Photograph by Steve Barnett

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Happy Christmas and A Good New Year to You All

A few winters ago, 5 minutes after this exposure (made with the 8x10 view camera), the blizzard came so thick the river was invisible from this viewpoint!

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Trout are not Carp

Do be quick and careful with the trout please.

In the 1950s a chap, who many years later would be a pal of mine, used to transport carp around in the boot of his car.  They were simply wrapped in wet moss and sacking.  They all survived well.  Today, watch a TV programme about carp fishing and you will see them out of water for several minutes, while the cameras are put to work.  They then go back with no ill effects.

Trout cannot bear more than very few seconds out of water, especially big ones after a tough and long fight with an angler.  The best policy for such trout is to simply return them straight from the net with no delay for photographs at all.  We can get away with a quick snap if we have everything ready before taking the trout out of the water.  Net the fish, remove the fly, put net and fish back in the water, ready the camera, lift net and fish out and make the snap then put the net back in the water, lower it and let the fish swim out to freedom and oxygen.

If you don't.  If the fish is posed with for several photographs then tragedy like this can happen.

Alive this would have been a little bit over 10lbs., dead it can never make another Angler's day...
Sorry for the lecture folks, it's just a reminder that these fellows are not as strong as some of the other types of fish we are lucky enough to catch.

Enjoy what is left of the season.

Best wishes

Regular Rod

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Happy Birthday USA

Happy 4th of July to all.

Unsure of the traditional celebrations over there, but surely a few hours by a stream wouldn't be out of place?  Whatever you choose to do, enjoy yourselves.

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Watch this Video please...

It's best to go directly to YouTube and watch it full screen.

This is the only limestone spring fed river in the British Isles.  The upper river, about two miles of it, dries up every summer due to historic industrial activity that still makes the upper river a death trap for everything that moved into it during the winter and spring.  Fish rescues only catch some of the trout and nothing rescues the millions of invertebrates that die when the river dries up.

Regular Rod

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Delayed Action

2018 will be remembered for its persistence in reverting back to winter after every brief spell of sun! 

It brings to mind the old music hall joke about the English summer: "Oh we had a wonderful summer last year.  Unfortunately I missed it...  I was shaving at the time."

Here we are, almost a month into the season and the wind is cold, the sky is leaden and the flies are showing themselves only in little flurries of activity.  Today the Lathkill, that beautiful, limestone spring-fed tributary of the Derbyshire Wye, was calling.  This winter the keepers had worked very hard on giving this beat its pentennial "haircut" so a natural curiosity to see what things were like was only to be expected.
Click it to see it bigger.  See how there are none of the yellow Lesser Celandine flowers opened up.
Yet here we are with Lady's Smock, blooming well, supported by the grasses around it.
The river looks amazing.  There has been so much rain this year that the flow, which usually chuckles along, today was steaming through like a mountain torrent.  The fly line had to be managed at break neck speed to maintain contact with the fly.  The river may be high and swift but the water is as clear as gin.  Too much caution therefore could not be exercised in the approach.  Crawling into position was still vital.

There were some Large Dark Olives skittering about on the surface, dragged hither and thither by the erratic breezes.  Not one was being eaten.  Very occasionally a singleton Grannom would appear and, in one or two cases, these were eaten... with alacrity!  On with the Fresh Grannom then onto the knees and a careful sneak into position. 
He really is behaving himself here.  Just behind me there is a pheasant and I've told him "Stay!"
Waiting and watching was frustrating for Henry but he behaved himself and refrained from distraction so that his pal could concentrate on the quarry.  The first fish was a brown trout typical of this water, dotted to perfection and with bright red rays to the lower edge of her tail.  This strip of red was augmented by the red adipose fin giving the impression of redness all over, although buttery yellow was the predominant colour really.

All were brown trout except for one wild rainbow trout that zoomed all over the pool twice before being tricked into the net.  Henry was very relieved to see it there (so was I)...

The "haircut" has been a success.  Casting here is now quite easy yet the fish still have their overhangs and other cover to lurk in.  It's a beautiful place and, even though we are still under the cold hand of a late winter, there is Sport to be had, if we turn up to fish.
Fresh Grannom
The Grannom is really over now, so don't waste time tying any up for this year.  Just makes sure you have some for April 2019!

On St. George's day there were Hawthorn flies about, which meant they were two days early, St. Mark's day is when they are supposed to appear.  Next week they will be around so Charles Cotton's Black Fly will most likely be the best bet, especially if we finally get a bit of sunshine...

Regular Rod

Sunday, 1 April 2018

All Fool's Day 2018...

...  fell on Easter Day this year!

The rain had been so heavy that the Club's breakfast morning in the Baden Powell Fishing Hut was cancelled.  30 motor cars stuck in the mud would have been dreadful, not to mention the wrath of the tenant farmer for the destruction of his pasture land!

Instead it was breakfast at home and then out to a lovely tributary of the mother river.  This little river is a pure limestone spring-fed river, the only one in England.  As you can see from these snaps, the water is as clear as gin.  The trout can see you from a distance.  Stealth is even more vital here than it is on the mother river, the Derbyshire Wye.  Scare a trout on the Wye and you ruin your chances in that pool for quite a while.  Scare a trout in this tributary and you can ruin your chances for a hundred yards or more and for an even longer time. These trout are beautiful, well fed creatures with gold and red bejewelled skins.  They make it worth the angler's while to be very careful and very stealthy in the approach.

Henry was delighted to be helping with the fishing again and seemed to know in advance exactly where we were going to sit.  He did move over to let your correspondent get in position but only after hissed instructions to "Budge Up!".

The plan was to stop fishing once six had been caught (and released).  It was a good plan, which kept us on the move, catching only one fish at each place we decided to fish.  The first fish was caught by prospecting with a likely fly, the Double Badger.  The Double Badger works well when Large Dark Olives are on the water and as these flies were expected to show up at any time, the Double Badger was put on (and kept on).

The Large Dark Olives duly appeared shortly after the second fish was returned.  This made finding and catching the last four a lot easier...

This trout was the fifth caught.  It had a large leech on it, which was removed immediately, after all, one good turn deserves another!  A healed hole was evident on its right upper body just below and in front of the dorsal fin.  The heron will have missed a meal a few months ago and this trout will get to pass on its survivor genes to its progeny, if it can keep out of harm's way until Christmas!  The markings are very distinct so an ID photograph was made.  It will be easy to recognise if caught again.

It would have been easy to give All Fool's Day a miss but this happy angler was glad that the effort was made.  The reward was better than any chocolate egg could ever be!

Did you all celebrate Easter this year with a spot of fishing?

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

"Anticipation is ...

the greater part of pleasure" according to Angela Carter, and I guess she was right. 

Certainly the members of the Peacock Fly Fishing Club have plenty to anticipate this year.  The annual pre-season meeting got underway last night in the restaurant at Haddon Hall and it was packed!  

More than sixty of us turned up to get our membership cards and this year's first newsletter.  Bodies and souls were kept together with a variety of fresh cut sandwiches and chips (chips in England are French Fries in America). 

Our popular, and highly innovative, river keepers held everyone's keen attention with their thoughtfully worked out agenda.  The subjects of which included:
  • phosphate stripping,
  • invasive non native species and their effect on water clarity,
  • our glorious osprey and the efforts made to help him make Haddon his marital home,
  • the availability of emergency fly fishing supplies in the Baden Powell Fishing Hut, which will be managed via an honesty box,
  • the opening day breakfast to be prepared and held therein and...
  • the news of more coarse fishing water available to members at the little lake by Youlgrave! 

This water is a marvellous venue to take a beginner for their first fishing trip.  Your faithful correspondent had the pleasure a couple of years ago to take a very good friend who had been trying for years, without success, to get her river keeper husband to teach her some of our Gentle Art... 

Here she is having some great success using a garden cane rod with home-made bird quill float and enjoying every moment of it too!

Lift Bite!
A Bream
All Fools' Day is this Sunday.  The weather forecast is poor.  Who cares?  Not me!  Enjoy your season dear reader, remember Woody Allen reckons that 80% of success is turning up...

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Needle Knot

The stats indicate that the most popular post of this blog is the one explaining how to make leaders for dry fly fishing. 
That post includes the line drawing that shows how to make the needle knot to attach the fly line but there was no picture of the finished knot.  So here you are.
Still pretty neat...

Regular Rod

Friday, 25 August 2017

Chopping and Changing

Today we went to Duck Holds Wood.  Sometimes this dry fly fishing can be hard work.  Hard work in that a fair bit of chopping and changing was needed for fish to be tricked into making that mistake we all want them to make.  The first pool had the occasional rise showing.  The water was boisterous so a very visible fly was chosen, the Nondescript Sedge.  It was probably the right fly as there were lots of sedge flies over and on the water.  After a couple of fish it was time to move.  The method had really been more of an exploratory bit of prospecting as the rises were nowhere near four to the minute, the usual signature of confident fish feeding at the surface. 

One of the steady risers that seemed to be eating midges and fell for the Sturdy's Fancy
The next pool up is a lovely gliding bit of water that is actually full of snags.  Here the fish were rising very confidently to something small.  No olives were showing so midge was guessed as the main course for this dainty remove.  On with a Sturdy's Fancy, your blogger has given up on the attempts to devise the perfect midge and now reverts to this fly, or else a tiny Grey Duster or even an Aphid but tied with a black body.  The Sturdy's Fancy proved to be ideal and a few more fish came to the net, much to Henry's delight (and mine).

A happy chappy!

Moving upriver, the fish were back to occasional rises in a lovely run by a veritable thatch of willow.  The tiny fly was ignored.  This time a Double Badger was deployed as there was no real sedge fly activity but the Double Badger hints at so many different types of fly and the fish often fall for it.  So it was here.  This is a lovely pool but it took me four seasons of visits before I ever caught anything here.  The fish were there to be seen but catching them was harder than it should have been.  Now, with a bit of thinking, it is usual to catch at least one fish here.

Sturdy's Fancy on a favourite rod, the Wilson International, a very traditional English Dry Fly Rod

So it went on, here a gliding pool with fish rising steadily, on with the Sturdy's Fancy.  There some boisterous water with fish either not showing or only rising occasionally, on with the Double Badger.  This was the way, swapping between these two flies and replacing the tippet when it became too short for the work in hand.  It's not really hard work but it could easily have remained undone to the detriment of our prospects today.  Today wasn't one of those, "Try every fly in the box!" days, only three flies were needed.  This wasn't haphazard.  It was necessary because, along these three delightful furlongs, fish behaviour varied today according to the type of water they were living in.

You will be aware that your faithful correspondent hesitates to make photographs of fish these days, preferring to get them back into the river as quickly and as gently as possible.  This trout although not much more than 10 inches long came from a very tricky spot, a place for a boss fish.  A photo ID of it could prove useful in future years.  Those markings will be very easy to recognise.

Of course, on another day, the fish will be all feeding in the same manner over the whole river and dry fly fishing becomes dead easy again with no need for all this chopping and changing at all!

(Click on the pictures for a closer look.)

Regular Rod

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

As Good as a Rest?

The prospect of fishing a private estate lake for some of our native coarse fish raises the spirits to heights of joy and excited anticipation.  This was the treat for today thanks to a good pal, Alisdair.  We raked our swims and fed in some samples of the intended hook baits.  Worms and bread for the lucky guest, with cockles being Alisdair's choice.

His first fish was a Tench that took some landing as it had charged through the weeds, collecting an additional payload that made netting the fish akin to some new aspect of gymnastics to be displayed at the next Olympics...
First Fish of the Day (Cockle for bait)

There is something very lovely about a Tench no matter what size it is.  Maybe it's that ruby red eye?
A Jewel of an eye and a Jewel of a Reel (Alisdair is a very stylish angler)

Here's another one that fell for one of Alisdair's cockles.

Your blogger fished in the way he first fished back in 1956, which turned out to be a good policy.  The rod, an unrestored Edgar Sealey Octopus Float Caster De-Luxe, was mated to the Speedia centrepin reel that used to be Grandad's. A home-made antenna float was set up to move up or down by any displacement of the number 6 shot fixed two inches from the size 8 hook.  Bait to begin was worm.  Close in to the water lilies was the place to be...
Don't you just love water lilies in a lake? (Click the Picture for a Closer Look)

Worms proved attractive to the Perch and, being perfectly happy to catch Perch for a while, your blogger kept on using worms.  Then suddenly a different fish put a bit of a bend in the rod.  It was a Rudd.  All the while the worms had been deployed, some small samples of pinched bread were being fed in.  Here was a Rudd.  To catch Rudd instead of Perch all that was necessary was to change over to bread flake for bait.  So it proved, lots of Rudd.  The bait was increased in size to encourage the bigger fish to take it.  This worked well, with the landing net being required for several of these lovely fish.  Then suddenly...  The float sailed away, the hook was set and then the reel was screaming!  No Rudd this, sure enough it was a Tench.  A small Tench but very strong and blessed with the big paddle-like fins that reveal it to be a male.

Change is said to be as good as a rest but your faithful correspondent fished pretty hard today, using up an entire small white loaf in the process.  Guess who, after his tea, fell asleep exhausted, but very happy. 

Regular Rod

Friday, 4 August 2017

Tributary Trials and Triumphs

Today was a lovely day.  Early on, the odd drop of rain for sure, but mainly dry, blue skies with fluffy clouds and a gentle breeze to keep the angler comfortable.  Perfect for Henry to stretch himself after his brief, post operative, enforced reduction in his activities.  By Gum!  He did enjoy himself being the mighty hunter as we moved from one fish ambushing point to another.

We were on the lowest beat of a favourite tributary to the mother river.  It is a gin-clear, limestone spring-fed river that runs over bright gravel.  The fish are feisty in this section.  You can get an idea of how feisty some of them can be by the name of this corner run...  "Hook Straighten Bend"  (Say it out loud quickly...)

Hook Straighten Bend!
Within less than half an hour of starting your Blogger managed to get the fly caught in one of the over hanging tree branches on the opposite bank.  On this bank there is a fallen tree with root ball on the bank and shattered trunk on the river bed.  It looked like it might make a useful means of reaching the fly and retrieving it before it became a bat trap this evening.

Not Safe to Walk On!
 Oh Dear!  It's at least a couple of years since your correspondent last fell in.  The tree proved a slippery platform and even with landing net handle as a walking cane, gravity won.  Fortunately the trajectory into the water was straight down and angler remained upright throughout the incident.  With water up well past the knees it seemed pointless to just get out without achieving the original object of the mission.  Fly was recovered even if dignity was not.  Of course all the fish were by now elsewhere...

Wellingtons tipped out, trousers and socks removed and wrung out, expletives at a minimum, the angler restored himself to his personal comforts as best he could in the circumstances.  Another, undisturbed ambush point was sought and the day's sport continued.  We even found a rather splendid feather from a heron, perfect for Kite's Imperial.

It's hard work on this little river.  The fish are impossible to catch if they know you are there.  It really is a matter of approaching on hands and knees and sitting, or at least kneeling, to fish.  Time flies when you are enjoying yourself, even when somewhat damp.  Operations were ceased at a Baker's Dozen and home to tea around 19:00.  We had a great time. 

What Next Dad?
Henry is back in his high spirits again and, because of that, so is your faithful blogger.

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

"I want to tie flies, what materials do I need?"

If only your faithful correspondent had a £ for every time he has been asked that, or a similar question... 

The correct answer of course is, "It depends..."

The flies used in this blog are all simple to tie, because this blogger is not what you'd describe as a "skilful fly dresser".  They all work well, because there is no point in making flies and carrying them about if they don't!

This little table below might prove helpful to anyone starting out to make themselves their own version of the "Derbyshire Fly Box".  Readers from around the world have been very kind in reporting that, on their rivers, these flies do still work and often working very well indeed.  It may also make a good starting point for a newcomer to dressing their own flies.

 Click it for a closer view.

Of course you will need some hooks and the tools

(Oops!! I've also forgotten to add the materials in for the wings of the PPSG Poly Prop Spent Gnat... Sorry!)

Regular Rod