Friday, 27 February 2009


What can I say?

What a session!!!

I had done a dawn raid this week BUT not found any fish… they are on the move to the spawning grounds. Today I had an opportunity to have an early evening session hitting the water at 1630hrs and packing up just short of 1900hrs.

Hold on… wind the clock back to 0800hrs and the postman arrives with a package from Finland… two flies courtesy of Simon Graham… look in my links and visit his blog!! Today’s photo is of the two flies I received to try out. A big thank you to Simon…

Now back to the session… I tried an area where a chap was picking roach out like they were going out of fashion and decided to fish in the water to one side of him, side casting into the reeds… on one retrieve a pike of about 7 or 8lbs swam virtually right to the tip ring of the rod 6 inches beneath the fly… but didn’t strike. Blast!

In the last half hour I decided to use one of Simon’s flies… I fished out from between a group of reeds fishing it close in to the reeds and on the final approach allowed the fly to be fished really slow and break cover into open water… all I can say is that my bladder damn near decided to empty! On the second pass I had the most violent pike strike ever right at my feet water boiling every where… this pike was in the region of 14 – 15lbs easily the biggest pike I would have seen on the end of my rod… in the all but brief fight I saw the large silvery spotted slab side roll in the water at the end of my line… then disaster – it unhooked itself!

Simon… great fly and what an evening!

Thanks a million… an do email me the recipe!!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Follow you, Follow me...

I managed to snatch 3 hours at the end of the day yesterday and found the wind less than obliging at a brisk 25 knots and playing havoc with the good marks… I noticed a bloke fishing across another bay for silver fish and as soon as he left I decided to cast across calmer waters. In failing light I was alternating between two good pike catching flies on this water. The orange and yellow bucktail mix really does it for me here (but so have other colours)!

I slowed the retrieve down to a bottom snagging pace and had the leader just through the top eye when the pike following struck… “Pants!” it failed to connect… I tried casting across the bay again sadly to no avail. A tough day on a falling barometer!

The carp are starting to feed again (hence the photo of a carp – not mine!) which means the pike will start spawning soon and they’ll be on their post spawn blitz!

“Follow you, Follow me”… that was the final track of the 1978 album Then There Were Three from Genesis… I had a very varied music collection from this, which might be termed progressive rock to the new wave offerings of Blondie at the other end of the rainbow!

A dawn raid at the end of the week beckons!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Spring is in the air!!

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!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Friday 13th... lucky for some?

Friday 13th… those with a superstitious mind shy away from the number 13; I on the other hand have always felt that it was my lucky number!

It is great being able to converse with one of pike fly fishing’s “greats”… Barry Reynolds and include him in the blog. However, it is probably more rewarding putting the theory into practice and getting a result.

We were meant to be going to Kielder for the weekend but the youngest turned up a very nasty flu like virus and had a raised temperature… so that was the end of the weekend away! Shame but never mind we’ll do it again.

By way of consolation I decided to go chucking flies for pike… so far I haven’t gone a week without a pike. Would we blank today? Each of my trips out recently I’ve tried something new… I’m a self taught fly fisher and style isn’t perhaps the best. The Rio Striped Bass intermediate is a great line and I have caught all this year’s fish on it. However, I have struggled getting distance on the cast and I have found that unlike the Cortland 333 Pike it picks up grime and has to be cleaned mid session. So the something new… well I guess it is double hauling BUT I’m now loading up the rod more and using it to its full potential… WOW I’m actually getting real distance on my casts today. Perhaps the middle of the lake will be achievable at some point!

I’m debating on whether to buy a Guideline Pike sink tip fly line in readiness for a big trip at the end of March… do I or don’t I? Fishing from a boat will be a bit different to casting from the bank. I might just have to think what direction my fishing is going and off load a bunch of lures to balance the books!

Back to today… After ferrying a small boy to the doctor and cancelling the trip I decided to head off. On reaching the venue I had a chat with one of the regulars… he’d accounted for 5 perch and a solitary roach! Mmmm… lunchtime and in my haste hadn’t packed any food. Fatal flaw for someone who works on his stomach! It was going to be a long afternoon; many pattern changes in each swim and changes in the wind didn’t help.

I had a sneaking suspicion that nothing would happen until the sun started to dip away and I wasn’t far wrong… back to where I started after covering a large amount of water and using a roach pattern fly of my own making, I started to cast for Britain! Having found the measure of the rod and line I allowed the intermediate to drop in the water using the countdown method… “Damn I’ve caught a snag” You know that thought! And the relief when the snag moves!!

After a short tussle a 5lb ish pike was banked!

Friday 13th… very lucky for some!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Mastering Pike on the Fly!

I had a conversation with a pal of mine Mike Ashcroft who runs the Chester Predators Group… Mike is a successful piker and full of useful information. As the river season is only 6 weeks away and the melt waters hit the river he was reflecting on what a great season it had been for him. I confess I get emails from him with images attached of pike of proportions that I can only dream of at the moment and they have me salivating with a combination of frustration and a desire to get out there and bag a big lump of my own.

Each trip out has me learning something new and applying something I’ve seen or read, to the way I fish. It doesn’t always produce fish BUT if your bait isn’t in the water you won’t catch fish. I recounted my recent pike strike on the fly which was up close and personal and a sight I won’t forget in a long time… OK, so I didn’t bank the fish but with a slight alteration to the pattern I’ll be “cooking on gas”!

I have said before that I have two books that are thumbed at every opportunity and they are both on the subject of pike fly fishing… The authors are without a shadow of a doubt two of the best exponents of the sport and perhaps responsible for inspiring many of us.

One of the authors is
Barry Reynolds (the other is Ad Swier). Barry resides in Colorado and has been guiding for over 20 years… so one heck of a lot of experience. His book “Mastering Pike on the Fly” is a gem… if you were allowed only one book to accompany you on a fishing trip of a lifetime this is the one you would read on the plane and pack in with you! It is not just a book, it is an instruction manual into the psyche of the pike enabling you to solve many pike related riddles… reading the book you would swear that Barry had been a pike in a previous life and is here in human form giving away the secrets.

The book can be read straight through, it is easy to read or you can use it as a reference tool as you can refer back to it again and again with ease. It has a great index… editors listen up. If you want to know what colour fly works in what colour water it tells you… there isn’t any secret to the fly patterns he uses either, the recipes are all there! On a personal note when I bought my fly tying kit the store majored on trout flies BUT they had a couple of patches of Icelandic sheep wool (white and red) and I also bought some pink/red/gold flash... I then tied a fly. This coincided with obtaining the book and I was pleased to find Barry extolling the virtues of the Icelandic pattern (p181) and I quote “The Icelandic Pike Fly is easy to tie, More importantly it catches fish on a regular basis.” He’s right as well! On my first day out with the pattern I caught a fish!

I could go on about how Barry goes through the seasons, the pike’s environment or seasonal movements; but I won’t, I’ll leave it up to you to buy the book and unlock the mystery of pike fly fishing yourself.

I’ve watched the trailer to “Water Wolf “ which is a full length movie of Barry in search of the Holy Grail of pike fly fishing… the trailer is terrific… the DVD can only be awesome… now that’s an idea for a birthday present for me. A suitable hint will be dropped!

I'd like to thank Barry for kindly allowing me to reproduce his photo here.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Another in the bag... well almost!!

We’ve had snow this week… the last place the wind stopped was Russia. Most of the UK was covered in the best snow for decades. I would like to ask a question. So where was ours?

Watching the barometer edge up, the temperature rise and the wind drop I thought I’d give the day a go. I spent the day mooching around the lake getting to know other areas to cast from when the girls start to look for the boys in eight weeks or so.

I set up two rods today… “Caledfwlch” had the WF10 weight striped bass intermediate on it and the Ron Thompson had the WF9 sinking with an extra fast sink pike poly leader… I have to say the latter was a bitch to cast, especially when I put the big silver streamer on! But I really just wanted to get over the margin and into deeper water quickly then to work the streamer “up hill” where I knew the pike hang out.

I cast around with the intermediate first using a largely white bait fish fly and then an orange pattern… nothing. Switching to the other set up… blimey hard work. I was working the fly back really slow with figure of eight retrieve. A big pause, lift the fly and pause… a jack quickly came out of the abyss and nailed the fly. An amazing sight as it opened its mouth and flared the gill covers showing those bright red gill rakers. Although it connected it must have been behind the hook as the fight was quick and empty handed. The fly might be tied again with a stinger hook as I can see that all but big fish may struggle to get hooked up on the big tinsel fly. I had a fish though on what might have been classed as a poor day!

Nothing else appeared… not even the silver fish played ball for the other anglers. I left for home happy just before an angry north wind piled in!

Maybe we’ll get snow!

No photo of a pike… but this piece of gear (Christmas present form Janet) is the best bit of fishing luggage you can ever own. Organised up front and load carrying at the back… well done fishpond!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

A bad hat day...

Looks like I did get out today! But for the sake of humanity I've cropped the photo... a seriously bad hat day!
It was also great to see a carp angler get his first pike today... dead baited skimmer on a running ledger... nice fish and was he chuffed!