Sunday, 28 April 2013

BEWL WATER FISHERY, WEEKLY REPORT week ending: 25th April 13

Lots of boats ready to take us out!
Bewl continues to fish extremely well. This week's rod average is a very high 7.08. It could possibly be much higher as a large group of Belgian anglers had a great day's fishing on Saturday and only a very conservative estimate has been made as to how many they caught and released. The water is at last starting to warm up and the fly life is starting to "move" with good hatches of various types of buzzer. The fish are in the top few feet of the water and in some areas are showing on the surface. The banks are still fishing very well, but boat anglers having better access to the top spots are doing excellently. Best areas for boats and bank have been Canoe Club Corner, Seven Pound Creek and Rosemary Lane. Other places such as Hook Straight, Hatherell's and Ferry Point are starting to pick up.
Best flies are Black and Green Tadpoles, cormorants, Boobies and Buzzers.
1499 bulldog rainbows weighing between 2lb and 2lbs 12ozs were stocked this week.
The fishery are currently compiling a list of anglers who would like to receive the fishing report by email every week.  If you would like to be added to the list either carefully write your email address on the bottom part of your next permit, with dots and capitals in the correct place or send an email to Water temperature is currently 8.5 deg C  Water level 99.7%

Friday, 26 April 2013

Fly Fishing: River Wandle Magic

Ever since hearing first Alan Suttie and then Theo Pike (renowned author of "Trout in Dirty Places," see the post dated 1st Feb 13) give talks about how the River Wandle had been rescued from being an industrial dumping ground back towards being a chalk stream with trout in it, I had resolved to fly fish it.  Today, as my son had borrowed my car, I decided to take the bus and the tram and go check it out.  Needless to say nobody paid any attention to me wearing all my fly fishing garb as I travelled to Watermeads, a public park near Mitcham.  I was not brave enough to wear my waders on the bus, I thought that was pushing my luck a bit too far, so I carried them in a bag.
As I walked the bank I spooked a cormorant.  That is bad news and good news.  Bad news because they eat a lot of fish, good news because it was there because it obviously thought there was a chance of a fish dinner!

 Yours truely in the Wandle at last
Anyway I got into the water and had some casting practice.  River fishing is so much more challenging than still water fishing and I hadn't fished a river for 5 months.  I also benefitted from some wading practice, especially as in some areas I sank around a foot deep in silt.  I also had some dodging branches with the fly practice.
No I didn’t see any fish or catch any but there was plenty of fly life coming off the water.
Magical highlight of the day was meeting a splendid chap called Alex Titov an AAPGAI fly casting instructor who was on the water practising. 
Alex Titov
He kindly took a couple of pictures of me (to prove I was there).  He then demonstrated some superb casting and let me video him.  I know when I am being outclassed, watching Alex really was magic!  Please play the video.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

BEWL WATER: First boat session this season

So far this season I had bank fished and as it was early season had done reasonably well, but today I only had a half-day available, so to speed up the process of finding the fish I decided to take a boat out.  You can have a half-day boat from 3 pm and the cost of an 8-fish ticket and the boat hire is £40 (say $60) which seems reasonable (especially if you bag up).
A chap in the car park had “bagged up” and he recommended Canoe Club Corner, this was confirmed by Jackie in the fishing lodge.   Jackie and Janet who run the lodge are always most helpful as they want fishers to have a positive experience.
Jackie holding the fort!

Janet collecting the cash!
Jackie assigned me a boat number and I collected my life preserver en route.  Because it was my first day “on the water” I carefully ran through my mental check list regarding boat equipment.  I noted that the assigned boat had oars, rowlocks, a bailer (useful for urinating into if you are a chap)!  However, it did not have an anchor.  I don’t usually anchor but I like to have all the options available.  A quick call to Jackie (01892 890352) at the lodge and I was re-assigned to a fully equipped boat.

Having arrived at Canoe Club Corner I watched the 2 boats already there to see how they were fishing it.  They were both on the drift with drogues out.  A drogue is an underwater parachute which slows the down-wind drift of the boat keeping it broadside to the wind.  They were drifting very close to the dam.  The following video clips show them fishing.  Put your sound on to hear my comments.  The video is a bit shaky because I was bouncing around in the waves!
Drifting this close to the dam you have to know what you are doing, and they did!
Two's company, three's a crowd!
I set my drogue up and joined the party trying to maintain a reasonable distance from the other boats and not to motor across their drifts.  I tried out my new Airflo Lake Pro WF8F (weight forward 8 weight floating) pale mint line using the 10 foot rod Airflo Forty Plus NanTec 7/8 rod I had bought at the club auction.  The line sailed out like a rocket and floated like a cork so I was pleased.  Still after 2 drifts the 2 cormorant flies had not been touched so I switched to my other rod rigged with an intermediate line.  I felt I needed to get a bit deeper as there was quite a lot of wave action on the surface.  I had a gold-headed blue flash damsel on the point and a cormorant on the dropper.  Immediately I had a take, but the fish did not hook up.  Then I connected and boated a nice 2lb blue trout.  A couple of drifts later I boated another larger blue.  Then it went quiet and so I decided to move. 
I have never seen the lake (reservoir) so full!
The wind was from the south so I joined several boats drifting the edge of Chingley Wood up towards the dam.  No one was catching and they all moved off.  I then, with one other boat, tried the corner of Chingley.  They caught in close, but I wasn’t seeing any action so I motored across to the Bewl Straight side of Ferry Point and watched 4 bank anglers.  They were catching fish so being careful not to get too close (50 metre rule) I had a few casts from about 150 metres out.  It seemed to go a bit quiet and I was starting to get a bit cold so I moved on up to The Nose.  Here it was out of the wind and flat calm.  I spotted a fish moving at distance and covered it using my new floating line.  It hit the cormorant hard, it was another blue.  
First fish using my new Airflo floating line.
Shortly after that I had another 2 fish , all blues.  Then I got a text from my son asking to borrow the car so I packed it in and headed for home!  Back at the jetty the fishery team had just recovered the afore-mentioned anchor lost by someone earlier.
NB   A previous post has a map of Bewl Water showing the locations mentioned.



Monday, 22 April 2013

Good and Bad: Fishing and Fly Fishing on TV!

Over many years my work colleagues, knowing that I was a fisher, would often ask me if I had watched a particular fishing programme on TV.  Frequently, I would reply that I hadn’t seen it because I was fishing at the time!  I then would invite them to tell me what I had missed.  Nowadays here in the UK you have the benefit of being able to conjure up programs you have missed at any time using digital technology.  The BBC version of this is called I-Player and it is brilliant.  Other channels have their own programme recall versions as well.  This has meant that occasionally I have been able to check out a fishing programme during late evening.  
Now the bench mark I use for judging a fishing programme is a much acclaimed series called “A Passion for Angling” where Chris Yates and Bob James go on a grand fishing adventure across the UK.  See

Chris is noted for his eccentric style and his passion for freshwater fishing often with a center-pin reel.  Chris prefers to fish using older methods and tackle, making him one of a rare breed of angler enjoying the cane rods and original fishing equipment of a bygone era.  In his books and films Chris always has a strong emphasis on the enjoyment of being close to nature, and the other pleasures that come with fishing.  What for me, made this series special, is that the two anglers are real gents, who show respect for the fish, the environment and for each other.  Amazon also have the DVD available.
Sadly, there is currently one fishing programme presenter who gets to go to wonderful locations and fish for amazing species with local experts but whose behaviour is disappointing.   He is probably a nice guy but some producer feels that to give the programme interest it has to be edgy.  I particularly don’t like the way the presenter, under the guise of competing against them, is rude to the local fishers who are trying to help him.  For me the programme would be far more interesting if more time was spent on techniques, tackle and the species.  We all know local knowledge is crucial so you should not be “biting the hand that feeds you” rather you should be showing appreciation.
Presenting fishing on TV and making it interesting is a challenge but there are plenty of talented people around who could do that.  Dare I say that golf is a boring game to watch, however, TV producers make it interesting because they have such good camera coverage, with knowledgeable commentators providing interesting background information.  I would like to see an international fly fishing competition (preferably a drift boat loch style competition) covered by a number of cameras (some afloat) with expert commentary and explanations.  Casting, reading the water, strategy, fly selection, manoeuvring and catching and netting could all feature.  I think that if done successfully it could do much to promote the image of fishing in general and fly fishing in particular.
This is how I see it in the UK, please put me straight if you think I am wrong.  I would also be interested in what happens on the TV front in the other 33 countries that are reading this blog.
Can I close by welcoming the fishers in Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, India and Romania who have recently started viewing the blog.  You are most welcome please let me know if there are any topics you would like me to cover.  Kind regards  Alan C

BEWL WATER FISHERY WEEKLY REPORT week ending: 18th April 13

The wind has changed from the East to the South West and we have at last had some spring weather making conditions for fishing a lot more pleasant. This week's rod average is an outstanding 6.15. Anglers fishing from both boat and bank have reported catching up to 25 fish. Most anglers have been catching at about 6-7 feet below the surface. Rosemary Lane, the front of the playground and Seven Pound Creek are still the best bank fishing areas. Ferry Point has also picked up.  Boat anglers have also found plenty of good sport in these areas and at the top of Hook Straight .
Successful flies have been Cormorants, Cat's Whiskers, Buzzers, Black Tadpoles , Green Damsels, Vivas and Montanas. Any method anglers have caught well from boats on small spinners and shallow plugs.
The Southern Region National Qualifier Competition took place at Bewl on Sunday April 14th. 19 anglers caught 146 fish giving a rod average of 7.68. All but one entrant caught 8 fish and many had finished fishing by 1pm. Winner was John Pearne with 8 trout weighing 18lb 4oz plus time bonus.

Water temperature is 6 degC. Water level 99.5% and water clarity good.

Friday, 19 April 2013


A fly fishing friend, called Mark Cain, who recently moved to New Zealand has been reading the blog and has sent me an e mail asking for advice on buying waders.  Apparently he is about to engage with some serious river fishing.  Lucky chap, NZ is on my fly fishing radar!  The request was timely as I was wearing my waders for around 6 hours yesterday.

I must confess that I have a "love/hate" relationship with waders! I love them when they keep me dry. I hate them when they leak! Currently mine keep me dry. I am not sure what brands Mark will have available, but I would suggest to him that buying mail order is a bit risky, going into an outfitters and trying them on is a better approach. If you are going to buy mail order then a chat with the company over the phone for advice is probably a good idea.  I guess Mark will be looking at lightweight breathable waders as opposed to neoprene. Breathable waders are meant to let sweat out but not water in.  Neoprene waders provide insulation as well as keeping you dry, they are ideal when fishing in very cold water for say grayling in the UK or winter steelhead in the USA.

When you are able to try waders on in a shop then you need to try sitting, bending and kneeling in them. You need to be able to do all those moves without feeling restricted. Wearing waders that restrict you is tiring and they wear more quickly at the pressure points. I tend to prefer stocking foot waders, but then you need separate wading boots. I prefer stocking foot waders because the waders roll up as a smaller package and you can keep the boots (which get dirtier) separate. Also the boots take longer to dry. The other advantage of stocking foot waders is that my float tube turbo fins fit straight over the stocking feet and I don't need the boots on when float tubing.

All waders should come with a belt which you tighten around your waist to trap the air below the waist so if you get swept away you can bring your knees up wrap your arms around them and float.  The idiot above (yours truely) wearing Orvis waders has not remembered to put his on!   A water proof pouch is useful for car keys etc. I like built in gravel guards (flaps that pull down over the top of your boots) as well. The gravel guards also seem to stop the boot laces coming undone.  Some of the latest wader types are designed to be rolled down to the waist when it gets warm, but I have not tried those.

I think I am on my 4th set of lightweight waders having had a variety of brands (Hoggman, Orvis and currently Redington). Waders are subjected to all sorts of wear and tear (hopefully not tear) as you walk through brambles, climb over fences etc so ideally they need to be fairly robust. Seeing what the fishing guides are wearing is a good indicator as long as you bear in mind that they probably got them at a discount or for free!

Finally, if you want to make your waders last, treat them with respect, don’t leave them wet in the back of the car for long periods or near hot surfaces.  Hang them to dry naturally both internally and externally.

I bet there of lots of things I haven't covered so feel free to comment, I still have lots to learn.


Monday, 15 April 2013

Bewl Water fishing well, I worked hard and bagged up (almost)

The weather forecast was warmer, dry but windy (SW) so I had to give it a go.  Having got my ticket from Jackie in the lodge, I spotted Rob Barden coming back from dropping a couple of bank fishers off so I waited for him so I could say hallo and get some advice as to which banks were fishing well.
Rob is a splendid chap and a great fly fisher, this year he is fishing for Team England.
Rob suggested I tried Rosemary's Lane so I jumped in the car and headed south down the A21.  The entrance to the Lane is hard to spot unless you remember the Arena Attractions have their yellow sign at the entrance.  Having parked on the mini dam I decided to fish the windier north bank hoping the wind would have pushed the fish close into the bank (also you don't need to wade).  I caught a hard fighting 2lb blue on a cormorant fly on my 3rd cast,  This is going to be easy I thought, so I changed the fly thinking I would try to catch each fish on a different fly.  The green and white lure did not work so I went back to the cormorant.  The wind got up and veered making safe casting tricky as you can see from this!

Cormorant stuck in hat!
Another fisher came by and informed me that he had seen a fisher on the south bank catch several fish.  So I decided to move.  On the south bank near the dam I caught another two fish and then it went quiet.  So I went back to the car put my waders on and went further up the south bank wading out in front of the trees.  I fished a team but the cormorant on the point accounted for three more fish and a black/green buzzer for one more.  Twice I felt a slight take, just like getting an electric shock up the line.  Each time I moved the fly slightly and was rewarded with a savage take.  I only noticed the slight takes because I was "fishing tight", for a definition of wha I mean by that see my post "How to hook more fish" posted 4th March 2013.  My phone went off and my wife reminded me she needed the car so I had to call it a day.
Seven nice fish in the bass bag!

Saturday, 13 April 2013


Years ago I was lucky enough to come across three copies of a wonderful fishing diary at a “jumble” sale.  Having flicked through a few pages I immediately bought all three copies.  Two copies have been given as presents but I still have my own cherished copy. 
Muriel Foster’s Fishing Diary covering a period from 1913 to 1949.  Fishing diaries are often kept by keen fishers, but Muriel Foster’s diary will interest even folk who have never walked the sparkling banks of a stream or brook.   Amongst the detailed accounts of locations, flies used and fish caught are wonderful illustrations of everything enjoyed in that environment all meticulously set out.  The good news is that you can still get it on Amazon. Here are some typical scanned pages:-

As I reached the end of 2012 I realised that I had almost filled my fishing diary started in 2005.  Then it had replaced my fishing diary started in 1992.  Whilst the discipline of writing up whole fishing expeditions, as well as odd days on the bank is a little demanding, I feel the benefits are worth it.  I see the advantages as follows:-

·         Years later you can read about a particular trip (one that you may have forgotten) and still get enjoyment out of the rekindled memory.

·         You can remind yourself of what was successful and what didn’t work on particular waters.

·         You can remember the friends you made and the special fish you caught.

·         You can rediscover names, places and hotels you had forgotten.

·         Above all, if you are lucky you can avoid making the same mistake twice (like forgetting to take your wading jacket when you are flying halfway around the world)!

Here is an extract from my fishing diary dated July 2009:-
“Found an interesting tackle shop at Carnation (WA, USA), it was in a pale yellow house opposite the entrance to the Mac Donald Memorial Park and camp ground.  Later I met the owner on the pebble beach at the confluence of the Snoqualmie River and the Tolt River at the back of the camp ground.  He told me that when the sun was high in the sky the ospreys sit in the trees above the river waiting for migrating salmon and steelheads to pause whilst they made up their minds as to which river to take.  It is an ambush!”
Junction of the Snoqualmie and the Tolt.  Ospreys sit in the trees on the left.
Here is another dated October 2011:-
“It was pouring with rain on the west side (WA, USA) so I drove east through the spectacular mountains to Ellensburg and then down the legendary Canyon Road wonderful high desert scenery with the road tracking the Yakima River.  Stopped at Red’s Fly Shop, collected some flies (tiny gold head nymphs) and advice.  I blanked probably because I fished the easy to reach stretches that are over-fished.  A few days later, Shayne at Church, told me he fished a bit further upstream using a dry with a suspended nymph and caught lots.
The Canyon stretch of the Yakima.
Last year on a chalk stream (river Wylye in Wiltshire) 29th May:-
I worked my way upstream and met the friendly bailiff Jedd who suggested I tried an emerger.  Just upstream of the “slab” pool the emerger was hit by a big fish!  A “tug of war” commenced between fishy fins, assisted by the current, and me, assisted by my eight foot rod.  Suddenly realising that pulling wasn’t helping, the fish shot towards my bank some 4 yards downstream from me.  To my horror it dived into a large array of branches all connected together.  I knew it was still hooked as I could feel the rod tip pulsating as the fish swayed in the current.  I rejected plan A "pulling", and plan B "giving it slack", etc and settled on plan Z.  So still keeping tension on the line with my rod arm I slipped off boots and socks and unzipped the bottom of my lightweight fishing trousers (not easy to do one handed).  I then flattened the stinging nettles between me and the water using my landing net and slid down the bank into the water.  Fortunately the cold water only came up to my knees and the bottom was firm.  Still holding the road in my right hand I tried lifting the main branch with my left.  Being water logged it was much heavier than I had expected and I thought I was going to fail to shift it, but a strange thing happened!  As I lifted the branch the current caught it and floated it downstream and clear.  But I was not “out of the wood” yet (joke), as my line, leader and trout were under another branch.  I thought I was facing failure but decided it was worth having another go at clearing the obstacles and the same thing happened.  The branches when lifted drifted down stream.  Now its lair had been discovered and removed the trout shot back into the middle of the river and battle recommenced with me netting it a few minutes later.  It was a cracker and completely unscathed.  A quick photo to record a bit of “extreme fly fishing” and it was slipped back into the river. 

Being able to experience fishing like that is a treasured privilege that needs to be remembered and shared.  My blog is my new diary, try starting yours.



Wednesday, 10 April 2013


I was looking at the amazing Washington Fly Fishing forum when I came across a fishing magazine article posted by my friend Leland Miyawaki, the Fishing Manager at Orvis, Bellevue, WA.  It is an account of Fishery Wardens catching, at gun point, four men who had netted 242 prime cut throat trout!  The pictures and text paint an amazing picture that nearly ended in a fatality. Try

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


Oh dear!  I expect to be sleeping in the shed tonight!  I made the mistake of mentioning “booby” in my last post, which then got seen on Facebook by my daughters and a niece!  So in an effort to recover the situation and stay out of the shed (which is damp, dirty and has spiders) here is my defence.
Fly fishermen (and ladies) don’t just use artificial flies to catch fish they also use artificial lures.  A lure is something designed to look like a small fish (a lot of fish are cannibals) or something else edible.  The booby is a very effective lure for trout, because it is very buoyant as it has two polystyrene balls attached to make it float.  Sometimes they are coloured to look like large eyes. Some bright spark decided to call this type of fly a “booby” for reasons that might appear obvious from the picture. 
Being a bit naïve the significance of the name didn’t occur to me for several years!
My favourite technique for fishing the booby when the fish are just under the surface is to strip the booby quickly across the top of the water.  The trout chase them and can be seen chasing by the bow wave they produce behind the booby.  Sometimes the trout just turn away, sometimes they hit the booby and don’t hook up, but fairly often they connect and you have a fish on.  Booby flies can also be fished effectively on a sinking line as they get dragged under and buoyantly provide quite a big target for hungry fish!
So with an apology to the fairer sex (who usually make very good fly fishers) I rest my case.
PS:  Needless to say we don't use the booby on chalk streams!  You would end up in prison!

Monday, 8 April 2013


I am not a particularly competitive person by nature but I do like to occasionally “have a go”, so I signed up for the Bewl Bridge Fly Fishers annual bank fishing competition.  I did so because I like to support the club, get to know more members and learn from watching others.  Yes, and it is another chance to get out for some fishing.  This proved to be a well-organised event run by John Benfield, the club’s competition guru.  I duly arrived, had a sausage sandwich in the sailing club café and joined the queue of 41fishers to pay my £35 entrance fee (which covered my 8 fish ticket and the evening meal).  Financially it does not come better than that.  For my fishing friends in the States that’s around $50. The ping pong ball with my location number was then drawn and it was blue bank number 13!  Fortunately I am not superstitious.  Now of the 17 miles of shore line there were 3 areas of bank being fished shown by black lines.  Blue bank was from Bramble Bay to Pine Bay.  The other bank locations were around Dunsters and Rosemary Farm.

The anglers fishing those locations got transported from the Fishing Lodge by the fishery’s dory.  My group got to leg it from the car park to the clearing at Bramble Point where we assembled in sunshine and a cold breeze prior to the walk off. 
The walk off is done in numerical order starting with the lowest number drawn.  As I was number 13 I had to watch 12 other fishers select their position prior to me adopting one.  The idea is that after lunch the walk off order is reversed, but that didn’t really work as our group did not assemble again for lunch as we were too spread out.

At Bramble Point there was already a non-competition angler fishing and he had banked a few fish, so we were all optimistic when at 10.00 we entered the water for the first 3 hour session.  Because the reservoir is so full we had to wade out around 30 yards to get thigh deep in the clear, but very cold (4 C), water.  My location wasn’t ideal but it was good enough to cover fishable water. 
Gary who was fishing down-wind of me picked up a couple of fish in the first hour on slowly retrieved boobies, so inspired by him we were all trying hard.  Another chap with a red cap on who was fishing down wind into the bay using naturals (I think) had 4 fish but apart from that we all blanked. 

After lunch, having got really cold in the morning, I moved round to Seven Pound Creek out of the worst of the wind, where I could fish without wading.  Then the sun came out and it was very pleasant.  However, the fishing did not improve, the odd fish were caught but considering the number of competent anglers fishing it was disappointing. 
The boys on Bramble Point mid afternoon
Seven Pound Creek in the afternoon sun
No fish were topping and I tried everything I could think of, starting with an intermediate line with a team of lures, followed by buzzers under a bung (there were a few flies coming off the water) and finally a Di 3 line with a booby on the point and a couple of lures on droppers.  I even fished blood worm patterns deep.  At 17.00 we called it a day and walked back to the weighing in.  Surprisingly the other banks had also not fished very well, with quite a number of fishers blanking.
The weigh-in was a bit of an anti-climax but the chaps always liven it up with some caustic remarks!

Things started to improve when we got back to the club house and we enjoyed an excellent meal, lots of banter and the results.  The overall rod average was very low 1.66 fish per competitor.  There were winners and runner-ups announced for each bank.  The most fish caught by an individual angler was 6 (total weight 12lb 10oz) and two others had 5 fish each.  Bert Short caught the biggest fish weighing 3lb 10oz.
So to sum up, the fishing was a challenge, the weather mixed, the water very cold, the organisation excellent and getting to know other members of the club brilliant!  The official report of the event will appear, courtesy of Ray French, in the next edition of the amazing “Bewl Angle”, the club magazine.

Foot Note: I have just been on the club forum and here is an "official" statement.

Congratulations goes to the overall winner, Tony Fox who caught six fish near Goose Creek. The top rods on the day were as follows:

1.) Tony Fox - 6 fish for 12 pounds and 10 ounces.
2.) Frank Daley - 5 fish for 12 pounds and 7 ounces
3.) Harry Fox - 5 fish for 10 pounds and 8 ounces.
4.) David Little - 4 fish for 8 pounds and 3 ounces.
5.) Daryl Planson - 4 fish for 7 pounds and 9 ounces.
6.) G. Manley - 3 fish for 6 pounds and 10 ounces.
6.) Peter Young - 3 fish for 6 pounds and 10 ounces.
8.) Bert Short - 2 fish for 5 pounds and 14 ounces (also caught the largest fish of the day - 3 pounds and 1 ounce)
9. J.P Turner - 3 fish for 5 pounds and 12 ounces.
10.) Keith Lawrence - 3 fish for 5 pounds and 11 ounces.

Many thanks go to Andy Lush from Friendly Fisherman for sponsoring the competition and providing the prizes; Tracey and the catering staff at the Yacht Club for providing a superb hot meal and pudding; and to Howard and all of the staff at Bewl for helping out and making sure that anglers were delivered safely to the correct banks.


Thursday, 4 April 2013

Extreme Fly Fishing Pays Off

When you have to go, you have to go!  The weather forecast said air temperatures of 4C (say 38F) and strong NE wind.  What I didn't expect were the intermittant flurries of snow!  Having bought an 8 fish ticket and wearing more layers than a polar explorer, I trekked round to Bramble Point, set up my 10ft rod with an intermediate line with two cormorants as droppers and a small white and green lure on the point.  The water level was high so I had to wade 20 yards through shallows to get into thigh deep water. The wind coming onto my left shoulder almost allowed me to cast a full line.  I counted it down for a few seconds and on the 3rd cast, bang and I was in.  The fish took to the air a few times before I remembered my landing net was on the bank.  So I walked us both back and having grabbed it netted a beautiful blue trout.  It had taken the white lure.  Twenty minutes later I caught another lovely blue on the cormorant. 
By this time, in spite of me wearing my Patagonian fingerless mitts, my finger tips were so cold they were numb.  Interestingly, I found I could still tie knots, but by sight, not by feel!  I also found that the advantage of having numb finger tips is that you don't feel anything when you prick your finger on a hook.  It got just a bit too raw to stay there so I surrendered the location to a chap called John (who had cleverly put some old cut up neoprene waders as leg warmers on top of his lightweight waders).  I then wandered round to Seven Pound Creek to get out of the wind. Here things were a lot quieter both weatherwise and fishing wise.  Another brave fly fisher there had only had one fish.  For a few moments the sun was glimpsed though the clouds and the temperature rose a couple of degrees.  I thought I was on the Costa del Sol!
I decided to move on via the Fishing Lodge.  Having chatted with Janet I treated myself to a couple of Kit Kats (something I am not normally allowed) I worked my way up the bank between the Lodge and the dam.  Was I glad I moved?  Yes I was!  I was immediately into fish and they were up for a tussle, jumping and running like crazy.  I caught another 5 but 3 others threw the hook whilst in the air!  I even caught one on an orange blob, a fly I have never tried before.  Most of the fish were blues, but the final one was a cracking rainbow, worthy of a picture.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Fly fishing for trout in the UK and the USA, a comparison (Part 2)

Access to the waters

Finding this secret spot on the North Fork of the Snoqualmie was a challenge.
There are big differences to the way fly fishers can get access to fish in these different locations.  Understanding the basics differences can make a big impact on whether a fly fishing sortie abroad is a success.  Many years ago I still remember setting out from Salt Lake City to fish a lake in Utah, in April.  It was a bit off the beaten track and I found a “Road Closed” sign blocking the trail!  So I drove back a few miles to a bar and went in and asked why the road was closed.  Everyone looked at me as though I was from Mars and not just England and said “snow and ice”.  I crept out of there a bit sheepishly!
Now my experience covers most of the UK (UK or United Kingdom means, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).  In the USA I have only fished in Utah, Idaho and Washington States. To keep the post short I am only going to cover trout fishing.
Probably the best way to ensure a successful trip is to “hook up” with someone who has the local knowledge (which is how I found the location on the North Fork of the Sno.)  One of my posts in early Feb suggests formal and informal ways of doing that.

In the UK, the river fly fishing for trout season normally starts on the 1st April and runs through to mid-October.  Fly fishing on lakes that are only stocked with triploid rainbows is available all year (but it gets a bit tricky when the lakes are frozen as we don’t do ice fishing). 
A teaching session for youngsters on an English lake, note the ease of access.
Most of the UK's large reservoirs stocked with trout usually have a closed period from say end of November till the following March, this gives fish and staff a breather.
In the USA, let’s take Washington State as an example, my experience is that the fishing seasons are shorter and regarding rivers, they can be changed by the Dept of Fish and Wildlife at quite short notice.  To keep abreast of what is actually happening in the States you not only need a copy of the State Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet. 
As the one above is 148 pages long it gives a new meaning to the word pamphlet!  If you are interested in saving trees and have infinite spare memory on your computer you could download them for each State!  It is packed with lots of useful information, but the main reason it is so long is that each stretch of river and each lake can have its own season! 
Physical Access (to wet a line)
Most of the river fishing in the UK is either privately owned, or club owned.  A lot of towns with rivers running through them have a stretch of water available for free public fishing.  See my blog entitled “Trout in Dirty Places” dated 1st Feb 2013.  Lakes and reservoirs near towns that stock trout are usually run as commercial fisheries or they are run by clubs sometimes offering “day tickets”.
There are helpful websites that list available trout fishing with maps and the fishery managers contact details.  It is always worth a call before just “turning up”.  Apart from the big reservoirs with boats to hire, most trout fishing is done from the bank.
In Washington State I found it totally different.  Firstly most lakes, anywhere near civilisation, are surrounded by desirable residences with frontage right on the water.  Not only frontage but jetties, boat houses and on the larger lakes moored seaplanes! 
4th July at a friends house, viewed from the boat shelter at the end of the jetty, grandchildren in the water!
So when, rod in hand, you go along for a little fishing you may find that the only access to the water is the boat ramp squeezed between desirable residences.  Casting a fly from the boat ramp is not a way to make friends!  So basically when lake fishing near populated areas you need a boat to get access to the fish.  My solution was to use a Fishcat float tube as it fits in the boot (trunk) of my hire car. 
Larger lakes have parks with access to the water but the access can be busy.   Out away from civilisation access to lakes and rivers is much easier if you can find it.  Trees or shall I say forests are the other obstacle as they frequently grow right along the water’s edge.  When you get your fishing licence it comes with a vehicle use permit which you are asked to hang from your rear view mirror.  I don’t think I have ever seen a local hang one, could it be that they don’t want to advertise that they may be absent for a few hours?  In the “Recreational Fishing” car parks there are helpful signs warning about bears and reminding you that fishing after dusk is not allowed. 
Overcoming all the obstacles can be worth the effort as the scenery and locations can be spectacular.  Sadly I have not the space or the knowledge to give you the whole picture but I hope the topic is helpful irrespective of which way you are flying the Atlantic.  Please put me straight if I have got anything wrong!
 But you do have to be careful who you hang out with!!!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Fly Fishing: It’s not just what you catch, it’s also who you meet!

Today, I finally decide, forget the cold windy weather I have to get on the bank and so, after I had dropped my wife off to do some Family History Research, I headed down to Bewl Water.  I didn’t actually start fishing until around noon (usually the time the fish start their afternoon siesta).  As it was cold 6 C and very windy I decided to fish the north bank at Rosemary’s Lane and I asked a dog walker to take my photo just to prove I was brave enough to be there.

I fished by the oak trees but it seemed a bit quiet.  Another angler joined me and I went over to say hallo.  Hidden under a flashy warm “cover everything” hat and New York cop shades was the famous John Hancock Treasurer of the Bewl Bridge Fly Fishing Club.  We hid the hat so it would not damage the camera!
John, alias “Sooty” is the source of the much enjoyed joke page in the club magazine.  One of his more repeatable offerings is “Jonathan Ross has been accused of shoplifting a kitchen utensil from Tesco.  Ross said it was a whisk he was prepared to take.” 
John is a very accomplished angler and a “star” in his support of the club and the fishery in general.  He mentioned he had caught a fish further up the bank by one of the commemorative benches and so I wandered up there.  After about 20 minutes I hooked and landed a nice fish using an intermediate line with a white minkie on the business end.  Note in the picture my high tech priest!  I got fed up with leaving expensive fancy priests on the bank so I took a piece of plastic electrical conduit, forced a lead sea fishing weight up it, and wrapped some electrical tape around the end.  It works well, the fish don't seem to mind and I have never lost it!

Another angler called Mike joined us and proceeded to completely out fish me, this was partly due to the fact that I kept moving about into locations that were exposed to the strong icy wind.  Then I would give up and try somewhere else.  I was hoping to find a shoal so I could “bag up” and retire.
Mike had the good sense to persevere where he was, out of the wind and in the sun (as you can see he had a deck chair).  I even switched from my intermediate line to a floater like Mike’s and tried similar flies to him.  He was kind enough to let me photograph his excellent home tied flies and to video him landing some of his fish.  (The video takes a minute or so to load, so be patient!)
I did not have a very productive session but I did meet some lovely people and I enjoyed seeing the sun at last.
I definitely need more practice!