Big chub on the dry fly compensates for small trout

June 24, 2014 at 12:32 pm

With the mayfly hatch long gone, I was not expecting much from a brief visit to my syndicate trout river, allowing a couple of late afternoon hours to keep the fishing urge at bay. Parking at the bridge, the river was still slightly coloured from a tributary half a mile upstream, that has been discharging run-off water all season.

No rain for over a week had dropped the level to a point, where I felt safe to enter the water downstream of the bridge, the winter floods having scoured out a deep run along my bank. Nothing was rising, but I’d seen trout mopping up mayfly here a fortnight before and knew it was worth trying a few casts with the bodied Mayfly still attached to my line from last time out. False casting to get the line out, the fly dropped close to the bank under the trees, where a back eddy meets the faster water and was consumed in a boiling rise immediately, catching me unawares, but making contact.

These wild brownies fight to the last and with my landing net out of reach, planted handle down in the bankside mud, I waited until the trout drifted back to my hand, to be released once unhooked. The mayfly was now sodden and I tied on a deer hair Sedge to search out the faster runs, making contact with, but losing seconds later, another small brown. It was time to climb back out of the river and and make my way across the uncut meadow to the downstream S bend.

From the high bank I could see fish rising all over the pool and circled round to avoid spooking them, getting into the river at the fast flowing tail and wading across to the inside of the bend, where the slower flow allows better presentation of a dry fly. Close to the outer bank a good fish was rising steadily to anything that drifted past, even a bumble bee and with the Sedge still attached, I measured my cast, planting the fly just upstream to drift into a solid take. The very silver fish jumped vertically clear of the water like a Polaris missile, it’s whole body quivering with energy, before plunging upstream into the deep pool and taking line against the ratchet. Picking up my landing net, I waded out into the pool in an effort to head it off, should the tumbling trout try to get downstream into the fast water. The pressure soon told and the shiny specimen was in the net.

Moving up, I targeted another regular riser in mid stream, but missed the take, as it made a grab for the skating fly. This put him down with no more rises. Further up a fish was dimpling along the side of the reeds, a small trout I thought, but the instant the fly was sucked in, the surface erupted from the response of a very large fish, that bent my rod to the butt, as it dived deep into the pool. This was a seriously large fish, that stayed down as it searched for an escape route, continually pulling back against retrieved line. At last it began to come back to me , only to run again, this time to the outside of the pool, where it turned and headed downstream. A massive chub. Staying in contact, with my long handled landing net wedged under my left armpit, I waded down and across in an effort to head it off, before it reached the rapid water at the tail of the pool. At this point it turned again and began to swim upstream, being able to bring it over and down into my waiting net.

This was my biggest chub ever, let alone on a flyrod, measuring 22 inches from nose to fork and helped return my respect for a fish that I have often regarded as “one run wonders”, this chub keeping me occupied for at least five minutes, with no certainty of being netted. Returned facing upstream in the net, it gathered it’s thoughts for a minute, then bolted back to the depths.

All the commotion caused by landing the chub had put an end to the rising fish and deciding to continue for another half hour, I tied on a gold head Hares Ear nymph to get down to the bottom of the pool. I missed two lightening takes, before making contact and seeing a silver flash beneath the surface, assumed it was a dace, but I was wrong, another bright wild trout coming to hand.

A near identical trout followed, our river being full of these bright brown trout variations. I’m not complaining, they fight just as hard and hopefully will be a few ounces bigger next season. While searching the pool upstream with the nymph, I heard a rise behind my left shoulder and saw a ring of water spreading out from just above the tail on the far side.

Keeping low, I eased my way back down to the bend and tried drifting the nymph over the now rising fish to no avail, so the Sedge was tied back on and second cast another small brown was on, dropping back into the run to put a bend in my rod.

My need to catch fish satisfied, I made my way back through the wilderness to the van and joined the early evening rush hour home for tea.








2014 Coarse Fishing Season opener with commons, crucians, a mirror and silvers

June 17, 2014 at 10:56 pm

With a busy week of non sporting commitments ahead, I was determined to get some coarse fishing into the half day after lunch available to me. A cheap white loaf was collected from Tesco and all but a few slices were liquidised, the remainder for bread punch bait. The freezer was raided and a handful of sweet corn bagged up ready for feed and hookers later. With all my gear loaded onto the trolley, I headed off on foot to the local recreation ground, where a pond nestles in one corner.

Since my last visit in the winter, the banks were high with new growth and I made an opening between two weed beds from where I hoped to draw out a few carp. Making myself comfortable with all I needed to hand, I mixed up some ground bait using two thirds liquidised bread, a third Super Cup with a sprinkling of ground hemp, then added water to the mix and allowed to stand, while I set up my pole at seven metres, breaking down to the top two. With crucians in mind, I set up with a cut down Canal Grey waggler, locked with two No4 shot and a No 4 five inches from the hook. Crucians feed head down, but pick up their food and swing up horizontal. This lifts the bottom shot and raises the float stem out of the water, indicating the bait is in their mouths. That’s the theory anyway.

With three balls fed across the 7 metere line and another couple at 8 metres, also a dozen pieces of corn scattered over the area, I was ready to fish. Starting on the bread punch, the float disappeared every minute and a succession of small rudd were swung in.

Small, but perfectly formed, the colour ranges of these rudd went from bright orange, through to green, one such having an ornamental gold look.

The rudd tally was mounting and every now and then I would exchange the bread for sweet corn on the hook, while occasionally feeding a few pieces of corn to the swim. The float sinking slowly away, indicated the first carp bite on the corn and a firm lift made contact with a perfectly scaled mirror carp.

A line of bubbles were now visible along the 7 metre line and every cast produced a positive bite on the corn, with small commons beginning to take with confidence, despite the sun beaming down from a clear afternoon sky.

I’d observed a large carp moving out of the weed bed to my right and minutes later, the float slid under and I was in. The heavy 12/18 elastic came out, as the carp woke up and made a rush toward the lilly bed opposite. With only 30 inches of water, there is nowhere for these fish to go and I followed across with two more lengths of the pole. The run was stopped and the fish arced round, heading steadily for the weed bed to my right, powering it’s way in, as I kept up the pressure. This was met by another surge and the size 14 barbless hook came out. The hook had opened out. I could have gone up to a twelve and used a heavy forged barbed hook, but I prefer the barbless for the minimal damage it does and accept the occasional lost fish, losing another two that afternoon.

Catching had slowed and more feed went in, bringing the rudd back on, taking several better fish on bread and corn.

The carp came on again, as bubbles appeared, but bites were harder to hit, bouncing, or missing three out of four, those landed being of the same stamp. There are usually plenty of 4 to 8oz commom carp to be had in this pond, but on this sunny day they were abscent.

The bites changed again, with the float bobbing, then lifting. Crucians. Timing the strike became a problem. Mostly the float would lift and stay there without moving off. The fish was still there, as more times than I care to remember, I lifted to feel contact, a quick dash across the surface and they were gone. The crucians were holding the corn in their lips and sucking the goodness out, without the chance of the hook taking a hold. I tried going back to the punch, but caught a string of rudd and roach. Finally I hung onto one long enough to get it into the net, the hook barely holding in the outer edge of the lip membrane.

I’d set my time limit to six pm, fishing through the heat of the afternoon. In an ideal world, this would have been the time to start, but with my supply of corn running out, two more crucians in the net and a specimen pound plus fish lost, when I tried to bully it into the net, I was ready to take the uphill walk home.

With fifty plus roach adding to the mix, the scales indicated over 10lb, a fair enough catch for four hours steady work, but fish bounced, or lost more than equalled those put in the net. Must try harder next time.




Mayfly fishing bonanza, mostly small stuff

June 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm

With the mayfly hatch in it’s second week on my syndicate water, I was eager to get down to the river for a decent afternoon session, before the trout became sated and turned their noses up at their favourite food.

Getting out of the van and resting my rod against the wing mirror, I was treated to the sight of a mayfly ready to take to the air. A good omen for the next few hours. Continued heavy showers, with some thunder mixed in, had added to the flow and colour of the river, but the sight of trout topping, spurred me on as I walked down through the meadow to begin fishing.

The lush green shoots of late spring were now hemming me in, as I waded upstream casting to rising trout, trying to place the Mayfly imitation with a light touch onto the surface. A boil and a brisk lift of the rod, saw the first of many small wild brownies skittering across the surface, as it battled for freedom.

Mayfly were lifting off ahead of me and I watched the Russian roulette, that is their last day of life, waiting as they sailed majestically downstream, wings upright ready to fly, some making it, while others were gobbled down by preoccupied trout. One such fly sank without trace amid a solid boil, that spread a ring across the river fifteen yards away, a flattened surface indicating deeper water at that point. Wading up a few more yards, I stopped to squeeze some Mucilin grease into the body of my Mayfly, then cast into the fast water above where I’d seen the rise. Three feet of travel and it was gone, this time the trout staying put as the hook was set, before exploding into an upstream run that took five yards of line from my reel. The trout dropped back at speed below me, to begin darting and spinning in the strong current, a lost fish seeming inevitable.  Reeling back the slack line, until tension was felt again, I tried to bring the manic brown upstream to my net, as it searched for an escape, managing to scoop it up, as it made another pass.

This was 14 inches of pure muscle, that was not beaten, even in the net and when unhooked, powered out of my hands back upstream without the need to recover. Further up a rise beneath overhanging bushes, offered a challenge.

Several side casts eventually put the fly under the branches, just inches from the edge and the trout dutifully rose to it with a swirl. Got him! Not the biggest trout in the river, but the satisfaction was in the presentation.

Thirty yards upstream, I could hear a large fish splashing at mayfly from a tight corner protected by an overhanging branch and moved up towards it. Getting into position to cast was not easy, with an overhanging tree behind me and the high stinging nettles on the bank, a roll cast across my front upstream was the only chance of getting the fly to the fish.

This corner had held a very large brown, that I had managed to lose earlier in the year and I had no doubt it was the same one aggressively slashing at every mayfly that came in range. Another fish was rising close to it and my first successful cast was taken by this, my elation at raising the trout vanishing, when I felt the resistance of a younger brother.

Not to decry this one, it fought all over the river, being charged up with a full belly and in perfect condition. All these trout have bred naturally in the gravelly runs, that give our little river character and it is a privilege to be able to fish for them.

The much larger trout continued to feed, ignoring my offerings. I put on my last undrowned bodied mayfly and watched it come up to nose the fly, then sink away with a flick of the tail. A big brown of about two pounds. Another cast saw the fly hit the water too hard and sink. I instintively pulled back to recast and the line went solid with a take. The rod arched over, then flicked back. It was gone and the line was now wrapped in a bird’s nest, tangled round a branch overhead. The fly was retrieved  and another tippet tied on, but that was my last chance at the big one. Maybe later in the year.

Wading further up round the bend, I saw a 12 oz brown clear the water chasing a mayfly, as it lifted off, the golden-green flanks of the brownie heavily dotted with big red spots. Another determined rise behind a clump of weed gave me a ready target, although once again overhead branches claimed my fly, proving that patience is a virtue needed by all fishermen. Ten minutes later I was back in action, having watched several rises from behind the clump. A cast to the side, a rise and fish on. The trout jumped, but it wasn’t the fish on my hook, a bright silver dace had taken and spooked the brown.

I decided that this would be my last fish from the two hundred yards of shallows and pools, losing count of those  hooked and released, eight to ten in the two hour session, which I knew would not be repeated once the mayfly bonanza was over. Walking the half mile back to the van with this in mind, I couldn’t resist the occasional cast, putting two more four ounce trout on my tally for the afternoon. Next week the fun will be over for another year, at least I know where the fish are.



CZ452 .17 HMR allows the grass to grow

June 3, 2014 at 11:10 am

A warm wet spring has allowed the grass to grow on my permissions this year, thanks to regular visits with my .17 HMR to keep the rabbit populations under control. It was satisfying this week to return to a small farm, where last year the grazing had been ruined by a rabbit explosion, the ground covered in scrapings and burrows.

Fifty rabbits later, the view over the paddock fence has been transformed, the grass had regenerated during the autumn, allowing the farmer to begin fattening some young Black Angus cattle, before moving them on to allow mother nature to take it’s course.

My first visit here had presented rabbits grazing unconcerned all over the paddock in front of me to the hedge line, but in a few minutes, using at first my Magtech 7022 .22 semi auto, then the CZ452 .17 HMR, I’d begun to change the situation.

This being the first of three small farms along a lane that I shoot, a quick look over the fence each time and shots with the HMR saw diminishing numbers of rabbits on view, to the point, that my last few visits had seen none. This week a patrol of the fence showed up a smudge of brown among the long grass over a hundred yards away and a sight through the scope confirmed two sets of ears poking up from the greenery.

Rotating the scope dial to the maximum x 12 magnification, I sighted on the nearest set of twitching ears, aimed at a point four inches below and fired. The the ears disappear. Had I missed? The other rabbit was now sitting up, head clear of the grass. Another bullet chambered and this one leapt clear with the impact. Although I’d kept my eye on the area, I had to quarter the ground to finally find the two rabbits, ten yards apart in the lush verdant growth.

Returning back to the house, the farmer had a big grin on his face, when he saw these two, thankful that the paddock and the rest of his land was back to full productivity.