Photograph by Steve Barnett

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 May 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

Friday 18 March 2016

Kite's Imperial and the Value of Reconnaissance!

You will already be aware of the importance your blogger places on reconnaissance, especially towards the end of the close season. 

It's great to see all your favourite places again.  Here is the bridge to one of mine (and Henry's).  You can see he is wondering why we aren't going over, after all we usually do...

We have a fortnight to go before All Fool's Day and the first festivities of the new season.  This is the time to be out by the water making note of all the "new" features in your rivers and streams as well as looking over your old favourites.  What has winter flooding brought you?

The massive weir at Black Barn has slighted over this winter.  There have been some excellent periods of high water, each bringing amazing power to bear on the river bed.  The subsequent release of hundreds of tons of gravel pent up for more than a century has already been referred to this year.  Now, as the water level begins to lower itself towards its summer height, (still some way to go of course) it is easier to see what bounty has been bestowed upon we lucky anglers.

Upstream, there are meandering and quite powerful flows, where the water used to be held back by the weir, tamed and almost featureless.  These new, more boisterous habitats already have occupants taking advantage of them.  In high summer on a searing hot day, this will be a fine place for "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" to find those wild rainbow trout of the Derbyshire Wye, ready and willing to take a bushy fake of a terrestrial, such as a soldier beetle or cow dung fly, the real ones are regular casualties on this river...

That gravel bed some way below the weir is now almost ready for sitting on.  Here, come July, will be a great place to sit cross-legged and enjoy the evening sport when the sherry spinners return on their urgent mission to carry on the next generation.

Henry likes reconnaissance too.  His haul was several balls and a squeezy dumbbell.  In addition to some mental booty to be put to use later this year your blogger's haul included a splendid heron feather, perfect for the Kite's Imperial (variant). 

 For those of you who ask "How do I get a heron feather for my Kite's Imperials?"  The answer? "Reconnaissance!"

Confession time, I did want to give you a snap of a rising fish but by the time I'd fiddled with the telephone to make the photograph I think I had scared the fish, if it wasn't me then it was Henry who just had to stick his nose over the bank with a "Look Dad!  A Fi... Oh it's gone!"

Regular Rod


Thursday 10 March 2016

Planning Ahead?

If you are in England this summer and you would like a day of dry fly fishing on a private beat of the Derbyshire Wye with your faithful blogger AND at the same time you would like to support the Wild Trout Trust in its excellent work....

You might like to bid on this item....

You might even make acquaintance with one of these (highly likely actually)...

Previous winners' experiences indicate that you are in for a good time if you do win the lot.

Happy bidding and Good Luck.

Regular Rod

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Reconnaissance and Recovery too...

We went further down river today before heading back up slowly, sticking right on the water's edge.  The high water has been bountiful. 

Here is some of that bounty.  A glorious new example of what I believe Bass fishers in the USA call "structure". 

Just look at that tangle!  It's a veritable thatch!  It won't be an easy fishing place but what a brilliant lair for a trout big enough to own it and keep it for itself.  Trout like structure.  I love it!

Henry is always working.  He made a harvest of some of this high water bounty...

His work resulted in the recovery of Seven tennis balls, one football (full size) and two full bottles of floatant!  His mouth is too small to hold the football so, after flicking it out of the branches it was caught up in and into the water, he swam across pushing it with the side of his head and shoulder until it was close enough for me to lift it from the water.  I'm convinced that we are the lucky "owners" of an extraordinarily intelligent dog.  He works all these strategies out by himself!

It will soon be time to bore him to bits as I make him sit quietly whilst I try to catch a fish...

Regular Rod