Monday 16 September 2013

Wye chub and newly hatched flies

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When it comes to the fishing year, certain methods are perfect for certain seasons. You wouldn't go casting dry flies for rudd during December, or fish for pike in a heat wave. But there are also methods that seem to work whatever the conditions. Provided there is enough water clarity, streamer style flies will work for chub at any point in the season. Ok, so it might not be quite as "pure" as casting a dry fly and watching old rubber lips take a gulp; but the sudden shock of a fish battering a streamer is a singularly thrilling experience in its own right.
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My guest for a guided trip on the Wye this week was Andrew Dean, all the way from the much warmer waters of South Africa. I had been crossing my fingers for mild, settled weather that didn't quite materialise, although the water was still fairly clear and we managed to locate some fish in inches of water in one of my favourite swims. Andrew managed a couple on big dry flies (and by big I mean BIG! a size 6 grasshopper worked well), also adding a tiny dace and a rather beautiful brown trout when we'd scaled down to a Klinkhamer and nymph combo. The main event was with the streamers however, wading into the vicinity of some craggy holes and Andrew steering both British and South African flies adeptly into the gaps (credit due for losing only one of my own special Woolly Buggers in the foliage!). As aggressive as these fish can be, a slightly slower, upstream and across presentation seemed to work best, giving the fly plenty of wiggle in the current. Time and again the line kept jolting tight, followed by some bludgeoning fights from the chub, including a hat trick over the 3lb mark. For a chilly September day that's great fishing:
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One of the key parts to any fishing trip is having the right tools for the job. Where coarse fish are concerned, I get the feeling anglers have been rather short changed when it comes to flies. Not everyone ties their own and it is a major confidence boost to get your hands on tried and trusted patterns in the right sizes. Which leads me to some exciting news: I am currently working with Turrall to produce a special range of flies for coarse fish that will be for sale in the not too distant future! It was great to meet the team on a recent visit, tying up samples and sussing materials:
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It is always a great source of satisfaction for me to provide fellow anglers with flies that work. I love developing my own patterns and get a real kick out of hearing about others' successes. Working with Turrall I hope to do this on a much bigger scale in future and it will be a great honour to have a range of flies under my name with this great Devon company, who have been turning out top quality flies for a good while longer than my thirty four years on this planet! I won't spoil the surprise just yet, but chub, dace, roach, rudd, perch and pike will all feature on a growing menu of tailor made flies for coarse fish. Watch this space for more details.

Friday 6 September 2013

Carp, Cameras, Cuts

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How do you turn fishing into an even less predictable sport? The simplest way I know is to throw a camera into the mix. Articles are easy in one sense because you can combine the best parts from several sessions, whether successful or not. We all "edit" our fishing in our minds- remembering the best bits and fast forwarding the parts when nothing worked. When you have a matter of half a day, it's catch or bust. You have to pack your message into a tight time frame and still deliver. And fish don't read scripts. But in one sense I love the pressure. It's like fishing a match- every bite becomes important.
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As part of a new little film project, I've been taking a look at different waters starting with the Basingstoke Canal, with Steve Partner behind the lens. And what a pretty canal this is- absolutely stuffed with roach and perch to offer bite a chuck pole fishing. The only conspicuous absence were the bream- although a detour on another stretch led to some classic tench fishing on camera, with fewer fish but of a lovely stamp. I also encountered some less welcome bonuses in the form of huge, horrible crayfish. We're so lucky in Devon not to have these foul, invasive critters lurking everywhere. I'm not the most squeamish when it comes to living things, but these buggers gave me the jitters. Euughhh!
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Slightly conscious that summer is steadily running out, I've also been back at the carp. It was my Dad who had the slightly crackpot idea of trying small potatoes to try for a decent fish or two, and finally I took him up on the idea. Perhaps it wasn't such a leap after all- before the days of boilies, the par-boiled spud ruled supreme as the king of selective carp baits. At the very least I fancied they would be selective. It has to be a half decent fish to wrap its lips around a small potato, and back in the 70's and 80's Garnett senior used to catch bream as well as carp on them, once losing a giant fish on a big Swiss lake that took a spud and proceeded to remove line at a frightening rate.
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We had to wait into evening to get our first runs on the spuds, a little cloud cover helping to get the fish down after a sunny afternoon. It would have felt plain wrong to bolt rig using this ultra traditional bait, so instead we freelined them- and if nothing else a small King Edward casts well! They're also protein rich. As the light began to dip we had that first pleasing, steady pull on the indicator and it was fish on. The fish were a decent size for a small pond too, with the old man taking the best of three at twelve and a half pounds- and a lovely looking common carp it was too. Are potatoes about to take over from boilies? There's more chance of Exeter City FC signing Christiano Ronaldo, but hey- the carp still like these less than fashionable baits. photo DSC_0115_zpsb1ce9244.jpg