Thursday, 18 September 2014

Chalk Stream Fly Fishing Masterclass

Yours truely on the chalk

Because I do so many different kinds of fly fishing I tend to be a "Jack of all and master of none".  Now I am retired I am keen to improve my chalk stream performance because being a member of the Salisbury and District Angling Club (SADAC) I have, for a reasonable annual subscription, access to a lot of lovely water and beautiful fish.  Acknowledging that local knowledge is king and having not fished the club waters for several months I decided to pay a visit to the office and seek the guidance of the Fishery Manager, Andreas.  After we had swapped a few stories and discussed ways of avoiding backache while fishing he advised me where to fish adding that he would be there later himself.  
 
Andreas focused

So later that afternoon I got to fish with Andreas and it turned out to be a master class on how to outwit the fish and catch.  Here is a summary of the key things I learnt:-
  • I am reasonably good at spotting fish but Andreas was better.  I think the fact that his Polaroid sun glasses had side shades gave him an advantage.  I have never bothered to fit mine side shades but I will now.  
  • He knew the river far better than me and where the fish's favourite feeding locations were.
  • He prioritised the nearest fish, crouched forward and really focused on them and what they were doing.
  • If fish were not seen to be actively feeding he left them after a few casts and moved on.
  • He used a longer leader than I, say around 12 feet.
  • He used smaller flies than I, sixteens and eighteens.
  • He was constantly watching the fly life around, both above and on the water.
  • If there was no top of the water activity he switched to nymphing.
  • When the sedge were hatching he used F- flies, little V shaped CDC flies in brown or black.
  • As the evening drew to a close and activity on the deeper water slowed down he moved us to the faster riffles where there was lots of surface activity.
It was a privilege to have fished with an expert who so willingly shared his knowledge.

The reward a pretty brown

Salmon parr

Searching for bigger fish under the trees

Supper!

A stripped and twisted willow twig makes a handy fish carrying handle!
 
 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Fly Fisherman Fights Back!

Well I know all my fishing buddies and fans will want to know what has been transpiring on the fishy front.  So here blow by blow are the details:-

5th August - Previously reported

7th August - I had to cancel a beach saltwater fly fishing session with Ryan Smith owner of the Avid Angler, because I couldn't stand up!

8th August - I had to cancel a Rattlesnake Lake float tube session with Marky, same reason as above.

18th August - still very delicate but Shayne kindly took me to the North Fork of the Snoqualmie and the long walk in was good for me. He put me on the easy access beat and I caught a couple of rainbows, he fished the difficult rocky sections and caught a shed full!

20th August - to repay the complement I introduce Shayne to the Sky (he kindly drove) and to our joint delight he caught his biggest fish this year.  I had a couple of good fish drop off at the net! I didn't mind my buddy had got the one he deserved.

21st August - Shayne and I decided to have a crack at walking and wading the Yak at Cle Elum as the water level further down stream was too high for wading but first Shayne wanted to check out the tributary called the Teanaway (I think).  We popped into the tackle shop in Cle Elum, had a chat, bought some flies and got briefed.  The Teanaway was a pretty water but the flow was very low so early afternoon saw us trying to access the Cle Elum through jungle like trails.  Eventually we fished a couple of beats but it was hot and very sunny and the fish having a siesta!  Shayne rose a big fish but it decided to reject his fly. A couple were fishing near us and the gent had a few small fish on nymphs, the lady had a big fish on. General opinion was that it was probably a steelhead, sadly it broke her.  I reduced my fly size and rose a few little fellows but didn't catch.
Around 5pm we agreed that fishing the evening would probably produce but we were both tired and I was feeling sore so reluctantly we started the 2 hour journey home and I was very grateful Shayne was at the wheel.

26th August - Fished the South Fork of the Sky early morning with Lonnie, he hooked a large fish then lost it. Then he caught another good fish. He laughed at me when I had a good sized trout take my large dry fly and before I could respond it jumped several feet out of the water and spat the fly out.  I don't like trout that spit!  Driving back he told me that in late August the water is more productive in the evening so we agreed that the next time I am out we would change our tactics.

27th August - Six fish in two hours!  Yes my grandchildren out fished me at Gold Creek Trout Farm.  At their request we had a fun session and they were well behaved catching the fish on bread paste mixed with fish food in a small pond.  Six fish plus the fishing experience for less than $40.  A lot of fun.

 Kate, Harrison and Rose

So guess what we had for dinner tonight?

Reading and Laughing!

It has to be a really funny book to make me laugh out loud!  I have noticed that laughing out loud when reading in a public place attracts raised eyebrows.  Laughing out loud in a private place can result in an interesting outcome.  I remember reading in bed next to my wife, who was also engrossed in a book, when I started to shake with laughter.  When the rocking caused her to lose her place she looked up and sounding a bit like a librarian scolding a noisy teenager, asked me what it was that was so funny. I was reading John Steinbeck's novel "Sweet Thursday" and so I briefly outlined the story and then read her the section where Hazel (so called because he was nuts) breaks into Doc's (the marine biologist) house whilst Doc is asleep and using a baseball bat breaks Doc's arm.  Why that is hysterically funny will only be revealed if you read the book!
 
Whilst on the subject of novels and books, and recognizing I have a big following on the west side of the Atlantic, I would like to mention another excellent American author, Bill Bryson.  Bryson has a huge following in the UK where his books are always best sellers and have me (and Rosalind) laughing our socks off!
 
The introduction to him on Wiki reads:-
 
William McGuire "Bill" Bryson, OBE, FRS (/ˈbrsən/; born December 8, 1951) is a best-selling American author of humorous books on travel, as well as books on the English language and science. Born in the United States, he was a resident of Britain for most of his adult life before returning to the U.S. in 1995. In 2003 Bryson moved back to Britain, living in the old rectory of Wramplingham, Norfolk, and served as chancellor of Durham University from 2005 through 2011.
Bryson shot to prominence in the United Kingdom with the publication of Notes from a Small Island (1995), an exploration of Britain, and its accompanying television series. He received widespread recognition again with the publication of A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003), a book widely acclaimed for its accessible communication of science.

Bryson has written the following books (those in red I have read and can recommend):

Travel

Language

Science

  • A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003)
  • A Really Short History of Nearly Everything (2008) (Children's version of 2003 book)
  • On the Shoulders of Giants (editor, 2009)
  • Seeing Further: The Story of Science, Discovery and the Genius of the Royal Society (editor, 2010)

Biography

History

Memoir

I suggest you start with The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, I stirred up a departure lounge of people reading it!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Activities to keep your morale up!

Well I am still in trouble with my back, but you have to keep mobile so I am trying to do things to keep active and keep morale up without making matters worse.  Last Friday we took three of the grandchildren to Marymoor Park.  Harrison rode his bike and they all played on the model train.  We nearly had a disaster as six year old Rose whilst running had her trousers fall down causing her to go sprawling right in front of Harrison who was speeding along on his bike.  Harrison rode right over her and I braced myself preparing to phone 911!  To everyone's surprise Rose got up, didn't cry and had only sustained a very small graze!  Phew!
Rose (6) and Harrison (8)

On Saturday morning Rosalind and I spent a couple of very pleasant hours downtown Redmond (note the American expression, I am trying to cater for my big US following) at the art festival, talking to some of the exhibitors.  We were very impressed by their talents and it was a well organised event.  If I had shed loads of money I would like to fill my home with beautiful art (mounted on ropes so you could pull it up to the ceiling when the grandchildren descend! In the afternoon we braved the traffic and drove into Seattle.  Finding a parking space was a challenge and we ended up in the multi-story car park at the back of Pike Place market.  Then we strolled down to Dock 50 (a very practical name in terms of finding it but not very imaginative or romantic. I am used to names like "St Katherine's Dock" or "Canary Wharf").  Here we boarded a Water Taxi and for two dollars each we were ferried across to West Seattle, noting the seals sleeping on the large buoys moored in the bay.
 
The whole purpose of the trip was to get some inspiring photos of Seattle from the sea. You can judge for yourself as to whether we succeeded!

To stop me feeling sorry for myself I have to keep busy, so I constructed a simple ski boot rack.  My son Dan liked it and has mentioned a "ski rack"!  Bless him!

Sunday morning saw us in church, the talks were excellent.  Let me explain that in our church with a lay ministry (that means unpaid ministers) members of the congregation get assigned (normally with several weeks notice) to speak (it's not compulsory) usually on an assigned topic.  This means that you get  to hear a wide variety of well prepared inspiring presentations.  Then we break for Sunday School classes. The standard of teaching and the contributions from class members are outstanding and I learn a lot.

Monday morning saw me back at the chiropractic clinic as I am still getting a lot of pain.  Dr Weir warned me against bending and twisting at the same time but told me to stay active and do plenty of walking.  I took his advice and later that afternoon Shayne, a good friend, drove me to the north fork of the Snoqualmie and I got good exercise walking to the river and wading its banks.  Needless to say I had a rod in my hand.  Shayne out-fished me but I had a couple of nice rainbows on the dry.  As we walked back to the car we had a real treat, a close encounter with a herd of elk!!

I slept better that night but my body was sending me messages in the morning, 


Thursday, 14 August 2014

Fly Fisherman in Big Trouble, Gets Rescued!

I really was in trouble, no I hadn't fallen in the Snoqualmie and was about to go over the 270 foot high falls, I was in agony because my back had given out on me.  Even simple moves like getting out of bed and walking resulted in painful spasms.  I had tried hot and cold showers and dosing myself with Ibuprofen to no affect and when I laid on my back I could not get up.  I was daft enough to put up with this for a week hoping to cure myself.  Then I called the travel insurance company (Saga) and they said it was an emergency so I could seek medical advice.  I wish I had called them a week ago!

My son Dan (who is 6' 10") recommended his chiropractic to me and I got an appointment for early the next morning with Dr Michael Weir.  His charming receptionist talked me through the paperwork whilst Dr Weir read up on the history I provided.  Then he interviewed me and I answered lots of questions, stressing that I needed help right now.  He was brilliant and did a full assessment of me using all sorts of techniques.  Now I haven't been to a chiro' in decades and things have obviously moved on.  I  will list some of the procedures just in case it helps anyone decide to seek help themselves. 

He weighed me on two scales, one foot on each to see how I distributed my weight.  Then he photographed me standing from the front and the side using an iPad with an ap that put the vertical in so I could see how I leaned.  He took two X-rays of my back and we looked at them together, with him explaining what was shown.  My back was warmed up with heat pads and then with me leaning forward on a couch he used a device to gently vibrate each of my vertebra.  The instrumentation told him how much freedom of movement each joint had.  When he found a tight joint he could increase the vibration force and rate to loosen it up.  Then we moved to a couch with me horizontal, face down, and Dr Weir gave me a jolt treatment that hurt me a bit.  That pain was nothing compared to what I had been feeling.

Already I was starting to feel more mobile, but a bit tired and delicate.  He then gave me instruction on what I had to do for the next 24 hours involving ice packs and Ibuprofen.  He told me to sleep on my side with a pillow between my legs!  The net result is that I am already feeling a big improvement and at my second session today we both noticed a significant change.
 
I can come off the ice now and start to do my usual back exercises supplemented by some new ones Dr Weir has given me.
Dr Michael Weir
Regular readers of my blog will note that I don't advertise anything but when I come across excellence I feel duty bound to mention it.  So thank you Dr Michael Weir for your expertise at www.backinactionchiropractic.com in Bellevue, WA, USA  (If your in agony like I was you might want the phone number 425 635 0495).



Saturday, 9 August 2014

Challenges on the fly fishing front

We all get challenges, usually when we least expect them.  Well I got mine!  Being tall (6' 5")over the years I have been susceptible to lower back pains so I have been in the habit of doing a regime of simple back exercises every other day to ward off any problems. Since being on holiday here I haven't stuck to that as I figured all the yard work, sawing and axing etc. would keep me in good trim.  Well I was wrong! Everything was fine till I changed from using the family's Toyota Sienna to my son's Ford Focus when I drove the 20 miles to the Avid Angler Fly Shop. When I got there I noticed my back was a bit painful, but I didn't change the seat settings as I didn't want to mess it up for my son.  The next morning around 6 am I drove the same car to Sultan to meet up with Lonnie to fish the Sky and I stumbled out of the car with a painful back.  It improved as we got in the water and started fishing. Everything improves when you start fishing.  Anyway to cut a long story short since getting back from that trip I have been in a lot of pain and sometimes have found it really hard to get up from the horizontal.  I have tried to keep moving and have been taking Ibuprofen  to reduce the pain, but it has resulted in me cancelling two fishing trips one with Ryan fishing the Salt and another with Mark fishing Rattlesnake from my float tube.   I am desperately trying to get better so I have tried to keep active, being careful not to stress my back.  Well so much for the sob story.  Meanwhile I have managed to fit two new LCD lights in the garage, jet wash a large patio (it was either jet wash it or grow potatoes in the moss) and have a water color painting session with a 4 year old and a 6 year old!  I even helped a family friend with his heat pump installation for an hour or so.  My efforts have been completely eclipsed by my wife Rosalind who hasn't stopped working: what with clearing brambles; cooking; vacuuming; cleaning all the windows and fly screens; emptying a large refrigerator and washing all the shelves; washing floors etc. I don't know where she gets her energy from! And then there is dealing with a parrot who is addicted to Kellogg's Crunchy Nut!
 
Highlight of the day was having "Facetime" with my daughter Naomi and her family.
 
As soon as I get back on the water I hope to post some fishy news.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Today, fly fishing success on the Sky thanks to my friends

Lonnie and I met up at 06:30 at the "Park and Ride at Sultan, I parked and having loaded my kit into his Explorer, we rode (and chatted as it was over a year since the last time we fished together). Lonnie explained that the water level in the south fork was higher than the north fork as the south picked up more snow melt, so that was where we were heading.

As we drove through Gold Bar etc, he explained that some of his favourite fishing holes where you had to cross the rail road tracks were out as the railway police were fining people who cross the tracks 80 dollars!  He said folk were not happy about that.

Having reached our favourite spot well up the valley, and kitted ourselves out with waders etc we headed for our favourite stretch.  Lonnie decided to fish sub surface with nymphs. I tied on the large dry that Ben in the Avid Angler Fly Shop had recommended.  We were to fish downstream along a seam of deepish water close to the opposite bank.  Lonnie remembering that he normally out fishes me, and being the gent that he is, let me lead the way. It took me a couple of casts to get distance and drift right, the fly being very visible, when BANG!  The water exploded and I had a good fish hooked up.  Lonnie gave a cheer and I focused on getting the fish under control in the strong current, and into the net (without falling over)!  The thought running through my mind was "this is what it is all about, this is worth all the travelling, all the waiting in line at immigration and customs, to have the privilege of being here in this majestically beautiful place and hooking a energetic bar of silver".  Given the excitement I could not remember where my camera was so having shown Lonnie I released the fish into the current. OK so it was only a rainbow of at around 12 inches or so but it was a perfect specimen.  Two casts later and the fly was pulled under but not held.  I stripped the line in so I could dry the fly. As I lifted the leader right in front of me a trout hit the fly and I realised it was the same one that had pulled it under.  It had followed the fly and had another go, a more successful go from my point of view as it connected.  I worked my way down the beat catching several more smallish fish.  Then I put a long line out and as it was about to drag I walked down stream a couple of paces and my foot caught on a stone so I glanced down into the crystal clear water.  Just as I took my eye off the fly there was a large splash as a big fish hit it, instinctively i lifted the rod and the fish broke free taking the fly with it.  Lonnie who had been watching the whole episode thought it was quite amusing.

Having fished that beat out we tried a few other places and Lonnie caught on the nymph and I blanked.  Then with the sun getting warmer and a strong up steam breeze we decided to head for home to do some chores.
 
I can claim to have out fished Lonnie this time, but only because he let me fish ahead of him and Ben put me onto a deadly fly (large, black foam, black legs and a shinny purple body, with a white parachute top making it easy to see).  Here it is. I am not sure what it is called!