Photograph by Steve Barnett

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Happy Christmas and A Good New Year to You All

A few winters ago, 5 minutes after this exposure (made with the 8x10 view camera), the blizzard came so thick the river was invisible from this viewpoint!

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Trout are not Carp

Do be quick and careful with the trout please.

In the 1950s a chap, who many years later would be a pal of mine, used to transport carp around in the boot of his car.  They were simply wrapped in wet moss and sacking.  They all survived well.  Today, watch a TV programme about carp fishing and you will see them out of water for several minutes, while the cameras are put to work.  They then go back with no ill effects.

Trout cannot bear more than very few seconds out of water, especially big ones after a tough and long fight with an angler.  The best policy for such trout is to simply return them straight from the net with no delay for photographs at all.  We can get away with a quick snap if we have everything ready before taking the trout out of the water.  Net the fish, remove the fly, put net and fish back in the water, ready the camera, lift net and fish out and make the snap then put the net back in the water, lower it and let the fish swim out to freedom and oxygen.

If you don't.  If the fish is posed with for several photographs then tragedy like this can happen.

Alive this would have been a little bit over 10lbs., dead it can never make another Angler's day...
Sorry for the lecture folks, it's just a reminder that these fellows are not as strong as some of the other types of fish we are lucky enough to catch.

Enjoy what is left of the season.

Best wishes

Regular Rod

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Happy Birthday USA

Happy 4th of July to all.

Unsure of the traditional celebrations over there, but surely a few hours by a stream wouldn't be out of place?  Whatever you choose to do, enjoy yourselves.

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Watch this Video please...

It's best to go directly to YouTube and watch it full screen.

This is the only limestone spring fed river in the British Isles.  The upper river, about two miles of it, dries up every summer due to historic industrial activity that still makes the upper river a death trap for everything that moved into it during the winter and spring.  Fish rescues only catch some of the trout and nothing rescues the millions of invertebrates that die when the river dries up.

Regular Rod

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Delayed Action

2018 will be remembered for its persistence in reverting back to winter after every brief spell of sun! 

It brings to mind the old music hall joke about the English summer: "Oh we had a wonderful summer last year.  Unfortunately I missed it...  I was shaving at the time."

Here we are, almost a month into the season and the wind is cold, the sky is leaden and the flies are showing themselves only in little flurries of activity.  Today the Lathkill, that beautiful, limestone spring-fed tributary of the Derbyshire Wye, was calling.  This winter the keepers had worked very hard on giving this beat its pentennial "haircut" so a natural curiosity to see what things were like was only to be expected.
Click it to see it bigger.  See how there are none of the yellow Lesser Celandine flowers opened up.
Yet here we are with Lady's Smock, blooming well, supported by the grasses around it.
The river looks amazing.  There has been so much rain this year that the flow, which usually chuckles along, today was steaming through like a mountain torrent.  The fly line had to be managed at break neck speed to maintain contact with the fly.  The river may be high and swift but the water is as clear as gin.  Too much caution therefore could not be exercised in the approach.  Crawling into position was still vital.

There were some Large Dark Olives skittering about on the surface, dragged hither and thither by the erratic breezes.  Not one was being eaten.  Very occasionally a singleton Grannom would appear and, in one or two cases, these were eaten... with alacrity!  On with the Fresh Grannom then onto the knees and a careful sneak into position. 
He really is behaving himself here.  Just behind me there is a pheasant and I've told him "Stay!"
Waiting and watching was frustrating for Henry but he behaved himself and refrained from distraction so that his pal could concentrate on the quarry.  The first fish was a brown trout typical of this water, dotted to perfection and with bright red rays to the lower edge of her tail.  This strip of red was augmented by the red adipose fin giving the impression of redness all over, although buttery yellow was the predominant colour really.

All were brown trout except for one wild rainbow trout that zoomed all over the pool twice before being tricked into the net.  Henry was very relieved to see it there (so was I)...

The "haircut" has been a success.  Casting here is now quite easy yet the fish still have their overhangs and other cover to lurk in.  It's a beautiful place and, even though we are still under the cold hand of a late winter, there is Sport to be had, if we turn up to fish.
Fresh Grannom
The Grannom is really over now, so don't waste time tying any up for this year.  Just makes sure you have some for April 2019!

On St. George's day there were Hawthorn flies about, which meant they were two days early, St. Mark's day is when they are supposed to appear.  Next week they will be around so Charles Cotton's Black Fly will most likely be the best bet, especially if we finally get a bit of sunshine...

Regular Rod

Sunday, 1 April 2018

All Fool's Day 2018...

...  fell on Easter Day this year!

The rain had been so heavy that the Club's breakfast morning in the Baden Powell Fishing Hut was cancelled.  30 motor cars stuck in the mud would have been dreadful, not to mention the wrath of the tenant farmer for the destruction of his pasture land!

Instead it was breakfast at home and then out to a lovely tributary of the mother river.  This little river is a pure limestone spring-fed river, the only one in England.  As you can see from these snaps, the water is as clear as gin.  The trout can see you from a distance.  Stealth is even more vital here than it is on the mother river, the Derbyshire Wye.  Scare a trout on the Wye and you ruin your chances in that pool for quite a while.  Scare a trout in this tributary and you can ruin your chances for a hundred yards or more and for an even longer time. These trout are beautiful, well fed creatures with gold and red bejewelled skins.  They make it worth the angler's while to be very careful and very stealthy in the approach.

Henry was delighted to be helping with the fishing again and seemed to know in advance exactly where we were going to sit.  He did move over to let your correspondent get in position but only after hissed instructions to "Budge Up!".

The plan was to stop fishing once six had been caught (and released).  It was a good plan, which kept us on the move, catching only one fish at each place we decided to fish.  The first fish was caught by prospecting with a likely fly, the Double Badger.  The Double Badger works well when Large Dark Olives are on the water and as these flies were expected to show up at any time, the Double Badger was put on (and kept on).

The Large Dark Olives duly appeared shortly after the second fish was returned.  This made finding and catching the last four a lot easier...

This trout was the fifth caught.  It had a large leech on it, which was removed immediately, after all, one good turn deserves another!  A healed hole was evident on its right upper body just below and in front of the dorsal fin.  The heron will have missed a meal a few months ago and this trout will get to pass on its survivor genes to its progeny, if it can keep out of harm's way until Christmas!  The markings are very distinct so an ID photograph was made.  It will be easy to recognise if caught again.

It would have been easy to give All Fool's Day a miss but this happy angler was glad that the effort was made.  The reward was better than any chocolate egg could ever be!

Did you all celebrate Easter this year with a spot of fishing?

Regular Rod

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

"Anticipation is ...

the greater part of pleasure" according to Angela Carter, and I guess she was right. 

Certainly the members of the Peacock Fly Fishing Club have plenty to anticipate this year.  The annual pre-season meeting got underway last night in the restaurant at Haddon Hall and it was packed!  

More than sixty of us turned up to get our membership cards and this year's first newsletter.  Bodies and souls were kept together with a variety of fresh cut sandwiches and chips (chips in England are French Fries in America). 

Our popular, and highly innovative, river keepers held everyone's keen attention with their thoughtfully worked out agenda.  The subjects of which included:
  • phosphate stripping,
  • invasive non native species and their effect on water clarity,
  • our glorious osprey and the efforts made to help him make Haddon his marital home,
  • the availability of emergency fly fishing supplies in the Baden Powell Fishing Hut, which will be managed via an honesty box,
  • the opening day breakfast to be prepared and held therein and...
  • the news of more coarse fishing water available to members at the little lake by Youlgrave! 

This water is a marvellous venue to take a beginner for their first fishing trip.  Your faithful correspondent had the pleasure a couple of years ago to take a very good friend who had been trying for years, without success, to get her river keeper husband to teach her some of our Gentle Art... 

Here she is having some great success using a garden cane rod with home-made bird quill float and enjoying every moment of it too!

Lift Bite!
A Bream
All Fools' Day is this Sunday.  The weather forecast is poor.  Who cares?  Not me!  Enjoy your season dear reader, remember Woody Allen reckons that 80% of success is turning up...

Regular Rod