Photograph by Steve Barnett

Sunday, 9 April 2017

The Flood Giveth And the Flood Taketh Away

Remember this wonderful thatch from last year?  A brilliant hidey hole given by the flood.

Well here it is after the most recent flood...

The Flood Taketh Away...  Ah well, not every thing turns out the way we expect, but look here, just a few yards upstream!

The Flood Giveth!!!  An entire alder tree complete with root ball and a little of the promontory that it used to stand on!  Every single pocket behind this amazing gift of Nature has a trout in it.  This large woody debris has delivered half a dozen or more little feed lanes and the fish love it. 

Throughout the beat the fish also loved the Grannom, for about three hours, today.  It was a joy to witness and the Fresh Grannom proved most acceptable to the rising fish. 

Even battered and a little torn the fly kept convincing them that it was another of the flies they were feeding on.  It was a boost to the ego that the fly worked so well.

Regular readers of this blog are familiar with Henry and his love of working.  He was his usual self today bringing me a fine collection of balls that The Flood Giveth.  Imagine the astonishment of your blogger when Henry arrived carrying a very dirty neoprene pouch with the legend "HARDY" on it and a loaded fly reel inside it of the same brand!

The Flood had certainly Taken Away for some unfortunate fly fisher!  One can only imagine the horror and disappointment of losing such a treasure.  Never mind, thanks to Henry it can now be returned to its rightful owner.  If this pouch contains your reel, simply drop me an email and let's get it back to you.

Who's a clever boy then?

At this part of the season, it is worth going out for the two hours before and the two hours after noon.  Just keep your eyes open for the Grannom, they only have a short season...

Regular Rod

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Opening Day - Peacock Fly Fishing Club - Haddon Estate - Derbyshire - England...

A solitary sport like fly fishing means we may hardly ever meet our fellows, let's face it, not everyone wants to meet others whilst actually fishing.  The Peacock Fly Fishing Club invited all members to meet for an opening day breakfast at the Baden Powell Fishing Hut, which is perfectly placed on the right bank of the river Derwent in the Haddon Estate.  It was a chance for us to meet and wish each other well.  Henry was happy to help in disposing a little of the splendid breakfast and your faithful, although absent of late, blogger was very happy to beat Henry to the bacon, egg and black pudding.  It was comforting to be so well set up for the first few quiet hours of the new season, on a favourite tributary of the mother river, the Derbyshire Wye.

The Haddon Estate is a wonderful thing.  Nothing in this world is perfect but much of the way this place is run is very near perfection.  It's almost ancient history now how the river keeper, with the blessing of the owner, revolutionised the fishery as the first commercial operation to rely entirely on wild fish to satisfy its anglers.  The project worked amazingly well and, as an angler here since 1969, your blogger can vouch that there are now many more fish, in a greater variety of sizes and the biggest are now very big indeed, with a few gaining such ascendancy that they weigh in the teens of pounds and match Henry for length if not girth.  There are other excellences about this estate that maybe do not get the headlines that the fishery earns.  How about this?

Snake's Head Fritillary

Snake's Head Fritillary
This delicate, vulnerable, wild flower is now rare.  England has lost 97% of its wild flower meadows since 1948.  Once common enough to be collected and sold in Covent Garden, in the wild, Snakes Head Fritillaries now only occur where the landowner has neither drained the meadows, nor fertilised them, nor changed them into monoculture silage and haylage fields.  These places are few and far between.  Haddon Estate is one of them.  Imagine the delight of finding these this morning, on the walk down to the bottom of the beat.  What a great way to start the season.

The fishing wasn't an anti-climax either.  Here's the first.

First of 2017

Tenth of 2017
Above is the tenth.  The photograph does not do it justice.  A beautiful "red" trout, typical of this stream. Any fish after this would certainly have been an anti-climax so the decision was made to head for home and tea.

The water had been as clear as gin.  The wind kept the angler honest.  The flies were abundant during any spell of sunshine and the fish were happy to eat them on the surface.  Days like today remind me how lucky I am to be an angler...

Here's a little puzzle.  In this picture, notice the tree is potentially a hazard whilst casting, especially on a day of breezes.  It's no good settling in down river to make a long cast upriver, as there is a chute of fast water here on the right.  That fast current will whip your fly line down in no time and your fly will be a helpless water skier, frightening all the fish in the vicinity.  The remedy is simply to sneak in to the tree and sit next to its trunk on the upstream side.  You won't tangle in the tree because you will side cast under the branches and you are far enough away from the fast water to keep your fly line nicely under control.

Fritillaries in the meadow, King Cups in the margins, Henry in everywhere and everything...

Here's wishing you all a wonderful 2017 fishing season.

Regular Rod

Sunday, 1 January 2017

January 2017? My Word How Time Flies...

Winter is a quiet time of year for the dry fly fisher in the Northern Hemisphere.  You may recall from earlier posts that your time now is best spent on securing some fishing for yourselves to enjoy when the season starts again.  Other worthwhile investments in your time include stocking your fly box in readiness and (a particular favourite) reconnaissance.
A typical Henry Haul from the river.  It even includes a Duck (yellow plastic duck that is)
Henry enjoys reconnaissance too.  He enjoys his winters working on shooting days and it must be admitted your blogger enjoys these days out together too.  On non-shooting days Henry continues to work when we nosey round the riverside.  His instincts are to always be investigating and retrieving things he believes may be of interest to me.

Well here’s hoping you all enjoy great success on your fishing forays through 2017.  It is not a New Year’s Resolution, but more blog posts can be expected through this year than of late.

Happy New Year to you all. 

Regular Rod

Monday, 4 July 2016

Happy Fourth of July!

240 years old, that's a lot of candles.  Here's hoping all the readers of this blog in America have a grand day and celebrate with some dry fly fishing if you can...

Regular Rod

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Sixtieth Anniversary - A Quiet Celebration

Sixty years ago to this very day, your faithful blogger was taken fishing for the first time with a "proper" rod and reel, instead of a stickleback net, or a garden cane, cotton and bent pin. 

The method was float fishing and the bait was maggots and worms.  The quarry were "coarse" fish.  "Coarse" is a silly name we English give to fish without adipose fins.  There is nothing "coarse" about these fish.  They include some of the most beautiful fish on the planet.

The young tyro was being introduced to the art of angling by his paternal grandfather and the method was known in those days as "Sheffield Style".  "Sheffield Style" means fishing with very fine line, tiny hooks and floats that need very little shot to cock them.    Coarse anglers had distinguishable, regional styles of fishing in those days and you can find out more of this phenomenon by reading the book "Fishing. British Sports Past and Present" by Bernard Venables, Published by B T Batsford Ltd, in 1953.

Today I was the lucky guest of a very good friend on a private estate lake and the method used was exactly as it had been on 16th June 1956.  Grandad would have been familiar with every aspect.  He would have certainly been familiar with HIS Speedia centre pin reel that was being put to use on this special occasion...

All went well.  The first fish was a roach, the next seven were perch, the ninth was a rudd and two more perch finished the day nicely.  The landing net was needed for just one fish, exactly as it had been sixty years earlier.  The net would have been unfamiliar to Grandad as modern knitted pan bottomed nets had yet to be invented in 1956.

It was a good day, in despite of the rain, and it was a pleasant change to be watching a float instead of a dry fly.  A change is said to be as good as a rest, in this instance it was much better than a rest!

Regular Rod

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Mayfly - Time and Place

These first (poor quality) video snippets are of female adult mayflies returning to the river Lathkill (a very important tributary  of the Derbyshire Wye) to lay their eggs.  They are doing this from 4:00 pm onwards...

This second pair of (poor quality) video snippets are from the Derbyshire Wye the day after.  They are of male adult mayflies dancing to attract mates.  Most of the females are yet to have their eggs fertilised.  The main egg laying activity for the mayflies on this river begins at least an hour later.

Do you remember this post from My 2012?  On that day things started much earlier on Hampshire's river Anton...

Get to know your river and it's own timekeeping.  Over the years such knowledge will pay you back handsomely, again and again.

Regular Rod

Thursday, 2 June 2016


Arrived at the water and begun fishing, the rewards of our glorious sport soon became manifest.  The fish had taken a second remove at their dining by almost instantly changing over to snaffling newly appeared Iron Blue Dun, in preference to the Drake which were still fluttering about.  One wild brown trout had such a remarkably coloured adipose fin that a photograph just had to be made for a memento, before moving on.

Sport was brisk with a fish being caught at every station attempted.  Wondering over the little bridge that links the right bank onto Ogden Island and making for a favourite place to peep through a gap in the fleur-de-lys in the search for rising trout, something was noticed that meant fishing would have to stop for half an hour or so. 

Duty called!

Some of you may be aware that the British Isles are infested with Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS).  Among the foremost of these is Himalayan Balsam.  You may recall this previous blogpost about it. We anglers have a duty to prevent this stuff spreading.  We can do this by ensuring we don't become vectors of its seeds AND by pulling it up when and where we find it.  It is our DUTY.

Here are the plants growing.

Here they are after pulling and being left with roots exposed for the sun to kill them.

If you find Himalayan Balsam where you fish, do yourself a favour by pulling as much as you can before it flowers and starts pinging seeds all over.  One plant can have several hundred "children" so do your Duty, please...


Friday, 27 May 2016

Gaining Leave To Fish

If you ever get the chance to become a tenant or even an owner of some nice fishing water, it is highly recommended that you find the money somehow and take it on.  Today in Duck Holds Wood, only three furlongs long but big and meandering so you never feel restricted, being alone with Henry was especially joyful.

The dry fly fishing here is very good.  Monsters are rare but the numbers of "lesser" fish are such that, now May is with us properly, one couldn't imagine failing to catch a few nice wild brown and wild rainbow trout.  Whilst setting up the rod a drake landed on Henry's head for an instant.  Your blogger took the hint and put on a Hair Winged Mayfly (HWM) to begin proceedings.

Seated on a silted gravel bed, peering contre jour up river at the Bridge Weir Pool it was clear that mayflies were coming off the water and some were being eaten by the trout.  First cast proved the fly was a good choice and here was this year's first fish on the mayfly for your faithful correspondent.

Not a monster but perfect nonetheless and a joy to behold.  Henry was his usual concerned self that the fish had "escaped" mysteriously after it had clearly been safely trapped in the net.  "How and why does this happen every time?" he must wonder...

The only "skills" needed today were stealth, some quiet, contemplative observation and a few careful casts to "where the fish are". 

There was one fish, however, that defied all attempts to trick it.  Its lair was so well protected by clawing fingers of vegetation that every cast missed completely or was momentarily caught up in the twigs above.  Never mind, it was great to see a boss fish in a boss place.  Next time I will remember the camera and a polarizing filter.  The telephone, although remarkable for a 'phone, is just not as capable as a good camera would have been,

Don't let anything get in the way of your fishing in the next four or five weeks!

Regular Rod

Thursday, 12 May 2016

This Year for 12th May Think 20th April...

The season really is three weeks behind its usual self for development.  Fly life is still at April proportions. All is not lost though.  We still manage to trick a fish or two in most Aprils so there is sport to be enjoyed although not yet at the volume we normally expect in the second week of May.

Today was almost perfect for your faithful blogger.  The morning was spent cycling with a good friend and the afternoon was spent dry fly fishing with another good friend, Henry.

Hawthorn flies are around and in the brisk winds, some are being ditched in the drink and the trout are waking up to these shiny black victuals. 

One spot that is always worth a look had been visited already this day.  Judging by the footprints I believe the angler had stood up to fish.  So... it seemed worth trying the place again but fishing it as you would expect. 

The sun was ready to cast a shadow just where it was not wanted so stealth was used to creep unseen by the fish into position and SIT DOWN.  The rises were observed and so it was a simple matter to fish where the fish are and catch a couple.

A lovely day all round and it will get better over the next couple of weeks.  The season will catch up with itself.  It always does.

Don't forget to click the pictures if you would like a closer look.

Regular Rod

Monday, 18 April 2016

"Please keep us posted if you see any spawning action"

"Will do!" was my reply. 

Jack Perks the wildlife photographer and underwater movie maker wants to feature grayling spawning.  The river keepers on Haddon Estate are keen to help him so Warren sent me an email "Please keep us posted if you see any spawning action".  The request is a massive compliment, paying tribute to the time your faithful blogger spends (invests!) beside the local rivers.  Anyway the swollen head must have settled back down to normal size by this morning as the fishing hat still fitted it...

Today, being Sunday, a visit to the undisturbed private waters of the Derbyshire Wye in Duck Holds Wood seemed like a good idea.  Henry came along.  He hasn't been there since September but he knew exactly where we were and where we often stop together to trick a fish or two.  If we were moving he'd go a little way in front and then sit patiently waiting until his angler arrived to sit with him.  He's almost a four legged fishing guide!

Patiently Waiting!

Impatiently Watching! 
A fish had just risen by that trailing branch and his angler has not caught it yet...
The new attempt at the "Fresh Grannom" was put to good use as the Grannom fortnight is still with us although it will surely be over by next Sunday.  The first cast brought a very fine brown trout, bathed in gold, to the fly, but your correspondent was unready and failed to set the hook.  The trout did not make the same mistake twice!  A couple of small wild rainbow trout were early visitors to the landing net but from then on it was a wild brown trout day, as it should be so early in the season.
A Rise!

Did You See That?  There WAS a rise!
At the place where there used to be the old Duck Hold, from which this wooded fishery gets its name, there is a well scoured, long fall of bright gravel.  On this gravel the grayling were very busy.  Careful not to risk disturbing them, a quick 'phone call to Warren brought him round to confirm this was "spawning action" and they were indeed grayling.  Jack Perks will be invited over very soon.
Oh do you want me to move for a photograph of the Grayling Redd?

Okay!  I'll move then...
After Warren left us, the rest of the day was spent fishing and walking our way back up river to Bakewell, where dinner was waiting...

Regular Rod

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Learning About the Grannom

What a bonus this fly is in a cold April!  Your blogger is not as well acquainted with the Grannom as he is with the other flies of the Derbyshire rivers.  Whenever it has been the trigger for spectacular sport in the past this was as a most fortunate guest of pals on the Yorkshire rivers during their "Grannom Fortnights" in Aprils past.  It is just possible to count on the fingers of both hands how many of those weeks have been enjoyed by your faithful correspondent up on those boisterous free-stone rivers.  The Grannom has hardly figured on the mother river the Derbyshire Wye...

That is until recent years, which have seen this fly appearing on the Derwent and the Wye in greater and greater numbers and the fish have noticed!  Historically on the Derbyshire Wye's lower reaches the Grannom was of no direct import to the dry fly angler because the season didn't begin until May 15th.  The Grannom is over and done with by the end of April.

It's a fly that actually changes colour as it flies away from the water.  It emerges with quite a green body and with dun coloured wings.  Catch one on the surface and you will see.  Catch one a few minutes later when it is on land and the green has turned to an ashy tan and the wings are a cold dark brown.  Copy the later fly and cast it at fish taking freshly emerged Grannom and you will fluke a fish or two.  This is what your blogger used to do as the Double Badger was pressed into service when the Grannom had been identified ON LAND...

It was only after scooping one out of the water, by trapping it in the hairs on the back of the hand, that the colour difference was noted.  A loud and clear signal to get back to the vice and prepare something more like the newly emerged colouring.

You are already aware that your blogger prefers a ragged style of fly for fakes of the sedge (caddis) flies.  The anatomy of the Nondescript Sedge (NDS) was therefore chosen as the basis for the fresh attempt at a fresh fake of the Fresh Grannom.

Here is the Step-By-Step for tying the "Fresh Grannom".

Pinch out three equal amounts of Highland Green, Green Olive and Lime Green DRF dubbing (this is Seal's Fur but not essential)
Mingle them together thoroughly
Collect the rest of the materials: Thick Black Thread; Size 14 LS Hooks; Dun Cock Hackles; Deer Hair; the mingled Green Dubbing.
Start at the bend and run on a bed of the thread to the point where the front of the body will be.
Dub on sufficient dubbing to make the body
Wind on the body down to the bend as shewn and rib it through to the front with open ribbing turns of the thread.  Carry on with the thread to make a bed for the wing to adhere to.

Tear off enough Deer Hair to make a straggly wing and tie it in with three tight turns.  Trim the wing roots to a taper.
Using the brush in the cap of some Sally Hansen Hard As Nails nail polish, stipple a good dollop into the trimmed roots of the wing and wind the thread tightly to the front just behind the eye.

Strip off the waste fibres at the root end of a Dun Cock Hackle and, with the concave side towards you, tie it in tightly into the still moist nail polish (or tying cement) finishing at the base of the wing.
Wind the hackle 6 to 8 turns back to the base of the wing.  Catch it in with the thread and quickly wind the thread through the hackle back to the very front of the fly just behind the hook eye.   Tweak off both waste ends of the hackle.  Make a whip finish and lacquer the head, remembering to clear the eye before it dries.  Voila!  The "Fresh Grannom"!

So far, during a hatch of Grannom, it seems to be working better than my browner fakes used to do.  The results are better than the flukes experienced before.

I hope it works for you too!

Regular Rod

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Come and see...

Have a look at this.  Saturday May 7th 2016 - a date for your diary...

A map I made up a while ago for a friend.  The Peacock has a better one now...
See you there?

Regular Rod

Sunday, 3 April 2016

April Fool!

Dry Net!  Never mind.  The year is yet young.  The flies that have refused to hatch so far will have to hatch eventually.  This will mean more of them later on possibly leading to more "Red Letter Days" for your blogger.  It was great to be out by the little limestone river that is the lower Lathkill.  It may be small but it still benefits from the winter storms introducing new features into the water.  Here are a couple of places that would be really dull if it wasn't for the woody debris that seems to have fallen just right for the trout.

A fine place for an ambush come high summer.

Fresh woody debris that has landed perfectly after splitting from the tree in a gale
This high water shows up the seams that will be feed lanes and holding stations come summertime

Here's another spot where a branch has snagged and then caught up more debris for trout to hide in.

Your blogger may have been made an April Fool on opening day but his little black friend thinks it was a Grand Day Out!

(He is quite right of course...)

Regular Rod