Fly fishing in Enlgand and the southern chalkstreams are synonymous, the crystal clear waters spawned the elitist upstream only dry fly and nymph standards that many still hold, not me though. The majority of the chalkstreams are playgrounds for the rich and famous, memberships can cost tens of thousands and day tickets are well in to the hundreds for the more famous beats. Unfortunately this does not make them good, rich people tot up with the newest most expensive gear with the flies they are told they must have and cast at freshly stocked monstrosities which would surely take the hook alone. These people do not understand the true enjoyment behind fly fishing. It is not about filling your bag with big fish, there is no shame in blanking on a hard water, fishing for easy big fish is no fun, without the challenge where is the sense of achievement?
It is a real shame then that nearly all of the chalkstreams are now like this, the only true fishing left on them is for the wild grayling which manage to thrive despite these keepers best efforts and I happily spend many winter days trying to catch them after the Lords and Dukes have left the beats for the colder seasons. One of the few exceptions is the lovely river Wylye, the price is the same, way out of reach for a student like me but it has never (and hopefully will never) be stocked. The banks are also allowed to grow, mowing and weed cutting are left to a minimum and the result is a very special river, one of the last of the true chalkstreams in my opinion.
I was over the moon therefore when I had an email from Roger Fagan (his impressive blog) inviting me down for a day to fish it. They were letting the riff raff on one of the most exclusive pieces of river in the country, 11 miles of river are shared between 40 members and half of them apparently never fish it!!
I was too busy fishing to take many photos of the river unfortunately so the blog post may be a bit dull. I had been warned before we started that better fishing than myself had blanked on this river which can be incredibly hard, however there was a bit of colour in the water due to the recent rain and the fish were less spooky because of it. Working up the first beat I had plenty of fish, in fact far more than I could have hoped for. 40+ grayling and a dozen trout came to hand that morning. At one point I managed to hit a pod of large grayling and had half a dozen grayling over 12" in as many casts.
At one point I even had my first ever double hook up when two grayling attached themselves to my leader simultaneously, crazy fishing.
During this spell with the big grayling I hooked a 6" fish and was bringing it swiftly in when an enormous trout chased it to my feet where he turned and dirfted back under some weed. A few casts past the weed later and he hit my pheasant tail hard and tore off down river. A lifetime later and he was ready to net, he was atleast 2-3" longer than my 18" net and had tried every trick in the book to get under the bank and weed, finally just as he surfaced and I dipped the net the hook pulled, I had to laugh, I have now lost 2 enourmous fish in 24 hours gutted.
In the evening we decided to fish on one of the little carrier streams, I had my fill of nymphing in the morning and was stubborn only taking my dry flies to fish the little stream which averaged about 7' wide.
There were some large sedges about and I did not want to faff about changing and drying flies in the gloom so a Moser Balloon caddis was tied on and flicked upstream over and over again until it erupted. What followed was brilliant fun with half a dozen fish bought to hand over the space of an hour as they battled hard in the little stream, they really had to be bullied to keep them out of the weed!
It was a brilliant day and Roger has been kind enough to invite me back, is tomorrow okay mate?
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Spent this weekend fishing with my good mate Nick on what I now consider to be my home waters of the Lower Taff.
On Saturday the water was still a bit high (a good foot over summer average, which is better than most rivers in the UK at the moment) so we hit the Rhondda which flows into the Taff at Pontypridd. As I had over indulged in Bourbon the night before we didn’t start until 3pm, but we had an awesome evening session. The fish were rising when we arrived and we noticed that Terry was already working his way up the pool so stopped for a chat, he told us of a monster that he put at over 4lbs in the stretch below us; apparently he had tried most of his dries over it and the fish would nose them, ignore them and then carry on rising to the pale wateries, dark olives and blue wings coming down in good numbers.
Nick and I decided we should rest that fish and go back for him in the evening and watched Terry fish for a few minutes. A phone call then had Terry leaving in a hurry as he had forgotten an appointment with his lady (he has his priorities all wrong) so Nick and I started to fish up through the stretch.
It was one of those days where there were so many naturals coming down that the fish wouldn’t move for a good imitation, instead I sized up from the 16’s and 18’s to a size 12 sun-fly. This big mouthful was enough to grab their attention and we were soon rising a lot of fish all in the 0.5-1 lb range, good fish for the tributary. I have no pics of the fish as I had left my camera so will keep this day’s write up short.
Our evening on the Rhondda was cut short when she proved that the river itself could be as contagious as the fishing, when the heavy rain comes here overflows open in to the river and after I was hit by a sanitary towel we took that as a cue to leave.
We finished the evening on a good dry fly pool on the Taff above Ponty and had a good evening catching a load more fish on the dries, spinners this time as the blue winged olives had come back as claret spinners and the fish were feeding heavily on them.
The dry flies I used on Saturday are real staples in my box and I will do a post on them soon, the sun-fly and jinglers in particular always seem to elicit a rise from a stubborn fish, although I haven’t tested them on a river apart from the Taff yet.
I remembered the camera on Sunday so we can have a pic post to make up for the dire lack of pics from the previous day. There were far fewer fish rising on Sunday but we both managed to catch our first and last fish on the dry with a few in between when we reached a good dry fly pool, again the jingler and sun-fly producing the goods. The rest of the many fish landed were on jigs, mainly drab brown-olives or bright red tags depending on the depth and colour, murkier the water more blingy the fly. Again the size of average fish was staggering and must have been approaching ¾ of a pound, this average was seriously helped by Nick landing the beast below.
Good weekend had by all on the Taff I think.