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18 Dec 2017 Making Movies River Test (Broadlands)

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To cut a long story very short, Al Ward wanted to make a short film about Grayling fishing. Karl Weaver, an old friend from our days in the Army Loch Style team, and his good friend Kurt, wanted to learn how to fish for Grayling. Graham Lumsdon is a qualified level 2 AT coach and was available for the day so the stars aligned and we ended up on the amazing stretch of the river Test at Broadlands courtesy of the River Keeper Jon Hall.

Well the stars nearly aligned - I had given the postcode for the rendezvous to the guys on the wrong side of the M27. Al ended up eating breakfast on the hoof, Karl and Kurt had managed to recognise that I was a village idiot and given them the wrong location and thus made their way to the correct services. It was grand to see Karl again it had been almost ten years, he had overwintered well in that time and was still a made keen angler. Kurt and Karl are on a bucket list mission and have already ticked off much of their list - if it swims they want to catch it!

We all arrived at the fishery to a stunning sunrise and a crispy frost on the riverside vegetation. The river, despite some rain, looked in excellent form; a little colour but nothing to stop the show. Graham busied himself sorting out our guests, quickly dismissing their heavy rods and replacing them with a couple of 10’ for #2 Streamflex rods. He explained that these rods would help protect the low diameter tippets we intended to use. While the boys were tackling up, Al was unloading a fairly substantial camera. He had also brought along his drone intent on doing a proper job. Graham had taken Karl and Kurt to the river to give them a practical demonstration of double nymph fishing. We were using French leaders with bi-colour monofilament as an indicator; at least they were - I had a shop bought indicator which could be seen from Southampton! Jon Hall had cautioned us about the use of the drone so we headed downstream towards the island where it would not bother any of the locals.

Graham and Kurt had peeled off to fish just the other side of the island and Karl and I elected to start a little ways down from the bridge on the opposite bank. Al had set up on the far bank with his camera and we chatted away as we began to fish. It was not long before my indicator came to a stop and I was into the first fish of the day. It felt good; it felt really good, the steady weight of a good fish. I checked my drag and retrieved what little slack line there was. It took a while to bring it to the surface and I was gutted to see it was muckle big brown trout. I usually know immediately from the fight if I have caught a brownie but this one had fooled me. Ah well not to worry. As I looked over to Karl, I could see him catching his first ever grayling. Kurt and Karl have a small bet on who can catch the first fish and over this year Karl is somewhat out of pocket so was pleased to recoup some money.

We carried on fishing but it was tough going and fish were hard to come by. We picked up the odd one or two, but the added pressure of the camera and Al’s expectant look was not helping matters. Graham and I decided a move was in order and we stomped back up towards the lodge. I couldn’t resist a quick chuck under the canopy of trees at the top of the island and I was rewarded with a small fish that wriggled free before it reached my net. Another couple of casts and another grayling came to hand. I was not keen on bringing Karl into this area as the potential for lost flies and even broken rods was great, so onwards and upwards. We pushed up a couple of hundred metres. It was going to be a tough day; maybe it would pick up in the afternoon. We started to fish and I managed a fish from the far side, deciding to risk another few steps out into the river. I was just about able to get my nymphs across to the other bank; it made a difference and I was rewarded with a stonking fish. After getting the bits and bobs for Al’s film and safely releasing the fish, I pulled Karl over to the same spot convinced there would be another decent fish in the hole. We were not disappointed the shout went up and Karl was playing another good fish, excellent! The day was picking up, we eventually made our way back to the lodge where Graham played host and made us all a hot drink.

We could not have asked any more of the weather; it was a beautiful day nice and bright and the sun warmed your skin. For the afternoon we decided to go to the top of the fishery where, during the Grayling Classic, had produced some big numbers of fish. Graham and I were both keen to make sure Karl and Kurt enjoyed the experience and got to see as much of the river as possible in just a day. The fish came in dribs and drabs though and it was hard going. As the sun was dipping below the horizon, it did seem to come on a bit and the grayling came on the feed. Kurt in particular seemed to find a good seam of quality fish and pulled eight out in fairly short order. The rest of us picked up ones and twos which was a nice way to finish off. Once the sun had gone, the temperature plummeted pretty fast; it was good to be out of the water and making our way back to the cars.

Al assured me that he had got what he was after for his film and Kurt and Karl had been pleased with their day, despite the lack of big numbers. Both anglers were into double figures though and I would take that as a win. It may well be the last trip out this year for Graham and I, but luckily after the New Year it’s still grayling season! Al Ward is an accomplished photographer and boasts dozens of magazine front covers you can check out his work here at Country Field Images He also has a YouTube channel where as a budding film maker you can see some of this work here at Country Field Media. 

14 Dec River Avon (West Amesbury)

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After spending the last year gallivanting round Asia and Australia Graham Lumsdon had finally returned to good old Blighty. Off course high on the things to do was to go fishing, we had arranged this while he was in Cambodia eating pigs’ intestines no doubt! The trouble with organising fishing so far out is the weather and we had endured some much needed rain of late. The Avon copes fairly well with rainfall none the less I was a little worried that we my turn up to Willie Wonkas’ chocolate river. As we sat in McDonalds enjoying the breakfast of champions and catching up the rain pounded the sides of the windows. I can’t say I was gagging at the bit to get to the river. I had brought along a load of kit as the last Graham had seen of his was the 2016 Grayling festival.

I started pulling bits and bobs from the car waders, shades and various other bits. “You have got wading boots”? “Eh no”! Was it to be a quick trip to Stockbridge for a new set, no luckily Graham had a set of willies in the car and although not the most stylish look it did served a purpose? We took a rod each and walked down to the river it was as high as I have seen it for a long time and quite coloured but not as bad as I feared. We walked up stream a ways before setting up. Graham opted for double nymph and I set up a duo rig. Graham had moved up to the wading section and I started from the bank first cast I was swinging my first fish to the net what a great start. As I moved up a few more fish joined in, with half an eye on Graham I was yet to see him net a fish.

As I came up closer I shouted over to see how he was doing, not so good came the reply. That’s when I started abusing him because that’s what pals do ….lol. The banter was pretty fierce but eventually Graham found his fishing feet and started pulling fish out fairly steady. We moved to the end of the beat and enjoyed a decent flurry of fishy activity including some very pretty wild brownies’ who had not read the memo about being out of season. The weather had not improved and in-between the rain the Sun would make the briefest of an appearance then tuck itself away behind the next storm cloud. The walk up to the next section of river was most welcome and warmed us both up. The water is quite deep in this section at the best of times and with the water being so high we walked past much of it. The areas we did dip into produced fish to the bugs and by the time we had decided it was time for a hot drink and something to eat we had managed over thirty fish between us not a bad morning’s work.

After warming up with a brisk walk to the bottom of the club water we got off to the slowest of starts. We failed to get even an offer as we fished our way back up stream dipping in to known hot spots that just seemed to be devoid of fish. The light was now so bad that I had to use my torch to tie on flies I had also abandoned my dry fly for a full blown bung as I could not see anything on the water. The rain was now lashing down, not the best time to have to get your kit of for a pee! Graham and I were now leapfrogging each other in a bid to find some fish. We had made it all the way back to the first bridge with not a fish between us. As I slipped into the water on the other side of the bridge I could feel what warmth there was in the day slipping away. Thankfully the fish just came on and we were back into some decent sport. Regular changes of fly ensured we kept in touch with the fish and we both started to pick a few up.

The Avon is not known for its big fish and anything in the high thirties I would consider fairly decent. When my bung dipped under and I lifted I knew almost instantly that I was into a good Grayling and was pleased when it eventually gave up and slipped into my net. The fishing was not easy and we were wading slowly upstream, prospecting for the odd fish. The cold had found its way to my bones though and I cursed myself for not putting more layers on. I am sure it’s the same for all anglers one more cast and I will get out….. Twenty casts later I dragged myself out the river with some help from Graham. Time was wearing on and we marched up to the next likely area that has produced some great spot for me this year. Not even the smallest fish put in an appearance, gutted. It was time to head back we were going to finish up our day at the weir, notoriously difficult to tempt the Grayling here but with the water being coloured we might have a chance. My first three casts into the head of the weir produced fish. Graham who had decided to fish the tail was having a great time fishing a combination of nymphs and wets. A change of pattern for me saw more grayling joining in it was a great finish to a grand days fishing.

The weather had done us no favours with heavy showers much of the day but we had done fairly well. It was great to be back on the river with Graham and with a trip to Broadlands and the river Test planned for Monday let’s hope the rain packs up and we can get into some of the Tests finest!  

01 – 03 Dec Hanak European Gayling Festival (Welsh Dee)

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One of the best matches of the year was upon us. The Grayling Festival has been going for several years now and this was to be my third foray with the Veterans. The couple of times I have fished were with Graham Lumsdon and Del Spry. This year though Graham was taking a gap year travelling so we needed to bring in a sub and how lucky were we that we could tempt Andy Croucher over from Norway to compete with Del and I.  Andy was arriving late on the Friday night flying in after work and staying with his parents. I had booked Del and me into a twin room in the Royal Hotel in the middle of Llangollen. We met up on the Thursday night and made the short walk round to the Hand to see who was about. Several pints and a few drams later we were woken by the dulcet tone of the town clock, dong, dong I could go on but you get the idea. The breakfast was top notch and we were set for a practice session down by the golf course.

We were more than a little surprised to find the car park empty bar one car. Not to worry we got rigged up and saunteredDel Spry along the small stream towards the river. Although it seemed to have dropped away it was still pushing through and was fairly high. We passed a couple of other anglers who had made it to the river before us. It was slow going unable to wade out much more than a rods length from the bank. The water was waist deep at best and mostly we were up to our chest packs. We managed to catch a few fish over the few hours we were there but it was hard work so we called it a day fairly early and returned for a clean-up and something to eat before the Captains meeting at 1900hrs.

Nobody wants to be the Captain, you get to sit in a long tedious meeting while your team mates are out having a pint and a craik with the other anglers. So we rotate the honour and this year it was the Turn of Del Spry, don’t worry Graham it’s your turn next year….lol. We received our beats and from what we can remember they seemed to be OK, we drew B9, C11 and A1. For those that know the river well you can see the area on the map in the picture. The first two beats were mediocre but A1 is usually a bumper. We decided that Del and I would fish the first session to give Andy a chance to re-acquaint himself with the river. Del and I had kept of the sauce and that was our first mistake the town clock woke us every hour on the hour! WTF why does the clock have to chime all the way through the night? Anyway we had organised an early breakfast which again could not be faulted.

We arrived at the designated parking for our beat and just about had enough time to rig up two rods and have a look at the river. As we walked along the short beat there were only three areas with access to the river the rest of the bank was tree lined. The sections you could get in were deep and still pushing through. The opposite bank looked a much better option, still we were here and ready to go. We were to be controlled by a French angler Eric Batisse, his English was limited but much better than our French. Stepping into the most obvious area we were both immediately up to our chests only able to get three to five feet from the bank. It was tough going and Del had a grim start just not settling and getting into a world of hurt with the nearby trees. I followed not far behind Del and after what seemed like a large chunk of time eventually got off the mark with a Grayling. Another followed shortly after and I thought that we may be into them. Wrong, Del managed to start picking the odd fish up right on the edge of where he could wade. It was dire and we decided to move down stream to some slacker water. This proved to be a good choice and Del managed another few fish, I eventually caught my third fish and made my way to the waiting controller. That’s when I tripped over a tree and in an attempt to recover went backwards and into the water I drifted downstream for a bit before finally righting myself only to find my prize had taken flight in the confusion of me back stroking downstream. It’s not a pleasant feeling losing a fish when they are so difficult to come by. Del was pulling it out the bag though and was building a steady total. I managed another fish this time I took much more care getting to Eric. I was watching where I was putting my feet failing to notice that my fly line was in a tree. As I neared the controller I could see both him and Del pointing and heard there muffled shouts. The point fly had caught in the net and as the line tightened on the tree my small but measurable Grayling was hanging out over the river. Thankfully I managed to flip it back into the net. A session I was glad to see the back off, Del had fished hard for seven and I only managed the three not even at the races!

While Del and Andy went to tackle C11 I was to control Team Hanak and specifically Gary Hedges and Sandro on C12. The water looked not to bad and as we moved towards the top of the beat the odd fish could be seen rising. Gary who knows the river well but it was a slow start for him, Sandro who had set up with dries got off the mark really quickly taking his first fish casting from the bank. Despite the poor light he persevered with the dries for a while and did miss a few offers but the rises had all but stopped as the temperature headed south. As the session progressed the boys started to build a steady total but the going was tough. Gary was looking in a bad old way with the cold and I was a little worried that hypothermia may have been taking a hold, I think another half hour and he may have been in trouble. By the end of the session they had managed to scrape into double figures but I felt they were pretty disappointed from their efforts. It was a tough beat and I thought they could not have done more. Andy and Del had worked really hard for sixteen which was good going from the beat.

So not the best first day for the Veterans but we were on beat A1 for the final session.  We stood to improve our lot considerably with a good showing here. A1 is a top beat the parking is virtually on the river and with the Belgium anglers retiring early the beat had been well rested. Andy and I tackled up two rods one with double nymph the other with a bung rig. As we waited for our controller (Andy Cliffe) to arrive we discussed the plan of attack double nymph seemed to be the way ahead. As Andy gave us the nod to begin I was sure I was going to get a fish first cast it looked so good. After an hour and half Andy and I were stood looking at each other scratching our heads with only one fish a piece.  It was time to resort to what can only be described as stick float fishing. So we got shoulder to shoulder and began to fish downstream. I felt a little dirty but needs must, even employing this somewhat dubious technique it was not like shelling peas. We had a little flurry initially both netting a few fish. We continued to fish like this for the rest of the session and did manage to get to eighteen which we were both pretty disappointed with considering the water we had.
Some pretty hard lessons learned this year after making the top ten in our previous outings we had fallen a long way this year finishing 25th. Lesson one if you want to compete you have to employ every method at your disposal to catch the fish regardless of how you feel about said method. Lesson two, know the river The Wet Your Knot boys who fished a blinder and came third and had B9 the same as Del and I but fished it from the other bank taking eighteen fish. Out the box thinking and rewarded with a great result well done to them. Lesson three get accommodation away from the *u*king town clock sleep deprivation is torture!

Still, results aside I had a fantastic weekend in fine company we missed our old pal Graham Lumsdon this year but it was really good of Andy to make the huge commitment to come over from Norway and fill the slot. It’s always great to catch up with pals old and new and to watch some top anglers in action. A fairly large amount of money was raised to help out fellow angler Terry Bromwell who is in desperate need of an operation on his eyes.  Thanks to the generosity of John Emerson who donated a Hanak rod for raffle. As well as this each team was given a brown envelope to donate some cash to the cause.  Please have a look here if you think you can help with this or indeed bid on some of the auction lots. You can also just donate what you can to the just giving page jacked up by Rob Bending. This is a great example of how close the angling community is and the willingness to help a fellow angler is admirable and as at writing this blog update £7,624 has been raised. From the festival alone £1,785.00 was raised, fantastic effort.

Well done to the organisers’ Ken Bathers and his team, Hywel Morgan who no doubt got his steps in pegging the beats. Hanak for the kind sponsorship of the event and last but not least all the anglers who travelled from all over Europe to compete this has got to be one of the best dates in the calendar and I am already looking forward to next years event!  

Army and RAF vs Grafham Water Fly Fishers Bank Match

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Grafham WaterAfter an emotional couple of weeks on a bookkeeping course I was really looking forward to going to Grafham. The reports had been extraordinary, big fish and plenty of them! I don’t bank fish, well only very occasionally, but encouraged by Jamie Thomas and Chris McLeod, I thought I would give it a go. A floater and a DI3 would do the job. The boys that practiced gave me a steer - get anywhere along the North shore turn a couple of stones over to disturb the shrimp. Once you have shrimp all around you, there were two methods to catching the fish: (a) Floater with a couple of shrimp patterns and something ugly on the point, and (b) A DI3 with a white snake slowly roly-polied slowly back.

It all seemed simple enough. I set up my rod in the car park with a DI3 and a snake mounted it on the rod rack and made the short drive to Marlow car park. Many had already arrived and were bomb bursting to get to the best marks, reminded me of an England rivers national….lol. I was told it was going to be cold and had put an extra layer on under some 4mm neoprenes. It was a mistake, as I made the walk round to Church bay I was sweating like a fat kid in a sweet shop. By the time I had reached Deep Water Point, I was shedding layers and pounds for that matter - the woolly hat had been stuffed into my day sack. I was a little concerned not to see any other anglers jostling for position and in hindsight that should have been my first clue.

I made my way carefully down the stones and got into the water making as much as a disturbance as I could. Huge Grafham waterclouds of shrimp were thrown up and I marvelled at the size of some of them, they are big beasties and some would have easily been an inch long. From where I started the wind did not seem that bad and it was a fairly straightforward affair casting across the wind and retrieving. I moved backwards towards deep water point continuing to make as much commotion as possible at my feet. I did have a number of sharp takes but could not convert them on the snake so I thought to change to the floater. I fished this for about half an hour with no joy. I had forgotten my phone and my watch so had little clue what the time was but it was certainly time to find a friend.

As I made my way back round towards the car park I spoke with several anglers who were not fairing much better than me. Eventually I met a couple of the Army guys and they had managed a couple of fish. The winning tactic a little different - they were both fishing a DI7 to get a little distance into the wind. On a whim I had brought my DI7 so stuck it onto my reel and attached a short leader to a minkie booby. I was heartened to see Ben Worley hook what looked to be a good fish and it was unfortunately. It was one of Grafham’s fine Brown Trout and was safely returned.

Rainbow TroutStood balls deep in water with the waves bouncing off my chin was not an ideal way to spend my Saturday and my morale was heading south. Other than Ben, I had not seen another fish caught. In a bid to get just a little more distance I waded a little further out and got a face full of Grafham for my efforts. The buoyancy of the neoprene waders helped the wave lift me from my feet and push me back towards the bank. Well that was enough and I decided another move was in order. I moved up to G Buoy Bay but it was busy and I could barely squeeze in. Another move to the other side of Marlow jetty again found me at the end of a long line of anglers. I persevered for a bit but my heart was no longer in it and although I was unsure of the time, I called it a day.

I wandered round to the weigh in and some folks had done really well and there were some great fish caught. There were many stories of triumph but my favourite was John Gamon, who after initially starting on the North shore thought *u** that for a game of soldiers and headed back to the lodge car park. He then proceeded to fish with a floater with the wind at his back catching his limit in a little over an hour and half, brilliant! Jamie Thomas, the match organiser who started late, headed to Hill Farm to get out the way and walked straight into a pod of fish, completing his limit by 1115. The good news was that my lack lustre performance did not undo the team effort and the Army/RAF team retained the shield for another year. 

Initially and feeling a little raw I would rather have put my cock in a blender than go bank fishing again. Now I have had a little time to reflect though, I am keen to give it another go but definitely when there is less wind and with a pal that knows the ropes. Probably best not to go straight into a comp either, my hindsight is 20/20.


19 – 22 Oct Broadlands Grayling Classic (River Test)

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Del Spry arrived after an emotional drive from Carlisle, little did we know that folks would be travelling a lot further than that to fish the Grayling Classic. I can’t for the life of me think why you wouldn’t it’s the river Test after all. As a mere mortal not blessed with the big bucks fishing the Test is only possible through the Grayling fishing and the good will of others for me anyway. I had been looking forward to this for some time and it was great to be competing with Del. This is the first year it has been run as a pairs competition and the format was simple enough. There were six sessions the first being one hour thirty minutes and the remainder two hour sessions. From the six sessions, you fish three and control fellow competitors for the other three. The first fish is measured after that it’s a case of showing your controller that you have caught a Grayling and then release it back into the water, simples.  

As Del had travelled a long way he was keen to cram it all in so the Thursday was spent hitting our favourite spots on the Test. It was a slow start but the day was not long in picking up and we caught nearly fifty fish between us. I fish for Grayling a lot on the Avon but the difference in the size of Grayling is significant. From the fish, we took in practice a good dozen were over 40cm. On the Avon, these kind of Grayling are rare on the beats I fish. Suffice to say Del and I were buzzing after our day on Broadlands. When we arrived home, Jayne had made us pie and mash and we both destroyed the meal in short order. A couple of drams and an early night it was all to be done again on the Avon the next day.

I have gotten to know the Amesbury beat very well and wanted to show Del as much of it as possible. You won’t be catching Moby Dick in these waters but there are plenty of Grayling in the 25-30cm bracket. Del set out to catch all of them and he nearly succeeded I think, we had nearly one hundred Grayling between us and had a ball. We finished up early to head back across to Romsey for the draw, I had to prise Del out the river with a crowbar. The organisers and sponsors had booked a local golf club for the occasion and this was ideal. The food that was laid on was very good and the draw was not a long drawn out affair you simply went up and picked a pack from the table that held all the details you needed for the next day. It was great to see so many people I knew, the Grayling guys are a friendly bunch and the banter though ferocious at times was a great fun.

So, to the meat of the thing Del and I were pretty happy with our beats and were to fish the first session. We had beat 7 in front of the fishing hut not too shabby, what was not so good was the weather. Storm Brian was a complete ****** !!! I don’t mind a bit of wind nor even a little rain, it’s all good but when the rain is like a monsoon and coming at you sideways not so much. When trees are coming down into the river next to anglers and that did happen you get the picture conditions were tough. The first session though not a complete disaster did not go as well as it might and we managed six fish between us but both felt we should have done better. I controlled Tim Wood in the second session and he pulled out a great result taking 12 Grayling in pretty horrific conditions.

After a spot of lunch, we were to control Spain 1 yep two teams had travelled from Spain to fish the comp. I was gutted for them to have come all this way and fish in less than ideal conditions. I met Juan Vazquez and spent the first five minutes trying to pronounce his name. He spoke little English and I spoke even less Spanish but I could tell by the way he was kitted out he was a serious angler. He fished a combination of double nymph and delicate duo the latter being somewhat challenging in the conditions. I did try to tell him that he was fishing too light for the wind but he persevered. It was a pleasure to watch him fish a very accomplished angler but inevitably the conditions undone him and he only managed one Grayling. His partner had taken several fish though and it is a team event so it was all good.

Del and I had practiced on this section on the Thursday and were pretty chuffed with it. We had a game plan on where to fish it and were hopeful of ten each for the session. I was to fish the high bank on the road side which had produced decent numbers on the Thursday. With no shelter and the wind still howling it was not easy to control the French leader. I watched as Del opened our account on the far bank taking two good Grayling. I was a bit surprised not to take a fish on my first run through. I changed to heavier flies and went through again for nothing. The beat had seen six other anglers that day and it must have taken its toll. Surely there would still be a few around willing to take a fly? It seemed not, for me anyway Del was holding the team up though with a superb performance. I was feeling the pressure and made for a hole that had produced a lot of fish on the Thursday. Nothing, nada, zip after wrapping my entire cast around a tree branch I had to withdraw to re-rig. After calming down I went back to a run I had fished through already. Miraculously I managed to hook a good Grayling not two foot from my feet to save my blushes.

Anyone that does competition fishing with teams will know the gut sickening knot you get in your stomach when you feel you have let your team down or in this case partner. I felt like a one-legged man in an arse kicking competition! Del reassured me that it was nothing to worry about and tomorrow was another day we had managed ten for the team and as it was we were sat in 10th place after the first day not bad from 28 teams. We were not quite sure how we could have been so high up but hey we’ll take it. When we got home, Jayne had laid on a full roast chicken dinner and we devoured it probably a little too fast……lol.

The Sunday was going to be a much more relaxed affair with only two sessions left to fish. We had drawn the last session and would have the benefit of watching another team fish the water. Del and I were to control two young Welsh lads Lee and Scott we met them at the beat and they rigged up ready to go. This was a great beat and even with the pressure from the previous day we expected decent numbers. The weather in the morning was lovely not so much wind and the Sun even put in an appearance. I was to control Scott and they began their session. Close together on the double nymph Lee was into a fish fairly quickly and this was soon followed by an out of season Brown trout which after a quick photo was safely released. The two hours went by so slowly, I think it always does when your controlling maybe different when you’re in the water. Scott fished extremely hard and was unlucky not to pick up a fish in his session.

Again, Del and I put our heads together and came up with a loose game plan. Del was going to target the small fish on the gravel and I was to cross the river to fish the water that had been untouched by Scott and Lee. We felt that ten each was a good target. Before I had even reached my spot Del was handing a fish to his controller. I got into the river at a spot that would produce a decent fish for the measure. Unfortunately, the first fish of the day was only 20cm it was the smallest fish I was to catch that day. The fish that followed though not huge were of a better stamp and I managed to land nine, Del had taken fifteen. Twenty-four for the team not too bad we thought we may have climbed a couple of places up the leader board. We headed back to the hut for a most welcome hog roast and a bit of craik with the rest of the boys the atmosphere was excellent plenty of fishy stories and funny antidotes about the weekend. It did not take too long for the results to be calculated and they were read out to the assembled masses. Ben Bangham and Adam Sinclair had won having stepped in at short notice when a team dropped out well done to them well deserved. Also of note were the Grayling Dreamers Hector and Cameron showing their quality with consistent performances across the three sessions. In third place were the dynamic duo who are Wet Your Knot, Adam and Julian great result and really chuffed for them. For our part Del and I had managed to retain our tenth place and we were happyish with that. More importantly we had enjoyed a fantastic four days of fishing, is that not what it’s all about?

Comp fishing is seeing a bit of decline in this country for various reasons that I won’t go into now. This kind of Comp fishing may turn that around, I hope so. It’s not my job to promote these guys and I am not one for blowing smoke up peoples’ arses but these folks have put a huge amount of effort into pulling this all together and I am sure I am not alone when I say I am deeply grateful for all the effort. In no particular order, Jon Hall, Adam Sinclair, Ben Bangham for the organising. The sponsors of the comp Costa (Ben Bangham), Funky Fly Tying (Toby Merigan) and Hunts Original (Tom Hunt). If I have missed some people please accept my apologies. Off course it would be nothing without the anglers who turned up and laughed their way through the bad weather and invariably caught a bucket load of fish.

This competition is going to get bigger and better every year and will soon be on the same level as the Grayling festival on the Welsh Dee. I would humbly suggest that if you want a fantastic weekend of Grayling fishing look for the dates of next year’s comp, grab a mate and get on the bus. In years to come this will have a list of people waiting to get on it!



02 Oct 2017 River Avon (Services Water)

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Another trip to the Services Dry Fly Water courtesy of Ian Pinder, Ian has been a bit of a charm for me this year. We have had several outings on both still and running water and they have been nothing short of outstanding. Today was to be no exception the river carried a little colour from the previous day’s rain but on the whole seemed to be in pretty decent nick. The levels remain a little low but the weed is already starting to die back making it ideal for Grayling fishing. The Avon is blessed with a large healthy population of Grayling and having a stretch of river that is only lightly fished to play with is a real boon. Ian is only a very recent member and I only know small parts that I have managed to explore when invited along for the day.

Today we were going to concentrate on nymph fishing and try to seek out some deeper runs where some better fish may be found. I set Ian up with a French leader and a heavy bug about .5g to plumb the depths. I gave Ian a quick demo of the method and explained that it may take a wee bit of getting used to not having a fly line to load the rod. I assured him that once he mastered this method that he would catch a lot more and a better stamp of Grayling. I had also set up my trusty 11’ bugging rod and Frenchie rig. I got Ian started and watched for a bit to make sure he had the technique before wandering a little upstream to look for some deep water.

I did not have to wander far before finding a reasonable looking run with a bit of flow coming off a bend. It proved to be well populated with Grayling and they came steady away, not big fish but they all need love. After catching a few I thought to go back down and see how Ian was managing with the new method. He had managed a couple of Grayling but I thought that where I had put him in should have produced more fish. I nipped in at the back of him and first cast I missed a decent offer, the next cast brought a nice fish to the net. The cast after brought my best fish of the day which took virtually at my feet. There was much muttering from Ian and I am sure he called me a few names that I could not make out. Onwards and upwards though and we had a stroll back upstream to look for some new water.

We had both fished this section before and knew there was a good deep hole not far from where we had parked. Before we could reach the hole though I spotted some cracking looking fast runs that looked like it may hold some Grayling with the classic gravelly bed. Even looking hard I could not initially see any fish. But a couple of casts later I was playing some small Grayling who had blended into the gravel perfectly. As I worked my way up the run the fish got steadily bigger it was surprising that fish of this stamp were in such shallow water. As I pushed downstream I noticed Ian had by-passed the deep hole, try as I may I could not tempt a fish from it the hulking shapes of some big trout could just about be made out but their time is passed so I moved on. When I got level with Ian he was busy making the most of a large shoal of Grayling and I think the French leader technique was starting to win him over.

We stopped for a bite to eat and to discuss where we might visit next. There is a lot of water to choose from but in the end we opted to have a look further upstream. The parking spot took a bit of finding next to an old pump house that looked derelict. Stupidly we did not see the path that would have led us straight to the river and instead attempted the assault course route, over the bridge wall and through the thick vegetation. After much cursing and muttering we eventually made it to the river, Ian found a good spot at the tail of a big pool and I wandered further downstream. The river could not be more picturesque and I was thrilled to come across the memorial bench dedicated to the famous river keeper Frank Sawyer. It could do with a scrub up mind as it was covered in bird shite, none the less I was pleased to see it. I decided to fish back up towards where I had left Ian. It was slow going because the fishing was outstanding, everywhere you thought there might have been a Grayling sure enough there would be. I was having a ball but began to feel the coolness of the water wading waist deep for an hour or so. After getting back up to Ian he reported taking several Perch, three Pike, Grayling and a couple OOS Brown trout.  Rest assured we have a new convert to nymph fishing ;-).

We decided to wander up and explore some more of the beat, the water above the bridge was deep and very weedy and we walked some ways before finding some water to fish. Sure enough though once we had identified likely looking stretches the Grayling were there in numbers. There was a bit of a flap on as Ian had dropped his glasses, he assured me that he could cope I am not so lucky without glasses there would be no tying a fly on! Luckily for Ian the next Grayling he caught ended up wearing the glasses that had fallen into his net… apparently the fish looked good in them. We pushed on until eventually we reached a large weir at an old mill. Ian was a bit behind me however and by the time he reached me I was already on a good dozen Grayling. Ian offered up a small wager first one to five Grayling, loser buys tea.

I was trying to tie a new fly on when Ian’s rod went over his laugh soon died though as he pulled a healthy looking perch towards the net. My rod went over next and I knew that I had hooked a Brownie. Still nil – nil, had I cleaned the run out? I persevered and started to grind a few out constantly changing my fly to show them something different. This worked well and I soon reached the target. The light was starting to fade but we were keen to bleed the last drops of daylight from what had been a great day so I took Ian back up to show him Frank’s bench. A few more casts could be had with the last of the light and Ian caught his best fish of the day. My thanks to Ian for the kind invite and off course dinner, it’s on me next time pal. Ian is back on the river today as I type this up and I can only say I am more than a little jealous!


24 Sep 2017 Draycote (Anglers World Championship Final)

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I kind of ended up at this final by accident, no I didn’t fall over in the shower and woke up at Draycote. The Soldier Palmers entered the team event at Grafham water and as part of the beat up to that I was lucky enough to qualify for the Individual. Unfortunately the team pilled in and I forgot all about it. I found the letter in the bottom of my overnight bag a month or so on and paid up the match fee. I thought no more of it until I was looking at the fishing calendar for September. The family have already over indulged me this month and having spent the entire previous week away from home I did dither whether or not to go. Indecision won the day and I had left it too late to cancel so an early start saw me heading up to Draycote for the day.

I don’t like fishing a match without practicing invariably it does not often end well. Draycote is a cracking fishery though and the forecast looked promising. There was a great field of anglers competing for the chance of winning the championship and most had practiced. The cry leading up to the day was dries! I had busied myself in the week tying up various dry fly patterns and had already made up several traces to cover every eventuality.  I had drawn Mark Tyndall a stocks regular, I had not met Mark before but he had practiced and was happy to take the engine.  I had bumped into Wayne Jones who I had not seen for some time it was great to catch up. He gave me a couple of pointers and assured me not to worry if I had caught nothing in the first couple of hours, it was not easy.

Mark had a good idea where he wanted to start and had taken several fish at ‘C’ buoy the previous day. Only one other fishing boat followed us over many had decided to fish ‘J’ out to Lambcot Shoal.  After a couple of drifts we had both agreed that the water clarity was not the best and with no offers or follows it was time for a move. We started down towards the Hensborough bank and a drift from there through ‘M’. It all looked very fishy, not even sure what that means it’s like a feeling you get when you think you’re in an area that there are some fish. It was still very bright and I was fishing straight through nymphs on a floater. Mark and I watched as Mark Haycock and Mark Miles in a boat ahead of us took a couple of fish. My partner was first to get some sport and claimed a nice looking rainbow as we drifted up past the inlet. I did not have long to wait and as we neared the end of the drift I took a fish on the hang to the nymphs. We had not spotted any other boats taking fish and I assumed it was just tough. The boats were well spread and folks were moving around a fair bit a sure fire sign that things were not easy.

As the sun started to be subdued a little by the building cloud and despite only seeing two fish it was time to change to the dries. It’s not often you get the chance to fish dries but Draycote is one of those few venues where it is always a decent option (for good anglers). I tried just about everything in my boxes which is significant to no avail the very odd fish would come and look but inevitably wander off. If fish could give you the bird I am sure I would have seen it several time yesterday. Mark however was having a decent day he would change to a new method and catch a fish and finished up with five which was pretty good going. I retired a little earlier than I would normally frustrated at my inability to catch fish.  Towards the end I was able to cast at rising fish and to my mind was doing everything right.  It was not my day though and from eight hours fishing I could hand on heart say I had only two opportunities. It’s always bitterly disappointing when you don’t do well in a match but that’s the nature of the game, one minute you’re the Kit Cat Cup champion the next your shit.

One thing I would like to mention is the behaviour of the sailors on the match day. I am unsure if they had been informed that there was an angling match on or not but unless you are coming alongside to pass me a chocolate bar (and it better be a big one) or some deadly flies please kindly go and take your face for a shite! I don’t even get that close to some of the members of my family and several times I had to yank my fly line back in order to avoid boats flying by at Mach 2. It felt like they were completely oblivious to us at times. I wonder what a slingshot and a bag of marbles would do to one of them fancy big sails….lol, only joking not!

There was an evening meal laid on and the banter was great, Wayne had done exceptionally well in fact the Welsh contingent had knocked it out the park filling the top four spots. Only one ounce separating the top three anglers who all had eleven fish with Gareth Evens winning, Wayne in second and Gareth Jones in third spot. It was grand to catch up with a few of the boys at the meal but with a long drive for some it was to John Horsey’s  credit he had the whole thing done and dusted and we were out the door by 2045. Many thanks to the fishery staff on the day who were very helpful getting people on and off the boats great job guys and much appreciated.

It’s been a great loch style season with more good days than bad. I have enjoyed some of the best fishing on the reservoirs that I can ever recall and had the opportunity to fish with some great friends and super anglers. The weekend will see me clean and dry the kit and break out in earnest the Grayling tackle, winter is coming!


14-16 Sep 2017 Anglian Water Airflo International (Loser Match)

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Grafham WaterThe loser trophy that’s how it was introduced as we were welcomed by Jon Marshall. A ripple of laughter passed through the gathered anglers we would all like to make the final but that’s no mean feat nowadays. Comp anglers are a hardy breed we turn up any weather regardless of how a venue is fishing and just get on with it. I have often questioned my sanity sat in a howling wind piss wet through and catching nowt! Having just spent three days on Rutland I was less than enamoured with the prospect of another three days afloat.

Grafham however was on top form at the end of the match yesterday Jamie Thomas said to me that I could not possibly get across in the blog how good Grafham was. He is undoubtedly correct but I am going to give it a go. I was doing the first day of practice with Del Spry we have fished a lot together and work well as a team. Not only that we have a right good laugh to boot. We had started at the Savages end of the water hitting the July bank before trying a drift through the middle of savages. This provided zero interest so it was out into the open water and a drift from ‘S’ buoy to the tower. We started to generate interest and Del had a couple of half-hearted offers I had numerous follows to the boat but nothing hooked up. We nipped over for a quick chat with Paul and Sean, they had put three in the boat drifting towards Hill farm. Del and I returned to ‘S’ buoy to see if we could tempt those fish. The long and short of it was Del managed a nice fish and I didn’t get a sniff. As we moved up the reservoir towards the dam things picked up I had changed to a pulling rig and was soon into fairly consistent sport with some of the hardest fighting fish I have comeDel Spry across this year. At lunch, we compared notes and started to string some methods together. After lunch, it was more of the same just in different areas. Coming of the water we were pretty pleased with the information we had gathered and made our way back to our temporary home at RAF Wittering.

The next day we were supplemented by one of the auld enemy Keith Jones from the RAF who had kindly stepped in as Jimmy Bond could not practice. He partnered up with Jamie for the day and went off for a looksee. I had paired up with the team captain Paul Calvert and we had gone straight to the Dam. Sport was almost instant and plentiful I had set up with a DI3 and a single booby it was devastating and after taking five fish and getting bumps and fish on and off within an hour it was time to try something else. A midge tip with a team of nymphs fished on the washing line did a turn and took fish. Paul not to be out done was also taking fish on a variety of different lines, we had boated over a dozen fish before our meet up in Gaynes Cove. Paul and I arrived a little early and had a short drift which yielded three fish very quickly. When we got together it soon became apparent the Sean Hanlon was having a beano! Not fairing so well was Del who was getting the interest but failing to get fish to the boat. We assured him that they would come we had identified two good methods. In the afternoon, we went out into the middle to confirm the methods and generally enjoy the superb quality of the Grafham trout. We all had a great day catching lots of fish Sean had done the best catching and releasing twenty-five fish with his fast glass Paul and I had boated a hatful of fish yanking a DI3 and Jamie had done well on the fast glass. Del was going to need counselling or should I say consoling he had managed lots of sport but was left scratching his head as to why he had not taken more fish. After carefully removing his filleting knife and any other sharps from him room back at camp he was checked every 15 minutes through the night….lol.

Match day, well considering it was the losers final there seemed to be an awful lot of very good anglers cutting about the car park! An unfortunate incident with one of the Hoppers team saw them have to withdraw, one of their anglers had slipped and banged his head. I hope he is on his way to a speedy recovery. This left the draw a bit worse for wear though and a lot of confusion ensued. Eventually it all came out in the wash and everyone ended up in a boat with someone that was not in their own team. I had drawn Lee Patten an old soldier who I had fished with in the past. He had stepped in last minute bad back and all for the Greenwell Persuaders. He asked if I could do the engine, the drogue, net his fish and generally give him a good day. Little did I know he was being serious… Being and old soldier I knew we were going to have a great craik. I started on the DI3 and Lee with a fast glass so we were in the same ball park. I decided to start up at the dam where Paul and I started the previous day. Many off the boats had peeled off and were fishing at ‘G’ buoy. Le got the first bit of interest getting big bow waves behind his flies only to see the fish lose interest. My flies were getting a little deeper and my line soon locked up and I had the first fish of the day in the boat. The fish was reasonable but not of the same stamp as the fish from the previous day. Lee started up his account with another good fish and one more followed shortly after. We managed another drift before some of the boats from the Lindsay Simpsonmain fleet started to reach us. A move was in order and we bounced to the other side of the dam tower. Things had started to slow up a little but I did manage another fish and was gutted as I drew the tiny fish to the net, I mean there is small and then there was this fish. We pushed out a bit hoping to get into some better fish. And already we noted that anglers were returning fish only an hour and a half into the match. Lee caught another good fish then another he had a double shooter at one point. The point fish fell off and while playing the other fish on the dropper another fish snatched at his point fly. It did not stay attached long however and fell off. Just as he was drawing the fish on the top dropper over the net the point was taken which caused the fish on the top to come undone at which point the point fish said farewell. Poor Lee he took it well, mostly. The sport was constant follows takes just a great fishing day.

I was struggling to keep up with Lee and he started to build a steady bag. I spotted Jamie in the corner of Gaynes Cove re-drifting and decided to go and see how he was getting on. He was flying with eight fish to the boat but the area was small and I decided to leave him to it. As soon as we got back out into the open water Lee was in again. I struggled to settle but soon hit the pace again catching another fish the size of a fish finger WTF! I had to chap it being my forth fish, you know what’s coming, don’t you? Fish five was a beast, bugger, bugger, bugger it slipped back and bolted to the Paul Calvertdepths. The fish were fighting like demons and Lee was getting double hook ups for fun, he didn’t manage to land one of them. He would usually manage one but failed to get both. He had already lost so many fish that would have seen him on his hands by two o’clock. He caught one fish that led him a merry dance around the boat, I offered to get the drogue in but he said he was OK. A minute later I was pulling the drogue in but it was a little late his dropper was in the ropes and I was now effectively playing the fish on the rope. With a bit of team work between us we managed to see the fish to the net. Lee took a power of light hearted abuse after that one! Lee finished on twelve fish and after a late flurry I had managed nine, denied double figures as a fish slipped the hook. I had my chances and I dare say most anglers that day were in a similar situation. All in all, a fantastic day’s sport in grand company. It might have been the losers final but the anglers that were fortunate enough to attend this match I am sure would have enjoyed every minute.

The Soldier Palmers had a good day with a good number of fish securing 5th spot. An exceptional performance from the Nymphomaniacs who had no less than five limits and twelve streets ahead of the nearest team. Well done to them but the winner today was Grafham Water it served us well and the quality of the fish was nothing short of exceptional. I hope that there are a few left at the back end for the bank fishing.  Jayne and the kids have really supported me this last week and I have missed them very much I feel like a very lucky man! One more loch style event to push out then its hard on the Grayling whoop whoop.


10-12 Sep 2017 Rutland Water (Interservice Competition)

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This was to be the start of a big fishing week for me and I have to say after looking at the weather forecast I was not looking forward to it. It was going to be windy and wind on Rutland means big waves and not the easiest conditions to tempt trout. The Interservices for those that don’t know is a competition between the Armed Forces, Army, Navy and Airforce. The event has been hard fought the last few years but a strong RAF team has ensured they have dominated the event. This year though the Army was bringing a good experienced squad with no new caps and we hoped to run the hot favourites close.

Day one saw me partnered with Jamie Nairn a fellow scot we have fished several times together and generally have a good craik. We had been given half the basin to look at (not the good half…lol) and were instructed to start around ‘S’ Buoy. We couldn’t find the said bouy despite getting the binoculars out and scanning the area, I thought it might be my failing eyes and after a light-hearted argument about where we should have been we decided a drift onto Ernies point was close enough. A bit of shelter from the peninsula made fishing quite comfortable despite the wind. I had heard reports that Rutland was tough even in good conditions so was all set for a grinder. I was more than a little surprised to get action from the get go and the first take took me by surprise. Jamie and I had plenty of sport on that drift but only one fish graced the boat. As we motored over where we could see the rest of our group we passed ‘S’ Buoy and chuckled. Jamie picked up another fish drifting onto the Whitwell bank but we were well and truly in the washing machine now. Still to land a fish I was getting a bit twitchy but as we approached ‘U’ Buoy the flies were taken hard and my rod nearly ripped from my hand. Not one but two fish had grabbed the team of flies. I rarely land double shooters fishing only barbless flies once you net the first one the other slips away. This time though fortune smiled and I got them both. Further drifts in the open water produced a few more fish and we were a happy boat motoring over to meet for lunch.

At lunch, there was the usual piss taking and much laughter as we crowed that we got the good areas or cried that we had been shafted but all in good fun. Information was exchanged and a plan for the remainder of the day was made. A much quieter afternoon for me I only managing to add another fish to my total, Jamie managed a few more though and all in all we were pretty happy with a dozen fish to the boat. At the briefing in the evening it was clear the fishing was not easy and the next day was going to be much worse as even heavier winds were predicted. Some reshuffling was needed as some anglers had been stood up for deployment and others were not so well, Dave I hope your blockage is all sorted pal…lol.

The next day the wind was howling and we were probably not far off being not allowed out. Dave Norbury who was feeling much better was out with me and I was given the main basin area. I had a considerably shorter leader from the usual 22’ down to 12’ after turning Jamie’s waterproofs into mesh by wrapping my flies around his noggin more than once. I thought I would spare Dave the same fate. This proved very successful as well as not hitting Dave I was picking up plenty of fish. By the time one o’clock came around we had about ten fish in the boat. Travelling back up the drifts was akin to someone throwing buckets of water at you that instantly refilled so they could do it again. Mostly I would be thinking this is shite but when the trout are pulling back it doesn’t seem that bad. I met up with Ronnie Christie who was also getting plenty sport. He took us back up the wind to show us a must have drift. Dave and I started on the outside and watched Ronnie take two fish quickly. We were not long getting in at the back of him and this produced immediately Dave and I both taking fish and we had four trout on that short and very quick drift. The wind had gotten up to not *ucking funny and the fish were still coming. We had been lucky most of the day storms skirted around the reservoir and we only caught the very edge of them but at three o’clock our luck ran out and we were treated to a power shower. After this Dave had to make a deposit back at the jetty (tummy still not quite right poor bloke) and while I was waiting for him the message came through from the team captain to call it a day.

At the briefing in the evening it was clear that most had struggled with the conditions Ronnie had however come up with a workable method that would hopefully put a few fish in the boat. The meeting was a subdued affair after a tough day on a lumpy Rutland most were tired and ready for bed. Match day was bright really bright and the wind was still up the kiss of death! We had been lucky that the previous days had been overcast and the fish were willing to join in. I had drawn Steve Ottridge as I had the previous year, he had not practiced and gave up the engine. There was mention of Barn hill creek but I was quick to dispel any notion of not getting into the washing machine. The wind though not as heavy as the previous day was still strong and we were covering water fast. Not many rods were bending initially and I was pleased to get one early on Steve had also dropped a fish and shortly after another one fell off. I was buddied up with Ronnie and it was very quickly established that it was not going to fish like it had the previous day.

What really compounded the problem is that we were getting conflicting messages Ronnie and I both fishing DI5 lines but our boat partners were getting them much higher. It messes with your head and then you start chasing your tail. After a couple of hours in Steve and I had only put two fish in the boat, it was time to go looking. I hit a couple of the marks that had produced fish in practice for nothing. As I passed a few of the boys heading back up from the dam they were doing well and shouts of seven, fours and fives all on Ronnie’s method. My heart sank, I am lazy always have been but I was going to have to suck it up as Ronnie’s method involved some Loch Leven style pulling or combat stripping as we used to call it. I changed back to my five sweep and Steve changed to a midge tip not prepared to descend to the slobs a blobs tactics, no none of that carry on for Steve he was going to fish properly and nymph them out. “What have you got on Steve?” a sunburst blob oh *uck off …lol. It worked mind you and Steve matched me fish for fish I really wanted to change but I was getting a lot more action after one drift we had hooked seven fish and both felt a lot better about the day. I managed to grind out a grand total of six and just pipped Steve who managed five. From what I could tell on the water the Army seemed to have done pretty well but the scales would have the final say.

Between Ronnie and I we had worked out that the Navy Old Lags had beaten us into second place but what of the main event. There was an after-match meal at the Normanton Hotel and in a refreshing and most welcome change the Navy secretary read out the results before the meal. The Army had done enough beating the Airforce into second place, a hard-earned victory and a long time coming. Much credit to the RAF who were really gracious in defeat and quick with their congratulations to the guys a real credit to the sport. The Navy looked very professional in their new swag and I hope they enjoyed the event despite the result. Many thanks to all my boat partners over the three days suffering me for twenty minutes can be hard work but eight hours in a boat all credit to you.  Really enjoyed competing with my old pal Ronnie Christie and hopefully we brought some value to the party. Roll on Grafham!


06 Sep 2017 River Avon (West Amesbury)

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It had been ages since I had a catch up with Adam Stafford, a busy job and a busy dad has kept him tied up so it was great that he could make time to come down to the Avon for the day. Adam tackled up with a French leader which I thought may not be the way to go considering the river levels and weed. I wandered down with my rod in opting to set up by the water. I took Adam straight to the wading section and set him off amidst several small grayling rising in the foot or so of water. He was into fish in no time and every time I glanced in his direction he seemed to be playing a fish. I feverishly tied on my fly hoping to be not far behind him. As I drew near he was in again to some pretty decent perch he was like the Perchinator,  every cast produced another one, we laughed well at least I laughed.

We moved up the river and Adam was on fire taking most everything in front of him Grayling, Trout and the Perch of course! I was getting a few of the Grayling on the far side where the river had not been raped by Stafford…lol. Considering the depth of the river and the strength of the flow it was fishing extremely well. Adam had caught one of the red tagged fish denoting that it had been stocked this year and a hat full of grayling. We had reached the end of the wading section and crossed the field to have a look at the section running up to the road bridge. The water here is much deeper and holds a better stamp of fish. Adam was keen to fish in a deep hole by the old bridge, I thought I would check my phone. Ah where was my phone, in my jacket which I had taken off to answer the call of nature about half a mile back. **ckity **ck **ck the two anglers that I passed while running back to collect it must have thought I was barking, just going for a jog in waders! Note to self you need to start running again you old fat git!

Phone retrieved and back with Adam I was relieved to see that Trump had not bombed Northern Korea while I was without my phone. Adam had picked up a couple of nice Grayling from the deep hole and we decided to wander up the bank a bit. While chatting our attention was grabbed by some calamity in the surface of the river as a couple of trout up on dries where smashing it. We couldn’t see what they were hitting but I stuck on big sedge to see if I could tempt them. The wind was horrible and any notion of accurate casting had literally gone with the wind. No joy I switched to an emerger and immediately got nothing! Not even a swirl, time to move on. We had to go and get a bite to eat and walked past a lot of good looking water but I was keen to show Adam the whole beat.

Fed and watered we made the hike down to the bottom of the beat, it sees little foot fall as it is a decent hike. There is a little hole here that sometimes can give up a decent fish or two so I set Adam to have a go while I got the camera ready. The honey pot didn’t disappoint and Adam got into several good fish before it started to dry up. I said, jokingly to Adam that I would pack the camera away and that this always brings out the big uns. No sooner had I zipped the bag shut than Adams rod buckled over it was a good fish and it ran him ragged round the pool nearly making it under the bridge. After the fight and the fish was safely in the net it was plain to see Adam was buzzing I was really chuffed myself.

We wandered back up the river chatting dipping in occasionally walking past some stunning water but the beat is so large you could not possibly fish it all in a day. We soon ended up back at the bridge with a deep hole that holds lots of good fish but they are notoriously hard to tempt. We did manage a few nothing really big, I caught and released another one of the red tagged stocked fish and decided that this was great way to finish the day.

It was really good to catch up with Adam a guy with a real passion for angling it had been too long. I need to put the river kit down now with a spate of Loch Style fishing starting this weekend I need to get my comp head back on!      

04 Sep 2017  River Avon (SDFW)

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I have been doing a fair bit of fishing on the river but the sessions have been short usually a couple of hours after a works meeting. With major IT overhauls at work I had the opportunity for a couple of full days on the river with two reel gents!

My first day was to be spent on the Services stretch of the Avon a great club that sees little pressure. My host for the day was Ian Pinder who has recently joined the club keen to follow in the footsteps of Frank Sawyer and Adam Sinclair ;-). I don’t know the water really well but have fished it on a few different occasions. We decided to start at a familiar area ‘C’ Crossing, opting to start at the very bottom of the beat. The river is as low as I have ever seen it and very weedy. When we arrived Ian set off ahead of me and while I was setting up I watched as he netted his first grayling of the day. I had slipped into the water intending to give him ten minutes to move up a bit. I couldn’t resist flicking my nymphs across the river though and was rewarded with a few small grayling. It was going to be good! Ian had made some distance and I heard the whoop of joy as he netted his first Brown trout of the day he was fishing well and more soon followed. Coming up behind was still providing plenty of sport the grayling are much more forgiving and even after being walked through they are not long in coming back on.

As we moved up the rain drizzled a little, what we would call smaw rain in Scotland. When the fish are pulling back though you hardly even notice….lol. I had moved ahead of the Brownie catching machine that Ian had become in search of some trout of my own. It’s so hard to walk past rising Grayling though, I stopped to target some awkwardly lying fish and cursed as I lost more than one fly in the trees. After re-rigging I was livid with myself when the very first cast wrapped itself around a barbed wire fence behind me. As trudged angrily towards the offending fence I failed to notice the large log placed to help with flow. You guessed it, as my shin hit the log with a crack over I went only saving myself from face planting into the river with my outstretched left hand. I was up quickly well as quick as I get up nowadays. Looking round for any witnesses to the unfortunate incident, Graham Lumsdon would have taken great delight and probably a photograph!  

Only a little wet we went for a quick bite to eat and a change of location. Ian wanted to show me a bit of the river he had visited the previous day. It was located right next to a large designated parking spot. We strolled past some cracking looking water and I felt a little drool slip down my chin at the prospect of fishing it. Ian however marched me up to a bend in the river where there was a deep hole. The depths could not be seen but I knew it was deep, I tackled it with a duo for a bit and took some small fish. It dawned on me that I was missing out so on went some heavy bugs and things got a bit more interesting. The pool held several good fish decent Brown trout and Grayling soon visited my waiting net, great fun! 

The day was wearing on though and conscious of the time we decided to head back up stopping for a quick dabble here and there. Ian had met a fellow angler the day before that spoke of another deep hole and although I should have been making tracks I couldn’t resist a wee look. It was a stretch of about twenty feet that was maybe five foot deep and holding some nice fish. I managed one of the better fish but it was time to get on the road. Many thanks to Ian for a great day with plenty fish and plenty laughs.

09 Aug 2017 Rutland Water (Anglian Water Four Man)

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I could not practice for this so considered myself unavailable, we had entered three teams and one of the anglers dropped out. I volunteered for match day only, always a bit of a gamble. When I spoke to the guys that had been out the day previous they said the rain had been monsoon like the day before. It did not look to be shaping up much better for the match day. The good news though was that the fishing had picked up considerably from the AW Northern Final. For those that follow the blog you will know that was not much fun. This was my first trip on a stillwater since then so my hope was high that I would manage few fish.

After a bit of a cake and arse party to start with, the boat draw had to be redone the start time was moved back and then moved back again. We were finally sent on our way, the Captains brief ringing in my ears “Turn right and catch eight fish” sounds good….lol. My boat partner for the day was Chris McLeod from the Invictus Select team. He had also kindly stepped in to help the Army teams practice a very experienced angler I am sure he would have added much value. He was happy enough to let me take the engine a decision that I am sure he would regret later when he is applying plasters to his waterproofs.

After a brief chat we decided to head up towards the dam it was a little worrying to see only another couple of boats follow, but hey ho. I had opted to start on a slow glass as the fish were very high in the water, Chris had stuck on a midge tip. To be fair despite the rain it looked very fishy and as with most starts to the day I was very optimistic. The sport began almost immediately as Chris had a trout rush up and chase his point fly only to turn away as he ran out of line. It was my turn next but the fish got bored before it even got near the boat. Only a few casts later Chris was playing his first fish and he swiftly brought it to the boat. I had a fish before Chris had managed to put his flies back in the water. What a fantastic start, Chris soon added a second fish to his bag as I hooked and lost one.

When the wind got up a little the sport seemed to slow down somewhat but as soon as it dropped a little the fish seemed to be everywhere. The sport was hectic with follows and takes constantly, there was a short spell off about ten minutes where neither of us had seen a follow or managed a take. We jokingly said maybe it’s gone off PMSL. No these fish were proper on it, every now and then then the wind would get a bit blustery and Chris would find himself picking my flies from his dome. I am sure it kept him on his toes. After a very quick start I was pretty pleased to catch Chris up and by about 1330 we were both sitting pretty on seven fish each. The boat had gone a bit quieter as we were both keen to get the last one.

I hooked a fish and was feeling pretty chuffed but the feeling was very brief as the fish was on then off. Not long after Chris hooked one at distance and was busy playing the fish, my flies were almost back to the boat when the rod buckled over. What a great way to finish…..quack quack, my line went slack and the fish was gone. A 1337 finish for Chris and a reasonable bag of fish to boot. I kept hooking them and they kept slipping the hook, well most of them. One fish which I watched take one of my nymphs before running for the exit bent out the hook.  Now in the normal run of things the teddy would have been out the cot lying beside the dummy that would have been spat out after losing the first couple of fish. Today though I was not even slightly bothered it was great and I didn’t want to stop fishing. All good things come to an end though and my last fish hit the bass bag at 1430.

When we got back in there were already many finished, little did I know at the time was that everyone in the match would finish. I have fished comps for over twenty five years and never known a match where the entire field bagged up! It’s quite remarkable really, usually regardless of how easy the fishing is some poor sod has a bad day and does not manage to finish. Every angler eight fish and I dare say if they had a similar day to Chris and I the same again caught and lost, amazing!

The venue is absolutely on fire, if you have been thinking about a trip to Rutland water don’t put it off any longer get there this weekend. 

Results sheet 1 sheet 2


07 Aug 2017 River Avon (West Amesbury)

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This will have been our third trip out this season, the other two sessions were nothing short of outstanding! Ian Pinder is like my lucky charm we have enjoyed fantastic sport on Rutland water but now we were heading to the River. I had nipped to the Stonehenge beat (River Avon) after work on the Friday and it was fishing its head off so I expected great things from Mondays trip out. We met up at the Solstice services for a McDonalds, breakfast of champions before tootling down to the river.

We set up in the rec car park and we went through Ian’s gear the box of flies he produced made me smile and when he asked what I thought I replied had he brought some petrol and a lighter! I soon sorted him out with some flies that he exclaimed he couldn’t see let alone tie on but I assured him these would work. As we walked down to the river it was a nice morning with overcast conditions, the river looked in fine form and was as clear as I have seen it this year. It was warm enough but there was the promise of some rain later in the day.

I gave Ian a quick demo and explained the importance of trying not to disturb the water while wading. He took to it like a duck to water and soon enough there was a queue of grayling taking turns to visit Ian’s net.  I had decided to stay close by and fish up behind Ian, the river is fairly wide at the wading section and there was plenty water left to cover. The Grayling though not the biggest you can encounter were providing great sport on the light tackle. After a couple of hours we decided to move up towards the top of the beat.

Ian had found a few rising fish to have a go at and I moved up to the very top where the bridge is and after seeing what I thought was a good fish I covered it with a sedge pattern that was immediately engulfed and taken clean off my line. After much cursing and berating myself for not scaling up my tippet I eventually set up again and tried the next archway of the bridge. Getting the cast right was not easy and after several failed attempts I eventually got it just right and was rewarded with a cracking brown trout.

At lunch we sat on the benches by the park and chatted about fishing and life in general, I planned to take us to the very bottom of the beat and fish up. It looked like rain was imminent so I put my jacket on, this was a mistake however. By the time I had reached the bottom of the beat I was sweating like a fat kid near ice-cream.  The jacket was soon removed and stuffed into the back pouch of my rig. There was another Angler from the piscatorial club fishing just the other side of where the two clubs waters meet. Ian and I started to fish back up the beat, Ian scoring well with one of his own #14 shrimp patterns, he graciously offered me one but I politely declined….PMSL.

There are a few more wild Brown trout in this section of the river and they are stunning little fish to catch. Pound for pound they give a really good account of themselves and I managed a few to the net. The Grayling were off course providing the bulk of the sport and they continued to come in good numbers. It had been a long and productive day and the river was starting to get a little busy with anglers down to catch the last few hours of light. We finished our day up at the plunge pool were many fish could be seen in the depths but despite numerous changes of fly they could not be tempted.

Ian assured me that he had really enjoyed the day and I think he may well have fallen for the river fishing. I will try and tempt him back again in a few months when the Grayling are really on the go! Quick turnaround for me and off up to Rutland tomorow whoop whoop!

25 Jul 2017 River Avon (River Avon, West Amesbury)

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Jayne had taken the kids to Brighton for the day and the prospect of going home to an empty house did not appeal. I am mostly through reviewing a line for Troutline and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to finish it off. So I tootled down to the Avon on what was a fairly decent day considering the amount of inclement weather of late. I arrived at the recreation ground where you park up and set up my 11’ #3 Streamflex and stuck on the small reel that I had loaded the Troutline Tactical Nymphing fly line (more on this in the upcoming review).

As I walked down to the river there was a gaggle of kids fishing with bread at the deep plunge pool. I turned left and headed downstream to start, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of rising fish in the stream. I looked down ruefully at my set up but needs must. I had attached my go to Mary Nymph in a #18. I wanted to get into the water but as I strolled up the bank I could not resist a little chuck at a shoal of Grayling. As I lifted into one of the smaller fish the rest of the herd headed for the hills and I was moving on. I got to the wading section and before I could even get a boot in the water I could see fish rising around the edge. None the less I stuck my nymph upstream and tracked it back and took a small Brown trout. It seemed they were just as happy taking the nymph as well as the hatching flies. I managed another couple of Grayling before easing gently into the water trying not to cause too much of a disturbance. I could see some bigger fish ahead of me but casting was awkward due to an overhanging tree. The first couple of times the line shot away fast as a little fish snatched at the fly. I was too slow to hook these fish though and just ended up disturbing the water with my failed attempts to strike. Without moving my feet I fished a different part of the river lengthening my line. A few small fish followed but I wanted to get something a little bigger and returned my attention to the awkward fish under the tree. It had been rested for a while and this time with a good first cast I could see the movement I was waiting for and I lifted into a decent Brown trout. It went nuts round the pool and on light tippet provided great sport eventually slipping into my waiting net. It was a stocked fish but in reasonable condition and went back none the worse for the experience.

I moved up the river and it seemed alive with fish actively feeding at one point I decided to change to a dry fly that I had tied earlier in the week. It was an emerger shuttlecock pattern on a #14. This fly proved to be very popular with both Grayling and Brown trout and I must whittle some more up before my next visit. The Afternoon was wearing on and I decided to retire the 11’ rod in favour of my 8’ 6” Helios a much better tool for dry fly fishing. As I headed back to the car the lads that had been fishing bread were doing very nicely and had taken about a dozen to reasonable sizes. I showed them my rig but they must have thought I was mental, maybe when they grow on a bit they will turn to fly fishing, I do hope so. Armed with my shorter rod I walked down to the very bottom of our beat. I sat for quite a while watching the river amble on by, there was a good fish rising sporadically and I was trying to get a bead on it to offer up a fly. The fish quietly took the piss out me for fifteen minutes and I moved off tail between my legs. I arrived at a part of the river where wading is permitted and slipped into the water. First cast saw a hungry little trout rise to claim the fly then shoot off down the river to be quickly pulled back to the net.

There were plenty of fish rising and they were up for joining in to boot. I worked my way up the river and could hear the river keeper mowing the paths at the edge of the river, yes, we are spoiled down this neck of the woods! On his way, back down he stopped for a chat, His name was Stuart and he was the river keeper for the Piscatorial club who have the beat above and as I know now the right-hand bank of the beat I was on. We had a long chat about the river and the two clubs and it was a most enlightening chat. Before I knew it, it was getting on six o’clock. It was time to head back up towards the car. As I walked up though there was the odd fish taunting me and I could not resist having a chuck at them. They proved to be a little tough though and my hurried efforts did not cut the mustard. No more fish for me, but I will return soon it’s good for the soul!


08 – 10 Jul Anglian Water Northern Final

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Normanton ChurchFish fest, Fishing bonanza, trout soup and carnage are just a few of the desciptive words that you will not find in this blog update. Hard as bleached white dog shite would be more like it! One lad was heard to say on the morning of the match that he would rather smash his genitals with a mallet than spend eight hours on Rutland, and I dare say there would have been a queue behind him. It was tough and that’s under egging it.

I had heard that it was not fishing so well and expected a bit of a grinder but when I turned up at the lodge a few of our guys had been out on the Friday. Jamie Thomas had joined in with the RAF league match and managed his 12 fish limit as had his boat partner and several other anglers. This news cheered me up no end and it was with much enthusiasm that Ronnie Christie and I tackled up ready for a great days sport. It became evident after the first three hours without so much as a follow that our initial optimism was misplaced. Ronnie was persevering with the method that Jamie had used to great effect the day before and I was working either side of it. Ronnie eventually managed to get one I managed one as well just in time to go in and have a chin wag with the rest of the guys.

The mood was one of much hilarity, you know the kind when things are so bad if you don’t make light of it you would cry.Rainbow Fly Fishing So we had a laugh ate some chocolate and headed back for part two. It was dire and between Ronnie and I we did not get another bit of interest to the boat. There was much scratching of heads not just in our team but some of the other teams we could see coming off the water looked none too pleased with their days graft. We headed into Oakham for a bite to eat before heading back to Whittering (where we were staying). Although we had all brought tying kit we had identified very little to be tied so we tucked into a bottle of Whisky Ronnie had brought along and chatted through the day. There was not much to say and we thought that another day may add some more pieces to the puzzle.

The next day I was paired up with Jamie Thomas and we headed up to the Dam in the hope that the fish had come back on. Jamie did catch something that looked like a trout but it was much smaller… but at least he had one. After several drifts we decided to push further back into the basin where Jamie managed to hook a much better quality fish. Maybe they had pushed back from the dam. We will never know as within ten minutes we were completely surrounded by sailing boats and it was time to look elsewhere. When we arrived at elsewhere there was **** all fish there either. It was time to go in and report our findings to the guys. I had stuck my wellies and salopettes on as there was some rain expected. This seemed to amuse the boys no end as the temperature soared to 26 degrees. My neoprene wellies where making my feet swell and they were the size of small grapefruits. I Fly Fishing Loch Stylespent the rest of the day fishing in my bare feet much to Jamie’s disgust although much more comfortable it did not improve my fishing. In the Afternoon we headed up to the tower in the North Arm and I did get a bit of sport and even managed to hook a fish which I lost almost immediately. Still the water clarity was better here and I managed a few half-hearted follows. The upshot of the day was I had not managed one fish to the boat, morale was pretty low.

In the evening we chatted through the very short list of options and tied a few patterns up that might work. The car park the morning of the match was much more subdued than is usual for such a big match. It was fairly evident that everyone had toiled over the previous two days and we were in for a long day. I had drawn Tom Davis from team Vision and a quick chat with Tom confirmed that there were only really two options the basin or the North arm. Tom had drawn the engine and to be honest I am glad the decision was not mine to make. Straight from the off the vast majority of the fleet headed up the North Arm with only two or three boats heading into the main basin. Tom and I had a particularly slow boat and despite getting off to a good start we were soon being seen off by several other boats. As they peeled off and started their drifts we left them behind heading further up beyond Dickinson’s. Tom and I fished the weed beds for maybe half an hour but I was not feeling the love and neither was Tom. So we headed over to the tower to join the happy throng, Tom spoke with his dad and it was clear we had not missed much. It was only a gentle ripple when we arrived and I opted to fish my fast glass quite slow to get a bit of depth. I was a bit surprised when the rod buckled over near the end of the retrieve with a good fish attached. I can’t recall playing a fish as carefully in a long time but they were all going to be precious today. As I drew it towards the waiting net I could Rainbow Troutsee that the Cruncher it had taken was barely attached to its top lip. It was with a huge exhale of breath when I slipped the net under the fish and the hook fell away another five seconds and I fear it would still be enjoying swimming round Rutland.

The next drift I managed another fish just slowing down the retrieve it had taken the same nymph. Within the space of ten minutes another fish graced my bass bag, three in the bag and it was not even twelve o’clock. Things were going great, I felt that I was doing the right thing and my confidence was growing. I hooked another fish a short while later but after a brief fight that the fish got the better of I was still stuck on three. Tom who had switched hooked what I assumed was a good fish as it tore off across the front of the boat. I got my line and rod out the way and stood with the landing net at the ready. Unfortunately we did not get to see that fish as it came unstuck from the hook whilst fighting deep. I was gutted for Tom as well as myself as we had both lost fish within five minutes of each other. Still we had a method and it was working, was working and that’s the key. The truth is we just had a purple patch and were lucky enough to get a few fish to the boat.

Although we both had the odd follow and the very odd take only Tom managed to add to the boats tally getting one out the blue and thankfully saving the blank for Tom. I hooked and lost another and managed some half-hearted takes but it was all pretty poor. There were plenty of anglers around us and it was fairly clear that nobody was smashing it up, the weigh in was going to be interesting. As a team we had managed eleven fish, which might seem rather low but actually it was a really good effort considering the conditions. We were carrying a couple of blanks as did most teams the Ospreys carried five blanks which is mind blowing considering the quality of anglers in the team. The best bag was Lloyd Pallet with four fish for 10lb 7oz. Bob Fitzpatrick from Stocks Falcons did manage five but they were a little light and that was beaten by three other fours. Sixteen blanks from a field of 33 anglers with a rod average of 1.75 that just about sums it up pass the mallet this way! 

 Updated results     

30 Jun River Avon (Stonehenge Beat)

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Lindsay Simpson Fly FishinHad a couple of hours to kill before dropping of some stuff in Andover, where better to spend it than the beautiful River Avon. There was already someone there when I arrived but he was looking for his sunglasses and not there to fish. As it was I was to have the entire beat to myself for the duration of the visit. We have had a fair bit of rain here but it seemed not to have affected the river. It was showing a little colour in the deeper holes but on the whole clarity was excellent. The river was as low as I have ever seen it and its not particularly deep at the best of times.

As I went to the boot of the car I realised that I had forgotten to stick my preferred rod in not to worry I had brought a 10’ for #4 or the 9’ for #2. I opted for the 9’ a rod I have not used in a while which used to be my go to for chalk stream fishing. I much prefer the shorter 8’ 6” for a #3 I get a bit more accuracy with it. Needs must though and it was better than a sharp stick in the eye. I got my reel out, yes, I managed to remember that, but found that the tapered leader was shot to bits. I scrambled around in the bag and thankfully found another which I attached to the fly line.  

I sat watching the river for a while and was pleased to see the occasional Grayling tipping up to take flies from the Fly Fishing Graylingsurface. I attached a #18 parachute Adams and my first cast went askew completely missing the mark and spooking the rising Grayling which must have been in no more than 10” of water. I sat back for a bit and waited until the fish proceeded to start feeding again. It didn’t take long and on the second time of asking my fly was devoured and I brought my first Grayling in a long time to hand. Only small but perfectly formed example of a chalk stream Grayling.

I moved further up the beat, the river was alive with fly life and there were plenty of fish on the fin nothing big mind but great fun on #2 rod. There has been quite a bit of work done to this beat making access much easier and it has also opened up a lot more water. The areas I had done so well with the last year were not so good but other areas fished much better than expected. The challenge when the water is so low is getting near the fish and I managed to scare more than my share. In the end the trick was to get a little distance by casting slightly further than normal. The water was so low that it never really got above ankle deep.

River Avon Fly FishingI wandered up the beat stopping when I spotted feeding fish or likely looking spots. The Brown trout where noted by their absence in fact for the whole session I only saw one spotty and I spooked that with some clumsy wading. Luckily the Grayling were not so picky and kept me busy for my short time there. The river fishing has been a little neglected of late with so much Loch Style on the go it’s hard to make time to get to the river. Today’s trip though reminds me of what a very special place the river is.






23-25 Rutland Water (Army Fly Fishing Championship)

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Rutland WaterRutland has arguably been having one of the best seasons I have known in recent years and I was looking forward to the three days with bated breath. The weather has been blisteringly hot lately and I had a small inkling it may start to affect the fishing. A close look at wind guru revealed that the wind was going to be a bit tasty as well. Undaunted though as a report from Al Owen said it was still fishing its head off, which was Wednesday. Come the Thursday we had several boats out for an extra day and the word was not so good, only a handful of fish were caught. I arrived early on the Friday morning to be greeted by Al with the words you might as well go home! Too late I was here for a fly fishing competition and I was ready to get on with it.

I was practicing with Gerry Rattery in the hope of getting some tips from the current Interservice Champion and recently capped Scottish International, aye right. A day in the boat with Gerry was sure to provide plenty laughs and maybe a few fish too. The wind was howling but the basin needed a looking at so we set up for a big drift through the basin. Gerry thought it was a nice ripple; the drift took less than half an hour! Gerry managed a fish so at least the boat would not go in blank. We moved round the usual areas dipping into likely spots. On occasion we would even generate a bit of interest. After what could only be described as a grinder we finished up with only four fish in the boat. It was going to be hard going the next day.

The first match day I was drawn with Paul Wright, we have fished together a few times and have always enjoyed the day. Paul like me was under no illusions’ about how tough the fishing was going to be. I spoke briefly with Ian Barr and Rob Edmonds and delivered the news that it was not fishing so well. Ian thanked me for the motivational talk but I am pretty sure I saw his shoulders slump a bit. I do hope they both had a good day. Paul had agreed that big drifts across the basin were our best chance of getting some sport. So ready for a hard days graft we headed out it was bouncing and Gerry Fly Fishinggetting across the waves was a chore. We had not been drifting ten minutes when Paul nailed the first fish of the day what a result, he had not taken the fish out of the net when I hooked and landed my first fish. Bingo, a fish each and we had just started what a great bit of luck. We continued our drift to its conclusion and I managed another before the end. Three fish in the boat on the first drift we were both pretty pleased.

 As the day progressed the sport was excellent and Rutland had seemed to have turned around again. We were getting loads of interest follows, takes and sometimes they would even hang on, for a while that is. They were not so keen to actually get in the net and Paul and I both lost fish at the net snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. As I was netting my forth fish of the day I saw Gerry get his last fish, good angling. I had had the opportunities to be in the same position but just was not getting the rub of the green. Paul was worse off than me and was really unlucky not to get more fish. By the end of the day I managed seven which is becoming an on-going theme lately, Paul had managed two. It had fished much better than we had both anticipated and there was plenty of laughter in the boat mixed in with some tears….lol.
When we returned to the accommodation Ian Pinder offered to give me a run out in his Porche 911. I am not that into cars to be honest but having never been in a Porche I thought it would be a shame to miss the opportunity. Ian reliably informed me that this is the third fastest production car made and I am sure he is right. The car accelerated onto the A1 from the slip road and my head was thrown back into the head rest, it was like being fired out of a cannon. That’s when I got it; I always wondered why folks would pay all that money for a car now I know. What a fantastic experience and I am very grateful to Ian for the tFly Fishingrip. He did offer to let me drive back from Rutland but being unable to afford a new light bulb for it I thought better of it. On the way back my wife Jayne face timed me and she was gutted the 911 is her lottery car….lol, she said she could see the sheer joy on my face. Jayne wasn’t wrong as I had a fixed grin for most of the evening. When we got back Ian snapped a couple of photos for me and I got to park it up. Maybe once the kids have grown and I have sold both kidneys…….

Anyway back to the fishing, I had drawn Gerry for day two from a completely random draw. The wind was even worse today and we both thought more of the same. Once again we were both put out of our misery relatively quickly taking a couple of fish each on our first drift. But as the day went on it was very apparent that it was tougher than the previous day. Not nearly the same number of opportunities and the fish were much harder to take. Again there was a good craic in the boat and as Gerry played a fish out and brought it to the point I thought he had netted it, but no! The fish had fallen off just as Gerry was about to slip the net under it. The fish still a wee bit stunned was still there though. Gerry soon sorted that oot by banging the fish on the head with the outside of the net causing it to wake up and swim away. I said hard lines pal….snigger. Only five minutes later I had hooked a fish and as the net stretched out towards Rainbow Troutthe fast approaching trout it fell off, karma what a bitch….lol.

It was tough going most were struggling; the wind would come up then drop back so there was a fair bit of changing going on. In the end Gerry had managed six and I had netted three hard earned fish. Only a couple of the guys had managed their eight and fair play to them. As ever the organisation was slick, Si Elson completing his last match as secretary and Richard Thorpe as Chairman. They will hand over at the autumn match. Gerry Rattery Is the Army Champion for 2017 and Graeme Ferguson the Associate Champion. Well doe to all those in the prizes this year they were hard earned!    


Deep Buzzer Fly Fishing on Stillwaters

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Fly Fishing BuzzersWith the weather being what it is many fisheries fly fishing sport will be drying up fast! No doubt trout flies will be sifted through by anglers looking for something to work. When it’s as hot as it has been lately, and it has been pure melting we are not alone in our suffering the trout don’t like it much either and will seek out the deeper thermoclines for comfort. As if fly fishing wasn’t difficult enough!

So there are a couple of things you can try get on the fastest sinker you own and stand by for a day of hard work and a sore shoulder. The alternative is much more pleasant, how about a bit of deep buzzer fishing? This can be most effective and I have known guys fish buzzers on a DI7 to great effect. It’s not for me though I would much rather fish on a long midge tip with some special flies to get the depth.

Competition rules state no added weight, but there is an alternative to this, tying up your fly fishing flies on Carp Hooks.Fly Fishing Buzzers

I know some of you have just fell off your chair or spat on the carpet, but buckle up cup cake and get yourself down to the local course fishing shop. I just picked up a packet of ten meat hooks for £1.99. In comparison to a normal buzzer it has the appearance of Godzilla but this is on a size #6.

So break out the fly tying vice, preferably in an air conditioned room and start whittling it might just save your day. Don’t forget plenty fluid and lots of sun screen, unless your Scottish or/and Ginger then you’re going to need a balaclava and a boiler suit!





14-15 Jun Grafham Water (Pro-AM)

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Fly Fishing GrafhamLast year’s match was tough going for me as I recall just about getting over a back injury and more electrical storms than you could shake a stick at. All the boats were pulled of the water by 1500hrs and I had failed to catch a fish. This year though I was able to manage a practice day and Graham Pearson paired me up with Chris Hartley for the day. Chris is a very experienced angler more at home on the rivers of Yorkshire we were going to have plenty to chat about. The weather was stunning, for the beach that is! Light winds blowing towards the north shore and a clear blue sky, not ideal for fishing but it would make for a very nice day afloat.

We started just outside the right hand side of the lodge and decided to take a long drift out into the middle. There have been a lot of fish moving in large pods in the open water and we hoped to just pick up on some of these. We did not have to wait too long before the first fish of the day and as we were still fairly near the lodge I thought it may have been one of the new stocked fish. It was a pleasant surprise to find a full tailed resident fish on the end of my line. It had engulfed a fab and had to be dispatched. The fish had several very small buzzers inside its belly and bits and bobs of other stuff that I could not identify. A good start and Chris was quick into the sport as well catching another cracking fish shortly after. We started to see the very odd fish swimming up the wind and if you could get your flies near them a big bow wave would appear behind the fliesChris Hartley Fly Fishing as you pulled. Lots of plucks and eventually a fish locked up only to shoot towards the sky and spit the hook. We had drifted nearly four to five hundred meters five or six fish to the boat. They had all been in really good shape and fought hard, but it was time to look around.

I was aware that the next day was going to be a lot different with high winds that would undoubtedly make the fishing more difficult… read fu** it right up! So in a bid to make the most of the day we had a drift past the boils the odd fish could be seen in the surface in the wind lanes coming off the back but these largely ignored our offerings. As we drifted down the wind lane I had changed to some hare’s ear variants in a size #16. I rarely go down this small but the fish I had spooned earlier had some very small stuff in it. A fish rose to my left heading and tailing up the wind lane and I managed to get my flies in front of it. The line tightened and we were led on a merry dance until in an effort to keep it from the drogue the tiny hook peeled away and the fish was lost. The day was wearing on a bit and I thought I would take Chris over to Savages for a look see. I mentioned to Chris that it had not been fishing particularly well but it was worth a look as it would provide a bit of shelter from the wind the next day. We had a couple of drifts that produced three or four fish. It was not what I would call on fire but in a pinch it was an area to be kept in the back pocket.

Lindsay Simpson Fly FishingWe decided with only just over an hour to go that we had best have a look at the North Shore just in case the wind was not as bad as forecast. It was starting to get a bit lumpy and before we had gone more than fifty feet the phone went and Graham told us that he was getting off. I had a couple of fish in my bass bag that I wanted to give him so we went back to the boat dock. He told us that he had been getting them on a floater. We did not bother going all the way back to the North shore instead we just had a drift from the harbour to ‘L’ Buoy. I had changed from the midge tip to the floater and the slight difference was remarkable. Chris and I had enjoyed a great days sport but we both knew that the next day would be entirely different.

The Pro – Am is around 40 years old and is organised on behalf of Bob Church by Graham Pearson. Graham taps up a number of anglers from the circuit to fish against the Confederation of English Fly Fishers (EFFA). They had turned up very uniformal in bright red shirts and looked very smart indeed, EFFA fish a lot and have many very good rods in their ranks.  I had drawn Mel Parrot I knew the name from my years fishing the AMFC but had never had the pleasure of his company in a boat. John Gammon had mentioned to me that I should not get him wet as he was not too keen on that. It was with a wry smile on my face that I told him we were going down to the dam. Off course I was only joking I had intended to fish just outside the lodge and that was getting a little shelter and as far as I was aware there were plenty of fish in this area. Two drifts later I was not so sure….lol, it was time to go and find them. We headed over to the mouth of Savages and had a long drift for nothing. The boats could be seen on the North shore and I think the both of us were putting off the inevitable trip to the washing machine. It had to be called though so we headed over for a drift by the tower.

When you are motoring with the wind its tea and crumpets and you get to where you want to go real fast. The problem isMel Parrot Fly Fishing always getting back up the wind, I was head to toe in water proofs I often get the looks from pleasure anglers in the car park….”what’s that bampot doing its boiling and no raining!” As we drifted down we did spot the odd fish being taken and I was lucky enough to pick one up on the hang. It was a start to what was to be a pretty tough day at the office. As I turned to motor back up the drift it crossed my mind that Mel was about to get pretty wet. I was in a benevolent mood though and carefully at low revs made my way back up the wind doing my best to keep my partner dry. Back on the other side the wind had turned slightly and the drifts were quick and fruitless. It was becoming hard work with half the match gone and only one fish between us, Mel and I did a bit of head scratching. We eventually agreed that Savages was as good an option as any with the wind up and down like a yoyo. Our first drift I got a take hooray, The next cast I got a fish as I was playing it I could see other fish in the surface ahead. Not another boat in sight, could this be the turning point? Well for me it was, unfortunately they all seemed to be on my side of the boat and Mel could not buy a take. I had my chances to be finished and even dropped a fish but it was not to be and I finished up on seven. I was pretty pleased with that it had been a tough old day in the wind.

We weighed in and from the chatter at the scales it was pretty clear that the Pros had won the day. Never the less we retired to the Lion in Buckdon for a slap up meal and a bit of banter. After the meal the results were announced and the Pros had indeed won the day with Graham Pearson doing the Captains job and winning the accolade of top rod. Well done to Graham and many thanks to my boat partners on both days Chris and Mel, I trust you are not too traumatised! The Pro – Am is a very friendly affair and I enjoyed it immensely, if you get the opportunity give it a go.

09-10 Draycote Water AMFC Grp 3 Rnd 2

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My record in the AMFC this year has been poor and Ronnie had commented that if I caught a brace this time it would be a 100% improvement on previous outings! Always glad to see the bright side, the weather this week has been a shocker. The All Services match had to be cancelled due to high winds. Although the wind was due to drop a bit when we turned up on the Friday it was still pretty tasty. We had six anglers on the water for practice with Ben Worley coming along to fill in for the absent Steve Lawes. We split the water up and agreed to meet up at 1400hrs for a catch up and see what was what.

I have not fished with Ronnie for a long time his busy job keeps him from getting out as much as when he was serving. A day in the boat with Ronnie always ends up with us laughing our arses off and today was no different. Lots of banter and a few fish to the boat, by the time 1400hrs cane we had maybe a dozen fish from the area we were looking at not too shabby despite the strong wind. The other boys had mixed results and most surprisingly no fish to speak of in Rainbow Corner, usually such a prolific area. The other boys had managed a few over by the Tower and Biggin Bay. We had a chat through various methods and we were all back on the water to go and look at specific areas.

We came of the water at 1700hrs and before departing for accommodation for the evening we headed to the local chippy in Dunchurch. I would not describe it as rank but safe to say it was not very good and I wish we had just gone for a pub lunch. The accommodation was top notch and we all had separate rooms in the same corridor allowing us to chat through the day’s findings and sort our kit out. With the wonders of modern technology, the weather apps were saying a much calmer day awaited us. We had what we thought was a couple of good methods and were fairly happy where to find fish.

We turned up to Draycote after a right good feed in the Whillouby Café, the cornerstone of any day afloat. It was warm and sunny and the wind looked not too bad. It had changed direction slightly and now blew directly into Biggin Bay. I was lucky enough to draw Keith, I mean Neil again! I fished with him at Farmoor and called him by the wrong name for the first two hours. I will be calling him Jonah after this though…read on. Neil graciously allowed me to drive the boat and we set up the kit while chuckling over my inability to remember my arse from my elbow. After I had set up the team gathered for a quick chat to reinforce the team plan for the day. From the top of the hill we could see the white horses of the waves being kicked up by the wind. Although it seemed rather pleasant outside the lodge across the pond was a different story. After the off three of our boats went straight over to Biggin Bay. It didn’t take long to get there as we surfed most of the way on three foot waves. I said to Neil your f***ing jinx… As the boat rolled up and down I was doubting my decision to start on a midge tip. Keeping in touch was not easy, but low and behold after five minutes it all locked up and I had my first fish in the boat. We had another drift but it was impossible to stay in touch with the line and we had to move.

We made the slow progress and the boat was soon full of water. Neil had forgotten his wellies and his feet did not survive contact. Over the other side with the protection offered by the dam wall it was like a different fishery. I even started to see the odd fish rise, Neil and I were soon starting to get some sport. Neil’s fast glass ripped up out the water as a fish slammed into his flies and bolted across the front to the boat, the bend in the rod was short lived as the fish pulled free. We persevered and eventually started to grind a few fish out, it was the most frustrating of fishing days. Lots of fish would follow all the way up to the boat only to turn away at the last minute. There would be juddering takes that would often bend the rod over then just go slack. I was encouraged to see the rest of my team getting in about the action, Mick Sale had gotten off to a flyer and had quickly caught five fish. Everyone else had managed one or two as well and it wasn’t yet mid-day. The wind was supposed to calm down in the afternoon and I was convinced the fishing would become easier. Cue the big buzzer sound, not a hope if anything it picked up even more. Fishing in conditions like this is exhausting and it takes a lot of effort to remain focussed. Neil and I both fished hard and by 1715 we had six a piece. We decided to go and fish outside the boat dock for the last half hour as we were unsure how long it would take to get back through the waves. It was much nicer up this end and I was a bit surprised when my line tightened up and I got a bonus fish to take me to seven. I was thinking that’s all she wrote as I was trying to cast my line failing to notice a fish refusing to let go of the point fly. I tried desperately to tighten up on it but it was too late. The very next cast tired and ready to call it a day the exact same thing had happened what a plonker! As I reeled in and sniped my flies off I noticed that the tippet had wrapped around the gape of the hook preventing the last two fish sticking. A bit annoying but hey ho that’s fishing.

The team had done pretty well and I was fairly confident of being in the mix for the points. The meal in the café was once again Chilli, I am not the biggest fan but this was really good. So, top marks for the scran! As for the league, we managed top spot which puts us in the mix for a chance of promotion. Many thanks to the team for their hard work on the day and to Neil for putting up with me again!      


Rutland Water 30 May

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Normanton ChurchAs a Loch Style competition angler, most of my days afloat are spent practicing for some match or other. You have to turn up find fish then leave them be and go and find some more. Don’t get me wrong I love it or I would not bother doing it. Today though I was out for a pleasure day with Ian Pinder. I had spoken with Ronnie Christie who had been out the week before with another Soldier Palmer, Peter Harrop. They had a challenging day afloat which did not bode well for Ian and I. I caught up with Al Owen who has pretty much lived on Rutland four days a week since the start of the season. His knowledge of Rutland is unparalleled, and I was heartened to hear that the fishing was still going well.

The last time Ian and I fished was spent by buoy 14 and he was keen to have a quick drift there before we had a look around. The conditions were excellent a good breeze with overcast conditions. I had set up with a midge tip and a cast of nymphs, while Ian set up with a 12’ midge tip with similar flies. On drifting by buoy 14 a feisty Rainbow snatched my fly on the lift and that was the start of a most remarkable day afloat I have ever had!

I decided to head out to the boils and have a fish around them and I started to pick up the odd fish here and there on theIan Pinder drift. We had drifted from the boil towards the Normanton bank it took some time but by the time we had reached the bank I had managed five to the boat. As we motored up to start our next drift we saw Al Owen and his two clients fishing the rudder and taking plenty fish. Al shouted over that the best drift was much nearer the dam, we would get there eventually. I was still on the midge tip but I recommended to Ian that he change to a slow intermediate. The change brought instant success and Ian was soon playing his fist fish of the day. This prompted me to change to a fast glass and the fun really began.

There were a couple of boats down beside us and unless I have missed my guess I would say they were a party of Scotsmen down for a jolly it was there dulcet tones that gave them away. One of the boats seemed to be doing rather well the other boat was getting the odd one or two. I won’t bore you with all the details but over the next couple of hours we boated forty fish between us. There were lots of others that were off and on some were lost much closer to the nets. They were in fine fettle and fought hard, many Blue trout were amongst them. As the wind picked up a little we decided to go for a look up the North arm so we made the trip all the way to the top. There were already a couple of boats up here but they were fishing from anchored boats. Not a fan of dropping the chain we had a fruitless drift all the way to Dickenson’s Bay. Once there we drifted from the mouth to the bottom of the bay for not even a nibble. It was after this that we decided to head back to the basin.

Rainbow TroutBack in the basin it took me a little while to get back in touch with the fish, whereas Ian was all over it like a fat kid on chocolate! He was really getting stuck in. I was catching plenty but they were proving rather reluctant to come to the net. For a bit of fun, I said to Ian that every time one of us lost a fish the other would shout W****R! So, if you happened to be fishing today and you heard a couple of numpties shouting profanities please accept my apology. Once back on it I started to get them two at a time much to Ian’s disgust…lol. It had been an absolutely amazing day with over sixty fish to the boat a real beano! Its days like this that make up for all those other days when your scraping around for a take, and I have had a few of those!

Rutland water is having one of the best seasons I can recall in twenty-five years of fishing the venue. Let’s all hope that it lasts, if you can get up there now!


The River Nidd 27 May

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Brown TroutI was up in Leeds visiting my Mum with the kids, she likes to have a bit of time with them without me around barking about manners, behaviour ect ect ect. I am only too happy to oblige and usually end up fishing one of the local rivers. I had made no plans this time though and an offer of some stalking didn’t come off. I had a few options but a quick check on how far I was from Orvis Harrogate showed it was only twenty minutes away. I have known Clark Coleman for a few years and we have enjoyed fishing a few of the rivers up North. It would be rude not to nip into Harrogate and say hello. So, after nearly killing more than one kamikaze cyclist I eventually made it to the Orvis shop. Clark was busy with a customer when I arrived but as soon as he was free we had a quick catch up. He asked where I intended to fish then offered up the day ticket stretch of the river Nidd. A new river to me but I was well up for a new challenge. Clark took the time to explain where I could purchase the £12 day ticket and the best place to start fishing. He also offered a bit of evening sport on The Cod Beck after he had finished work.

The club that owns this stretch of the Nidd is the Nidderdale Angling Club. I bought my ticket from Summerbridge Stores, Summerbridge and the fishing was Upstream of Pateley Bridge, downstream of Pateley Bridge and Dacre Banks. I parked up in a tennis, bowls and cricket complex which seemed rather deserted as I set up my gear. As I started it was a bright sunny day, I was all kitted up just wearing my t-shirt. I was just about to walk off when a niggling doubt made me stick my waterproof jacket into the back pouch of my fishing rig. As I walked along the path I met at least half a dozen people all very friendly and chatty. I miss that living in the south of England if you speak to someone they often look away and keep their heads down. I could glimpse the river through the thick canopy of trees it looked clear enough for a Northern stream and it had bags of character. There were long flat glides coupled with some tumbling runs although quite low it looked in real good nick. I arrived at the sign that marked the bottom of the beat and sat for a while watching the water. As I sat watching several trout rising to an ongoing hatch I felt the odd drop of rain. I unpacked my waterproof jacket and stuck it on, it was a bit warm but at least I would stay dry.

I entered the river as carefully as possible it was like a canal and I did not wish to create a bow wave that can so often kill the sport. I seemed to manage this ok as the fish continued to rise steadily. They did not look very big so I stuck on .08 tippet and a #20 Griffiths Nat. The trout approved and I was soon getting some good sport. After a while though I think they had become a bit wise to me. So I changed to a small Parachute Adams and suspended a Partridge and Orange #16 from the hook bend. It was a winning combination and more fish came to the net. I had lost a number of flies and it occurred to me that I could probably beef up my tippet and still get the fish. The first few casts with the heavier tippet produced nothing and an inkling of doubt was creeping into my head. I needn’t have worried though as after carefully stepping up a few yards I was back in to them. I even had a visitor from a fair to decent Grayling. I have to confess to really enjoying the fishing more than usual, it was very quiet fish were rising up and down the river it was bliss. What’s more I had all the time in the world, that’s when I heard the rumble of thunder and the skies went dark. I looked up expecting to see the ship from Independence Day. Thankfully it was just very dark skies.
I fished on for a bit and the fish still seemed willing, but the first flash of sheet lightning got me winding in my line. I tucked right into the side of the river and waited for the rain to lighten up so I could carry on with my day. It was not to be though, what proceeded to happen was biblical! In the space of about fifteen minutes about a week’s worth of rain and hail stones hit the river. After fifteen minutes, I abandoned all hope and started back to the car. I had a spot of lunch andRiver Nidd the storm seemed to have passed by. I thought to have a quick look at the river but my worst fears were confirmed it was the same river that features in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and my fishing was done.

I contacted Clark who thought that one of his little Becks may be OK for the evening. We parked up by a pub and walked down to the river, fifty pence bet that it was going to be a solid brown colour? Clark took me on and I took his money….lol. Clark treated me to a meal in the pub and we spent the time catching up about his guiding business and life in the Orvis shop. It’s always grand to catch up with fishing buddies and even as we were saying our farewells in the car park we exchanged a few patterns. I will definitely be back to the river Nidd, I only had a glimpse of its potential but there are some grand days to be had there no doubt.  

Cuba March 2017 Guest blogpost from Del Spry

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This was our second trip to Cayo Coco and I felt much more prepared this time as I knew what to expect and what the best tackle to use, so I was really looking forward to getting back out on the flats. After lots of research I believe this is one of the most economic ways of going tropical salt water fly fishing, we booked an all-inclusive holiday through Thomas Cook and stay at the Melia Cayo Coco a lovely hotel on the beach with fantastic food and great service - the staff are always friendly and always happy to help. As soon as I arrived I spoke to the reception who put me in touch with the local fishing guides and arranged some guided days fishing on the flats at Cayo Paradon (approx 30 min drive from the hotel).

Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side the first few days and we had grey skies and strong winds, not ideal for fishing the flats but the weather was due to improve over the next 7 days which would leave plenty of time for fishing, in the mean time it was time to unwind and enjoy some relaxation in the hotel. After a few days, the weather improved slightly and I couldn't wait any longer and decided to walk up to the local flats near the hotel, it takes around 20 mins walk up the beach up to the flats which can produce some good Bonefish if you hit the tide right and great for practicing spotting and casting at spooky Bonefish. After a couple of hours slowly covering the flats I hadn't seen a single fish and started to wonder if I had totally got the tides wrong or if the stormy weather had pushed the fish into the deeper channels, either way it wasn't good. Another fisherman was walking the flats and I had a chat with him he was also struggling and was of the same opinion as me - blame the weather! So, a disappointing first session back on the flats but the weather was improving daily and I had a day booked with Duneski a local guide who is a real Cuban character.

The guides pick you up from the Hotel at 0800 which in Cuban time means around 0830 - 0900, they eventually turn up and we set off to Cayo Paredon, a beautiful part at the northern tip of the Cayos. The weather was good and we were expecting some very high tides which could affect the fishing but the guides were confident we should still catch so we tackled up at the harbour. I set two rods up, a 9ft #9 with a 20lb tippet and a heavy crab type pattern ideal for Permit and large bonefish, I also set up a 9ft #8 with a lighter fly and slightly lighter tippet ideal for fishing the shallow water on the flats. It was fairly early in season and no Tarpon had been caught at this point in the year (Late March) so I didn't bother setting up a heavier rod for any Tarpon we might bump into, this would turn out to be a big mistake!

We set off in the skiff, with a high tide coming in we headed to a point with a deep ocean channel which quickly shallowed up to some vast flats, an ideal place to intercept some Permit. Duneski was confident the Permit would come in on the tide past this point, so we were both watching the water for shadows and movement. We didn't have to wait long before a huge Permit came into casting range, so I cast out a few metres in front on the fish and waited for it to get near then as it approached a long slow draw can sometimes get the fish to take. The Permit had other ideas and are notoriously difficult to catch, this one was no different and simply swan pass my fly as if it wasn't there. We stayed there for another 30mins and had another 3 chances at some Permit but no joy, disappointed we moved off to target some Bonefish. The water was still very cold from the stormy weather hopefully the Bones would be more active.

Cayo Paradon is known for its big Bonefish so we set off in the skiff along a shallow flat and it wasn't long before we saw a big fish right at the limit of my casting range, probably by more luck that skill the fly landed in the right area and I started to pull the fly through the water, the Bonefish soon turned onto my fly started to follow it, pull the fly faster and whack! the fish is on and I am down to my backing in a heartbeat, this is why I came back to Cuba. After three huge runs and my backing being tested three times I got the fish in, a lovely Bonefish approx 6lb, quick photo and back it goes. We continued in the skiff with Duneski well trained eye he was really good at spotting fish and well worth paying the money for a guide. I had a couple more Bonefish and missed a couple much to Duneski horror “How did you not catch that fish, man?”

He spotted a small milky patch of water just off the flats into the deeper channel, this is often made by fish digging out crabs and other crustaceans, cast right into the middle of it and whack another huge Bonefish, again testing my backing a number of times. Another cast into the milky water, resulted in a huge snapper which was really hard fighting, great fun and great eating, this was feeding Duneski’s family tonight! I had lost count on how many fish we had had to the boat, well into double figures and all the fish we had had were big fish. It’s hard work in the heat and casting when the wind is often against you, it’s very tiring, Duneski works you hard as he wants you to catch as many fish as possible and enjoy the day, but the day wasn't done yet. As we were drifting down we spotted some Tarpon into some deeper water, Duneski quickly tied on some leader thicker than my fly line (80lb) onto my #9 rod, I had a small selection of Tarpon flies, Duneski took one look at them and the usual guides sharp intake of breath “these are not normally what we use here” with no other choice its getting tied on. It was a pattern I had tied myself on a Varivas stainless hook, it was a needle fish imitation and I liked the look of it even if Duneski didn’t. A huge Tarpon swam past the skiff and I have to say it was the biggest fish I had ever seen and wondered if the #9 Hardy sintrix would be enough - probably not! Anyways, Duneski had just finished tying up the leader and made a short cast, instantly a Tarpon took the fly and shot off into the air throwing the hook just as quick. We were amongst a shoal of Tarpon, he handed me the rod and I cast towards a fish that had just topped and started stripping after a few strips the line just went solid and shot off, setting the hook is often hit or miss with Tarpon but this time luck was on my side. What followed was approx 40 mins of fighting, tail walking, aching shoulders, adrenaline and nerves. I’ve caught large salmon and trout but nothing comes close to strength of a fish like this. We headed into shallow water to land the fish of a lifetime, Duneski waded out and grabbed the leader and then the fish. Unbelievable, a fish of approx 60lb I was over the moon, we got a few photos and safely released the fish unharmed.

Shaking, sweating and shattered we headed back to the Harbour, I am not sure who was happier Duneski or me, he couldn't wait to tell his fellow guides, I think I was still in shock. What a day, this was my first day of four guided days that I had budgeted for, I couldn't wait for the others if this was anything to go by. 

If you want to do this kind of fishing and enjoy a relaxing holiday Cuba is the place to do it, its reasonably priced and a good balance for the family, hopefully the Americans won’t have to much of impact when they have easier access to Cuba, but who knows. Roll on Cuba 2018.

Farmoor AMFC Grp3 Rnd2 20 May

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I was really looking forward to getting back to Farmoor, after my last visit I was enthused to return. Only three of us were available for practice on the Friday which meant that one of us had to spend the day on our own. David Froggatt took the bullet and I was to share a boat with Mick Sale. Conditions were over cast and it started off with a nice ripple on the water, the odd fish could be seen in the surface. We opted to work our way round the reservoir, starting at number 7. For those that have fished the concrete bowl that is Farmoor you will know that there are numbers painted on the wall all around the water which is handy for reference. We had only been fishing five minutes and we were both into fish. I was fishing a fast glass and Mick was on a midge tip. Two drifts in this area confirmed that there were plenty of fish about. In fact, there seemed to be plenty of fish most places we went. As we moved around the water. I had switched methods several times and every change indicated that the fish were high in the water. I was a little reluctant to try the dries as I knew the wind was going to be up the following day. I thought it best to check downstairs just in case we were missing a trick. First cast produced a feisty trout, two or three casts later another followed but fell off before reaching the boat. We stopped at 1300 for a chat with David, just drifting out towards the middle there were fish moving everywhere. We had enjoyed a great mornings sport, lots of takes and interest made it a very enjoyable session.

In the afternoon, the wind dropped away until it became a flat calm. The fish were still splashing about on the surface and I managed a couple straight lining nymphs. Mick was still getting them pulling on a fast glass. When the water finally turned into a massive mirror I stuck the bung on. In the space of about fifteen minutes I caught one on the bung which straightened out the hook and missed another good offer. The place was alive with fish with no particular method outdoing another. For the last twenty minutes or so of the day I indulged myself with a bit of dry fly sport conditions were perfect for it. There were plenty of fish to target and my first couple of efforts went unanswered. I spotted a fish about thirty feet from the boat and dropped my flies in its path. It was text book the big boil below where the fly was and I gently lifted the rod into a cracking Farmoor trout. I was down to 4lb co-polymer and #16 bobs bit so got the fish onto the reel. The fight took a while but I soon slipped the net under a good 3lb plus fish. A bar of silver with a full tail, typical of the quality fish at Farmoor. It had been my best fish of the day, but it was time to head for home. We were a bit unlucky with the engine though and it gave up the ghost before getting us back to the lodge. No worries Mick is a strapping young lad grab the oars! Only one rollick, bollocks! I tried several times to get the engine going and at one point we made nearly 50m before it died a death. One of the lads from the lodge came out and retrieved us and said that this had happened quite a bit with the new engines.

The weather started off in glorious fashion the wind was rather brisk but we had bright blue skies. The rest of the team were already in the car park when I arrived busying themselves with sorting out their kit. I chatted through what we had found in practice and was unconcerned about catching my eight fish it would just be a case of what method to use. I had drawn Neil Jones from the Royal Navy who was content that I took the engine. The AMFC have gone to a four fish kill with a further four released. I think that this is a good thing, it prevents mass fish kill. I would have preferred to have a pleasant day on the floater or a midge tip but the wind was too high for that to be practical early on. I opted for a fast glass with a couple of blobs, three of the team had followed me around to number 7. After one drift, I knew it had gone a bit Pete Tong. Not a follow nor a take, as I looked around the other boys were very obviously in the same boat. A move up to the top of the wind and it was like a different water the fast glass was quickly replaced with a midge tip. There were no fish showing where the day before there were fish everywhere. After two drifts with not so much as a fish spotted and no rods bending a bit of head scratching had ensued. Had the low-pressure front scuppered the fishing? It was time to go downstairs on went the DI7 and I got a take very deep. Maybe they had gone down a short while later another tentative offer that failed to stick. Just maybe I was onto something though, Neil had changed to his DI5 sweep and he also got a wee nibble.

I had lost sight of the other guys in the team and had decided to move back down to the bottom of the wind. Neil took a fish on our first drift by the inlet and I thought that the day was about to pick up. It did for Neil, every drift produced action for him either a take or a fish on and off. I changed up to the 5 sweep but could not even manage an offer I found it rather frustrating. Neil had bagged three fish and had lost two at the net, I had to do something to try and get back in touch. I stuck on the DI7 and worked it through the water column. Most of Neil’s fish were coming on the hang to the top dropper so I figured the fish were a little deeper. It’s been a long time since I blanked in a match and even though we were only three and half hours in I had a really bad feeling that today was the day! It also looked like Neil was going to hand me my arse to boot, except for his extraordinary bad luck. My perseverance paid off though and despite missing a few takes a stupid trout put me out my misery and locked onto my fly. It was a nice start and I was soon back in the saddle fishing hard. The next drift I got another but it flew into the air discarding the fly as it went. Neil continued to enjoy lots of sport, whereas my short spurt soon dried up.

Back in a flat spin I changed my lines more times than I can recall and tried all my favourite patterns to no avail. The fish would occasionally torture me with a stabbing pluck, but nothing solid. Feeling pretty sorry for myself at this point I was less than over the moon when the skies went black and the heavens opened for the first time. It was biblical and if I was not in a boat already I would have been building one. Neil had killed his four fish and was now on catch and release. He had debarred his flies and it was interesting that he went on to hook and lose another five fish. I have always thought that de-barbed flies were not nearly as effective as manufactured barbless hooks. After the rain a nice ripple appeared on the water and the sun came out for a bit. Almost dry another front was coming in fast and the second dunking was just as bad as the first. Any moral I had left was thoroughly washed away. The rain had subsided but then came the wind and a chill entered my body that I just could not shake.

I have never been so glad to come of the water after a match. More than a little down in the dumps I was heartened to hear that the other boys had managed a good few fish with two bag limits. Perhaps it would not be too bad, all in all we had thirty fish which was pretty decent on what was not the easiest of days. The meal was £10 and you got a fantastic feed for the money and those that could stay didn’t leave hungry. The results were read out and we were beaten into second place by the RAF Old Lags who had managed a total of 32 fish. I have put a great deal of thought into how I fished yesterday and I was well below par and feel as every comp angler that fishes in a team rather disappointed with my own performance. The thing to do was move, but my boat partner was getting sport and it would not have been sporting to take him away. Luckily my good lady made me some chocolate chip shorty and I am feeling much better now….lol. Must do better next time!      


Grafham Water 12 – 14 May (The Sportfish)

click on the images for a better view
After the feast of Rutland and the famine of Bewl who knew what to expect from Grafham Water. Reports over the last few weeks had been favourable with good numbers of fish being caught. Over the winter period anglers were enjoying great sport from the bank. Not only this but the pictures being posted online showed some top quality fish! It was to be a little breezy over the three days but nothing so bad as to stop the show. I was competing with the Soldier Palmers in the Sportfish team event and the team was made up from Paul Calvert (Capt), Jamie Thomas (lives on Grafham), Jimmy Bond (I can’t wait to go to Chew), Del Spry (What do you mean they don’t stock tarpon), Sean Hanlon (gengar, needs to be said with a Scottish accent) and me (fat grumpy jock). Half the team had been out the day before so those that were yet to get onto the water paired up. I was paired up with Paul and we were to start our day in Gaines Cove. Paul assured me that there were plenty fish here but unfortunately all we found was pea soup and a poor deceased Monk Jack that was bobbing about.

The wind was blowing along the dam so we moved closer to that area. Jamie and Del were to start at the tower and do the North side of the Dam as the water on the South bank was poor. As Paul is a left hooker I was on the pointy end and fishing a midge tip around the angle of the boat. Before long I watched the line just twitch slightly and when I lifted the rod I was into the first fish of the day. They came steady after that but the takes were very tentative. Jamie and Del who had abandoned their efforts to fish the other side of the tower were nowhere to be seen when we got to the other side. Paul and I thought it prudent to check the area and it was certainly worthwhile. The fish were heading and tailing up the wind lanes and if you could get your flies to them they were most obliging. We had agreed to meet up at 1300 for lunch at the lodge. I was fairly content that it was fishing pretty well. The other guys had all managed a few fish except Paul who had taken on the Captains job of checking all the other fly lines. The best method seemed to be a midge tip with a fab on the point and some nymphs above it. In the afternoon we wanted to explore the North shore and Paul and I headed over via ‘L’ buoy where we managed another fish. By the time, we got across to Hill farm Del and Jamie were making hay, taking three or four fish to the boat.

The wind was getting a bit tasty and it was time to abandon the midge and get down to some old fashioned pulling. I opted for a DI3 and just a single blob, it worked a treat. Paul who had been very patient all day finally hooked a fish…, allegedly when he got it to the boat it looked like a rainbow trout only much smaller! I scrambled for my camera but was too late as he slipped it back into the water. In his groove now fish were coming fairly steady wherever we went. No point flogging the water any further we decided to call it a day. Two match days to come and they promised to be tough going with a four fish kill then release twelve odds on you were going to be fishing all day.

We were all entered into the Anglers World heat as there were no other boats available to practice for the team event. Not ideal but at least we were getting onto the water. I was fortunate to draw David Holroyd whom I had the pleasure of fishing with at Bewl a couple of years back. If memory serves I was given a very good lesson on dry fly fishing. David is also a keen river angler so we would have plenty to chat about through the day. He was happy for me to take the engine and we were both content that the North shore would be where the day would be best spent. Our plan was simple start at Hill Farm and work our way right. David set up almost exactly the same as me, he had practiced the previous day and we had both agreed that this was the best option wind allowing. A midge tip with four flies, a fab on the point and nymphs up would be our starting point. Only one other boat followed us across to Hill farm so it looked like we would have it to ourselves. The wind was a little cheeky but just about manageable. The other boat contained Jamie and Christian Revelli and I watched them both drop fish on their first drift. David and I both had good pulls but the fish were tight in and we were only getting a couple of casts before we had to move back out. Surprisingly Jamie moved off to the other side of the point allowing us to have a good drift into the bank. We both took a fish each, it was a start. The wind increased in strength though and for me it was time to go to my pulling game, on went the DI3 and a single blob. It was not quick but every now and then I would pick up the odd fish. Moving up the bank getting across fresh water seemed to be the key. David had also switched to pulling as keeping up with the midge tip was becoming increasingly difficult. It was hard going not many fish were being caught around us or by us for that matter. It was time for a pee so I cast my line out and scrambled round for the bailing pot. I got my rod back and ripped all my line back before it reached the boat a fish slammed into the fly. They had dropped down in the water David and I were both sure of it. I changed down to a five but after a quick chat with team mate Sean it was time to get right down. DI8 single booby no messing, I fished it slow getting the fly down as deep as possible and fish started to come. When they stopped coming I simply changed the colour of the fly and this worked well for a couple of hours. I had managed ten fish which was not too bad for the day. The wind had calmed down as the day started to get away from us. David and I both changed back to the midge tips and we had found a small pod of fish tucked right into the bank. It was very specific and if you were ten feet either side of the mark you got nothing. I managed another couple and David had a very credible eight fish. We were both pleased with our efforts on what had been a very difficult day.

A couple of the boys were a little disheartened and I did my best to bolster morale. This was done in true military fashion and mostly involved ripping the piss out of them! Joking aside, though we gleaned quite a bit of information from the day and were all ready for a tough match. The list of teams entered was impressive, in an ever shrinking competition arena you get to know most of the guys on the circuit. I knew it was going to be a big ask to get through in this field, but we were well prepared and would work hard for each other. I spent a little time chatting with Rob Edmonds and Del Spry about taking the family to Cuba for a holiday. They could have both made very good holiday reps because by the time we had finished I was sold! I had drawn one of the RAF Defenders, Chris Peace, we flipped for the engine which I won and opted to take the motor. No change to the plan really start at Hill farm and work right. As we motored across I busied myself with changing my line the wind was up and the midge was not going to cut it. I stuck on a DI5 and got stuck straight into the pulling, unfortunately there was an anchored boat at Hill farm and I couldn’t quite get to where I wanted to be. We moved right seeing a large cohort of boats at pylon point, but they were right out in the open water. Chris and I had both found the fish to be fairly tight in but we had not a fish in the boat and we were nearly two hours in. So out we went to join the happy throng. We could see the odd fish being caught but when we got near the bank I eventually got some sport. I managed to get three fish from this area but it was painstakingly slow. We agreed on a move and while making our way to G buoy and chatting to a few of the boys on the way it was soon very evident that the fishing was as hard as rocking horse shit! There were a few of my team on the G buoy bank and I was soon clued into what was going on. It was here that we were hit with an angry weather front that lasted no more than five minutes. Once it had passed through it was like we had been beamed up and transported to different water. The jackets all came off and the sunscreen went on and so did the midge tip! What small breeze there was, was now in our face. A quick turn of the boat and I was soon into fish four. Chris was having a tough day with only one small pluck for all his hard work, I thought to myself there but the grace of god go I. It was not long before we decided to go back and fish out the rest of our day at pylon point, the wind had gotten up again and regained its vigour. I only managed one more and Chris’s perseverance paid off and he managed to save the blank. When we got in it was hard to ascertain how we had done. Not good enough was the general consensus of opinion and Dave Newing pointed out to me that even their B team had caught more fish than us.  Never mind I said we will see you at the AW Northern final, oh wait no we won’t….PMSL. Credit to the Fishhawks for winning the event in tough conditions against a very strong field of anglers and a very well done to Mark Lamacraft who had managed an amazing 13 fish, good angling. I take a lot of heart from this event the guys worked super hard and everyone brought fish to the scales. Communication was excellent; we did not get the rub of the green and failed to get the all-important runner. Onwards and upwards as they say!     


River Avon West Amesbury 04 May

click on the images for a better view
I was greeted by a fierce downstream wind when I arrived at the fishery, but at least the car park was empty. I have not been getting onto the rivers as much as I would like this is down to a lot of Loch Style fishing and various other commitments. In truth though the last few times I have made the effort the river has had a coloured tinge to it that I am not used to. The fishing has been mediocre at best, that coupled with the fact that I can only squeeze in a few hours here and there has not helped. I had been chatting to Steve Cullen the other day and we were talking about fishing water that you did not fancy in order to improve. There is a lot of merit in that, so I decided to go straight to a part of the river I have not enjoyed much success on. I made the long walk down towards the bottom of the beat with not another soul in sight. The water was heavily coloured and in the deeper pools visibility was hard to gauge. Usually you can see right in and sight fish, this was not going to be possible today though and I would have to rely on the fish rising to give me a clue to their location.

I sat on a bench tackling up my 9’ 6” for #3, I usually fish the #2 here but with the wind I thought it prudent to bring something with a bit of backbone. As I sat one eye on the river there was nothing showing and my heart sank. I began to fish blind putting my fly in likely spots to no avail the water colour was poor and I was convinced this was putting the fish off. I arrived at the area where wading is permitted and as I surveyed the water the tell-tale plop of a small fish could be heard. On closer inspection, a few fish could be seen rising in a back eddy on the other side of the river. I waded across and after several attempts I managed to get my fly on a dead drift right through the fish holding area. A little Grayling came to claim it, only 25cm but I was grateful for its attention. Several more of a similar size followed and my spirits lifted a little. Now where were those Brown trout hiding.

Not more than twenty steps up river there were more fish rising, I thought at first, they were again a shoal of small Grayling. But stopping to watch for a bit I could see at least one Brown, used to the wind I bided my time and waited for the gusts to stop. The cast was good and the Brown rose perfectly taking the small sedge pattern. Only small but perfectly formed wild fish, a smile crept onto my face things were picking up! As I moved carefully upstream listening and watching several more fish came to my net, nothing more than a pound but plenty of them. I had been in the water a while when I realised I was starting to feel the chill on my legs. Time to get out and have a bit of a warm up and a walk further upstream. The sun had come out and it was warming me up a treat, there was a full-on hatch on the go and fish were showing regular. Having had my fill of the smaller fish I was looking for something a bit better so kept my line dry watching as I walked for a decent Brown. My patience was rewarded when a good fish rose head and tail out of the water just opposite where some stairs to help anglers in and out the water were positioned.

I slid into the water downstream of my quarry while doing so my left hand swept through some stinging nettles. This fish better be worth it I thought to myself, I made a few casts in the area where I had seen the fish, nothing doing. The fish failed to show itself again, on a hunch I swapped my dry fly to a small #22 black parachute. My eyes are shot and this took a little longer than I would have liked or even care to admit! Entomology is not really my bag but I can tell the difference between a black fly and a green fly so the smallest black fly in my box seemed appropriate. Eventually though everything was set, first cast the fish came and smashed the fly. It played really nicely and although there was a big kafuffle on the surface the fish pretty much bounced all the way to the waiting net. It was a big fish the biggest I have had to date from the Avon at 2.5lb (est).  I was a little disappointed to find on closer inspection that it was a stocked fish the pectoral fins were a little damaged. I got a few quick snaps and released the fish back to a deep run to the edge of the river.

Feeling rather pleased with my efforts I pushed on upstream fish were rising all over now smashing into the clouds of small black flies hatching off. They were not around for long though as the wind would catch them and they were gone. I persevered with one fish which I thought looked reasonable but after several fly changes I was left scratching my head a bit. Right the smallest thing in my box, #24 it took all my patience and a sit down to thread the tippet through the eye. A further mammoth effort to tie it on and I was ready. The fish duly obliged but it was only a Grayling of around 30cm, ah well they all need love.

I stopped at the car for a quick bite to eat as I looked at my watch my time was running short. If it had not been so good I might have called it a day then and there. I was having fun though and I hot footed it back down to the river for a last hour. As I reached the river there were already three anglers fishing the bit I was going to give a go. I safely negotiated my way past them passing the time of day with my fellow fisherman. My time was short though and I was keen to get a few more casts in. As I made my way upstream I was greeted with the sight of another angler just entering the wading section. Bugger I sat on the one of the many benches scattered up and down the bank. Looking at the river it was alive with small fish rising, it was pretty impressive. There were several rises though that were not small fish and those were the one I was interested in. The Brown trout were up and feeding hard.  I think I spent more time changing through flies that actually fishing but failed to tempt any of the big Brown trout. Only being rewarded by the odd Grayling. My time really had run out though and it was time to head home.

The river to me looks like it is just on the cusp of being back to form. With any luck the colour will drop out of the river soon and we should be able to get back to sight fishing. A great wee session though and hopefully I can get back real soon. Look out for my review coming soon on the WYCHWOOD GEAR TRAP SHORT HAUL.



AMFC Spring Match Bewl 28 – 29 Apr

click on the images for a better view

I have some fond memories of Bewl the place and the people. I have not been for a couple of years now my last trip being to an Autumn AMFC which as I recall was as hard as rocking horse shit! When I arrived at the lodge it looked derelict, luckily a passing gent pointed me to the new fishing lodge down by the new fancy restaurant. Bewl looked stunning, overcast with light winds perfect conditions for fishing. I knew the fishing had been a little tough as the England qualifier the previous Sunday failed to produce even one bag limit. Still maybe it had picked up, after the feast that was Rutland was this to be the famine?

I was fishing with Adam Sinclair on the practice day a new recruit to the world of competition loch style fishing. He had enjoyed great success at Rutland in his first foray into this type of fishing. An experienced river angler he had many transferable skills. I had warned him that this would not be like Rutland and we would have to work fairly tough to get some sport. Undaunted we set sail to hit up some of my favourite drifts. It had been stocked the previous Tuesday so where better to start than canoe club corner. We were three boats and started off together, Adam managed one pull at distance. This should have been our first clue as to how high the fish were in the water. Not much doing in canoe club we headed over to Chingley wood. Adam proceeded to hook and land a fish on the floater again at distance. I could see Jimmy Bond and his partner Gaz take a fish to the boat. Maybe it was not going to be so tough.

A move for us over to Ferry point and Adam caught another fish this time he had switched to straight through nymphs removing all the bright lures from his cast. The fly that scored was a black cruncher. I was still to get a pull so it was time to stop checking the depths and try to get some fish. I had explained to Adam that I thought the fish were supper high in the water and was shortening everything up and switching to a floater. A couple of casts and I got a really good offer, it didn’t stick but I was pleased that my theory was good. The day was wearing on and it was time to nip in and see Dave Prince and Dave Norbury. Prince was a late starter and Norbs had been fishing alone he was finding it hard going like the rest of us. We all agreed that the fish were very high in the water and we should concentrate our efforts to that end. Back out for a few hours I hit up some familiar drifts even picking up the odd fish. The water was in a right state in places looking more akin to pea soup than a healthy environment for trout. Adam suggested that we should go and have a look at the opposite bank. The water colour here was terrible with the green algae only offering about 6” of visibility. I was just about to write it off as a bad job when I was bringing my flies back ready to start the engine a trout came from nowhere chasing after the blob. Let’s give it a couple of casts a fish locked on and was soon in the net another few follows. It was worth exploring further up. We moved up to where another boat was fishing away containing Graham Pearson and Mike Gunnel. They were getting into a few fish as well, it was hard to believe that they would be in this kind of water but there they were.

I was meeting David Froggat at 1700 so went to find the others to let them know to give that area a go. We met David who had travelled down from Northampton to support the Group 3 team. Usually the Spring match team is an easy fill, but not so when it’s on Bewl apparently! Anyway, David many thanks for your support and commitment. I gave David the abridged version of the day and told him to brace for a tough match day. We were staying in an Army reserve centre in Tumbridge it was quite an experience getting there during the rush hour! Adam and I managed to find the place and were soon tucking into some fish and chips for tea. When the guys eventually returned the story of the day was bleak. We all agreed that the fish were in the top couple of feet and that it was going to be a hard day at the office. Paul Calvert was on route from Grafham water where he had been competing in an England qualifier. Forty limits I know where I would rather have been fishing! I gave Paul the short version and I am sure a little part of him died inside.

In the morning, we were up bright and early ready to go, I thought to check that the rest of the boys were up and burst into the adjacent room only to not recognise the face that stared up at me. Whoops, it was early and it took me a moment to register that this was the RAF team who had just got right on it instead of fishing (good drills boys). A bit bleary eyed I eventually recognised Si Gaines, apologising I made a hasty retreat. It occurs to me now that finding the RAF in anything below four-star accommodation is somewhat unheard of, let alone sharing a room on cot beds in a room with no on suite…lol

My day was to be spent in the company of Graham Bodsworth from Invicta A. As Graham approached the boat he was happy enough to give me the engine. After a brief chat, it was obvious to me that we were both under no illusions about the day ahead. Graham had practiced the previous day and like us found it rather hard going. At the off I motored down Bewl Straight where I had most of my success the day before. I noted several of the local guys heading on down towards Tinkers and made a mental note to have a wee look there if it all went tits up! After nearly an hour with no encouragement from the fish it was time for a move. Down to Tinkers then as we moved into the area I noted Adrian Necci coming out and I shouted across to see how he was doing. The international sign for a donut was given and I immediately did the same with the boat spinning it in a circle and heading back up the reservoir. Graham and I both had fish the previous day on Ferry point so we opted to stop there. Some interest and at one point my rod buckled around but my excitement was short lived as it sprung back to a straight line. Encouraged we spent more time here than we should have.

Graham offered up Hook straight as an option he had some action up there the previous day, it sounded worth a punt so we headed up. When we got there a few boats were already up which surprised me a little, however where Graham wanted us to go was free. I got the boat into position and on my second cast as I straightened everything up a big boil behind my top dropper caught my attention. I broke into a fast figure of eight the line tightened up. The previous day the fish had not fought particularly hard despite their impressive size and condition. This one though went like a rocket and I was mightily relieved to get it in the net. Cracker 3lb 14oz it’s easy to remember because it was my last!  What followed was the most frustrating afternoons fishing I have had in a long while. It was nearly half time most people had one or two or were blanking. My partner Graham had only one half of an offer. He spotted one of his team mates as we motored around, he’s done! Really, yes really, we got the winning tactic and enthused we got into the drift, nada, zip not even a sniff. Moral was low it was time to move on.

We got into Seven Pound Creek where I found two of my team mates one had five the other six, here we go then! An hour passed and no luck, I sensed Graham was broken and I know I was but we are both seasoned comp guys and knew even one fish can make a difference. We grafted till the end but ended up with just the one fish to the boat. A tough old day indeed. Many had struggled some had done exceptionally well Paul Calvert had found them a little deeper fishing on a DI5 and managed seven, good angling. I had said to Adam that you learn more from a bad day than a good day and what I learned was this – I should have gone to Rutland!

Fish numbers were low but fish size was impressive. I think it was probably a really fair match. The Soldier Palmers ended in polar opposite ends of the table, the team won group one and we were dead last in group three. A match that I will remember for the change I have seen in Bewl as a fishery. Some of the old faithful are still there and it was grand to see them in such good form. I hope it won’t be so long till our next meeting. Bewl has become an any method fishery, I understand it from a business point of view they need to generate income. Unfortunately, from a loch style perspective it’s a pain in the back side. I don’t think I would choose to go back for a pleasure day any time soon.

Full Results from the Spring AMFC Meeting @ Bewl.


13 – 16 Apr The Kit Kat Cup (and some other mickey mouse event)

click on the images for a better view

Reports of Rutland from the off have been nothing short of extraordinary, the previous weeks Sportsfish team event saw a rod average of 15! I had arranged to practice with Del Spry on the Friday but as luck would have it I managed to secure the Thursday of as well. The weather looked great for the Thursday and Friday but it was to get up a bit over the weekend. I was keen to get up and do a little photography and a bit of buzzer fishing, no one to share a boat with meant I could please myself. So, after taking a few shots of Normanton Church I returned to the lodge to sort out my kit. Sean Hanlon was also taking an extra day with Jim Wright and we chatted while setting up our rods. I only ever set up one rod when sharing a boat but as I was on my tod today both rods were rigged. I set one up with the floater and a bung rig and the other with a midge tip straight through. I wished the guys tight lines and made my way up to the South arm.

I had spoken with a couple of anglers at the lodge and they had suggested that there were some fish to be had up at Gibbets. What I found was I was at the wrong end of the wind and had much difficulty keeping up with my line. It was not supposed to be this windy I cursed under my breath. A couple of drifts and I abandoned the endeavour and made my way across the arm to Old Hall. This appeared much more civilised and the shores were lined with bank anglers, surely a good indicator that there were some trout about. Indeed, there were and the sport with a midge tip and buzzers was outstanding. A good mix of Brown and Rainbow trout. The wind was kind on this side of the arm blowing me gently out at an angle from the bank. As I got out the wind would really pick up and I just tucked back in. Every drift produced sport, Anglian water should be commended the quality of the stocked fish is very good and there were plenty over wintered fish joining in. As I made my way down towards K Buoy the sport was frantic. I thought to myself that I would need to find something really special not to spend my match days up here. I got around the corner to Yellowstone’s and unbelievably it just got better! I had a couple of really nice fish to 4lb in here all just twiddling. Before I knew it was 1400hrs. I went across the arm again into East Creek I thought I would get some shelter for a spot of lunch. I got my bung out while I ate but the fish would not give me peace and I lost half a pork pie over the side trying to stop my rod from being dragged overboard. I did not really want to do the North Arm and Normanton bank as I thought Del might want to look at them the next day. I went over to Carrot Creek for a bit but managed nothing. The shortest of trips into Whitewell and with an increasing wind I thought it was time to go in. On the way back I spotted a boat in Church Bay the angler on the point playing a fish. My interest was piqued however when his pal also hooked into a fish, well it would be rude not to. I stuck on a DI5 and a couple of blobs. An orange blob on the top and a black blob on the point. The wind was pushing through and although the drift was a good distance it was quick. Carnage, that’s the only way to describe it you could not get your flies back without a fish hooking up or a follow or take. Great way to top off a grand day.

The boys had arrived from Scotland a couple of the them a little worse from the journey. Jon Twine looked like a broken man he had done the bulk of the driving. It was really grand to see them all and they had over wintered well. Jock Kettles was in grand form and really looking forward to the Kit Kat Cup. A man on a mission having not enjoyed a brew from it in the last couple of years. We headed off to Weatherspoon’s in Oakham for our evening meal, a top scoff and a pint for under a tenner, you cannae whack it! Our accommodations were a little Spartan but the price was right I had gotten a six-man room but knew nobody wanted to share with me as my reputation as a snorer always precedes me. Del does not mind though being half deaf has its benefits!

The Friday saw the wind get up a little and it was time to get down to business. The floater and midge tip were dispensed with and on went the sinkers and the nasties! Del set up with a long midge tip initially and off we went. Church bay was a little bust with boats so I stuck to the outside and kept an eye on them. I knew Martin and Brad from old and could see them slaying fish at will. Even though I was on the outside of the bay I still managed four fish in about fifteen minutes. Del struggling to get much sport with the buzzers initially he did well to stick to his guns. We kept drifting ignoring the temptation to go into Church Bay. As we drew level with the Church Del finally scored with the buzzers and what a goal it was cracking Brown trout with a huge tail. As we carried on drifting we had both made ten or so casts for nothing and Del turned to me and said “Its gone off”, we both burst into laughter. We arrived at the bush behind the hotel, shootie in bush. The fish here were of a slightly better stamp and it was duly noted. We moved further up all the time looking around to see how others were doing. We had arrived at Fantasy and were about to move up to the North arm when we noticed one of our boats taking fish hard in. Well while we were here….lol.

We arrived in Dickenson’s bay during the match a couple of weeks back this had been full of Brown trout. That has changed though and there was a good mix. We had picked up Dean Rudd who was out on his own and asked if he wanted to move around with us for a bit of company. We worked down the Barnsdale road end and Cardiac Hill all the while taking fish, it was a red-letter day no doubt. Eventually we reached Bellgrano, I hooked into another fish on the top dropper and while it was in the net Del pointed out that there was another on the point. I half expected it to be gone by the time I had returned the first fish as I was using barbless flies. As it was the fish was still attached, I quickly got it to the boat and released it throwing the flies over the edge of the boat only to see the flies shoot away again. Unfortunately I still had one in my hand this was soon quickly imbedded in my index finger….ouch! There was claret everywhere and it took some time to stem the flow of blood, my finger smarting it was time to call it a day. I have fished with Del for years and we have had our share of great fishing days but I think he would agree that this surpassed them all.

Spirits were high around the camp fires most had enjoyed bumper sport and the tales of triumph were being banded around. Off course match day is always a bit different, you can go from hero to zero in a heartbeat a wrong decision on method and area can leave you scratching your head. The problem if you could call it that was there were too many areas to choose from. For me it boiled down to where was the quickest place to get eight fish and the answer was Church Bay. By the time people had travelled to Sykes or Yellowstone I was confident I could be well on my way to finishing. My partner for the day was a grand lad called Ian Pinder, although veteran fly angler he had not fished in competitions. It was the day of the Kit Kat Cup and although its bit of a laugh between Jock and I you can be assured that we both want to win! Ian was a star and gave me full control of the boat, only Del and I ended up initially in Church Bay. I watched Del net his first fish almost first cast, as I struck into my first fish and dragged it un-ceremoniously across the top to my waiting net. It buckled and wriggled free before it reached the waiting net. Oh well never mind as I looked up I watched Del net another. I was getting takes and offers but it took a little bit of refinement to get them to have it. Surprisingly Del decided to move off to shootie in bush I had assumed to tap into the slightly bigger fish. I opted to stay and just try and finish quickly. By the time Del had returned about forty minutes I had managed seven and lost another couple in play. He reported that he could not find the fish we had found the previous day and was still on two. I told him they were still here but the wind ensured you had very little time in the kill zone. Sitting on seven fish I lost another two fish in play and I have to admit to thinking I had blown it. I had not looked at the clock concentrating hard to get finished. The last fish inevitably locked up and when I checked my watch it was 1026hrs not to shabby but could have been better. The wind was pretty horrendous by now and I decided to take Ian to an area where he would be better able to fish effectively. So, it was up to Dickinson’s. It was like a different water Ian was better able to stay in touch with his flies and he was soon in about the fish. Building a steady bag, I was convinced he was going to finish. But after a hatful of opportunity and several returned Brown trout we had run out of time. Seven was a great day and he assured me that he had thoroughly enjoyed himself.

As we arrived back I could see Jock on the bank already changed. It was going to be close and I assumed it would come down to a bit of time bonus. Ian and I went to weigh in Jock hot on my heels he had finished only a short time after me that would make only a little difference so it would be down to the fish weight. My fish were a good average going a little over sixteen pounds. Jock congratulated me and offered his hand, the Kit Kat cup was secured for another year. I could have gone home a happy man but the Army were kindly running a Spring match so I thought I would stay on and have another day out.

The evening was filled by the Federations AGM and afterwards I gave a little introduction to fly tying for those that were interested. A couple of pints in the pub with the boys and I was fit for bed.

The way the boat draw is done for the last day is the guy that come first on the first day fishes with the guy who comes last and so on and so forth. My partner for the day was a Lad called Dave Norbury. He had suffered a bad day the day before and was hopeful of a better day. As we milled around the harbour waiting for the off I was convinced I was just going to drop into the drift I had done the day before. So many boats dropped onto the area I opted to fish the other side of the harbour. Less boats had gone left so off I went as I set the drift and made my first cast I noticed Del coming across as well. He had finished here the previous day and had assured me it was stuffed with fish. As I extended my landing net and picked up my rod four or five long pulls saw the line tighten up into my first fish. It was a cracker, great way to start. But as time ticked on I was not feeling the love, I spoke with Del who had already boated three. I was too deep so up to a three, I also told Dave to stop mucking about with his midge tip and get on a DI3. Almost immediately I was into another good fish. After ten minutes or so though it just did not feel right, Dave had boated his first fish as well to be fair if it had been fishing normally I would have been very pleased. There is nothing normal about the way Rutland is fishing so after ten minutes without a follow nor offer I decided to take us back to Church bay.

I stuck with the DI 3 and was into a fish very quickly, I was still unhappy with the depth though and changed back to the DI5. Explaining to Dave that I thought this would be quicker, he changed to a DI7. I was just saying to Dave how important being organised and having the ability to change quickly can make a huge difference to your day. As I was dishing out all this golden advice my spool spun from my reel hitting the gunnels of the boat and spinning to the depths. I rolly pollied the line as fast as I could but to no avail. All the line, all the backing in the water what a bloody plonker! Aye Dave efficiency that’s what it’s all about!  So I had missed the whole drift, but Dave had managed a few fish and generated a lot of interest. Back around and actually having the flies in the water brought another three fish to the boat. Dave was going great guns also and we were both on seven. One more drift and we were both done great effort. It was only the back of eleven so we decided to head up the arms for a bit of buzzer fishing. We had an hour or so catching fish for fun but there was to be some rain coming in and neither of us fancied a drenching so we headed back in about 1500hrs. Tug and Jock were already in and were to be the winners of the boat pairs competition. We were finishing at 1600 so there was not long to wait until the weigh in. There had been some great performances Mark Rose who had such a hard time the previous week in the Sportsfish finished in less than an hour.

It was pleasing to see most had managed their limits and there had been some amazing fish caught. Notably some pretty impressive Brown trout had been taken. I have not got the full results but the highlights, Jock Kettles ever consistent won the boat pairs both days. Adam Sinclair new to competition loch style fishing won the Serving members trophy. I was lucky enough to be the top rod over the two days and won the associate trophy. More importantly though the Kit Kat Cup is back home and ready for Tuesday morning! If you have the opportunity to go fishing go to Rutland now, it can’t last. Many thanks to all my boat partners over the last few days and the organisers without whose efforts there would be not a match at all.             


AWAI Rutland Water 03 Apr

click on the images for a better view

I have reined in my competition fishing quite a bit the last few years but the AW is a bit special and I was very pleased to be selected to fish for the Soldier Palmers in this the first round. An early heat promises of plenty sport were greatly anticipated. We were going mob handed to this event and the Federation decided to enter two teams and it was decided that we would work together and pool our shared knowledge. The weather looked pretty reasonable for the time of year so everything was set and it couldn’t hurt that it was only two weeks away from the Kit Kat cup!

We were taking two days practice to help build a rounded picture of how the water was fishing. The first day I was to fish with Jamie Nairn who I have had the pleasure of fishing with in the past. We had been given the task of checking out the main basin, my personnel favourite! After a couple of hours of not so much sport and being caught by a squall from out of the blue we were a little discouraged with our lot. That’s team fishing though you get a job and you have to crack on. The other boat that was helping us in the basin that contained Peter Harrop and Ben Worley had fared much better. After we watched them desperately pushing themselves of the dam (lol) we managed a quick chat. They had done pretty well which was good to hear, we managed a few more drifts before realising we were late for lunch and the team half time talk. With only six or seven fish to the boat Jamie and I were not exactly cock a hoop. When we eventually got to our flotilla the numbers that were being banded around of fish catches seemed more than a little exaggerated. They must have been using secret flies or fancy new lines surely, but no. Using the same or nearly the same shit as us they were catching fish for fun. As it was quite a late lunch there were only a couple of fishing hours left and Jamie and I were given free rein to go and catch some fish. We decided to head up the North as far as Barnsdale Road end then just bounce down the bank. This is what Rutland should be like this time of year, brilliant! At one point once you cast out you couldn’t get your flies back without a hungry trout engulfing them. Wading through Brown trout fun though it was not going to cut it on match day though. Motoring back in at least Jamie and I had gotten a shot of moral down our throats and were keen to get back on it the next day.

Practice day two saw me in the boat with my old mucker Del Spry more used to fishing for exotic fish abroad of late this must have seemed a bit ho hum. We were asked to go check some of the far reaches of the water and were both pleasantly surprised to find a rather large head of fish. They were a mixed bunch with Brown trout and Rainbows all in the mix. It was however uncanny that Del would catch only Rainbows and I could only get hold of the Brown Trout! We spent the morning doing the various tasks we had been given by the Captain dropping into various areas some good some not so much. Then it was back to the dock for some lunch and a quick catch up with the rest of the troops. The afternoon saw the wind decline to a near flat calm and we were given weapon’s free to go where we liked. We had both rigged up floaters and teams of buzzers and what an afternoon we had. The takes were just superb, the fish were slamming the flies so hard that I marvelled why I had not been snapped off more.  It would have been tempting to stay out and enjoy the fishing more but we both knew that we would be wanting these fish the next day.

The match day weather forecast looked good light winds to start but get a bit windier later. There were some top teams on show and when signing in I recognised many of the anglers on the sheet. It was going to be a tall order getting through this level of competition our old rivals the Fishhawks were there, like us with two teams entered. Also, Ian Barr’s Team Costa had brought along another team to support the heat. I have seen competition participation dwindle over the years for one reason or another so supporting the likes of the AW has become even more important.

I had drawn a fellow Scot, Murray Hunter from the Costa B Team, he had drawn the engine so I waited in the pointy end for him to arrive. Before I could clap eyes on him though our team capt wanted a last-minute chat before going out and after that Jon Marshall was ready to give the match brief. The rules were to be a four fish kill which could include one Brown trout. After this ten, Rainbows could be caught and released on barbless or de-barbed hooks. A fourteen-fish bag was a big target but the fishery was in top form so well achievable.  As we motored out into the harbour Murray and I discussed where we were going to fish, Murray was keen to head down the Normanton bank but I knew options down there would be limited and we finally agreed at a trip up the North arm. A lot of boats headed in this direction and I was more than a little surprised when almost all of them kept going and left Ernies point. This had been a real hot spot the previous two days and it would be rude not to give it some attention. I had started off on a pulling rig but as the wind was so low it was very quickly replaced with a floater with four buzzers. The change brought almost instant success. The first fish was quickly to the boat and I watched Si Gaines boating fish just a little down from me. We went back around and again the line was ripped from my hand as I yanked line into the bottom of the boat the fish was having none of it and bolted for the middle of the basin. I exclaimed that I must have a double shooter (two fish on the same cast) in the hope Murray would help out if I was fortunate enough to get the fish back to the boat. It was so strong that it towed the boat around on the drogue. After what seemed like a long time I eventually got the fish to the net it was a cracker, a Rainbow of what I thought was around the 4lb mark.

A great start to the day more fish followed unfortunately some fell off but still forty-five minutes in and sitting on three fish, not too bad. So, I thought until Del motored by me indicating that he had managed six! I also caught up with Jamie who was on eight. A change was in order back to the pulling and the change brought the required result and I was getting back on track. As the day moved on I had built a steady bag and by about 1240 I was sitting well poised on eight fish. I looked to my left and saw Jamie Thomas still getting into the fish. It was only going to be a matter of time, the follows and takes were still coming but I failed to convert my chances. Almost an hour later I looked across to watch Jamie net his last fish, good angling. I confirmed that he had not changed his method and went around again. I worked the area for longer than I should have and by the time it had dawned on me to move we were the only boat left. A schoolboy error on my part, as the time grew short I was wracking my brains what to do next! We had a trip across to the other bank in a bid to fish buzzers but the wind had us every which way. Desperation was setting in I had been stuck on eight fish for about three hours. A move down the bank and I met up with our team Captain Sean Hanlon. He was in the same boat as me but he did give me the good news that one of our comrades Ronnie Christie had also finished. This spurred me on and after a couple of attempted drifts of the bank that were doomed due to the wind we moved to the front of the Peninsular for the last hour. I had gotten into a bit of a state with my cast and tied on my spare trace. Change of trace change of luck I took two fish really quickly but time was running out. I was back in the groove now though and I brought fish to the boat regularly but they failed to take the flies the ones that did were on only for a moment before coming off. Time was up for Murray and I and we called it a day and started to head back to the dock. In the normal run of things, I would have been overjoyed with ten fish but I knew I had dropped the ball and hope that my team mates had done enough to pick up the slack. When I got back we had managed four limits a ten and eleven a great effort. It was going to be close though as a few teams had managed the full house. As the results were announced I was mighty relieved that my errors had not punished the team. We had scraped in in 5th spot, so onto the Northern final!
Rutland can be a cruel mistress sometimes but it had been extraordinarily kind to us the last three days are some of the most memorable fishing I have had at Rutland at this time of year. Let’s hope it’s the herald to a fantastic season ahead.



22 & 25 Mar Army Angling Federation (Game)

Recruitment days at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Trout Fishing Club (RMASFC)

(Please click on the images for a better view)
In an ever-shrinking Army it is becoming increasingly difficult to get soldiers released for sport. Getting fresh blood into the Federation has been given top priority and was taken on as a job by Ben Worley. Events like this have been held on a much smaller scale but have been limited in numbers. This is a combination of geographical location as well as expense and availability of mentors. Getting the word out to the field Army has been difficult. Ben utilised the skills of Jamie Nairn who using the chain of command drummed up a great deal of interest. Ben approached the Officer Commanding the RMASFC Mark Harrison to see if it was going to be viable to use the club waters for the event. After some consultation with the head bailiff Danny Lee it was agreed that this would be allowed.

Not only was permission given to use the club waters but H and Danny were prepared to give up their own time to help out. As well as this other members of the club were sought out to act as mentors on both days. As the Federation could only provide a handful of experienced anglers this was a real boon allowing us to almost double our numbers for both days. There was so much interest in the end people had to be diverted onto the Spring meeting. So, for the meagre fee of £15 soldiers and officers could come along for the day get some tuition a spot of lunch and learn all about the Federation and its many benefits. Also, Adam Sinclair came along to inform anglers about the Services Dry Fly water. This stretch of the river Avon is chalk stream fishing imagined and was home to the most famous of river keepers Frank Sawyer. There were several river anglers present who found the presentation most useful.

As I work in the grounds of the Academy it was easy to come along and lend a hand. The photos in this blog entry were all taken on the Saturday. The reason for this was the Wednesday conditions could not have been worse.  A really cold snap the night before ensured a pretty chilly start to the day. To compound the matter the rain was unrelenting and came down fairly heavy most of the day. I was to spend my day on the main lake in the boats. The lake itself is not particularly deep so a floating line would suffice. I had paired up with a young lad from Northern Ireland who had been a lifelong fisherman. I was really pleased that he caught a fish fairly quickly as it was a pretty miserable day to be on the water. Not many around us were catching fish which is a little frustrating as I know how well this water can fish. Lunch could not come quick enough and a hot brew was most definitely welcome. There was a good spread laid on for the boys and the table was cleared by the end. The guys then had a presentation about Services Dry Fly and the Army Angling Federation. It was during the presentation that we sat inside looking out at what was the nicest part of the day, typical. The afternoon started well I was out with a soldier from the famous forty twa! Of course, I was well out by the time he had joined but we knew some of the same arseholes…lol. The rain came again in the afternoon intent on getting us completely soaked. Still despite the conditions the lake was kind and gave up another fish, rightly so the boy had come all the way from Inverness after all! Despite the weather there were plenty of smiling faces at the end of the day most had managed at least one fish and that seemed to have made it all worthwhile.

Talk about chalk and cheese, what a difference a couple of days can make. The Saturday dawned with stunning blue skies reaching out across the Academy. What a fantastic back drop for a day’s fishing. I was supposed to be walking round taking photos but we were one short for the boats so found myself back in the driving seat. This day saw many more experienced anglers that have been serving but were unaware of the Federation until this event. I shared a boat with a fairly experienced chap who cast a lovely line and couldn’t half catch fish. I hope that he will return to the Spring meeting and swell our ranks. At lunch, it was much the same detail as the previous day a lot more smiley faces about mind it’s amazing what a bit of sunshine will do for your day. In the afternoon, I was freed up to wander for a bit with the camera and got the chance to speak with a few of the anglers. The even had been very well received by all accounts with several commenting on the very informative presentations at lunch time. Time will tell on how effective the events have been but to have gotten so much interest I can only hope it bodes well for the future of fly fishing in the Army.

The Federation owes H and Danny a great debt of thanks for all their assistance over both days. They were kind enough to also provide a number of mentors from their club that made the event possible. Thanks also to the members of the Federation that made the effort to travel in some cases some considerable distance.  Of course, many thanks to those anglers that attended either of the days, with guys travelling from as far afield as Inverness there are sure to be more events of this ilk in the future.  

14 Mar A farewell to Grayling Wherewell

(Please click on the images for a better view)
I have not gotten to the river as much as I would have liked this year. This time of year is always a bit hit or miss, more miss than hit so far! I had hoped for a day out with Adam Stafford from Wet Your Knot. Adan has a busy day job as well as administering the WYK Facebook page so a bit calendar wrestling saw us agree on the last day of the Grayling season. There are not that many venues available for day tickets so a welcome return to an old stomping ground was on the cards. Although I have not fished here for some time I know the venue really well. I used to fish here every other week for in the Grayling season. After a couple of lack lustre visits to the river Avon I was keen to shake the cobwebs of and go and catch a hat full of fish.

I also wanted to use the opportunity to do a little product testing. I had been given the range of Hunts Original Products to try, you can find my findings and conclusion in the new part of the website here. Rather unfortunately Adam was to be delayed for a few hours and would not manage to get along until lunch time. I got there bright and early and spent a bit of time in the hut with Robbie and Bill. Robbie was giving me all the latest gossip and we all spent half an hour putting the world to rights. Keen to get on though I was soon tackling up, a quick look at the river showed the water level to be good if a little murky. I opted for a Duo rig with a Parachute Adams and a small herl nymph about 2’ of the hook bend. I always drop into the weir to just net a couple of fish to get into the swing of it. Today was no different except the fish part that is! Not so much as nudge it looked good but there were no signs of Grayling. Flies were changed heads were scratched to no avail, a good half hour for nothing.

It was time for a move to another of my favoured spots. A bit more head scratching and changing of flies and an hour in not a scrap! Another angler was moving upstream and I asked how he was getting on. He had managed one sprat but declared that it was hard going, no shit! A move to Greg’s stream that always has fish in. I started in an area that has always produced for me and was relieved when the Adams dipped and I lifted into my first fish. As the fish tore off upstream though my heart sank this was no Grayling. To add insult to injury the fish didn’t stop and took my nymph with him. It’s at this point it dawned on me that it had been over a year since I last fished here and the river may have changed in character. Areas that had in the past were no longer producing it was time to adopt a new approach and approach the river like I had never fished it.

So, I wandered the banks looking for likely water that Grayling may inhabit. Still on Greg’s stream I moved up and found a likely looking run, a slow meandering stretch that I often find Grayling favour. I generally pick the sweet spot out, then fish everything before it in case I get a bonus fish but time was wearing on and I was staring the big donut in the face. I cast straight to the prime spot of the run and was immediately rewarded. At first I thought it was another Brownie but my fears were alieved when I spotted the huge dorsal fin of a decent Grayling. Luckily, although it scraped like a Trojan it came straight down the river to my waiting net. To be fair it did not look in too good a nick, and seemed very dark and a little war torn.

A couple of small fish started to come but not in great numbers, but hey at least they were coming. I moved back to the lodge area to greet Adam on his arrival and while there fished just in front of the hut. This was to provide the most consistent sport of the day for me and I had three fish on the bounce to the Adams. I discarded the nymph in order to fish a straight dry but the takes just dried up, without the nymph I did not even get fish to come and look despite several changes. I decided a bite to eat before Adam arrived then we could go at fresh in the afternoon.

Adam arrived and got his stuff together, we opted to walk down to the bottom of the beat and then work our way back up towards the hut. As we walked down shooting the breeze we talked all things fishy and the London Fly Fishing Fair, Adam had gone on the Friday and like me was very impressed. I started right at the bridge and fished on my knees to several good Grayling. It was fairly frustrating regardless of my many offerings and different presentations the fish seemed not to be interested. Eventually I slipped into the river and started to fish upstream spooking the fish I had failed to catch, not my finest hour! The Brown trout were not shy though and a beast of a trout had me chasing it round the river. Thankfully no one was watching because it looked like an end sequence to the Benny Hill show. Eventually I managed to get the fish in the net and then safely back in the water.

We fished hard all the way up throughout the afternoon picking up the odd fish between us. I have known Wherewell to fish tough on the very odd occasion, but generally the fishing is really good. It seemed my run of bad luck was continuing. We met other anglers on our travels, heads held low some reported that they had not even managed one Grayling. Their day only saved by some sporting Brownies. I couldn’t point to why it was so tough the weather was OK as was the water level and the clarity though not crystal clear like it can be was not bad. I will have to chalk it up to the barometric pressure, yes that’s it, the pressure was all wrong….lol.

We finished up our day above the bridge by the hut. After taking one on the Adams and spotting the odd fishing coming up I again discarded the nymph. I could see nothing coming off and there seemed to be nothing on the water itself. Hey Ho, I tried everything from very small to stupidly big not even an offer. My back was broken, my moral low it was time to call it a day. I had just about scraped double figures not the bumper session I had hoped for from eight hours fishing but it was great to get a catch up with Adam. We will get them next time pal.



11 Mar London Fly Fishing Fair Review

(Please click on the images for a better view)

This was an inaugural event held at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London. I had stopped going to shows and fairs a number of years ago mostly due to ticket prices and geographical location. The ticket price for this show was just £15 so I thought it would be worth a punt. An early start but no accommodation costs made it a no brainer, I had to give up a day at Chessington though PMSL!

I had checked out the list of exhibitors’ online and was a little disappointed that some of the big hitters in the industry had decided not to put in an appearance. I have to say though on entering the venue the layout was just perfect. There was easy parking and I got the car right in the hall itself, joking aside there were a number of options for getting to the venue and those driving had the opportunity to pay for the parking on the Fair’s website. The Angel Underground station was only about three hundred yards away so access was good.  

The hall had high ceilings making it seem very spacious a really good choice for having a show such as this. As I came in through the door I was very impressed with the huge screen that was set up with various rotating images. This area was to be used for talks and slideshows by the various destination fishing companies present. I had gotten to the venue as the doors opened as I was keen to catch the first presentation about Fishing in Iceland by Fish Partner. I found it very difficult to hear what the chap was saying due the noise from the activities on the upper levels, but the images of Iceland had me hook line and sinker! A trip there in the next few years is high on my priority list.

On the left-hand side as you entered the building was the refreshments area and in the morning, you could grab a bite to eat and at lunchtime there was a bar if you fancied wetting your whistle. Also in this area was the Bentley parked up next to a much more practical looking Land Rover. I have to say the Bentley made me chuckle when I think of the fly tying kit in the boot and the cream leather seats, you can just imagine climbing in with your waders and muddy wader boots to move up the beat a little….NOT!

I ventured up to the second floor where the bulk of the show was located, it looked great with a casting pool in the centre and the various stands arranged around in two tiers. I thought to move round in a clockwise direction so the first port of call was the fly tiers. It was still fairly early and most were chatting amongst themselves. I did come across Mickal Zapal from Poland. He is one of my favourite tier’s and I always look forward to seeing his work on Facebook. It was really great to meet him in person and he even tied me a lovely Sedge pattern which I will undoubtedly steal! As I moved up the various exhibitors I came across young Ben Beckworth working away at a nymph box, a very impressive young man and I am sure he will be one to watch in the future if he decides to go down the competition route. I really enjoy fly tying and it was great to see the work of others at close quarters.

In my element, I moved round the various stalls stopping to chat when something caught my eye. Without exception, all the exhibitors took time to chat to you and were very friendly and helpful. I can’t mention everyone but here are a few that gave up their time to chat to me throughout the day. In no particular order, Stephen Parkes (Atomsix), Maria Gonzalez (Mayfly Art), Cameron Craigs (Albury Estate Fisheries), Tom Hunt (Hunts Original), Wayne Mcgee (Alaska Trophy Adventures), Ben Bangham (Costa), Toby Merigan (Funky Fly Tying) and a special mention to Hywel Morgan who gave me some great pointers for Iceland.

Well let’s get down to it, would I go again? Absolutely I had a blast right up to the point where Dave Murray and I went to the pub to watch the rugby the day went down like Sanchez in the penalty box after that.


  • Easy venue to reach
  • Reasonably priced entry
  • Well thought through layout
  • Great selection of Fly Fishing content


  • Price of food was outrageous £12.50 for a burger, coke and about six chips. OK it was wild boar but for that kind of dosh I would expect the breast meat from a Dodo!
  • Having to leave early to watch the rugby, would have been a good idea to utilize the large screen. The bar would have done a bomb!
  • Scotland getting humped by England, nuff said!

It really was a great success I can see this becoming one of the biggest show events of the calendar. For the first one they did a super job and I hope to return next year.



Guest Blog Del Spry - Fishing in Mendoza - Argentina

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I was in Argentina climbing Aconcagua, it would be rude not to try and get any fishing in, we were very lucky with the weather and got the mountain climbed fairly quickly so that meant a few days R+R in Mendoza. Mendoza is a large city set in the eastern plains at foot of the Andes mountains, famous for its Malbec wine and olive oil. Most, if not all of the rivers that I had seen up to now had been un-fishable dirty glacial melt so it was essential to try and find a guide. Straight to the Orvis shop in Mendoza to make some enquiries, the guy behind the counter was really helpful and offered to take us out to a remote ranch the following day. ‘Polo’ the guide explained that it was a small mountain stream with wild Rainbows and Brooke trout, in good numbers, set in a beautiful location in the Andes 2500m above sea level, sounds perfect. Polo had previously been a full time guide in Patagonia and has just finished making a fishing series for ESPN so we were in very good hands and couldn't wait to get up to the stream.

It was a early pick up from the hotel and we soon found ourselves back up in the mountains winding our way up a dirt track towards the ranch, the track seemed to go on forever but eventually arrived at the ranch and met the Gaucho who informed us he would have food and wine waiting whenever we finished fishing, the day was getting better and better. We rigged up a couple of rods, I opted for the #1 handmade bamboo rod and John had a full flex #4 rod we both tied on a huge foam dry fly as instructed by Polo. John is a International Mountain Guide who helped us all up to the summit of Aconcagua but a total beginner to fly fishing, although a lot of experience fishing for carp back in the UK he always wanted to try his hand at fly fishing - the perfect place for it. The plan was simple, we fish upstream taking it in turns pool by pool and work our way up until the heat of the day either puts us off or the fish off. With huge condors circling above, we set off and I saw the stream for the first time, my heart sank, it was tiny and I mean tiny, you could easy step over it and thought to myself there is no way there are any fish in that tiny stream and thought the tourist trap had been set! Following the footpath, slightly disheartened, we moved up and Polo pointed into a pool ‘look, big rainbow’ I looked down into the pool to see huge rainbow trout sat at the back of a crystal clear tumbling pool lazily picking nymphs off. Amazed, is an understatement! The size of the fish compared to the size of the river was unbelievable, now I believed Polo, I was exited to get fishing.

We carried on upstream as Polo said that the fish will be bigger in the middle stretch of the stream, up we went and we found a nice looking pool, getting down low so that we didn't spook the fish we all peered into the pool and saw a nice looking Brooke trout. After a quick demo from Polo and a quick practice, it was time for John to catch his first trout on the fly. Getting into the correct position is very important, taking your time so that the fish don't see you and getting into a comfortable position before you make the all important first cast. As the stream is so small you don't need much fly line out, 18 inches is ideal, and its more of a flick than a cast but still very difficult due to target area being so small. John flicked the fly out and it landed perfectly, the Brooke couldn't the resist what was on offer and John hooked into the fish. What a start, fly fishing for less than 10 minutes and he's playing his first trout. A beautifully marked Brooke trout, a fantastic start. A quick photo and a very short walk to the next pool, Polo had a excellent eye for spotting fish and had already spotted two good sized fish in the pool before I had even caught him up, so down on my belt buckle I got in position, watching the fish I flicked the huge fly into the small pool and instantly hooked into a lovely Brooke trout, what a start, a nice fish each and the pressure was off.

We worked our way up the pools both of us having action in every pool, weather it be a fish, a quick smash at the fly or a fish turning away at the last second it was the most enjoyable fishing I had ever experienced and the amount of fish in the tiny stream was unbelievable. The technique was quite difficult to master, after the flick you had to hold the leader off the water so the fish did not spook, harder than is sounds with a stiff breeze and small stream with natural vegetation on the banks, but soon got the hang of it. John and I both loosing good sized fish (estimated around 2lb) we continued to catch fish and miss plenty.

Polo has also wrote a book on fly fishing and explained he wrote one chapter based on the ‘first cast’ and the importance of the first cast being correct, your best chance. As the morning progressed this could not of been more true, every pool we fished, if the first cast was not right it would spook the fish and your second cast would be useless and just a waste of time with the fish moving off station into the faster water or simply just ignoring what was on offer. Very interesting and educational as it rings so true back in UK. Another interesting observation was how far a fish would swim off its lie to take the fly, sometimes well over a metre, sometimes they would swim from under the cover of banks to take the fly. Fantastic to watch.

I lost count of how many fish and chances we both had, but it was a lot, this tiny stream was in great condition. Polo turned over a few stones to show us how they are all sustained, the stones were covered in huge caddis and hundreds of other nymphs which explains how there can be so many fish in such a small stream. With the sun beating down on us and fish moving into the more shaded and oxygenated water it was almost time to call it a day the last pool of the day, a quick flick of the fly and I was playing a lovely wild rainbow of 1 1/2lb on light tackle it was great fun the fish going up and down the stream giving me the run around. Eventually succumbed to the net, this fish was destined for the pot, what a way to end the day. We took a slow walk back to the ranch where the Gaucho had prepared lunch, steak, chicken, local sausages and the freshest rainbow trout ever all washed down with the local Malbec wine. What a fantastic day, the hardest part was explaining to John that unfortunately this is not my normal days fly fishing but an introduction both of us would never forget.



05 Feb Farmoor Reservoir

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A short notice trip to Farmoor, I got an invite on Wednesday from Steve Cullen to go fishing on Sunday. After some negotiations with the long haired General it was on. I had never been to Farmoor before even though it is only just over an hour from my home. The venue is not going to win any prizes for the prettiest fishery in the country. It’s essentially a concrete bowl filled with water, so what’s the attraction? The bank fishing is supposed to be superb and the quality of fish are reputed to be very good. Anyway, what’s the worst that could happen a day of freezing cold wind and a bit of banter with Steve. Although the blog is little populated for this year I have had a few trips to the river Avon but they have proved so uneventful I could not muster the enthusiasm to record them.

I was to meet Steve at 1000hrs but traffic was so light I was well early. I spent a little time looking around, lots of sailors and anglers about. I watched a couple of the bank anglers catching fish they seemed to be fishing in pairs and when one would catch the other would slide down the side of the dam and net the fish, teamwork in action! Steve soon arrived and informed me that I would not need much a reel, rod, DI8 and a box of boobies. We squared up the tickets and got into one of the boats that Steve had booked up. The fishery has a few boats but not many and I would advise that if you’re going to pay a visit and hope to fish from a boat you best book. The setup was simple enough two boobies on a long leader cast out the back of the boat pay out a little more line then hang on. There was a wee bit more to it than that but essentially that was it. It made sense to me it was Baltic the water was freezing the fish would be on the deck.
There was action from the off really and after I struck at my first couple of offers to no avail Steve counselled that you had to just let it tighten up. Fishing with heavy gear it’s hard to appreciate how good these fish are and as I got the first fish to the boat only around two and half pounds I was struck by the quality. The fish was a bar of silver more akin to one of the Grafham fish that you get out in the middle mid-season. The tail was perfect and big; the fish was long and lean and we were off the mark. The first fish had taken my top dropper which was a small booby blob it went on to catch several more fish, one for the back pocket. I was experimenting with some new patterns and was very pleased with the results. The fish were coming steady with lots of takes and interest, everywhere bar one drift that Steve took us we were rewarded with some sport. The day had started pretty mild but as the wind picked up it cut through us like a sharp knife despite the numerous layers we were wearing. It’s funny though the cold does not seem to bother me when the fish are coming thick and fast.

I had thought we were doing OK but Steve informed me that this was a pretty slow day. If this was slow I can’t wait to get back when its picked up a bit! The general stamp of fish were excellent hard fighting silver torpedoes. We had made our way around the bowl and arrived at the causeway just as a large group of bank anglers were packing up. As we were drifting up I tightened into another fish as it neared the boat it was clear that it was a decent fish. After a dogged fight from the fish I eventually coaxed it into the waiting net. While all this was going on Steve had also hooked a cracking fish and had played it to the boat. After quickly releasing his fish Steve did the honours with the camera and I was fairly sure that this was going to be the fish of the day a solid three and a half pounds with a rudder for a tail.

After re-drifting the same area for not so much as a knock it was time to move around so we made our way a little further round the bowl. It was a lot more comfortable here, at the top of the wind and the cold was a little less biting. This was the area we found the fish in numbers and although the stamp was a little smaller the fish still fought like stink. I don’t recall now which drift it was but we were catching plenty when I hooked into a fish that came straight to the surface and started to fight in the top layers of the water. Steve could see it better than I and exclaimed it was a good fish. To be honest it did not feel particularly big but I gave it the respect due a decent fish and played it out sensibly. I was so pleased I did, once the fish was in the net it was very obvious that the hook hold was a tenuous one it was only very lightly hooked and as I reached to retrieve the fly it parted company with the fish. It was an absolute cracking fish and exactly what Farmoor is famous for. A quick photo before being safely released it had made my day.

We continued to do the same drifts and you could almost predict when you were going to get a fish or a bit of interest. We had located two bands of fish which gave us both plenty of sport. The sailing boats were very friendly some coming so close that we could have exchanged numbers! To be fair though there was no harsh exchange of words as can occur at some other venues and a few were downright pleasant asking how our fishing was going. I had really enjoyed the day and with twenty-five fish to the boat in a little under six hours we had made the best of it. The cold had taken its toll on me though and I was completely frozen to the core. Lesson learned more layers for the next trip and there will definitely be one. Forget the scenery go for the fish and you won’t be disappointed!  



14 Jan Manningford Winter Bank Comp

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Welcome to 2017, this is the first entry of the New Year. Many will have already been out a few times already this year alas for me there has only been one very short visit to the river Avon. I saw this match pop up on my FB feed and thought it would be a great way to kick the season off properly. I am not very experienced when it comes to bank fishing, much preferring large reservoirs or running water. I have fished the River Avon at Manningford though and it is a very picturesque fishery which is kept in top nick by the keeper Malcolm Hunt. They have a very comfortable lodge which is a decent size with facilities to have a seat and hot drink, essential on those cold winter days.

I was sure I would know a few of the boys attending as it was there were not many faces that were unfamiliar to me. As well as this there were another four Soldier Palmers to keep me company. It was really good to catch up with many of the lads from Chew, I was surprised that it was only one hour fifteen to the fishery about the same for me. The boys were in fine fettle and there were lots of catching up with old friends and chatter about what we had been up to. Hot drinks and bacon butties were on the go courtesy of Adam Sinclair who was along to help out Ben and Malcolm for the day.

I asked about the rules which were pretty straight forward one fly barbless or de-barbed. You drew a peg at the start and every forty-five minutes a car horn would toot and you would move clockwise five pegs, simple. I had drawn peg eighteen which was at the top corner of the fishery. There were thirty-six anglers in total which made the pegs a little on the tight side. I had Dave Drake to my right and he was still setting up when the car horn beeped to start the match. I had opted for a floater and a Daphnia blob to start an un tested fly but what better place to give it a go. As I made my first cast one of the anglers to my left was already playing a fish. As I watched my own line tightened up and I was into the first fish of the day. After an initial flurry of a few fish being caught it went eerily quiet. With the water being thrashed to a foam by six of us in a rather tight corner it was not surprising that the trout had donned their hard hats and had hunkered down. Forty-five minutes goes fast when your fishing and in no time at all it was time to move. A few anglers had already made an early move and were keen to get cracking. The next peg (23) was pretty tight but very sociable. The crack was grand but the fishing was hard going and myself and both anglers either side moved to our third peg with only a couple of tugs to show for our efforts.

The next peg was much of the same I had switched to a fast sinker and a trusted Candy booby. We all looked on with envious eyes watching anglers on the other side of the lake having a field day. Ben was popping around asking how folks were doing and we spent five minutes chatting away. I managed a spritely trout right at the end of a retrieve but that was my only one from this peg. Another move down saw us getting a bit nearer the lodge and a few anglers up on my left-hand side started to get into some action. This was the last session before lunch and I feared it may have been another blank one. Fortunately, the booby done the job and spared my blushes. As the horn honked I think we were all ready for a bite to eat. There was a large pot of chilli on the go and it was most welcome and very good to boot. It was very obvious from the lunch time chatter that the other side of the fishery had fished its head off. The best fish thus far was into double figures with many others in the seven to nine-pound bracket, a real credit to the fishery. Ben Worley had chapped an 8lb fish on the head as one of the other guys had wanted it for the table. This was to come back and haunt him a bit later.

The afternoons three sessions kicked of 1330 and my neighbour to the left was into action almost immediately. Dave to my right was also soon off the mark and eventually I managed one too. This was more like it, not as productive as the morning session but none the less a lot more sport than the previous sessions. The penultimate peg was my best of the day, I had watched the boy on the right of me take several fish on the bung so thought best to change. I fished a yellow blob about two and a half feet under the bung and was getting the fish by launching it as far as I could out into the lake. Fish came steady after that but they were difficult to keep hold of at that distance. Great fun though and the guys to my right and left were all getting plenty sport. My last peg of the day looked OK but I knew it would be tough to get anything from it as it had now been fished all day. Half way through the session and still on the bung I cast out into the lake. I was toying with the idea of going back to the sinker and had put the rod down to get my line out. Having retrieved another Candy and a new piece of tippet from my waist coat I was in the middle of connecting the fly to the tippet when my reel screeched for my attention. Then ensued a comical scene with me not wanting to lose my last candy and new tippet and a feisty Rainbow running me ragged all over the lake. I eventually managed to net the fish and the angler to my left came and helped me sort my life out.

As the session was coming to an end Malcolm the fishery manager came over for a chat and gave me a little insight into the fishery. He was disappointed that the water clarity was not its usual crystal clear due to some heavy rain. To be fair it had still fished its socks off though. He took me over to the river to point out some pretty impressive Grayling and I made a mental note to come back soon and have a crack at them. The last toot came across the lake to signify the end of the match. I was much relieved as my back was killing me, I tootled back to the lodge with Dave Drake and we both agreed it had been a really good day. Back at the lodge I learned that Ben Worley had returned a 12lb Brown trout as he had already knocked one on the head it had to go back. No good deed goes unpunished as they say, still he got a nice picture of it and I am sure the thought of it will last long in his memory. Ben featured in the final results with Chew regular Mark Miles winning the match and Ben by the narrowest of margins in second place, Les Cooke was third. Well done to all those who attended and made it such a great day.

A really enjoyable day at a great venue, good food, great company and a few fish what more could you ask for.