Photograph by Steve Barnett

Thursday 18 May 2017

Those Three Basic Principles Again (and Again)

Today was a beautiful sunny one with just enough occasional cloud cover and breezes to prevent your faithful blogger and his dog from overheating.  We walked downriver for a mile or so with the intention of fishing our way slowly back up and eventually home for tea.

Our first interlude was to be on the delightful Ogden Island where the careful approach nearly always leads to success.  It is more difficult these days to get to the bottom of this mini-beat as the path round the back and away from the fish is no more.  We now have to carefully hide ourselves as we pass by right next to where we intend to fish on the return leg upstream.

Having reached the bottom end it was a case of "Observing", "Being Stealthy" and then "Fishing Where the Fish Are".  The policy worked well, of course it always does and some fine sport was had as soon as the Hair Wing Mayfly had been removed and a fake of the small olives that were being eaten was carefully tied on. 

A sunny day, with olives on the fishes' menu, inspires your blogger to choose the Kite's Imperial (Variant) over the equally excellent Grey Duster (preferred on dull days) and it was certainly sunny enough today.

The fish rose steadily and it was a small matter to catch one from each pool on the way back up to the little footbridge and back to the main river 

One particular run was too difficult for a mere Regular Rod as the clawing fingers of overhanging alder just would not allow the line and fly to get under.  Fair enough!  Someone, with more ability, will reach those fish one day and merit will be rewarded.  That is how it should be on a river.  Many are called but few are chosen...

After Ogden Island it was a matter of walking in as straight a line as possible down past Elliott Holme Wood to enjoy that lovely tangle shewn in a previous post.

On the way there, a couple of anglers were hard at it!  Standing over the fish and casting repeatedly is not a good plan on this river...  One chap came over to exchange pleasantries.  He had fished this water for fifty years and averred that it seemed harder these days, but it was probably old age that had something to do with it.  My reply was that it certainly gets harder to creep and crawl as each year passes.  The hint was there but probably missed.  Frankly, I cannot catch any fish at all if they are aware of my presence.  Those three basic principles are the only way to earn satisfaction and success.

So please, do hide yourself, observe what the fish are feeding on, and fish where the fish are!  You will never regret it...

It will soon be time for festivities with the Drake.  Plenty around today but only one was observed being eaten!

Regular Rod

Monday 8 May 2017

The Last Fish

This story is true and I'm only telling it now because of a recent, poignant post about getting old, from a blogger whom I respect...  

Some years ago now, I met a very nice old chap, George and over time we became friends.  He was a wonderful old man who fought in WWII for King and Country, in tanks, and became a judge in civilian life until he retired.    I learned from him that he used to love going fly fishing but lamented that his legs were no good on rough ground so he had given up his beloved sport.  I knew a place where the river bank was as smooth as a garden lawn and the fish were abundant.  So I persuaded him to come with me for a few hours.

On the Autumn day appointed we arrived and there were fish rising nicely.  He managed well leaning on his walking stick with his left hand and casting with his right.  Through the morning many fish came to his fly but he was out of practice and couldn't connect with them.  At luncheon I apologised that he had not yet managed to catch a fish.  He wouldn't have any of that.  "Goodness me, I haven't seen a river for three years.  This place is glorious.  It's a joy to be here regardless of catching any fish!"

After our meal I took him upriver to another spot where he wouldn't be able to wander but he could stand behind a thick hazel bush unseen by the trout and make his cast.  First cast a fish seized his fly and my pal connected well.  I was delighted (and relieved) to land it for him. 

Just then another friend arrived with a new camera and was in time to photograph us with the trout.  "Do you want to keep him George?"  "No!  Put him back please."  So back went the trout and we went back home.

With his confidence boosted, George agreed that we should make another trip the following year. 

It was not to be.  That winter George was victim to a stroke.  He worked hard at getting back to normal.  He was a pretty strong cruciverbalist.  He lost none of his skill.  His faculties were in order but his body was not completely his to control anymore.  All that summer, fishing trips together were joyfully planned and anticipated and then sadly cancelled.  George was summoned from this sublunary abode before he could fish again.  That trout in the picture was his last fish.

Please miss no opportunities to enjoy doing the things you love...

Regular Rod

Seasonal Changeability

We are experiencing a slow start to what we euphemistically call "Spring" round here.  Each day seems to give us moments of promising sunshine, but for the majority of the daytime the cold winds and mainly heavy clouds have kept things dull and cold for anyone not wearing some insulating layers.  It has had an effect on the flies and on the fish.  There is good sport to be had all the same if you stay alert to the changes throughout the day, as well as hanging around as dusk approaches because even in cold conditions some flies will be there and sometimes the fish are happy to feed on into dark.

This Saturday your blogger and Henry his pal took a casual couple of miles down to Duck Holds Wood.  There had been hawthorn flies in abundance over the previous two weeks but on this Saturday morning there were very few to be seen and none were crashing onto the water.  Nevertheless, trout seem to be aware by now that black flies on the surface make good meals but these flies have to be grabbed quickly as they have a tendency to recover their powers of flight and get away so... they hit them and they hit them quite hard.  So a Charles Cotton's Black Fly was put to the test.  The technique was to simply sit down next to the river where it was possible to watch the feed lanes for rises or signs of fish. 

"What's happening?" Henry seems to say when, after a few minutes sitting, there are still no casts being made.  All is forgiven though as soon as he sees the rod arching over into its battle curve...

After a few hours it was time to start fishing our way up river back to Bakewell and home.  As we went along things changed.  For a start the light became quite dull.  The wind changed to NNE.  It was strong and cold.  Then in the feed lanes there were rises.  Closer examination confirmed that there were flies appearing, the fish were keen on them and so were the swifts, swallows and sand martins!  Sure enough they were that little foul weather friend of birds and fish, the Iron Blue Dun.  Now do you remember me saying that you must have a suitable fake for these when they put in an appearance or the chances of success will be greatly reduced?  I was sure I had some in my box but couldn't find them.  I hadn't stocked up before coming out!  Fortunately there was a battered example in the hat band and the fish didn't seem to mind its less than perfect condition.  So, as the cold breezes did their worst, the change was made and the sport continued nicely for another hour or so, before it really was time to go home.

On the way back, seeing Henry among the King Cups (sometimes called "Marsh Marigolds") was too good a photo opportunity to miss.  Roll on summertime.

Click the pictures if you want a closer look.

Regular Rod