Saturday, 24 September 2011
Summer hasn't so much ended with a bang and a whimper, as a big puddle of rain and lots of extra homework. Autumn may be the season that creative types wax lyrical about, but it can be a funny time to fish. A real in between stage until the weed properly dies back and everything settles. With a stack of jobs to finish, my fishing of late has been confined to the odd short session close to home such as Exeter Canal. Not exactly dynamite so far, although the odd perch has obliged and these days I'm never without a handful of Kopyto shads to target them with.
I did also manage to steal a quick afternoon nearer Tiverton in the company of fishing writer Theo Pike, which is always a pleasure The water looks ominously low on the Grand Western canal, but the roach and rudd are still there to be had on a sunny afternoon. I don't think he could quite believe just how pretty the place was and how obliging these terrific fish are. We both filled our boots with simple spider patterns, each taking a pound plus fish on the fly rod, along with the unenviable task of plunging through the overgrown banks to net fish for each other.
At present however there are more pressing matters than fishing itself. It is the theory rather than the practise that is taking up my time as I continue to work as adapting author on "Fishing for Dummies" -part of the classic reference series. An American edition already exists, so how tricky can it be? The differences are quite substantial in places; the yanks are miles ahead on lure fishing for example, but bait fishing techniques are very different and much simpler- wagglers, swimfeeders and the like all an alien language Stateside. The difference in attitudes is revealing and at times quite funny- carp are described in less than flattering terms for example as "like giant goldfish." Nevertheless, it's a great task to be involved with and from personal experience teaching English I can only say that a clear, user friendly book of this nature is long overdue. The book should sell stacks and it will be great to introduce a lot of others to the sport I love so much.
It's all slowly coming together- and I have also now hit the magic milestone of 100 articles in print. Other than scribbling, I also have the task of preparing for the much awaited Pike Anglers Club Conference 2011. It'll be the first time I've been and it should be excellent fun, just as soon as I've finished tying the hundred or so pike flies needed to complete my trade arsenal. I hope I'll see some of you there- albeit bleary eyed and with my hands smelling of fly varnish!
South West pike anglers will also be pleased to hear that the PAC has a new list of events for 2011/2012 and a new meeting place at Mill on Exe- hit the links section on my site (www.dgfishing.co.uk) for more on this on the PAC Region 13 blog.
Monday, 12 September 2011
Rocky, wild and unpredictable, the River Usk offers a rough cut beauty second to none. Throw in muscular flows and some awesome trout and you might feel drawn to fly fishing techniques outside daintier traditional etiquette. Indeed when the river runs hard, presenting a little dry fly to a these solid, predatory trout feels a bit like waving a salad leaf at a serial killer. These fish eaters want blood. And in fact, even when they don't want fresh meat they're still up for good punch up. Hence my weekend fly box was filled with big, heathen creatures in the shape of woolly buggers, muddler minnows and other streamers.
Getting up early for the long drive to Fenni-Fach on the Wye and Usk Passport, the river looked in fine fighting fettle. Plenty of water pushing. No shortage of boulders, rock ledges and other places to conceal a waiting attacker. The tactics were hardly subtle, throwing a sinking line up and across the flow before pulling any one of my ugly mob of flies kicking across the current. It took a while to hit my rhythm, but there is an undeniable excitement in the knowledge that at any moment the peace could be undone in a single, bone-jarring hit.
So much for the theory- it seemed that several trout no bigger than half a pound quite fancied a go, or at least had a very clear "sod of" message to my muddler minnow. It was to be an exciting, frustrating session with plenty of hits but few hookups- were they punching the thing rather than biting it? Three fish stuck in the end, including a lovely 15" brown with an impressive degree of tooth and muscle.
Overnight it rained hard and so Pantyskallog, our next destination, proved hard work and treacherous wading with raging falls and slippery rocks. Sady it was to be a tale of more misses than hits. My other half probably had a better time of it than I did in capturing this supremely rocky river in all its glory. No Usk monster on this occasion then, which is in itself an excuse to come back again. I am also intrigued by doing more night fishing in future- the one fish I managed just into dark smacked the fly like it had just insulted its mother.
Thursday, 8 September 2011
It's a curious phenomenon that in so much of modern fishing, we start from the standpoint of what baits we want to introduce rather than what the fish are actually eating. Have we got it the wrong way round? Fly fishing usually starts from the opposite perspective, but even when it comes to bait there is a lot of scope for going natural. It seems crazy at times that on some fisheries, using a lobworm would mark you out as some kind of dangerous revolutionary- but such is the stranglehold of the boilie.
Snails first popped into the equation for me some ten years ago when I watched a Sussex angler catch a succession of large carp when the rest were struggling. When I asked what the trick was he popped off a lid to reveal several dozen garden snails- he shelled one there in front of me for the hook and within five minutes the float buried and another double figure carp was hooked.
Roll on a few years and snails are still a bait I should cast more often. And in the hunt for interesting leads I couldn't help but notice the appropriately titled "Snails Lake" at Digger Lakes, Cullompton. I got even more excited when owner Ben Gratwicke explained the reason for the name was no whim, but an absolute mass of pond snails present. Could one or two of these be a killer bait? A real fishing fanatic and carp expert himself, Ben seemed as keen as I was to find the answer- and in no time rustled me up a fistful of the buggers. My aim was to fish at close quarters; no broom handles required, just a gentle lob into a few likely looking spots with a lighter rod and low diameter 12lb line.
The fishing itself proved challenging- but what a pleasant surprise Digger Lakes are (www.diggerlakes.co.uk) . No 'hole in the ground' fishery this, and I enjoyed simply walking around and watching all the quiet corners and weedy channels here. It looked a perfect stalking water- until I showed up! Try as I might, I just couldn't get a bite by alternating swims with float tackle. I'm an impatient carper at the best of times, but at least moving swims you start to form a loose plan and can put a little bait in to sit on later- in this case snail based pellets with the odd crushed real one in the mix.
As is so often the case, the fishing improved once it was dark. I presented a pair of snails on a hair, just off the rod tip in a hole in the weed. Finally, something took off at around 2am and within about five seconds I had crashed forwards out of the sleeping bag, grabbed the rod and felt a wrenching presence at the end. Well worth getting up for- and persevering with snails as bait! More on this soonish in the shape of an article...
I am also delighted to see the first fruits of my recent work with angling filmmaker Steve Lockett this week. You may have spotted his feature on my Rudd on fly exploits in this week's Angler's Mail- a cracking session including a very nice brace of canal rudd. If the linked clip below is anything to go by, the DVD to accompany my book next year should be a cracker- despite that weird sensation of watching yourself back on film! Grab a look at Anglers Mail TV (http://youtu.be/t2fMeraC2dE) -hit You Tube and then search Anglers Mail is probably the easiest way, since getting a video up and working properly on blogger seems harder than Chinese algebra.