Sunday, 20 December 2009

Good To Be Back

Sub-zero temperatures, snow, biting cold wind, freezing cold water...absolute heaven. After something like 7 weeks where the rivers have been in an almost continual flood it was a joy to finally have the chance to flick out a team of Grayling bugs in the hope of a catching a few fish that hadn't been put off by the recent drop in water temperature.

A few hours on the wye on Saturday and an hour or so on Irfon on Sunday resulted in a total of a dozen fish...nothing big but all very welcome.

All 8 fish caught on the Wye took my recently tied V-Rib Pink Glister Grub so I think it may result in a few more being tied this week.

Biggest of the weekend (gloves have non-absorbent palm!!!)

With a bit of luck the river levels will remain fishable over the Xmas break so we can all catch up on a little Grayling therapy.

I hope this Salmon got the chance to spawn before the resident Otter had it for breakfast!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Magic Glass V-Rib Nymphs

The last 4 or 5 weekends have been spent hoping and praying that the river levels would come right and allow us all to enjoy a few hours indulging in our favourite pastime, only to be told that 'more heavy rain was forecast' scuppering all plans to cast a fly.

The weather in Mid-Wales and around the Marches has wiped out any serious river fishing for over a month and with the water tables filled to capacity any further rain just keeps topping up the rivers to overflowing.

Time then to attempt my first Step By Step of a fly pattern using a material new to me...Veniards Magic Glass V-Rib is a exceptionally versatile material which brings nymph pattern to life and is easy to use even for a relative novice like myself.

Yellow 'Magic Glass' Grub

Hook - #12 Skalka G
Bead - 3.5mm Black Tungsten
Thread - UTC 70 Hopper Yellow
Tail - Grey Partridge
Breathers - Pale Yellow Ostrich Herl
Body - Magic Glass - V Rib (Yellow)
Extra Weight - 4 or 5 Turns of .60mm Lead Behind Bead
Thorax - Dark Olive Seals Fur
Tie in Partridge feather for tail.

Catch in Ostrich Herl and V-Rib, then add 4 or 5
turns of lead behind the tungsten bead and coat
it with a layer of varnish.

Wrap the body with the thread to form an even
tapered body.

Wind up the V-Rib material to form a
segmented body.

Then follow up with the Ostrich herl laying it
in the groove of the segments.

Apply the Seals Fur dubbing using the split
thread method.

Some variations using Veniards Magic Glass V-Rib
Same as above but without the herl body.

Using fluoro pink thread and shrimp pink V-Rib.

Partridge hackle added around collar.

Pink glister dubbing under V-Rib body.

'Free swimming' rhyacophila.

Monday, 2 November 2009

River Test - Grayling

This was the one I'd been waiting for...the chance to target Grayling on a southern chalkstream and the destination was the famous River Test.
Three of us made the long journey south and a finer day you couldn't wish for, no rain, no wind and extremely mild for the time of year.

The river was running low but looked everything like I'd imagined having read all the many articles written about this legend of chalkstreams...manicured banks, fishing huts, quaint little foot bridges spanning across the crystal clear get the picture.

The walk down river was enough to get the juices well and truly flowing with shoals of Grayling easily spotted amongst the weed beds also the river was full of some monster trout which had obviously been stocked for the privileged few who were able to fish here during the trout season.

The day started slow with only the smaller specimens coming to hand, in between the Grayling the inevitable capture of some of the 'out of season' trout certainly got the heart pumping a little and any caught were carefully returned.

It gets quite frustrated when you can see these large Grayling in front of you but they don't even flinch when you carefully pass one of your 'killer' bugs passed their noses. Fortunately towards the end of the day as the light began to fade these fish became less wary and succumbed to my fly pattern.

The day ended all too soon and on the drive back we all reflected on our 'chalkstream' experience...the overall verdict was how soon we could book our next one!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Autumn Grayling Fishing

When the leaves on the trees start to turn red & gold and the temperatures are telling you that going fishing will require some kind of thermal protection...something stirs within a lot of fly fisherman...the realisation that now is the time that the fly box with the heavy nymphs gets moved into the front pocket of the fishing vest.

I truly love this time of year and when conditions are right then great sport can be had as was this case this weekend.

Fishing two very different rivers but both with there own appeal the target fish was obviously the beautiful Grayling which are only too welcome to oblige this time of year (once you have located them).

Saturday was an early start and I had the company of Paul who runs the Sea Trout Fishing website & Sea Trout Forum and certainly knows how to catch a Grayling or two. On this day we caught many...with some real beauties for such a small river.

Sunday I was back on the River Irfon in Mid-Wales where the Grayling are much harder to find and tightly shoaled but when found you can normally take a few fish from the same spot without moving and can be very big.

Many 'out of season' trout also willing to take the bugs.

As the weeks go on and the temperature drops further then I'm sure the Grayling will only be too happy to provide the more hardy amongst us with some cracking sport...I for one have got the thermals and fleeces all ready to go.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Cluns Alien Invaders!

Last Saturday myself and two others decided that a trip to the River Clun in Shropshire was in order so we headed towards the upper reaches where the river thins out a bit but previous experience told us that there were still plenty of good sized grayling along with the trout to be caught from the deeper pockets of water.

After our arrival at 7.30am we spread out along the 2 mile stretch and began fishing. The river was low and relatively clear and with the bright conditions the fish were going to be very nervous so stealth was a must to get the best out of the water.

The first decent pool I came to saw a couple of brownies come to hand taken on a small tungsten head pheasant tail nymph fished beneath a klinkhamer, then a little while later a couple more, nothing big but the trout on the Clun can weigh a fair bit more than trout caught on a lot of other waters due to the abundance of food available to them.

My journey upstream saw me under attack from a bombardment of missiles fired from the 'over-ripe' Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens Glandulifera) pods which stretch along most of this river bank, when these things go off it makes you glad you put your Polaroids on. Since its introduction into the UK from Asia during the late 1930's and its escape later in the 50's into the British countryside the spread has been phenomenal with few rivers escaping the invasion.

A switch to one of my favourite grayling bugs fished with a fair bit of weight in the deeper glides started to produce a few decent fish, the grayling along this river are a real eye opener...its hard to imagine where they all hide but I'm convinced that some of the deeper depressions in the riverbed can hold a substantial amount of fish and if they are not spooked then catching 2 or 3 from one spot is always on the cards.

Below: possibly the darkest trout I've ever caught.
Taken from right below a wall which is permanently in the shade.

Although there was plenty of flies coming off the water (mainly Stoneflies) the surface activity seemed restricted to the smaller specimens resulting in rather futile splashes at anything that was chucked at them.

Between the three of us we ended with a total of 44 fish with the majority of them being grayling, so under the conditions we all left happy and looking forward to our imminent return...hopefully when the Himalayan Balsam has died of a bit!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Wind Of Change

I have noticed within the last couple of weeks that there is a significant swing in favour of Grayling in my catches. Generally most of the water I fish has a good head of Grayling in them but early to mid season catches have always been dominated by Brown Trout.

Last weekends four fishing outings (long weekend!) on both the Wye and Lugg are a prime example with the Grayling out-numbering the Trout by roughly 2 to 1. That included two trips with catches in excess of 20 fish.

The reason is obviously down to the amount of Grayling in the water to start with, combined with the fact that August is notoriously a difficult month to catch Trout with very little fly life coming off the water the trout are quite content to sit back a rest a little after their over indulgent gorging on the prolific early summer fly hatches.

The other notable thing is the quality of the fish I've caught recently, with many Grayling over the 14" mark...particularly on the river Lugg.

Its hard to believe that this beautiful fish was persecuted on some waters in the past in order to try and maintain a 'trout only' fishery when the Grayling offers (in my opinion) an equal if not sometimes more enjoyable quarry as the Brown Trout.

The other big bonus is that this hard fighting fish allows the more hardy of us to fly fish through the winter months on rivers where they are present increasing our season to a full 12 months...All hail the mighty Thymallus thymallus!!!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Grayling On The River Ithon

With all the recent rain it was difficult to find anywhere to fish over the weekend. With the Irfon & Wye both out of sorts my first choice was the River Edw but when I got there the river was pushing through hard and this river can be difficult wading at the best of times, so I headed for the River Ithon about 10 miles away.

Looking over the bridge when I arrived I could see that the river was quite high with a fair bit of colour still in it...perfect!!!

Having fished this river many times I have found this tributary to the Wye fishes best in just these conditions so I tackled up and set off down river. Trout came immediately to spider & nymph patterns and a later switch to some heavy bug patterns in some noted grayling area produced instant results.

It turned out to be a very memorable days fishing in terms of quality with 4 of my 10 Grayling measuring over 15" and many trout up to 10" to fill in the gaps.

When this river is low it can be hard to find any fish and you can end up with a very frustrating day, but choose the right day and you can come away with a big smile on your face.

I also squeezed in a couple more on the river Irfon (still very high but running clear) & another on a very picturesque stillwater near Rhayader called Llyngwyn where you can always spot Red Kites flying overhead.

The Irfon was still pushing hard but had cleared adequately to produce a few Trout & Grayling to shortlined nymph methods and being out on a boat at Llyngwyn is just a delightful place to spend a few hours...catching some Rainbows is just a bonus.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Parr For The Course

A quick visit to The Wye on Saturday evening highlighted to me that this/last years fry have fared pretty well in managing to survive to get to the Parr stage with huge numbers splashing around on the Builth Wells town waters.

This is almost certainly due to the relatively low river conditions during their growth period without the loss normally associated with the numerous winter spates that the Wye has encountered in previous years.

The Parr were certainly difficult to avoid when fishing but a change from a nymph to a 'Elk Hair Caddis' dry fly attracted a number of Grayling, nothing huge but plenty of fun all the same.

Earlier on in the day I undertook a little 'Kick Sampling' of the rivers - Irfon, Wye & Edw with mixed results.

The entomology of the local rivers is something that I have recently become more interested in and at the moment I am definitely at the 'learner' stage but understanding what crawls under your feet while fishing can be very informative to your fly choice.

My initial findings show the Edw and Wye to be in pretty good health as far as invertebrate life but the Irfon I feel is certainly lacking in a few of the common species with no Freshwater Shrimps (Gammarus) found at all.

I will endeavour to maintain a regular sampling of these rivers in the future.