Thursday, 29 December 2011

Making The Best Of It

OK...I know at we are expected to spend a little extra time with our families at Christmas but it’s hard to stop looking at those online gauges to check the river levels or in my case walk the dog along the river watching for any signs that herald even the slightest possibility that casting a line is worthwhile.



Rain has made up the bulk of the weather over the festive period and has left the rivers and streams in the upper Wye system severely full, but a day or two without rain should bring them back down very quickly, such is the nature of these spate rivers.

On Wednesday I seized my opportunity and sank my waders into the still high and partially coloured river Irfon, the wind was blowing hard and the current was pushing hard against my waders but it was good to be casting a line again.


I had set up a three fly combination which consisted of a very heavy tungsten nymph on the middle dropper with two lighter nymphs either side, these were fished on a short line using my 10’ 4wt Streamflex with a short lob to get them out in the flow.


Heavily weighted dual tungsten 'sacrificial' nymph


The method worked well under the conditions and I caught 12 grayling in just a few hours with some nice fish amongst them. The fish took all three flies but the pink point fly was possibly favourite.



I also snatched a couple of hours today (Thursday) where the Irfon had dropped a couple more inches and was a lovely colour, the wind was blowing even harder but similar tactics proved good again and I was rewarded with some more nice grayling including one which I would consider to be one of my best from this river, a stunning 18” fish which was full bodied and in perfect condition.

Very deep 18" Grayling
As I write this the rain is lashing against the window (as it has done most of the afternoon) and the planned day out tomorrow fishing with a friend looks certain to be put on hold until the New Year.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Festive Greetings

Almost the end of another year which has seen some quite adverse weather conditions. The rainfall experienced through much of the trout season was woefully short and some of the smaller streams I fish became little more than a trickle.

For me this year has been quite productive in many ways. Firstly I took up membership of a new club which has given me a lot more waters to fish within my area, these include first class wild trout and grayling rivers which even in the low conditions produced some magnificent fish.

I have also spent much of the year getting to grips with the 'long leader' European style of fishing used in conjunction with a long/lightweight rod, this will not appeal to all but I find it a great way of getting the best out of certain rivers. This style of fishing is becoming more and more popular and rod manufactures are now incorporating a range to cater for this. Amongst others Greys have a range of rods that are specifically designed for this in the XF2 Streamflex range. I have a friend who has built himself a 11' #2 rod which is just a dream when it comes to casting a long leader and light nymphs so I can see a new addition to my rod range for next year!

I am also trying to improve on my fly tying skills which I am now realising is a long term project, but there is always pleasure in fly tying and trying out a new pattern which catches fish.

With a long festive break coming up I'm watching the river gauges like a hawk and hoping the recent high levels drop in time to give me a chance to over-indulge over the next two weeks.

Just leaves me to say that I thank all those that have dropped by to read my blog and those who have posted comments, I wish you all the best for Christmas and hope you all find next year brings you new and exciting experiences.


Monday, 5 December 2011

Hanak European Grayling Festival - River Dee

This was my first time fishing this team event which is held over two days (3 sessions) on the River Dee around Llangollen. The rain that had fallen before our arrival on Friday had pushed the river up high but as we peered over the bridge in the town we could see that the clarity was still good.



Friday was to be our practice session so we headed on to the river to try out methods and flies for the match. It was to prove tough as expected but we all caught fish in the 20cm and above class (minimum size counted in the competition) with lots of smaller grayling also showing.

Overnight rain had pushed the level up even higher for the Saturday as the 21 teams headed off to their designated beats to fish the first of the two sessions scheduled for day one. The river was still rising during the day and starting to colour up somewhat, but the first day ended well for us and we were lying in fourth place with all of us catching some fish when many teams had blanked!

Martin and Phil Dixon (England Black Gnats) on their way to 3rd place
Our first beat
We guessed day two was going to be even tougher when the rain was falling hard as we made our way to the local curry house on the evening...guaranteed to give the waders some rear end abuse the next day!

Sunday came and it was a grey, damp, cold start as we set off, our beat was further upstream so we hoped it may escape the worst of the rainfall but again the river was ripping through.

A combination of  heavy beaded tungsten nymphs fished through the slower runs and a good dose of steely grit and determination saw us finish with 3 fish which was as good as we could have hoped for.

The final results were read out back at the Hand Hotel in Llangollen and we learned that we had finished in 4th place overall. When taking into consideration that many anglers here were of international standard and this had been our first attempt in this competition we were more than happy with the outcome with many lessons learned for our return next year.

Overall Winners - Italy Caddis
A total of 92 fish caught of the two days proves how tough it was...last year this event saw 321 fish caught in sub-zero temperatures!

Top 10 teams:

1, Italy Caddis
2, Wales Dragonflies
3, England Black Gnats
4, England Damsel Flies
5, Wales Adams
6, Czech Coachmen
7, England Dunkeld
8, England Corixa
9, Wales Grey Dusters
10,Wales Red Spinners

Total Fish Caught: 92
Top Individual: Martin Dixon 12 Fish (England Black Gnats)
Biggest Fish Caught: 47cms - Olivier Dupont (Belgium Stoneflies)

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Fly Tying At Our Fingertips

After walking to the bottom of the beat on our chosen Wye tributary fishing venue last weekend myself and fishing buddy (Nick) promptly set up our rods in preparation to work our way up river.

Now Nick is someone who is always looking to try out new innovations that may improve his fishing experience and today he pulled out a something pink that certainly made me look twice (no not that!) it was a Camou French Leader but it was vivid pink in colour and had the obvious benefit of being easily detectable as you follow it down the river.

Nick with a nice Grayling caught using the 'pink' french leader
Anyway the days fishing was pretty average really and with the high winds and drizzly rain making fishing difficult we decided that the local pub was the best option to round the day off. It was here that the pink leader was brought back up where Nick explained it was one of many items that he had brought back from a visit to the FlyFishingPoint shop on a recent trip to the Czech Republic.

 Below: some of the vast selection available online or when you visit the FlyFishingPoint shop


This led us on to a discussion about fly tying and the huge variety of materials that are now available online from our European cousins.

It's the phonomenon of the modern age that we can sit in front of a computer and within a few minutes we have browsed a shop, added items to our basket and paid at the checkout, with delivery of the purchase arriviving within a few days.


A variety of 'Quill Body' nymphs I recently tied with high quality quills purchased from an online Romanian shop
I understand that by doing this we are losing the personal touch that we expect from 'physical' shopping but to have such a huge amount of choice available online has to be good news for us all.

Monday, 21 November 2011

A Lack Of Daylight

The winter daylight hours really do make you appreciate the time you get to spend out fishing at this time of year. Unlike the summer when you have the luxury of many hours of daylight, every hour spent fishing is a bonus at the moment.

On Saturday my trip out to this upper Wye tributary was a late start...arriving at 10.00am I parked up, got my gear sorted out, then ambled down the river taking in all the sights and sounds that attract me so much to river fly fishing.



On the way down the river I met a gentlemen out walking along the river who was the kind of guy you could happily talk to all day, a local man with a vast knowledge of the river and many years experience of fly fishing the surrounding area.

On this particular morning he was walking the stretch of river counting the Salmon Redds (where the gravel on the riverbed is excavated during spawning). He had counted a total of 5 along this length of river which was certainly encouraging on this particular Wye tributary.

At this time of year it is important that when wading on Salmon rivers to be very mindful to steer well clear of areas that look like potential Salmon Redds, these are usually obvious to see by an area of the riverbed that has a scoured, fresh looking patch of gravel as in the picture below.

Large 'Salmon Redd' photographed on the River Irfon on Sunday
By the time I eventually got to my starting point and started fishing a good portion of the daylight hours had passed (note to self... less wine the night before andget out of bed much earlier!!!).
A bit of a frustrating few hours followed with many lost flies (trees, sub-surface snags) and a sense that I never really caught the fish I should have, saying that there were still Grayling caught with a couple of very large fish amongst them. Next time I return I have a new plan to try out...!!!

The best of the day


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Tungsten Flies And Thermal Underwear!

Waking up early Sunday morning in Mid Wales was a bit of a shocker with the car and surrounding fields white over with a severe frost, my thoughts immediately plunged back to last years harsh winter weather which resulted in a very lean time for me as far as winter grayling fishing goes.

On this occasion though the bright sun soon burnt away the frost leaving a cold but beautiful morning. I headed down to the River Wye but unfortunately Friday's downpour had left it with just a little too much water/colour pushing through it so I dropped back to the lower part of the River Irfon which I knew was running high but relatively clear.


Setting up my 10' #4 Greys Streamflex with 2 heavy nymphs I worked my way slowly through the likely looking areas, the point fly was gently tripping along the bottom where I assumed any feeding grayling might be. The first couple of fish were out of season brown trout which had likely entered the Irfon from the Wye in readiness to spawn, then a move a little further upstream found me my first grayling...nothing to shout about size wise but a grayling all the same.



A few more fish came to hand but on this occasion the bigger grayling remained elusive and after a few hours waist high in extremely cold water I wished I had put some thermals on and then retreated back to the warmth and a hot mug of coffee.

I guess for the next few months heavy flies and thermal clothing will be forefront in my mind when planning fishing trips.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Weekend On The Irfon

With temperatures dropping down to one degrees around Builth Wells over Friday night I sensed that the time was getting near for the box of heavy tungsten nymphs to be brought out of retirement. Fortunately the morning sun soon burnt away the cold mist in time for me to check out the lower part of the River Irfon which was looking glorious.


After much deliberation I decided on a short lined nymph approach, 2 x tungsten beads (2.5mm + 2.0mm) set up on the 10' #4 Streamflex. This can be a highly effective method when the target fish is Grayling and its amazing how close these fish can be to you when you do not make a minimum of disturbance when wading.

With such favourable conditions I had soon accountant for some good sized fish and left the river after a few hours with the self satisfaction you get when you know your chosen method was right and everything goes to plan.


On Sunday I headed a little further upstream to the Cammarch Hotel waters which are marketed by the Wye & Usk Foundation as part of their roving voucher scheme. Day tickets are available direct from the hotel allowing you a choice of beats along this prime stretch of the middle Irfon.

The Cammarch Hotel - Point of purchase for day tickets.




There have been some recent good catches reported from this area so I was anticipating the prospect of latching into a few more of the Grayling that the Irfon is renowned for. Starting halfway up the beat things started slow and after a couple of hours I had only managed to catch three fish, although I did have to share the top part of the beat with a lively pair of otters! (low quality video below).

video

I then walked down to the start of the beat and found some nice looking water which immediately produced some good sized fish all caught short line nymphing. The session ended when the sun came out from behind the clouds and a rise in temperature brought a few fish to the surface, a quick switch to a duo setup produced a couple more fish before other commitments forced me to leave the water early. 15 nice grayling, plus a few fingerlings and some out of season trout assured that this is a venue I am sure to return to in the future.






As with many parts of the Irfon wading can be a little tricky in parts so I would always advise a wading staff should you give it a try.

'Busy' country lanes around the Hotel!

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Best Of Times

If I had to pick just one month to fish then I think September may well be that month, its the time of year when the sun still has some warmth to it, the foilage on the trees is getting ready to take on its autumn colours, the air is filled with the strong aroma of Himalayan Balsam which for me evokes vivid memories of autumn fishing as a child. On top of that we can find both Trout and Grayling still eager to take our flies.


Such was my experience last weekend on possibly my most productive river this season. This small river which runs through Mid Wales was running slightly below normal level but with some very inviting deep pockets of fast flowing water which hold good numbers of large fish.



My favoured searching set up would again be the duo with a hi-viz Klinkhamer on a dropper and a #16 tungsten head bead on the point.

I had recently tied up some quill bodied nymphs and one of these as the point fly proved a big success acounting for most of the fish including many impressive grayling which found it hard to resist this little fly

Hook: Kamasan B170 - #16
Head: 2mm Black Nickel Tungsten Bead
Tail: Coq De Leon Fibres
Body: Stripped Peacock Quill
Thorax: Olive Dyed Squirrel

This potentially very productive time of year really needs to be taken advantage of as its all over too quickly and before we know it the reality of fishing in sub zero temperatures with numb toes and fingers for a couple of fish (if we're lucky) wondering what the hell we bothered to venture out for, will soon be upon us.