Saturday, 22 December 2012

Casting Too Far

It's midwinter and with a mix of cold, windy and damp weather I'm not motivated to go out fishing. I try to snatch an hour here and there to practice my casting, but that's all I can motivate myself to do on these short winter days. No fishing means nothing to blog about so I thought I’d put together a series of posts on the most common mistakes I see anglers making when I’m out guiding...

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Collecting Grayling Rivers - My Collection

In recent posts I have often referred to the fact that I, like many other members of the Grayling Society, collect my grayling rivers. I believe it was Reg Righyni who first started the idea with a series of articles in the Grayling Society's newsletter in the 1980's. A compilation of these articles can be purchased from Coch-y-Bonddu Books, titled "Reg Righyni's Rivers and Reminiscences". I don't go out of my way to add new rivers to my collection, but it adds interest to your grayling fishing and I'm always on the lookout for an opportunity to add to my ever growing list. So just in case you are interested here is my current collection...

Monday, 26 November 2012

Rod Review – Hardy Classic Lightweight 7’ #3 Featherweight

When Steve Peterson, Hardy Greys Game Marketing Manager, asked me to review one of the rods I am using this season he probably had in mind that I would take it to a lovely Yorkshire Dales river to test and get a few pictures. I'm sure he would have imagined a tumbling stream with moss covered rocks, limestone crags and moorland as a backdrop, and a photo opportunity in every direction. If I'm honest so did I, but that's not how things panned out...

Monday, 12 November 2012

Chalkstream Grayling Trip - Day 4

Day 4 - River Anton: Following a successful afternoon on the River Anton yesterday I was looking forward to fishing the same river again. I was fishing alone this time, Chris had work commitments, but he had fished the same beat last week and had had a good day. When I opened the curtains in my hotel room my heart sank. Yesterday's sun and blue sky had been replaced by cloud and light rain - not what I wanted to see on my last day. It was still raining when I got to the river and it made for a depressing sight: steady rain, cold and very dull. Chances of spotting fish were virtually nil. If I hadn't already bought the ticket I think I'd have set off on the long drive home, but this was an expensive beat and I simply couldn't leave without getting something for my money...

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Chalkstream Grayling Trip - Day 3

Day 3 - River Anton: It was a typical cold and misty autumn day as we left the hotel. There had been an overnight frost due to the clear sky, which was now bright blue with a low sun - everything looked promising for the day ahead. The River Anton was just a short drive away and we'd agreed to meet the owner of the stretch at the river. He wanted to meet us so he could tell us about the river. We fished the Anton last year on a beat a few miles downstream, but this bit was new to both of us and we were eager to see it...

Chalkstream Grayling Trip - Day 2

Day 2 - River Avon: On the second day of my trip south in search of chalkstream grayling I left Fairford in Gloucestershire heading for Amesbury in Wiltshire to fish the River Avon with my friend Chris. I was to fish as his guest on Salisbury and District Angling Club's stretch of the River Avon...

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Targeting Grayling

I have been asked by a few anglers recently how you target grayling once the trout season has ended. In other words how do we avoid catching out of season trout? Or to put it another way, how do we identify typical 'grayling water'? What follows is a rough overview of grayling fishing...

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Patagonia Riverwalker Review

Wading boots with felt soles, especially studded felt, give the wading angler the best grip in rocky rivers. But that's pretty much the only advantage of felt soles. Out of water they are virtually useless and in fact quite dangerous on grass. In winter they suffer from a build up of snow and ice in such weather, becoming heavy, uncomfortable and again dangerous. Currently felt soles are being given bad press for their potential to carry organisms from one river to another, and, therefore, have been banned in some places, e.g. New Zealand. I don't necessarily follow this: clearly they could carry organisms in the felt, but there are plenty of other nooks and crannies that could do the same, e.g. laces, gravel guards, inside the tongue, soft padding and materials used, etc.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Empty Hullown

Last week I received an e-mail from the Ribble Rivers Trust about some new fishing that had been added to their token beats. Hullown Lake is located near Laneshawbridge, Colne in Lancashire and is the first lake on the Ribble Rivers Trust passport scheme. The e-mail said "anglers can now enjoy wild trout fishing on this beautiful 0.5 hectare lake near Colne.  The lake is fed by Hullown Beck and discharges into Colne Water.  It used to be stocked but this has now ceased.  We’d love to know what’s in there, so if you pay a visit please report back to us!  A day’s fishing costs £10, that’s 4 of our standard tokens."

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Hands up who's heard of Tanago? Not many I suspect. Well you might call it an offshoot from tenkara and I hadn't heard of it until recently when I chanced upon it whilst surfing the internet. Basically it’s tenkara fishing on small streams, with a shorter rod. Tanago apparently translates to bitterling, a small fish native to Japan and it is fishing for these very small fish that tanago was developed.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Tenkara: Fun or Fad?

Pick up any flyfishing magazine or surf a few flyfishing websites at the moment and "Tenkara" will no doubt get a mention. It seems to be latest in thing in flyfishing; we've had many before and we'll have more in future, some catch-on and stay the course, others quickly fall by the wayside and are forgotten. I'd read various articles in magazines, journals and on the internet, and I was curious. Tenkara rods weren't too expensive and you didn't need much else to get started, so why not I thought and took the plunge. So is it here to stay or is it another fad? Here's my early thoughts...

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Invite Accepted

One of the (few) perks of working as a fishing guide is getting the occasional invite to fish as a guest. Last year I was invited to fish Cod Beck, a tributary of the River Swale, by a client from a few years previous. Cod Beck might be a tributary of the River Swale, but its character is completely different, more of a lowland, fertile stream. A good day was had and I was indebted to be given the opportunity to fish a river that I've long wanted to add to my growing list of grayling rivers. Earlier this season I was invited by another client to fish a near neighbour of Cod Beck - the River Rye, in the North York Moors National Park, and I was happy to accept.

Monday, 18 June 2012

An Ironic Stroke of Luck

A few months ago my good friend Paul got in touch after reading an article in Trout and Salmon about fishing on the River Derwent, County Durham. He liked the sound of it and proposed we had a trip north to fish this little known river later in the year. Not being one to turn down an overnight fishing trip, especially one involving 2 days fishing, good food, plenty of real ale, quality wine and catching up with a good friend, I quickly accepted. The trip was entered in the diary and the day finally came around last week.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Slovenia Recce

It had taken a long time and a lot of emails to arrange, but on 17th May I flew out of Stansted bound for Ljubljana, in Slovenia, to check out the fishing on the Idrijca River and tributaries. I was joined by my friend and Hardy Greys Academy manager Andy Smith, and we were eager to discover what the region offered.

Friday, 4 May 2012

A Tale Of Two Rivers

A wild trout from the River Eden
A wild trout from the River Eden
In the space of three days I have fished two different rivers. And when I say different, I mean completely different; opposite ends of the scale. Last Wednesday I fished the pristine River Eden in Cumbria. A delightful river with clear, clean water, and fantastic views of the Pennines and North Country rural farmland. Today, Friday, I fished Colne Water, on the outskirts of Colne in Lancashire. A small river, once polluted by cotton mills and engineering works, but now restored and clean because of EC legislation. Colne Water is a different world to the Eden; distant views are replaced by sewage works and mills; the motorway stands high above the banks with cars and lorries hurtling by; and the bank-side trees and bushes are decorated with all manner of bags and household waste. These rivers may be completely different in character, but they do have one thing in common that many other rivers and their fishing clubs should take note of…

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A Realistic Hawthorn & Heather Fly

First day of May and the time of year in the north of the country when we can expect to see Hawthorn Flies on the banks of our rivers and lakes. It is known as St Marks Fly, because its emergence normally coincides with St Marks Day on 25th April. However, in northern areas it usually makes a later appearance and in my experience I would say it is more likely to be the first 2 weeks of May (though I did observe a swarm in Scotland on 20th April this year).

The Hawthorn is a big black fly with long, trailing, back legs, which are probably its most striking feature. They form swarms on the banks of rivers and lakes, often near hawthorn trees, hence the common name. With anything of a breeze these flies are easily blown onto the water and trout take them readily (they love em!).

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Great Hatches & Big Fish In The Scottish Borders

Working as a flyfishing guide has many advantages and is a decent way to earn a living. People are often envious of the life a guide leads, spending our working life on river banks, in fishing boats and on the shores of upland lakes. It can also lead to trips abroad, and I will be forever thankful of the places it has taken me too already. However, the downside to all this is that it stops you going fishing yourself and you can lose the desire to go fishing. You've spent days teaching and guiding, stood in cold rivers, watched and helped people catch fish, tied on hundreds of flies, untangled every imaginable birds nest... then a rare day off in the season comes your way and it's easy to just not go fishing and do something else instead. I find one of the only ways I can guarantee that I will go fishing is if I plan a 'proper' trip...

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Using EA River Level Info.

A friend has just asked me: "What is the level on the EA river level website which you think is the benchmark, above which it’s not worth setting off to go fishing the River Wharfe at Bolton Abbey?" Another opportunity for a blog post then...

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Gouthwaite Grayling

Nidderdale's Gouthwaite Reservoir was built in the 1890's to provide compensation water for the River Nidd, because of the planned impoundment of its head waters with the building of Scar House and Angram reservoirs. Those of us who fish the River Nidd appreciate the influence it has on the Nidd, by maintaining a decent flow in times of low rainfall and holding back flood water after heavy rain.

Gouthwaite's main claim to fame from an anglers perspective is the fact that it is the only lake in England to contain grayling. Obviously when the River Nidd was impounded they were trapped in the lake, other than to migrate upstream to spawn. Much as I enjoy wild brown trout fishing in lakes, it was the grayling population that attracted me to Gouthwaite, though, as with grayling in the rest of the Yorkshire Dales, their numbers have declined drastically over recent years. There is one clear reason for this - predation by cormorants. I have fished Gouthwaite for about 5 years now, but the grayling have always eluded me, which I can't complain about as I only fish it 2-3 times a year.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Same Fish?

It's 29th March and I'm guiding for a Canadian client on the Wharfe at Bolton Abbey. We're in the middle of some very unseasonably warm weather (recods have been broken in some parts of the country) and the rivers are very low. The Wharfe isn't so badly affected because of the release water from Grimwith Reservoir. The weather's been playing havoc with hatches, many flies hatching much earlier in the year than normal, e.g. the Large Brook Dun, normally seen in May; and Large Dark Olives hatching early morning rather than early afternoon.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Off To A Flyer

26th March - the second day of the new trout season and I'd chosen the River Ribble at Settle for my first outing. I tried my best to make an early start because of the unseasonal heatwave and low river, but again work commitments delayed me. It was 11:20 and 14.5C when I pulled up on the bridge and the very second that I looked over I saw a trout rise and an olive take off. Yes the hatch was already underway when normally at this time of year I'd probably be an hour early.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Hardy Greys Factory Visit

As part of the Hardy Greys Academy I am in the fortunate and envious position of having a choice of their full range of tackle to teach with. Problem is there is too much choice and there is nowhere that you can try all the rods out in one place, except that is for the home of Hardy Greys in Alnwick. So what better excuse than to travel up there with my friend and fellow academy member Mike Roden.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Low Water Tactics

A friend of mine asked "what would your tactics be for low water at this time of year?" I thought that I might as well answer as a blog post for all to see.

Well first of all I'd be realistic with my expectations. You're never going to catch as many fish in low water as a river with a bit extra in it. Avoiding the blank may be as good as you can hope for, but it's all good experience. As they say, a bad days fishing is better than a good day at work.

Jumping The Gun

Well it's March 22nd and that means only 3 days to go until the start of the Yorkshire brown trout season...but I can't wait any longer - I've got to get my fix!

Just over the border, in Cumbria, the season's already a week old and I've been hearing reports of good hatches and a few decent brownies being captured on dries from the River Eden. These hatches have included good numbers of March Browns, a fly I have rarely encountered in the dales, so what else could I do but jump the gun and head north west for the market town of Kirkby Stephen?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Last Day Of The Grayling Season

Have you ever had one of those days when you couldn't decide whether to go fishing or not, but you decide to go and immediately catch a fish which makes it all worth while? Today was just such a day for me.