Tag: mayfly

Fly Fishing, (Man Time)

Fly Fishing, (Man Time)

Me and my boy are pretty tight, I’m sure this is the same for lots of father and son relationships.

Sadly, I never had this growing up ( long story ) and so I’ve been determined that Ben, my son, and I would have this close bond and to get this bond boys need time with their dad, simple.

A friend of mine, let’s call him Tim, and I used to go salmon fishing each year. His dad would tag along with us, he’d include his dad in a lot of his leisure time, an amazing thing to me considering my upbringing, and together, the three of us, would have a great time, great food and drink, mediocre fishing, but amazing company, both guys a being a real pleasure to be around.

One day, his dad took me aside, I had a little girl at this time Poppy and my wife was pregnant, we were hopeful for a boy.

Tim’s dad, let’s call him John, explained to me that if we did have a little boy that boys are far more different and at times more complex than girls when it comes to their relationship with their dad.

“Once they hit seven years old, you must spend time with your son. There’s whole new world of testosterone and other hormones running through them and from seven years old onwards they need ‘man time’!

John had a few sons, and he was adamant that he’d go out with them for ‘man time’ at least once a week.

“By doing this now Steven, spending this time with them, you’ll build a solid relationship, one that’s so strong you can manoeuvre them as they get older, they don’t resent you, they look up to you!

You’ll be able to have them wanting to spend their time with you rather than doing daft stuff!” By daft stuff he highlighted teenage boy nonsense, like being an idiot and getting into trouble pretty much.

Looking at his sons, every one is a gent, it was hard to argue with his formula! Wise words…..

My boy is sport daft, in no particular order here are his hobbies and the clubs that he’s involved with..

Rugby

Football

Cricket

Swimming

BMX

All of these he loves but I cannot get involved. I go to Rugby each week and swimming and I also take him BMXing, but I can’t get involved.

Fishing though, his new thing, I certainly can, what’s more I can nurture and encourage it.

We started off a few years ago, a spot of crabbing on the beach, then it was coarse fishing, this was fun, I loved it as much as he did, there’s something about the electric jolt of the float bobbing under!

But he always wanted to ‘go fishing with dad’ which meant fly fishing.

So, we started fly casting in the garden, talk about frustration, jees, but he kind of got to grips with it. We moved on, trying to get the fluff on the end of his line into different hoops placed around the garden. He loved that, it’s a game then, boys love to compete, even if it’s just against themselves!

Finally, a few weeks ago, I booked an evening boat on Draycote Water, ‘same family fishing’ during these times. I’d timed it so that we could flick dry flies and perhaps catch a fish!

The team there are awesome, it’s a great example of well run fishery, clean, tidy, friendly and knowledgeable staff – and they took the time to make by boy feel very welcome!

For Ben, I’d made the fishing simple..

Roll the line, straighten it then cast, single fly, easy peasy really!

Well, what a blast we had.

He had the excitement of being in a boat, in a large body of water, being with his dad, and casting a fly rod, his own one! He was buzzing, and so was I!

It was a stunning evening, the occasional fish moving, he loved seeing them and got far too over excited trying to cast at them, which led to some impressive tangles even with the one fly!

It was perfect.

I’d catch one and pass the rod to him, and he’d be in his element, fighting the large, resident trout like Hemingway playing a 1000lb marlin. The rod going this way and that, pumping and winding, the fish pulling the rod around this way and that as he struggled to contain it’s powerful lunges. He often yelped in pain and surprise as the reel handle whacked him on the back of the knuckles as the fish powered off.

 

Trying his best to subdue a rainbow trout on the big rod..

 

However, the highlight of the evening for both of us, was when I saw a fish coming upwind, I knew if he could roll his fly anywhere near it, that this trout would take.

“Ben roll straight out in front, there’s a fish!”

“I can’t see one dad, where?”

“Just roll it baby, now, quickly!!”

He did his fly – a possum emerger, the only thing I had that wouldn’t sink after the maniac casting style, alighted on the water like thistledown I kid you not!

It disappeared in a swirl.

“LIFT THE ROD!” I shouted!

He did and the little 3-wt hooped over as the fish went crazy and went deep away from the boat!

I was stunned, Ben was stunned, we were stunned, both of us drinking in the moment of shared elation!

After the first run and he’d gained some control it went under the boat, not once but twice and nearly taking Ben with it as he held on, leaning over the boat trying to follow it!

After what seemed an age it came up near the boat and I launched at it with the net, I wanted this fish sooooo bad, I got lucky, it went in first time of asking!

Ben: “I did it, I did it dad, I caught one, I caught one on my own, it’s huge!”

 

Fish well and truly on…

 

His very own, caught and landed with no interference from his dad, first rainbow trout! A happy laddie and a happy dad!

 

Well, I can’t tell you how good it made me feel, I was as chuffed as he was, probably more so, my little boy’s first trout, from a drifting boat and on a dry fly too, get in!

 

There was no sinking this bad boy, a possum emerger, the exact one is now in my tying room, a keepsake!

 

The excitement never ended there though, what’s more exciting than catching a big trout on a dry fly from a drifting boat?

Well, for a seven-year-old it’s driving the boat back to the harbour, even if your feet don’t touch the floor!

 

“Dad, no photos, I’m concentrating face!”

If you have a little boy, try and get him involved, nothing heavy, just see of they like it. Girls too, I used to take my daughter but she is bored of it now, so there’s no point in pushing it.

I guess what I’m getting at is this, spend time with your kids, it’s a simple message. I’m lucky that my boy is into the same things as me.

He’s also, like me in many ways, for one he’s competitive. His last comment as we came onto the harbour was this..

“Dad, I think my fish was bigger than yours.”

That’s my boy!

 

Ben capturing my smile after his first fish landed!

 

 

PS: My daughter, Poppy, said that she wanted a mention as she saw me write this, so here it is..

Poppy, you’re beautiful, crazy clever, stylish,  full of empathy and compassion for others too, in a nutshell, just like your mum.

 

See what I did there….

 

If you’d like to get out on Draycote Water or indeed, Thornton or Eyebrook, all of which are run by Ifor Jones and his team, then tickets can be booked through the website:

Book your fishing here…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Tie the DOUBLE MAGGOT

Yes, it’s obscene, BUT it serves a purpose.

With most grayling rivers being bait fished and most with maggots, following a bait fisher hampers your catch rate, so copy what they are fishing with, simple!

 

How To Tie The Krystal Flash Shipman

As they fish seem to be moving onto pinfry, this little dry fly can work very well.

It can be fished the whole year through really once the trout are up, but just now it excels!

 

Wind Lanes & Slicks

Wind Lanes & Slicks

 

More and more of us are trying to expand our horizons when it comes to fishing. Rather than sticking to the bank, on small waters, many of us are turning our attentions to larger waters and that means taking to the boats.

At this time of year there’s so much going on, in or near the surface, that we should really pay close attention to this shallow band of water.

On a day with a slight breeze you’ll often see ‘oily’ patches, areas of calm in an otherwise ‘ripply or riplled’ surface. These are often referred to as wind lanes or slicks. Basically, the tension in the water’s surface, in this type of water, is a lot stronger than the rippled water around it and this means that it traps and holds insects. As a result these slicks become a haven for feeding trout.

If you find this type of water when you’re out in a boat, you must give it a try!

It’s often the larger resident trout that capitalise on the easy pickings this type of water offers.

 

Into a good fish in oily water up in Rutland’s Cattle Trough bay area..
Dry fly has a really god habit of sorting out the better fish, like this Pitsford rainbow..

 

Buzzers

You don’t need to use sinking lines to target fish in this type of water; all you’ll need is a floater, as the trout tend to be no more than two feet below the surface.

They will be taking ascending midge pupa as they try to emerge at the surface.

At this stage the buzzers will have distinct orange wing buds so make sure that your patterns have them too. It’s a trigger point that the trout tend to home in on.

There will be trout taking the actual emerging fly too. As the buzzer is trying to emerge through the surface film it is at its most vulnerable. As it struggles to escape it becomes very easy picking for a hungry trout.

 

Buzzers, Midge they make up the majority of the trout’s diet, this is s ginger buzzer form Draycote Water, I chose to fish Ginger Hoppers that evening and they worked a treat!

 

Terrestrials

It’s not just buzzers that the trout will be looking to exploit, there’s the whole gamut of terrestrials insects that fall onto the water too.

These can be things like daddy longlegs, flying ants – if you get a fall of these things on the water then be prepared for some explosive action – beetles and dung flies. In fact anything that belongs on land but ends up on the water’s surface can attract the trout’s attention.

So make sure you have enough patterns in your fly box to cover all eventualities.

 

Most terrestrials are black so have a good selection of various types, heather fly, hawthorn etc, but tie in other colours too, the Dung fly can be a real killer!

 

 

DRY FLY is KING but you need accuracy

If you can see trout feeding on the surface, the tell tale head-and-tail rise will give them away. Then your casts need to be accurate. If the trout are just sipping at the surface then they are high in the water and this means that they’re window of vision is very small indeed.

A tapered leader will help you greatly when it comes to presentation, try fishing a single fly too as this will allow you to drop your fly on the trout’s nose.

 

A Big Red dropped right in it’s feeding path, with the help of a well constructed leader, helped to fool this Grafham Resident.

 

The Washing Line

If there were was one technique that offers more success when fishing in slicks than the dry fly it would have to be the ‘washing line’.

The use of a buoyant fly on the point position, such as a Booby or Muddler, to support two or even three initiative patterns on your droppers, is a deadly way in which to target fish that are near the surface layers.

 

The washing Line can be great for surface feeding fish!

 

When fished on a full floater it gives the leader that ‘parallel with the surface plane’ during the retrieve. The length of your droppers will determine how deep your flies fish, The Booby or more recently the FAB on the point creates an enticing wake that will often see trout single it out.

 

Get in touch…

 

Social Distancing Expert

Social Distancing Expert

I love to get away fishing on my own, it’s an age thing.

Long gone are the days of carrying on with a like-minded squad down the local Stillwater. I still partake occasionally, but instead, for me now, the solitude of ‘hunting’ fish as an individual appeals more.

Occasionally, I share a rod with friend who has the same (track a trout down and then try and catch it’ mentality as me. But, sadly, those guys are few and far between.

What with Covid and all it brings my hunt for larger reservoir fish has and sill is a no go. The days of spending £50 for a day’s fishing allude me anyway, so this year, as well as last year, I have been spending more and more time on running water.

The solitude, the quiet and the fact that you’re out there and ‘doing it’ when others are not makes me feel like I’m outside the day-today bubble of life, true escapism.

I like all manner of fishing and feel that with all my years of experience they’ve led me to a level of proficiency so that I’m now comfortable no matter what style of fishing it is that I’m doing.

BUT, and like Kim Kardashian’s, it’s a big BUTT, I seem to turn more and more to the dry fly.

 

Small fish, big mouthfull!

 

It’s no better and no worse than any other method for catching fish, to be fair there are far more efficient ways of catching both on still and running water but dries just do it for me.

This last week or so, I have done over 350 miles and 6 hours in the car, over two evenings in search of a large river trout on dry fly. You need to put the effort in if you want to succeed here, time on the water is crucial.

I have mates that have been doing the same, some have spent eight consecutive evenings on the water, just walking, up to 5 miles, and watching, looking for that BIG fish worthy of a cast.

Last year I saw a fish which I honesty believe would have been double figures, the same evening I saw three other trout which would have easily have been over 5lb, but all were in positions where a cast was impossible. The one fish I did manage to cast at that night, I caught, it was a little one, 3lb 12oz!

Never before have I seen anything like it in the UK and I have fished all the big trout rivers, to say I was shocked would be an understatement.

It’s no ordinary river, it’s terrible for fly fishing, unlike in Scotland and Wales, the rivers that hold the huge fish in England ( forget stockies on chalkstreams) are to be found in coarse fish rivers, deep and terribly slow, often coloured and full of silt, but the silt is the key. Where there is silt there are MAYFLY and where there’s mayfly you’ll get the spinner. It’s the spinner and ONLY the spinners that bring these huge fish up from their deep, dark homes.

 

An easy food source, and plenty of protein, the mayfly spinner.

 

Huge pools, with back eddies the size of a tennis court are what you’re after, dead water in the main, water where the spinners get trapped and provide a procession of ‘sip down’ mouthfulls. But with vast expanses of water there’s drag, no matter how slow the current, as long as there’s flow there’s drag. If you can get drag casting 5 yards of fly line imagine the drag on a 20 yard cast. You also need to factor in the flies, I’m using spinner patterns that are the size of my palm! With time on the water, my friends and I have found that the bigger the fly the better seems to be the case, especially with these huge trout.Bigger fly even more drag.

I’ve sat on a high bank, one where I’d cast at from the other side of the river the night before, and I was dumbfounded by what I saw. Water that from the opposite bank looked to be flowing left to right was traveling in completely the wrong direction, and not just a for a yard or so, it was circling for over 20 or 30 yards before pulling back into the main flow.

The width of the river in places means you just can’t tell what’s going on at the point where your target fish is rising.

Long, dead slow pools is where it’s at! This is a small section, manageable, just with limited casting.

 

This year I have been concentrating on smaller sections, not only so that I can see what the water’s doing but also to get off the paths well trodden. The same ethos applies here though, first find the fish.  I now use Google maps to plot out areas of interest, long slow bends are ideal, as is tree cover, so both in close proximity is a great starting point….

Having marked up my areas, dropping a pin here and there, I then walk the water, rod dismantled, and cover some land walking between areas, each section gets 20 minutes viewing time. I feel that 20 minutes is enough time for a monster to give away it’s location. These things don’t behave like normal trout, that are up and on it.

These big ones rise a handful of times, if you’re really lucky, but once they’ve rose, experience tells me that if I cover them, it’s a big IF, then they’ll come up to my fly. They may not take it, but I should get a response, if it’s positive then I’m laughing, if not then it’s logged on the map for another trip.

This year, the falls of spent fly have been poor and the monster trout very few and far between, actually, no one has had one, the big floods may well have had something to do with this?

I did hook one though, I played it hard on 12lb leader and a very strong size 8 hook, twice it tried to take me under a tree root on the far bank, and I managed to steer it out, then, after a minute or so, it came off, simple. I put that fish over 5lb easily over that weight actually, but not the size of the things I saw last year.

 

A big fish by most river’s standards, but at just over two and half pound, not what I was after!

 

I did manage a few nice fish though and for me that’s all it takes, I had two trips and caught two decent fish, both over 2lb, and some others but they don’t really get a mention, they were, (getting my eye in) fish. That’s been it tis year, two evenings where it was (nearly) right. Shame,  but there it is, fishing is like that at times.

 

Even bigger but still not the leviathan I’d managed to lose, in fact I dare say this one is half the size!

For me it was abut the getting out there and doing it, on my own, hunting, proper hunting and with a dry fly too.

Social distancing at it’s most enjoyable!