Thursday, 26 August 2010

~Paradise for fishermen, but this pool is a death trap for terrestrials~

~A hop too far......many grasshoppers end up falling into mountain streams~

~Just the job for tempting high altitude trout in the Pyrenees~

Abundant Fly Life:

It's easy to assume that the Pyrenees high mountain creeks are lacking when it comes to fly life. And granted, they might not be the most fertile of environments due to being locked in ice or snow for much of the year. However, when the thaw comes, so do a plague of grasshoppers and other terrestrials. Many of these end up falling to the water where trout are quick to take advantage. Now comes the hard part, having the faith to knot on something totally alien to me, as I'm more familiar with much smaller flies. Thankfully, trout were quick to approve and I needn't have worried!

On more low lying rivers where flows remained high there were extraordinary hatches of a white mayfly called Oligoneurella rhenana. This upwinged fly emerges in its thousands, resulting in the trout having a proper beanfeast. In fact there can be too many naturals present, making your imitation pale into insignificance. Personally, I was happy just to watch such an event unfold. Though come the spinner fall the trout fed much more sedately, allowing me to pick them off with a carefully presented cast.

~The lower reaches boasted masses of fly life~

~The stunning spinner stage of Oligoneurella rhenana~

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

~We're heading for the river in the distance (mid picture)~

~Taking a well earned break~

Back to the Hills:

My visit to the Pyrenees can be likened to being a kid in a sweet shop-the more rivers I fish the more I want to fish (if that makes sense?). I really can't get enough of this wild terrain and each new stream I visit the more I marvel at how resilient the native trout are in this environment. Untouched by man these trout have survived for millennia, sometimes under 3 metres of snow for months at a time. Obviously, when the snow melts these fish have a keen appetite, good news for visiting fly fishers. Ivan assured me that even modest sized trout will readily snap up large grasshopper or Chernobyl ant pattern. I took some convincing, but eventually had the nerve to knot one to my leader and was duly rewarded with a string of hard fighting mountain trout.


~Dropping a fly into an attractive plunge pool~

~Pretty as a picture.....!~

~We were treated to stunning waterfalls on our walk out~

Sunday, 22 August 2010

~Another day, another valley~

~A promising pool~

Zebra Trout don't disappoint:

One of the problems you're faced with in the Pyrenees is with so many rivers to go at, that of deciding on which valley to fish next? I took a day away from high mountain creeks, instead opting to search a crystal clear stream at a more relaxed pace. With sparkling water rushing over decent sized boulders, it wasn't hard to imagine all the potential feeding lies for trout. This was the ideal habitat from the fabled Zebra Trout found throughout the Pyrenees. Although Zebras bear similarities to brown trout, they are shy, nervous creatures which demand respect. They are also masters of their environment and literally melt into the surroundings. So, utilising longer casts than normal, I eventually managed to winkle out some decent fish with a small dry fly.


~A nice Zebra Trout (note the distinct banding along its flanks)~

Friday, 20 August 2010

~Low clear water demands an Indian style approach~

~Total solitude and a promising pool~

Bright weather brings good fortune:

Generally speaking, our native trout in the UK tend to hide away on bright sunny days, thankfully trout in the Pyrenees don't share this trait. In fact, it could be argued that warmer weather is beneficial to dry fly sport, as many terrestrials become more active during the day here. Do bear in mind that even at this time of year, at high altitude, night time temperatures drop below freezing............ So with grasshoppers and ants all around me, I viewed the low water of a high mountain stream with a degree of promise. Mind you with such a steep gradient, it was vital to present the fly with ample slack line. And, when you got it right, trout would eagerly snap up your fly............pure magic.


~A strong male Brookie comes to hand~

~The exquisite markings of a hen Brook Trout~

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

~Preparing for a Pyrenees experience~

~Uphill Battle....(The foreground debris is avalanche damage)~

~Winter avalanches easily flatten trees~

A true Pyrenees experience:

You can't visit the Pyrenees and not do what many consider a true mountain experience. This involves a trek high into one of the countless valleys. Salvelinus Lodge tailor their fishing to visitors requests and I wasn't disappointed with our climb into snow clad peaks towering above us. Frequent breaks allowed us to watch vultures circle overhead-our only company for the entire day. Damage from winter avalanches pointed to an extreme environment, God only knows how trout survive up here? A small mountain creek was our destination and the first glimpse only made my heart race faster. We'd finally arrived, time then to tackle up!


~The rewards of a long walk.................Pure wilderness~

~ Nearly there and ready for battle~

Monday, 16 August 2010

~Rio Aragon outside the Salvelinus Lodge~

Highs and Lows of the Pyrenees:

We arrived in the Pyrenees Aragon region to mixed blessings-settled weather greeted us, but low, clear water was certain to render the trout a little more edgy than normal. However, hopes were soon lifted, as immediately outside the Lodge, fish could be seen topping in the tails of pools. Besides, we were in good hands, as head guide Ivan Tarin informed us more cooler mountain areas contained pools of tumbling water where the trout would be eager to feed.


~The tranquil Salvelinus Lodge~

~Guide Ivan Tarin preparing for the off in his well stocked wader room~

Sunday, 8 August 2010

~High altitude fishing in the Pyrenees~

Fishing in the Clouds:

I'm heading out to the Spanish Pyrenees this coming weekend in search of high altitude trout. Target species will include brown trout, brook trout and their native zebra trout which by all accounts have exquisite markings. As the Pyrenees has long been on my hit list, I'm already struggling to contain my excitement. Let's hope the weather fairs better than our current trend here in the UK!


~Taken only last week, even at the height of summer, snow is evident on the peaks~

Saturday, 7 August 2010

~Game on...a good fish hooked in a tight spot~

Carp Campaign Continues:

With the river levels creeping up again, in a bid to flex some carbon we headed out in search of carp once more. Our initial findings suggest that carp really don't like breezy conditions, not where surface activity is concerned anyway. However, we sniffed out a sheltered corner to winkle out a fish or two. Tony Riley opened the innings with a decent common carp.


~Tony displays a nice fish~

Thursday, 5 August 2010

~Tony Riley places a cast tight against the trees~

~Two hands put serious pressure on my Orvis TLS 8-weight~

~Phew..............nearly there~

Obliging Carp:

The topsy-turvy weather of late has certainly made pinning down fly hatches difficult. Consequently, trout have been just as elusive, so we're having a concerted effort at carp with fly. In honesty, it's great fun that makes an exciting change from chasing nervous trout. And when carp start sipping down free offerings, tense moments follow as you try to pitch a fly in front of their noses. Mind you, it's never a forgone conclusion as carp can be canny old beasts themselves. Thankfully the desire to feed eventually overrides their suspicious nature when if you're quiet, it's possible to hook yourself a fish. Then the fun really begins, taming them is no easy feat, even if using an 8-weight outfit. You might say "they pull like a train"........


~A solid looking common carp~

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

~Tony Offer leans on a feisty rainbow at Bigland~

Unsettled weather brings daytime sport:

Look what happens when you do a rain dance......a spell of changeable weather that's difficult to predict! This might well bring trout on the feed, but the reality is they could feed at anytime of day, followed by long spells of inactivity. Thankfully, Tony Offer and I walked right into a hatch of buzzers on Bigland Hall trout fishery the other morning. It was pretty much a case of attaching a dry fly and flinging it out there. Sport was hectic for the next hour or so then like someone flicking that proverbial switch the rise came to an abrupt end. We scratched about for a couple of hours only be be rewarded with half-hearted tugs to a variety of nymphs. At least with hot and settled conditions you're nigh on guaranteed action as the sun dips away.