Saturday, 26 April 2008

It's a Spring Thing

There's always something sweet about the first good session on the river for the year. The first dry fly catch, to see the trout rising again, not to mention first time of the year you go home without numb limbs.

Today it was The River at Wiggaton. Fining down and beautifully clear when we arrived- hawthornes and dark olives spotted early on got our hopes up- and we weren't let down. We usually split up and compare results later, but brother and myself happily shared the beat and still caught well today.

I hasten to add that aside from perhaps three little trout taken to dries (esp. a good sized hawthorne) nymphs took the lions share of the fish, presented new Zealand style, with our own GRHE patterns doing as well as anything. Had forgotten just how well these little trout fight! They love to leap clear of the water and time after time, our brook wands bent double before we were surprised at the modest size of these fit little fish. We took over 20 trout to half a pound, plus three grayling between us- all carefully returned. Is there any better way to spend a spring afternoon than on a beautiful Devon stream?

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Come fly with me

With spring proving cold, the pike season has gone into extra time. Cue another couple of sessions on the Grand Western Canal, Tiverton looking for some action on a fly rod.

Todays was the big test- a session in front of the lense of Anglers Mail photographer Paul Hamilton. Very cold night and some colour in the water not exactly a promising start- or was it the extra pressure of the camera?

Session started on a Dodd's Dodger- a roach pattern I really rate, but no joy. A change to my own pattern, the "black beast" brought about a change in fortunes however, and along with two small jacks two more sizeable fish were hooked- the better at eight pounds or so. Intensely frustrating though- they came adrift. Pike not so bold today, only gently mouthing the fly, perhaps the reason for only lightly hooked fish.

We then moved on but found the canal at Sampford Peverell too coloured- hopeless for the fly, so it was time to move again. Time was running out! Had I missed my chances? Had the crappy conditions beaten me?

Bloody minded persistence got a result in the end, in the nick of time the "black beast" scored again, and I played out a nice five pounder, praying it wouldn't come off. What a relief to see it hit the net! No monster, but a good result given the unpromising conditions- and it doesn't take a beast to really bend that fly rod!

The cruelty of hope...

March 15. 2008

Hope can be a cruel thing. So can the great British weather, which resembled an evil climate experiment this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not soft or anything- in fact, my problem is that I’ll fish no matter how revolting it gets and however hopeless the odds. In a secret, semi-sadistic way I even enjoy such “testing” days. Unless, of course, they involve 220 mile round trips, biting winds and high expense.

Saturday was a lesson in how to locate pike without being in any danger of actually catching them. Take a Cotswolds gravel pit, mix with six hours of pissing rain, add a large dose of misguided hope. Trouble was, it looked so promising. Dodging all the carp boys on the pits, we found an inviting little corner where the pike were stacked up, close to spawning in all likelihood. Lots of visible fish- absolutely no interest, despite several little return visits to see if that elusive feeding spell could be hit. Pike seem the total opposite to humans, who can happily eat before, after and perhaps even during (?!!) spawning.

I guess you can’t begrudge spawning fish though- probably far better just to leave them alone. Previous weekend saw an absolutely ballistic weekend bash with grouped canal pike; first bite came before I’d clipped up the line, another fish five minutes later! I switched to single hook rigs, took two more and then just left them alone. What is the difference between catching three or four decent pike and seven or eight anyway? Time to leave them be for a couple of weeks at least.

March 16
After the commiseration of a curry and beer evening recovering from yesterdays soaking, older brother and myself headed to the Bristol channel to join a boat party after codling.

Hope, as I have already stated, is a slag sometimes. Each angler paid £40 in boat hire and bait. Eight of us spent four hours in a choppy, frozen Bristol channel. I had the luck of catching the only cod- a tiny little thing, way undersized. Perhaps the most expensive four ounce cod ever in fact (you do the maths). At least on rod and line I could release it- rather than lobbing it in dead and moaning about size limits. Actually, I think a sodding great trawler is the answer next time.

You could tell the die hard anglers on the boat- the ones still suggesting we try “just one more spot” to the skipper, whilst saner individuals sheltered in the cabin. Still, those Siberian winds do wonders for the complexion- I had aged about ten years when we got back to port.

How confused must our fish be with the onset of global warming? At the shallow canal I visited today, the pike were clearly finished spawning and are starting to disperse – even in a relatively cold, unsettled spring like this it seems, they do their business pretty early.

Roll on spring is all I can say- brother and me had a decent three hour bash, but icy winds not great for elegant casting or warm fingers; glad I had a 9 weight set up.
As is typical in this disruptive weather, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion today. Water clarity very variable too, but once we’d found a clearer stretch, bites followed. A smallish black pattern worked- the water was full of fry and smaller patterns seemed to get more interest. We finished with five jacks, the biggest, at a mere three pounds still went satisfyingly well on a fly rod. In fact, the battle was every bit as good as my last gravel pit double on heavy gear!