Thursday, 5 April 2018

"First on a Dry"... Don`t you just love those words

First on a dry.. I just love those words .  It signifies so much more than just a fish caught .  It signals things are up and running , the shack nasties are banished and I can start to festoon the trees with all those flies I have so carefully tied during the winter.  It means the Grannon, Hawthorns and Mayfly times are just around the next bend .  Warm sultry evenings with rising brown trout or even splashing sea trout.  Yes the good times are here again.  Well when I say here its more of a nearly here .  Actually here we have blown flooded rivers, bank collapses , trees down and assorted other damage. 
But the season is now officially up and running and I am happy that I rejoined the little chalk stream syndicate this year and can enjoy a spring fed river that resists the worst of the deluge. 

last Sunday was the first day it was open.  I left the driveway in a hailstorm and drove through heavy rain and eventually along the farm track that bore a remarkable resemblance to WW1 pictures of the Somme .  Even the chalk stream was a little cloudy .  Not the usual Gin clear perfection of summer . 
After an hours fishing in the cold something happened which changed my whole perception , the day seemed warmer the harsh wind softened and the water cleared ,  in reality I saw a rising fish , then another and then I saw them.  Large dark olives a mere smattering of them but enough to bring the fish to the top.  The first I missed foolishly rushing the strike.  The second I hit but the fish jumped and threw the barbless hook.   But the third came to hand , a small fish but oh so precious..

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Change is in the air.

For the benefit of those people who don`t live in the UK there is an old joke here about us not having a climate , we just have weather .  Well in the last month we have experienced a lot of "weather" ; something that was dubbed "the beast from the east".  Which basically was a pretty severe blast of snow carrying cold air from Siberia .

Now to those of you from Canada and the like: I know you will think what the hell are we talking about ? ,  I accept that you guys really get real cold and proper snowfall.  But you see here in the UK.  Weather wise, we never really get a proper anything .  When we get a "hot" summer ie it gets above 20 C people faint and mutter about global warming ,  dry summers meaning at least one week of no rainfall inevitably bring about discussions about water rationing .  Where heavy rainfall occurs it soon causes flooding due to over zealous upland drainage and the clinical straightening of water courses allowing water falling on the uplands to almost instantaneously overwhelm lowland rivers and create floods.  Truth is despite is despite an national obsession with the weather we have no bloody idea how to deal with its ill effects on our ageing infrastructure and new housing stock which has been built on the flood plains that were dry during the few hot summer.

Anyway today was a very special day.  The first day of the trout fishing season .  Astonishingly it has been a day when a window of  fine weather has held sway.  Our little beck is for sure running very high but at least the colour has dropped from the high water.   I had just one fish to show but as is always the case the first fish of the season is indeed a special gift and it was a small but perfect wild brown trout . More snow is forecast for next week, Easter it seems will be a cold affair this year.  But at last things are on the up.  Today the primroses were blooming and the wild garlic is coming through. 

This year I intend to change the blog a little I pretty much lost my way with it this last year.  You will see a bit more of a diary look to it and the odd smattering of fly tying too.   Blogs seem to have fallen from fashion somewhat of late , I can't  quite decide if this one has run its course or just needs a change in direction . 

Thursday, 22 February 2018

A touch of Italian flair....

Due to work commitments I often find myself away from home for several days at a time in hotels.  Where time tying a few flies in the room is very preferable to spending every night in the bar.  Also where fishing with holidays is combined a vice to take with me is a real bonus.  I am not a great tier but enjoy tying and not been able to tie flies on the spot frustrates me.

Anyway I have had a couple of so called travel vices the only thing I can say is that they were great for travelling but rubbish as vices .  Then some time ago I became aware of these.............

These fold up flat and the head assembly detaches as does the handle .  The engineering is very fine the hook hold is brilliant and it looks like a million dollars or perhaps i should say Euros ,Better still it is very transportable .  The tripod base in very stable and the hook hold very good .   So far its handled size 12 to 20 hooks with equal ease.  The vise is by Cottarelli lets hope that it doesnt rust like the Italian cars of my youth does...

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Half a century of fishing and books.

I recently had a bit of a sort out on the bookshelves I have a few hundred fishing titles mainly dated pre 1950 mixed with a few modern titles too. but pulling a few random titles got me reminiscing.  Mr Crabtree was without doubt the first proper fishing book I ever read.  The copy below was one I picked up years ago . Sad to say that the original one owned by my Dad long since disappeared.  To the modern reader of fishing books it must seem shockingly naive , but at the time to a young kid it was a wonderful book .  Fishing books at the time were a scarce commodity and to have one that could be picked up by a youngster and pored over was a real rarity .  Probably more than any other this one fired my imagination.  

I think the first fishing book I ever bought was the "northern anglers handbook " yes the one pictured below published in 1968 I bought it new and somewhat miraculously it has stuck with me through the last nearly 50 years.  I remember reading with fascination of the local fly fishing clubs with their astronomical fees or it seemed so at the time .  It gives me some considerable satisfaction that I am now a member of a few of them and chairman of one.  The period from then to now has seen some memorable days .  When I was 13 and at boarding school I was introduced to fly fishing and there was a copy of Trout and how to catch them in my local public library,  well it was there when I was on holiday then first day back at term it was mine again.  I remember with some fondness the frustration of trying to cast a fly line for the first time guided by the little stick man drawings inside it,  It was though a decent guide and a flick through it again confirms that yes pretty much everything you need to know on a "how to" basis is inside the covers.  
After boarding school came the big bad world of work.  Which for me was a training in a chartered surveyors office .  Salary was a pittance, my annual salary then was just a bit more than I charge per day now .   However despite my lack of funds and finding the fancy fly fishing clubs fees way out of my bracket the "Rough river and small stream book " opened my eyes and realised you could fly fish for coarse fish .  A pastime that filled the gap nicely till the commercial still water scene developed a bit in the late 70s and the 80s .  

Over the years my fishing has focused more and more on rivers I am fortunate in living within a few miles of some really first class fishing .  My love of books is bound up with that and so many of them can conjure up fond memories .

My passions for fishing literature is still there but modern books whilst gaining in sophistication and technical detail seem to have lost must of the real naive charm.  I was asked by someone at Christmas what fishing book could they buy their young son ( age 10 ) who was expressing an interest in fishing . After doing a bit of a web browse there was only one answer I could give .  I bought a Mr Crabtree of the internet and gave it to them for him .  I understand it was a big hit and its a regular read for him.  So that's another angler in the making I hope .  These days I enjoy my now extensive library with a real mix of old and new .  But am sure that none will ever inspire the same memories in me that the titles above do.  

The two below are a couple of my bookshelves .  Modern yes but at the time I read them they certainly made me think especially "In the ring of the rise".  Quite a rare thing these days a book offering genuine innovative thought on a pastime that to some extent has been done to death by many books which just seem to regurgitate a variation on the same theme.  When you read books like "The way of a trout with a fly" by Skues on the chalk streams and "The Practical Angler" by Stewart on our northern rivers you realise how they were pretty advanced for their time and are still remarkably modern in some ways .  Timeless classics a title that that very few modern titles will achieve. 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

A charity shop style day

Well thats me of the mark for 2018,  at long last the rain had stopped long enough for the rivers to settle a little and allow me a crack at some grayling.   I don’t much like fishing at this time of year , apart from the cold and the general gloom it is invariably fishing weighted nymphs for deep lying grayling .  A method which isn’t my favourite.  Now I know that a lunchtime rise is always a possibility, and there is a chance of a rising fish well the books say it works like that  .  Can’t say it often happened in January for me .

Anyway venturing forth the river looked in spanking form and it has at last cleared. Can’t say I was in spanking form . I was told by the one fellow member fishing when he saw me he said I was looking like a charity shop bundle that had gone fishing .  Harsh words coming from the Simms breathable clad figure .  I examined my attire working from the top down,  a imitation fur hat with yogi bear style ears cut a racy look .  My aging wading jacket which was struggling manfully to contain the multiple layers of pullovers atop my thermals .  All set of by my trusty ocean  pvc chest waders .  I gave up on neoprenes years ago , as on a couple of past occasions I came close to full cardiac arrest trying to get out of my previous pair.    The oceans are what you would call a comfy fit. With sufficient room around the rear to give a passable imitation of an elderly African elephant.  Anyway perhaps not the most stylish outfit but very practical.

As my  style critic strode of down the bank I entered the water in the only way that was proper . Sliding gracefully down the muddy bank on my arse .  A manoeuvre that is possible with indestructible PVC wrapped around you.The waters coldness hidden from my legs by the long socks , long johns , thermal suit and pvc .  The day was clear , crisp and the water at a good level. Apart from my style critic I shared the river with good numbers of dippers and one heron that flapped noisily away as I approached .  As for the fishing In the end my tally was two to hand and one released at distance and another couple scared . In the end a fine way to start the new year,  just not the most stylish.