Sunday, 11 November 2012

Chunky Croyde

Day trip to Croyde on a mild November day with my bro Rich. Light onshores and a chunky swell seemed to go unnoticed by most as we battled out to a fairly empty lineup. Tide coming in and caught some big rights but had some hellish paddle outs as there was little let up between the sets. Worth the effort and felt suitably refreshed since I hadn't been out since September.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Plan C on the Hampshire Avon

Went down to my bro's with idea of catching a nice little wave at Kimmeridge. The wave buoys were suggesting a nice waist high wave pushing up the channel. By the time I got down to Salisbury the readings were looking borderline at best and K bay is a fair old trek if you are not 90% sure it will be surfable. Plan B   then was to fish the Nadder on the outskirts Salisbury. Picked up a day ticket and got to the bank. It was as brown as the Chew and spilling the banks. Back to the tackle shop and Plan C exchange the ticket for one on the Hampshire Avon which Rich said had been running clear and beautiful for the last couple of weeks. No problems with exchanging and we turned up on the Avon which was looking pristine. Rich was the first to get any action as he hooked into a good sized trout.
Rich brings a nice fish to the net.

The resulting Brownie.
It took me a while to get any takes and then a flurry of rises in my vicinity lead to a couple of small trout and a lost big Grayling that snapped me off. We made our way upstream the fairly long stretch out of Salisbury. The fish were sporadic and came the feed for limited periods as the sun warmed the water enough for some fly activity. As the light started to fade on what was a lovely day the last 30 minutes was frantic with both good sized Grayling and some nice Brownies coming to the net.

My best Grayling of the day - probably of the year so far.

A nice wild one going back.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Wellow nymphing

Met up with Red and fished Wellow for a few hours. Stream in good shape with a healthy flow and crystal clear. The fish I caught were deep and getting the nymph down in the fast flow required some additional weight. Caught about a half a dozen fish, beautifully marked to match the gravel substrate.

We then fished one of the local lakes for carp on the fly but those fish have either become very wary or are just not interested in surface food. Last year tempting them was but this year it has been anything but. I had a few half hearted nosings but that was about it.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Bristol Frome Friday fish produces some late summer sport

Fished my local stretch again. The water like the Chew the lowest it has been all year and very clear. Reminded me of the early days of spring as I was greeted with both Dipper and Grey Wagtail. It had been a lovely day and at about 17:00 when I got to the river the temp was dropping dramatically. At my first pool I saw couple of rises from the resident trout. Second cast on the Goldhead and I had an average sized Brownie in the net. As I made my way up the pool I hooked a second fish on the retrieve. As I brought it to the net I thought it was a Chub but as I reached down I realised it was a big Dace. This is the best Dace I have had from the Bristol Frome - I would say at least 10oz so a good fish by any standards.

Big Dace from the Bristol Frome
Downstream I picked up another small Brownie under the carriageway bridge section. Then whilst searching a deep pool in the last knockings of daylight I hit solid resistance as a good fish took me from bank to bank. After several skyward launches I netted another fantastic wild Brownie for the Bristol Frome, perhaps not my best but certainly near it. The fish looked familiar but I have referenced it against other big fish I have caught here and it is not one that I have in the net before. It never ceases to amaze me after being so familiar with this small river/stream it still produces some great surprises.

Another cracking wild Brownie.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Some late summer surf and back on the Chew

I haven't been fishing a great deal of late due to other distractions and commitments. A few weeks back I had a lovely few sessions surfing at Penhale in Cornwall in the late summer sun with my brother and few friends. Small but beautifully formed little swell that we surfed in relative solitude. The Haven holiday park at the top of the dunes is enough to send you packing but break through it and you find a wonderful pocket of Cornwall away from the crowd.

Back to the fishing and finally got back out on the lower Chew after what seems like an age. The water as low as I have seen it all this year. Very few fish rising and the two I did see, a Grayling and a Brownie, I caught. Netted a few more on a weighted nymph fished in the medium depth runs. The big pools surprisingly failed to produce. Ended up with three small to medium sized Grayling and two Brownies. Still eerily quiet compared to previous years. Amazed how dynamic the river is with changes in depth and substrate from earlier in the year. The rains have certainly mixed it up a bit. 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Wellow inspiration - fish on the dry, well not quite slightly wet but dry!

After Red had tipped me off the Wellow was fishing well we agreed to meet for an afternoon on this lovely little river. The water was high but clear and the bottom had been cleaned and scoured to perfection. Some runs almost chalk stream like in nature with the mottled pebbles and sandy banks giving way to beds of Rannuculus. First fish came to nymph which was immediately taken after it had risen to the dry.

Very few rises lead me to use a weighted nymph at one deep pool. I put a shot between the dry and nymph and let both sink on the dead drift after casting to the head of the pool. As it reached the deepest part of the pool my leader loop shot forward into another good fish. To my surprise it had taken the sunken Klink. I repeated this method to good effect with another two fish from within a meter of the first all taking the sunken dry. Clearly it was drifting enticingly just a foot or so of the bottom. Ended up with about a half dozen feisty wild fish of a good average size. The village of Wellow was buzzing with the flower festival, ramblers and cyclists.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Upper Chew and Publow - blankety blank.

After a few weeks away in Cornwall I checked out Chew at Compton Dando but still too high and coloured for my liking and headed onto Upper Chew which I haven't fished for what seemed like ages. The stream was high but running clear and looked lovely in the August sunshine. I started with anticipation and excitement but as the afternoon wore on this turned to disappointment. Despite the lovely weather the stream appeared fairly lifeless. I didn't see one rise although I did spook one small Brownie. Pools that usually produced Brownies or the native Rainbows failed to show any movement or hint of interest in the dry or nymph. No Kingfisher either perhaps he was at the lake with all the other inhabitants! The limited returns in the book echoed my experience.

On the way back home I had bash at one of the local lakes again not a single rise to target and just a solitary Carp took a cursory nose at at my bread fly and turned in disgust. I know it is not catching but fishing but when you have limited time windows and you want to fish you do want to catch fish. Don't get me wrong I love the environment in which I fish but if it was purely about wildlife watching I would take my family along and not be distracted by the fishing. A bit downbeat I know but I am in need of some inspiration!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Bristol Frome returns to relatively normal level but where are the fish?

Fished Bristol Frome tonight. Caught three average Brownies on the dry. River lower than Chew but still high for this time of year. Again fish are just not around. A few small shoals of Chub and the odd Brownie are the only signs of life. Chub just too easily spooked but all three of the Brownies I saw rising readily took a small Klink. The Frome is quite heavily segregated by weirs and riffles so I think it is going to be some time before the stretches I fish start to return to the form they were in earlier in the year- perhaps I need to head downstream and fish with the dogs!.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Chew Dace save the day as river fishing remains hard

Home without the family has left me time in the evenings for some fishing. Back to the River Chew after waiting a few days for the high water to subside. The river was still high and tinged with colour but looked just about fishable on the fly. I found it tough again connecting with a few small Grayling on the nymph but little rising apart from small shoals of Dace.

In the end I scaled down to a Size 16 Klink and had some good sport with the tiny Dace. Ended up catching about four tiny fish in one fast run. Eventually connected with two average size Brownies on the dry just before dusk started to fall but the window is small as evenings seem to be closing in. I am convinced the heavy river flows have dispersed the fish as runs where I would have been guaranteed a few fish have just not produced..

Monday, 6 August 2012

Cornwall Summer Hols Part 1 - Surf, Sea Trout and Pollack

Just back from first summer holiday week down in Cornwall. Weather was in the main vast improvement over previous years with lots of sunshine and some sporadic heavy showers. Kayak fished on the Lizard at Kennack and caught lots of Pollack on the ebbing tide and a handful of Mackerel. Still no Bass evident. Shore fished a number of marks over the week plugging for Bass all on the incoming tide but no joy - this is getting frustrating.
Fishing for Pollack on the Lizard with my fishing buddy for the day Lisa.
Fished one of the local streams and caught numerous Brownies to about 8" mainly on the nymph. At one fairly shallow run my fly was hit by a bullet that went skyward. After  a colossal struggle in the small stream I bought my first confirmed Sea Trout to the net. Not huge at just over a 1lb, this fish which was a bar of silver with a bluish tinge, gave me immense satisfaction. Although initially I thought it had taken the dry when it was in the net I realised it had taken the Size 16 Goldhead. Releasing it I waded upstream disturbing another much larger fish but that was it fro the evening. I have to say catching this powerful fish in the small stream was fairly familiar as it was not unlike hooking a 2lb Rainbow on the Upper Chew.
A good sized Brownie for this stream

My first confirmed Cornish Sea Trout 
I surfed about a half dozen times mainly confined to sheltered spots - Aggie, Lusty Glaze and Great Western due to the big swell and southwesterly winds.Although yesterday had a nice little Magic Carpet session on Perran as the winds had flipped to offshore. Surprisingly Great Western at about 4' gave me the most enjoyment mid tide coming in when the closeouts can't really make up their mind whether to break or not!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Wellow, Chew and Bristol Frome all within three days...but it has not been easy!

On both Saturday and Sunday I managed to get out at some point. On Saturday PM I fished the River Chew at Compton Dando. In the first half hour I had netted three fish - two small Brownies and an average sized Grayling for the Chew. After that 2 hours of searching likely runs without success. All fish came to the nymph and I did not see one rise. The level was high but colour clearing. It was a hot sunny day. Went to a nearby lake with the hope that the Carp were on the feed. Unfortunately I think the previous weeks run off and now hot sunny conditions had sparked an algal bloom. Casting any line resulted in a green blob at the hook end!

Sunday evening fished the Bristol Frome. Despite fairly clear water and warm weather exceptionally quiet with just the odd rise. Managed to tempt one clonking Brownie of about 1.5lb in a very shallow run just below a big riffle as I speculatively searched the river for a take. I watched it come up just a yard or two away to take the Klink despite it not showing before. I love it when that happens such a surprise and to think your fly can induce a rise when naturals might pass by. I came away thinking that the Chew and the Bristol Frome need to settle a bit before fishing improves - I almost wondered whether the resident fish had got washed downstream!

Nature day on the Mendips

Family trip to the Mendips. We took in Velvet Bottom and Stockhill. Glorious summer day with light winds and blue sky. The butterflies were out in force - Marbled White, Small Heath, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Small Skipper and Green Fritillary were abundant. Managed to net some Common Lizards and a Sloworm for the lads to have a close encounter with - I think we were a bit late for the Adders. Some nice meadow flowers for us to identify - Common Spotted Orchid and Harebell. 

Green Fritillary

Common Spotted Orchid

Common Lizard


Friday, 20 July 2012

And finally the rivers return to some normality - Wellow Friday fish

The sun was shining after nearly a months break as the rivers were almost unfishable on the fly. Fished the Wellow from about mid afternoon onwards. Lost count of the number of wild Brownies with most coming to an Olive dubbed Klink dry fly. At a couple of the deeper pools where there was no surface activity I twitched a heavy nymph through the deeper elements and hooked a couple of good fish. The Wellow seems to have a fairly consistent size of fish with most around 8"-10". Many have striking contrasting marks with creamy underbellies and heavily marked backs. Red and I fished two sections although the upper section has less pools and with still high water it was not easy to fish. Unfortunately stumbled across a mink at one point.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Southbourne Kayak and last light on Wellow

The last week or so has had more and more rain. I took a day off on the eve of the longest day for some sea kayak fishing on one of the few dry days recently. My brother and I launched from Southbourne with Black Bream and Mackerel the target. Unfortunately the light winds forecast were not sustained and before long we were trying to drift in 15 mph onshore winds with a swell to go with it. Despite several hours of jigging, feathering and bottom fishing, mainly with squid, we ended up with just two Mackerel. We had a few knocks on the squid but no hook ups. On the way back to Bristol I took slight diversion to the Wellow for the last two hours of light. The river was high but clear and fishing was tough. I clipped a the tail from a Paradun in the light after covering numerous fish without success. As soon as I had done this the fish started to come. Ended up with 4 wild Brownies to about 10 inches.

Yesterday went to the Wellow again but the water was too high and coloured. Red and I ended up at one of the lakes and despite several early plucks on a Shipmans I failed to catch. Red hooked a nice fish on a G&H Sedge. Loads of Carp near the surface but not really in a feeding mood. This week looks drier but I think it will be few days before the rivers are fishable on the fly.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

River Chew continues to run high

Visit to the Lower Chew on a sunny day among the heavy showers. The river just about suitable to fish on the fly with a fair bit of water coming down and coloured. I fished fairly deep and noticed the fish took when movement was imparted rather than on the dead drift. A few rises occurred in the eddies but I failed to tempt a fish on the dry. Ended up with just two Grayling and two hooked but lost fish.

Red and I then headed to the Upper Chew where the stream was clearer but fishing was still slow. I really feel the fish here have to fight against the odds as I disturbed two Herons and saw Mink prints on the silt. The stream is small with little cover apart from undercut banks and the odd stump left undisturbed. I ended up with three wild Brownies to about 10", two of which had Heron/Cormorant damage.

After the weekend thought I'd have a change on the following Wednesday which was just about the nicest evening of the week and headed for one of the local lakes with Carp on the fly in mind. Surprisingly no Carp action but three Rainbows on the surface Shipmans Buzzer and Green Buzzer drifted 18" below the surface.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Bristol Frome does it again with a clonking trout...

A few hours to spare this evening so took my eldest lad George down to my local stretch on the Bristol Frome. As we passed the Bradley Brook we watched my favourite Brownie cruise out from under the bridge. A conservative estimate would put the fish at around 14" so I'm guessing getting on for 1.5lb. As we watched the trout another surprise hidden beneath the reflection - a nice sized Eel. Not just a troublesome bootlace but one of probably over a pound and 24" in length. We eventually  moved on as light was fading. I missed a few rises in my usual pools and the fish seemed stubborn tonight. One rise was it and they would ignore the fly again whilst rising for the big naturals that were coming off. I decided to move downstream and target an area that bought me results last week.  I cast to a hefty boil and suddenly all hell broke loose as a good sized fish took my nymph and set about going for every snag in the river. I played the fish long and carefully as I'd lost a big fish, perhaps this fish, the other night. Finally in the net I could see my Bristol Frome PB had been broken again and possibly the biggest wild Brownie I have caught to date. This one was I would say around the 2lb mark. A beautiful wild fish from my local river. George could hardly believe a fish of this size was rising just under our noses obscured by the low light reflections. I went on to successfully net two further good sized Brown Trout, but not like the first, on the dry. 

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Jungle fishing on a Somerset stream

Today I met up with Red and we fished a beautiful little stream that I suspect is rarely fished. Sworn to secrecy on this one we had made a reconnaissance back in the Winter and asked local land owners before fishing it. It meanders through wooded valleys rarely opening out through a canopy of trees. Cascading over a rocky bottom with long shallow fast runs and deep turbulent pools. Today was a boiling hot Spring day with plenty of birdsong but surprisingly not huge amount of fly life coming off the stream, just the odd Mayfly drifting up. I couldn't wait to get my fly in the water. I started fishing NZ not seeing any rising fish. I was heartened immediately as I hooked into a few spirited miniature Brownies both on the nymph and the dry on the first run.

Red is in there somewhere..

It was a case of finding the deeper pools and looking for the slack water either side to keep your fly in the sweet spot and hook a fish. One particularly nice pool gave up three Brownies to about 10" all on the dry. Casting was extremely difficult with bow and arrow improvisation proving invaluable. The rocky bottom also made wading tough - I took a stumble breaking the handle from my reel. I was not dismayed though as stream fly fishing invites you to explore some truly wonderful habitat just tucked away you would often overlook on a map - I never thought for one moment I could find a taste of  highland stream so close home.


A rare stand of Monkshood - pretty but deadly handle with care!