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!!