Photograph by Steve Barnett

Monday, 27 August 2012

Easier than it looks...

Rushed out late this evening forgetting the camera so had to revert to the telephone, please forgive the poor quality of the photographs.  You might enjoy this peep at a very fish-filled spot.  Some of the places where the fish rise here are very difficult indeed to get the drift just right.  Others are much, much easier than they appear to be at first glance.

It is no exaggeration to say that there are hundreds of fish in the area covered by this snap.

Here is the same spot with just two places identified where good fish feed when there are flies on the water.  The X on the left is where fish take up position in a current that flows from the back of the picture, through the gap between the islands and towards us, where it joins the main river current that is flowing from left to right in these pictures.  The X on the right is a place where the fish also hold up under the overhanging vegetation in a current that flows more slowly than the flow right next to it between the fish and us.

Amazingly they are not hard places to present the fly into.  This was only discovered by ignoring what appeared to be great potential for drag whipping the fly out like a trick water skier going for speed across the water and simply having a try.  All that is needed is to throw a long leader abruptly up the gap between the islands so that it falls in a pile, rather than turning over nicely.  The fly drifts naturally for several seconds and the rising trout will eat it if the fly seems to be the same as the real flies it has already been snaffling.  To present to the fish at the right hand X all that is needed is the same overpunched out cast but this time cast to the right hand edge of the gap so the leader again falls in a similar pile and gives a similar several seconds drift before it is dragged away.

Here are the results.

Two strong Wild Brown Trout.  The first came from where the X is in the gap between the islands.  It was a real bruiser of a fish that fought very hard, taking the fight all round the pool.  It would have been lost if it had not been quickly bullied into the open water rather than trying to fight it in the gap between the islands amongst all the tree roots and other snags.

The second came from the overhung spot marked by the X on the right.  It was longer than the first trout but not as strong and seemed a bit on the slim side compared to its shorter but stronger rival.  They both succumbed to the PPS.  Both returned whence they came with no problems.

Ironically, some of the nearer places in this pool are much more difficult to fish than these two "X marks the spot" places...

Regular Rod

Friday, 24 August 2012


Rightly or wrongly your faithful correspondent has been interfering with Nature again.  The only defence is that the injury to this English fish is NOT natural.  The perpetrator was an alien species to these islands and just because this alien is feathered, very beautiful in appearance, can be watched with binoculars and ticked off in some birdspotting book, it is deemed acceptable for this native species to be injured in this way (on both sides of its body).

The hole where the hooked sawbill has dug right through the skin and flesh almost to the stomach cavity is particularly severe.  Nevertheless, the fish was feeding hard (it damn well needs to now), so was easily tricked by the PPS .  A good dribble of Nash Medicarp Ultra on both sides, making sure there was a particularly thick coating on the deep cut, and this wild brown trout with the "lucky" genes was soon on its way back to take its chances, which, hopefully, might have been improved after its encounter tonight with another predator, Homo sapiens sapiens (the "innocent" predator).

Medicarp Ultra isn't too expensive if you think you too might like to intervene...

Regular Rod

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Swift flow the sands of time except in the hour of pain...

Last night it went cold and dark by 9 o'clock.  Sport was good but when the fly has finally become invisible, the dry fly angler has to return home, usually leaving a river populated by hordes of rising fish.

Henry and Regular Rod on our way home...
There are only 46 days left of the trout season in this part of the world.  The grayling will become more and more our regular quarry and evening rises will be but a memory for six long months.  We will just have to bear the pain of waiting.  So make the most of your chances now.

Regular Rod

Friday, 17 August 2012


Here is a traitor!

I thought I had weeded out all the soft hooks from a bad batch I bought a decade ago.  I used to love these arrow pointed barbless hooks but now my confidence in them is at an all time low.  This one cost Henry and I an encounter with a magnificent grayling this evening.  Sturdy's Fancy was the right pattern, but I'd chosen the wrong hook.

Oh well, never mind!  A fresh fly on a stronger hook might get us one of the other handsome grayling Henry...

And it came to pass that is exactly what happened.  A splendid, if moist, evening with the grayling and some plump, but rapid, wild rainbow trout. 

Nowt as big as that first fish on the first cast that easily straightened out my bent little traitor though!

Regular Rod

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Evening Mist - "A Bad Thing!" - Really?

How many of you feel your heart sinking when a mist descends over the river?

It is hardly a boost to one's confidence.  Nevertheless, mist descending is really just another set of conditions that you have to make a decision or two about.  Tonight the mist came down over the water and the first instinct is "Oh dear!  That will switch the fly activity off.  Maybe it is time to go home?"

The thing is though, Henry and your regular rod had only just emerged from a day indoors, processing films and photographs.  (Yes some of us still use film as well as megapixels.  That's another story for another time perhaps...)  Going back indoors was not really what we had in mind.  So...

The conditions meant the first decision was to persevere and do our best. 

Lo and Behold!  Some fly activity was still happening.  The hatching flies had more or less packed in for the night but the spinners were committed.  Their energy packets can't last indefinitely.  Mated females with fertilised eggs have got to complete their missions.  So at least some of the spinners out tonight had to come back to the river.  This they did in sufficient numbers to make some fish prepared to rise for them.  It was not a night of furious activity but there were enough fish interested in the dead and dying spinners to make fishing for them a worthwhile proposition.

The usual PPS was deployed and casting to the intermittently rising fish proved just effective enough to make the night a delight instead of a fruitless struggle.  The tally was a modest leash comprising: one very fine female grayling; one very strong two pound plus brown trout that fought a very hard fight until the big, long-handled, net was lifted; and finally a splendid wild rainbow trout that when carefully released, behind a stone in the edge that makes a pocket of slacker water giving released fish a sheltered spot to full recover in, simply flew, like an arrow, back whence it came and eschewing the sheltered water completely!!!

Hmm...  another McNab! 

The second decision was made. 

Pack up and go back home! 

It had been a splendid hour and anything else was going to be an anticlimax.  Go home happy, rather than go home in disgust at the mist. 

Surely a just reward for ignoring the doctrine and instead having a try?

Regular Rod

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Observe and keep observing...

A fascinating evening after only being able to get out at 7.30 p.m.  The fish were eating olives and the Kite's Imperial was the fly of choice and it proved a good choice...

Until the rises changed to vigorous changes of direction when the trout (and grayling) showed the sides of their bodies as they moved rapidly to intercept sedge flies that were all over the river's surface.  Looking upriver one was treated to the sight of dozens of sideways on fish at their feasting.  A good hour with the NDS saw some brisk Sport. 

Then in the space of less than five minutes everything changed.  The fish were making those elongated rise forms as they broke the surface first with their noses, then their dorsal fins and then the top of their tail fins, which "always" indicates they are feeding on spinners.  The PPS was put to its usual task and yet more success followed.

So a splendid evening, but there was more to come.  Just as it was getting dark enough to force the polarised glasses off the nose and back into the bag safely in their case, the rises changed again! 

The fish were hanging at an angle and simply pushing themselves up with open mouths to engulf something.  Stop casting!  Look and look into the gloaming and see what is in the air over the water.  Caenis!  Aha!  Off with the PPS and on with a Double Badger.  An old worn out Double Badger if you please!  One was pulled from the hat band, tied on, anointed with floatant and sent on its way to the rather fat brown trout that it was just possible to discern whilst it made impressions of a whale engulfing herring, or anchovies.  Third cast and the worn out Double Badger was on the right space of the conveyor belt.  It was engulfed with the same confidence as the real clumps of tangled Caenis spinners and duns had been.

Tap!  Then all Hell broke loose as the brown trout decided to evacuate from the area.  The Vivarelli reel comes in handy at times like this, all the loose line was whizzed up and your faithful blogger rose to take some running exercise, accompanied by Henry, as we ran down river a little way to keep on terms with our precious quarry.  A little later we had the trout in the long handled landing net and on the unhooking mat brought for such pleasant exigencies.

It went back well, accompanied by whimperings from Henry because he still cannot understand why the fish are not in a neat pile on the bank, like pheasants are in winter, but instead are gently released and allowed to "escape"(?)

Keep your eyes open for those signs that things are changing and respond to the changes.  It makes for a great deal of satisfaction.  It also indicates that you are in tune with your surroundings.  You are attaining that elusive "resident" status.  You are reverting back to your natural state.  You are Homo sapiens sapiens the innocent predator and you belong right there on that river bank!

Regular Rod

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Adapting to suit...

... conditions is pretty normal and done by most of us to some degree or other, if only when we swap flies for example.  It is all too easy though to turn up and because we fished a certain way only yesterday, or last week, or last month and we were successful that time, the temptation is to simply start as we did on the previous visit.  This can quickly fritter away what is left of the day if we persevere, for example, with a spinner pattern when the fish are eating sedgeflies, or vice versa.  Basing our choice of fly and tactic on the feel good factor remembered from our last visit is not as good as reverting back to basics on every trip and following those three principles all over again then, relying on our current observations, selecting a fly to at least make an attempt at "matching the hatch"!

The last week has seen quite a change on the waters round here.  Firstly there are a lot more grayling now getting into the late summer and autumn mood for rising to take food on the surface.  The dry fly angler is unlikely to miss this.  There is something pretty obvious when fish after fish coming to the fly turns out to be a grayling.

 The other difference, alluded to in the last post, is that spinners are putting in their welcome appearances a little earlier and they are finishing their appearances earlier too.  The fishing day is shorter not only because darkness is upon us earlier and watching the fly becomes more and more difficult as each day marches on, but also because the spinners are simply finishing their vital missions much earlier than they did a month ago, 9.00 p.m.-ish instead of 10 p.m.-ish if last night was anything to go by.

We have no choice but to start and finish earlier.  It is still very much worth it as the fish are now in the peak of condition and some of them are getting to be big enough to make the outcome of any battle doubtful until the net is raised!

This morning the dew was making pretty patterns on every spider's web, yet through the willowherb and meadowsweet the fish were rising steadily and ready to reward the angler who had adapted to the changes and was starting early. 

Set your alarm clocks but be ready to adapt...

Regular Rod