Grafham Water (The Sportfish) 12 – 14 May 2017

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.

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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…..lol, 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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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!