Tuesday, 22 December 2009

~Tony Riley casting on a biting cold day~

Snow Time:

Recent heavy snow in Cumbria may have caused traffic problems, which ultimately curtailed our trips out fishing, but there's still a chance to get out and flex a rod. Tony Riley and myself decided to sharpen up on presentation casts-involving curves and mends. Whilst it's no substitute for actually getting your string pulled, there's a heap of fun to be had.


~A nice wiggle cast~

~Of course, the ultimate is being able to scribe your initials into a cast....!~

Saturday, 19 December 2009

~Almost in the net~ (photo Rod Calbrade)

Bessy Beck delivers the goods:

The current arctic blast has had us all cranking up the central heating. And following recent snow, it seemed only the foolhardy would venture out (apparently, where there's no sense, there's no feeling..). With lunchtime temperatures clawing up to a heady minus 2 degrees centigrade you could say that conditions were somewhat chilly on recent visit to Bessy Beck. http://www.bessybecktrout.co.uk/. Thankfully, aerators prevented the fishery from freezing over though ice continually formed in my rod rings, making casting and retrieving line a task in itself. Fortunately the trout didn't seem to mind and even a light midge hatch encouraged a few fish to the surface. Although lures initially helped in locating them, it wasn't long before buzzers and other nymphs tempted some hard fighting trout. Despite numbing hands we experienced blistering sport with a number of well conditioned rainbow trout. I'd recommend this venue for those wishing to blow away the festive cobwebs.


~A winter rainbow bids for freedom~ (photo Rod Calbrade)

~A solid rainbow from Bessy Beck~(R Calbrade)

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

~Tony Riley watches on as Jim Williams braves a strong breeze~

Have a Cast:

Due to recent heavy rain the local rivers remain somewhat out of condition (some might say positively angry!). Jim Williams had made the long pilgrimage north to try for grayling and rather than twiddle our thumbs, we set out to do a little casting. Aside from being good fun, what better way to sharpen your skills for the coming season than flexing carbon. Honing our accuracy and timing, Jim, Tony and myself had great entertainment on an otherwise chilly afternoon. Unfortunately the following day saw even more rain, so Jim didn't even get anywhere near the Eden-there's always next time Jim.


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

~Bonefish up close-those camouflage stripes are clearly visible~

~A typical Bonefish~

Bonefish Fever:

Ebbing tides bring a slight drop in water levels, opening up many areas for wade fishing. This involves strolling through ankle deep water, searching for bonefish. Their tails often give them away, as bonefish tilt head down to forage for shrimps and crabs in the sandy bays. Sleek, elegant fish that have blistering pace and I never tire of pursing them. Hilary Langan agrees 100% and joined me for a day on the flats. We had an absolute ball sighting nervous bonefish that often called for a delicate presentation to tempt them. Of course, any wayward casts sent fish scurrying to deeper water. Our company for the day came in the way of an occasional lemon shark, quartering the flats in search of a meal. It's always good to see such predators as they indicate other catch-able fish are nearby, which usually respond to a fly.


~Hilary Langan-the smile says it all~

Monday, 7 December 2009

~A nice snook from the mangroves~

North Wind brings on the Snook:

Snook are tenacious predators that constantly plunder baitfish around the edges of mangroves. They seem to favour cooler conditions and with a north wind pegging back water temperatures, guide Rafael took us in search of them. Thankfully, we found a few sinister shadows that eagerly snaffled our size 2 streamers. Of course, hooking them is only half the battle. Snook are quick to retreat to a tangle of roots, so some serious side strain along with holding your nerve are required to win the day.


~An aerobatic Snook~

~Off to fight another day~

Thursday, 3 December 2009

~A permit under the belt on the first morning~

Permit on the Prowl:

Those new to tropical saltwater fly fishing will initially find striking fish an issue. To set the hook properly, you need to pull sharply on the fly line rather than lift the rod, as we commonly do when trout fishing. All sounds simple enough in theory, but in the heat of the moment, it's easy to forget and lift the rod instead. So having ease into my annual trip by stalking bonefish, with promising conditions, we went in search of permit. Highly prized, these fish have blistering pace and can be difficult to fool. Imagine our excitement then to find them feeding hard on the first day. The fish above took the fly a mere rod length from me. Moments later it was some 150 yards away and still heading for the horizon. Jonathon was possibly one of the most fortunate that day. Skillfully hooking a permit the fish charged off, only to come unstuck moments later. He managed to get another cast at the same fish and amazingly it took again (jammy sod....), no mistake second time as Jonathon piled on the pressure to land a cracking permit.


~Jonathon strikes lucky with a stunning permit~

~Crocs haunt the margins, terrorising fish and frogs~

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

~A promising lagoon~

Light winds and sunshine:

Our first morning in Ascension Bay brought clear blue skies and the faintest of breezes-ideal conditions for visual fishing on the flats. Quietly navigating the many channels allowed us to slip into secluded lagoons in search of tailing bonefish. Of course there are many more creatures which share the this environment too. Along with horseshoe crabs (a prehistoric looking arthropod), flamingos dotted the margins in their stunning pink livery. With ospreys wheeling overhead too, it was difficult to focus on the job in hand.


~Slowly does it~~Flamingos feeding along the mangrove margins~

Saturday, 14 November 2009

~Wading the flats in search of Bonefish~

Heading for the Sun:

A bunch of us are flying out Mexico for the next couple of weeks, heading down to Ascension Bay in search of all kinds of exotic fish. Although bonefish, tarpon, snook and the elusive permit will be our main quarry, hopefully we'll encounter other species like barracuda and even sharks. Updates will be posted from early December.


Thursday, 12 November 2009

~Jim Fearn demonstrates the finer points with a double hander~

Busy Fly Fair:

The BFFi took place last weekend in Stoke. With the weather almost behaving itself, record crowds attended, making this a successful event. AAPGAI instructors passed on invaluable knowledge during demonstrations on the casting pond. The line up included Jim Fearn, Gary Coxon, Karl Humphries, Gary Champion, Lee Cummings, Tony Riley and myself. Indoors the Fly Tiers Row proved as popular as ever where it was possible to watch World class demonstrators. Not surprisingly, AAPGAI Maters Paul Little wowed the crowd with a stunning display of Spey style flies. I based myself on the Wild Trout Trust stand were it was encouraging to see a positive response from the public.


~WTT Director Shaun Leonard manning the stand~

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

~Marc Petitjean and John Glynn share a joke on the banks of the Wye~

Wye Comes Good:

With many other rivers bursting their banks, John Glynn, Marc Petitjean and myself steal a day in deepest Derbyshire. Although the Wye was slightly tinged, grayling responded well to a modest hatch of Large Dark Olives. A size 16 olive Paradun cast upstream and left to drift, tempted a number of fish. Of course, the day didn't pass without the heavens opening. By 2pm fairly persistent rain set in, concluding the hatch. A switch to small nymphs allowed us to connect with more grayling. However, having enjoyed success with dry flies throughout the morning, it didn't quite have the same appeal.


~A nice Wye grayling taken on dry fly~

~Marc Petitjean tying another killing fly~

An evening with Marc Petitjean:

Prior to the BFFi, Marc Petitjean agreed to visit the South Cumbria branch of the FDG. He gave a detailed demonstration on the history of CdC flies and included many of his ground breaking flies. It's always fascinating to get another fisherman's slat on flies, especially someone like Marc who successfully travels throughout Europe. Primarily, his tyings trade on sparseness with some intriguing ways of incorporating CdC fibres.


Monday, 2 November 2009

~Howard Taylor demonstrating knots for a keen group~

Great Grayling Day:

The weather held for our first Grayling Day this winter. The rivers too were in fine fettle, albeit it low and gin clear, which certainly made grayling that bit more edgy. Despite being flighty, plenty of grayling were caught and some impressive fish at that. Small nymphs were the order of the day and pitched delicately upstream they accounted for most of the catch. Those brave enough to try a dry fly tempted a handful of fish too. A hearty lunch set us up for the afternoon when most people explored the upper Test in search of grayling shoals.


~Discussing fly life and the graylings' environment~

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

~Jim Lees straining to spot his #18 paradun through heavy snow~

Hardy Soul:

Hailing from Scotland, Jim Lees has to be one of the hardiest fishermen I've met. Withstanding sub-zero temperatures, Jim literally had to be dragged from the water at the end of each day. He even managed to fish without gloves, amazingly his fingers still functioned in biting winds. Granted, his sheer determination paid off time and again as Jim got amongst some nice grayling, even late in the day when BW-O spinners returned to egg lay. What took some coming to terms with was the fact that female spinners were still prepared to egg lay, who would have believed spinner falls in Arctic conditions.......


~A nice grayling steered towards Jim's waiting net~

Thursday, 22 October 2009

~Heavy snow pelts Richard Tong~

Braving the Elements:

With lunchtime temperatures struggling to the heady heights of 2 degrees C, we weren't exactly rushing to the water first thing. Amazingly, hatches of fly continued despite the snow and by 2pm good numbers of BW-O duns had grayling dimpling at the surface. However, it was a bizarre and somewhat mesmerising experiencing trying to spot your dry fly through a wall of snow flakes. The rewards however were rich with some stunning grayling falling to our dry flies.


~A handsome San grayling in freezing conditions~

Snow Time:
Our second day saw heavy rain eventually turn into snow and with biting winds, we were soon facing blizzard conditions. At least the lying snow wouldn't affect water levels! Our journey to the river was however a different story. Still in leaf the trees couldn't cope with the weight of snow, which brought many of them crashing down, blocking the road. Determined as ever, an axe and some serious manpower shifted the heavy boughs.

~All hands to the deck~
~Just enough room to squeeze past~

~30 yards later, another felled bough~

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

~BW-O Duns carpeting the San~

Incredible Fly Hatches:

I'd been talking the San hatches up on the flight out and thankfully she didn't disappoint. Around noon on the first day, Blue Winged Olives began emerging in huge numbers. We'd caught a few fish on nymphs and spiders prior to the main event, but once things kicked-off, everyone switched to dry fly. Interestingly, a number of adult caddis could be found along the margins, not bad for an October day. The hatch of Olives lasted until 4pm-giving us a good 4 hours of blistering sport.


~This large caddis would make a decent meal for trout~

Monday, 19 October 2009

~Tackling Up~

First Day:

The San river in Poland flows from the Carpathian Mountains and boasts some of the finest fly hatches known to man. So it was with a degree of anticipation we tackled up on the first morning of a recent trip. Above, the boys discuss tactics and flies on a typical Autumn morning.

~Richard prepares lunch~

The clean Polish air certainly puts an edge on your appetite, especially following a couple of hours wading in cold water. Our guide Richard was a dab hand with the griddle and rustled up some traditional Polish sausage-delicious. Funny how wafting smoke summons everyone from afar... Wedged between fresh bread this meal certainly kept the wolf from the door.

~Autumnal Colours~

Ancient woodlands in South East Poland mainly consist of deciduous trees, resulting in a spectacualar fiery show at this time of year. A watery sun helped lifted these colours, making it a pleasant experience as we awaited the first BW-O duns to emerge.


Saturday, 10 October 2009

Poland Beckons:

Heading off to the San river in Poland first thing tomorrow morning. Forecasters are predicting some arctic weather moving in next week with snow too. Back next Sunday, so will updates following thaw-out........


Friday, 9 October 2009

~Searching a nice run~ photo: Rod Calbrade

Time for Grayling:

With tumbling leaves and the threat of frost, it's time to seek out those grayling. My first grayling foray took place on the Ure and following recent heavy rain the river was carry a tinge of colour. Thankfully, this didn't deter grayling from feeding and although cold temperatures delayed any hatch of fly, fish could be had on a team of spiders worked through boisterous runs. However, by early afternoon aphids (greenfly) carpeted the smooth glides, resulting in plenty of dimpling rises. A size 18 black Klinkhamer worked a treat though the fly had to drift unfettered, otherwise fish would snub it.


~A decent fish returned~ photo Rod Calbrade

Saturday, 3 October 2009

~A size 16 Paradun fresh from the vice~

Confined to Barracks!

Forecasters were true to form with the weather today, gale force winds have confined me to barracks! Not such a bad thing I suppose, as flies desperately need tying for a trip to Poland next week. This olive paradun is arguably one of my favourite patterns when upwinged flies put in an appearance. Low riding and buoyant, it suits both fast and slow water situations. Although the parachute hackling technique is a little tricky at first, any effort is well worth it , as the finished article is quite stunning. What's more, it's absolute muster when grayling are "knocking off" newly emerged duns.


Thursday, 1 October 2009

~Leaf litter on the surface~
Last Cast:

I spent the last day of the trout season on my local river the Bela. Breezy weather tumbled Autumn leaves onto the water making for challenging, if not interesting conditions. Constantly fouling our leaders and flies, it's easy to curse such surface debris. However, "every cloud has a silver lining" as they say. Tired leaves are home to countless terrestrials, which are just as readily deposited at the surface, resulting in a beanfeast for the local trout population. A wee, black dry fly cast to dimpling rises was just the job and despite leaden skies threatening rain this closing day was one to remember.


~This beauty couldn't resist a #20 black Klinkhamer~

~Crimson red spots-a well marked trout~

Monday, 28 September 2009

~Discarded caddis shucks following a recent hatch~

Late Season Flurry:

With the closing days of the trout season sadly upon us, it's time to down tools for a last minute campaign by the river. Despite a prolonged dry spell and low water conditions, caddis fly were still prepared to hatch. Although a period of heightened activity leading up to dusk could be expected, it was well worth searching the pools and riffles earlier in the day. A conspicuous elk hair caddis worked through such places yielded some handsome trout. Where a fly presented static failed, imparting a little movement often invoked a response. Literally rocketing up from the depths, trout hit the fly with an impressive turn of speed-real heart in the mouth stuff.


~This spirited brownie latched firmly onto an elk hair caddis~

~Lee Watts persisting in a chilly breeze~

Rich Rewards:

Having clambered around the lake margins, Lee Watts and I set about exploring a featureless Icelandic volcano lake. With little to go at, it was a case of covering as much ground as possible. That old maxim “cast and take a step” served us well. Apparently these lakes are rich in chironomids (buzzers) so using appropriate flies, we set to work. Nymphs and even dry flies tempted trout and what fish they were. Nothing over a couple of pounds but the most intense livery I’ve seen on brown trout for a long while. With little cover for these hardy trout they no doubt rely on reflective properties as camouflage and protection.


~A stunning Icelandic lake trout~