Saturday, 26 October 2013

La Gomera holiday: Mountain hike, pilot whales and dolphins

To conclude my account of this amazing holiday here are the pictures of our other activities.  We signed up for a 4 hour hike through "The Wild Northwest" of the island of La Gomera.  It was brilliant.

 Anahi Konrad was our excellent guide. The majority of the people on the walk were very fit Germans!
 We enjoyed walking through the tiny communities hiding in the valleys.
 Some of the paths ran through remote gorges.
 Rosalind found the descents a bit challenging but true to form she did not complain.
 The final reward was complementary refreshments at Vallehermoso.  Anahi the guide told me that in all the times she had been guiding walks she had never seen the English and Germans mixing so well.  She said they usually ignore each other.  She was particularly impressed with the duets sung by me and a lovely German gentleman who I think was called Norman. 
 On our final day we went whale watching and we were really lucky as about a mile off shore we were surrounded by several pods of pilot whales.  They circled around us for around half an hour.  This does raise the question as to whether we had come to see them or they had come to see us?
Then we moved off and found the dolphins who did all the things that dolphins are meant to do.  In fact they got so close to the boat you could almost touch them.
Then the boat anchored in a small bay opposite an abandoned tuna processing factory and we had a swim in the warm water and then a lovely lunch.

 Tuna steaks were on the menue.
Then we headed back to Playa de Santiago and the hotel.

 We were so blessed to have had such a brilliant trip thanks to

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

La Gomera: Holiday Paradise!

La Gomera is the Canary Island in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa that mass tourism forgot.  I only headed there because my most reliable travel guide, my brother Chris, recommended it. He also recommended that we stayed at the Hotel Jardin Tecina located on the cliff top overlooking the tiny port of Playa de Santiago.  We were not disappointed. I arranged the holiday through Thomson and we flew out from Gatwick in the UK to Tenerife South and then aided by a lovely couple, Muriel and John, from Scotland, caught the Fred Olsen ferry from Los Christianos to San Sebastian on La Gomera. 
A taxi driver, who would have done well at Formula 1 motor racing, drove us from the port up and down a continuous series of hairpin bends past a perpetual array of spectacular views to the hotel.  The hotel consisted of a main building housing the reception, restaurants, bars, sports facilities etc and the 460 bedrooms and suites were arranged carefully in the beautiful grounds along the cliff top.

So there we were perched up on the top of the cliffs.  This is how it looked from the sea.

And here are some shots of the hotel grounds

Next is an aerial view of the hotel's salt water pool and other facilities next to the sea seen from the lift landing.

I was disappointed to find that Spain now requires sea anglers to have a fishing license especially as I met a local chap who had caught a large barracuda just off the harbour breakwater.  So I tried to charter a sport fishing boat (they have a license that covers you) to go after the serious stuff, like Tuna and sail fish but I was told that a new film version of Moby Dick was being made on the island and all the charter boats had been recruited to help the film crews.  However I spotted these canoeists out on the water.

This led me to "Splash Gomera" ( in the middle of Playa de Santiago, run by Brian, originally from London.  When I realised that as well as being a canoe instructer Brian was also a SCUBA diving instructor I decided I had to have a dive.  Our friend Muriel kindly let her husband John join me and having had our training session off we went with Brian.  The pictures tell the story.

 Brian had all the gear
Brian helping John with the kit.
John getting ready to rock and roll over the side.
Me in the water, totally relaxed with Brian working on reducing my buoyancy!

And down we go!

When we got back it was nearly dark but we were smiling because it had been a great experience with clear water and plenty of fish etc.
If you want to know about the walk in the wild northwest (of the island) and the encounter with whales and dolphins please read the next post.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Osprey seen at Bewl Water?

See the osprey top right. We do get ospreys at Bewl Water as they migrate through but I must own up to the fact that I scanned this picture from the front of the latest Bewl Angle magazine.  Ray French, the editor, always manages to photoshop in an osprey in somewhere on the front cover of the magazine.  I must confess that he had me fooled the first time I saw it.
On a more helpful note here is the latest fishing report.  Please note that boats will be available for use on the water till late November.


The good fishing has continued for another week. Conditions haven't really changed since last week. The fish are still high in the water but do need a bit of work to catch them at times. This week's rod average is a very good 3.99 and average fish weight up to 2lbs 2ozs.

Best areas for boats - from the dam across the Main Bowl and into Hook Straight . The cages and further down Hook Straight. Bank anglers are catching well from the dam wall. There are also plenty of fish at Chingley and Bramble Point which are starting to come in closer as the water cools.

Successful flies have been Minkies, Minky Boobies, Sparkler Boobies , Cormorants and Hoppers. All fished on a floating line.

Request from Vince Brooks: Please could anyone wishing to take part in Vince's Annual Boss's Day Charity Competition on 26th October, and hasn't yet done so, please give him a ring on 07955 174210, so that he has a reasonably clear idea of numbers.

Water temperature 14degC - water level (now falling quite quickly) 65%

I like to fish Bewl this time of year when the fish are on the top and hunting the fry, but I will have to wait as I am off now to a La Gomera a small unspoilt island in the Canarys.  If I get a chance to fish I will give you the full report.

Monday, 7 October 2013

How to cook a wonderful trout meal without having to gut the trout!

If ever I "blank" or "get skunked" as my friends in the US put it (both terms mean you don't catch anything) I console myself with the thought,  "Well I won't have to gut and clean any fish now!"  I don't mind cleaning fish, after all, I must have cleaned thousands in the fifty years I have been fishing, but it is messy and a bit smelly.  However, there is a way you can prepare fish for cooking without gutting and that is to fillet them.  So when I caught three rainbows each weighing just over 2lb (approx 1kg) I decided to fillet them and then try to emulate an amazing trout dish I had in the USA earlier in the year.  Please note it is easier to fillet or clean fish that are not too fresh.  Leaving them in the fridge over night makes the process easier. 
 Three trout lined up ready for filleting.
 A really sharp knife (preferably a curve bladed filleting knife) is required.  I also like to wear a filleting glove on the non knife-holding hand.  Having cut down to the back bone just behind the gill plate and just in front of the tail, I then start to slice down the fish with the knife resting on and being guided by the bone structure.
 Ideally, you don't puncture the stomarch cavity.  I came a bit close here!  Then you turn the fish over and repeat on the other side (which is a bit harder as the fish has lost its shape).
 If all goes well you end up with some nice fillets. It is good now to take some long nose pliers and pull out the tiny lateral bones.  You find them by running your finger along the fillet as they stick up slightly.
Then I like to cut the skin off.  Again the filleting knife has to be very sharp.  Here I am using a special board (given me years ago as a birthday present) that enables me to clamp the skin and slice away from the clamp.  If you don't have a clamp, sprinkling rock salt on the board helps you hold the fillet stationary whilst you skin it. Always cut away from the fingers that are pressing the skin to the board.
I then dried the fillets and beat up a mixture to coat the fish with. This comprised 2 eggs, a dash of garlic oil, salt and ground pepper.   Having coated the fillets I covered them in bread crumbs and fried them for a couple of minutes a side in hot corn oil.
 My wife had kindly prepared some vegetables and put the tartare sauce on the table.
As you can see I have a long way to go in terms of presentation, but the taste was stunning and we spoilt ourselves by eating 2 fillets each!
And if you want another very popular way of eating your trout try my earlier post at:-
Fish is so healthy and wonderful!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Some tips on boat fly fishing for trout at Bewl Water, Kent, UK, and success with a magic Booby!

Let me start off by saying the best thing you can do is to join the Bewl Bridge Fly Fishers Club (see link at side of page) where you will get loads of help especially via their bi-monthly magazine the “Bewl Angle”.  As you will see if you stagger to the end of this post it was through reading the magazine that my trip yesterday went from failure to success.

On the practical front here are some suggestions you may already be aware of or you might like to try.  Firstly the whole object of having a boat is to have the ability to be mobile (like the fish) and to be able to cover the whole water (except the bird sanctuary where the really big fish hang out)?  If you’re not seeing fish, and catching, then move.

So you have hired a boat and been given a boat number, before you set off, check it out.  The staff are very good but they often get to clean and check the boats just as it is getting dark. 

Look for an anchor (it is attached to a red buoy so that if you get it caught on the bottom you can untie the anchor rope and leave the buoy marking the spot where the anchor and rope are.  The rangers can then try to recover it.  Oars are a useful plan B, although most of us have the fishing lodge number in our phone which is a better plan B.  Many years ago as dusk was falling at Rosemary’s Lane I foolishly let a beginner operate the engine to take us back to the lodge.  John tried the other way of stopping and sheered the pin that holds the prop on, then he announced that he couldn’t row.  Exhausted, I slept well that night!

 Note the small G clamp I have attached to the edge of the front seat, with the drogue rope attached to it (more about drogues shortly).   Note the landing net with the long handle, I got that idea from the competition boys.  If I am on my own in a boat I usually set up two rods (you are only allowed to fish one at a time).  I will set them up with different lines (say a floater and an intermediate) so I can quickly change my method if required.

The drogue is an underwater parachute enabling the boat to drift down wind slowly.  It is called loch style fishing and it means that you are covering fresh water all the time and hopefully another pod of fish.  If you don’t have a drogue then you have to anchor, tie up to a buoy (if it’s allowed) or drift free (a problem in strong winds).

The orange bailer is essential for fellers fishing as it enables you to discretely urinate whereas the ladies have to grit their teeth or motor back to the lodge.   The red cord is the “kill cord”, solo anglers are encouraged to attach the end of it to themselves so that in the event of them falling overboard the engine is killed and they a) don’t get chewed up by the prop and b) have a chance of swimming to the boat and hanging on.  I don't have a fancy armchair type boat seat.  What I do have is a foam one that velcros to the wood seat.  An occasional boat fisher could use an old cushion from home in a strong plastic bag.

The bilge pump (black handle on the left) is useful especially after a heavy downpour. You can also see the second G clamp for the drogue in the left hand corner.

So yesterday, having had a chat with Janet in the lodge, paid my dues and been assigned my boat I had a helpful chat with James, one of the fishery rangers.  He suggested I drift from Beaumans to the cages and used very small flies.  He said the fish were on the top swimming around in small shoals and that I should watch for any disturbance of the ripples and cast to them.  I thought that given the time of year the fish would be on hoppers and daddies so I spent the first few hours fishing them to no avail.  Eventually I gave up on what James had suggested as it got quite wet and windy.  I motored over to the corner of Chingley Wood to get out of the wind.  Within a few casts I had my first pluck on the daddy or hopper but did not hook up.  I tried a number of different drifts and even the corner of the damn, where I saw the odd fish.  Eventually as the weather improved I decided to try round the fish cages.  Whilst drifting between the cages and the grass at Ward’s Lane, right in front of me half a dozen fry leapt out of the water followed by a big rainbow and I realised the fish were on the fry!.

It was then that I remembered that Ray French had written in the latest edition of the Bewl Angle that competition anglers were having good success using tiny booby flies.  I also remembered I had tied 2 the night before.  So out they came and on they went and I came away with three nice 2lb rainbows.    Thanks Ray!

If you look closely you can see the tiny Booby in the corner of the fish's mouth. Now I am going to try and tie some more.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Does this BT (British Telecom) director really exist?

Further to my post a couple of days ago concerning my challenges with BT, which seems to have hit a nerve with a lot of people (as it had the fastest hit rate ever) I decided to write to a chap called Warren Buckley who is BT's Managing Director of Customer Services.  I got a snail mail address for BT's Registered Office and hopefully they will forward my letter to the appropriate address.  I thought it would be nice to post a picture of the man in question so I Googled him.
In fairness I ought to say that there are pictures available of him smiling.  What was surprising was that Google also brought up lots of unhappy comments about BT in general and accessing the man in particular.  The most interesting comment was:-
"I'd like to know if Warren Buckley actually exists. He signs all my letters from BT as Head of Customer Services but no one at BT ever seems to have any contact details for him."
If Warren does exist I would like to give him some good news, yes BT did change the new phone number they had given me back to my old number as they had promised!  Well done!
BT are a huge organisation and are in the forefront of developing amazing technology, which we all soon take for granted.  I would like to see them succeed more, so maybe it's time for Mr Buckley (who is probably a very nice guy and a good manager) to grow a beard, don some overalls and find out what goes on in the "front line" of the business as an "undercover boss".  Also, I am sure that part of the problem resolves around the fact that BT(retail) promise things that BT(wholesale) have to deliver!