Thursday, 12 July 2012

Moving Mountains

DSC_0050 While most of us today fish just for sport, the story was very different in our not so distant history. To our ancestors that fish on the line was not just a fun detour, but the difference between eating and going hungry. Does the game change when you depend on catching to eat? Massively! I'm not about to revert to hunter gatherer status, but came pretty close in the mountains of North Wales recently. DSC_0116-1 Accompanied by Frazer Mcbain, whose shots from "up in the gods" you can see here, we took up the challenge of surviving for a couple of days with only the most basic supplies to see if we could live just by exploring and catching trout to eat. PhotobucketAbove Blaenau Ffestiniog, the gods had it in for us. The rain lashed and hissed up in the Welsh mountains, the very paths becoming streams as we climbed steep paths in search of the areas fabled, high flung lakes. It was an eerie place in the rain- the mist only adding to that feeling amidst ruined houses, abandoned works and great piles of slate. Never mind catching a trout or two for dinner, for the initial climb I wondered whether we'd even find the lakes. DSC_0143 How do you decide which gear to bring when everything must be stored an carried up hundreds of yards? With difficulty is the answer, and an eye to taking a basic but lightweight outfit. Fly gear is ideal for this, because apart from the rod, you can easily stow a reel, line and a box or two of flies in the pockets of a fly vest. If only the rest of our hiking kit was that light! DSC_0400_2 When it's catch or go hungry, fly selection becomes dominated by the patterns you have most confidence in. There is perhaps no wild lake in Brtain I would want to arrive at without flies like the Bibio and Daiwl Bach, while so far this summer the Sedgehog is an absolute must have when it's rough- and it was this the trout really wanted to batter most! DSC_0529_2 The weather alternated between thick fog and gruesome downpour most of the trip, but in spite of this we got by. My catch and Frazer's fire building skills combined to make us a warm meal- how he got it going with mostly damp firewood is beyond me. And does fresh trout ever taste better than up a mountain when you're knackered and really hungry? We ate no monsters or really small fish, but a trio of decent ones made for a good supper. DSC_1322 Sadly we never found it up to the utmost heights and the loftiest of these lakes, but with a decent slog we caught fish and lived to tell the tale. DSC_1045 Otherwise, the rain continues to screw up a summer that was meant to be spent by sunny rivers and drains casting flies. Instead my efforts have been focussed on saltier waters lately, like Brixham Breakwater. DSC_0193 I tried but failed to catch a wrasse on the fly on this occasion. A couple of small ones harried a bright streamer, but I couldn't hook one. However, I did connect with mackerel, small pollack and one or two other mini species- like this odd herring-like fish that took a bloodworm! Anyone know what this one is? DSC_0322 There was no mistaking the mackerel though- as they charged through prey at the surface and sometimes came within a short cast of the wall I also made the most of one less drenched afternoon to spin for mullet on the Exe with Darren "Easybourne" Ketteringham. This looked a lost cause on first inspection of the mud-stained water, but the baited spinner is a method I have a lot of faith in: IMG_4001 I'm grateful to catch anything the way conditions are at the minute, but rest assured I will soon be back out with the fly rod. The last fish I took on fly was about a week ago now, this strange what looks like a rudd/bream hybrid near Bridgwater. securedownload-9 For those keen to see some fresh footage of coarse species on the fly, my DVD is now available too, which has action with carp, rudd, roach and pike. See for yourself at the usual site, which also has a trailer: DVDCovercopy


Russell Hilton said...

Dom, what an excellent, interesting blog! Lovely picture of that mullet, and that hybrid! I am ridiculously jealous. Gotta be rudd/bream Beautiful!

Dominic said...

Cheers Russ. It has definitely been an "interesting" summer, not always for the right reasons! There were several strange hybrids we saw on the canal that day- and I don't mean the locals ;-)

Anonymous said...

Some fantastic blogs - thankyou. You certainly have had a varied summer, dread to think what the 5 'c's stand for.

Great read in the Angling Times by the way