Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Four hours fly fishing Three times a week after meals .....



During the last couple of weeks and as a result of the short days and cold temperatures on more than one occasion my mind has drifted back to the summers long warm evenings.  A rising fish, gentle waters and soft birdsong are quite a therapeutic combination.  Such times on the river leave me relaxed and fulfilled. My wife refers to my fly fishing as prozac without prescription.  Its certainly always helped me to keep lifes stresses at bay.  




This last week i have become aware of the latest trendy complaint apparantly its called "Nature deficit disorder" Theres a link to the article here 
Now I am puzzled as to why something as simple needs an apparantly scientific explanation. I for one know that not been able to stand in a river fairly regularly brings on a very serious condition. I have always just thought of it as the "Shack nasties" . Symptons vary but moodiness , lack of appetite and  irritability are all possibilities.  There is only one cure of course.  There are partial treatments . For me fly tying is the most effective .  But that seems to have only limited benefit. No when it comes right down to it getting in a river is the only cure.




This last weekend for instance , feeling shit with man flu developing I knew that a couple of hours with a rod in my hand would despite the cold temperatures make me feel better.  Wife wasnt happy about it but with her parting words of ..."you wont get any sympathy of meee..." fading away I set of down my local beck.  This bit of the river is indeed local if I had a mind I could walk it in ten minutes.  Today I took the car to the bottom end of the section and met up with friend and we went looking for Grayling.  Now there are Grayling in the river .  But there isnt many and they often dont want to play ball. Sunday they didnt want to play at all .   A couple of out of season brownies was all I could manage but it did what I wanted it to do.  Fresh air, the feel of cold water. Autumn sunshine and even a barn owl floating along the river bank.  For at least an hour or two I felt human again.  




As I get older I get increasingly frustrated by so called modern discoveries.  The above disorder been typical.  I have always known that for me not enough fishing time is essential to remaining happy and contented. However come the day when a trip to the doctor will result in Ah yes Sir you are suffering from NDD and results in a prescription such as " 4 hours fly fishing three times a week after meals " I will be the first to admit that yes science really is making progress ...












Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The Anton and the Ure Chalk and Cheese



I was visiting relatives down south a few weekends ago and as I have in the past I met up with my good friend Peter , he of the old walks and fishes blog.  It is an excellent friendship which results in shared days fishing for him on my wonderful freestone rivers when he visits the grim north where I reside and for me copping a day on a posh chalkstream when I join him down south.  Of late Pete has been bemoaning the lack of variation of chalk stream fishing and to some extent I can relate to his malady.  The rivers are of course beautiful,  they are well manicured and also well stocked, actually too well stocked .  We are now well past the end of the trout season and there was trout in the small river of biblical proportions left over from the summer .  I had one on for a while until a combination of giving slack line and letting it get into the weed enabled it to be released.  There was no way it was going to be landed I estimated it at between 5 and 6 pounds.








Adding fish that size to a small chalkstream from my point of view is all wrong,  but sadly it is a policy that is driven by the financial pressures of providing expensive fishing that will result in a guaranteed catch of a substantial fish.  I guess the logic is the more expensive and exclusive the fishing the bigger the fish should be.  I guess it is exactly the result from the stocking policies that we see in more and more rivers across the country.   The surroundings really are idylic ,  the water is as  the old saying goes say clear as gin and twice the price. We were only a short distance from Stockbridge , signs for the Houghton water on the test were not far away ,  I was treading the banks that the good and great had trod in the past names like Skues and Halford had probably fished these very waters







However away from my petty moaning and whining , I had a lovely day .  Despite the fact that the river was very low there has been little or no rain in the area virtually all summer and the stream was running about a foot below normal levels.  very big grayling were there to be seen but were less easily captured . Despite trying nymphs down to size 24 drifted past their nose they didn't want to know.  I fished the morning until lunch mainly with the dry fly,  the shallow water and thick weed combined with fish that were rising occasionally was a combination that given I was on a posh chalk stream it seemed like the right thing to do.  My host and I met up shortly after lunch .  he had started at the downstream end and I started about half way up .  For the afternoon we would swap over so we had both had undisturbed water to start.  In the afternoon I fished French leader and a tiny nymph .  I was covering deeper slower water with no surface activity. The switch brought marginally more fish but generally of a smaller size,  but I was covering water Pete had already fished through.  French leader fishing is no doubt an effective method but I have two problems with it.  Firstly its hard work lots of "casting" and secondly .  Well its not really fly fishing is it? .  No fly line , no gratification on even a fishless day from making a well formed cast. 









Since giving up my membership last year of the Yorkshire stream  this is the first time I have been on a chalkstream.  The sight fishing was great the size of the fish a little OTT. Especially the brownies that were loitering ,  but have to say that given my choice if  I had to fish just one river to the end of my days it would be a northern free stone spate stream. Yes Ill take a golden bellied red spotted wild fish from a northern stream over any fat chalk stream trout.  There is no doubt that the mystique and history around chalk streams produces an itch that has to be scratched , Combined  with the works of Halford and Skues it produces rivers with a certain aura.  But the Northern rivers especially the dales rivers have their own history .  Edmonds and Lee , Stewart  et al have just as significant a part in English trout fishing. .







As northern freestone rivers go the Ure up in Wenslydale (The dale of the cheese fame and the only Dale not named after its river ) is one of my personal favourites and it was here just a week after fishing the chalk that I went chasing grayling again,  the river was just fining down after a recent rise , again so typical of the spate streams where the levels can rise and fall within a week , unlike the chalkstreams where the aquifer fed streams provide a constant environment.  The day was less than ideal . A salmon angler was the only other angler out apart from myself and my guest Peter ( a different one ) We both caught fish Peter seemed to be attracting the Brownies that day. I found a few Grayling although it was only a brief lunchtime hatch the betrayed their position in the river. 




Not sure if I will get back in the Dales before next summer , I tend to stick to my local rivers the Derwent and Yorkshire Dove during the winter.  But I will be happy to visit it again in the spring .  Something special about fishing here in the spring with a team of spiders.











As I was leaving the river I glimpsed down stream through the trees.  That day and at that moment was really the day when I realised that Autumn was really upon us.



Thursday, 13 October 2016

Tail end of the season , breaks and joins in equal measure.


As far as seasons go.  2016 has so far been one to forget the only hope for redemption is that the grayling will come in at the last lap and rescue the year. So far a lot less fishing has been done than I would like . Time has been in short supply and the only other thing in shorter supply has been water in the local rivers and streams .  The last month also resulted in probably my all time shortest trip when one of my much loved Winstons snapped when casting on about the fifth cast ,  Cant understand why but can only guess it had a weakness following an errant fly or nymph giving it a knock.  Anyway as I`m the original owner and have registered the warranty it will very shortly be winging its way to the states for repair..  The accident happened on what was pretty much my last trout trip of the season so at least I wont be without my favourite 8ft 4weight when the new trout season starts next year.



On Sunday I had a day on the Ure , The day was organised by the Salmon and Trout Association and the dales rivers trust.  It was essentially a social day held around a 4 hr grayling competition.Its a day for members of the organisation primarily and its a fund raiser.  I have never been on the day before but its an annual event going back many years. When I got there I was one of 69 people fishing and looking around the pub where everyone met a few things were obvious, firstly most people knew each other and amongst the crowd were some serious anglers and some old friends.  Hot tea and bacon sandwiches were the introduction .  Fishy tales and stories of defeats and victories filled the air as could be imagined in a pub full of anglers.



After the draw which put 6 or 8 anglers on a beat of river we all set of to find our allotted section.  Myself and three companions were on a beat just upstream of Wensly , very pretty water and as we walked along the river I dropped into the pool below ,  A nice riffle emptying into a deeper pool looked suitably fishy and I  decided to wait for the start time right here .  As it got to 12 o clock I started with a size 18 Klink , There was an odd rise and the only insects I could see were a few small olives and sedges ,  I hoped that the klinks ability to bring fish to the surface would see success so that went on to start with,  The third cast the grayling above came to hand ,  next cast another grayling rose and was netted this time a little six incher.  A couple of casts later my cast strayed into the faster broken water and a reasonable out of season trout took and proceeded to cartwheel around the swim . After that I couldn't buy a fish and I moved on.


The next three hours was a struggle, nymphs weren't working at all and rising fish were very rare. The river was low but it was great to fish a new stretch on one of my favourite rivers . On the day the fishing wasn't great but perhaps I should say the catching wasn't great ,  The fishing was in fact excellent,  Met and chatted to several old friends and had a brief chat to Oliver Edwards ,  First time I have met him and he was a proper gent,  On the odd occasion in the past I have met "top" anglers they have sometimes been a bit full of themselves.  But he was a proper gent and seemed interested in where we had come from and his commenting that the days fishing had been as hard as he could remember for a while helped the pain of a low catch.  Socialising around fishing is something new to me , to me its always been an intensely solitary pastime but more and more I find myself sharing a day with a friend or acquaintance,  There is a knack to river fishing and socialising it seems to me that the trick is getting the balance right in how much time you spend with your companion and how much time is spent in solitude.


Its interesting that I ended the paragraph with the word solitude .  Its a word that is often misused and misunderstood.  All to often confused with loneliness another word that has been on my mind of late. I have a an old friend that is suffering at the moment with loneliness and depression and he asked me how I coped with the loneliness of been out on the river. "Lonely" I questioned "on a river".  I can only say that I have often experienced solitude and occasionally been lonely but the two states have never existed togather.  Truth is when it comes down to it loneliness is a state of mind, Solitude is a state of being.  All my life I have never been happier that when I am alone and fishing a river and if its in my beloved Yorkshire than so much the better,  Incidentally I will be back on the Ure in the future weeks and months,  I left the angling club on the Ure a year or two ago mainly as I had gained access to one of the wolds chalk streams and you can only fish so many places and felt that I couldnt fish them all.   But both decisions weren't my best,  I missed the Ure as quickly as I regretted my decision to join the chalk stream syndicate,  I am pleased to say that both decisions have now been reversed so one again I can at least look forward to summer days in the dales next year.  The blog has been on my mind of late too.  I have had several emails and even the odd conversation on the non virtual variety complaining at the lack of activity.  Truth is I think to a large extent its run its course,  Increasingly I find myself setting down things that perhaps arent in keeping with a fishing blog and then deleting them ,  Some of you readers may think the last paragraph falls into that catagory well perhaps it does.  But the blog is going to continue but its going to change. I guess you the readers will decide if the change is good... 






Sunday, 28 August 2016

Best part of the day


This weekend was the annual August bank holiday.  Which living in a tourist town is a real double edged sword.  The town needs the money the visitors bring .  The crowds, litter, traffic jams and campfires and rubbish up the beck are the flip side of the equation.  Also the weather usually manages to behave in a proper bank holiday manner.  Heavy rain and strong winds are the usual and sure enough in the run up to the weekend we had seen havy rain which had put all the local rivers up which meant any fly fishing was scuppered .  My only chance of any fishing was on my local beck where the recent overnight spate and suitable high tide late at night gave a chance that an early sea trout would nose up the beck. Saturday early weather forecast  promised a window of opportunity, to be honest all in all a pretty remote chance but just realistic enough to make an early morning trip up the beck more than just a folly.



The morning was perfection , the north sea was like a mill pond allowing the castle to cast its shadow on the sea .  Only a few hours later thick clouds had blown in bringing a heavy swell and rain.  Sheltering visitors arriving mid morning missing the early morning splendour.  Oblivious to having missed the "best part of the day"


Climbing up from the sea front and looking down into the valley gives a glimpse of the beck hidden in the valley bottom.  Clambering down to the first pool its hard to realise that the high tide line is only about 70ds below this first pool.  The fishing is about searching the sea pools with a spinner , usually a mepps, chucking metal as the unkind call it. 



Another two hundred yards up stream the bankside is covered like a cottage garden border. I love this stretch of the beck , Wild orchids compete with basking slow worms to grab your attention.  This deep slow pool has delivered up some fine fish in the past.  Truth is there probably hadnt been enough of a rise in water to make running fish very likely neither was it late enough in the year to make running sea trout very likely.  



Heres a pic you wont see very often on my blog my old faithful shakey spinning rod and ABU cardinel reel.  A combo that Ive had for probably ten years and gets used about twice a year.   Truth is I am not a great fan of spinning after a couple of hours Im bored. It just doesnt float my boat .  I am not saying its unskilled because in its way it isnt .  Fishing the spinner well is indeed very skilled and we have a few guys in the club who are damn good at it . But I aint one of them . 




I have caught sea trout in the beck on them but the big deal for me was catching one on the fly years ago.  But this morning ended up been a walk by the beck with a rod for company but without a sniff of a fish.



Tuesday, 9 August 2016

River swale with a fly rod


I have just returned from a week in the Yorkshire dales , a lovely area to visit . Especially for me as it doesn't seem to matter which part you stay in you are never far away from one of the beautiful Dales rivers .  This time we were in Richmond and the local river is the Swale , in fact the river flows right through the town. Apparently the Swale can be the fastest rising river in England .  Due to its extensive high ground catchment catchment and steep valleys .  When we arrived it was dead low due to the last few weeks lack of rain. 



Despite the idyllic scene above its sad to report the litter  muppets still manage to spoil things , the shingle bank showing was liberally scattered with dozens of broken bottles and the remains of a good few bonfires .   Sadly it's an all to common story of many people's lack of respect for the countryside.  


I managed a few early morning sessions on here , not an ideal time to fish but under dead low summer conditions it has a good few things going for it.   The river has been un disturbed for a few hours and water temperatures will have dropped slightly .  Also the procession of dog walkers , fire lighters, bottle smashers and other bank side dwellers has been absent for a few hours .  The river is as quiet then as at any time of day. Swale dale certainly  is a very handsome place . The first fish of the day and in fact all he fish I caught came from Runs less than a foot deep fast broken water ,  "skinny water"




The river was a cracking place to be early morning ,  I shared it with Buzzards, Kingfishers , Dippers a couple of foxes and butterflies in abundance ,  should know more about butterflies but it's something I have never got to grip with , not sure what these are but there sure were a lot .




The run below was pretty typical of where fish came from fast, and generally less that a foot deep with a few pockets a bit deeper , a size 16 Klink with a nice visible post was the best on the day. Rises were sometimes amazingly small given the speed of the water often the fly just seemed to sucked through the film. A highly visible fly was essential.  Its also worth mentioning that not one fish was targetted as a riser.  All fish were taken by casting to likely lies and holding spots.  Fish that were visibly rising were small fish splashing in the dead slow pools.



I caught a lot of the size below and a few better fish , my best of the trip was about a pound and a half   But stupidly allowed it to flip out of the net after carrying it to the edge of the current .  Barbless hook came out and the fish bid me farewell before the camera could be deployed 




The run below was where I had my best success between one and two feet deep of very clear  fast water over a very rocky bed in a 100yds I had five fish , one released at the net as stated above and four to hand , the best photogenic one is below.  They put up a tremendous scrap in the fast current , great fun on a 10ft four weight .




Just as an aside , I like a lot of anglers can be guilty of indulging in expensive posh label gear , I do love Winstons and have several , but last year needing a 10ft 4 wt for exactly this kind of occasional use I took a risk on a cheap ebay Trabucco 4 pce.  Quite a sweet rod think it was about £75 quid. Just shows whats out there in the marketplace.




My few days in the dales were delightful , The rivers although low and full of spoooky fish were great fun. 


Until the last couple of days when overnight rain demonstrated why this river is known as the fatest rising in England.  From dead low to bank high in just a few hours..