Thursday, 30 December 2010

It was a rather misty day on the River Test at Wherwell today. Fishing was with Peter Anderson, Vince and Tony. Starting the day with small nymphs we worked our way upstream, pitching the nymphs through all the likely looking runs. With a niggling breeze pushing downstream, it took a little while to find the fish in a feeding mood. Eventually we located a few fish - and there were some substantial grayling amongst them including a couple over the 2lb mark. With a hatch of Pale Wateries and Large Dark olives beginning to show, it was an out of season trout taking a partidge and orange on the dropper that gave me the first hook up of the day. It wasn't long before the first of the grayling found its way to hand. With a larger shrimp pattern on the point and a spider on the dropper, the fish were a little more willing to take the fly. Perhaps the wind had eased because sighting and targetting fish was the way forward.

One on a pale beige shrimp:

Lunchtime seemed to creep up on us - it's amazing just how much time can be absorbed trying to tempt fish you can see to take your offering. On the way back to the car park, we bumped into Charles Jardine who was fishing in a French Nymph style - long leader, tiny nymphs and pin point precision casting.

Lunch was a short affair as we wanted to get out and tackle some of the lower beats. This was skinnier water and a few fish were persuaded by the spider again. Further, a CDC & Elk on a dropper produced a fantastic rise and a nice fish too.

The furled leader worked well in the latter part of the day, presenting small nymphs and spiders upstream with super turnover and indication. The hot orange tip section is so highly visible and shows every subtle movement of flies and the takes.

We returned to take a chance at those better grayling before it became dark. The temperature had dropped and the day was becoming a little darker as the light faded and the mist began to return.

It was Vince that made the final contact of the day with a lovely grayling taking his own small GRHE variant. Well done! That was the last cast - a fitting end.

Vince puts the net under his last fish of the day:

So that's this year's fishing account closed. It's been a great year all round. My thanks to those I have had the pleasure to fish, cast and chatter about all things angling with this year. I hope we do it all over again next year, but even bigger and better! Roll on 2011.

Happy new year!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Grayling are beautiful fish, extending the fly fisher's callender and offering a real challenge too. At times they are willing to let you wade amongst them, snaffling up any fly that happens to pass by. The next day they can be really spooky, tolerating little in the way of disturbance or, indeed, anything that appears to be against the norm. They can mouth and reject a fly in seconds I am certain they take and refuse nymphs and bugs far more readily than we are aware. If they are willing to move to a dry fly, they can ascend and return in split seconds leaving you bewildered that there was even a rise.

Now, return to the nymphs. You'll read lots about grayling coming to heavy bugs, often brightly coloured and fished as a team. True. However, when they are a little more suspicious, it is the thinking angler that will be successful, choosing to adapt their fly choice and aim for something a little more imitattive. The Pheasant Tail nymph takes some beating under these circumstances. But even then, a little colour can help add a little something extra. Here's an example of the PTN tied with a red hotspot - just holographic tinsel tied behind the thorax. Another dimension to the fly box; improved chances of success:

Hook: Partridge BIN #14
Thread: Powersilk, 10/0 olive
Tail & abdomen: PT fibres
Thorax: Rabbit
Hot-spot: holographic tinsel, red
Wing buds: PT fibres
Legs: Tips of the PT fibres from the wing buds


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

I did start to wonder if the more sensible option should be to cancel my planned trip due to the extra layer of snow we had been dealt on Monday. However, when I reached the Kennet, it was a truly magical experience. Barn Owls were flying in search of food during the day and a pair of red kites were circling above. Superb sights at anytime of the year, but in a wintery-wonderland, it was something special - albeit the fishing was VERY hard.

The day's success was always going to be decided by whether the fish could be found. The water was low - especially with so much being locked up on the ground. So it off to the deeper runs with a short line and heavy bug; a lighter S-Loop nymph on the dropper.

One for the dropper:

Dropping the bugs through a likely looking run:

It was hard to find them. The odd nudge of the indicator suggested there was life down there. But it was only small fish willing to put in an appearance.

Infact, it was strangely out-of-season trout that were easier to find - I spotted the odd lunker holding mid-stream.

Despite switching between the short line technique and the duo, the bigger grayling proved somewhat elusive, it was good to be out and a pleasure to practice technique amongst such stunning surroundings.

I have been using furled leaders in recent weeks and have been kindly made some to my exact specifications. The turnover is superb and the sensitivity of them hard to beat. In conjuction with a 10' 4" #3 rod, every twist and turn ot eh nymphs could be felt. The furled leader, with a 12" hi-vis section, allowed me to monitor exactly how the flies were behaving.

I have added black markers throughout the leader so it is visible in all lights. Every movement is clearly visible:
So sensitive is the leader, it reminds of a swing-tip in coarse fishing - only even more responsive to takes. I'll give more details soon about the leaders I've been experimenting with.

This was my last session on the river before Christmas. I hope there are more grayling to report before the new year!

A welcome stop to grab a warming coffee:
Enjoy your festive weekend.


Sunday, 19 December 2010

Despite the Arctic-like conditions we are facing again, grayling will still take a thoughtfully presented fly. The fish will certainly be more tightly shouled, with the better fish taking up the prime lies and smaller fish jostling for position. Getting a fly to these larger fish can be a little more luck than judgement at times.

Here's a pattern which can persuade a take, especially in very clear water. A very slim profile, with very little dubbing ensures the fly is streamlined enough to cut through the water. Two tungsten beads give the the ballast - and on a #14, my preference is for a 2mm and 2.5mm bead slotted together. Note that the second bead is tied on in 'reverse' so that the counter-sunk base sits over the first bead.

The hooks are Partridge YK4G #14


Friday, 17 December 2010

New venue, new dates and a new time of year. I am delighted to have been invited onto Fly Tyer's row again in 2011.

More details here: British Fly Fair International 2011


Saturday, 11 December 2010

I spent the first part of the week at the lower end of the Wye Valley. Take a look at the ice rafts making their way down stream.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Whilst I had to cancel Saturday's planned trip, I have just made some fresh arrangements to get out and tackle the grayling amongst these cold and wintery conditions. Reports soon!

Walking today saw a frozen Chew Valley Lake in all its glory: