Wednesday, 31 July 2013

They call it fishing, not catching! Welsh Fishing Trip July '13

It is not everyday you get invited to spend a couple of days with pals fishing and when one of them has a caravan not far from the fishing, how can you refuse?  Anyway, I couldn't!
 So there I was with Andy Jones a top sewin (seatrout) man and Rowland Elvidge who years ago I introduced to fly fishing and who now probably has more kit than me. Then there's Ian Govier another sewin expert who,  a few days before this event, had fished his local estuary and caught five sea bass and a sewin in just a couple of hours.  On the right is me looking more streamlined than ever!

Travelling around was slow because the local boys, being sewin fishers, had to stop to look at every river we crossed.

All were well worth a look.
Rather than sewin fishing, it was decided to fish a small stillwater for rainbows at Hayescastle, a favourite spot of Ian's.  However, when we turned up we found that half the children in South Wales were there under instruction and the organiser, a very pleasant lady gently shoed us away! We didn't need much shoing!  So I suggested we head to Llys-y-fran reservoir.  As Andy and Ian had never boat fished a reservoir before they were up for it.  We were beguiled by the beauty of the reservoir and soon discovered the excellent fleet of fishing boats in the boat house.

The boats and engines all looked brand new.  The only slight negative was that the engines did not have a reverse gear, but they started first pull and had an auto clutch, so using them was easy.
 Here is Andrew on his first boat fly fishing session but sadly the sun and water temperature (21 C) kept the fish down deep where they were concentrating on oxygen rather than feeding!  The net result (sorry about the pun) we all blanked!  As we were coming away, around 9 pm fish started to show around the boat house and we all had another go at them from the bank (Ian even borrowed a row boat and got amongst them) but the fish did not oblige.
 The next morning saw us as tourists but when we visited the lovely fishing village of Solva and saw the large mullet cruising the river we could not resist the temptation of casting a fly.  Needless to say the mullet were not fooled!  Then we walked a lovely coastal path.

And we found our way to St David's.  Although a small town, St David's is classed as a city as it has a majestic cathedral.

 Finally we made it to Hayescastle Fishery where we had it all to ourselves.  It looked promising as there was a damsel hatch on, swallows and martins were working the water and the odd large fish was disturbing the surface.
Ian, like all of us, was really fishing hard.  I tried buzzers and then had a fish on using a montana which sadly took to the vegetation and came off.  I, like the others, tried everything I could think of.  I cast a minkie out and it must have hit the water right in front of a large fish as the fish snatched at it but I didn't connect.  Eventually the montana fooled a nice 2lb+ rainbow.
Having dispatched it I used the forked stick method of carrying it that I had seen the steelhead fishers use in the States, to avoid getting my hands sticky!

 Ian showed me another useful tip.  If you break a rod ring (called a rod guide in the USA) you can do a temporary repair using a paper clip and some electrical tape.
So it was with pleasant memories that we left Ian's well-equipped caravan on Sunday morning.

 Our destination was the recently-built Milford Haven Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints where we attended for spiritual inspiration!

I came away with a lovely book that Rowland kindly gave me, it was called FISHING Observations of a Reel Man and I will have to make that the subject of a future post!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Fly fisherman gets caught!

Now we are back from our 6 week "holiday" (vacation) in the USA my fishy friends want to know why I didn't catch more.  Well, my darling wife volunteered to re-model the largest room in our son and daughter-in-law's house in Redmond, WA. Guess who provided the labour?  I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves!

 Six hundred and fifty square foot playroom before we started
 Complete with wood burning stove (for when the power lines are down)
Having scraped the "popcorn" off of the ceiling and sanded, the ceiling required three coats of paint!
The bookcase was brown and hiding in the basement!  It is wonderful what 3 coats of white paint can do!
Well I might not have caught any big fish but we did feel we had achieved something! Rug and suite courtesy of IKEA, USA.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Trout Fishing: Guaranteed way of improving the success rate!

Those who follow this blog will be aware that in spite of being in the State of Washington, USA with all its amazing fishable waters for 6 weeks, I had not caught a lot of fish of any size.  My excuse is that I spent a lot of time decorating a very large room plus baby sitting and transporting 4 grandchildren around.  Still I was determined to have a successful "bring home the bacon" session with my grandson, Harrison, age seven, before I left.  So to guarantee success I took him to:-

 Here they have a couple of ponds well stocked with hungry rainbow trout.
 A simple pole with a line and hook is provided.
 The bait is fish guts mixed with bread paste.
Harrison was so happy with his catch, he jumped up and down!
 Harrison caught five beauties!  Granddad caught zero!
 As she cleaned the fish, Pam the owner, carefully explained what all the internal bits were.  She kept the hearts as bait when the fish were hard to catch on the normal bait. Here she is using the spoon dodge to clear the kidney strip from under the back bone.
 Pam was very friendly and kind to Harrison.
 This kiosk is the nerve centre of the operation. 
You pay for the fish by their length which is clearly posted.
The fish caught were all in tip top condition and we only had to pay for the fish.  The cost of the fish was just over thirty dollars which I thought was very reasonable as it provided a good learning experience for a young man, a nice meal or two and it got a grandfather "off the hook"!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Making Friends with the successful Steelhead Fishers of Washington State, USA

Since my first outing to the Reiter Road fishery on the Skykomish I have been lured back by the memory of the large steelheads I saw caught.  This time I went with a pal from church called Jason, he is recovering from leukemia and a bone marrow transplant so he was glad to get out fishing.  Now let me make it clear from the start that neither of us landed a steelhead but we did see them caught and we did learn how to do it.  What really impressed me was:-
  1. All the guys there were very friendly and helpful.
  2. Although they fish around 12 yards apart, and cast upstream and drift downstream in front of each other it is not so-called "combat fishing" but more synchronized casting! If there is an occasional hook up of two lines both parties apologize and the nearest sorts it out. 
  3. When someone got a fish on frequently a helpful fisher would produce a large landing net and help secure the fish from amongst the myriad of boulders in the river.
  4. I got some good advice.
  5. I saw some big fish caught.
 The river just down-stream of the hatchery
 Rory, a guide on his day off with a beaut of a fish caught downstream in the fast water.
 I didn't have the right kind of float but Rory kindly gave me the right kind of weighted lure made by himself.
My pal Jason before he fell in, something that is easily done!
 A bunch of really friendly guys who chatted to me and shared advice and tips.
 Dan who had just landed that fish a few yards from me.
 Dan's float rig with pencil weight underneath and a bead to protect the knot on the swivel.
 A slightly out-of-focus view of Dan's very effective lure.

One skillful fisher!

Amazing Bed and Breakfast Experience!

Well we have been landing on our feet during this vacation and no more so than when we booked a night at The Ship House Inn, Anacortes, Washington State, USA.  Over the phone the owner told us we were booked into the Captain's Cabin and what an amazing cabin it was.  It was separate from the house and had everything you could think of with a nautical theme from portholes to whale harpoons!  When you lay on the large double bed it was like looking out of the bridge of a ship at the sea (the house is situated on the top of cliffs looking west at islands.

 Rosalind tested out the bed and the view from the window.
 The cabin itself had a microwave, hot plates and a fridge.
 There were lots of nautical and family pictures.
 Outside the main window was shaped as the prow of a ship complete with deck chairs.
We had breakfast in the fully-equipped separate galley
There are lovely cliff top gardens
The man behind this amazing place is an ex commercial fisherman called Oggie (I hope I have spelt that right). He is a charming, larger than life gent who originally built everything for his grand children but as they grew up he decided to remodel it as a B & B.
We were invited to view the other B & B accommodation there, namely the Oar House and the Crows Nest but we declined as we wanted to save something new for our next visit!
This is the view from our bed as we settled down for the night at a B & B we will always remember.  If you are ever out that way I would recommend a stay.  Contact details are:
(360) 293 1093


Saturday, 13 July 2013

Camping and Fishing near Granite Falls, WA, USA

Having had such a lovely time at Ensign Ranch we decided to visit another of our church's recreational properties called Cascade Park near Granite Falls, WA.  This 60 acre site is truly wonderful and totally different to Ensign (which is also wonderful).  This site gets a fair amount of rain so the grass is lush and the tents have raised wood floors.  We were offered the opportunity of staying in a cabin but we opted for a tent as we wanted to try out a tent with a wood floor.  Fortunately we had come with borrowed self inflating air beds and our new sleeping bags.

 There is a covered dining/activity area, with a well equipped outdoor kitchen area.
 The camp mainly caters for girls and family camps
The toilet block is a delight, spotless, with warm air heating and lovely showers.
Naturally I had to check out the river which borders the camp, an osprey was also sitting in a tree checking it out.
Our tent was spacious and very comfortable and the site was well lit at night.
Dotted around the site are picnic shelters and lots of "honey pots" (chemical toilets) and they are the cleanest I have seen.
There is a stage for putting on performances with tiered seating for the audience.
 Then there are secluded areas for open air activities.
 The whole place is manicured like a golf course.
 There are camping areas where you bring your own tent and fire places and wood stores.
It was suggested that we visit the famous Granite Falls just off of the Mountain Loop Road, so we did and were duly impressed. 
 Looking up stream and down stream.
 The fish ladder under Rosalind's feet was very impressive.

We then went to a local Mexican restaurant called Playa Bonita at Granite Falls which had been recommended to us by the church service volunteers who run the camp.

I am not a lover of spicy food so I have little experience of Mexican food but I must say both of our meals were large and exquisite and mine (below) was not spicy..
The next morning we awoke having had a good nights sleep in our tent and drove into Granite Falls for breakfast.  On our return the LDS Redmond Stake girls were arriving for camp and we got given the full treatment by the welcoming committee below!
The organization of the camp was truly amazing, below are the 3 registration desks for the different age groups.
 The hanging packets featured below are individual post boxes for each girl.
 I videoed these girls doing there welcome song, have your sound on.
The camp site is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It is run by 2 delightful couples who are church service volunteers.  They work tirelessly to keep it spic and span so that everyone can enjoy the experience of being outdoors in a beautiful place. 
And yes, I did manage to cast a fly or two on the river but the osprey out fished me!