Sunday, 10 April 2016

Kick Sampling

Couldn't fish today but met up with Ben and Al to do a kick sample. Ben and I brought along our daughters who both enjoyed looking at the beasties and running around with their nets. I brought a few samples home to photograph, useful reference at the tying bench. Some baetis nymphs and a cased caddis. I wasn't able to identify the caddis as my FSC guide isn't detailed enough although I'm sure an expert could ID it from these pictures.

Monday, 28 March 2016

A Few Spiders

A few classic spiders, Partridge and Orange, Snipe and Purple, Light Snipe and Waterhen Bloa. I don't have any moorhen wings at the moment so I subbed coot on the waterhen bloa, which is not ideal but Ben said he had some I could use so I'll tie some more when I get some. Hen blackbird breast can also be used as a sub but I've misplaced my pack, they have a nice brownish hue that I think looks good on a bloa.

I love the simplicity of a spider both to tie and how they look. Undoubted effectiveness as fishing flies too. I've no doubt these will take their fair share of fish.

Classic Spiders

The Light Snipe
Only a few days til the start of the season here, which is on 1st April. I have the day off work to make the most of opening day.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Daydreaming, Dove and Distractions

If you find that daydreaming about fishing occasionally interrupts what you really should be doing you're not alone. I'm sure most anglers can relate to that whether it be dreaming of dry fly fishing on a warm summers day, watching trout sip large dark olives during an early season hatch or a large trout engulfing your mayfly. It seems to become a bigger distraction the less fishing we are able to do and winter is often when we find least opportunity to do so.

Since the end of October the grayling fishing on the club water has been a bit of a non starter, despite good numbers of grayling in the river compared to previous years. The problem has been the persistent and heavy rain that has been the biggest feature of this winters weather. For me it has curtailed my fishing but mercifully that is the extent of its impact, many others have not been so lucky. Our river tends to hold its colour for a long time after rain and with the grayling population being patchy a days grayling fishing in anything other than clear water conditions can be a frustrating one. After a frustrating November and December we started to look further afield for opportunities.

This search took Ben and I to Derbyshire to fish the Dove on the 17th of January. The date is notable only because it just happened to be the day that we had our only significant snowfall of the winter in our part of the world. The Dove in the snow is a sight to behold, the black water snaking its way through a white wonderland.

The Dove in the snow

You can fish 3 miles (single bank) of the Dove on a day ticket from the Izaak Walton hotel for the princely sum of £20 during the grayling season. Great value especially on hallowed ground such as this.

We both caught fish in the morning, Ben managing more grayling whereas the trout seemed to like my offerings, I did manage one nice grayling, saving a technical blank (trout don't count in January of course). Ben caught a particularly nice grayling which I failed to capture on film, I did manage a a few shots and short video of him playing and landing it though (video on Ben's blog).

Ben playing a large fish of about 1 1/2 lb,
Dove grayling are hard fighting, this one made several runs
and took line off the reel

By the afternoon the snow was melting and as well as dripping down the back of my neck made the water temperature drop and the fish went off. Still, what better way to blow the cobwebs away and we both left feeling satisfied at having braved the conditions and caught some fish.

I unexpectedly found myself back on the Dove only a week later. Eliot and I had long planned to go down to fish the Frome on the Casterbridge Fisheries beats hoping to be able to sight fish for big grayling, but the winter weather was to win again. I spoke to John Aplin, the keeper, a few days before we were due to travel and the river was in flood, even nearby beats that allow trotting were unfishable so even our contingency plans were off the cards and we decided not to go. John's honest assessment of the conditions saved us a long wasted journey, thanks John! We still wanted to fish though and after a quick chat with Glen Pointon he advised that the Dove would clear quickly and be fishable on the weekend. We booked a cheap B&B, packed our gear and headed off for two days fishing.

We arrived late afternoon on the Friday so decided to head to the river to look at the conditions before going to the B&B. The river was pushing through but clear enough to fish, albeit with a slight greenish tinge. We were just walking out of the car park to head upstream to explore when we bumped into Glen, who was just walking back to his van having fished a short session, he gave us some tips and generously shared a few flies from his box for us to try the next day.

The river looked very different without the snow. Having two days at our disposal we decided to walk right to the top of the beat so we could get a good sense of the river and then work downstream. Eliot started at the top limit.

Eliot fishing the pool at Ilam rock

And I fished pool below. We both picked up fish quickly, Eliot finding trout and me locating a grayling.

We worked downstream during the day fishing likely pools and both contacted fish fairly regularly.

The second day was better still with the river falling further and clearing overnight. Eliot wasn't feeling too good and opted to stay in the bottom half of the beat, I walked upstream as I wanted to fish this pool again.

I'd located a decent shoal the day before and wanted another go at it as the fish were a good size and I felt there was a chance of a big fish in the faster water. I wasn't disappointed as I landed my largest fish of the trip from this pool and took 5 grayling from the run. I didn't get a clear photo but the largest grayling was around 13-14". Again we both caught good numbers of grayling and the trout were clearly hungry too as we caught 2 trout to every one grayling.

Typical Dove grayling, fit, lean and hard fighting

The next few weeks saw no opportunities to fish, which brings me back to daydreaming, if you'll allow me a short digression. At the beginning of February I attended a meeting for work at Ironmongers Hall in the City of London. This was a 3 day affair requiring my full attention and absolutely no distractions. Unfortunately the organisers choice of venue was to bring my mind squarely back to the Dove and the grayling and away from the job at hand. At coffee on the first morning, when I happened to look up, imagine my surprise when I saw this stained glass window.

Stained glass window at Ironmongers Hall in London
Izaak Walton himself on the wall opposite

On the opposite wall was a portrait of the man himself. A little research revealed that Izaak Walton was an ironmonger by trade and a member of the Ironmongers Company. Needless today the rest of the morning and a good part of the afternoon was spent thinking about fishing, especially getting back to the Dove. I imagine Izaak Walton himself spent time in those same halls daydreaming about fishing with Charles Cotton on the Dove.

This was surely a good omen for my next visit in late February. This was more of a social visit with 4 of us from the club (Ben, Steve, Eliot and Myself) fishing the hotel side and three other friends (Mike, Jon and Lester) fishing on the other bank, controlled by Leek and District AA. We went separate ways in the morning and met for lunch and a brew (Jon having brought a kelly kettle, a revelation) half way through the day. The conditions were about perfect, there having been no rain for over a week. We all caught fish and had plenty of good banter.

My day was made in the first pool I fished when this grayling took the size 18 pink shrimp I'd tied especially for the trip. The fish was in a fast run, about half way down the pool and the indicator darted away as my flies came round a large boulder, this chap was sitting out of the flow in its wake taking food items as they passed. It was a tense couple of minutes as the fish charged around in the strong flow but I eventually got the better of him and he slid into the net.

A sizeable Dove grayling

In the coming weeks with an enforced break from fishing I'll surely find myself distracted by daydreams of fishing. Although this time it will be of early season trout rather than big Dove grayling..

Friday, 9 October 2015

Coarse Water Trout and Grayling

After an early start, firstly kick sampling on the upper river for the Riverfly Partnership and later joining a work party to remove some fallen trees and place the trunks as flow deflectors I wanted to show Eliot one of the coarse beats I fished earlier in the year with Ben. There are some good spots holding grayling on this part of the river and when the fly beats close at the end of the trout season it is somewhere we can continue to fish for grayling and coarse fish.

There is a large weir at the top of the beat that I wanted to try fishing a sculpin through, its not an easy weir to fish, very deep and wide but without a lot of flow. The only way to cover it really effectively is to start upstream and swing nymphs or a streamer around and then walk around and fish the bottom half from downstream. I tried the sculpin and Eliot fished a nymph after me, only one pull to the nymph so we moved on to our main quarry.

We fished up the known grayling run, there are also trout, dace and chub in this part of the river and I knew the top of the pool often holds several large chub.

We fished up this 50 yard run taking turns. Eliot got into a nice trout almost straight away and taking a steathy approach we both regularly got into fish as we worked up. I fished a french leader with a single Utah killer bug and Eliot fished a klink and dink setup. As expected it was mainly grayling we were picking up but I also caught a small dace as well as a few trout. As we neared the top of the pool I switched the killer bug for a size 14 ptn with a 3mm copper tungsten bead. I cast again and my indicator immediately shot away.

Initially I thought I had hooked into one of the large chub that frequent the pool but it turned out to be a large trout of 17", in great condition too.

By the time we'd finished fishing this short section I had caught 5 trout 9 grayling and a dace and Eliot had caught a similar number. Just goes to show that slow and steady progress is sometimes the most productive.

We moved on and after fishing another tricky weir pool where Ben caught this fish back in July

A spectacular 18 1/2 inch fish Ben caught on this beat in July

we moved on to another gravelly run frequented by grayling. I left Eliot fishing whilst I answered a call of nature. When I got back he'd had one small grayling. I suggested he cast further across the flow and no sooner had he done so than a large fish rolled over his klink. A spirited fight ensued and I was concerned he might lose the fish by cutting the line on some large boulders. If I'm netting a fish for someone I generally prefer them to bring it to me and I just hold the net. However in this case I saw an opportunity to get the net under the fish before it could run again and took it. I won't post the picture showing the look on Eliot's face but suffice to say it was one of shock, this was certainly a PB fish for him measuring 18"

We moved up to another run where large trout have been caught, no fish there today but we fished into the pool ahead. As Eliot fished into the slow water above the pool I stopped him to point out a kingfisher, hoping it would land so we could get a good look, but unfortunately it didn't fancy the look of us and flew off. Eliot looked back to his fly and it was gone so he lifted the rod and was rewarded with this cracking 15" grayling.

Another PB for him as it happens. By this point we were starting to get cold and quickly fished through another couple of pools before heading to the car. Despite being October I was able to fish in short sleeves and only really got cold as the sun started to go down.

We both left very happy and it was nice to think that the river was rewarding us for the hard work we put in during the morning.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Long casts and fine fish

I've had a number of very enjoyable trips since I last posted on here but have failed to write them up, resolution for next year is to keep up with blog posts. This week I've been on holiday and in between doing some DIY I've had a couple of days out on some non club waters. One a bit further afield with Ben and another closer to home on my own for just a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. On both trips I've been fortunate to catch some lovely fish.

This one came on the trip with Ben. A new river for me and being gin clear quite a tricky one to fish requiring a long line to avoid spooking the fish. This one was caught on a nymph on a duo rig at the limit of one such long cast. Fortunately I managed to keep the fish under control despite it going into the bankside undercut and giving me the run around in the very shallow water. We both caught a good number of fish mainly to nymphs on the duo. Ben had quite a few to the klink too but they didn't fancy mine for some reason.

Nice fish for Ben from the same pool

This second fish was caught one cast after a nice dace and about 2 feet upstream and measured 16". A very long roll cast was needed due to the tree canopy and overhanging vegetation. Both these fish and 4 other trout were all caught on a size 20 black klink in a two hour session.

A very welcome distraction from DIY and I'm very much enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. Out again tomorrow, kick sampling first thing followed by a work party on the club water and then fishing with Eliot in the afternoon. Back to work and dreaming of more fishing on Monday.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Something for Last Light

A couple of weeks ago Ben and I went hunting for a monster that is rumoured to live in a very overgrown section of the river. We didn't see any sign of the fish but spent some time familiarising ourselves with the pool so we could try to tackle it another time.

Shortly afterwards I spotted a nice fish just upstream of this overgrown section and although it took my fly at first time of asking it went aerial and into the overhanging foliage and was lost. We had a walk downstream then as Ben wanted to try for another good fish. Unfortunately we remained empty handed as the fish, in a very tricky position on another overgrown section, didn't want to play ball.

All this big fish hunting meant that we were both staring a blank full in the face. Neither of us wanted a 0 on the catch return (it would have been a first this year for both of us) we decided any fish would do so we set about trying to catch one. The limiting factor was the light, we had been delayed early on by a heavy rain storm we had to shelter from and darkness was nearly upon us. It didn't take Ben long to dodge the blank but I was having less luck and although I hooked a couple of fish they were soon lost.

It wasn't until virtual darkness that I caught two fish. On the way back to the car we discussed trying glow in the dark materials to make our dry flies stand out in the gloom. This might make things a bit easier as when it gets very dark you really have to strike at anything as you can't see your fly. Any movement or noise on the water could be a take so the rod gets lifted. A somewhat hit and miss affair. A glow in the dark fly would help with this and we also wondered whether it might allow us to fish the nymph (klink and dink) longer too.

So next day I had a look around and ordered some Glow Fibres from Funky Fly Tying. I think this stuff is intended more for predator flies and the like but it looked like it might work as a wing post material so I bought some. There are three colours available and I opted for the white and chartreuse, you can get it in blue too. On receiving it I looked it over, its quite a stiff, shiny material, certainly not ideal but it made a reasonable wing post. I kept it quite dense to make the wing as visible as possible. Unlike normal post materials this stuff barely compresses at all, so its a fine balance between a visible wing and a bulky body. I think I did OK on that front considering.

A Klink tied with Funky Glow Fibres - Under normal light

And under UV light

It's interesting that the material even glows through the dubbing where it is tied down the body. I wonder whether that might alter its effectiveness (positively or negatively?).

I'm yet to try these out but I'm confident they will be much more visible on the water in the gloaming. Here's hoping the fish like them as much as the standard klink.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Riverfly Monitoring Training

Last Sunday Ben and I attended a training session led by Stuart Crofts from the Riverfly Partnership. The day was very well organised and financed by Fiona McKenna of the Lincolnshire Rivers Trust (

Stuart Crofts explaining the kick sampling methods
we will use on our own rivers
We learned about kick sampling methods as well as the 8 key groups monitored by the Riverfly Partnership and how to identify them (although this part wasn't new for Ben and I), how to record and submit the data and how it is used by the Partnership and the EA.

Ben examining our kick sample. Gammarus in their hundreds and lots of baetis nymphs too.
This stream also held a few caddis.
Baetis nymphs
A nice cased caddis from our sample

Stuart was an excellent instructor and the highlight for me was chatting to him about his work recording adult caddis as well as other fly related chat. His enthusiasm really is infectious.

More caddis cases, these were empty
A water cricket was an unexpected find, I hadn't heard of them before
Stuart also brought some preserved samples for us to look at down the microscope. These heptagenid nymphs are stunning creatures and photographs taken with my compact camera down the microscope came out quite well considering.

I'm looking forward to getting out on my own rivers to start sampling and keeping good records of the fly life. I will also be photographing our finds. We are starting with one site on the main river but hope to get a second site on another river approved by the EA soon.

If you don't already I'd encourage you to get out and look at the fly life on your river, especially if you can do it as part of a fly monitoring programme such as that run by the Riverfly Partnership. It's a great way to monitor the health of your river and is extremely informative when it comes to your own fishing too.

Thanks again to Fiona McKenna and Stuart Crofts for a great day.