Photograph by Steve Barnett

Friday, 29 July 2011

Time Left?

I apologise in advance if you have already come across this simple way to see how you are doing for time.  Fishing in the late afternoon and into the evening you may want to have some idea of how much time is left before sunset.  The method is to open your hand as wide as you can.  Aim your little finger at the horizon.  Count the spaces between the fingers going up until you reach the sun.  Each space equates to about an hour.  So in this picture you can make out where the sun is at the time of taking the photograph by the little flare around my second finger below the tip.  This indicates that sunset will be in just under two hours.  In summer this often helps me decide when to move to get ready for the light changing and the fly life to get very intense and the evening rise to get underway.  Give it a try if you haven't already.  It is remarkably accurate, but you must force your hand open as wide as you can.

Regular Rod

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Distraction - Self Inflicted!

Did I make a mistake last night?  The recent rain has at last raised my mother river, the Derbyshire Wye, to a nice level.  Naturally it had been made brown for two or three days.  Last night it looked brown but fishable at 17:00 so I thought it would be a good idea to do two things at once.  Henry was bored out of his skull.  I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms through the lack of dry fly fishing.  I could walk the couple of miles down river to Duck Holds Wood and take Henry with me to perk up his spirits.  I could fish, he could get some exercise and practice his investigative skills.

On hooking my first fish it splashed in a spectacular manner.  This was too much for Henry.  He too made a splash as he charged through the margin into the river, headlong and struck out vigorously swimming towards my fish!  "Henry! Leave it!!", I bellowed.  He did so and swam back to the bank climbing out in time to see me bringing the fish, a nice grayling, in the net over the margin for me to unhook.  Henry wanted to get hold of the fish and I loudly told him, "NO!!!  LEAVE IT!!!"  He did so, looked at me with blinking eyes and thought I was completely mad to release it unharmed after going to the trouble of catching it.  Henry doesn't understand C&R.

The Sport became more and more brisk as the evening passed.  Trout and grayling were all feasting on a mix of olives that were now hatching in profusion.  My Kite's Imperial was all that was needed.

Henry and I wandered back up river together.  It was a good time, plenty of fish fell for the Kite's Imperial on the way home, but I'm sure I would have been much more efficient had I been alone.

Henry is a fine chap.  I love him dearly but his preferred Sport is definitely hunting and shooting game birds.  It is all so much easier for him to understand.


Maybe it was a mistake, but it was still fun - for both of us!

Regular Rod

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Night Moves...

...and Comfortable Arrangements!

Late to get out last night I wandered downriver still undecided as to where and how I might start the evening's proceedings.  I met Paul, a fellow angler who had been more diligent than I in getting out and fishing through the day.  He reported encouraging news of his day thus far.  We chatted very briefly about a nearby tributary we both know well, mutually bewailed the drought conditions and then went our opposite ways to start fishing for the evening.  He going up and I going down river. 

I started in a comfortable place, for me, which meant I could sit on the exposed roots of a giant crack willow.  It is one of those spots I mentioned last year, where in low water the angler can get almost unrestricted access to water that is otherwise awkward to cover well.  As well being very comfortable these roots and trapped silt offer the angler the added advantage of sitting crosslegged like a garden gnome thus maintaining a low profile and remaining hidden from the fish rising upstream.

Here is the very spot.  Moss has grown on the trapped silt, soil is forming as other plants take root and I have the benefit of the tree trunk to lean against as a very easing back rest. 

However, it would not be such a comfortable place to lay a fish for hook removal before release.  In Town many of us regulars use unhooking mats to protect the fish, but in Town we are not tramping miles between fishing stations.  Even where the river flows through Elysian fields, the ground is not always a fish friendly place to lay our captives momentarily, before they are free to get on with their lives.  Remember those overtrousers I favour?  They make an excellent unhooking mat to lay the wet net on and they are always there ready for the job if you are fishing on your backside in the quest for invisibility.

I couldn't resist making an attempt at photographing the rise forms of a fish sipping away at spinners.  This one shows the elongated ring(s) nicely.  I apologise again for the noisy image and the somewhat excessive Photoshoppery to try and overcome the low light levels but it shows quite nicely the so very distinctive shape of the spinner eater's rise that signals to us we should be putting on a little spinner fake and making the most of these piscine Night Moves.

As always, click the images to get a closer look and click them again for an even closer view.

Regular Rod

Thursday, 7 July 2011

"Heartbreak Corner"

This is a corner on my local river that others have named "Heartbreak Corner".  It's a ludicrous name.  The fishing here is as hard, or as simple, as anywhere else on the river.  Nevertheless, it always manages to teach me something whenever I visit there. 

Three things could easily lead to failure on this long bend. 

It is usually approached on the inside of the bend.  This means that the water will be flowing more slowly on the angler's bank, where it is shallower due to gravel and silt deposition, than on the far bank where the water is deep as the stronger flow has scoured the channel deeper.  The surface currents are different so drag has to be controlled, or else the fly will not drift naturally, the fish will ignore it and heartbreak could be the result.

One of the three basic principles is frequently broken here too.  I have seen anglers standing up next to the water, sometimes wearing pale hats (even white) whilst they cast, and cast, and cast.  Heartbreaking!

On many days there will be multiple species of flies drifting through here.  It is easy to see one sort and decide to start fishing with a representative of that fly.  If the fly chosen is not actually the one that the fish are preoccupied with then you can have your heart broken as the fish rise, whilst you cast, and they rise, and you cast, and they keep rising and you keep casting thinking "I just need to get the fly to land right and I will catch him!"  Unless you stop, look hard and watch for the flies actually being eaten then you will again have your heart broken...

On this bend is a superb hidy hole.  There is nearly always a good fish rising under the branches and twigs here.  There is a gap.  I know it is possible to get the fly in through that gap.  But there is a tree behind the kneeling position and it is just at exactly the distance to catch the fly on the edge of the back cast.  It means the trajectory of the cast has to be made at an angle to avoid the tree behind and then a mid-air mend made to get the fly travelling in the right direction to land in the hidy hole.  I've managed to get the fly in there a few times but it never gets in there far enough and with enough slack in the tippet and leader to drift over the fish convincingly.  It is downright heartbreaking!

Long may it be so!  Dry fly fishing should be a meritocracy!  Someone better than me will manage to cast in there and catch that fish one day.  I hope the tree behind is never felled...

Regular Rod

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Now you see 'em... you don't!

Okay so I have this back to front.  You can walk by a stretch of water on a sunny day and looking at the river you can often be forgiven for asking yourself:

"Where are all the fish?"

You wander on worrying that there may be none there.

Come by in a summer's evening though and you will find yourself on the other end of the see-saw.  My pocket camera is very good but like other small cameras it refreshes rather slowly compared to a professional's DSLR or Leica M9.  So the sequence below is over four and a half minutes, but the results would have been very similar if taken over four and half seconds with a quicker camera.  The pictures are noisy due to the low light levels but you can still see the activity going on here.

Click each picture twice to get a much closer look.

At times like these I start asking myself not where all the fish are but instead:

How do they all fit in?

You can see why I implore you all to stay as late as you can whenever possible.

Regular Rod