Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Ice on the rings... last session for 2008!

Blimey I’ve just stepped in out of the cold and the last session of 2008!

Let’s wind the clock back 24 hours (yesterday)… the frost had lifted and it had been positively balmy in comparison to the weekend. I decided on the spur of the moment that it would be good for a “dabble” and so I set off, new rod in hand. Arriving at the lake I quizzed one chap who said that he’d had three runs but the pike had dropped the bait... unlucky, but I knew they were active. I set up and cast into the corner spot – my usual starting point! It is more of a get you into the swing of things mark although I have had a few follows from there in the past… so not a complete right off.

I didn’t decide to BUT because of circumstance I ended staying at the next mark. I heard hoots of laughter as a chap out to catch silver fish hooked a pike on his maggot laden hook… this could have been the biggest catch of the day. All of six inches long!

I had fan cast around and was debating whether to put a sinking poly leader on when the water boiled and a pike of 7 or 8 lbs slashed at the fly… missing it! Ah well, I almost christened the new rod!

Today I decided that as the day was good I’d go to the lake… the temperature and barometer had fallen and the wind was a strengthening easterly… it was darned cold! An ill wind perhaps.

Not much had been caught; one chap said that he’d caught a few small perch and roach but nothing of significance… I managed to lose two flies and the associated spiral locks which annoyed me, but that’s fishing.

The temperature dropped steadily and the rod rings started to ice up… as nothing had shown itself I decided to give it best and retire to the warmth of home.

I won’t be writing now until next year… so wherever you are, have a great New Year and tight lines in 2009.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Women & fishing Pt II - Calendar girls?

Photo above courtesy: Dan Bailey

Photo courtesy: k8
When I began researching women and fishing I stumbled across Rogue Angels BUT I also landed on a site called Girlsflyfishing. I therefore tracked Dan Bailey (the photographer) down and he’s allowed me to reproduce one of the photos here as long as I tell you that he took them (look at his blog) and that you can buy the calendar by clicking the link HERE

OK, so adverts out the way… Is the calendar representative of women who fly fish…? Or is it a calendar in the genre of the garage calendar BUT with more of a tasteful suggestion rather than a full exposé…? The Victorians were a lot worse! There is no doubting that the girls on the calendar are pretty; I’d be a liar if I said they weren’t. So, pure fantasy or reality? You make up your own mind.

It was interesting listening to a radio programme last week following a news story about the dress code of a cocktail waitress and some listeners phoned in saying that a waitress needed a low cut top and short skirt… Mmmm… one of the bars that I used to frequent in Liverpool had a uniform which covered both male and female staff and was akin to US Forces drill shirt, with tie and trousers for both male and female staff… Perhaps the female staff looked even more attractive and smarter than the “obvious”.

Then there were offshore yacht races I used to take part in where everyone was in full wet weather gear and after 5 days the boys are looking unshaven and unkempt (dog rough for short). Yet women in the same environment drenched in salt water with their hair sort of in shape and with a hint of lip protector can still look attractive. How? It’s just so unfair!

One of my friends (female) has a worldwide responsibility for encouraging and promoting sailing to women and does a fantastic job, I'd put a photo up of Jane, but sadly it is copyright protected. However, through various sports I’ve seen women leave sport because of the attitude that they’ve been shown… great shame. I remember a quote from a female kite buggy pilot when I was researching a piece for a magazine “I’m selling up, to compete in this game you have to be male, an accountant, overweight and over forty!” A sad indictment both of the stereotype and more so the attitude that led to the comment!

Rogue Angels is additional proof (as if you needed it) that women can and do perform in an environment just as well as men and look great as well… I tested the Angel’s blog with some non fishing blokes and gave them Dan Bailey’s site to “paw” over as well. I have to admit that I was a little taken aback when they scoffed at the Rogue Angels site (they couldn’t see what I saw) and wondered where they could get the calendar from! You just can’t educate some folk… the flip side is that the exit link from my blog to Rogue Angels is by far and away the most popular link away from the blog according to the stat counter. Ladies, hopefully it goes to prove that fishermen do appreciate women (and those that fish as well!).

Waders aren’t flattering for the best of folk but to look good and catch fish that is some going… shame that I can’t catch that many fish (1 out of 2 ain't that bad tho'!!).

I wonder what the Angels think of the guys (and I hate to think what the stat counter will show in the New Year)?

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Caledfwlch - take me up & cast me away!

I took a call from Harrison Advanced Rods… my old friend Mike Helliwell was on the phone “Guess what?” “We’ve built your rod!” “Thought that you might like to try it over Christmas”

Knock me down with a feather... they said that they were building it in January!

Well all that blanking on the river melted away as I popped over to Liverpool to pick up the rod… Mike met me and took me over to another part of the factory. A plastic heat sealed bag was handed to him. I could see that the bag contained a black rod bag. I was given the bag and handed a Stanley knife and slit the plastic with the precision of a surgeon’s first incision on the cutting table. We were in… I took out the rod bag and undid the Velcro tabs… no ties to get in the way. I unrolled it and looked at the 4 openings… I could feel the full Wells handle and gently took the handle from its bag.

The cork fighting butt and then the titanium Struble reel seat, what engineering… Then… the ground carbon blank… black whipping with silver tipping above the keeper and also on the female ferrules… absolutely stunning. Like a couple of excited schoolboys we assembled the rod. Perfect!

The name had been finished in silver as requested… the Harrison Advanced Rods logo with 9’ 9/10# set in a small font. Next to the all important makers mark was the name chosen for this rod an indeterminable link for me with my past and who I am; “Caledfwlch” an old Welsh name pronounced phonetically Kaled-voulch… Who or what is/was Caledfwlch?

Caledfwlch was the most treasured possession of Arthur (King Arthur) and was the original name for the sword, Excalibur. The word Excalibur was a French interpretation of the name Caliburn or Caliburnus which was in turn the latin take on the old Welsh name. I have my dad's (his name is Arthur) fly rod which he asks about so I counted that as a treasured material possession and as he introduced me to fishing - so perhaps a fitting choice of name.

The blade of Caledfwlch had two inscriptions one on either side, the translations are “take me up” and on the reverse “cast me away” perhaps an adequate description of the mechanics of fly fishing. I thought this mythical but important legend that I grew up with (I'm from Wales on one side and Northern Ireland on t’other – that is the “who I am”) again lent its name to the rod. By way of an amusing modern twist I discover today that Lara Croft in the game Tomb Raider; Legend, Lara has to find Excalibur which has been split into 4 pieces and she is charged with finding the 4 elements and re-forging the sword. The twist is that the rod is a 4 piece rod!

Although I’m fiercely proud of my Celtic heritage I was pleased to see the Union Jack sticker on the rod… proving that although we don’t have a large manufacturing base in the UK as we once did, we can still produce goods of exceptional quality in the UK.

As ever the proof of the pudding is in the eating BUT this is the same blank as Mike’s own rod… I know I won’t be disappointed!

I can only thank my friends, Steve Harrison and Mike Helliwell and the rest of the team at Harrison Advanced Rods for creating my ultimate rod… I won’t claim that this was the last rod to leave the factory in 2008 but it would be nice to think it was.
Hopefully we'll have quite a few adventures with this rod and I'll document them here... the rod primarily to target pike will be used to entice other freshwater and saltwater fish into taking a fly or two!

Happy Christmas all!

Monday, 22 December 2008

I want a pike for Christmas!

One of two 15lb pike taken from the Dee today... BUT what a bitter sweet pill... I was made up for the guy on the next peg (Mal) who got them and rather naffed off that I spent 12 hours on the river with nothing to show for it... I had the choice of pegs BUT chose the wrong one!

It also has to be said that supermarket deadbaits are useless... frankly the quality of fish is awful... if I wouldn't touch it, then why would a fish?

Mal's two fish were both taken on ledgered livebaits... either chub or roach. The benefit of a feeder rod in addition to the rods for the pike... a ready supply of fresh bait. I "borrowed" two small chub, sadly to no avail. I was just in the wrong place.

I got up at stupid o'clock and and I am sitting here absolutely knackered... what didn't help was that yesterday I thought I was brewing a cold and dipped out on a trip to the canal. Were there any pluses to today... well the fly rod works well on this stretch of river and if the pike are on then casting won't be a problem as access is good. Coming to Mal's rescue after he'd packed away his forceps my super long forceps do indeed reach those deep hooked moments!

Sadly there were more downs to the day... and oh isn't it muddy - my car is testimony to that!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Shoaling up for the winter!

I decided to sit at the vice last night as it is a couple of weeks since I tied a fly or two... Inspired by Dougie's creations I set to!
From the top is my first attempt at a Surf Candy... coloured as a Rainbow, I'm not sure whether it is too sparse and it was interesting working with Devcom 5 for the first time as well.
In the middle is a play on Dougie's bait fish... rather than rely on Pantone pens and Silli Skin I tied a strip of Funky Fibre at the eye and drew it back over the mylar body... a pearl type plastic was tied to the shank along with the silver strands prior to the mylar body going on... when the epoxy goes on the mylar it makes it more translucent and the strands move in the body cavity!
At the bottom... slightly out of focus... A BIG silver streamer constructed out of Christmas tinsel strands with a palmered garland body.
All tied on 4/0 Big Mouth hooks.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

The "reel" deal!!

OK... I wasn't but I will... just to get the salivary glands going! Here is the titanium reel seat... pure genius. Ain't it truly gorgeous!

Friday, 12 December 2008

When they are off they are OFF!

No I haven't started buying impressionist works of art! My main camera died today and I used my camera phone to shoot the float lit by a watery sun accompanied by a reflection of the trees! Blimey David, why did you do that? Well, having fished for 9 hours it was getting a little tedious not catching!!

I tried every trick in the book... The pike are OFF! Fly, lure, jerkbait, spoons and deadbait (both static and wobbled) - and absolutely NOTHING! Pah!

I amused myself in the end with a seagull and a deadbait... playing catch me if you can - allowing the deadbait to surface and have the seagull circle only to let it drop at the last minute... NO - I was fishing and was pestered by the gull. Mind not the only pest!

An opportunist moorhen decided that she'd play hard ball with the float and peck at it and then she followed me down the lake to steal the prebaited herring... is there no justice in life!

It did allow me another session with the Harrison rod and I'm pleased to hear that all 4 sections have been made and we are on for a build in January! The reel seat should be delivered tomorrow and will be dropped off next week with the loan rod.

Oh and the new rod once it has been build will be named! Guess the name and win a hand tied fly... of my choice!! (posted to mainland UK only unless you can supply me with tickets to the destination of your choice where we can fly fish for bones whilst the winter slips away in the UK).

Only 19 days of fishing in 2008 left!

Friday, 5 December 2008

Harrison Rod Review... Do I do reviews?

Busy, busy, busy... lots going on with work at the moment (I'm not complaining!) BUT I've still found time to take part in a little piscatorial art this week.
We've had some sharp frosts this week and I love being out and about at first light on a frosty morning. I decided on Wednesday to see what activity there was on the lake... I drove there just as dawn was breaking, the sky was an amazing colour scheme rather like a bruise of a few days... blues, yellows, purples and reds with a tinge of green stirred in for good measure... not far off a quarter moon and stars dancing in the sky. Magic!
At the lake the odd rabbit was gamboling along and a hawk swooped through the tree cover as I got out of the car. A tepid -3 degrees C... Brrr... cold!
Geared up I was casting at 0710hrs and the lake was like glass... a few rises BUT nothing to speak of... so a quick dash home. Shower & shave, then suited and booted and in the office for 10am! It's always amazed me how invigorating it is having an early start.
Today was a little different. It was a day to test a new rod. I have lusted after a fly rod of sheer class for years... well ever since I set eyes on the magic of the 'boo rod of my dad's (at age 4 plus something). Don't get me wrong the Ron Thompson MPX has served me well and will continue to do so BUT after a day of casting YOU KNOW IT! Sooooo.... the connection.
I raced for some time on a yacht called "Quattro" a Sigma 33 out of Liverpool and it was (still is) skippered by Steve Harrison of Harrison Advanced Rods (this was during my long vacation from fishing!). It has really been by accident in someways that things come full circle and I'm contemplating a Harrison blank. I was infact introduced to Steve by Mike (to get me that crewing position), a friend who also fishes and works for Steve... the basis of the incestuous relationship does get deeper in the drinking holes around town many moons ago... BUT you get the drift.
A combination I'm sure of Steve's attention to detail and what Mike "doesn't know about fishing isn't worth knowing" has drawn me ever closer to the Harrison blank. In addition to an enviable reputation, they are really nice folk and where possible I would like to support local businesses.
Anyway, I've built them up so what about the blank? I had a short go over 6 weeks ago and Mike had the rod set up with a shooting head on it which I'd never tried and it couldn't cope with the tandem... down to me as Mike could cast it albeit that it did hinge. I really want to build my own rod and rang Mike to see if any blanks were in stock... nope but I could borrow his rod! Wow! An opportunity too good to miss... Fortuitously I was in town and able to drop by the factory and relieve Mike of his 9ft 9/10# rod. A certain amount of trepidation... using someone else's rod.
I couldn't get to the lake first thing... the office beckoned and I got to the water for the right side of 1100hrs and had to be back in the office for 1400hrs to get a mailshot out to clients... tough life!
The wind was about 15mph and the first cast with this rod with my Cortland 333 Pro Pike WF10F was amazing the fly took flight and covered more ground (lake) and quicker than I'd cast before... Awesome! But you can really slow the cast down and get the loops bigger for those bigger flies.
I spent the next 2-3hrs casting a variety of flies and differing casts and all I can say was "I was in heaven". Iwas still able to get the fly onto the water as the wind built to 35mph... something I couldn't consider with the RT. The Harrison rod was light and even being a 9/10# I didn't tire using it... I rang Mike and said to him "Do you want the good news or the bad?" His response was in his usually smiley self "What? You caught a fish and the rod is in two!", I retorted "Nope! I love it and I don't want to give it back!" Generously, I have the rod for another week... I just have to get out for another session!
The blank has been ordered!
The boots... very quickly then... Sorel 1964 Pattern boots with liners, good to -40 degrees F (who knows what that is in Celsius!). £50 from the local Outlet Village... best buy ever... my feet have never been drier or warmer. Come on winter what have you got? Bring it on!

Monday, 1 December 2008

The sublime to the ridiculous?

Over the weekend I managed to sneak in two very short sessions... the weekend was -2 degrees C and foggy on Saturday and Sunday it was same temperature BUT an icy wind and no fog. I was hitting the water at last light and talking to the guys leaving the lake nothing much had shown on either day.

The Saturday session was really a quick cast over the water after buying some Manta Big Mouth 4/0 hooks to tie on... Sunday was to try out the prototype of this baby. The pike are feeding on skimmers at the moment and I wanted a short fat fly with volume to try and emulate a slab sided baby bream... it fishes reasonably well on the retrieve... not the prettiest of flies I grant you. But what do you expect when you use a Christmas garland (palmered), a little bucktail, funky fibre and a little Krystal flash! Oh the eyes are from a craft shop 99p (50 cents) for a pack of 100.

All I need to do is catch a pike with it!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

What does the fish see...?

My dad's small aluminium fly box yielded these examples... what does the fish see? Colour as in the first one or a profile as in the second... "It looks roughly like the last one I ate... Darn it! That one has a hook!"

They must see colour, otherwise I wouldn't tie big gaudy fluorescent ones for the pike! The interesting thing about that tin of flies is that they must span a 20 year range... my dad age 15 to 35... that means that some of the flies in the tin are 62 years old!!

Anyway! Yesterday was a drizzly sort of day… on and then off BUT it was good to be out! I did a couple of hours in the morning, getting into the office for 10am and then left at 3pm ish to get the lake for last couple of hours of light… that drifted into darkness.

There wasn’t much movement; I saw a few fry move and a bow wave with a fin nudging the surface of the water. There was only one other fishing the pool and he had a jack to a dead baited sprat between 9.30 and 10.30 but nothing else!

I didn’t mind not catching… I spent time perfecting the cast and enjoyed being out.

It got me to thinking of my most memorable fish:

1) First recollection is of a small brook brownie… I was aged 4/5 and it was on my first rod and was taken on a lady bug type spinner. I remember it out of the water and my grandmother cooking it… that’s it!

2) Roll on to age 11 or 12… Criccieth in North Wales and a Mackerel taken on a spinner on a light glass fibre spinning rod… boy did it fight!

3) Off to university and field work (I was a geologist) and the Isle of Mull... a borrowed fly rod and flies and a small Scottish loch and another brownie

4) Some years hence with a small telescopic spinning rod and a perch pattern size 0 Mepps spinner... a small estate on the Morvern peninsula and a small brook... a small pool beneath a drop and cast the spinner in... I missed the take but went back the next day to account for the brownie!

5) First rainbow on my dad's split cane rod... I'd missed a trout on the Dee at Llangollen in Wales a week earlier as I couldn't cast far enough as I only had thigh waders. I'd borrowed a line and reel from Meadow fisheries in Cheshire and caught a 2lb 'bow much to the disgust of my cousin!

6) A perfect perch on a maggot in a newly stocked pond next to my friends' farm... eclipsed only by the perch William and I caught in Ireland... he was 6 and I was "helping" him fish!

7) My first River Thames pike caught on a lure I'd had for years on a fantastic day that saw us boat a few perch as well

8) Barracuda and Jack Trevally in Egypt... the top lure being a Rapala silver Countdown 9cm and all from the marina wall!

9) My first double figure pike and on the River Dee... how sweet after blanking for so long

10) Mackerel bashing with the boys in Anglesey... can't beat the taste of fresh fish

Blimey that was my top 10 and I didn't get to the pike I've caught on the fly or the small roach on a French lake, nor the fish that have dropped off the hook!!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Women and fishing...

Women and fishing is nothing new... Miss Geraldine Ballantine caught the British record salmon in 1922 on the River Tay in Scotland; the salmon measured 54 inches and weighed in at 64lbs.

So out of 4 million people that fish in Britain a mere 2% are women!

I have been privileged to sail with some of the best sailors in the world and fortunately women count in that number. In addition to excelling in their own right the fairer sex do bring a pleasant balance to any sport. Fishing may not appear at first sight to be a sport for women...

Perhaps (for women) there is a general misunderstanding of what it (fishing) is all about and that it is seen as a male dominated sport? Fishing takes various forms and I am perhaps "multi-discipline" in that I will use natural baits (for example whole or cut fish, worms and maggots) and also man made baits (spinners, plugs, jerkbaits and the fly). Man made baits may offer a best option to most people (depending on quarry) as there isn't anything to go off! It therefore becomes a "clean" sport... I've had a major change in direction in my fishing and find that by fishing with the fly I have become more mobile and rely more on watercraft skills. Fly-fishing is also a gentler sport, requiring more finesse and perhaps it is more of an art form and an appreciation... who knows?

Anyway I am trying to entice Janet, my wife to have a go at fly fishing in the spring (she has promised) and hopefully we can tie in walks in the hills to small mountain lakes or along meandering rivers in search of fish together! In my search for inspiration I found a blog called Rogue Angels... a blog by a couple of very accomplished female fishermen. The young lady in the photo is K8, one of the two contributors to the blog (listed in my Fishy sites of interest!). She's with a first rainbow caught on a split cane rod... and what a smile! (K8, thanks for allowing me to publish it here).

At a dinner this weekend I discussed with the lady sat next to me, why I thought women had the edge fly fishing... pheromones... perhaps. I actually think it is the softer touch, the ability to beguile and not rely on brute strength that males generally using in hunting to survive. Like the pool that the big fish lives in... that's DEEP!

Friday, 21 November 2008

And in the beginning...

I was going to take some images of the Milward's Flyrover BUT the light ain't good so this is a taster... My dad's rod when he was a teenager and beyond and the rod I took by first rainbow trout on... it has me thinking and after seeing a shot of an angel with a first 'bow on 'boo I might just have to take this rod out fishing!

"To go fishing is the chance to wash one's soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle-makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week. And it is discipline in the equality of men - for all men are equal before fish."- Herbert Hoover (and for men, read women as well - undoubtedly some of the great fishermen are women! D)

Sunday, 16 November 2008

The Thames...

This was an on the spur of the moment trip as the eldest had the offer of a ticket to see England v Oz at Twickenham.

I was full of cold so I wasn't in best form BUT it provided me with an opportunity to fish the Thames... it was such a shame that it was in flood!

It was going to be useless piking BUT I still tried and as with all rivers in flood I always loose a lure... this time it was a spinner (mental note to self... go and buy another!).

I didn't bother with the fly rod and in fact bought two pints of red maggots to drown - along with a 3m fishing pole ostensibly for my nephew Tom to use (he lasted a couple of casts and obviously knew it wouldn't fish well). The cut behind their home was still and had colour SO should have supplied even gudgeon to play with . However, it was really slow and I even used a bag of halibut pellets that I had deep in the recesses of my tackle box to carpet a small patch of the cut and topped that off with red maggots to entice would be suspects in. I watched the pellets pop
oil to the surface like an anti-aircraft battery filling the sky with flack. Sadly there were NO takers.

However, there were upsides... The Great Crested Grebe in winter plumage... who scared me to death as he surfaced by my float! The Red Kite circling high above the late autumn trees lining the river and the family of swans with the cygnets losing their baby plumage.

I passed the time of day with many on the river, some finding out how it (the river) was fishing, parents enticing children to peer into the box of writhing maggots (perpetual motion at its best) and three canoeists from the Song of the Paddle Forum that I find myself on occasionally as I flirt with the idea of a canoe... just to see if I can get nearer the fish!

No fish... but then some days it isn't about the fish!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

At the setting of the sun....

Not quite down the road BUT where we were this time last year! Egypt... the Red Sea to be precise. What has that got to do with anything... piking in particular? Nothing... well almost nothing.

I decided as it was full moon to try the moon phase fishing technique and took the last two hours of light at the end of the day. I arrived and it was still with barely a ripple on the water... not good, I prefer a broken surface and not much movement of fish either. I held my nerve and fished on as the sun dipped away and we hit the twilight zone. The light was fading fast with cloud building in the sky... last cast and slow the retrieve right down... the fly must be barely moving! Retrieve... damn got a snag... the snag's moving! Fish on! Not big, say 5lbs and then it came off... shame... never mind.

I was pleased I'd found a link between me and the fish... it feels very good (doesn't matter what size either).

So what does that have to do with Egypt... well, after a long day suffering the beach I'd get one or two hours fishing off the marina wall and that was my view each night... and as the sun dipped behind the mountains the sea would become alive and the fish would take. Mmmm... warm air catching schoolie barracuda and small trevally... can someone transport me back please and this time I'll take a fly rod!

As a bit of a postscript today I'd like to thank everyone who reads this blog for taking the time to do just that... over 1000 have read the blog in the time it's been here and that spans 11 different countries. It wasn't my intention to have lots of people read it, it was more of an online diary for me and family to keep up with my fishing. I am but a novice fly fisherman. Thanks for visiting, David

Friday, 7 November 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum!

Blimey what a non-day... The alarm went at 0505hrs and I was fishing at o645hrs - keen? Of course I am. Based on some insider knowledge that my favourite river was going to be "ON" today I duly paid homage to the Cestrian Lady. Insider knowledge comes in various forms and when I phoned X to see where he was I found out Y... better fishing up river! Actually not that much better but at least they had a fish and a couple of bites...

I've yet to meet Mike... but have spoken to him and emailed him on a few occassions... I'm going to hold him to putting me on a "dead cert" peg this winter... I watch his blog with interest and amazement at the specimens he continually catches! Exit stage left chanting "We are not worthy" and repeat.

Looking forward to meeting you Mike!

I didn't see one fish on the river today... that's bad. But I know where they are now... and that's good!

On leaving the Cestrian Lady I came upon two aged oiks fishing... that is a generalisation and perhaps unfair to tar us all with the same brush! The first had a telescopic beach rod with a spinning reel... the line set to a trace with a dead fish attached... deadbaiting (origin of fish unknown!). The rod had a safety... a length of rope attached to it and the oik's deck chair BUT, get this, the running ledger which didn't look as if it would run was a plastic bag with a rock in it... bewildered I left.

So off to the stillwater... not hot there either! Shame BUT here is a BAD photo of a baby bream... place is stuffed full of them... may tie a fly to look like one... I need 3D epoxy eyes.

In summary... not a stunning day BUT good to be out!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Blue moon, You saw me standing alone, Without a dream in my heart...

This song has been covered by many but I prefer the sound of Ella Fitgerald or the version from the film Grease... way back in 1978!
The moon has featured heavily in discussions on the PAC forum as to when the best times per moon phases are... the comments have been been hard fought pro and against and with 1,420 views and 133 replies has to be the hottest topic this autumn!
I have conducted my own survey of my fishing dates over the last 14 months or so... and I have been totally blown away by the correlation between certain moon phase dates and catching fish!
Suffice to say there is one moon phase in particular that stands out head and shoulders above the rest... during this period I have a 1:2 catch ratio... that's 2 fish per day of fishing... another moon phase is 1:1 and another 2:1, ie I have to fish for 2 days to catch 1 fish!
The most productive period gives me 59% of my total catch!
These figures have been taken from my records and prior to this exercise I hadn't even looked at moon phases... I just went fishing when I could. Maybe I'll be a little more selective in the future.
Oh! The photo... my cousin Mark in Calgary took it... fantastic photo!!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

It's a lazy wind that goes right through you!!

Two forays over the past few days... to say I have been fly fishing in a cold wind was an understatement... although with thoughts of ordering an intermediate line it looks like I'll be plumbing the depths to wake esox during the winter months.
Friday was killed by an east wind... no takers, no bait fish and no swirls! Having said that, it was a reasonably fine day... a good day to be out and early morning I saw a peregrine hunting and late afternoon a weasel... so it wasn't all bad.
Today I grabbed an hour or two in amongst the rain... missed a take and watched the chap with a sardine take a jack from the bay by this peg... always the way BUT I was just about to have a go at that swim... it was a day for dead baiting.
Now do I persevere with the fly or do I pack the dead bait gear at the end of the week??? I can feel a "snurge" moment coming on!
Glossary: Snurge (n) to snurge (v)... a foul smelling attractant (now that's a contradiction in terms!) a secret recipe!!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Now that's fly fishing!

Now that's what I call a fish and it'll have me changing my name to McEdwards and moving north of the border... There are folk who have directly or indirectly affected my fishing and hence why I include them in my blog. Dougie Loughridge... I'm not sure whether he's directly or indirectly influence my fishing, we'll go with the former though!

I came across Dougie on the Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain forum (PAC) and have stalked him on the FlyForum and the Pike Fly Fishing Association (PFFA) forum... When PAC decided to have a fly fishing element to the forum I saw posts of step by step "How to tie a fly" and I was in awe of the creations Dougie has made. I then bought a selection off Dougie and that was the turning point in my fly fishing... I started to catch fish!

I lost a fly and asked Dougie to tie me another... I think he graciously declined BUT sold me some surplus hooks he had... and that was the start of the fly tying for me. I've used the flies I bought as the patterns and amusingly until that new fly has caught a fish you don't have as much confidence in it as the original that has caught 10 fish!

I freely admit I'm a novice at this aspect of pike fishing and Dougie has been a source of excellent information... if he can catch fish like this on Scottish loch's then I'm sure other pike aren't going to say no to his creations. I didn't actually appreciate how much time and material went into constructing a pike fly until I started tying my own.

My recent advice to other novices is to search Dougie out on the forums and buy a few flies when he's selling them... (it isn't his day job!) and watch your hit rate go up...

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

No comment... on the grounds that I may incriminate myself

Where do I start... well after last Friday's debacle I decided to get up early on Saturday... blowing old boots and I saw nothing and heard nothing. Today I decided to steal a couple of hours and chose one fly (THAT pattern again!)... from where I lost the big pike I cast out in a fan shape and probably 6 or 7 casts in, BANG. Yippee! I score again! Nice 10lb ish pike unhooked in the water...

Now ask me where I should have been... my lips are sealed!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Gutted like a fish....

What no pike? Grrrrrrr!

I decided to sneak a couple of hours this morning before the world got going... and knowing that the weather is going to be very wet tomorrow I decided on an early start.

All tackled up I decided to use THAT pattern again! and had a few casts across the reeds... nothing, so on to the next peg and cast into the corner. What happened next is truly amazing... I did a half roll cast to get some line out onto the water and in the time it took me to strip a couple of times from the reel my fly was in the centre of a seething, writhing mass of pike... I played the pike for what must have been 30 seconds perhaps more but not longer than a minute. I saw the pike twist and writhe on the end of the line and I was captivated by this leviathan from the deep.

I made one fatal error and one that I have beaten myself up about all day... I had too much clutch on the reel... the result is sickening... the leader failed at the knot between the mono and the supratress. I lost my fish... size? Unimportant... but much larger than last week's 10lber - maybe sneaking up to 16/17lb mark... perhaps larger. Who knows?

I now have a wet Saturday lined up in front of the vice to make up clones of THAT fly and a few wire traces as well... whilst I lick my wounds!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Red Letter Day....

Well there are days and there are DAYS! I have been studying moon phases and it had Tuesday down as an excellent day for fishing... I was driving to Carlisle! Yesterday was down as poor and today... was just average. What is average? Average to some of the better pikers out there would be a bloomin' good day for me... actually it would be a win on the Lotto, or the equivalent in piking terms. Average to me well... may or may not hit.

So how was this average day? It started at 7am... overcast and cold... armed with a recent creation or three I set forth... I did three tours of the lake... sorry I got a head of myself a little.

I'll cut to the chase.. the selected pattern did well... did so well we (that's me and the chosen one - the fly) accounted for 4 pike... the biggest hitting the scales at a smidgen over 10lbs... you can tell how smug I felt!! Not half... a cracker of a day! A couple of almosts and a loss to boot...

Do you know what? I'm enjoying this pike on the fly malarkey! Oh and that bit about the moon... it's utter rubbish!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Vice is nice...................

I've just used Funky Fibres from Toby on the fly forum to help bulk up my tandems... nice stuff and it'll be great to see it in the water. I found that a little goes a long way and a great range of colours too! Oh and the sparkle is 12" Krystal flash again from Toby... so it'll be off somewhere on Friday to chuck a parrot or two!! Couldn't decide on which photo to put up so I've given you both...

Sunday, 5 October 2008

A "REEL" good time!!

My new Danielsson 8Eleven arrived this weekend... ordered from Hugh O'Reilly. I have to say that his advice was faultless as was the service. The fully loaded reel arrived ready to use... with a couple of pike flies thrown in for free! The reel has been loaded with Cortland Pike WF10F (not the new red and mint line as you'll notice BUT the 333 version). The reel is the Rolls Royce of all reels... compare it to the reel my dad used on his Milward's Flyrover; they are poles apart.
Fishing this weekend was interesting. Friday night found me casting into the teeth of a gale and by comparison this evening it was totally calm and serene. A few carp rolling tonight but not much else moving, all seen off by the heavy rain that included hail during the night.
High point... well out fishing and with a reel and line that brought the Ron Thompson MPX Pike 8/9 weight fly rod to life. Oh and my hand tied flies are standing up to all that casting!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Tying a tandem...

I didn't think it would be easy... but here is the first attempt!

Lessons learned: Don't have the mylar tube run too far up the shank of the first hook and get some white EP fibres to add some volume in the next fly. Oh... and message to self "if you want to put a rattle tube inside the mylar do it before you whip it on the front hook!" Doh!

It'll be interesting seeing how it works in this format... I'm not as confident about the longevity of the front half of the fly... we'll see...

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Sunday, Sunday...

No photo today... a lot of pike activity BUT also too many carpers!! One chap decided he'd chin wag with me whilst I was on a retrieve... so sad, a pike turned over the fly and I didn't have the line tight enough to strike. The moral of the story is... don't act like John Wilson on the local pond... it ain't cool!

Won't get a chance this week BUT I'll be there again...

Friday, 26 September 2008

On my fly!

Down to the water for 7am with very few there... still morning with a mist rising from the water. Bait fish moving and jumping and pike striking like there was no tomorrow. A real feeding frenzy!

So with my newly tied fly on the line I decided to fish it. Once it lost its buoyancy it moved with a the grace of a ballerina... the only difference this has a sting in the tail! I fished the first bay and noticed some excessive bait fish movement a few casts and changed position... quick, quick, pause... and bang "fish on!". Bit more of a fight with this fellow but succumbed relatively quickly. Out of interest I weighed it in the net and came up at 5lbs... I've been doing myself short... my first could have been a double!!! The Ad Swier hooks again excelled themselves and I quickly unhooked the fish and allowed it to recover and away he went!

I moved pegs and moved up the lake a couple of casts later I missed a take and had a pike roll over the fly... annoying but soon forgotten. Just can't beat catching a fish at the start of the day!

There is a big fish in this water... I can feel it in my bones.

A note to myself I must start taking photos with a proper camera and not the Mickey Mouse one on the phone!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Lord of the flies...

OK today was a bit of a bum day so retail therapy kicked in! A vice and some tools and a few materials... they were really set up for the trout and salmon boys so an internet shop happened as well!

Icelandic sheep's wool... with a little flash... can't wait to see it in the water... and really can't wait until the bucktail and mylar tubing arrives so I can tie those tandems!!!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the fjords.

Back in 1969 Michael Palin and John Cleese performed the Dead Parrot Sketch as part of a Monty Python TV show. What on earth has that to do with piking? The link is tenuous to say the least! Read on...

I took the opportunity to have a couple of hours on my secret venue last night just as the light was fading... as I approached the venue I passed a car on the unmade road and we both opened our windows I asked how it was fishing. The response was that yesterday it wasn't so good BUT today it was excellent! T'other chap asked me what I was after and I said that I was after pike, on the fly. "Oh you're the bloke that had two last week" was the reply... notoriety... at last!

In contrast there were few carp fishing albeit conditions were better... apparently. I had a chat to a couple of chaps sitting fishing for roach and they told me that one of them had had a 5lb pike on a roach as he was retrieving the silver fish... good news indeed.

I spent 40 minutes working my way up the swims until I met a group of lads going home and they commented that pike had be chasing the roach in their swim a couple of pegs up fom where I was. OK... give it a go.

The large peg was littered with the ends of bait and I saw from the bank a small shoal of roach hanging around in the shallows. Mmmm... promising. A few casts parallel to the bank retrieving one long and two short with a pause of varying lengths and bang I was into a fish!

After a short fight the jack yielded... I was ready today with the handle of the net close at hand and slipped it under the fish... there was no escape for young Esox today. The first hook of the tandem had caught him fair and square a centimetre or so back from his bottom jaw... those Ad Swier hooks are so easy to remove... a large treble there and I would have had to have used a pair of snips to take the point and barb off. I didn't bother weighing the fish but gave myself 3 - 4 lbs based on the length of the fish... approximate length judged by the width of the bottom of my net... I actually don't care about the weight... it's just all about catching pike!

Hooks extracted (in the net) my quarry wanted to return to the murky depths of the lake... what an utterly fantastic sight these fish are... I feel a certain honour that I have found the secret in catching them... and to see them swim off unharmed and with vigour... fantastic!

I'm looking forward to Monday night and to test driving a Harrison 9ft 9 weight blank... a rod in the making!

Oh I almost forgot... the parrot... in the still balmy air I heard one of the two anglers after the roach comment, "must be like casting a dead parrot on that rod" My retort across the water was that it was the mother-in-law's budgie! There was a ripple of laughter and sniggers that echoed around the lake as night fell.

Friday, 12 September 2008


What a hard fought campaign I've had!
I decided today to pop down to the river again... not quite as bad as the August foray but with all that rain there was too much of a flow to make it worthwile. However, as I was there I fished it... true to form losing a lure to the river gods who continually seek to punish my impudence!
Anyway there were a number of conversations along the way with fellow fishermen and passers by that made the day enjoyable... apart from the annoying comments that some folk make, for example... "there was a chap last week who caught a massive pike over there!" I bite my lip and scream inwardly... "do I look bovvered!" I know they mean well.
Unlike me but I decided that I'd do the secret stillwater before dinner. After a quick cup of tea I drifted off to "the venue". There were quite a few carp anglers in attendance but fortunately all on the pegs I knew wouldn't produce pike... believe that, and you'll believe anything! Now I think in the ways of the Pike Angler's Club of Great Britain (of which I'm a member) I will leave out the location and the fly I used at "the venue"... it's a sort of unwritten rule you see... just in case another chap comes and fishes its socks off. It seems odd that a society whose aim is to preserve the pike are worried about its own members "raping and pillaging" waters... maybe I can understand it though. I like fishing, not politics and I have digressed. Where were we? Ah, yes!
Near enough ninety minutes of fly fishing as the sun dipped toward the horizon...
"Mark A" is on a straight bank lined with reeds, probably 9 feet out drops considerably, in the 9 feet zone it ranges from 6 inches to 4 foot deep. The first fly I had on although stood out in the murk of a carp water didn't have a massive volume about it, so I changed it for a fly of considerable substance... gaudy to excess as well. I had about half a dozen casts parallel with the bank and on one of the pauses it felt as if I'd hit a snag BUT instinctively I knew this was a fish and struck... the water boiled immediately with a pike on the end of my line... bullying him quickly to submit I got him to the net (thanks to a carper waiting in the wings). There isn't a photo of this 6.5lb pike... Why? Well I decided to put it on the unhooking mat... wrong move... must have spotted the water and made a dive for it! Darn it!!!
"Mark B" was an absolute gift from the last person I spoke to at the lake... he suggested the bay opposite to him... out of respect for his float I hadn't fished it and the platform on the opposite side of the bay was a difficult cast. I had visions of tying up the fly in a tree. 2nd or 3rd cast in and "bang" we were fish on again. The photo above is from my phone on the camera... so quality isn't good! BUT it is a photo of the 2nd pike I caught on a fly(albeit smaller at 3lbs)... 2 pike in one session on the fly... fantastic...
I have reflected on today and have to say that I feel that I earned those fish... I feel elated!
As a post script there are folk that worry that pike on the fly isn't good for the fish. Well both fish were landed quickly and were returned quickly as well! The big difference for me is the hook. Partridge Ad Swier pike hooks, they just drop out... no nasty trebles. It has me re-thinking trebles!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Fishes & Loaves....

Rather than camping with the boys and having the remnants of a miserable August impose its wrath on us under canvas we opted for a friend's cottage on Anglesey!

With the car loaded up last Wednesday we set off with all but the kitchen sink... "Grandma Margaret's" cottage has to be one of the most idyllic retreats on earth and the setting is fantastic. Such is the impact of the place on me, that returning to reality is hard!

I decided in addition to the usual armoury of fishing rods to pack the bikes for the boys, giving them their own transport to "cruise the strip" as it might be termed in a built up beach side resort such as Cannes! This back of beyond boasts a church, pub, cafe and renowned sea food restaurant... oh and an original cottage set up as a museum!

The weather was good to us and during Wednesday afternoon we stopped off at the fishing tackle shop in Amlwch... Telboy Tackle is run by Terry Thomas and is situated between the the Dinorben Arms and the Premier Stores. A veritable Aladdin's cave for the angler whether sea, coarse or game fishing. He can arrange sea fishing trips on Tuesday and Thursday each week. Well worth a visit to stock up on fresh bait.

Will and I tried our luck on the Thursday night at ledgering for plaice and bass and after a couple of hours we both retired empty handed... nothing new there!

Having set a challenge of "Catch, Kill, Clean, Cook & Eat" I thought it best to ensure that we did catch something... else we'd go hungry! So off to Moelfre and the rocks behind the lifeboat station. Two things about this mark, the first is, it is a tackle grave yard BUT second you will catch here more often than not. I decided to put both boys on the cheap carp rods with feathers and a 2 ounce weight... with the advice "as soon as it hits the water, wind the handle!". Both managed to attach themselves to the bottom so I switched both to spinners.

I initially went onto a Dexter wedge hoping for bass but soon decided to switch to a line of foil feathers with a two ounce lead. The Harrison designed Veal's 4 Sure Spin 9ft rod certainly had the weight ripping the feathers out into the distance and on the third retrieve I felt that we were on a home run. Cranking the handle I was overjoyed to see three excellent sized mackerel beneath the surface. All fish were dispatched quickly and popped into the bag.

Not being greedy I let William take my rod and the mark, a few casts later he was in! I watched him excitedly bring two mackerel home and on landing them... well, maybe I won't write what he said... somewhat overcome by emotion his inhibitions were laid bare to the world! Enough said!

Sam took over the rod but linked with a fast falling tide and a chap, who by now was insisting that his float should come across Sam's line of fire meant that Sam lost the terminal tackle and went home empty handed. To compound his misery I put a line of pink shrimps on one of the carp rods and pulled in a solo mackerel! I did feel for him.

With six in the bag we went off home... rather satisfied and a degree of smugness that can only come with catching fish! Back at the cottage I showed the boys how to gut and clean the fish... I have to say that both of them performed the task without complaint and did it to a higher standard than the fish counter at our local supermarket! I was proud of both of them.

We had put the White Eagle at Rhoscolyn as the banker for Friday night... great gastro pub/restaurant... food was good BUT just have a main and a dessert unless you are greedy! Overfaced or what...

Saturday we had the mackerel for tea... I dislike throw away BBQs but when the devil drives sometimes that is all there is to hand. We headed and tailed the fish and just managed to squeeze the six on one BBQ on the beach! A sheet of foil over the top retains both heat and moisture... 12 minutes later they were being wrapped in foil and put in a Thermos bag and back off to the cottage where Janet was preparing the rest of the meal.
Freshly cooked fish with a hint of smoke, a squeeze of lemon and rocket from our own garden... what more could you ask for... apart from a glass of sauvignon blanc to wash it down!

So we met the challenge and succeeded!
Please not we were responsible with the BBQ, we doused it with water from a rock pool and when sure all flame/heat was out placed it in a bin!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Old man river...

Alarm went at 4am yesterday... well I stopped it going off 2 minutes before to ensure I remained high in the popularity stakes! A couple of pieces of toast into the car and off to the river.
I had deliberated long and hard as to stillwater or river fishing and decided on the latter! I knew that there had been a high tide and that would hold up the water BUT what I hadn't banked on was the reduction in clarity due to the run off high in the mountains of North Wales.
The colour was a passable tea colour at 6am but by early afternoon it was like fishing in chocolate! It was a nice day for a walk but it left me thinking maybe that stillwater would have been better! The ultimate poke in the eye was a cormorant taking a perch in front of me... c'est la vie.
Courtesy of a couple of old chaps, one fishing and one yabbering, a pole and a maggot... here is the only fish of the day... apologies for the quality of the photo, it was taken with my phone. But it did have me thinking of livebaiting for the pike!
Talking of photos... doesn't the river look invitingly blue? The wonders of photoshop!
Isaac Walton wrote the Compleat Angler... I feel somewhat the Incompleat Fisherman... I really need to catch!