Photograph by Steve Barnett

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Spring-fed saviour!

Most of you will be aware that we English like to discuss our weather.  It's a safe topic of conversation when strangers, or only slight acquaintances, meet.  We nearly always agree with each other about the weather.  Believe me, you would not find it hard to meet folk in England today who would agree that the weather has been unseasonally wet!

The river outside my garden door is once more the colour of oxtail soup.  I wanted to fish for fish I could see this afternoon so used the car to drive a few miles to a local river that is almost entirely spring-fed.  The car was chosen instead of the bike because Henry wanted to come and I wanted him to be there too.  He cannot ride on the bicycle so the car it was...

We met Warren just before we started.  Henry was made to sit and wait before he was allowed to run to Warren for a cuddle and some love.  I'm hoping that these constant tests of Henry's obedience will help him to behave well on the shoots this coming winter.  His enthusiasm and affection are awe inspiring but they have to be channelled safely.  So far so good.

Wandering down the path (this is the path!) to the lower end of the beat it was evident the river was high!  There was water everywhere but it was still clear. Clear enough for fish to see the flies and clear enough for the angler to see and choose the fish he wanted to try and catch. 

A big version of the Nondescript Sedge (NDS) was chosen to start proceedings, as it was easy for both fish and angler to see.  This is the very fly and if you look closely you will see that the trouts' teeth have already cut the tying thread rib and it won't be long before this fly is defunct.

It proved effective.  Several lovely wild brown trout decided to eat it, starting with this fine example...

...who lives in this violent lasher to the outfall weir of an old dam built during the Industrial Revolution to power the workings of a Cupola Furnace that was used to burn the local limestone to make quicklime.

Right in the middle of this picture just under that overhanging dead stalk from last year's nettles is where the fly was taken.  A classic example of why dry fly casting sometimes has to be controllable and accurate at extreme CLOSE range.

Working our way upstream, a few more of these lovely wild brown trout came to the net having been tempted by the NDS.

One day I'll get a nice shot of a trout swimming away from the net having been safely released... 

Footprints left by trout that are too quick for my feeble timing of the shutter are all I seem to get at the moment.  Here's one to illustrate the frustrating problem!

As we reached the top of the beat our arrival coincided with a change on the water.  The trout were feeding much more frequently and it was clear by their "head-dorsal fin-tail" rises that they were eating spinners.  Looking against the light, the sky was getting crowded by dancing spinners, so off with the NDS ...

...and on with the Poly Prop Sherry (PPS)

This quickly led to more lovely wild brown trout coming to the net and Lo and Behold!  Henry understood to sit and NOT try to retrieve these prey.  I think he is learning some patience at last.

It was getting a bit too easy and this is a small river where restraint should always be at the forefront of the angler's mind, so we packed up.  I collected about a pound of gooseberries from a couple of feral gooseberry bushes on the way back to the car and that was going to be that.

The mobile 'phone went, with the news that a couple of friends from Hampshire were actually fishing on the next beat up from me.  An opportunity not to be missed!  "Let's go and see them Henry!"  A few minutes later and we were shaking hands (and agreeing on the weather)!

A few more minutes later and I was taking a snap of  a very happy, if moist, angler engaged in a successful battle...

They had to go early, to attend a singing concert in Haddon Hall, which I thought was a pity as the very best fishing time was just getting underway, but it was explained to me that, sometimes, sacrifices have to be made for the sake of family harmony.  A point, which this Englishman believes is like the weather, we can all agree upon it.

Regular Rod


  1. I be that felt great to catch a few for a change (ah ah), nice post RR.

    1. It certainly does Mick. Salmon will have to remain once a year for me (too far and too dear for any more efforts). Maybe trout know how I love them so don't mind coming to my flies?

  2. Very enjoyable post! The trout all look so healthy and their colors gorgeous! And finally we're getting some of your kind of weather over here in Colorado. Should help our drought a bit!

    1. Thank you Erin. I think we in England can spare you a drop of rain...


  3. Your NDS (nondescript sedge) caught me a few fish yesterday. I tied them quickly and they weren't perfect, but the fish seemed unfussy about the fine points of tying and snatched at them. Don't know about you, but I'm fed up of being wet and all wrapped up. Desperate for some shirt sleeve fishing but spiteful Horse Flies everywhere.

    1. Not too bothered about getting wet. I sometimes fish on in my shirt knowing that it will dry out when the sun comes out...

      The horseflies (cleggs) have been abominable this year. When they land on me it is okay, I can swat them but when they land on Henry I can only pinch them, which isn't as quick. If I swatted them on Henry he would think I was hitting him, which would puzzle and upset him.

      That sedge the NDS was devised to be ready bedraggled straight from the vice, after years of tying very neat sedge flies that always seemed to work best when the fish had bashed them about a bit. Your hurried examples may in all probability be superior to unhurried neater versions.

  4. Patrick Briscall13 July 2012 at 10:12

    Hi RR,

    Never fished the Wye but I'm very much looking forward a day trip from down south in mid-September. It's a long way to come and I'm trying to maximize my chances by ensuring my fly box has some likely candidates. Any local advice on what might be on the water at that time?

    Really enjoy the blog by the way. Keep them coming.


    1. On the right hand column, fifth panel down, there are some links to old newsletters from the Haddon Fisheries department. The one you need is Water~Lines Summer 2004. The grayling usually provide excellent Sport in September and the Sturdy's Fancy is a reliable fly to get them to come up. Size 16 is the most useful but have some in 18 and 20 in case you need to go very small.

    2. Patrick Briscall13 July 2012 at 13:10

      Thanks RR. Perfect! I'll give some of those a go and let you know how I get on.

  5. andrew parker 17 July 2012 23:18

    I think I must have followed your footsteps last Sunday, RR. I had the pleasure of meeting some lovely wild Brown Trout, and a couple of those interloper wild Rainbows.
    My most memorable were a WBT which I could make out stationed over a flat stone on an inside bend (a flat stone with a moving tail is a give away). Dropped a small Sedge on its nose, and ... Take!
    Then later spotted a Sedge emerging in the surface; watched it struggling down the pool and, no surprise, a WBT rose vertically from the bottom of the stream to take it. A Retirer was the best fly in my box for this situation (having a polyprop "shuck"),. Tied it on, chucked it into the right current, let it drift down the pool ... You know the rest.
    The others were taken from prospecting likely spots, rather than sighted fish (there were no distinct hatches in the 6 hours I was on the water).
    I'm getting there. I reckon this session I made fewer than half the casts I would have last year.