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Low water trout search

July 23, 2016 at 4:54 pm

It had been over a month since my last visit to the lower end of  my syndicate trout stream, arriving late in the evening in the hope of seeing a few rising fish, following days of hot sunshine.


The sun was setting behind the trees, while the grass was already full of dew, as I walked down to the bottom of the beat, the  invasive giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam competing for bank space and restricting my view of the river.The river it’self had been transformed, with exposed gravel and attractive runs, where previously I had not dared to wade.

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The lack of working parties in the area was apparent, as I waded up through this run, keeping the casts short to avoid snagging, my Black Devil nymph hooking a few small dace, but no trout in the process. Always carrying a set of secateurs, I trimmed my way upstream, taking out several overhanging branches. Next time I will be able to pass the nymph closer to the left hand bank, where I would hope to find a trout.

Moving on down to a tree lined section, I forced my way through the balsam to find a long pool, where several trout had been rising last month to mayfly, but now the surface was clear, despite the surface being patrolled by clouds of flies of several types, even a few mayfly. Getting down into the water, side casts put the nymph into the faster water beneath overhanging branches, the line straightening as a good dace dived away first cast.

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With so few wild trout showing this year, in the gloom beneath the trees, I thought I had one, until ready to net this silver dart. More followed, most takes missed, some smaller dace merely tumbled. As the light faded fish began to rise all over the pool, ignoring the nymph and I reached into my dry fly box for a Deer Hair Sedge. Rubbing floatant grease into the clipped hair body, I cast amid the rises in the run, contacting another dace instantly.

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Several hits later the fly was waterlogged and I tried to tie on a fresh sedge, not realising in my haste, that the eye was blocked by varnish. Frustrating time was wasted failing the get the line through the eye, until a few seconds using the little spike tool attached to my jacket cleared the obstruction and the knot was completed. The rises had stopped, but I cast the fly around beneath the overhanging branches, barely able to see the fly in the surface film. The water boiled and I was in, the rod bending double with a tail flapping trout, that disappeared into the dark water, followed by the leader cutting a V through the surface upstream. The trout passed by several times, it’s white lips the only visible sign, it’s dark body unseen against the black gravel of the bottom, finally drawing the fish down into my awaiting net.

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In perfect condition, this 18 inch stock fish saved the day. Once a back-up to the many wild brown trout found in the river, they now seem to outnumber the natives. Allowed to recover in the net for a few minutes, the brownie was soon swimming free.




Stick float perch boost mixed bag

July 15, 2016 at 11:41 am

With the coarse fishing season already a month old without wetting a line, a day with no heavy showers forecast could not be missed and I called in at the tackle shop on the way to a local river, for a pint of red maggots to accompany the pint of cooked hemp from my freezer. By the time I’d reached the river it was already approaching noon and the sun was high in the sky. Any serious angler would have be packing up by now, but I like my bed too much these days and was already paying the price, finding all the tasty looking swims occupied by barbel anglers, intent on catching these recently stocked battlers.

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Being a long walk from the car park this looked promising, with the flow coming off a bend sweeping across to the bush on my side of the bend. Setting up with a 3 No 4 Middy Ali stemmed stick float on my 14 ft match rod, I pumbed the depth, finding the river went from 2 ft down to 3 ft deep, 5 yards downstream then levelled out. A bit shallower than preferred, but it should hold a few fish.

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A couple of handfuls of hemp were scattered into the deeper water, followed by a pouch of maggots as I made my final preparations, following more maggots with the float. For 15  minutes the float sank on contact with the surface, a layer of small dace and chub snapping up the maggots in seconds, each fish swiftly unhooked and thrown upstream away from the swim.

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Soon I had either caught them all, or fed them off, as the float carried further down the trot before it sank from view. A small perch put a good bend in the rod before it was swung to hand, red maggots spewing from it’s mouth. Time to ease off on the feed.

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It was now a perch a chuck, an underhand cast downstream, the float held back, then allowed to run at the speed of the current, before being held back again. Most takes were on the drop, the float lifting before burying, these perch fighting all the way to the net.

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I kept the hemp going in as I hoped for some roach, but this encouraged the small dace, many just tipping the maggot, dipping the float and often impossible to hit, or lightly hooked, coming off as I swung them in. A few good gudgeon also managed to get to the bait, some real fatties.

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I continued catching at a pace, passing anglers stopping to watch the forgotten art of stick float fishing, before moving on. One visitor sat in behind me, having been told that I was emptying the river. Like all the others fishing, he was after bigger fish on the quiver tip, using hair rigs and meat.

Eventually the bites slowed, not surprising with over twenty perch in the net, the float often carrying to the shallower water and weeds at the far end of the swim, pick up just the odd small chub. At the head of the swim over the hemp, bites were still fussy and I managed to hook a small roach. One of the anglers had given me a couple of slices of fresh white bread, so I got out the bread punches to see if it would make a difference. I’ve sat next to anglers fishing maggots on the canal catching nothing, while I have been taking roach on the punch and it was worth a try. The 5 mm pellet of bread looked too small on the size 14 hook, but the fish didn’t mind, the float sinking out of sight and a better dace swinging in. My visitor was amazed, when the float sank again and a nice roach was pounding around off the end of my rod, needing the landing net.

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The roach were there over the hemp, but not interested in the maggot, only the bread, as the float sank away with another thumping roach, that needed the net again. More bread on and another roach fighting deep. Suddenly there was a green flash and a swirl as a pike took the roach. “Mr Toothy” my visitor said. The line stripped out as I back wound against the strain, the pike running across the river to stop and turn the roach, safe beneath a raft of streamer weed. With 5 lb main line and a 4 lb hook link, I was equipped to cope with big chub, or even a barbel, pressurizing the pike to come out of the weed. Come out it did, cruising upstream, then running down, boiling and turning in the swim. After five minutes it was on it’s side, a pike of  6 to 7 lbs about 30 inches long. The net was out, but one last shake of it’s head saw the line cut on the razor sharp teeth and my float fly back into the tree behind me.

It was over. The float was tangled, the swim ruined by the pike. Resigned to the fact that this could have been a red letter day, I packed up. I would be home early for a change.

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 A satisfying net of fish in a busy two and a half hour’s fishing, despite the abrupt ending.

Brown trout hard won

July 12, 2016 at 2:04 pm

What a difference a day makes. Having enjoyed a couple of hours roaming the banks of an urban river, where the fishing is free for all to fish and losing count of the trout caught, the next day I travelled ten miles west of my home to compare the fishing on my private syndicate trout stream. Like the urban river, the syndicate water has a natural head of wild fish and with good growth rates, plus a policy of catch and release, there has been no need to stock the river, although limited numbers of larger fish are introduced for the members to catch. Last year poor returns and reports of few rising fish were put down to a “bad year”, but this season some members are yet to land a trout.

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Arriving in the early afternoon, the weather was perfect for fly fishing, slightly overcast with a light July wind and I entered the river to fish what was always the best pool on this stretch. Running deep under the bridge, the river here held a head of very large trout and even better chub, which could be seen sipping in flies at any time of the day. Protected by surrounding trees and the bridge, a long cast to these fish was always difficult, but not impossible and for those who succeeded in hooking one, the deal often included a broken line.

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This trout had been the result of one of those long casts beneath the bridge, when a Hares Ear nymph was taken with confidence. Today there were no ripples, or top and tails, just a flat surface undisturbed by fish. With the same rig as yesterday, topped by my Black Devil nymph, I approached slowly toward the tail of the pool, casting to the shallower water and watched a V of raised water speed toward the submerged nymph, culminating in a splashy take, as I lifted a small dace clear of the surface in a shimmer of spray, only for it tall fall back, darting into the pool seconds later.

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Wading deeper, I gradually extended my casts, seeing a few short taps on the leader, but failing to make contact, putting this down to more dace. This shallow end used to be home to juvenile trout, but the dace seem to have taken their place. Although small, at least these trout hung on long enough to hook. Several casts had landed in the target area in the shadow of the bridge, the nymph drifting back unmolested under a slow retrieve, when at last the leader sank, moving upstream. Lifting swiftly, the rod bent into a fish, but after a brief surge it eased, as a small chub came to the surface, which I swung to hand and released. A few more casts and I was done with this pool.

Downstream another banker pool failed to excite and I stopped fishing, making my way down peering over the bank searching in vain for a trout of any size in the clear water. The day before, junior trout had been everywhere on my urban river, with the occasional better fish stationed among the weedbeds. Five years ago, when I joined the syndicate, this had been the case here too, each visit an education rewarded with trout on the bank.

Having failed to attract interest at the confluence of another stream, I began a fruitless search upstream of other hotspots, one such a couple of years ago had yielded eight fish from 6 to 16 inches in fifty yards. Today not a twitch of the leader. It was now late afternoon and the air was filled with various flies, even the odd mayfly straggler, but the surface remained unbroken by trout.

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The pool above looked inviting today and I worked the nymph through all the areas, that had produced in the past, moving slowly upstream as I did. As if in a dream, the line dived to the the right and I was playing a trout. Not big, but hard fighting. I took care not to bully the brownie, although aware of the barbless size 14, keeping up pressure, until it was safely in the net. Phew! So few wild fish have been caught this year, that I felt that I would not be believed without photographic proof.

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The river has suffered with an invasion of signal crayfish and mink. Now the mink have run out of trout to catch and are fatally raiding the crayfish nets in search of food. My own theory of  the demise of this once productive stream, is that slurry from the cattle sheds along it’s upper lengths, have leached out into the water course, during it’s many flooding events recently, causing deoxygenation and the migration of the resident trout to lower reaches. Whatever the causes, the parent club need to get advice and act, before the members vote with their feet.


Urban brown trout fly fishing bonus

July 6, 2016 at 11:32 pm

Getting motivated to fish, then being thwarted by stormy weather, had literally dampened my enthusiasm of late, finding myself with the prospect of a dry afternoon free of chores and no idea where I wanted to go. Standing in my fishing shed hoping for inspiration, my various items of fishing tackle were lined up ahead of me, all needing some sort of preparation, apart from my 7 ft 4WT fly rod. Already made up with my own Black Devil nymph tied on, it stood waiting next to the landing net, my waistcoat and bag hanging on the back of the door. In my mood, it was a no brainer, I was going fly fishing.

In minutes they were in the van and I was heading north to my very urban trout stream, the aim to get there and parked before the schools turned out, then to leave before the evening rush hour got under way. Enroute,  a road traffic accident blocked the road and police were instructing all drivers to turn round, a wide detour eating into fishing time and allowing the car parking spot to be full of waiting mums. I drove on upstream towards an industrial estate, squeezing the van into a gap close to the river, where it runs out between the factories.

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Abandoning my waders, I gathered up my gear and walked along the road upstream to the next open stretch, where trout were visibly feeding on nymphs in the clean gravel runs. Beneath a tree, two large fish were actively searching out food items, but I failed to get my offering anywhere near them, finally approaching too close, only to see the 2 lb trout melt back into the leaf shrouded gloom.

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Between weed beds a good trout was stationed and I measured out a long cast ahead of it, watching the Black Devil drift by the fish, which turned to chase it, the white lips opening, then closing on the buzzer imitation, setting the hook with a swift lift of the rod. A zig-zagging fight was soon brought under control and the netted fish placed on the bank under the nose of an inquisitive dog, it’s owners unaware that these shallow waters held such trout.

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Measured at 13 inches, this wild brownie was soon swimming free and I continued upstream bumping a few more 6 inch trout, the Black Devil working well, the copper rib sinking the nymph quickly, while it was held above the bottom by the line greased to a foot above it.

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The next fish took unseen, the line jerking forward, the strike revealing a flash of gold, before the trout dived deep into weed. Slack line fooled the hard fighting brown trout back into the open and an upstream run, that ended back at my feet and the net.

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With the Black Devil just holding in the bottom lip, I was lucky to get this fin perfect fish out of the weeds, the fight belying it’s size.

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These images bring a picture of a rural idle, but a busy main road runs feet from the bankside and casts have to be timed between passing cars. In this short stretch alone, I landed at least six more small brown trout, while tumbling others, my decision to come proving correct, but with the amount of traffic on the road increasing, I had to call a halt at 5 pm, my last trout being a plump 8 inch fish.

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Storming brown trout

June 18, 2016 at 7:59 pm

The mixed up weather conditions conspired to keep me away from the river bank this week, heavy showers and thunder storms coming out of nowhere, whenever my fly fishing gear was in the van. The roads were still running with rain water from the latest offering from the gods, when I set out from home at about 7 pm. Beyond the black clouds, a gold line of clear sky was showing through and I drove west toward it, in the direction of my syndicate trout river.

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I had no idea of the state of the river following the downpours and was prepared to turn round, then head back home, if it was flooded, but apart from an increased pace, it was running clear. Welcomed by bleating sheep, I walked the 600 yards to my preferred stop, where the river forms an S bend as it drops over a ford. This has been a happy hunting ground for me in the past, where fish can be seen dashing back from the shallows into the deep pool above. This evening there were no signs of fish, despite hatches of blue winged olives climbing free of the surface and the occasional mayfly.

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The river was as still as a mill pond, undisturbed by rising fish and I cast a small Black Klinkhammer further and further up the pool with no response. I repeated the process, this time with a Flashback GRHE drifted back, with the leader greased to within two feet of the nymph. Not a twitch. There is something wrong with the river this season, dace and small trout are usually the curse of this pool, but 30 minutes of trying produced a blank.

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Gathering up my gear, I continued my way downstream, flicking the nymph up into every likely run. Again not a twitch of the line to show the slightest sign of interest from a trout, or any tell-tale rises on the surface. A drift along the side of a tree on my bank was routine, casting more in habit than expectation, when a buzz of the leader was followed by an underwater bulge. The trap was sprung and my rod lifted to feel the full weight of a very good fish, which powered off upstream, scything through trailing branches in it’s path and I lowered my rod tip to the surface to avoid being snagged. I did what I could to slow this charging fish, a silvery flash making me think it was an escapee rainbow from upstream, the manic tumbling convincing me that the fight would soon be over in favour of the trout. The hook held and the trout turned back, the now revealed brownie running past my outstretched net to the dark water below me. A surface roll demonstrated weakness and I put pressure on to pull the two pound trout over my net, lifting it clear in one swoop.

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This well conditioned 18 inch brownie, with just a hint of gold on it’s flanks, had been hooked in the nose, the barbless nymph falling free in the net. When checking this against my images of others caught this year, I’d landed this one a few weeks ago a hundred yards upstream, no doubt dropping back to what it thought a safe home. I continued downstream to the end of the beat, then turned and made my way back up without another touch, the brief encounter worth the effort as the storm clouds gathered once more.

Latimer Park Fishery Rainbow Reward

June 10, 2016 at 9:45 am

Knowing of my hard time trying to extract trout from the syndicate trout river, life long friend Peter, invited me to fish with him on a guest ticket at his exclusive trout fishery,  Latimer Park, this week. The crystal clear river Chess was dammed in the 1750’s to power a mill owned by the Cavendish family, who built the original mansion at the top of the hill, but today all that remain are two lakes, the upper Great Water and Lower Water, both stocked with rainbows. Atop the hill is now the mock Tudor hall built in the 1800’s with views along the Latimer Valley sculptured in typical Capability Brown style.

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Arriving after 10 am, the car park was almost full and Peter was apprehensive, that the fishing would not live up to my expectations, but the further we walked along the bank chatting to the regulars, the more optimistic he became. Despite the sun beating down from a cloudless sky, reports were positive and we crossed the upper weir to an empty bank, setting up between two trees.

On our side, the wind was blowing from left to right, ideal for a pair of righthanders and we were soon casting to the edge of surface weed, where we could see moving fish. Peter was first in, only to lose it seconds later, next cast it happened again. With my leader greased to within a foot of the Gold Ribbed Hares Ear, I watched a rainbow approach the nymph, it’s gill covers move, then it’s head move, as it sucked in the artificial. Before the line moved, I struck and felt the weight of a good rainbow, that charged off towards the upper weir. I’d forgotten how powerful these rainbows are in this shallow lake and used the palm of my hand to slow several runs that this first fish made.

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Under club rules this 19 inch fish was killed, the 3 rd and last can also be taken, but fish mongering was not the aim today, although catching fish was. A longer cast meant watching the leader and a twitch of the line met the solid hit of a strike, with another rainbow boiling on the surface, before running off. Now Peter was into a good rainbow, keeping this one on the hook all the way to the net. My fish took longer to land, being a deep fish of at least 3 lb and 21 inches long.

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After this one was returned, I reached for an iced drink in my bag, the sun was blazing down causing me to overheat and stripped down a T shirt, before continuing. It wasn’t long before the leader moved again and the rod was bent double countering run after run. Each time the net came out, the rainbow made off at warp speed in the opposite direction, but the barbless hook held, the Hares Ear firmly wedged in the scissors of it’s jaw.

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Even deeper and 20 inches long, this rainbow never stopped giving it’s best, propelled by a full tail, speeding off like a torpedo, when returned. A surface scum had begun to drift down wind and the takes had dried up, so we picked up our baggage and moved further down the bank, where the lake widens out, giving more open water on our side. Line twitches indicated more takes, but we failed to hit most, a smaller rainbow being my last on the bank.

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The shadow of my camera hands, shows how intense the sun was beating down and after this fourth rainbow was returned, we packed up, making the long walk back to the clubhouse. Pete had banked three fish and dropped several, giving plenty of sport in two hours of fishing, being pleased that I had enjoyed my day in this leafy part of England.

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A small rise brings a big surprise

June 4, 2016 at 10:25 am

A couple of days of heavy rain had coloured up my syndicate trout river this week and I didn’t know what to expect, when I parked up at the bottom end of the fishery this week. From the road bridge, the water had a hint of colour, but mayfly were lifting off, although unusually no fish were rising above, or below the bridge.

I opted to fish upstream and climbing the stile was met by a wall of freshly grown ferns, stinging nettles and young Himalayan Balsam, all untroubled by human feet.

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Wading my way through this chest high undergrowth, the tree lined bank opened up to reveal a short clearing, where I stopped to study the surface. Mayfly were coming off in a steady stream, while grannoms and other flies skittered over the surface, all the ingredients for the river to come alive with rising fish, be it dace, chub, or trout, but nothing stirred. There was a strong north, upstream wind blowing, rippling the surface and beneath a bush, I thought I saw a rise in the surface disturbance. Waiting and watching for a few minutes, the ghostly image of a good trout appeared for a second to top and tail then disappeared again in the ripple.

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I guessed that this fish was feeding on mayfly nymphs, ignoring the flies drifting by on the surface, but decided to try some casts with my attached elk hair emerger, the wind aiding a soft landing each time. Third cast the fly landed to drift a foot, then submerge in a tiny ring. An instinctive lift of the rod connected with solid resistance and the trout launched it’self in a vertical jump, to fall back with a crash that sent it speeding upstream round the corner out of sight, but not sound, as it tumbled over the surface in the shallower water. Pushing the rod out over the river, I stripped back line, bringing the boiling trout back into view, watching it turn to run down the opposite bank. Thinking that I had it beat, I tightened the line with the landing net ready, only for the brownie to rush away upstream, with me following in pursuit. One last lunge for the corner bush sapped the two pounder’s reserves and it casually swam into my lowered net, the fly firmly set in the tip of it’s nose coming free once the pressure was off.

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A strong well proportion trout, more silver than brown, this fish was content to sit in my net facing upstream for ten minutes before swimming free.

I continued to explore this overgrown half mile of fishery, which is neglected by the governing club, making my way to a copse, where I had cut a path through on my own private working party during the winter months. Then a tree lopping exercise along the bank had exposed a fishable few yards and was please to see that it had survived the early summer growth.

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A perfect ending to this tale would have been another trout on the bank, but despite ringing the changes with dry fly and nymphs, the evening ended without another offer and a question mark over the shortage of fish.

Big trout mayfly bonus

May 29, 2016 at 9:47 am

Floods and stormy weather had kept me away from my syndicate trout river at a time when it should have been at it’s best, but after a few warm days, I was ready to brave the Friday evening rush hour traffic in the hope of a few hours fishing the mayfly.

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Since my last visit the bankside vegetation was now in full bloom and mayfly were lifting off in droves, although very few fish were rising to them. I stood and watched a pair of black-headed gulls swooping down to the surface picking off the protein rich insects, a sight that I’ve not witnessed before. In the distance a cuckoo was calling.

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Tying on a parachute hackled bodied mayfly, which I liberally greased with floatant, I went in search of rising fish, that were accessible to my casts. This part of the fishery does not enjoy the benefit of working parties and every impenetrable section of  bank seemed to have a large trout swiping with abandon at the mayfly among the overhanging branches.

I’d walked half a mile downstream before I had half a chance of a cast, where a fish was rising up inside a tunnel of trees, dashing around taking multiple flies, as they drifted down to toward it’s holt. Picking my way along the high bank, I was eventually in casting range, extending my landing net in anticipation, while I waited for another burst of action.

Splosh! The action began again as more mayfly climbed out into the surface film, to be gobbled down before they could stretch their wings. Aided by an upstream wind, I measured my false casts to the side of the fish, then aimed for the centre of the commotion. The fly was slashed beneath the surface, the trout’s tail flicking to carry it to the next victim. The strike saw an eruption of the surface, followed by head shaking rolls as it scorched off down stream, taking line and bending my little seven foot rod to the limit. Having lost my previous three fish from the river this season in these opening seconds, I was relieved when the brownie turned and dived deep, setting the hook firmly in the jaw, being only a matter of time before it would be beaten. I was in no rush, the landing net just reaching as I drew the trout over it.

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Already fat from feasting on nature’s short lived mayfly bounty, this 18 inch fish was soon returned in my landing net facing upstream, swimming out after a ten minute wait to recover it’s strength.

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As I continued downstream, I could hear more crashing takes among the trees and pushed my way through to the bank to see another trout attacking the mayfly as they drifted from under a branch. Gradually extending my casts, my fly was constantly ignored, the trout taking the genuine article only inches away each time. Taking a chance, I pushed the fly to the base of the branch, it settled, then was engulfed in a swirl, that exploded when the hook found bone. Not giving the trout time to dive to safety of it’s lair, I dragged it back on the surface, causing it to tail walk, before crash diving into the open water. Once again my 4 weight rod bent double taking the shocks, as another big brownie sought out sanctuary among the the roots, firm pressure bringing it back to the surface and the net.

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This trout measured 19 inches and fought like a demon despite despite obvious damage caused by a heron. Once released after recovering in my net, it headed back upstream to sulk beneath the safety of the overhang.

I continued down to the end of the beat, watching other trout mopping up their free harvest of mayfly, but unable to cast a line, waders and definitely a pole saw would have helped, but it was good to see fish rising in a river that appeared barren a few cold weeks ago.

Urban brown trout save the day

May 13, 2016 at 8:09 pm

So far this year, my river trout fishing season has been a near nonevent with visits lucky to see a take, let alone hook a trout, the sum total for at least half a dozen outings on three different waters, being three fish lost. The cold snap, that came with the first weeks of official summertime saw low water temperatures and little fly life. The rivers looked perfect, but nothing was moving.

In the last week the wind changed round from the cold north to the south, with a double digit increase in temperatures bringing out shorts and T shirts from the draw, while the air was suddenly full of flying insects. With a three day ticket and unable to fish my nearby syndicate river until Thursday, I hoped to finally christen my new rod and reel, but then the rains came, then came again, causing flash flooding that changed the clear waters to muddy chocolate. Thursday was full of warm sunshine and determined to fish, I took on the task of crossing evening flows of traffic exiting London, to get to an urban river that is rarely affected by floods, although I had my doubts, when I saw the river Thames rushing by in spate, during my hour long journey.

The chalk stream, once power for many mills and factories along it’s route, looked clear as I drove over it to park among the houses, seeing a wading angler already fishing downstream.

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I usually start downstream and walk up, but without wanting to intrude on the other fly fisher, my only option was the fifty yards above the bridge. Stopping to look upstream, the surface was covered by zigzagging grannoms, while here and there mayfly were lifting off, although nothing was rising to them. Looking down to the clean gravel, trout are often visible, but there were none on show in the evening light. At this point I realised that my trout bag clear out the other day had not resulted in the return of my polaroids.

Tying on a size 16 mini gold head, gold ribbed Hares Ear, I began searching out the runs between the early weed growth, casting up and across, watching the greased leader as it drifted back with the rapid flow. The line sped upstream and I lifted the rod to see the grey outline of a trout appear like magic above the gravel bed, as the hook took hold, then a flash of gold, when it turned to rush downstream. So far this year, this has been the time when the barbless hook has come free, but it stayed firm, putting a satisfying bend in my 7 ft 4 WT rod. The run was stopped, then turned, the brown running back upstream past me, before drifting back to the net.

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Signs of a late spring, this wild brown was very lean, the 13 inch fish full of fight, but well down on weigh for May, the tiny gold head nymph firmly set in the scissors of it’s jaw. Returned immediately after this pic, it was held facing upstream until it kicked away to freedom.

The nymph soon struck gold again, with a 9 inch brown running away upstream, fighting well beyond it’s weight. Unhooked, I held it up for another pic, only for it to flip back into the stream to be gone from sight. Twenty minutes into the session and I’d already had two trout, restoring the faith in my ability. Moving further upstream, a laurel bush grows out across the river, acting as an upstream barrier and a safe haven for larger fish. Making casts to the base of the bush, the leader zipped forward and I was playing another good trout, which boiled on the surface, then thankfully got it’s head down, pulling hard upstream to the bush, before giving up to run in the opposite direction, eventually bringing the wildie onto it’s side and the net.

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At 12 inches , this was another thin trout in need of a few mayfly hatches to pack on some weight. I’d been on the water for half an hour and had covered my stretch; the other angler had gone, having worked up to the bridge, so walked back downstream two hundred yards to where the river passes under another road bridge and out of sight behind houses. The sun was already hidden by the trees as I fished upstream, the light not penetrating the river, not ideal for the nymph. There were no more takes, possibly the wading angler had put them all down.

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As I walked, mayfly began to lift off, skating free of the surface and trout began to rise all over the river. I had no mayflies with me, not expecting a hatch until later in the month and looked for something bushy with a wing, finding a size 12 Deer Hair Sedge. The light was going fast and the trout were rising, a combination to make the tying on of the Sedge a matter of  “more haste, less speed” as the line refused to enter the eye, then once successfully passed through, the line had a mind of it’s own forming the knot.

The trout waited, many jumping clear of the water in a desperate bid to gorge themselves before the hatch finished. I made a cast to the general area of splashes, the fly disappeared in a swirl and contact, a trout was on, cartwheeling across the surface toward the bank. I swung it in, the four ounce brown sliding through my fingers, rustling through the bankside stinging nettles, before falling back with a plop. A few false casts and the fly landed again, the wind dragging the line, a better fish taking as I lifted off, which fought unseen by me, applying pressure to bring it to the surface, it’s splashes guiding my net. A more plump brownie hooked in the nose, which was lowered back to the water in my net to swim free. The light was fading and my picture was blurred, but I’ve posted it anyway.

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I had broken my duck with some exciting fishing and the new rod had performed as I’d hoped. Next visit will include polaroids and a box of mayflies.


Crucian and common carp fishing in the rain

May 12, 2016 at 10:38 am

My shooting and fishing plans were put on hold this week, with the arrival of warm winds carrying thundery showers, that saw me trapped in the house, scraping round doing unnecessary jobs, much to the satisfaction of my wife, who resurrected a long lost list of chores. Eventually these were done and I moved on to cleaning my rifles, then sorting out my fly fishing bag. Attempts to work in the garden were thwarted by fresh showers every time the sun broke through. I found myself reciting a nursery rhyme of my childhood “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day” a chant that my siblings and I would make, while pressed against a misted up window, as the rain lashed down.  By 4 pm today, only a slight drizzle was coming down and donning my waterproofs, headed out on foot to my local pond a quarter of  a mile away.

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True to form, by the time I reached the pond, a fresh dark cloud had begun disgorging heavy droplets, but by now I was beyond caring and went about duties, setting up a pole in the hope of a few carp before the day was out. Mixing up some ground bait of coarse bread crumbs, laced with hempseed, dusted by ground carp pellets, the lot was balled in along a line 7 metres out.

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The surface erupted as rudd attacked the feed, the lightly squeezed balls spreading out on the bottom an investment for later. With sweet corn as hook bait, I scattered a dozen grains over the area, then returned to setting out my stall with everything to hand, with no need to leave the comfort of the tackle box. The final job was to attach the float rig, a cut down canal grey waggler float to a size 14 barbless hook.

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Within seconds of the sweetcorn hitting the surface, the float sailed away and I lifted into the first fish of the afternoon, a four ounce rudd.

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Rudd followed rudd in quick succession, aided by the rain, which lubricated the pole as it was shipped  back and forth, the brightly coloured fish beginning to fill the net. There was no let up in the action, the only variation being a nice roach that managed to get to the front of the queue.

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It was 90 minutes into the session at 6:30, that bubbles began to erupt from the fed area, as the long awaited carp moved in, pushing out the rudd. Like a switch being pulled, the bites changed from zoom aways, to gentle dips of the float, sometimes the tip seeming to vibrate, before it slowly moved away and down.

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A small common was the first in the net, it’s bite so like a crucian, the elastic coming out of the pole, as it ran for cover. The next bite was definitely a crucian, the juddering fight a dead giveaway.

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Having cursed the constant showers, the sun now appeared below the clouds as it sank in the sky, it’s glow on the surface blinding me to the delicate actions of the float tip, forcing me to fish either side of the glare, taking me away from the shoal of crucians, but to the attention of the common carp.

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The bites were slower, but more predictable, taps and lifts developing into unmissable slide aways. The sweet corn was still doing it’s job, the size of grain no guide to the size of fish, the biggest common of the evening falling for a tiny piece.

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This fatty took the elastic out to full stretch in an attempt to reach the safety of  a bed of lilies, but the hook held. The carp kept coming right up to my allotted cut off time of 8 pm. I could have gone on catching, but my wife had a home cooked shepherds pie waiting for me, the rumbles that I could hear being my stomach not thunder. The rain had been warm, everything was wet, but the session had proved productive, well worth a soaking.

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The carp crowded out at the many rudd in this net, just under 14 lb of fish proof of a busy, but rewarding three hours.