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Urban river trout rise to the mayfly at last.

June 11, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Less than two weeks had passed since my last visit to the urban chalk stream, where unknown to many, wild trout flourish as the river winds through housing and industrial estates, offering free fishing to those willing to search out access to the water. My target this day was a short fifty yard stretch, surrounded by impenetrable trees on either side and accessed down the side of a bridge. Upstream the trees meet in the middle forming an arch, but once through the arch, like a secret garden, a long pool is revealed, before being shrouded by more trees. This has been my special place for years and has provided hours of sport from some of the most colourful trout in the river. Instead of gravel, the bottom is covered with broken bricks from a building that once stood on it’s banks and the trout have taken on a dark colouring to match the bricks. This is now history. I arrived to find a building site where the trees had been, only stumps remained among the rocks, a fence now preventing entry to the leveled ground and the river running along a naked bulldozed bank.

I was saving my visit, until the mayfly were hatching and had been cherishing the thought of catching naive trout on the dry fly. The next option was plan B, a return to the roadside along the bus route, where I knew others fished and the trout are not so forgiving. Intending to fish the overgrown secret pool, I’d only brought my seven foot brook rod, but this would now allow me to fish a few tree covered pools, unfishable with my 9 footer.

Mayfly were beginning to lift off as I waded up the clear shallows and I could see trout were already rising to them further up, where trees hide the river from the busy road just yards away. A deep pool runs alongside a lone far bank bush and I could see a good brown just below the surface, moving from side to side intercepting mayflies as they drifted down. My first cast went wide of the bush and I waited for the fly to get downstream of the trout before lifting, when splosh, a smaller fish took, taking me by surprise and hooking it’self. Although only a few ounces, it scrapped all over the river before coming to hand. The big one was still there and I could clearly see the spots standing out on it’s back, when I made a better cast, the wind helping my Shadow Mayfly to drop gently onto the surface. A movement of  it’s fins and the trout swung across and engulfed the fly. I struck and the trout launched vertically out of the river, falling back in a cartwheel motion, then zig zagging upstream  across the shallows, my reel screaming on the rachet, before diving for cover beneath a willow. My line was near the backing and I followed upstream trying to recover line, allowing the trout to wear it’self down, pulling against me and the current. The line went slack and I thought I’d lost it, but the line was doing a U-turn, following the speeding brown. I stripped line as it turned again and made firm contact, bringing the fish downstream under my terms, back to where my landing net was propped against the bank. A five, or six minute fight, who knows, it seemed to go on forever. Scooped up in the net, I made for the bank to remove the fly and take a picture, this being a silver bronze fish with huge spots of at least a pound, grown fat on mayfly.

Unfortunately this picture does not do the brownie justice, it’s red spots almost invisible from this angle, the light bouncing back off it’s silvery flanks. I could have stared at this wild fish all afternoon, but soon returned it and worked my way upstream hooking, or missing several other fast risers in the shallow pockets, before reaching  the willow pool, where I saw a the broad back of a trout of major proportions. No wonder my fish had come back out so quickly, he’d probably got a nip from this one. I tried several times to side cast beneath the willow fronds, to where this possible three pounder was lying slurping in mayflies, only succeeding in catching my fly. Being a cheapskate, I waded forward to get my fly, trying to keep low, but a bow wave heading upstream meant the fish was long gone. So was my fly. Beyond this point the trees make casting very difficult and I decided to get out of the river to fish above a concrete bridge.

Rejoining the river at the bus stop, there was sporadic rising, despite a steady supply of mayfly, just the occasional trout feeding for a few minutes, then stopping, only for other fish to start. My 4 lb tippet and fly renewed, I sat on the bank waiting for rises, sneaking within casting range, sometimes with no response, some with a miss and a couple with six and eight ounce browns that had no problems jamming the Shadow Mayfly in their mouths.

With the afternoon turning to evening, I began walking back down the river, eager to get on my way before the hordes headed home from work, but stopped when a swirl deep behind an overhanging tree indicated a better sized fish. Another swirl and a bow wave made me unclip my fly and have a go, this trout having dropped down from it’s safe position to begin feeding.

Being close to the road, I needed to time my cast to avoid passing cars and cyclists, a gap came and the cast fell short, another few feet and the fly bounced of a leaf , dropping into the sweet spot beneath the bank. A bow wave, a nose and the fly was gone. I knew the fish would be there when I lifted the rod, a splash and foaming water proving the point as I set the hook, followed by an upstream dash at high speed. These wild fish have so much muscle and power in their tails. The fight went from side to side, under banks of weed, along both banks, then finally downstream, where it arced back to my bank, it’s head came out and I netted it. The hook came out in the net and I worked hard to take a photo, when it wasn’t jumping about. Again the camera did not do this fish justice, this brown being almost as wide as it was deep.

As I was releasing this jewel of the river, a cyclist stopped saying that he was amazed to see this fish and asked if there were others like it. I just replied”Lots” and watched the spots blend in with the bottom and vanish.

Dog day afternoon start to Duffer’s Fortnight.

June 7, 2013 at 1:47 pm

A short evening visit to my syndicate river last week, saw more trout rising to the fly and more mayfly present, though ignored by most fish, the browns preferring to mop up waves of the smaller olives. Highlight of that evening was a fish rising hard under the bank foliage, which sipped in my Klinkhammer with barely a ripple, only to erupt into life  on the stike, the low sun on the water blinding me to the whereabouts of this large fish, as it dashed round the deep, root lined pool. I’d already extended my net to cope with the high bank and soon had this 17 inch stockie in my hands.

There were several bursts of activity typical of olive hatches, again mayflies were being ignored and I took wild browns up to 12 inches on the Klinkhammer from between the trees, the water was like glass, as the sun set.

Mayflies were settling on my van, as I pulled on my waders a few days later, the midday sun already 10 degrees centigrade higher than then, typical of English weather, giving the promise of free rising trout to the mayfly. Duffer’s Fortnight being the usual duration of the mayfly hatch, when even the most wary trout throw caution to the wind, to gorge on these large protein rich flies, giving fly fishermen a chance to catch the biggest fish in the water. The duffers are not the anglers, who still have to present their mayfly imitations among a constant supply of the real thing, but the trout slurping down two or three a minute in a feeding frenzy.

Once again my optimism was tested, as I looked upstream from the road bridge at the lower end of the fishery, to see mayfly drifting around in the breeze, but no rises to those lifting off the water. Emerging from the trees and walking along the meandering banks, the full heat of the sun now blasted down on the fields, which a few months ago had been covered by flood water.

Polaroids on, no fish were visible in the first five hundred yards, but a plop and a spreading ring on the water from under a tunnel of trees, was the first sign of a feeding trout. To get a chance at this fish, I continued upstream to a clearing, waded across, then hugging the bank, made my way down to to a bend, where a large tree formed an eddy, the trout stationed against the bank sucking in flies as they drifted in range. A normal cast was impossible, so I made several roll casts, until my upbodied mayfly landed just right and disappeared, leaving a bubble on the surface. I pulled into solid resistance, the river boiled and a very determined trout rushed out of the pool and made off downstream round the bend, where rooting along the bank, it snagged me and the leader snapped. Twenty minutes to present the fly and the fight over in seconds! Another fish had begun rising yards upstream, so a new length of 4 lb line was tied on along with my last remaining upbodied may fly and cast to this trout, which obliged with a slow take. I pulled out of it’s jaws and the fly pinged back and snagged in a tree out of reach. Snap! My two upbodied mayflies, bought in Colorado last year, gone in five minutes.

The afternoon was not going well and the sun was even hotter, when I climbed out of the river to continue my search for rising trout. Another few hundred yards on, I reached another small pool, where two trout were rising and taking mayflies from behind a bush. I got back in the river and waded up the shallows and managed to raise both fish to my Shadow Mayfly, twice each, without making contact. This pool is very deep, so continued up along the bank again, wondering if I would actually net a fish that afternoon, stopping at footbridge, where tell tale rings showed mayfly were now on the menu of several fish. My fly floated down to the surface, a dark shape slowly rose to take it, turned and I struck, the brief fight telling me that this was not a trout, but a chub and I swung in the red finned coarse fish. This released I cast again, same result, another chub about six ounces.

Above the bridge I could see a large fish was now feeding with abandon on mayflies and I approached low from the bank to see the swirling takes behind a bush on the other side. Getting as close as I could, this was not an easy cast with reeds on my side of the river and the bush to lose my fly in on the other, but the sight of a full, spotted tail each time the fish rose, spurred me on and my fly was snatched down seconds after touching the surface. After the initial battle was over, I had to find a way to net this big stockie, getting into the water off the steep bank was not on, with deep mud from the reed bed at it’s base. The only option was to play the brown to a standstill and steer it through the reeds to my extended net.

This well conditioned, overwintered stock fish measured 18 inches and needed ten minutes held upstream in the well oxygenated shallows to recover and certainly brought a sweat to my brow during the fight. I’d now broken my duck  and continued upstream, but saw no more rises, until I reached a tree shrouded pool, getting down into the cool, shaded river, where a pair of trout were rising line astern between the trees. The first took and fought well, netting a 12 inch silvery wild brown. This released, I tried for the other rising fish and was soon playing a very strong trout that stayed deep in the pool, being much smaller than the first impression given, another silver wild brown at 14 inches.

I now moved up to where I’d finished up a few days before and had caught a small 6 oz wildie, when my mobile rang, my wife curious to know when I would be home for our evening meal, this being a reminder that it was time to make my way back downstream. I passed numerous rising trout on my way back, the hot afternoon bringing clouds of mayfly spiraling into the air, but I managed to walk on by, until another big tail broke the surface below a bush on my side. My mayfly was again on the water and soon deep in the jaw of a spectacular stockie, bending my seven foot rod to the butt, as it made repeated dives, refusing to be beaten, but giving and taking line, I netted him from the high bank.

An inch shorter at 17 inches this heavily marked brown fought harder than the first, a just reward for persevering in the heat of the day and as I climbed back to the road, the river was echoing to the sound of rising trout taking mayfly. It could all be over by tomorrow.

Small river trout rise to the occasion.

June 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm

The storms of last week gave way to two days of heavy rain and I was tempted not to bother taking the ten mile drive to my syndicate water, but the river was only up a few inches, with a tinge of colour back in the water, when I arrived for an afternoon session.

The bank side foliage was still wet from a recent shower and like the trees, was putting on a growing spurt to catch up on what had been declared as the coldest spring for 50 years. Now the norm, there were no apparent fish rising and I decided to begin fishing with my Black Devil nymph in a streamy run, working it along the edges, taking a small wild fish straight away.

Searching out the deeper water under the bank, the Black Devil had accounted for another couple of wild browns, when fish began rising to an olive hatch in the pool above. Off came the nymph and on went a ribbed Klinkhammer, taking more small browns in quick succession, as I waded up between overhanging trees. The Klinkhammer was now waterlogged and I tied on one of my winter creations, a Deer Hair Emerger, which was taken by a much better trout, that ran me round the pool, before coming to the net.

A splash alerted me to some large fish rising in the deep pool upstream and I made my way along the bank for a better look. Two fish were making swirling bulges, as they searched out nymphs, ignoring mayflies that drifted down on the surface. I slid down to the water’s edge, thankful that the greenery had grown a foot since my last visit and keeping low made a cast to the furthest fish, watching it stand on it’s tail, turning over as it took the emerger. A side strike and the placid stream erupted as the hook went home. This was a good fully finned stockie and my 7 ft rod now came into it’s own absorbing the shocks from this hard charging trout as it ran the length of the pool and back again. Giving line when needed, the runs got shorter, until I was able to slide him over the net.

While I waited for this 16 inch fish to recover in the shallows and swim off, rain began falling again, signalling the end of the rise and I walked back down river,  hearing a splash among the trees from a good fish. Now out of the shower, I waded up to the pool, but no more rises gave the fish away and I flicked the emerger under the overhanging branches, searching among the roots, until a take and an airborne trout began the hardest fight of the afternoon, as it frantically searched out every root and hollow, snagging me once, slack line fooling it to come out of hiding and into my net.

Smaller than the stockie at 14 inches, what it lacked in weight, this wild brownie made up for in speed, having plenty of go left to immediately swim off  back to the pool on release. The shower soon passed and the rises switched on again for another twenty minutes bringing more wild browns between 8 and 12 inches, then turned off, as the grey skies began to empty their contents, sending me home to join the rush hour traffic.

All seasons in one day, keep the trout at bay.

May 29, 2013 at 3:40 pm

There is an Olde English saying “Ne’er cast a clout, til May be out” referring to the uncertain English climate and not removing warm clothing, until the May flowers are out on the hawthorn trees. Well, they were out in force, as I approached the river this week, but the single figure temperature from the strong north wind and the rapidly darkening sky, said something different.

Unlike last week’s warm spell, there were no airborne flies and the river was running fast with a tinge more colour, but I decided to give my size 16 Black Klinkhammer a try at a tree shrouded pool, hoping to avoid the gusting wind. Wading up from the shallows,  my first cast latched into a small brown from the tail of the pool, which was released without fuss. A cast further up resulted in a splashy take and a similar sized 4 oz trout. The wind was really difficult, swirling around the pool and I snagged my fly a few times in the branches, before I succeeded in dropping it in behind an overhang, where I didn’t see a take in the ripple, but saw the surface flatten with a boil and my leader disappearing into it. I lifted into a very large fish, which dived to the depths of the pool and came off. Thinking I’d been broken, I checked for the fly and found the the hook had opened out, maybe the fish, but more likely the last tree I’d pulled out of.

The Klinkhammer was now waterlogged and decided to try shock tactics with a size 12 Yellow Humpy further downstream, prospecting the big buoyant fly in all the likely places without an offer. Walking across the meadow, the wind was getting up and black clouds were approaching fast and I decided the next pool would be my last try of the day. Like the others, there were no signs of rising fish and this pool was more exposed to the gusts,with the fly dragging across the surface. When the Mayfly are being taken, this will often bring up a trout, but not today. A quick change of tactics saw my Black Devil nymph tied on and shortly after, I responded to a slow 4 inch draw of the leader, to find a hard fighting wild fish on the end.

Having released this little brown to dart back into the pool, I could see black streaks advancing across the fields from the clouds above and decided to get back to the van before the shower hit. With three hundred yards to go, big hail stones began to fall, getting one straight down the neck for my trouble.

This was enough for me and the hail was turning to heavy rain by the time I reached the van.

Reaching the comfort of the van, I considered sitting it out, but with freezing hands and fresh hail pounding on the roof, I decided home was the best option, only to be greeted by bright sunshine on my arrival.

CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR meets a rabbit explosion

May 23, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Snow had driven me from my hill top permission on the edge of the Chiltern Hills in March and I hadn’t been back, until  the landowner called me, saying that he hadn’t seen so many rabbits there since before I’d started to shoot over it.

The land has a dividing fence, being used for fattening cattle and for his very large bull to cover the young heifers, these being in the right hand field on my first visit this week. This is my preferred side, as it slopes down to a valley and is relatively flat, but with the bull, young heifers and a few cows with calves present, there was no way I would be climbing that gate.

The other side slopes to the north and is subject to strong winds, which can blow the lightweight HMR bullets off target, while the land has undulations and pockets, where rabbits can feed unobserved, it being difficult to get into a good stake out position for shooting off the bipod. In other words, it’s hard work, usually covering a lot of ground on foot for just a few rabbits. This proved to be the case and I winged to the landowner back at the yard, about the bull being on my preferred bit of land. This amused him, saying the bull was a” big pussy cat” in his soft Irish brogue, but he would move them, if I wanted to return the following day.

Good to his word, the cattle were munching on fresh grass, when I arrived, leaving me free to take up my stake out position overlooking 300 yards of hedge line to the lane in the valley below. Being dull and overcast, the only wind was from behind, ideal conditions for the HMR, which will shoot with only about an inch drop out to 120 yards and if set half an inch high at 100, extends the killing zone further without hold over.

Young rabbits were everywhere, many ignoring the circular approach to my firing position. A buck sprang from cover and made a bee line to the hedge and stopping at the fence a 100 yards away. I dropped to the ground and zeroed in, as he stepped through the fence and paused again, a second too long, as the .17 bullet struck the back of  his head. Number one in the bag. Reaching my raised firing position, I settled down and made myself comfortable, this long range sniping being about relaxed breathing and a steady pull on the trigger, the twelve times magnification of the scope bringing the operation to clinical proportions. There were plenty of young adults about, but the fully grown does were my target, as they are all in kit this time of year, there production line of young, evident in front of me. The first two appeared from the brambles lining the field after fifteen minutes and I waited for a side on shot before dropping the first without a kick. The other doe barely looked up, the bolt shifted another bullet in place and the second toppled over, both head shots finding the walnut sized brain from 120 yards. A few more minutes and another came out several yards further down and sat up to receive the same fate. No more appeared and I backtracked down to pick them up.

The HMR bullet being supersonic at around 2500 feet per second, is a noisy round even with a silencer fitted to the rifle, making a high pitch crack close to, but virtually silent at 100 yards down range. To counter this disturbance, I prefer to approach the area from the opposite end to pick up and clean my rabbits, which allows those now at the other end to settle down and come out. This proved the case, more coming out to feed, while I attended to my duties, repeating my success at ranges between 60 and a 100 yards.

Looking back up the field, at least a dozen young rabbits were visible, when I took this picture, proof that the old adage “breed like rabbits” is true. I have shot this field for several years and regular visits have kept the numbers down to an acceptable level, but a cold, wet and snow filled winter and spring have kept me away and the result is a rabbit explosion. I will be back.

Fast and furious as the river comes to life.

May 20, 2013 at 12:21 pm

For the first time this year, fish were rising, when I reached the banks of my syndicate river this week. The warm air was full of flylife and the trout had at last begun to rise to them.

Beneath trees, a good fish was raiding a cloud of small black flies scudding across the surface of a pool, following the cloud back and forth, making repeated attacks with splashy swirls.

The heavy Gold Head Hares Ear nymph, a near permanent fixture on the end of my line so far this year, was snipped off and a small Black Klinkhammer was tied on and I waded up from the shallows to get in position for a side cast, due to the overhanging trees. Second pass the fly was engulfed in a swirl. I struck too soon and missed. The Klink was still attached and the trout kept rising. Another take, a slower side strike and he was on, splashing to the surface, before tumbling off. No more rises.

I repeated this exercise further down the river, another good trout in the crease of a bend. This one jumped and came off. A pound plus . Upstream another fish was now rising steadily, coming up from beneath the opposite bank. I waded within range and he took with confidence, the ten inch trout fighting well for it’s size, a silver sided specimen.

It had now started raining heavily and I decided to call it a day, as the cattle upstream had muddied the river and my chances on the dry fly were limited.

The next day it was all change again, there was a chill in the air and not a sign of a rising fish, although the river looked in perfect condition. I decided to give my Black Devil nymph a try, a buzzer pattern with heavy copper ribbing, that fishes high in the water and has given me plenty of fish on a dour day. I had intended to wade up to where I’d lost my first fish the day before, but opted to have a few casts in a swirling pocket of  water on the way up. First cast and the line straightened and a four ounce trout came battling out across the shallows.

Another five trout came from this short stretch of river over the next thirty minutes, some silver sided, some greenish gold, the best a twelve inch fish that ran down to the pool below giving great sport. This makes me wonder, if we have two genus of brown trout in the river, giving this colour range.

Staying in the river I made my way down to another pool, just as, like a switch being pulled, trout began to rise in the most unlikely of places, untroubled by my progress. The small black flies were back in numbers and the Klinkhammer was tied back on, taking ten and six ounce browns among several misses from a deep run along the opposite bank.  As instantly as the rise had started, it stopped again and I made my way back to the van, not wanting to put down all the fish, leaving the river to be enjoyed by other club members. 

Overwintered stockie pays it’s dues.

May 14, 2013 at 10:06 am

Gale force winds and rain washed out the first of my three available syndicate fishing days this week and the second looked to be following suit, when sunshine broke through in time for lunch in the garden. Sitting back drinking tea, I was watching a column of flies dancing above the lawn and realized that they were hawthorn flies, a seasonal favourite on the syndicate river ten miles away. A check of the weather showed another storm front coming through in the next few hours. Time enough for a speedy visit.

Last week I netted a good fish from the upper reaches, but today my target was a mile or so downstream, where the river drops through an S bend, creating a deep pool that can hold some big trout which only seem to show during hawthorn and mayfly hatches. I parked up at the bridge and paused long enough to study the pools above and below for signs of rising fish. The water was a good colour and seemed perfect, but no trout were rising despite obvious fly life. Following the river down through the meadow, clumps of hawthorn flies were lifting out of the grass and being scattered by the gusting wind as I approached the top pool.

Giving the pool a wide berth to avoid spooking the residents, I waded up from the runoff , keeping below the skyline and began casting above the shallows with my trusty Gold Head Hares Ear nymph. The surface of the pool was alive with olives lifting off and struggling wind blown hawthorn flies, but no dimples of rising trout. This pool usually has a shoal of quality dace to pluck at your nymph as it drifts across the shallows, but today not a touch, so moved up to the middle of the run prospecting my nymph to the areas that held a couple of hard fighting sub pound wildies a few weeks ago. Again no signs of a take. I moved up and across to the inside of the bend, where the river deepens off, giving the chance to drift the outer radius of the pool.

The clouds were now gathering and the wind was swirling, one minute upstream, the next full in my face, making casting a lottery. I’d degreased another three feet of leader to allow the nymph to fish deeper and when it stopped, I instinctively struck. Bottom? No! The surface boiled with a brief flash of gold, as a very large trout woke up with avengence and made for the safety of a sunken log at the head of the pool, line streaming from my reel. I have lost big trout here before due to too much pressure and this one was on full thrust, but my 4lb point held and the run slowed to a head shaking tumble, before a change of direction saw the brown rushing downstream along the outside of the pool. If he made it over the tail and down the run it would have been long gone, but again a turn across the shallows and back to the pool, getting my first full view of a beautifully condition trout powering to safety. I hung on, giving and taking line for an unmeasured time, until eventually the spots on his flanks could be seen and I triumphantly slipped the net beneath my prize.

I waded back across to the grassy bank and removed the barbless nymph from the scissors of it’s jaws, took photos and measured the this overwintered, fulled tailed brown at 18.5 inches (47cm), before placing back in the net to be returned. I have been fortunate to land some good river trout this season, this being the best so far and I held him upstream until ready to swim off , a burst of power from that tail, taking him back to the pool, broaching once before disappearing.  After such a battle, to continue fishing seemed wrong, so walked back, getting home in time for a needed cup of tea.

Big trout in a small stream

May 8, 2013 at 10:45 am

The first days of May brought warmth and the anticipation of rising fish, as I pulled on waders at my syndicate water and watched hawthorn flies dancing above the grass verge in the afternoon sunshine. The short walk to the river soon dashed my hopes of fishing the dry fly, when looking downstream, not a single rise was in evidence, despite a variety of fly life, on, or above the surface.

The river was now back to normal level and pace, unlike the opening days of the season, when weeks of rain needed to run off and I was expecting an instant response as I waded up to a pool that has been good to me in the past. The smooth surface was untroubled by feeding trout, so my reliable Gold Head Hares Ear nymph was flicked out along the edges among the roots, but not a twitch of the leader rewarded my efforts. I was considering a change to a darker nymph, when a trout swept round the shallows at my feet and returned to the centre of the stream ahead.  A cast up the pool brought a solid pull halfway through the drift and I was into that trout, a plump wild brown of around a pound, fighting for all it was worth, it’s exit from the pool barred by my feet as it tried to escape downstream. I now had the trout thrashing about in the shallow tail and my landing net was resting against a tree out of reach. Stepping across to my left for the net, gave the slack needed for the hook to lose grip and the trout to dart back to the pool. With a photo opportunity missed, I continued downstream intending to fish along the bank cleared during a new year working party, but paused to look at another previously productive pool.

 It seemed too good to pass and getting down into the water, I waded up, searching out the eddies and runs with my nymph as I went. The river here rushes down through trees and turns, holding fish across the pool, good dace and chub adding to the mix. Again surface fly life was being ignored and so it seemed was my nymph, until a six inch brown raised my hopes and straightened the leader. The tiddler returned, I cast further up between the trees and watched the leader skirt the edge of  a far bank eddy, where it suddenly dived to the left, to be met with solid resistance as I lifted into a very powerful fish. Deep in the pool, the zig-zag rolling fight indicated a big trout rather than a chub and I gave line as it made a series of sprinting runs into the tree lined channel, then back to the pool, before zooming along the far bank to pass below me. Having turned to follow the big brown downstream, I looked up to see a fellow syndicate member watching from the river fifty yards downstream. More pressure, bad enough to lose a fish and talk of the one that got away, but to have it witnessed is worse. The gods of angling were on my side this time and the deep sided brown turned and came back upstream to me, obliging by rolling onto it’s side before sliding into the net.

A full tail was the power house for this seventeen inch brown that took  no prisoners in it’s efforts to escape the barbless hook, which fell out into the net once the pressure was off. In the same respect, that it is misery to lose a good fish in front of a fellow angler, it was also a joy to show just what this little river can hold to new member George, who had a grandstand view of my struggle with this beast of a fish. After a quick photo and a short recovery session in the net, my best fish so far this year, swam off to sulk in the shallows.

Urban trout from the bus stop.

May 1, 2013 at 12:01 am

The last day of April was still trying to be spring with bright sunshine glinting off my urban river, but a gusting wind from the north east was a cool reminder of the long winter, daffodils in bloom an indicator that mother nature is on catch up.

A visit the previous week had seen two good trout lost, due I think to my little seven foot brook rod being unable to pick up line quick enough to set the hook in the fast flowing stream. Today I was armed with my Diawa Whisker nine foot 5/6 rod, which has a soft action and is best suited for wind over the shoulder dry fly fishing, but now the wind was in my face and due to no surface feeding trout, a heavy gold head Hares Ear was on the point. I walked to the bus stop at the bottom of the stretch and got down into the clear water, which was deceptively deep and began my wade up stream, casting as I went, keeping an eye open for rises. Last week I lost a good fish under the bank, beneath a tree and got in position for another go, but the wind kept sweeping the leader away from the bank, until finally the nymph dropped in six feet upstream. Drift, a bulge and the line arced round as I lifted into a fish, which burst into life, foaming the surface with spray, before running across the river and downstream, putting a decent bend in the rod and fighting it’s way upstream, the longer rod having more control, easily bringing the heavily spotted wild brown to the surface and my net.

This was a very silver brown with just a hint of gold and no red spots and at 13 inches fought well, this photo being the only one, when it wasn’t jumping about. I put him back in the net and watched as he disappeared against the gravel and swam off. I continued to wade upstream taking an 8 inch brownie, before reaching overhead trees, that made casting with the long rod difficult. I’d had no problem here with the brook rod last week, but now it was time to get out and make my way along the roadside to the next bus stop, where I could see another small brown close to the edge, a few casts above his station and he rose and took the nymph, only to tumble off again.

Shortly after getting back in the river, there was a rise ten yards upstream, the first I’d seen all afternoon, then others further up, as a hatch of olives began lifting off. I was tempted to tie on a dry fly, but by that time the hatch could be over, so kept going with the nymph and was rewarded with a long slow take that brought another fighting brown to the surface, an 8 oz fish that jumped and came off. I could see ahead, several rises beneath a willow and steadily made my way up against the current.

Trout were rising freely now and the trick was to cast beneath the overhanging willow up to the evergreen tunnel without  snagging the nymph. The short rod is ideal for this, being able to shoot a line straight in, while the longer rod I was using, with it’s lazy action was not so precise, the gusting wind, also not helping. Another unmissable take and I missed it. Another cast, a short twitch of the leader and I hit it, launching a six inch trout skyward, which I swung to hand and released downstream. There were now some determined rises ahead, as waves of olives became airborne and my casting became ragged, catching in the daffodils on the bank behind me. Untangled, a well placed cast dropped the nymph gently on the surface and a bow wave swirled towards it, drawing the leader beneath the surface, as I reacted with a sideways lift of the rod to set the hook. An initial splash and the trout charged upstream under the evergreen, stripping line from my homemade reel, while I kept the rod over to the side to avoid the foliage. He jumped, then turned and ran down and past me at lightning speed, the weight of the line keeping contact, until the bend in the rod told that he was still on. These trout are almost invisible in the water and I had a job seeing where he was, as he sped back upstream, jumped and turned again. This was a much bigger fish and expected to lose him, when he began to tumble in the shallow river, a sign that the hook is loose, but once again he headed off and I was able to bring him up and across to my net.

This was a typical wild brown trout, golden green with a smattering of red spots, the fifteen inch fish going well over the pound and contrasting with the smaller trout pictured earlier, that was almost silver. It’s a shame that the net cast a shadow over the trout’s head and ruined what could have been the perfect picture. I returned the trout immediately after this and he swam off against the strong flow. Two good fish in two hours and plenty of offers, bodes well for my next visit to this free fishery among the houses and factories.


Early season small river trout.

April 26, 2013 at 11:12 pm

The warmest day of the year brought hopes of rising trout, as I made my first visit of the year to a favourite section of my small river, where it drops rapidly through an S bend, creating two deep pools, that hold large, rarely seen, trout. These fish cruise beneath the surface during the Mayfly hatch, feeding with abandon, only to disappear again once it is over. I’ve hooked, but never landed any of these monsters, their sanctuary being a sunken log at the head of the pool.

Approaching from upstream, a mallard flew up from the shallows, disturbing  fish that bow waved back into the pool above, reminding me to keep well back from the high bank and I entered the water, where it  rushes out to the pool below.

There was a steady hatch of olives lifting off the water, but with no sign of a rising trout, a good spring standby, a gold head, gold ribbed Hares Ear was tied on and I worked my way up the shallows of the pool, covering the area in front of me, recovering line as the nymph drifted down. The leader V’d back upstream, lift, missed. A good take. Might have been one of the lightning quick dace, I consoled myself. A few more casts and the water erupted, when the hook made contact with a silver sided fish. A big dace? No a rainbow, as it made the first of many leaps in the shallow run. This was not a rainbow, but a bright silver, wild trout of around 10 oz, it’s red spots, the only colouration against it’s pale body, even it’s dark spots seemed washed out.

With this fish returned, I crossed to the inside of the bend and worked the nymph through the deeper water, being rewarded immediately with a firm take, that saw my line arcing across the pool, as another trout sought out the more powerful current and rushed downstream. This brown was slightly larger than the first and fought well to the net. Again another pale fish and slightly tatty with damaged fins, possibly from a mink, which inhabit  the river banks in some numbers.

My other trout from this river so far this year have all been pale and I was forming the opinion, that it was due to the river being brown with flood water for months, that had caused them to match their bland surrounding, as with roach in murky ponds. This theory was turned on it’s head, when I hooked a brightly coloured mini trout on my way back upstream.

My nymph was quite a mouthful for this pretty brownie.

With no more takes and the air cooling, I walked back to the road content that I’d caught a few fish, while looking forward to better days later on in the season.