Wednesday, 4 May 2016

A springtime christening

Recent visitors to this here blog will know that a recent gift from me to myself has been a small built cane rod that my good friend Chas Burns built for me. It has been in the rod rack for a good few months now.  I could hear it calling to me as I walked past. Well despite my intentions had been that for its intended christening was for flicking tiny dries to rising brownies on a warm evening on a favourite couple of small streams here abouts, last weekend I couldnt wait any longer.  The day was sunny enough to kid me not to take wear my wading jacket just a light fleece, but as I walked up the dale the Northerly breeze that last passed over the Arctic made it feel more like February and made my bravado seem all the more foolhardy.  

There was very little sign of hatching flies. The water was reasonably clear and fining down after the recent rains .  I had made a decision that on this rod the first fish would be on a dry even if it meant blanking in the process. After 20 mins or so prospecting with in the likely runs and riffles away from the main currents I had the little brownie above and it was quickly followed by half a dozen more.  All on the dry and all showing no sign of rising before the fly passed over them .  These small stream brownies are suckers for a a little dark dry drifting over them.  About then the wind speed increased a few notches, the clouds appeared and the rain started .  So far that day I had experienced typical weather from three of the four seasons . I packed up and headed back to the car . A few minutes later the three seasons became four as a hailstorm swept down the valley.

I have fished a few times this last month, when the biting cold or high water has allowed it. I had a day on the river Derwent with a friend of mine,  A strange sort of day where we seemed to have all four seasons in an hour never mind a day.  The signs of spring are unmistakeable enough ,  plain to see but here we are with May just a few days away and we are still getting hard frosts and snow . Global warming ...Yeh right

A feature of the early season this year is the amount of Grayling I have caught out of season.  I have been very pleased to see them as the cormerant plague seemed worst than ever this last winter.  They seem to be more active than usual and are rising freely.  Although out of season i couldnt resist a quick snap as it was slipped back in.

An aspect of the built cane rod has surprised me . When the rod is picked up without a line on it and given a wiggle I must confess that the degree of flex had initially if not unerved me certainly confiirmed it is very different to my usual carbon rods even the winstons that I use that are quiet an unusual action and very different to most carbon rods..  But unlike a carbon rod the rod almost seems to stiffen when its loaded with a line its almost like the rod becomes one with the line and changes completely.  Not a very scientific description but it is a fair reflection on how it felt. I can confirm however it casts a nice tight loop and is a delight to fish with.  

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Cause and effect....

The season has at long last got underway .   The 25th of March heralded the new season in on my local beck. Which as long time readers of my blog will know is my preferred opening day location.  It also happens to be the only fishing I have access too that doesnt wait until April first to get going. Its been a long winter, I last cast a line in October last year.

First fish of the season. Small, a bit scruffy looking but very very welcome...

Usually the week before opening day is a tantalising clement period of warmth which culminates in an opening day of cold winds and driving rain and sometimes snow.   This year however the weather gods smiled and blessed us with blue skies , sunshine and a gentle breeze. Butterflies and bumble bees were awake and the wild garlic was starting to lay a heady fragrant carpet under the trees.

The river looked stunning it was clear and at a perfect level.  There was even a small hatch of olives a  at around 12.15 and for an angler on opening day  a more welcome sight than a good few upwing duns skating about is hard to imagine.. Perhaps for an hour they appeared and mostly drifted downstream unmolested . Rising fish were a real rarity but a net result of two fish to hand from four risers seen was on the day and for the few hours fished was a fair result, a size 16 cdc IOBO doing the damage,  The risers were all from tiny pockets in generally shallow bouldery areas, One riser was put down due to a combination of poor casting and the target been in a very tight lie under overhanging bushes, not helped by a rusty casting arm and I confess the best fish seen was  lost due to user error and an over eager strike. Apart from targetting the odd riser  despite searching all the deeper pools and runs there was not a sign of a fish. Nymphs , spiders all untouched.

During the winter the beck has undergone some significant changes , the obvious ones are the landslips, the new obstructions and even the odd new pool and gravel bank left behind by the winter floods.  The less obvious are the sudden large rabbit and greater deer population , no doubt a result of the very large housing development in progress across the fields You could say we have a touch of the watership downs.  Already the bankside areas are showing signs of rabbit browsing . except that is where the young hogweed are coming through.  All  these things , these changes are effects with a cause.

We  have witnessed all winter the ever present cormerants and goosanders on the beck and in greater numbers than ever before .  The worry to me is that the effect is a stream now largely devoid of fish.   I am not naive enough to say that because the river showed little sign of life on opening day then conclusions can be drawn ,  but the beck does not carry a huge head of fish and I do know this small stream intimateley and the very marked absense of fish in good holding spots was difficult to ignore lets just hope that the rule of cause and effect doesnt hold true in this case .  Sadly the steady decline of grayling over the last few years is a fact, the total dissapearence of chub is also a fact as is the now banning of stocking diploid trout , So now we are totally dependent on the future breeding success of the native stock,  lets just hope that authorities have got their facts right and that they have factored in the increasing population of sawbills which seem to be growing fat on a diet of wild trout. Somehow I doubt it.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Wild Trout trust auction

The Wild trout trust auction is online now,  For the last few years I have been putting a day on with my Syndicate on the Yorkshire Dove.  Heres a few extra pictures of what you can expect on the river. It is a beautiful small stream with a good population of wild fish .  The stream hasnt been stocked in living memory.

Lots of wild brownies to 12 inches with a few larger.

River with combinations of slow pools and fast riffles

Good fly life and beautifully marked fish.  there are also a good head of Grayling . 

Here s the link to the auction:  There are also lots of other great lots on this years auction....

WTT282 1 day for 1 rod, River Dove, N. Yorks, wild trout and grayling fishing

Friday, 4 March 2016

Spring clean

 Although technically still february a week ago the Sunday morning had a real spring feel to it. It was also the day I was due to do the invertebrate monitoring on the local beck. 
Of late opportunities of reasonable water levels have been very few so it was important I took the chance. It was also an excuse to get into the river something not to be ignored.

The recent weeks of continuous high waters have as well as doing a fair bit of damage have also given the rivers a bloody good spring clean. The deep marginal banks of leaves and silt that seem to have persisted for the last few years have been swept away
This area near one of my invert sites was pretty much covered in a silt and now is a lovely stream bed of clean gravel.

Even the kick sample was clean with no fine sediment to kick up and cloud the tray.  Together with little in the way of suspended vegetable matter its cleaner than it has been for years 

The usual cuplprits were there : there were a few of these .  

And a suprisingly large number of these 

And a few of these 

The february sunshine even encouraged a few nymphs to transform in the sample tray. this one didnt get very far, but was interesting to watch and I got to thinking how a few short tufts of CDC would look like the crippled wings below.

This little gravel island was under water for probably six weeks solid and yet these little snowdrops survived unscathed.

Something else to survive unscathed was our new fish pass that has emerged completely intact after a couple of months of constant battering.  Fish were seen ascending the pass before christmas but its unlikely that the redds they cut escaped from been washed out by the high waters. It is  less than a month now to when I will be casting a line here.  It cant come to soon.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Fishing bamboo and heritage in the making.....

Before we go any further its not just your the reader that is fed up of seeing blog posts on a fly fishing blog that dont have any fly fishing in them  but as part of my pre season preparations the following tells its own story....
After 41 years of fly fishing , starting with fibreglass and graduating through graphite and carbon , im6 and all the rest even of late Tenkara I have finally fallen into the dark side. I have long toyed with the idea of a very small stream rod in bamboo , but previousley the moment wasnt quite right .   

Recently though coming across a very heavy albert pocket watch chain that was about the only thing of real financial value that was left to me by my late Grandfather . It made me think, It held no real sentimental value to me and incidentally I cant even remember Grandad wearing  it. But It made me think that it would be good to sell it and invest in something that Grandad would have approved of.  

So the gold was sold and the above was bought . Now when I use it It will be even more pleasurable for the memories it will stimulate .  I spent many a happy hour fishing with Grandad and the rod and reel that he is using there in that photo is still in my position and is truly something I wouldnt part with . 

For those of you that like to know the technicalities of such things its a 6ft 3wt with two tips impregnated cane built on a swelled butt Chapmans blank, Fostors of ashbourne taper.  Built by Chas Burns of burns built rods....and having had a wee play with it down the beck at the weekend I can report it lays a line on the water like an angels kiss....

I am sure he would be pleased with my choice......