Saturday, 28 July 2012

Mend it!

The weather is on the change, and after a good week-long spell of hot, still weather, the forecast is for some rain. Not such a huge problem; hopefully any colour will dissipate quickly and allow us to get on with the fishing. Interestingly, the surface acticity has been limited, but as the humidity started to rise, so did the fish's interest in looking up. As ever, with high temperatures, you're far better off targetting the last couple of hours of light and hanging on until darkness falls.

Once the light goes, the fish will increase in confidence and drop back into the tails of many pools. However, before then, it is essesntial to concentrate on the foam lines and edges of the slack water areas. Often the fish will sit in these low flow areas waiting for their food to be delivered along the foam lines and to congregate in the back eddies. Fish feeding in these lies are often a tricky proposition. Casting across fast water into these slower areas is an invitation for a dragging fly and poor presentation. Therefore it pays to think carefully about how to cast to these fish.

Look at this scenario from the other evening. With very few other rises, a fish feeding in this back eddy was the target.

The arrow shows the direction and position of the main flow. The circle locates the feeding area of the fish. A tricky but perfectly possible fish, but a careful cast is required. You could consider an even more square apprroach, but a very high bank would mean any useful cover was lost. You can see this on the picture below:

Approaching from the high bank would blow your cover

So this calls for a careful aerial mend to be made. This is a movement of the rod tip (and hence the line) that occurs after the rod tip has stopped in the forward cast, respositioning the line. This must be done before the line hits the water. If you were to wait and mend the line on the water, your fly would be dragged out of the feeding zone.

So what movement? Imagine you have made the forward cast: immediately after the  rod tip stops, you simply draw a 'C' shape in the air and your line will follow. The bigger the 'C' shape drawn, the bigger the mend. Worth practising first before you're faced with the situation. See the picture below- the curved line shows the position of the line after the mend has been made. The current will take up the slack, leaving your fly in the killing zone for longer.

The curved line shows the position of the mended fly line

Of course, if you were approaching the same issues from the other bank,the mend can be reversed where required by simple drawing a reversed 'C' shape. 

The result of some thoughtful and careful presentation. Small perhaps, but worth the considerate approach on a tough evening:

Being able to adapt your casts and improve presentation is an essential part of success. Slack line presentations also help and I'll look at more of those in the future.


Thursday, 26 July 2012

A Tactical Approach

Stealth & Presentation: The key factors to be consistently successful and something I endeavour to get over to those that I have the pleasure of teaching and guiding on the river. I was more than a little concerned when, upon meeting up with Mike from Bristol for an evening on the river, I found the water was coloured. Where had that come from?

As we walked from the cars, my fears were somewhat aleviated as I found a small carrier that was the source of the colour. Probably horses kicking the silt upstream. Suffice to say, we were fishing upstream of this little waterway and, thankfully here, it was running clear as expected.

Keeping a low profile and using the bank as cover

Mike had wanted to spend some time looking at casting. However it was really pleasing to find that he was a really sound caster already and, after some small tweaks and explanations, he was presenting the fly really nicely. So there was nothing for it other than to find some fish. With very little surface activity and it still be over 20 degrees at 7pm it was not going to be easy.

Mike, waiting for a fish to show again

Upon finding some interested fish, it was all about crawling into position and watching and waiting before making pin point accurate casts. Mike certainly listened to all the advice and had the best chance of success.

Worth the wait - a successful but tricky downstream presentation
Finding one particular fish feeding regularly, it was tactical approach time. Whilst upstream is often favourable, this lie could only be approached by casting dowstream to it. Ensuring a drag free presentation was not easy but stealth and dogged perseverance paid off. A solid rise and a bent rod is what it's all about.

Unhooking a beautiful, wild fish
Well done Mike - great fishing!

The result of a very tactical approach

River Fly Box - Guided Fishing


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

In search of sea trout last night. Height was perfect, but there was still slight colour to the water which made things tricky. Very few fish moving but I had a few pulls very early on to a 0.5" tube, but otherwise quiet. I did hear a screaming reel though which I gather was a 5lb fresh fish.


Monday, 23 July 2012

BWO (Serratella Ignita)

It's almost as if Summer is here! With the higher temperatures, evenings have been the best approach and I have been visiting the river for just a couple of hours ~ usually starting about 8pm. There is plenty of water in the river (cannot remember when I could last write that!) and it has made for some very interesting fishing. However there has been only sporadic surface activity. Whilst fish can be tempted to the dry, it is spiders that have been working well. Right into the darkness as the Blue Winged Olive Spinner fall really gets going.

A pretty, wild fish taken just into darkness

The Partridge & Orange - doing all the damage at the moment

It is interesting that a sparse hackle seems to be outfishing it 'fuller' brother.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

In search of shelter

The rain has continues to play havic with the rivers and last weekend saw the River Chew still in flood - not only high but very, very coloured. My good buddy Nick was joining me and the plan was to introduce his sister, Hannah, to fly fishing. With the river out of sorts and more rain coming down, our only option was to head for a stillwater - and it turned out to be a great decision.

Hannah's a super fast learner and with the casting basics in the bag, it wasn't long before she was fishing alongside her brother. It was great to see her hook into a fish - well done Hannah! Great result.

Nick and Hannah casting to some rising fish

Hannah draws a lovely fish to the net

Last gasp for freedom as Nick lands a fish

A really enjoyable morning with some tremendous fishing too - well done Hannah.

Nick also put some fish on the bank, and I hope this short video sums the morning's efforts up:

The forecast is suggesting high pressure is moving over the UK towards the end of the week. Fingers crossed for some better weather.


Monday, 9 July 2012

44 years ago - The Great Chew Flood

We have had an inordinate amount of rain this Summer - albeit the rivers have needed it following two consecutive, dry winters. But these usually gentle streams have swollen and the risk of flooded property continues to be very high. Indeed, the forecast is for even more rain as we work our way through this week and into next.

As I walk back from the river after teaching, guiding or when I am fishing for myself (increasingly rare!), my eyes are always drawn to a small plaque situated well above my head, on the side of a house, just a stone's throw from the stream. It marks the height of the river back in 1968 when the River Chew flooded, causing huge damage and loss of life.

The 10th & 11th July 2012 marks 44 years since this devastating flood ripped through the Chew Valley.

As so often is the case with flooding, it was a freak sequence of events that ended up with so much water crashing through these villages, just South of Bristol. With heavy rain leaving the surrounding fields already sodden, an incredible 5 inches of rain falling in just 24 hours was to cause huge destruction. Small tributaries were rapidly filled with near by lakes and reservoirs bursting their banks; the bridges increasingly blocked by the debris being carried along the water. You can only imagine how scary that must have been. Reports were of a 10 foot high, near 'tidal wave' working its way downstream.

Bridges were pulled down with the force of the water and 8 people lost their lives that day, not to mention the countless number of homes ruined.

Our thoughts are with those people who are at risk of flooding at the moment too. It's a tough and rather helpless situation to be in.

Back in March I stayed at the Trout Hotel in Cockermouth for an AAPGAI weekend. In a week when we had unusually high temperatrues and blue skies, this cracking hotel was finally back in business after being hit by the Cockermouth floods in 2009. Another reminder of the devastation such rain fall can cause.

So spare a thought for those having a hard time at the moment with the water & please take extra care during this deluge we are experiencing.


Saturday, 7 July 2012

Time to find the Ark?!

I am not sure I have ever seen a red warning for rain in the South West, but parts of Devon and Cornwall have been on full alert this weekend in preparation for potential heavy rain and likely flooding.

The river Chew, a good 5 feet up on it usual level

Here in Somerset we certainly haven't escaped the rain, and the rivers are belting through, high and very coloured. The smal,l pretty trout streams we are used too have been raging torrents for much of June and it seems July's going much the same way.

Some video of the river today - my quaint trout stream!

James and Linsey were joining me today to learn some fly casting and perhaps find some willing trout. Due to the rain, we were forced to find refuge on a near by stillwater. 
Learning the roll cast
Linsey gets to grips with the overhead cast in less then ideal wind conditions
Synchronised casting!

Whilst the rain poured down steadily, we were graced with the odd reprise from a soaking ~ but my hats off to them both for there perserverance under less then ideal conditions. Well done!

Fingers crossed we have some drier weather over the coming weeks before we are washed off the rivers again. Watch this space!