River Witham

River Witham
River Witham near Barkston, Lincolnshire

Monday, 21 November 2011

The drought goes on!

River Kennet rescue

Fisheries Officer Dan Horsley transfers a brown trout to a flowing section of the Kennet

Will ever end!!

Grayling Society Fishing Day

Sunday 20/11/11.

Sunday saw me up early again and heading off in thick fog over to the Bridge Inn at Calver in Derbyshire, where I met 20 members of the local group for a day's grayling fishing. On arriving a little early I joined a few of the guys on the bridge to look over the river, and heard about the prospects on offer.  As we watched we were treated to a rising fish and the antics of no less than 3 Dippers.

Over coffee the area secretary Brian ran through the rules (fly-only, barbless hooks, catch & return etc), handed out the beats, and introduced our guides, members of the clubs who had donated the fishing.  I drew a beat of some 3 to 400 yds of the R Derwent at Grindleford, from the road bridge up. Our guide Roger advised wading up the middle of the river and casting to the sides.

The river and conditions looked nigh on perfect and gave me that all important confidence.

Again I went with the 10' Streamflex and the leader to hand set up, with 2 nymphs, a czech nymph on the point and an JT Endrick spider on the dropper. The temperature was still very cool but the day brightened with some sunny spells as the day went on.  First cast resulted in a hook-up but the fish disengaged itself moments later.

The Endrick spider didn't feel right so I changed to a copper bead PTN, which was immediately effective, picking up a couple brown trout and a couple grayling.

Working up the run I came to the head of a pool fed by a fast, turbulent riffle with a distinct seam, which screamed grayling. Casting the nymphs up the seam resulted in almost a grayling per cast! from about 6" up to 14+".

10 grayling and 4 brown trout later, I need a break, a coffee and a sandwich!
Without changing flies I carried on up to the beat eventually reaching a tally of 13 grayling, 9 brown trout and 1 rainbow, all safely returned.

All too soon the sun disappeared behind the hills and the temperature dropped, at times it was difficult to keep the rod steady as I was shivering so much.  Note to self: next time out remember to wear 2 pairs of thermal sock as well as fleece pants over the thermal long-johns.

Having filled my boots with fish, the warmth of the pub and a good hot buffet was most welcome as was the chance to compare nots with my fellow anglers.

A red letter day indeed. A thought though, whilst I caught a high number of out of season brown trout I caught as many grayling on the same fly so its difficult to see how I could have avoided them!

Friday, 18 November 2011

That trip to Newcastle!

I'm sure you'll know what I mean when I say that I can't get enough of the grayling fishing, especially as the weather has remained remarkably mild.  Last weekend whilst on a visit to see my daughter at university in Newcastle I took the opportunity for a first time visit to fish the River Derwent.

Monday 14th November
Using the Tyne River Trust passport scheme I decided to fish the Rowlands Gill beat of the lower Derwent between the Nine Arches bridge an Derwent Park. After a hearty full-English breakfast I headed off in the gloom and parked at Thornley Woodlands Centre. The weather was cool, as I kitted up and grabbed my 10' Streamflex, and set off through the woods and down to the Nine Arches viaduct.  I hadn't realised what a hike it would be down to the riverside, something like a two hundred and fifty feet! More on that later.
By now the weather had warmed up with the occasional glimpse of sunshine and the water looked good and fishy, though still relatively low.

I had decided to have a go with Jeremy Lucas' leader to hand technique, so I had constructed a leader using 12m of 28lb copolymer, a short tapered leader, a 8" piece of braided backing, and then level tippet, incorporating 1 dropper using Stroft. I set up with a weighted Czech nymph on the point and a copper-bead PTN on the dropper.  Casting was not as difficult as I first thought, provided I could partially load the rod with the line tensioned by the water.  I'm sure you'll agree that casting technique is not all, you have to find the fish, and that took a while.  Eventually I did locate an out of season brownie, but there was no sign of any grayling, either in the faster runs or deeper pools!

A couple more browns came to hand, but where were the grayling?
The river had suffered a pollution incident in 2009 upstream, I wonder if this has effected the population?

The Autumn colours along the bankside where quite lovely, and created a lovely backdrop to the a beautiful little white bib-fronted Dipper that kept me amused for a long while, whirring about, bobbing and swimming.  I also saw squirrels busy stocking up for the winter and a red kite circling overhead, sigh ..., and folk wonder why we do it.
Dipper was too far away to photograph properly

That viaduct!

As I was so distracted and trying to cast into a deeper faster run, I was alerted to a splashing behind me, I turned abruptly, stumbled on seeing a dog coming at me, and fell sideways soaking my left arm up to my shoulder. The owner called the dog away and I was left trying to wring-out my sleeve!

Just before I broke for lunch, I spotted a movement, not exactly a rise, under the trees on the far bank.  Casting ahead of it I felt a strong pull, but my slow reactions produced nothing.  Waiting a short while, and thinking that possibly another fish may have moved up to take the other's place, I cast again and, this time, with a faster reaction, I was playing a decent sized fish, which transpired to be a beautiful large brown trout.

I broke for lunch on a convenient bench oalongside a a long glide with a wood opposite, giving me an opportunity to strip down and wring out the 3 sleeves I was wearing!

Incidentally I couldn't figure what had created the hole in front of the bench!

I managed a couple more brown trout and 2 tiny grayling all on nymphs, in the afternoon before the light went.  Mind you I was near Derwent Park by this time, and boy it goes dark quick.

Well I opted to try a more direct route back to the car which took me across a field by a sewage works and up the hill.  Crossing a bridge over the defunct railway line (that cross the viaduct),I headed along a path up hill, in the woods, and in the dark!! Owls hooted and screeched, as I first went up hill, then back down to the railway line again, then back up the hill to the Woodland centre and my car. After an hours walk I was knackered, exacerbated by the effort of wading on boulders, and slippy rocks.

I shall go back in February and try further up stream.  Until next time, tight lines.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Grayling Society Symposium, Appleton-in-Westmorland

Last Saturday morning I was up at 5am bleary eyed and set off for Appleby, a mere 150 miles, to attend The Grayling Society's annual symposium.

A great weekend was had, starting on Saturday with talks from Simon Johnson Director of the Eden Trust and Paul Proctor, guide, angling consultant & writer, followed by a demonstration from Jeremy Lucas on his leader-to-hand technique (a relative of French nymphing), down on the river Eden.
A glimpse into Jeremy fly box!
This was followed by a slap up dinner, and charity auction which raised a princely £1300! At dinner I sat with Jim Fairgrieve of the Scottish National Fly Fishing team and his wife which was illuminating.

Next morning saw by bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and up at the Warcop beat on the Eden for a days nymphing for the 'ladies'. I was joined by Jim and 3 others and we spread ourselves about the beat. I'd tackled up with my 10' #3 weight Streamflex, with a furled silk leader, level Stroft tippet and 2 nymphs, a weighted shrimp on the point and copper-bead PNT on the dropper.  I went upstream and was into a small out-of-season brownie on the PTN almost immediately.

 In turned into a very pleasant day, water was cold to wade in but the sun came out periodically to warm us up, and with very little breeze it wasn't difficult to fish.

 In the morning I picked up a further brown (to a #16 PTN) and a one grayling.  In the afternoon I went downstream, and had another couple of grayling all to the weighted shrimp.
 Wading quite deep (above my waist) on a delicious bend into a sandstone cliff I attempted to dead-drift my flies along the near edge (seam) of the main flow and felt a very gentle take that then felt like I'd hooked a submerged log!  This log then rolled and pulled, as I had very little line out I was trying to play the fish on the reel, when it came to the surface.  Wow it was a 'log' of a fish definitely over 40cm, and in my excitement/fear I bullied it and when it rolled again it threw the hook.  Drat, and double-drat, that would have certainly been a PB.  Well it happens, c'est la vie as the say.

I fished on to dusk, and returning to the car met Jim tackling-down, telling me that he had too many grayling, including 1 of 43cm and 1 of 45cm, and 6 or 7 broons!!  Well he is an expert, and he was using the French leader nymph technique.  I must try this I thought.

Back home I've done my research and made up my own 12m leader set up to try out next week on the River Derwent , in Tyne & Wear.

It's about the little things.

"The goal of fishing is to be personally surprised and rewarded (even though we actually expect it) by that tug on the other end of the line when a fish bites our humble offering and we connect directly with nature unseen, shrouded from our view by the mysterious waters until we finally retrieve the fish to hand.  The size of the fish really doesn't matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.  It isn't what motivated us to take up a fishing rod in the first place.

The number of fish we catch on any given day is no more significant than their size is to our deepest motives for fishing - the answer to the question "why do we fish" that most of us really wouldn't say out loud for fear we would be thought silly.  No, it was and shall be that simple tug at the other end of the line, the view of the sunrise and sunset, the breeze on our face, the sound of the waves caressing the shoreline or of a babbling brook or rushing rapid, the sights and sounds of birds and other wildlife, and the smells of nature all around us.  The feel of the fish on our hook, taught line in between, as he surges and darts to and fro - instinctively trying to evade capture is what pulls us to the water with tackle in our hands.  It is a grand game with Mother Nature that we play, and it really doesn't matter much who our opponent ends up being.  Numbers do not matter because the real purpose of the whole exercise is to escape the normal routines of our lives and engage in something just a little bit primal.  It is really about tickling that genetically coded reminder buried within our DNA that this is where we came from, where we really belong, and where we someday will return.  It restores our souls.  That's why they named it 're-creation'. "

Hear where he's coming from? I do, ...it's why I do it.

"Many men spend their whole lives fishing without ever realizing it wasn't the fish they were pursuing."  John Gierach

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A sign of things to come? Dry, so dry.

See Dry Fly Expert's piece on the Lathkill  and the BBC report with the EA man.  Is this really a sign of times to come. I hope not. If the trout lose spawning areas, we lose the trout to catch and biodiversity takes a further nose-dive!

Friday, 4 November 2011

WTT Grayling Weekend

Long time no post!

Sunday 30 October

Travelled to Rowsley, Derbyshire to the R. Wye to join a number of other members of the WTT for a days grayling fishing on the Haddon Estates stretch of the Derbyshire Wye.  Arriving at 8.30 met Kris Kent from the WTT, Jay from Haddon Estates and  Trevor Walker from the Guash club. We we given maps of the fishing and dispersed to try our luck.

It had rained on and off through out my journey that morning, and though warm, it kept  trying to rain as I rigged up a 10' #3 with two heavy nymphs and a furled leader (Dibble).  I had decided to stay where I was and fish up from the estate boundary (Private stretch) towards Bakewell, and after a short walk from the carpark I tried my luck. I had nothing at first, then came to a large pool on a bend with a big back eddy.  I could see fish rising and decide to try a dry fly, but could get a decent cast in with out drag.  Went back to the czech nymphs and managed 2 nice grayling from below a bridge and weir.

Particularly rubbish photos I'm afraid, just like my casting on the day.  I put this down to being tired after a busy weekend and an early start.   I managed to lose my cast of flies, 4 times!! So I have had to spend some evenings at the tying bench if preparation for the upcoming Grayling Society weekend this Saturday at Appleby on the R. Eden.
In the end I managed half a dozen fish including 1 wild rainbow (a peculiarity of thr River Wye here). As the clocks went back I decided to jack it in at about 4.30pm and head home.