Sunday, 13 April 2014
Spring Fly Fishing
Ah, spring. Don't you just love it? The sun has been up. The fish are rising and you can venture out with only a t-shirt on your back and possibly a fly rod. Not that spring fly fishing is always easy. I've had mixed fortunes, but some encouraging results for both coarse species and trout this week.
Aiming wet flies at rudd and roach was today's treat. My usual little spiders and "rudd bugs" came to the fore on the Grand Western Canal, but it was a case of walking and looking hard for the better shoals of fish. Only the really tiny ones seemed willing to touch flies on the surface, but by presenting slow sinking wets I had two net sized rudd in quick succession and even the smaller ones that followed were beautiful.
The roach wanted a fly presented rather deeper, and with the wind sometimes blowing smaller flies off course I opted for slightly heavier patterns to try and get amongst them. A size 16 Tan Shrimp or Roach Grub worked well for these, although the takes were sometimes really cute. The job was made much easier in the sunshine, as I could sight fish. I even had a crack at a surprise tench that wandered through the swim, but failed to get the grub fly directly into its path. Never mind, here's one of several roach that intercepted a falling nymph:
It hasn't been all plain sailing however. A trip to a different canal was more testing, with coloured water and debris making it tough to spot fish and cast to them unimpeded. What should the angler do if they can't easily spot the fly? An small indicator was the answer, to suspend small flies in the top two feet (and I prefer the foam, stick on kind, which you can even snip in half for a really cute little indicator). With fish hard to spot it was usually a case of scanning the water for rise forms and moving fish. They weren't big, but I had three species in order: rudd, roach and bleak.
The trout fishing has also steadily been improving on my travels too, and I had the great pleasure of a day on the River Rea with my publisher, Merlin Unwin. A pretty stream this one, lost somewhere in the Shropshire countryside and full of twists and turns. I was a bit muddy on our arrival and little was rising, so we went for nymphs.
A handful of pretty browns were hard won on the day, but I loved exploring this new river. There were lambs everywhere in the fields. We found otter tracks and there are even the ghostly remains of an old railway platform out here.
And it was great to hear some of Merlin's stories: of fishing with the Mr Crabtree author Bernard Venables, or the summer that Ludlow was flooded with mayflies. And we also celebrated the coming of my new book with a beer. Stocks of "Canal Fishing: A Complete Guide" will be in very soon.
Wild rivers are one thing, but the fish have been bigger in semi-urban locations recently. Not that the water quality is in any way lacking in many of our towns. Is there anything nicer than a shallow, stony river where you can sight fish for wild trout? We have free fishing in several Devon locations- (Theo Pike's book "Trout in Dirty Places" is a great resource).
A quick wander with a four weight was great fun. No dry fly takes on this occasion, and the trick was to get a nymph down to the fish. A hare's ear worked in the slightly deeper bits, or a PTN in some lovely shallow runs where trout were sitting in just a foot or so of water. This was the best of them, at 13" or so but very lean.