Monday, 28 November 2011

The Itchen - 14th November

I left early from Cardiff, 5am to be exact, and headed out on to the M4 or my home from home as it is fast becoming. As day broke a crisp misty start to the proceedings was obvious and I approached Winchester with the excitement steadily building. I absolutely love chalkstream grayling fishing and the Itchen is a chalkstream I had never fished before (way out of my price range during the trout season).
I setup whilst waiting for Nick (the 20 minute drive for him obviously too much on a Saturday morning haha). 

The welcoming party raced over in the hope of sugar cubes or mints, they were disappointed by my lack of treats.

I had already planned this in my head and my smaller rod was put onto the duo method with a size 20, 1.5mm beaded hares ear (on a grub hook) suspended below a size 16 balloon caddis. I also setup the longer (10’ 3#) rod with a French leader but removed the indicator and just had very fine mono (1.8lb) to a single nymph (the same hares ear as below the caddis). This was to be my stalking rod and the duo for searching the riffles and pools where I could not see the bottom. When Nick eventually arrived, all of five minutes after me, I already knew exactly what tackle he would be bringing from his boot, the guy is absolutely addicted to short line nymphing and sure enough a team of flies on a French leader were soon hooked through an eye and we were off. 

We stopped off at the little fishing hut and had a quick chat before starting the serious business. As Nick settled into the very first pool I made my way up to a long sweeping bend. Before I even reached the river Nick was shouting that he had a decent fish on. This guy must have some kind of pheromone leaching from every pore on his body, he simply can’t stop catching the big ladies. However this time he had accidentally put on his rubber hooks and as I turned round all I saw was his indicator spat back at his face, gutting.

The spot I chose to fish was classic Dan, a lovely sweeping bend with all the current on the far bank and no easy way to access it from this side of the river. A reed bed had grown up in the slack on the inside of the bend and what could possible go wrong with walking out over that right? A few steps and suddenly there was no ground beneath my feet anymore and I was up to my thighs in stinky silt. Well since I was already here and now close enough for a cast I decided to fish anyway. The duo was flicked up into the current and it was not long before the caddis disappeared and I lifted in to the first grayling of the day on the nymph. As it was so warm the grayling were still looking up for their food and the nymph was taken at about 2 foot below the surface in 6 foot of water, no need to trudge the depths just yet this year.

I spent about half an hour up to my nether regions in the reed bed, managing to take 4 grayling and 2 trout, one of the grayling absolutely hammered the dry fly and jumped like a dolphin over and over again in a bid for freedom. When I tried to extricate myself I realised my problem, I could not move either leg hmmmmmmmmm. By slowly rocking backwards and forwards I eventually worked myself free and crawled on to solid ground once more, although I somehow left both the soles to my pair of wading boots behind, Father Christmas may have to bring me a new pair this year.

The first fish of the day from deep in the reeds and about average for the quality we were in for.

The next piece of water was long, straight, wide, shallow and filled with weed. Perfect for stalking along trying to sight fish some grayling, luckily by now the mist had burned off (it took almost till 11am). This is exactly the fishing we came for and was truly magical. We both use nymphs that are far too small to see in the water so instead depend on accurate casts ahead of the fish we want and then tracking the line down whilst watching for the lovely lady to suck something, anything in or merely move to the side, flare the gills etc… Once you have your eye in it is extremely rewarding as your arm seems to lift of its own accord before your brain has registered what it is doing and the thumping twisting grayling is attached. 

The long glide was perfect for spotting the grayling (there are a few in this very poor pic), spotting them in real life was just as hard until they moved to take a nymph or rose to an emerging olive.

This sweet little calf seemed to think we were crazy, apparently we smelt as well as he sniffed my hand before snorting and running.

My best fish of the day was this beauty at 1.5lbs, I can still remember watching him move to his right and slightly up as my nymph came past, that was enough encouragement for me to lift the rod slightly to move the nymph and he hammered it.
The top of the beat has some deeper faster water perfect for Czech nymphing and we both caught a decent number of fish blind here, Nick yet again found a shoal and removed at least a dozen fish mainly around the pound mark with the largest of the day at 1.75 lb.

It was a lovely day and one I am hoping to repeat many times this winter, the next will be on the 11th December when I am fishing with my Dad on the world famous River Test. The fishing is well worth the remortgage and 3 hour drive, for those Southern ladies fill my dreams and if I am lucky my net as well.


Right that’s the blog up to date now (well ish) and I am planning to keep it that way as much as possible. I will not blog every trip I have as that will soon get samey and boring, instead I hope to share some magical moments and hopefully some beautiful pictures and interesting thoughts and flies over the winter.
Oh and happy late Thanksgiving to all my American readers.

Oct/Nov Review and a (quick) rant

Where is old Jack Frost? Is he having a longer respite this year? Perhaps he over exerted himself in the early months and is still in recovery? It is now the end of November and I have yet to reach for the thermals for fishing, actually had to think about sun tan lotion on a few outings. Something is weird, not quite right, I can’t help but feeling we are going to pay for this with an extremely harsh winter when it does finally arrive.

The benefits of this milder weather are visible in the fly hatches, the little olives on our waters are still acting like it is a mild autumnal day and the fish are feeding on them. All of my recent outings on to the Taff have seen me leave the 4mm tungsten and 10’ 3# rod at home in favour of my (now fixed) dry fly rod and I have reaped the rewards. Plenty of fish have been taken on small CDCs and Griffiths Gnats imitating the midges and small olives (of unknown species as I am no entomologist). I may have caught more fishing the nymphs but if Jack Frost has been so kind as to leave the Taff alone for an extra month is it not rude to abandon this last dry fly bonanza?

The flipside to this has been the large number of out of season trout I have been catching. These guys and gals really need the hard frosts to switch their mind to more appropriate pastimes for a winter trout. They shouldn’t be bothering my dry flys so much at this time of year with their nasty teeth ruining my pretty, fragile CDC, but boy are they still hungry. I don’t feel as guilty as I normally do catching them out of season though, these fish are clearly not spawning yet and when they do they should be caught less frequently.

On that note I was recently reading a post on an American fly fishing forum about specifically fishing for spawning fish. The bloke was suggesting that large lures should be hung under a float and drifted past spawning fish to generate an anger attack. Is it just me or is this short sighted? Fish when spawning are far more stressed than usual right? Stressed fish produce less offspring, catching them stresses them out even more, you are going to ruin your friggin stream! At least we seem to have some common sense in this country and leave the spawning fish well alone. Salmon seem to be the only fish we deliberately target whilst spawning but that’s a whole kettle of fish I am not going to open here.

I am preparing a post on my favourite winter dry flys and nymphs, once I get around to setting up the camera on a bright enough day for some decent pics I will put my patterns on here. Hopefully there will be a few patterns included which make you think and perhaps even adjust some of your old favourites.

Tight lines

Monday, 17 October 2011

Lack of activity

This post is a bit of an apology as I have not updated the blog for a near age. This is not because I have not been fishing, in fact I have fished a hell of a lot lately. The main reason is that my little digital compact is broken and I am not sure of my ability to paint the scene and get you to come on the journey of my fishing trips with me if no visual aids are available. But stick with me and I will try to fill you in on the past weeks of my fishing life.

I have got to grips with my new section of the Taff now and Taff troubles are behind me, I have learned a lot about her nature and that of her inhabitants. I now know where the deep holes and current seams are along with a few spots where a big head occasionally breaks the surface (next season will be interesting). I have had good success now and the days of tough fishing seem a million years ago, she is giving up her bounty readily now I have earned her trust with my own blood and tears as well as a good amount of time.

Most of the time has been spent on a very unseasonal Taff in Wales. I have been throughly ringing the dry fly sponge to get every last drop out before the winter means the Sun miraculously provides light with absolutely no warmth in it. Don't get me wrong, I adore the sensation of rigging up with the hands shaking with a mixture of frost bite and excitement, putting on nymphs so heavy they will kill you if your back cast catches you and spending the day up to my wotsits in water so cold I feel like Leonardo from Titanic. I am ofcourse exaggerating, winter fishing is an absolutely amazing experience and I get out just as often as I do in Summer, just for much shorter periods. However while the Sun still has warmth left in her beautiful rays I am intent to chuck as much floating fluff as I can, and the grayling have been rewarding me. Most days have seen catches of over 20 fish to short sessions, most are small but who cares. Soon only the lonely LDO and gnat hatches will convince them to look up so make the most of it!

During teh unseasonally hot weather I was lucky. Lucky because I got to fish with a good friend and lucky because I got to witness something very special. The grayling is a fish very dear to my heart and my personal best is a lovely 18'' fish of 2lb 6oz. This is a big grayling and i caught another 2lber on the next cast.


My PB grayling, fought like a demon and still gives me shivers.

However this was caught last season (February 2011 to be precise) on a chalkstream in Hampshire (the enigmatic and famous Test). The Taff is a very different river to this so I was delighted to hear the screams of Nick. The kind of scream that has no real words but you know the meaning, it is a mix of disbelief, pure emotion and shock, he had caught something very very special. Without my compact handy I ran to the car to get out the dSLR and nervously did a mountain goat impression down a steep rocky bank into deep rocky water with over a grand of camera equipment around my neck, thats how special this fish was. The lady was immense, she weighed in at bang on 3lbs and is the biggest grayling I have ever seen, I feel lucky to have even seen her. You will forgive me if I do not tell which river she came from, we are an overpopulated island as it is and I do not want any more pressure on this ecosystem than there already is.



Other than that I have managed a mini adventure with a week bivvied up chasing carp, I blanked. So is the way I suppose shit happens.

It will be Christmas before I can afford a new compact so I aim to work on my skills with words as my brush to take you on the journeys until then, my apologies in advance.


Monday, 22 August 2011


So much for a relaxing evening on the river! I seem to be going through  a bit of a (what's the opposite to purple? Green?) patch at the moment. Tonight looked so hopeful, a very gentle breeze, slightly overcast, insects hatching all over the place but how wrong it all went. I saw 2 rises in 2 hours fishing and managed to raise a couple but couldn't hook them up. Still even with the blank it would have been a lovely evening on the river with the gentle sunlight and warm breeze, that is if I hadn't witnessed the death of a good friend. With a nasty crack my 8'6'' 4# streamflex decided to become a 5 piece. I am absolutely gutted as I loved that rod and I know how notoriously bad the Grey's replacement policy is. Bugger or stronger words to that effect!!!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Taff troubles

Had my first few short sessions on the Taff this week after moving down to cardiff last wednesday and it has been a real baptism of fire. The banks along the club stretch are so enormously steep and high (some kind of flood defence) they would have a mountain goat crying for its Mum. I have also been attacked by a dog and propositioned by a chav all in its a fair bit more "colourful" than the sedate chalkstreams I cut my teeth on. Once you have evaded the angry dogs, refused the amarous Burberry clad masses and plummeted down the ravine you land in a little piece of heaven. Clear waters flow over enormous boulders which conceal our quarry.

So far my clumsy wading has limited my success but I am getting used to wading these fast heavy waters without a staff and am becoming more stealthy with every visit. I recently watched a John Tyzack presentation at the game fair where he pretty much summed up the approach I attempt when fishing. Feeding fish are easy to catch, scared fish are impossible. Our task is simply to get close enough to present a piece of fluff gently in front of a fish without it even knowing we are there. Easy right? Not with the mating call of the chav, barking of the alsatian and a vertical 20ft drop to the river it isn't.

Tight Lines

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Time to Fish

Finally I have been able to get out fishing! I had two days of small stillwater fishing to scratch the itch over the weekend. The first was at Withern Mill, a lovely little venue with clear water lakes in Lincolnshire. They have a stretch of the River Oo running past the lakes and our day started by chucking dry flies about and catching a few trout from behind weedbeds. A pint bet on the biggest fish of the day soon had us on the lakes though chasing some of the large double figure fish we saw swimming around our feet, there were atleast two doubles that passed us in the day without showing any interest in the flies. In the end the largest fish was caught by me, a lovely brown trout of about 2 and a half pounds. I also achieved something I have been trying for a little while, catching a rudd on the dry fly.

The second session was on Ketsby syndicate lake and I very nearly achieved another first! I hooked my first ever blue trout, the bloody thing jumped and jumped and then jumped off. To make things worse Dad then laughed and laughed and proceeded to catch another blue. He is still winding me up about it now.

The only other fishing related news of the past few weeks has been my spending habit. Whilst I am still a working man before going back to Uni I decided to complete my river set up, I have purchased another Streamflex (I love my 8'6'' 4# and use it almost exclusively for all my fishing now), this time I have added the 10' 3# to my arsenal for short line nymphing. I am also the proud owner of the cheapest and smallest rod I have owned since I was a kid. I now have a 7' 3# Shakespeare Odyssey and at £30 with a tube provided it is an absolute bargain. I haven't tested it yet but the aesthetic and feel of it are surprisingly good and I have a sneaking feeling it is going to be a joy to fish with. Finally I have bitten the bullet and upgraded my river reel, the old plastic faithful is going on the 7' and a Danielsson Nymph is on it's way to me for the Streamflexes.

Got a lot of fishing coming up with a trip to the Eden planned as well as some small stream fishing nr. Bath. I am sure I will also find the time to fish my new club waters on the Taff with FTAC.

Hope you are all fishing more often than me at the moment!

Monday, 23 May 2011

21st May - Buckland beat on the Usk

I am off for a three day fishing and drinking extravaganza next weekend on the Welsh Dee so thought it would best to get my eye in so I dont look quite such a tit. A trip house hunting to Cardiff gave me the perfect opportunity for a sneaky afternoons fishing on the way home.

After struggling to find the beat (all the Welsh sign posts look the same just full of Ls) I nearly killed myself getting down to it! The footpath was more of a climbing wall as I descended the valley like a drunken mountain goat. The view at the bottom was more than worth the near death experiences though.


I walked down to the very bottom of the beat, well beyond the beat actually but we will get to that. The fly life coming off was incredible there was everything I can identify and more. BWOs, yellow mays, mayflies and sedges as well as some large olives which I can not identify. I started fishing a klink and dink approach with a tan and yellow klink hoping to imitate the yellow may duns as the fish seemed quite keyed into these as they took off. A few slashy rises for the dry and nothing to the nymph soon saw me cut the nymph free and just fish the dry. Needless to say with the sheer lack of skill I have with a dryfly I managed to catch nothing but a small salmon parr on my first walk-up.

The sign of good fishing to come! I hope these are coming off in force next weekend on the Dee!

I want to live here!

Next time through and I changed to a foam mayfly I acquired during the mayfly swap on and the first, and largest, trout of the day was quickly to hand.


The mayfly seemed to disappear then so I made my waw back down to the bottom of the beat and watched swathes of small olives boiling over the water and delicately touching down, I presume to lay their eggs, before taking off and disappearing into the swarm. To imitate the gentle impression these olives were making on went a griffith's gnat. A bit of a bogey fly for me this one, I had never caught anything on one before but somehow it seemed right to try again.

At this point a brilliant old man came hiking up the banks I struggled to pass all day as if they were paved. He politely informed me that I had dropped down too far and was in fact poaching his water. We chatted for a little bit and he kindly showed me the very well hidden marker for the end of the Wye and Usk beat I was meant to be fishing.

I was incredibly embarassed, really don't like poaching and especially when I get caught!!! even if it was truly an honest mistake.

From that point I only had about 2 hours left but the fishing exploded as the olives carried on their dances for the rest of my time there and some buzzers started hatching. One particular swim left me incredibly satisfied. A large rock had split the current in two and between the flows was an area of slack water with a few fish rising in it. The water below was too deep to wade so the only approach was from the side across the nearest fast water.


The cast was a tricky one as I am a pretty average caster at the best of times. The best I could do was to deliberately overcast the spot and let the line ping back creating slack in the tippet and then before it hit the water make a dramatic upstream mend to land the line in an S across the fast water. This introduced enough slack for the little gnat to sit perfectly still in the slack water for about five seconds before the current dragged it under.

I waited for the first rise and plopped the gnat right in to the rings with the slack and it was immedately smashed by a little wildie who left the water with my fly wedged in his scissors. Two more followed in quick succession from the same eddie before I decided to elave them in peace and began to slide and curse my way back to the car.

Not the biggest fish I have ever caught but pretty and the tricky cast made it one of the most rewarding.


CARPe Diem

I apologise for the unforgivable pun I really couldn't resist. On a trip back to the area I grew up in (Sussex/Kent) I managed to find a few free hours on a quiet hot friday evening, and I certainly seized the day. By chance I had my 4# outfit in the boot and new of a little estate lake within walking distance of the house I grew up in that I used to float fish as a kid.

It had been a few years since I had even seen the place but I knew that on a flat calm evening the carp there would be slurping down the buzzers and other insects hatching from the surface.

I only had a 2 hour session but managed to land half a dozen carp all around the 5lb mark which were brilliant fun on the light outfit. All were caught by chucking a size 10 hares ear emerger in front of feeding fish, much more purist than my normal dog biscuit approach.

The lake was completely flat calm when I arrived, except from the rings caused by carp topping that is. There are two fish rising in this picture the closest was my first victim of the evening.

A beautiful little common carp. I really don't think that name does these fish justice, they are stunning to look at and fight like a steam train, anything but common!

This plump little mirror nicely finished off a fantastic evening of reliving my youth, only this time with a fly rod instead of wagglers.

I left the lake feeling like a little kid again, and went up the Anchor for a pint of Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter, the taste of home!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Syndicate Oxfordshire Trout

Managed my first trip in a long time last monday as a guest on a local syndicate water for an evenings buzzer fishing. Not much to report really, the water was crystal clear as always and the fishing was as hard as I remember it.

Buzzers were hacthing all over the 20 acre lake and fish were taking them with anger, many head and tailing in the classic feeding rises. Could I get one to take my dry fly? NO. I think the sheer number of naturals on offer made it unlikely that my little dry fly would veen get noticed and the size 18 shuttlecock weas undisturbed for a good 2 hours before I gave up.

Out came the 6 weight rod and on went a team of two superglue buzzers under a foam suspender buzzer. within a few casts I had my only fish of the evening a nice well recovered stockie rainbow.

The only other excitement came as I was stripping a minkie (did I say that out loud?) through a shoallow weedy bay. A sudden flash of green and a pike had severed my leader.

Still don't think I have cracked this lake, no where near, and hopefully I will be invited back. There are some truly monstrous resident browns caught by the pike guys well in to double figures. Next time I may bring sinking lines and large streamers in the hope of latching in to one of them.

Added a bit of a "twist" (pardon the pun) to a couple of my favourite lures before I start hammering a few reservoirs over the next week or two. Hopefully they will catch a fish or two.

Twister taddie

Hook: Size 8 longshank korda carp hook (very heavy)
Tail: Chartreuse marabou
Body: Black and chartreuse chenille wrapped together
Hackle: Black hen
Head: Orange thread as a hotspot

Twister Kitten

Hook: Size 8 longshank korda carp hook (very heavy)
Tail and wing: Chartreuse marabou
Body: White and chartreuse chenille wrapped together
Biots: Fluoro orange
Head: Orange thread as a hotspot

On the topic of the hooks I have been using carp hooks for a few of my lures (and big buzzers) for a little while. They have an awesome hook hold and are completely indestructible. Also they weigh an absolute ton so are good for getting flies down without the need for a beadhead. Only issue with them is they are teflon coated to "aid with a smoother hookup" for the carp boys and as a result are slippery in the vice.

Thoughts and comments as welcome as always
Tight Lines

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Fly tying sessions

Had another long tying session today trying to get the hang of tying with turkey biots. I cant thanks gareth Lewis enough for his article here,, which really helped me get to grips with tying them in properly for the desired effect.

Anyway here are my efforts, not in the same league as his but I am relatively happy with them, any criticisms or suggestions? How many of you tie with turkey biots and what sort of flies do you use them for?

Olive paradun, probably the messiest fly i tied today but it floats really well in the glass of water test and i like the effect on the abdomen so thought i would share.
Click the image to open in full size.

Tying the biot in the other way round results in the heavily segmented body seen in this CDC dun, not sure which i prefer?!
Click the image to open in full size.

really liked the effect it created on the bodies above so decided to whack it on a buzzer. Was happy with the effect, the biots seemed to glow in the bright sunlight.
Click the image to open in full size.

Cheers for reading

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Fly tying

Well the new season is definitely here now and unfortunately my fly boxes are nowhere near ready for it. I have had a hectic few months searching and applying for PhDs (all sorted now, off to Cardiff so see you on the Taff!!) and completely forgot about the more important things in life, restocking my boxes being one of them. To get back in the swing of serious churning out I have signed up to a couple of fly swaps on various fora. The first was a beginners CDC swap, my contribution a very much tested sedge pattern which (together with the good ole CDC and Elk) tore the Derbyshire Wye apart last August.


The second swap is a much more daunting prospect, some of the names on the list are phenomenally good tiers and I was a wee bit hesitant to put my name down but what the hell! The theme of the swap is mayfly (any life stage) and for me that really only means dry fly. I have chosen to merge a pattern I have used before to good success with one stolen borrowed from the Dry Fly Experts blog (if you havent read this, do). The original and result are below, hopefully it wont be too far below par for the swap.

The only two reasons I changed this pattern at all were that it has been mentioned the varnished wings could impair hook-ups and that the varnished wings are a bugger to tie in neatly. Keep it simple stupid!

Fragile deer hair was replaced by slightly less fragile pheasant tail, the rib was changed from thread to spanflex for a more defined rib and the wing was changed to white calves tail. Coupled with a more heavily hackled thorax it should float well.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

6th March - River Avon

Recently I was given a furled indicator to test by a member of the FFF and to give it a fair whack I made the trip down to the bit of water I know best, the Wilthsire Avon.
The little stream was in fine condition, a good height with a little tinge of colour, hopefully the fish would be feeding confidentally despite the bright conditions.

I started the day short line nymphing with the indicator on a small side stream and managed a few decent grayling, however I felt that when short roll casts are required the indicator was a bit detrimental and possibly spooky to the fish in shallow clear water. I took it off and just watched the line, the takes became more frequent although the fish were smaller?! It was a beautiful day to be outside and the small stream produced a dozen grayling and 5 brown trout in the two hours I was with her.

The glide that leads up to this section of bushes always holds a good head of grayling, and occasionally a surprise lump of a trout (especially during the mayfly).

A string of 3 good grayling all came to the indicator fished at short range, all were pretty much carbon copies from the same run.

A few brutish browns put in an appearance to bend the rod, not long now before they will become fair targets for my dry flies.

The top of the strecth is a weir that has to be packed with fish, although despite fishing it every time I pass, I have never caught anything from it. Had a follow once!

As I reached the weir at the top of the stream I decided to switch and fish the main river, it is a lot wider and probably better suited to the indicator, probably a better test. It proved to be a good call as after another hours fishing I had landed another 7 grayling and 1 more trout (not exactly a record breaker).

The main river is a lot wider than the stream with a strong but even flow through most of its length, the grayling seemed to be held up off the edges of current created by the winters debris.

It was good to see the future of sport here putting in an appearance, hungry little buggers.

It was a lovely bright day and the fish were feeding, I feel the furled indicators are a useful tool for certain types of fishing but probably a hinderance on smaller streams or spookier fish. On the main river it did allow me to fish at more range than normal and still deteect finicky bites. Useful tool to add to the armoury.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Avon Carrier - 26th Feb

Avon Springs was a bit too easy to scratch my real itch, I needed some proper wild fish and at this time of year that obviously means grayling. As we left the B and B on Saturday morning the rest of our party, being well and truly under the thumb, had to go home to scrub the toilet or soemthing similar, I decided on a detour for a few hours fishing on my favourite carrier.

It was a short trip as I wanted to catch the afternoon rugby (grand slam is coming!) but 2 hours on my little stretch beats 2 hours in front of the television. Setting up I got some odd looks from a couple of coarse fishermen who were soon cemented to the spot with all their gear, not the way to fish this river. You need to keep moving as the grayling are well spread, even now, and the shoals you do find spook easily.

My roving approach quickly paid off and I was soon bringing a fair few small grayling to hand. The weather was mild and they were really on the feed, short line nymphing was the order of the day and every twitch of the leader was struck at.

Evetually this resulted in a dozen small grayling and 2 WBT, not bad for under 2 hours fishing, sure beats watching eastenders omnibus anyway.

Small but perfectly formed, this little carrier always produces for me.

Avon Springs - 25th Feb

Just realised it has been over a month since I last posted on the blog and unfortunately the reason for this is that it has been a month since I have been out fishing! My other commitments have left me house bound and as the end of last week grew near I was going mental with so long spent indoors. Luckily I had a day booked at Avon Springs with my Dad and Paul so the itch was soon to be scratched. None of us had ever fished Avon Springs before so didn't really know what to expect, the reviews on the internet did not seem great but who believes the opinions of people who post on the internet ;-).

When I arrived my first impressions were good, staff were friendly (as was the German Shepherd) and the water was gin clear. I tackled up my 5# and made my way to the far lake as there were already half a dozen guys fishing the first lake and no-one at all on the far one. I stalked all the way round the lake seeing absolutely nothing, my heavy feet didn't even spook any (perhaps this was why everyone else was on the first lake). When I got all the way round to the furthest point a glance back to the island produced my first sight of a fish, a dark silhouette moved against the clear gravel. A tungsten beaded hares ear was popped on his nose and he took it on the drop. The fight was spectacular, strong and fast the fish stripped line from my little 5# as he headed for the reeds. Once turned he still didn't give up and it was a good five minutes before he was in the net. About 4lbs of hard fighting, well finned rainbow trout.


There were a good few fish moving out towards the island and the next cast produced an identical copy of my first fish, taken on the drop, on the same fly he put up an equally good account of himself. It seemed there was a deep hole just off the island surrounded by weed and the fish were holding over and in it. The pod was pretty impressive but the fishing not to my taste. A phone call informed me Dad and Paul had arrived so I walked back to the car to greet them.

I thought I was a little crazy with a 5# (a fair wind was blowing and these fish really fought) but all that was blown away when I saw what my Dad was setting up. I thought he must have been fishing the river for grayling as he set up a 4# with a good 15ft of 4lb fluorocarbon, but he was just a bit wrong in the head. We put Paul on the point with the pod and Dad and I went off stalking. Before we even reached the end of the point Paul was into his first.

Alongside the point there is a long narrow bay (can't think of a better word for it) that looked choked and lifeless, well except for the trout in the bottom of it anyway. Dad waved his little 4# to no avail so I very kindly showed him how it was done. A heavy spanflex nymph with dumbell tungsten eyes rocketed towards the bottom and was then twitched up and engulfed. An equally strong fight followed but with nowhere to run it was over a lot quicker, 3 casts and 3 fish.

I think my Dad needs a bigger rod if he is going to be doing that with it!!

Moving round the lake Dad found some more fish and used his little wand to get a line out from between two trees in a spot the larger rods just could not cast in.


He followed my example and 3 casts later there 3 fish on the bank.

The rest of the morning was spent leisurely stalking and I completed my bag with my best fish of about 5-6lbs.


Dad manged one a smidgen bigger (as he always does) and we were bagged up by lunchtime and in the Mayfly pub an hour after. Dinner and beer followed by more beer and yet more beer was necessary along with some good chat as Hugh O'Reilly and some blokes from North of the Border joined us.

Off topic they fished the McMullens stretch of the Test the next day and Hugh is claiming a 3lb grayling, until I see photographic evidence I refuse to believe it! Jammy Bugger!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Kennet with ACW (23rd Jan)

Had the privilege of a trip to Andy's part of the Kennet on Sunday where a group of us gathered to tackle the grayling. This is the exact stretch of river that started my obsession with grayling fly fishing almost exactly a year ago. It was the first time I had ever fly fished a river and under Andy's advice and guidance I managed to catch my first ever grayling (well my first 3 actually). So an entire year of fishing regularly on the rivers of South England and Wales had passed and I was keen to get back to where it all started and see if I had improved.

The day started in the perfect fashion with chat and tea, whilst setting the rods up. We were soon on the carriers though and with such a lot of water available we spread out so as not to interfere with each others fishing. I started at a hatch pool and the first cast of the day resulted in the first fish. He took a size 19 olive PT with a 2mm tungsten bead fished as a dropper with a 3mm beaded fly on the point. The heavy beads helped achieve the depth in the very short drifts of the hatch pool.

Small but perfectly formed, most of the grayling seen on Sunday were young fish but fighting fit.

Two more fish followed from the hatch pool before I managed to use all my stealth and grace to spook the shoal by almost falling in returning the last fish. All were roughly the same size but it was really nice to be able to hit the delicate bites that stalled the leader on its passage through the faster water. All three of the fish were taken after the leader stopped for a fraction of a second as it moved downstream, I still strike at every little twitch as I do not yet have the experience to easily distinguish debris from fish and would rather false strike and recast than miss a bite.

After the success in the first pool I was relaxed, hadnt blanked and already equalled my tally from my first trip here. Atleast my fishing has not got worse over the last year! The water was pretty low and very clear so I slowly approached any darker/deeper water and worked my nymphs through.

The darker water along the far bank held the shoal with only the odd straggler or trout to be found on the glides between pools.

Halfway down the stretch I landed the largest grayling of the day for me, by no means a monster but he bent the rod nicely and gave a fair account of himself.


Lunchtime bought Andy's famous BBQ Steak sandwich with red wine (resulting in a few more lost flies)  and yet more tea. It was good to put faces to names from as I think most of the guys there today were from the forums.

The afternoon was fairly similar to the morning, under Andy's advice i switched to a duo rig with a tiny beaded nymph 3' below a klinkhammer, the bites were much more visual but not as satisfying to connect with as watching the subtle movements of the leader. One trout gave me a bit of excitement though as it demolished the dryfly.


All in all it was a very enjoyable day, I left feeling confident that I have made significant progress over the year and having met a few good guys who I will hopefully fish with again.