Sunday, 8 December 2013

This river Piking on the Bristol Avon is really scratching my itch.

Another lovely Winter afternoon on the Bristol Avon. Travelling light and covering ground. Armed with a bunch of gaudy red and black streamers Red and I continued to explore the middle reaches of the Bristol Avon. It was my turn today with two jacks in the 3-4lb range and both had signs of larger predator damage. They were caught slowly retrieving along the margins of rushes on an intermediate line. Again the weir pools did not produce and the fish showed in those sections with a reasonable flow and depth. Relatively mild and dry with a glorious sunset at 16:30.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Winter Piking on the fly

Red and I met up on the middle reaches of the Bristol Avon to continue our learning curve into the world of pike fishing on the fly. I have to say I am beginning to enjoy it more than lure chucking: one because you are so much in contact with the fly, and two because a well tied fly looks so damn irresistible when its drawn through the water. I had prepared well having tied my own creations and set up my own traces as opposed to buying the expensive creations in the shops. In fact I think a good set of mackerel feathers with a bit of extra bulk would do just as well as some of the £4 flies I'd seen! On to the river and the Bristol Avon was fairly low and wadable in places which made it nice. We walked a good few miles casting in likely lies. Persistence paid off as Red hooked his first Pike and it was on the fly. A nice little 4lb jack that gave a good account of itself on his standard reservoir trout outfit with a small streamer pattern. Red was well made up and I was pleased as he would now been keen to keep me company through the winter months while we wait for spring. A very enjoyable afternoon in the Avon valley even though I didn't get a follow or take.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

A bit of Autumnal Piking

Met up with Red today and desperate to get some river fishing in we headed for the Bristol Avon for some piking. A took a trusted Shimano light spinning set up whilst Red ventured out with some hefty flies. Unfortunately a match was underway in the area we were targeting so we had to walk a fair few miles to find some water. The river was pretty high and a bit coloured but we persevered. I ended up after one broken rod (I thought it was tough but it was no match for a mature Willow!) and half a dozen lost lures with one jack at about 3lb from just under the bank. Not good for fly fishing though as the banks were high and heavily tree covered. I was surprised at the resurgence of anglers on the river though thinking it was a dying breed.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Late season fish on the Chew and still the Mullet allude me..

Warm sunny afternoon saw me meet up with Red on the River Chew. Loads of Sedge coming off but the fish were not rising. I managed 3 Brownies and 2 tiny Grayling mainly on nymph with the exception of one of the trout which took a Klink. The water level was low and with encroaching vegetation it was quite difficult to fish. The Balsam was lining the banks catching flies at ever opportunity! I enjoyed it nevertheless but think the little river needs some rain to liven the pools up again.

Still no luck on the local Mullet front despite my best efforts to tie every Mullet fly imaginable - perhaps Mullet in murky water just don't feed by sight! Seeing big fish boil just feet from you but that seem incapable of responding to whatever I chuck at them is infuriating. On the bright side I have become a master of  local tides and can even predict when the gravel bars will be covered and uncovered and when low tide pools will get a flush either on the ebb or flow. I know where and when the Mullet feed but just can't figure what gets them agitated. Seriously contemplating a mud/detritus fly if one exists - hell I'll make one up.I still have hope and maybe what must now be a Plan Z up my sleeve but time is running out as Winter sets in.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Poole - pleasant paddle but disappointing catch

Fished Poole Harbour with my bro on the kayak. Calm overcast day with the sun breaking through every now again gave plenty of promise. We fished the boat channel and I had a few solid bites on squid on the bottom but did not connect. A couple of times we landed Spider Crabs but they were more of annoyance than a chance for celebration. After the tide had slowly come in we went inshore looking for Bass and Mullet keeping clear of the nursery area. Eventually the reel screamed off in just feet of water. No Bass but a solitary large Mackerel which I have to say was disappointing after the colossal fight it put up. A bit later into the afternoon and another surprise: after a few unsuccessful follows I caught nice Gar on a surface lure. The Bass were around but preoccupied on something other than what we had to offer. A long day and not much to show for it but a pleasant paddle in the warm late summer weather.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Summer surf in Tenerife - lesson is 'Early bird gets the worm' at Las Americas

During a couple of weeks in Tenerife I managed to get a handful of surfing sessions in with the largest day about shoulder high. Surfed mainly Piscinas off Las Americas as the swell had a fair bit of South in it. Piscinas is familiar to me as it breaks not unlike the Ledges at Kimmeridge with an easy takeoff and a winding left. It sometimes has two peaks combining to lengthen the ride. The right can suck up on the inside but tends to be fat on the outside. The only downside of the break is that it attracts surfers who ride longer boards and a half a dozen proficient long boarders on the peak can keep your wave count down.

Piscinas (or El Conquistador) on the best swell of the fortnight 

One day the swell came in more from the NW and Spanish Left started to work which is a few hundred meters N of of Piscinas. (Its worth noting La Derecha is classy right in between the two which is dominated by good locals). On that swell I did surf the slower right which peels off the other end of Spanish Left (not sure what the wave is called) which is the haunt of the local surf schools. I am amazed that the local shops take groups of inexperienced young beginners out here - not exactly the best conditions to learn in. They troupe them out on the shit pipe into the line up and coax them into powerful waves that offload onto the flattish rock (if your lucky, if not it might be lava lumps). I guess they see it as a local resource they need exploit at Las Americas but surely onshore El Medano would be better option where children and beginners can learn over sand. 

Funnily enough  the best swell of my visit must have sneaked through unseen as the session saw the smallest crowd.  On all days however by mid afternoon every break was pretty saturated with surfers fighting over ragged small peaks in the onshores. I could only conclude that the surf community here at this time of year thrives on social interaction with a certain amount of exhibitionism and few hangovers thrown in. This suits me as I will continue to get uncrowded better conditions at dawn.  Overall I was pleasantly surprised by the amount and quality of the surf in the height of summer when I thought it was going to be pretty flat.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Tenerife 2013 Sea Fishy tales...

Just come back from a few weeks in Tenerife with the family. Plenty of fishing off the breakwaters and rocks with lots of fish caught, most however wouldn't look out of place in your average saltwater aquarium. Light tackle order of the day with Size 12 hooks and reasonably small floats for sea fishing. I did try the fly occasionally but without success. I refined my technique to keep the bait in the water long enough for the bigger fish. This was to use a pinch of my trusty Ramer sponge capped with a squid tip. Bread would soon be removed without a positive take. At times I did groundbait with mashed bread, sweetcorn and tinned fish but I am not sure it increased the chances of hooking a bigger fish and merely turned your mark into a boiling mass of little rock dwellers. The lagoons held good numbers of Salema Porgy (a type of Bream), Vieja ( a type of Parrot Fish) and Mullet with odd European Sea Bass (farmed escapees sub 35cm) and small Cuda but getting a hook up was not easy. Mullet despite being the largest target were impossible to tempt, they seemed pre-occupied with grazing on the algae boulders. In between catching double figure numbers of Canarian Damsel Fish or Ornate Wrasse you might just have a scrap with a Porgy, European Sea Bass, Pompano or Vieja all on my bread substitute, which was nice on light tackle.
Ornate Wrasse

Lizard Fish

Canarian Damsel

No Guilthead Bream this time which was surprising as I did see the odd one snorkelling. Feathers or lures just produced the abundant Lizard Fish which although unusual never exceeded 30cm in length. Larger tides produced more fish in the lagoons particularly a few hours either side of high tide.  If you feel the need to take the odd fish for the table the Vieja is recommended despite its wrasse like appearance was delicious baked with butter, coriander and parsley. Rock fishing in exposed places was dangerous in any form of swell as even with my awareness of set waves I was caught out several times and found myself clinging limpet like to the lava  - sometimes I wonder why I push the boundaries so, it seems fishing does funny thinks to the logical mind. One other word of warning - Green Turtle were occasional visitors close inshore at this time of year which made for some spectacular snorkeling however if you know they are present best to move on when fishing.

Salema Porgy - the most abundant bream in the area.

Vieja - fish deep on the seaward side of inshore reefs
 and be prepared to make ground immediately.
Courting Flounders 

Grazing Mullet - if only they grazed on my bread fly!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Hooked on Mullet on the fly..

After a couple of weeks in Cornwall I finally achieved an aspiration of mine of catching Mullet. Having now got it wired on a fly rod I am slightly obsessed with this wonderful fish. Crazy fighting fish on light tackle - who wants to pay thousands for Bonefish in the tropics when you have these little beauties to target in the UK's coastal shallow water. I have tried for years to hook these on the estuaries around Cornwall and after catching a few on light float gear to start I have now mastered a few on the fly. I even used my trusty Fladen 3 weight with just a 4lb tippet - although I knew after surveillance the location where I was fishing wasn't going to produce anything over a couple of pounds. The fish I caught ranged from 0.5lb to about 1.5lb and even at that size on my light tackle they gave great sport. I used bread flies so not quite as sporting as using a nymph or shrimp pattern but I was pleased nevertheless. The key was to get the fish confidently feeding and cast the fly amongst the feeding fish - the more competition the better. Takes were vigorous and I kept a very slow retrieve to keep in contact with fly at all times - slack line meant no hook up. Size 10 hooks were the order of the day. I am now keen to try my skills closer to home and have already located Mullet some 20 minutes from my door - now how can I get them feeding?

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Lacock trip with no bait just fly.

Spent an evening fishing Lacock as I had the season ticket. Surprised the Upper Bristol Avon still held a fair bit of water although the weed growth was impressive with cabbages and rannuculus everywhere. I searched an eddy under a Willow with a small pink Grayling nymph and hit stiff resistance. The fish hugged the bottom and embedded itself in the weed. I had flashes of gold and hoped, just hoped it might be my first Barbel on the fly. After a colossal struggle on my 3 weight with 3lb tippet I managed to get the fish in the net. It was no Barbel but a lovely Chub which I conservatively guessed at about 4lb. After that things slowed down until the final hours of daylight when on a shallow stretch I caught a plentiful number of Chublet and Dace on the dry. Disappointed by the rubbish on the bank and a persistent scrambler/quad biker in the field - why do people want to spoil these nice stretches of river and countryside. I was concerned I might disturb the hard core bait fisherman but as I came across no one I am keen to return.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Cam Brook swim...

A few pleasant hours firstly cutting back excessive cover and then fishing a second stretch on the Cam Brook. Don't get me wrong I love cover but there comes a time when you need to get a cast in and a light bit of  low branch removal can open up pools that just need to be fished. Amazed I actually went for a swim at times despite the low water much to the amusement of the rest of the Cam maintenance team. It just goes to show even the little Cam Brook can surprise you and we all need to take care when wading. The fishing was slow but I found a few on the nymph and missed several to the dry probably due to fishing the duo. You might have noticed not much blogging of late - I have been out but busy with the family at all other times in the summer we finally deserve. Incidentally dry fly Dace fishing on the Chew has been great with some fish approaching a pound.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Southbourne Kayaking

Lovely Friday kayaking out of Southbourne with my bro and a friend, Pat, from his village. We set off with feathers, lures and a bit of squid I had left from an unsuccessful boat trip out of West Bay. Is it me or are charter boat trips just an excuse to fill small boat full of fee paying punters putting them on marks which are fished day after day just on the off chance someone on the boat might catch something half decent? Every time I go out I come in disappointed and really wonder whether the skipper has actually made an effort to put you on the fish. Anyway enough of the whinge back to kayaking where even if you don't catch fish its a wonderful experience and bit of exercise chucked in. We fished just a half a mile offshore. Rich picked up a Black Bream immediately. I had many tentative bream plucks and wished I'd taken my coarse hooks or fly hooks. I changed tactics and went onto a weighted eel and on the first cast hooked into nice little Gurnard. Rich and Pat went on to catch some Mackerel and I ended up with a second Gurnard. Not quite enough to feed the family but a pleasant day on the ocean nevertheless.

Monday, 3 June 2013

It's that time of year again on the Chew, what the fish and fly fisherman has been waiting for ...

Got back from Cornwall Sunday night and my wife allowed me to indulge on Monday night as I was desperate to get out and fish in the summer weather. The Chew came up trumps after a slow start. The Mayfly increased throughout the evening and in the last hours of daylight I was festooned in Danica with fish leaping everywhere. Funnily enough my first couple of fish were not trout but Dace and small Chub but soon the wild Brownies began to dominate. Most of the fish I caught were getting on for a pound with a couple of larger fish. Having fished the stretch many times earlier in the year I just couldn't believe the numbers of trout this little river sustains which are rarely so visible. On one shallow stretch in the low water I clocked nearly a dozen fish jostling for position at the tail of a pool all over 12 inches in length. Needless to say I used just a dry fly in the form of a Parachute Adams or olive Klink and tried to focus on the larger fish with my casting. I ended up with over 20 in the net and some large ones evaded capture. 


Sunday, 2 June 2013

Cornish Coarse on the fly

Just spent glorious week in Cornwall. Not much fishing other than dabbling with a bit of coarse fly fishing on a local campsite lake - that was until I was told it was banned due to health and safety reasons. While it lasted I caught Roach and Rudd on the dry and nymph. I have to say most sport came with some tiny bread flies I tied for Mullet but I did get sport on some Size 16 pink Grayling nymphs and parachute flies. The Rudd were incredibly fast and enjoyable to fish for on the fly even though none were more than palm sized. My brother caught a couple of nice Carp, one on my Size 10 bread flies linked to a bubble float. 

Surf was uninspiring with best session a 3-4ft day at Crantock which was sheltered from the predominant NW wind. The weather however was in the main great with endless days on the beach rockpooling, bodyboarding and relaxing with the family.
My son Henry paddleboarding up the Gannel at Crantock.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

And finally the fish are on the dry on the Chew...

Afternoon on the Chew I fished almost exclusively with Olive Klink on short 7' leader. It was simple and effective at targeting the wild fish which hugged the banks and overhanging vegetation. The odd Mayfly was starting to emerge but the fish were not targeting them and rises were quite low key. The birdsong was wonderful today and the Dippers as bold as ever. I managed about half a dozen fish, nothing big, but it was good to be focused on the rising fish. Water low and lots of Otter tracks today in the mud. The weather was mild with hazy sunshine making my fly almost invisible in the faster runs with only a splash to indicate a take. Managed to get enough video footage today for a short edit which I hope is enjoyable watching - makes a change from photos!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

River Chew gives up some lovely wild ones today

Late afternoon session on Chew. Arrived just when a good Large Dark Olive hatch was coming off. The fish weren't rising but were feeding sub-surface. In the first pool I must have caught half a dozen fish with two beauties one of about a pound and another even bigger. After the first hour things went quiet and only went on to catch a few more small parr. I did miss a head and tail rise on the dry from a big fish. Finished in a hail storm which was nice!

Not a bad start..

then it got better...

and better  - beautiful wild fish from the Chew

Monday, 6 May 2013

Bristol Frome - Smoltification. You what?

Spent the evening, after the hottest day of the year so far, fishing for a few hours on my local stretch of the Bristol Frome. Fished my usual pools and caught one on the dry and one on the nymph. I saw about half a dozen rises but the fish seemed a bit fussy not rising or taking just any fly. Big surprise was that one of the fish I caught in the evening was what I can only describe as a Smolt. It was a small feisty trout on steroids that once in the net was clearly a distinct silver bar. The fins were semi transparent with a dark edge. Why would any wild Brownie some 10 miles upstream of the sea, above perhaps ten weirs, an underwater culvert, and the barrier of Bristol Docks ever think smoltification to go to sea was ever a good idea! Is it in the genes of the population that every now again one of the resident fish will go all the way and transform to a Sea Trout? It did make me think of one other fish I'd previously caught that was distinctly different in colouration that could have also had the urge but the case was not as clear cut as this one (see my post 21/5/2012).  I wished it well on its downward journey and would like to think it would one day attempt its mammoth journey back up to one of my favoured pools with some extra saline muscle to put a bend in my 3 weight! Likelyhood is it will 'slob' out with all the other party goers down at the waterfront feeding on bread for the swans in Bristol Docks never to return. The resilience of nature never ceases to amaze me.
Not a great shot but the silver is unmistakeable

Friday, 3 May 2013

Friday fish on the Cam Brook - its all about the timing.

Hopes were high as I set off for Cam today. The sky was clear with some warmth coming through. Had to fish the morning as commitments mid afternoon needed me back on parental duties. The brook looked lovely with sporadic small rises early in the day. The vegetation was starting to take a hold and it won't be long before this little stream becomes almost unfishable as the canopy closes in. I found it hard today as tight casting and the odd gust of wind began to eat into my confidence. Its incredibly difficult to approach and cast to a rising fish on this stream and more often than not my first cast must have spooked fish. I missed several rises to the dry and lost two or three fish on the nymph within the first half an hour. After several hours of nothing, other than a dolls hand trapped in the roots of an alder which freaked me,  I finally connected with one small fish in a fast run to save the day. 

As I left there was a steady trickle of what I think were female Pale Watery duns (Baetis Fuscatus) coming off in a shallow stretch and I felt that the fish were just about to start feeding again but both time and enthusiasm had got the better of me. First Yelllowhammer of the year calling today in the valley.

A rare chance shot of  the spring canopy as I tried to catch the duns  in action!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

River Chew again - a few fish about but not always what I was after...

Sunny interspersed with sharp hail. Temperatures had dropped to just touching double figures and apart from the odd small upwinged Pale Watery flies not much insect life today. What did surprise me were the family of Dippers. The young were almost the size of the adults and dotted along the river bank waiting impatiently to get there next meal from the bedraggled parents. On the fishing front the shallow runs failed to produce any fish today although I did spook a big Rainbow in a riffle as I made my way up the river. First fish a good sized out of season Grayling which I wasn't too disappointed with. This was followed by a couple of nice Dace all on the nymph. I could see one of the Dace was gravid with eggs so to avoid disrupting their breeding any further I moved on.

Further downstream finally started to connect with a few wild trout. Only one took the dry and that was sunk so no real surface action. 

Mistle Thrush, Green Woodpecker, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail very vocal today. On my way I also saw Whitethroat and Skylark in the fields which was good to see. You might have noticed a different camera today - hoping to take some video but the hail put the fish and my videoing exploits down. My wife points out that the photos are all a bit repetitive and are they not all the same photos from one day. So I aim to mix it up a bit.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Hard day at the office ..on the River Culm

Spent day on the Culm in Devon with fellow angler Rich Denning. It was probably the warmest day of the year so far and my face and casting arm were testament to the strength of the sun as the following day I had numerous comments on whether I'd been abroad. Its funny how you go so long without considering sun block and before you know it summers upon you. Anyway the fishing was tough to say the least with lots of beautiful runs and pools not giving up any fish. I caught a nice Brownie in the first 30 minutes, had two further palm sized fish that shook the hook as I lifted them in and then lost another decent fish before it entered the net at the bottom of the beat. Not a great result after a good 6 hrs fishing interspersed with the odd break from the 'action' with moments of contemplation. The only significant rise was the fish caught. I ran the changes throughout the day fishing deep with shot and altering the size of fly both on the surface and nymph but the fish were just not interested.

Rich went for the majority of the day without a take and then at the last knockings took two fish in a fast run below some Willows on my very own Copper John, on a large Size 10 no less.

Alder Fly
I was pleased that both of us had not walked away empty handed but it seems as if the fish haven't woken up to the fact it is spring! Better than a day in the office though.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Spring has sprung on the River Chew

Beautiful day with wall to wall sunshine and light winds. Temperatures however were still only just in double figures. I fished my local stretch on River Chew. Quite a lot of upwinged flies coming off: in the main Large Dark Olives although I did see sporadic small dark bluish upwinged flies which I am suspecting were Iron Blue's. I need to get a decent ID reference book and really try to make some field notes. Anyway I caught about half a dozen nice sized Brownies and couple of out of season Grayling. I did miss one rise to a Klink but all the fish I caught were on the nymph. Saw only about two fish rising all day despite the quite abundant fly life and relatively warm conditions to that of late.

In one of the deepest pools I had a viscous tug after retrieving the nymph from the bottom. A serious fight followed with my little Fladen Vantage 3 weight bent at right angles. After a struggle I got the fish in the net and was surprised it was only just pushing a pound. On inspection its flanks had a iridescent silver/bluish hue with limited red markings. Having only caught one Sea Trout before I cannot be positive but it sure didn't look like the standard Chew Brownie and fought like a fish twice its size. A few minutes later in the same pool I hooked another good fish but after a long deep fight it bent the hook and evaded capture.

Chew Sea Trout?
Kingfishers and Dippers very active today calling and chasing each other down the river. Grey Wagtail, Raven and Green Woodpecker also very vocal. House Martins, Swallows, Chifffchaff and Blackcap all back for the summer.