Photograph by Steve Barnett

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Happy Birthday USA!

Have a great day everyone.  Maybe celebrate with some dry fly fishing this evening?

Sunday, 7 June 2020

One Fly Only Day All Day

No your faithful correspondent has not been trying his hand in one of those one fly only competitions.  Today was a day when it might have been possible to catch more fish by chopping and changing flies.  There were many different species of fly on the water today and there were fish prepared to eat them too.

Never mind that though, this is mayfly time.  Early on in the day there were some spent mayfly spinners (the "Spent Gnat") still left over from the previous day.  It made sense to put on a suitable fake, the Poly Prop Spent Gnat (PPSG) and catch one or two of the early risers.  Later, there were solitary mayfly spinners coming back and laying their eggs on the surface.  These kept some of the trout interested and those interested trout kept your blogger from changing his fly.  It turned out to be a one fly only day, all day.

Poly Prop Spent Gnat
Sport was slow and hard won.  This limestone spring-fed river is gin clear and scaring a little fish that then shoots off, passing the alarm through great long stretches of river is very easily done.  Certainly it was easy to do today.

The trick is to seek cover and preferably find cover near places where the fish have cover too.  Here is a place that for decades has been one such very useful place.  Not anymore, the elm, which used to provide cover for many fine fish, has died.   Dutch Elm disease seems to kill our elms just as they are about to change from shrubs to trees.  The British Isles have no biosecurity worth a damn.  It seems any invasive species is made welcome here by this lack.  The beautiful elms featured in the landscape paintings of John Constable are long gone, and there is little chance we will ever get them back...

The Elm's Aerial cover has gone for ever
It's not the end of the world though.  The fish have simply moved to new haunts and even allowed this angler to get away with being lazy today and having a "One Fly Only Day All Day" !!!

Regular Rod

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Big Yellow Taxi

Joni Mitchell got it right when she sang "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone..."

Recent events have certainly shown how much you can miss the things you love.  Being prevented from fishing, millions of British anglers have been peculiarly, and forcibly reminded of what they had "got".  Today, your blogger, like many others, made sure to enjoy what he's "got" by grabbing the opportunity to get out there and open up the trout season at last, now the lock down has been eased.

Much of Henry's athletic prowess has gone now.  His fishing pal, who loves him, and his company, so very much, is dreading the day when Henry can no longer go-a-fishing.  This time it's a case of knowing already what you've got, before it's gone!  He loved the day, but now he is exhausted and asleep in his dog bed.

The fishing, on this beat, of this exquisite tributary, of the Derbyshire Wye, is not as easy as it would at first seem to be.  The water is as clear as gin (but a bit more expensive!) and several times today, the fish saw the angler before the angler saw the fish.  This has the effect of putting all the fish, for about a hundred yards each time, completely off the feed.  It's actually hard to succeed here, which is why I love the place.  It demands meticulous attention to being stealthy and to being very observant.  There is no problem in "fishing where the fish are" as the river has a massive population of beautiful wild brown trout, that tend to be heavy, strong and very fast.  It is hard, but most definitely, it is a dry fly fishing Paradise too!

Being permitted on here is a special and rare privilege.  In return, fishing with restraint is a natural courtesy.  For this reason, a personal limit is self imposed.  Today, ten seemed about right, although sometimes six is quite enough.  The first fish took a Charles Cotton's Black Fly with some force, hooking itself in fact.  A decent flotilla of Blue Winged Olives began to sail down the whole river as the sun came out.  The old favourite fake, Kite's Imperial (variant) did the trick.  Then suddenly there was a violent crashing rise up river.  Why?  Aha!  There were Mayflies, the Drake, putting in an appearance!

A change to a thicker tippet and on with the Hair Winged Mayfly, and it stayed on for the rest of the day.

We packed up at ten fish.  Leaving for home, a few moments considering what I've got before it's gone reminded me how much I love these Derbyshire rivers, how much I love Henry, how much I love dry fly fishing and how lucky I am to still be enjoying AND loving them.

Folks, please do enjoy what you've got and what you love, as much as you can, for it is too easy to end up echoing Joni Mitchell, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone!"

Regular Rod

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Winter Inter - Lude

Each Spring the Wild Trout Trust holds an auction of donated lots for its major, annual fund raiser.  Lots vary from items of tackle, to entire fishing holidays in all sorts of places around the world.  For the donor there is the satisfaction that the Wild Trout Trust is getting the biggest possible bang from the donor's gifted buck.  For the bidders that don't win a particular Lot, they have the satisfaction that their bids have helped maximise the value to the Trust.  The lucky winners of the Lots have their satisfaction in that they have made valuable contributions to the Trust's work and have got something rather special to look forward to...

Thus it was in the Spring of 2019 when your blogger was the lucky winner of a day of fishing for roach with Dr Redfin himself, Dr Mark Everard.  The prize was for two anglers to spend a full day with Mark fishing on either a very private stretch of the Bristol Avon, or on the Hampshire Avon.  Mark advised that we should fish late in the season for best results, although there is always the risk of inclement weather and high, coloured water in wintertime.  He being the foremost 'Expert' in all matters to do with the Roach, Rutilus rutilus, we took his advice and took the risk. 

This really is the COMPLETE book of the Roach

Sunday last, saw your blogger and his pal John heading south west for a three hours drive to the Cotswolds and the Mayfield House Hotel in Crudwell, Wiltshire.  We were met by Mark and his pal Frank at the hotel and, after a pleasant couple of hours relaxing, listening and learning more about what to expect, we went to bed excited at the prospects of the morrow.

Monday morning and Wiltshire was frosted and fogged.  After our hearty breakfasts we followed Mark to a private estate and its secret length of the Bristol Avon.  A minor snag with Mark's car was attended to and, then loaded up with coarse fishing gear, we had a steady walk down to the river.  Mark took us down to the bottom of the beat, where we set up and started fishing.  The flow was brisk and the river much deeper than the little streams and rivers in Derbyshire where we fish the dry fly.
The Swim!
Suffice it to say, the fishing was difficult for each of us.  Mark and John set up legering rods, your blogger, pig headedly, was determined to float fish, trotting with an ancient cane rod, called "Kennet Perfection" and using a centre pin reel (Grandad's old Speedia) and so eschewed the leger tackle. 
Looking upstream from the swim, the bread crumb balls went in the edge just here.
After an hour or so, feeding in hand squashed balls of bread crumbs well up from the swim and determinedly trotting the swim with bread flake nipped onto a size 12 hook, your correspondent was visited by his host.

"How are you doing?"

"Not sure.  Am I doing this right?" asked as I held the float back a little to accommodate a slight rise in the river bed.

"Looks okay...  Looks like you have a fish!"

The float had moved to the side and an old instinct had kicked in as your blogger set the hook.

"Yes you've got one... and it's a roach.  Would you like me to net it?"

"Oh thank you, yes please.  Net's here on the left."

Mark took the long handled net and sank the meshes.  The lucky angler drew the roach over the net and Mark did the rest.

"We must have a photo!  Wet your hands on the net."  (Sounded just like me with guests on my bit of fishing...)

The roach was passed over and held for a snap.

"Do you want angler and roach, or just roach?"

"Just roach!"
RR's First Bristol Avon Roach (photograph thanks to Dr Mark Everard)
The roach was then carefully laid back into the wet net and lowered gently into the river to swim free and go about its roachy business...

Some of the swims needed a level of skill beyond that of your blogger to cast into.  Mark could deliver his float anywhere with a flick of the wrist and his perfect execution of the F W K Wallis cast.  My attempts led to tangles and frustration.  That cast is a skill I will have to work on. 
Mark and John concentrating into the gloom
Through the day and into night we fished on but Mark was the only one to have any further success.  It didn't seem to matter.  We were enjoying ourselves too much to really notice.  Mark is a helpful host and it was a pleasure to meet him.  We learned a few things and, as is always true when learning stuff, we recognised that there is a lot more to learn...
Venus (top left) Looks Down on the Bristol Avon
The Bristol Avon is a beautiful river.  We struggled.  That roach was largely a matter of luck and of being put in the best swim by a kind host.  It would be wonderful to revisit when the river was lower, clearer and not quite so cold. 

Regular Rod