Monday, 28 April 2008

Fair Weather Fishing?!

The variety of venues we fish and conditions we experience while fishing them is what keeps us going back for more. Imagine a virtual world where we could pick the conditions and tie on the perfect fly that always catches? It would be like something out of a horror story. In fact it reminds me of a story.

An angler woke up one morning to the perfect day and headed off to his favourite river. There he found the fish to be rising and not another angler in sight. Tackling up hastily he was soon in the water and on his very first cast caught a fish, the most perfect Wild Brown he had ever seen. Fly dried and leader straightened he made another cast, a fish rose and he hooked it. The feeling of joy was immense and at that moment the angler felt as if he was in heaven. After dozens more casts all resulting in a fish no matter if the leader was tangled or fly badly presented the angler realised that actually he was in hell. Imagine fishing with no anticipation, expectation or ............. rain!

Yesterday Jon Hettle and I converged on the banks of Blagdon Lake, one of the most beautiful and special places to enjoy a days Trout fishing in the UK. Tackled up and quietly making our way across to Butcombe Bay under the power of an electric engine the air was filled with anticipation. Just soft shell fleeces were needed to keep us warm and as we began fishing we frequently punctuated each conversation with a remark about how warm and pleasant the day was. The fishing was slow but we had enough action to keep us interested and knew that Top End was producing well, but as there was an England eliminator and an armada of boats in the area we looked elsewhere for sport. However a couple of hours in we finally decided to join the crowd based on lots of rumours that the sport had been prolific in this area. So we set off.

Arriving for our first drift Jon promptly hooked his first ever reservoir Brown and shortly afterwards he had a Rainbow follow suit. Taken on static Diawl Bachs coupled to an 18ft leader this is wonderful fishing , just waiting for the line to snap tight and the fish to tear off on a turbo charged run. Happy Days!

That was until we spied a rather large cloud on the horizon that introduced itself to us via an 180 degree wind shift and a barrage of rain!

I don't think I have ever seen conditions change so quickly. Compare the weather in Jons grip and grin shot to the rather different scene below! We continued to catch slowly but had to alter drifts regularly and found the fish picked out size 14 Diawl Bachs dressed plainly rather than more gaudy size 10 versions. During the torrential down pours we were very happy to be dressed from top top toe in Greys GRXi Waterproofs which proved to be as reliable as ever.

A busy man Jon had to head off by 7pm to sort out a presentation for work. This was a shame because suddenly the rain stopped and I was treated to a stunning scene as the sun lowered. Many said that working as a guide would mean that I would not want to fish. Nothing could be further from the truth! I could feel Home Bay calling and heading back out with a team consisting of Diawl Bachs and Crunchers I took 3 fish in quick succession. I only wish there had been more daylight, I could have stayed for hours.

It was interesting to chat with some of the England lads who had been fishing their eliminator. They found that anything from static to steadily retrieved nymphs picked up fish. Some had sworn by 14s, others had taken good bags on 10s. What was definitely consistent throughout their reports was that you needed to be at the Top End in the morning before the weather turned. To show how prolific the fishery is (and experienced these England guys are), 16 limits consisting of 8 fish came to the scales! I must admit that the buzz of competition in the car park that morning brought back memories of the seasons when I have competed in these events and so in 2009 I am going to make some time and get back into it. Some hate competition and I respect their opinion of course but in fact if it were not for the innovations, tactics and techniques that have been drawn from the competition scene over the years fly fishing would not have advanced into the sport that it is today.

Today I have been guiding local angling junkie David Garth. David only took to the sport during a one day course with me in Feb but since then I have noticed that twinkle in his eye that says he has succumbed to the power and passion of fluff chucking! Check out this picture and you can see that this man does not let an April hale storm get in his way, even on the river. His reward for this perseverance and determination coming in the form of 3 nice post lunch Browns.

As ever I am having a ball guiding and could keep tapping the keyboard but I have an impending trip with Henry Gilbey to organise and tomorrow will be keeping up the tradition of fishing with my mate Mike Boniface to celebrate his birthday. We will be on a river or lake somewhere, the problem in the West Country is where do we go, there are so many places! That's a nice problem to have!

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