Sandbagged!

Sandbagged!
Photograph by Steve Barnett

Friday, 25 August 2017

Chopping and Changing

Today we went to Duck Holds Wood.  Sometimes this dry fly fishing can be hard work.  Hard work in that a fair bit of chopping and changing was needed for fish to be tricked into making that mistake we all want them to make.  The first pool had the occasional rise showing.  The water was boisterous so a very visible fly was chosen, the Nondescript Sedge.  It was probably the right fly as there were lots of sedge flies over and on the water.  After a couple of fish it was time to move.  The method had really been more of an exploratory bit of prospecting as the rises were nowhere near four to the minute, the usual signature of confident fish feeding at the surface. 

One of the steady risers that seemed to be eating midges and fell for the Sturdy's Fancy
The next pool up is a lovely gliding bit of water that is actually full of snags.  Here the fish were rising very confidently to something small.  No olives were showing so midge was guessed as the main course for this dainty remove.  On with a Sturdy's Fancy, your blogger has given up on the attempts to devise the perfect midge and now reverts to this fly, or else a tiny Grey Duster or even an Aphid but tied with a black body.  The Sturdy's Fancy proved to be ideal and a few more fish came to the net, much to Henry's delight (and mine).

A happy chappy!


Moving upriver, the fish were back to occasional rises in a lovely run by a veritable thatch of willow.  The tiny fly was ignored.  This time a Double Badger was deployed as there was no real sedge fly activity but the Double Badger hints at so many different types of fly and the fish often fall for it.  So it was here.  This is a lovely pool but it took me four seasons of visits before I ever caught anything here.  The fish were there to be seen but catching them was harder than it should have been.  Now, with a bit of thinking, it is usual to catch at least one fish here.


Sturdy's Fancy on a favourite rod, the Wilson International, a very traditional English Dry Fly Rod

So it went on, here a gliding pool with fish rising steadily, on with the Sturdy's Fancy.  There some boisterous water with fish either not showing or only rising occasionally, on with the Double Badger.  This was the way, swapping between these two flies and replacing the tippet when it became too short for the work in hand.  It's not really hard work but it could easily have remained undone to the detriment of our prospects today.  Today wasn't one of those, "Try every fly in the box!" days, only three flies were needed.  This wasn't haphazard.  It was necessary because, along these three delightful furlongs, fish behaviour varied today according to the type of water they were living in.


You will be aware that your faithful correspondent hesitates to make photographs of fish these days, preferring to get them back into the river as quickly and as gently as possible.  This trout although not much more than 10 inches long came from a very tricky spot, a place for a boss fish.  A photo ID of it could prove useful in future years.  Those markings will be very easy to recognise.

Of course, on another day, the fish will be all feeding in the same manner over the whole river and dry fly fishing becomes dead easy again with no need for all this chopping and changing at all!



(Click on the pictures for a closer look.)

Regular Rod

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

As Good as a Rest?

The prospect of fishing a private estate lake for some of our native coarse fish raises the spirits to heights of joy and excited anticipation.  This was the treat for today thanks to a good pal, Alisdair.  We raked our swims and fed in some samples of the intended hook baits.  Worms and bread for the lucky guest, with cockles being Alisdair's choice.


His first fish was a Tench that took some landing as it had charged through the weeds, collecting an additional payload that made netting the fish akin to some new aspect of gymnastics to be displayed at the next Olympics...
First Fish of the Day (Cockle for bait)

There is something very lovely about a Tench no matter what size it is.  Maybe it's that ruby red eye?
A Jewel of an eye and a Jewel of a Reel (Alisdair is a very stylish angler)

Here's another one that fell for one of Alisdair's cockles.

Your blogger fished in the way he first fished back in 1956, which turned out to be a good policy.  The rod, an unrestored Edgar Sealey Octopus Float Caster De-Luxe, was mated to the Speedia centrepin reel that used to be Grandad's. A home-made antenna float was set up to move up or down by any displacement of the number 6 shot fixed two inches from the size 8 hook.  Bait to begin was worm.  Close in to the water lilies was the place to be...
Don't you just love water lilies in a lake? (Click the Picture for a Closer Look)

Worms proved attractive to the Perch and, being perfectly happy to catch Perch for a while, your blogger kept on using worms.  Then suddenly a different fish put a bit of a bend in the rod.  It was a Rudd.  All the while the worms had been deployed, some small samples of pinched bread were being fed in.  Here was a Rudd.  To catch Rudd instead of Perch all that was necessary was to change over to bread flake for bait.  So it proved, lots of Rudd.  The bait was increased in size to encourage the bigger fish to take it.  This worked well, with the landing net being required for several of these lovely fish.  Then suddenly...  The float sailed away, the hook was set and then the reel was screaming!  No Rudd this, sure enough it was a Tench.  A small Tench but very strong and blessed with the big paddle-like fins that reveal it to be a male.

Change is said to be as good as a rest but your faithful correspondent fished pretty hard today, using up an entire small white loaf in the process.  Guess who, after his tea, fell asleep exhausted, but very happy. 



Regular Rod

Friday, 4 August 2017

Tributary Trials and Triumphs

Today was a lovely day.  Early on, the odd drop of rain for sure, but mainly dry, blue skies with fluffy clouds and a gentle breeze to keep the angler comfortable.  Perfect for Henry to stretch himself after his brief, post operative, enforced reduction in his activities.  By Gum!  He did enjoy himself being the mighty hunter as we moved from one fish ambushing point to another.

video

We were on the lowest beat of a favourite tributary to the mother river.  It is a gin-clear, limestone spring-fed river that runs over bright gravel.  The fish are feisty in this section.  You can get an idea of how feisty some of them can be by the name of this corner run...  "Hook Straighten Bend"  (Say it out loud quickly...)

Hook Straighten Bend!
Within less than half an hour of starting your Blogger managed to get the fly caught in one of the over hanging tree branches on the opposite bank.  On this bank there is a fallen tree with root ball on the bank and shattered trunk on the river bed.  It looked like it might make a useful means of reaching the fly and retrieving it before it became a bat trap this evening.

Not Safe to Walk On!
 Oh Dear!  It's at least a couple of years since your correspondent last fell in.  The tree proved a slippery platform and even with landing net handle as a walking cane, gravity won.  Fortunately the trajectory into the water was straight down and angler remained upright throughout the incident.  With water up well past the knees it seemed pointless to just get out without achieving the original object of the mission.  Fly was recovered even if dignity was not.  Of course all the fish were by now elsewhere...



Wellingtons tipped out, trousers and socks removed and wrung out, expletives at a minimum, the angler restored himself to his personal comforts as best he could in the circumstances.  Another, undisturbed ambush point was sought and the day's sport continued.  We even found a rather splendid feather from a heron, perfect for Kite's Imperial.


It's hard work on this little river.  The fish are impossible to catch if they know you are there.  It really is a matter of approaching on hands and knees and sitting, or at least kneeling, to fish.  Time flies when you are enjoying yourself, even when somewhat damp.  Operations were ceased at a Baker's Dozen and home to tea around 19:00.  We had a great time. 

What Next Dad?
Henry is back in his high spirits again and, because of that, so is your faithful blogger.





Regular Rod

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

"I want to tie flies, what materials do I need?"

 
If only your faithful correspondent had a £ for every time he has been asked that, or a similar question... 

The correct answer of course is, "It depends..."
 










The flies used in this blog are all simple to tie, because this blogger is not what you'd describe as a "skilful fly dresser".  They all work well, because there is no point in making flies and carrying them about if they don't!


This little table below might prove helpful to anyone starting out to make themselves their own version of the "Derbyshire Fly Box".  Readers from around the world have been very kind in reporting that, on their rivers, these flies do still work and often working very well indeed.  It may also make a good starting point for a newcomer to dressing their own flies.


 Click it for a closer view.

Of course you will need some hooks and the tools

(Oops!! I've also forgotten to add the materials in for the wings of the PPSG Poly Prop Spent Gnat... Sorry!)




Regular Rod