Monday, 15 December 2014
My pal Malcolm has made so much progress with his casting of the fly that I decided to take him to the lakes at Albury Estates, near Guildford. I also wanted him to see what a real fly fishing shop was like so we visited Peter Cockwill's Albury Game Angling tackle shop. I need some fly tying materials and I wanted to make sure Malcolm invested in some blue flash damsel nymphs as they are deadly on the lakes.
Peter Cockwill is a splendid instructor, guide, author, lecturer and tackle shop proprietor. He has been guiding trips to Alaska every year since 1988.
Peter's shop has everything you need to fly fish and fly tie.
We started fishing at Weston on the main lake, with me wanting to sight fish, but the fish were staying out of sight so we had a go at the Wood Lodge Pool where we could see fish, especially where the water flows in through the feeder pipe. Malcolm caught on the blue flash and I blanked so after a sandwich we drove the mile or so to Vale End and fished the river pool. Malcolm positioned himself adjacent the tail of the pool (I hadn't told him that was where a couple of years ago our mutual friend Ashok had caught a 10lb fish). I positioned myself at the side of a large tree, hoping to use it as cover because the water was fairly clear. Whilst I was pulling a bit of debris from my fly Malcolm called out and pointed to the far side of the lake. I looked round the tree trunk and saw a very large ring rapidly expanding on the water about 25 yards away. I quickly worked out some line, false casting like crazy and double hauling dropped the fly at the center of the ring. Reckoning that the fish was probably still high in the water I started tweaking the fly in immediately and was rewarded with a firm snatch. The fish splashed and Malcolm gave me one of his "I don't believe it looks"! Ten minutes later having been taken back onto the reel, and having steered the fish out of reeds on both sides of the lake I managed to get it on the bank. It was in perfect condition with a lovely full tail. It weighed in at 4lb 8oz.
We both went on to have another fish each and ended a very pleasant winters day so glad we had gone fishing.
I tend to fillet larger fish as it is less trouble than gutting them, but note the filleting glove under the filleting knife.
Thought for the day: Bragging may not bring happiness, but no man having caught a large fish goes home through an alley!
Tuesday, 2 December 2014
Well I finally got all of my children (all 7) together for my mother's memorial service. The pictures in the background are of my mum.
Then I managed to take my son Daniel (the tallest at 6' 10" who had flown in from the States) fishing in a boat at Bewl. He even managed to land a big one, with a bit of help, whilst wearing gloves!
My pal Malcolm was in the boat with us spinning! I am pleased to report I caught 50% more fish on the fly than he did spinning. Well, OK he got 2 and I got 3!
Then I slipped down to the Salisbury and District waters to tackle the grayling. The fishery manager, Andreas recommended I try the Laverstock Fishery on the River Bourne and as I had never fished there I decided to give it a go. In spite of the recent rains it was running beautifully clear, so clear, I kept spooking the fish. Also I had failed to bring my box of size 18 grayling flies with me so I was fishing nymph that were too big. The net result, well there weren't any "net" results as I blanked. However, I did get to wade the river and to find the official access by the bridge (the map in the Year Book is a bit misleading). In the afternoon I fished the Avon at West Amesbury. There was a lot of coloured water coming down and I blanked there as well. On the positive side I did see all the work the river keepers had been doing. I particularly appreciated the plastic matting covering the boggy patches. Well done!
I made up for my disappointing fishing yesterday when I took my American pal Bryant to Albury Estates Western Fishery. We met up with the fishery manager at the lake at Western and had a pleasant chat and he suggested we try Western. The water was crystal clear and I soon realised that I could, if I looked hard, see the fish cruising 2 to 4 rod lengths out. It was the dark reflection of the trees on the opposite bank that enabled me to see in the water. So I was fishing with my back to the road. I got my first fish fairly quickly. Then I spotted a fish and cast my blue flash damsel fly to try to get it a couple of metres in front of him/her. The cast went wrong and the fly dropped behind the fish. Hearing and feeling the sound, the fish turned and hit the fly. We had a 5 minute tussle and just at the net the fish came off. I tried several other areas with no luck so I returned to where I could see the fishing. I found that having spotted one, if I took my eyes off it, even for a second or two, I would lose it visually. So I tried to retrieve and cast all the time, keeping my eyes on the fish. The next encounter was pure text book stuff. I saw, I cast it took and I caught, but not quite!!!. When it saw the net the fish took off and surprise, surprise the hook broke on the bend. Meanwhile I kept an eye on Bryant, occasionally offering tips on how he could improve his casting.
Then I spotted a large fish well out from the bank. Knowing I had to extend my back cast in order to get the distance on the forward cast I checked out the trees behind me and positioned myself to take advantage of a gap. Double hauling like crazy I deliberately cast well behind the fish as I was just gauging the line length required. Having adjusted to get that right I went for the big one landing the fly about 3 metres in front of it. I then lost sight of the fish and gently retrieved using a slow figure of eight. My arm was wrenched forward and I was on. The fish quickly took me back onto the reel and the rod bent through 90 degrees. I recovered line as it ran towards me and then it made for the protection of branches that hung in the water. I tightened the clutch and managed to turn it back into open water. Some minutes later it was in the net and on the bank. It was a cracker and I was chuffed.
It was exactly 5lb in weight and perfect
Just to prove it was me who caught it.
Whether river or lake, sight targeting fly fishing gives me the most satisfaction. Well done Albury Estates, we had a great time.
Tuesday, 25 November 2014
Rob teaching at Bewl
I managed to get down to Bewl Water to enjoy I some top of the water autumnal action. Rob Barden (who fishes for England) was manning the Fishing Lodge so I did not hesitate to ask his advice on the where and how. He recommended drifting either side of the fish cages in terms of the where and fishing a booby on the point and a couple of small naturals on the dropper. He said the knack that makes the difference at this time of year is to fish the booby static, and if on the drift not retrieving any more than is necessary to keep the fly line straight between the rod tip and the fly. So fully briefed I went to work. The weather was ideal, mainly overcast with a good ripple on the water. As I was motoring to the cages I saw a circle of smooth water and was tempted to stop and cast to it as it was probably caused by fish circling just under the surface. I should have paused but the call of the cages was too strong!
A selection of boobies
Now I am use to retrieving boobies fast on warm summer evenings when the trout will provide a brilliant chase, but that is totally wrong in the autumn. So I had to force myself to keep the booby as static as possible and it worked. In the end I gave up drifting, I got lazy and moored to a buoy, with fish moving all around. The weather was bright and there was a quiet time early afternoon but there were fish showing most of the time. Just before I was leaving the clouds opened and it poured. I managed to wrap the leader round the top of the rod and thought of leaving, but I decided I liked extreme fishing so I tied a new leader on put an fresh minkie booby on the point and was swiftly rewarded by a cracking take and another 3 lb fish.
It was worth getting wet as I filleted the fish and my wife cooked my favourite trout recipe "Pan fried citrus trout with basil". The recipe is in the book "50 Classic Trout Recipes" by Jane Bamforth at the amazing cost of £4.99. I got it for Christmas last year so if you want to get a fly fisherman a lovely present this year there is my suggestion.
Tuesday, 18 November 2014
A few days ago I had the pleasure and privilege of giving Sam, my 15 year old grandson his first boat fly fishing experience. He lives at Milton Keynes so that gave us the excuse of going to Grafham Water, around an hours drive away. Grafham is a well run fishery, where they even provide drogues and landing nets (for reasons I wont go into here). They have a superb tackle shop and allowed my grandson and I to fish on the same 6 fish ticket. I had not fished the water for several years so asked where we should concentrate. The weather was a bit contrary blowing a gale with bright sun. Eventually we found the fish down by the dam, but it was tricky fishing as the wind was blowing us onto the dam. I insisted on Sam wearing eye protection, he had forgotten to bring his sunglasses but fortunately so I gave him an expensive pair my son Stuart had left in my car. Sam then forgot to bring those in the boat, fortunately I had got another spare pair in my fishing bag! A hat is a good idea too Sam!
To cut a long story short Sam cast well, fished well and was rewarded with a brace of cracking rainbows caught on blood worm flies. Here is the first one.
I am sad when I see people fishing without eye protection, having buried a hook in my own face a couple of times, I don't think it is worth the risk of getting one in the eye!
Saturday, 15 November 2014
I am glad so many of you, from all over the world, enjoy my posts, I get pleasure out of writing them because I remind myself of things that have happened (usually good) and I like to share experiences with others. I have one more thing to share from our sojourn in Croatia. Walking from the Hotel More along the footpath just above the sea on our way to the bus stop we passed this lovely lady. Stopping for a chat (as you do) I inquired about hiring a yacht for a sail.
The net result was that we had an evening sail, with a very friendly and competent captain, who told us about the area and what was going on. He kindly kept us in calm waters.
This is the boat we sailed in as seen from the hotel restaurant.
As you can see I was quite relaxed!
This island use to be all rock but ages ago, when the Austrians conquered the area, they shipped soil to cover it and now it has trees.
If you are out there and fancy a sail their web site is http://www.dubrovnik-sailing.com
An evening sail cost us around £90 which I thought was good value. The customer service was brilliant! Life is short and you have to enjoy the journey!!!
Wednesday, 12 November 2014
We went there on a Friday around 11.00 am and it was solid with people from all over the UK and the World. It has been like that for weeks and weeks.
Here is an artistic touch showing the poppies appearing to pour out of the castle. Just like blood pouring out of some poor soul's body.
The crowds were quiet and reverent, quietly shuffling along all a bit overwhelmed aware that each poppy represented one of the 888,246 who died protecting our freedom.
We came away quiet, reflective and thankful. It made me proud to be British.
The border with Montenegro is only an hours drive from Dubrovnik and my brother had said it was well worth a visit. We signed up with a tour operator near the hotel and were told we would be collected from the hotel at 7.55 am. We hadn't asked so we were not sure whether a car, taxi or minibus would turn up to take us, so we were surprised when a forty-seater coach arrived on time. There were already some people on board and as it drove through Dubrovnik stopping at other hotels it soon filled up. As we left Dubrovnik heading south along the mountainous roads I soon realised we were in the hands of a very professional team. The driver was confident and careful and the two tour guides a lady, who sat at the back translating for the french and Ratka a male comedian who performed up the front giving the commentary in english. Ratka gave us a geography lesson and a history lesson and made it funny and interesting. Helpfully he briefed us on how to behave with the officials when we reached the border crossings, warning us that some holiday makers who ignored his advice are still guests of the government!
As the pictures will show we were blessed with beautiful weather. The coast of Montenegro has fjords like Norway and they are very deep which means that large cruise liners can sail deep into the country like this one at Kotor.
Ratka told us how several hundred years ago a fisherman had discovered an icon (a small religious picture) lying on a rock in the middle of a fjord and had taken it to his village where it was placed in the church. The next morning the icon was gone, presumably stolen and everyone was sad. A few days later another fisherman found the icon back on the rock so he took it back to the church. Then it went missing and was found back on the rock again! The villagers decided that this was a sign and the icon needed to be on the rock so they built a church on the rock to house the icon in! The picture below shows the church they built.
Here is Ratka in full flow suggesting where we might eat. I included this picture because it reminds me that there is some serious fishing to be had in the area.