Spring is definitely on its way; catkins drape themselves from the branches of the hazel, crocuses are starting show and this morning as I stepped out of the door a blackbird was giving its song a good airing high in the top of next door’s poplar. But what of fishing? Well…
The ones that got away!
I had a long day on a notoriously hard water this week… you either win or you lose, no middle ground! I was far from demoralised at the end of the day knowing that I had wound into a lump only for the hook not to go home… not once but twice. There wasn’t a third time lucky; my impudence was treated with contempt by the river and the pike.
I email Mike Ladle now and again, he’s been a great sounding board when times have been hard and it is good to have a mentor… in Mike’s case I guess he’s my “e-guru”!
With his permission I’ve decided to print an edited version of our email conversation… it may be interesting for some.
David: Today is my first blank this year…
But what a start to the year! They haven’t been big BUT I have scored. Biggest fish has been 7lbs ish mark… I haven’t weighed them as I prefer the photo and get them back in quick… I’ll weigh the next big brute!
I continue to toil on the still water… reason being (a) I can catch fish and (b) if I don’t then I’ll miss out on the potential the lake has! Having said that I’m tempted by the river tomorrow…
I’ve tied a selection of flies since we last spoke, the orange ones are a good standby BUT the fly of the moment is this one (a photo of one shown in a previous blog post was included here)
It is tied in synthetic fibre – white, yellow/olive and red. Topped off with a pair of epoxy 3D eyes set in an epoxy head… oh a Varivas BigMouth Xtra either 4/0 or 5/0 can’t remember which. It is such a hardy fly! It has been eaten 4 times so far BUT with a little attention from a toothbrush it comes up good as new. The toothbrush is to tease out the knots and gets it up to looking like this again.
When fished on an intermediate line with a short leader… (I always fish a short leader – 3ft of 15lbs low memory mono and 12 – 18 inches Cannelle Supratress) use it (fly and line) like a Rapala CD5 and count it down with a varied retrieve and with equally varied pauses it usually develops into a strike. The Varivas hooks hold a good point and easily sharpened!
Mike: It sounds as though you've been doing very well with the fly. Nice picture. I've been frozen and rained off for (what seems like) ages. I had an eight pounder at the weekend (on a wobbled herring) but am now waiting to give it another go. Does your fly swim hook down or hook up? Does it make any difference? I've never seen Canelle Supratress, what's it like? I use Tygerwire for spinning traces but am always looking for something better.
David: Our boys are on half term BUT I’ve managed to sneak out for a session… a 12 hour stint that proved interesting!
From 0630 to 1200hrs I fished fly and lure… I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to fish lures as I seem to be more in tune with the fly? I started using the intermediate line then switched to floating as I saw a lot of top water action… then as it abated I went back to intermediate… and back to floating and finally intermediate again!! I didn’t get a touch on either method…
From 1200 to 1730hrs… I have used my 4surespin as a bait rod at a pinch in the past and pulled that out of the car and “borrowed” a dace from a chap fishing silvers… I lip hooked the fish and set it in the margin… It wasn’t long before I felt a weight on the end… sadly to find that the pike would rather lose the fish than stay and play! I retrieved a dace with terrific diagonal slashes to its flanks… I borrowed another… unbelievably the same thing happened again but this time it let go smartish! By now we are late in the afternoon and the angler who had graciously provided the dace provided me with two more! These I rigged with two trebles… NOT one sniff!!
Ah well it is a difficult water that sees big pike ignore dead baits and only go after live baits in the 1lb plus mark! So choosy!
I reflected and decided that it wasn’t a wasted journey as was able to use the fly rod on the river… improved my double haul… (Impressive? – self taught… not perfect!).
Oh the flies… all hook down and I fish snag heaven… the lake is littered with snags! I have thought of tying hook up and also with weed guards… but haven’t ventured that far yet.
Cannelle Supratress is a steel braid on I think a spectra core… very knotable! But I’m always eager to try alternatives… I’ve been recommended American Fishing Wire a knotable titanium!!
I have a couple of days on a famous water at the end of March just fly fishing for pike so it should be interesting… I’ll be in the company of some very learned pike fly fishers (a real danger of fluffing the weekend!!).
Mike: Interesting stuff again! I've often seen my local fish take livebaits and ignore (wobbled) deadbaits/lures/flies. Also, there is no doubt that big baits are best for big fish. Years ago me and my pals fished exclusively for salmon with lures of less than about four inches long. We never had a pike bigger than eight pounds or so. When, eventually, we switched to using big baits and lures one pike in four was double figures. Where does this leave fly fishing? I suspect that the bigger the fly the better but in waters where the pike are hungry or naive big ones probably fall to smaller baits/lures. I think that there may be no point using baits bigger than about ten inches and of course you will put small fish off by doing this.
Everyone misses some bites on bait - it's usually smallish pike. They'll often take again if you persist (if you want to catch them). I don't miss many on my circle hooks but there's always a problem of how long to give them. I don't wait long (I assume that they're all big ones). The Tyger wire that I use is fine - I tend to tie a simple loop knot in it or snell the circle hook on. With care it doesn't kink much at the knot.
Have a good time at X, that's the place for big fish on the fly eh!