothing bigger than half a pound.  Caught way to many trout , I cant remember a year when the brownies were still as active as they are now . A result of the mild Autumn.  As for the grayling whenever I catch one I am always reminded what a very beautiful fish they are..

One gatecrasher at the partywas this rainbow,  at around 2lbs it certainly gave a good account of itself on the 3wt,  these things cause a mix of opinions on the river in my local club. They are stocked and some members enjoy catching them and enjoy the fact that it technically extends the trout season for an extra month.  Certainly this last month has seen them rising freely but most of the anglers on the river seem to be after grayling so its a bit of a mixed blessing .  As for me well I have my own views and unlike the Grayling this didnt go back in the river...

Incidentally my first grayling trip on the local beck resulted in a totally trout catch with the fish feeding hard , apart from just one fish that as a coarse species was legally captured .  It pleased me in one way that my nymphing skills have been sufficiently improved this season I actually saw the take.  Perhaps not a huge speciman but certainly my biggest of the season.

The recent rains have refreshed my local beck just a shame its done it once the trout season has finished.  The bottom OOS brownie is typical of what the beck holds with wildies to a pound and a half a real possibility. With a smattering of grayling for good measure.