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!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Crazy Chew Mayfly madness

Fished the Lower Chew. After a slowish start with brisk wind making casting difficult things began to improve. To start plenty of Maylfly coming off but not a huge amount of fish rising. I tempted an out of season Grayling on the nymph and few small Brownies mainly to a Paradun but some on the nymph. However a switch turned at about seven and the river just came alive - Mayfly everywhere and fish rising all over the place. I began targeting bigger fish and fished exclusively on the dry for the last few hours and caught in excess of 20 Brownies to about 12" and one Dace.

Biggest of the day
At times the fish would ignore the fly on the dead drift but attack with vigour as I retrieved. Many of the fish that I caught had distended belly's from gorging on the Mayfly feast! Met Nick early in the session who had taken a few fish on the dry. Had a close encounter with a Badger that trotted past on the bank literally feet from  me before dusk had even fallen. 

Monday, 21 May 2012

Bristol Frome - fishing better than ever

After a tiresome day at work I checked out of family duties for an evening on the Bristol Frome. This little river I take for granted but it's always there just 5 minutes away to take my mind off work. I usually end up here if I get frustrated in the traffic and tonight was just about as bad as it gets at about 17:30! Anyway my favourite little pool turned up the goods with a nice fish at about 11" on the dry that I cast to rising on the far bank. This was quickly followed by a couple more on the nymph. On  the way down I could see the spate had shifted a few mature trees and opened up a space for me to cast downstream to stretch I could did not normally fish. Just a little flick to a dimple that look more like a Dace than a Brownie. It was another nice little Brownie to the dry.

As you move downstream the river slows up and I watched some big Chub (3lb+) rolling on the surface - one day I'll target these and be successful on the fly. Next fish on the nymph another Brownie although a slight different colouration - almost plum tinting and different characteristics to the normal Brownies here. 

I lost a good fish of over a pound rising under some Alders but soon made up for this with three more lovely Brownies including my Bristol Frome PB which must have been over 1.5lb. The last two rising within metres of the motorway stanchions. In all I must have caught 10 or more wild Brown Trout and lost 3. This was my first visit this year and if anything the fishing seems to be better than ever. On the way back to the car I clocked a good 12" fish in the Bradley Brook but couldn't tempt it.

My Bristol Frome PB - blurred as light was fading.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Somerset Levels Day Out Birding - Osprey and Bitterns put on a show

Family day to Somerset Levels today. Fine sunny day, still not mild but not uncomfortable. Visited Shapwick Heath and RSPB Reserve at Ham Wall. Amazing day for birds and other wildlife. The family list contained 10-15 Hobbies, 6 Bitterns, 3 Cuckoos, Osprey, Black Tailed Godwit, Garganey, 2 Great White Egrets, Marsh Harrier and Garden Warbler not to mention some regulars like Kingfisher, Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Cettis and Reed Warblers. All in all I think we saw well in excess of 40 species.  If anything makes you think why you want to support the RSPB this reserve does. When I was a boy a lot of this place was left to peat extraction and grazing now it looks and feels more like the Camargue. Mayfly, Dragonflies and Damsel flies everywhere. Just a fantastic day for all of us.

Southern Hawker -
we watched it take this damsel on the wing and then consume it for lunch!

Black Tailed Godwits feeding in the lagoons

Not a great close up shot - but two Bitterns and a Hobby in one frame!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Lower and Upper Chew visit

Fished Lower and Upper Chew. Weather was clear and sunny but not warm for this time of year. The Lower Chew was carrying a fair bit of water and was coloured particularly in the pools. I gave it a go and caught a small Brownie on the nymph. Lots of fly life coming off - I think some were Yellow May but I stand to be corrected. 
Then moved on to Upper Chew which was incredibly clear with at least a third more water coming through than normal. The gravel had been washed clean and the stream looked vibrant. Unfortunately the fish seemed a bit conspicuous by their absence. I caught one small Rainbow which I recognised from my last visit. Saw no rises at all even though the odd Mayfly was drifting over the water.

Female Banded Demoiselle

Monday, 7 May 2012

Bank Holiday in deepest darkest Wales on the Teifi

Spent a great weekend fishing the river Teifi with Red and Dave based around Llandysul waters. The valley is wonderfully wild with escarpments of mature woodlands separated by sweeping bends, deep pools and wide shallow riffles. The target species was Sea Trout, wild Brownies and maybe a lucky Salmon. However the season was early so chances of a Sea Trout or Salmon were not the best although if we did hook up it was likely to be a big fish.  Dave acted as host and guide taking us to numerous stretches of the Teifi that are available under the club which all indicated great potential.

Jack's Pool 
I started on streamer flies fished on 9wt rod downstream and actually had a tug, on my first run. As the weekend moved on we all mixed it up fishing Rapala's and spinners together with some opportune moments to use the trout river fly gear. Red won't thank me for reminding me of his moment of glory when his Rapala tempted what was possibly a big Salmon from the depths. A few moments of elation and his rod bent in two were soon followed by disaster as the fish broke free. My best fish came to a jointed Bass lure that was cast into a run bounded by overhanging mature trees. Dave advised a long cast downstream. A sudden tug was followed by the fish breaking surface. Unfortunately it shook the hook as I failed to keep the line in contact with the lure. It looked like a good sized Brownie. Red seemed to have the little Rapala's under control as he hooked and landed a couple of nice wild Brownies over the three days.
Red's Brownie on the Rapala.
In the warmer moments I reverted to the style of fishing I felt more comfortable with and some of the medium depth bends provided excellent sport on the fly with small Brownies and Salmon Parr readily taking the nymph and dry. Both Dave and Red took time to match the hatch particularly when some early Blue Winged Olives started coming off and it certainly seemed to pay off.
Salmon Parr

Although we didn't catch the monster we were hoping for it was an enjoyable three days fishing on a lovely river. For any birdwatchers out there the valley produced Redstart, Raven, Red Kite, Dipper, Kingfisher, Nuthatch, Tree Creeper and a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker to name just a few. Thankfully the rain stayed away for most of the weekend and the water was fairly clear. Now have those little streams around here calmed down a bit....

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Frome in flood and Rainbows between the rain.

Fished one of the lakes this evening which was the colour of hot chocolate. Rivers too high after excessive rain. I was desperate to get out and fish as it was fairly mild with overcast skies, no wind and just light rain. Rising Rainbows were focused on Hawthorn Flies drifting on the surface. I tried to match as best I could with a Black Sedge pattern. I had numerous rises to this and a Black Klink but missed all of them. The fish I did catch took a small buzzer on a slow retrieve just 18 inches below. Ended up with two in the net and one snap off - not too bad after looking at the returns book.

Took the lads out Sunday (29/4/2012) to look at the Bristol Frome and Bradley Brook which were both running high and flooding the banks after the rains.

The Frome at Frenchay

About to breach the bridge at Winterbourne Down