Wader Care – 5 Winter Storage Tips

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I am sure we are all guilty of not caring for our fishing tackle in the correct way! In winter we tend to forget about our fishing equipment and throw our stuff in a shed or garage only to dig them out again next spring and find they let us down on the first trip.

Not the way to look after your waders!

Not the way to look after your waders!

Waders in particular are an essential piece of gear that need a bit of care and respect when being stored in the off season. These wader care storage tips will help you remain leak free for next seasons opener!

1. Make sure they are clean and dry  – Before storage make sure they are bone dry. Any moisture encourages mildew, which can affect the membranes breathability and cause them to leak. Not to mention cause an unpleasant smell and appearance. Brush or scrub any dirt off before stowing away, as again this can encourage mold and bacterial growth.

Here’s what Tom Bekkeli, Simms Wader customer service manager at flyfishing Europe has to say about mildew:

”Mildew will cause the glue on seam tape to disintegrate, this will lead to the seam tape coming off and cause leaks. Mildew can also cause the fabric to delaminate, again this will lead to leaks.The materials will simply break down when attacked by mildew.”

2. Do not tightly fold or crease
– Waders do not like this, long term folding can cause crush or fold leaks. Resist the temptation to stuff them into a box or cupboard out of the way. A wader treated like this wont last long.

3. Do not hang them up by the boots – We have seen this with boot foot waders many times. All winter they have been hung up by their boots. The weight of the wader has caused the boot rubber to stretch, and then perish over just a few months in storage causing them to leak on the first trip of spring.

4. Keep away from the ground – Do not allow waders to contact the ground in storage. Rodents like to make a nest in waders, with feet being a favourite! If they can reach them, they may decided to gnaw a little nest for themselves at your expense.

5. Do not hang by the straps – This will stretch the braces potentially ruining the elastic. It will also put a strain on seams if the wader is hanging on it’s own weight for months on end. The answer? Gently drape them on something – a clothes rail is just perfect.

Waders leaking and beyond repair? It might be time to consider a new pair. Check out our fly fishing wader range here.

Fish That Wander

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Unexpected visitors have been visiting British waters. Ice age monsters and travellers from the tropics are among the recent catches from amazed anglers.

We’ve been finding out what happens when anglers come face to face with rare or exotic fish. Check out these tales of fish that wandered – and got lost.

Brilliant billfish

dead swordfish on beach

A Welsh whopper
Image source: Glaucus.org.uk

In 2009 a dead Broad-billed Swordfish was hauled in at Barry Island beach after a fin was spotted poking out the water. But a massive swordfish isn’t the only aquatic monster to have appeared on Welsh beaches in recent years. History teacher John’s early morning stroll along a Welsh beach was interrupted when his dog discovered an Atlantic blue marlin weighing a whopping 200 pounds. John recalls:

I should have stood there with a fishing rod and blagged it as the biggest fish caught in Fresh East this century and had a photo taken – I would have been pinched by all the local fishing clubs!

Is global warming the cause? Doug Herdson of the National Marine aquarium in Plymouth reckons the jury’s out, as the marlin could have been caught by the strong currents of the Gulf Stream:

Unusual big-game fish have been visiting Britain on and off for the past century… if the seas do continue to get gradually warmer, then more billfish may venture up to the Bay of Biscay and further afield and we’ll see numbers of visiting fish, rather than just the odd straggler.

The Welsh coast is a long way from home for both Marlin and Swordfish who normally live in in the warm waters of the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean.

Amazed by a Mola Mola

The mola mola is the heaviest of all bony fish species. Also known as the ocean sunfish, it’s about the size of a dustbin lid. Some impressively clear footage of a mola mola was taken this summer by diver, Ian Hope-Inglis, from Devon. He spotted the fish on a reef as it was being cleaned by a group of smaller fish:

We were diving not far from the harbour entrance at the Mewstone when my diving buddy gestured for me to come and see something – I thought it would be a lobster. I turned around and the fish was there; I have rarely seen the fish in a book let alone in real life.

Ian’s close encounter with the fish is a rare occurrence, as any disturbance normally sends them swimming away at top speed. Wildlife Trust blogger, Joan Edwards, wasn’t quite as fortunate as Ian when she first encountered a mola mola while diving off the Plymouth breakwater 20 years ago:

We didn’t have digital cameras then and, by the time I had got my light meter sorted, it had vanished off into the gloom.

In the winter of 2015, several sunfish were washed up onto Norfolk and Lincolnshire beaches. It’s likely that they, too had followed the Gulf Stream, feeding on swarms of jellyfish.

Unlucky lamprey landing

mouth of lamprey fish

This prehistoric horror has razor sharp teeth
Image source: Sean McSeveny

Fishing Tails blogger, Sean McSeveny, was salmon fishing on the river Frome when he hooked into something weightier than the brown trout he’d caught earlier:

The fish headed upstream, taking line from my reel. It didn’t take me long to get it under control and heading back towards me. It was at this stage that I thought I may have hooked an eel, then as it got closer I found to my horror that it was a Lamprey.

This eel-like creature has a circular mouth packed with razor sharp teeth, and can grow to over a metre in length. Sean continues:

I shouted David to come over as I landed it. To say that neither of us were eager to handle it was an understatement. Even more so when I was taking a picture of it, and it rolled over to reveal the most terrifying set of razor sharp teeth you could imagine.

Once a favoured Viking meal, the lamprey predates the dinosaurs by over 200 million years. Cleaner waters and the removal of barriers to their spawning migrations mean that this rare fish is making a return to the UK.

Pink Salmon Surprise

head of pink salmon

Look out for those teeth
Image source: Spey fishery board

The Environment agency need your help! Have you spotted any pink salmon, otherwise known as Oncorhynchus gorbuscha? This species isn’t native, as it’s typically found in the North Pacific basin and surrounding areas. But in August 2015, two anglers caught a number of these fish in North East England. One was also spied in Scotland’s River Spey, where Brian Shaw of the Spey Fishery Board saw the salmon first hand:

The fish weighed 2.5lb, typical of this small species of salmon. The distinctive spots on the tail aid identification. This looks to be a female as the males develop a distinctive hump on the back at spawning time. It is spawning season now for pink salmon and judging by the colouration it looks to be quite mature.

tail of pink salmon

Distinctive spotty tail
Image source: Spey Fishery Board

If you’re unsure about identifying this fish, look out for its spotty tail and impressive mouthful of teeth. And if you come across one, contact the EA’s Richard Jenkins on 0800 807060: with a date, location and if possible a photograph, which would really help us identify them and build up a picture of where they are.

Poisonous Puffer Fish

dead puffer fish on beach

Puffer fish – unpuffed
Image source: Liam Faisey

Richard Fabbri from Weymouth Watersports was on his daily beachcombing trip when he came across an oceanic puffer fish on Chesil Beach:

I saw this weird fish and initially I thought it could be a cuttlefish because of the strange shape and size. But as I got nearer I had a rough idea that it looked more like a pufferfish, so I took a few photos and took it down to the Chesil Beach Centre to their wildlife experts there.

Pufferfish only make very occasional visits to the south-west coast of England in late summer, but Cornish angler Liam Faisey suggests that this could be changing:

The oceanic pufferfish is a very rare visitor to UK waters, preferring warmer waters, with only a small number having ever been recorded before. It appears that the warmer summer and subsequent higher water temperatures has brought them into UK waters.

Pufferfish usually inhabit the tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, and can grow up to 61cm. They’re famed for their ability to inflate themselves with water or air to keep predators at bay. As an added deterrent, they covered in tiny spines which lodge in other animals’ throats if they try to eat the fish. This explains why only expert chefs are able to cook them, as they have to remove the poisonous parts of the flesh with extreme care, to avoid contaminating the rest.

Tropical Atlantic Tripletail

Dead Tripletail fish

Did this tripletail travel via the Gulf Stream?
Image source: Museum of Wales

In 2006, an Atlantic Tripletail (Lobotes surinamensis) was caught in a fisherman’s net in the Bristol Channel. As the fisherman didn’t recognize the 60cm specimen, he took it to the Museum of Wales for identification. Research fellow, Graham Oliver, who works for the museum says:

We know that these fish like muddy estuaries, which may be part of the reason it was in the Bristol Channel. They are semi-migratory, often associating themselves with floating debris, and it is possible it travelled here via the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.

Tripletails usually live in tropical and subtropical waters, and this fish was another first for UK waters.

Almaco Jack aperitif

fisherman with almaco jack fish

Scott and his Almaco Jack
Image source: Glaucus.org.uk

It’s tricky to identify juvenile Almaco Jacks, and fisherman Mark Cook found that out the hard way. When he landed an electric blue Jack, he figured he’d just about hit lunchtime. He’d already gutted and filleted the fish when a local expert pointed out that he was about to cook an extremely rare catch! Scott Shepherd wasn’t so hasty (or hungry) when he caught an Almaco Jack off North Devon, his weighed in at 1 lb 14 oz and was returned to sea.

Almaco Jacks are normally found in the balmy waters of the Caribbean but between July and September 2007, six were found along the south and west coasts of Britain, doubling the number of sightings since the first in 1984. Could the sightings of these fish be related to climate change? Lucy Brzoska, writing at the Natural history of Britain website, reports that there’s speculation as to whether there’s a colony becoming established in the Bristol Channel.

What’s the cause?

fish and chips on the beach

Have native fish had their chips?
Image source: Shutterstock

Why are we finding so many non native species in our waters? The general consensus is that climate change is to blame. As the air temperature rises, the ocean absorbs some of this heat and becomes warmer. Robert McSweeney of Carbon Brief notes:

North sea temperatures have risen by 1.3C over the last 30 years and are predicted to rise by a further 1.8C over the next 50 years.

The increase in sea temperature may be attracting Mediterranean and tropical species to our shores, but it also forces cold-loving species further north. The plankton that young cod rely on prefer cool water, so as the sea warms up they head north. The problem with this is that the young cod won’t follow them because the water in the north is too deep. This has led to a decline in cod population.

With chip shop favourites becoming scarcer, we’ll need to develop a taste for hake, gurnard, mullet, and the other warm water lovers coming our way. Professor Stephen Simpson of Exeter University, quoted in the Guardian, said in 2014 that these are the fish in our waters today, and to prevent us from having to import huge amounts of fish, we should be eating them. Anyone for John Dory and chips?

If you have any out of place fish stories, head over to our Facebook page and share your experiences.

Fly Fishing for Grayling – Tackle and Tactics

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The trout river season is now over, but for fly anglers looking to extend their sport on flowing water then grayling fishing really comes into it’s own at this time of year!

This Fishtec blog article explores the fly fishing tackle and tactics you need to pursue graying on the fly this autumn and winter.

Winter graylingHow grayling behave

Catching grayling can be a fairly straightforward process, provided you fish in the correct way and understand their behavior. Grayling, unlike trout are much less skittish and you can often get quite near to them whilst wading, provided you are fairly stealthy. They also have a tendency to shoal up tightly, especially in colder water temperatures. So if you catch one grayling, keep on fishing in the same spot, there are sure to be more there. Grayling love to hug the bottom tightly, something to consider when presenting your flies.

A Welsh river grayling     A plump Welsh river grayling.

A Welsh river grayling.

Location, location, location..

It pays to look for grayling in riffles, runs, pool heads and tail outs, with a depth of typically 1 to 4 feet. Grayling seem to prefer areas like these. They are seldom found in really deep water, and often in surprising shallow spots that can be easily passed by. Basically look for where water is broken and not that deep – it is in seams and creases you are most likely to find them.

You can sometimes find grayling in deeper pool bodies and slack water, but usually this is much more common in the warmer months and early autumn, where the fish tend to be far more spread out than mid-Winter.

Autumn really is a special time of year to spend a few hours in search of grayling

Autumn really is a special time of year to spend a few hours in search of grayling.

Short Line Nymphing

The principle winter method used for targeting graying is short line nymphing. This method allows heavy nymphs to be presented on or near the river bed, in the graylings preferred taking zone.

When using this method no real fly casting is actually employed – in fact the weight of the flies help the ‘cast’ go out and turnover. The technique is to flick a team of heavily weighted nymphs across and slightly upstream, often not more than a rod length or two away.

A standard fly line can be used, however it wont be as anywhere near effective as using a monofilament French leader, or the purpose designed Airflo SLN euro line. These are both more sensitive and easier to use cast with ultra heavy flies; being much thinner in diameter, drag is reduced and line control improved immensely.

Once a ‘cast’ is made (typically from 2 to 6 meters) the flies are allowed to settle to the river bed and then the drift is tracked through in a nice arc with the rod held high, followed by a lift at the final position almost directly down stream.

The short line nymphing technique in action.

The short line nymphing technique in action.

Line control and a drag free drift are key, so ensure you track through and keep in contact with the flies. Takes can come at any time, but more so on the final lift. The indicator or junction between the tippet material and leader is watched closely for any hesitation or movement.

In the case of the Airflo SLN line the orange tip and non-stretch core really help you spot and connect to hesitant strikes in an instant. You can make an indicator out of a 6 inch piece of coloured mono easily enough for use with a French leader.

A grayling caught short line nymphing

A grayling caught short line nymphing.

Rod choice

To facilitate short line nymphing a long soft actioned fly fishing rod is ideal – for example the 10 foot #3 weight Greys Streamflex GR70, or the Airflo Streamtec 10′ #3/4. Reel choice is not so important, but look to balance the length of your rod in order to reduce arm fatigue  – you may be making hundreds of short flicks each session!

Although not essential, an Airflo castaid is a handy addition when grayling fishing – it not only helps combat arm tiredness and prevents your wrist aching the day after, it also improves accuracy and power of your delivery significantly by stopping your wrist breaking.

Tippet material

For your leader don’t make the mistake of going too light. When fishing heavy weight nymphs in winter it’s better to have abrasion resistance so you don’t loose your flies on the bottom. Our choice is the Airflo G5 fluorcarbon in 5.5lb or G3 in 6lb. Both are supple enough to give your flies natural movement but also have a low diameter and reliable knot strength.

If you are not hooking and bumping the bottom occasionally then you are simply not fishing deep enough; for this reason carry a hook sharpener with you, as a blunted fly is useless.

Grayling flies

In regards to the flies fishing a team of two or three works best – usually a heavier jig pattern with a tungsten bead on the point, and a lighter more imitative pattern on the dropper. We stock some ideal smaller more imitative grayling fly patterns from Fulling mill, which are simply ideal for your droppers.

For real bottom dredging flies, it is often better to tie these yourself, to ensure they have enough weigh to get down in strong flows. The Fulling Mill barbless jig and czech nymph hooks combined with funky fly tying tungsten beads are a great match. Wrap the fly body in glister dubbing and finish with a wire rib and you will have a fly will catch grayling all year long.

Some grayling fly tying essentials

Some grayling fly tying essentials.

Experiment with bead size and colour combinations – generally pink, red and peacock black are the most lethal colours for grayling. Don’t forget to add red tags to some of your bugs, as this can sometimes make all the difference.

A well stocked fly box full of grayling patterns for different flows

An Airflo slim jim fly box with grayling patterns.

Make sure your fly box is well stocked with nymphs with varying bead heads for different flow regimes. In regards to fly weight here’s a tip which many anglers over look – take some coarse fishing split shots with you. You can then quickly adjust your weight, depth, and presentation by simply pinching a shot on your line.

Fishing with strike Indicators

Another grayling nymphing method is using a strike indicator, with your flies suspended beneath. Attach an indicator above your flies, at a position approximately the depth of the water you are fishing. Cast slightly upstream and dead drift down and past you – throwing some slack into the line to avoid drag. You can carry the drift on downstream if necessary with a shake of the rod to let line out.

This method is most effective on deep gutters, long glides, flats and deeper pools. With an indicator we usually fish a two fly rig, with a heavy bug to act as an anchor with a dropper a foot above. Any dip or hesitation on your drift strike!

A bung like the Air-Lok is simply perfect for long line drifting – it’s ease of attachment and adjustment on the leader make it a winner. It’s also ultra buoyant so it will suspend the heaviest of bugs without going under. The Fulling Mill  fish pimp indicator is another one to try.

The video below shows the use of an Airlock Strike indicator, notice how quick and easy it is to attach. In this case it is simply added onto a french leader.

In this second video on a far larger river an indicator was attached to an Airflo SLN line and drifted across and down at range. Some of the takes were coming at over 25 yards downriver, in water to deep to wade.

The Dry Fly and Duo

The third method is the dry fly/duo combination – a great option for searching water, especially with milder weather or with surface insect activity. It’s not usually a first line approach, but it’s well worth taking suitable flies with you a you may come across some brief winter surface activity in the mid-day slot.

Copper johns - an ideal grayling fly for fishing the duo

Copper johns – an ideal grayling fly for fishing the duo.

Simply use a Kilnkhammer special or similar buoyant dry fly with a trailing nymph tied to the hook bend – a copper john is our favourite trailing fly, but any reasonably small nymph will do. Tippet length from hook bend to nymph is typically 18 to 24 inches depending on river depth. For the leader material use a tapered leader and co-polymer, rather than fluorocarbon.

A lovely autumn grayling.

A scale perfect autumn grayling taken on the duo.

Sometimes the grayling can switch onto an upwing fly hatch, so you can snip off the trailing nymph and fish just the dry fly. Surface action doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does, it’s probably the best graying fishing experience out there – nothing beats a grayling nailing a dry fly in the middle of a freezing cold January day.

Fishtec’s Grayling fishing tackle check list:

  • Breathable waders.
  • Thermal underwear suit.
  • Wading boots with felt soles and studs.
  • Warm head and neck wear.
  • Long, Slower action fly rod e.g 10 #3/4
  • Fly reel to balance rod.
  • Line suitable for short line nymphing – e.g French leader, SLN Euro, or shooting head running line.
  • Standard fly line on spare spool for dry fly/duo.
  • Selection of nymphs tied with various tungsten bead heads.
  • Strong enough tippet material for winter flows and snags.
  • Hook sharpener.
  • Set of strike indicators – Airlock or Fish pimps.
  • Split shot.
  • Waterproof phone case.

    Two grayling tackle 'must haves' wader studs and thermal suit.

    Two grayling tackle ‘must haves’ wader studs and thermal suit.


10 Stillwater Pike Bank Fishing Tips

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As the autumn begins and temperatures drop, many anglers turn their attention to pike fishing, particularity on stillwaters. This blog post by Ceri Thomas reveals 10 essential stillwater pike fishing tips that will help you catch more pike off the bank this winter.

To catch a true specimen sized pike, you often have to fish a decent sized water to find them – places such as Chew valley lake, Llandegfedd, Pitsford, Blithfield etc and of course numerous glacial waters in The Lake District, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

Pike fishing can be superb at this time of year on such large sheets of water but also extremely challenging, especially if you have to fish from the bank. To help improve your pike catch rates over the autumn and winter period, follow these 10 stillwater pike bank fishing tips to enhance your success.

Pike bank fishing on a large stillwater

Pike bank fishing on a large stillwater.

1. Keep mobile. It’s a catch 22 – do you stay put, or move if no runs are forthcoming? Sit it out or find fish? Personally I take the latter option every time. The more water you cover, the more chances of a feeding pike seeing your bait. If you have had no runs in an hour, up sticks. Carry your gear a few hundred yards down the bank and recast. Repeat every hour until you find action.

Being mobile can really pay off - a change of swim can produce instant results

Being mobile can really pay off – a change of swim can produce instant results.
(Image: Leighton Ryan)

2. Don’t ignore the margins. We become so obsessed with casting the baits out to the maximum range possible and bait boating to hundreds of yards that we forget about what is going on under our noses. Always try a bait in the margin, just off the first drop off. Pike are not always found at range, even on vast sheets of water. By all means, fish one rod at range, but keep your other bait closer in to start off – you might be surprised!

3. Make an extra effort to fish at dawn and dusk. Pike like both periods due to the cover it gives them. Turing up early can really be the difference between success and failure, the crack of dawn is a prime feeding period, as is sunset. On some pressured venues pike feed in the dark on discards when most anglers have gone home, so it pays to stay on into darkness a few hours if fishery rules permit.

Worth getting up early for - a 30lb pike at the crack of dawn!

Worth getting up early for – a 30lb pike at the crack of dawn!

4. Use fresh bait. Bait can be expensive, but if you could catch a 20lb plus fish each session I bet you wouldn’t mind paying just a few pounds more each trip! Look to change your bait every hour. Re-casting and exposure to the water quickly leaches out the oils and flavour that attract pike. Washed out baits simply aren’t as appealing. Resist the temptation to re-freeze baits and then use them multiple times. Old freezer burned bait lacks flavour, scent, and texture – these bad re-frozen baits simply don’t help you catch fish. From experience a fresh blast frozen bait will always outfish a re-used one. The bottom line is don’t skimp on bait, and you will be rewarded.

5. Don’t be afraid to try a lure. Off the bank deadbaiting is a very popular option, but don’t neglect the lures. It’s always worth running a lure through your swim a few times before you set your dead’s out. Firstly this could result in an instant fish, but if it doesn’t it can have the effect of ‘waking up’ any pike nearby through the disturbance and vibration caused by the lure. Those fish may then decide to take your deadbait.

6. Move your bait. This tactic isn’t used as much as it should be. Works best with a popped up bait. Cast out at a comfortable range, let the bait settle for 5 minutes then wind in a few yards. Repeat a few times with pauses of 5 – 10 minutes until you re-cast. Pike have a habit of simply sitting there watching a bait, and the movement can make them react. Expect runs just as the bait stops moving.

7. Don’t ignore small baits. I am talking really small – sprats, small sandeel, cut down macky tails, little joeys and smelt just a few inches long. On some waters these baits outfish bigger baits because the pike are so used to seeing massive herring, mackerel, whole blueys etc. thrown at them all day. They also work well when pike are visibly feeding on fry – it makes sense to ‘match the hatch’ and scale down your bait to the size on which the pike are feeding. Cast into the commotion and hang on!

8. Don’t follow the herd. You heard on the grapevine, social media, an online report or a mate that a certain area is fishing well and a big fish has been caught. Naturally you think that’s the place to head for. Chances are, If you heard about it then everyone else has heard this as well, and will have hammered the area already. I say find your own fish. Don’t follow the herd. Think outside the box and try a fresh area where people don’t fish very often. And when you do catch a decent fish, keep it to yourself.

A result of 'finding your own fish'.

A result of ‘finding your own fish’. (Image: Leighton Ryan)

9. Bring your fishing waders. Make sure you pack them – a set of sturdy boot foot cleated neoprene waders will do the job. As well as keeping you warm and dry in even the heaviest rain, these provide numerous advantages, especially on reservoirs with gently shelving banks; giving you access to much deeper water and the ability to wade beyond or through thick weed beds before you make your cast.

10. Release the flavour in your bait. Prick your bait with a knife to release juice and blood into the area. Also dip or inject your bait with flavoured fish based oil every time you re-cast, to ensure a slick leaks out to draw fish to your swim. Cod liver oil pills are also a good trick – stuff one down the throat of your deadbait. The coating will dissolve and leave a nice little slick of flavour around your dead.

Fishing Wisconsin’s Brule River – The River of Presidents

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This autumn Fishtec’s Ceri Thomas had the opportunity to fish the Bois Brule river in America’s upper Midwest. Read on to find out how he fared on the river of presidents, deep in the northwoods.

The Brule River Wisconsin

The Brule River Wisconsin.

Northern Wisconsin’s Brule river is a unique waterway that flows north into the vastness of Lake Superior. Passing through pristine ‘northwoods’ boreal forest, consisting of poplar, alder, cedar, birch and conifers, the Brule is quite special as it is spring fed in it’s upper reaches, therefore having a constant cool temperature and good flow. This makes it extremely hospitable to salmonid fish species; In fact brook trout (the native fish) brown, rainbow, steelhead, coho and chinook salmon all thrive and breed here.

A river of two halves

The Brule river can be divided in two distinct fisheries – the upper part of the river meanders slowly through pine forest and swamp, where it sometimes expands into shallow lakes where eagles soar overhead, deer swim and wild turkey roam the bankside undergrowth. Log jams, fallen trees, and undercut swampy banks all provide abundant habit for three species of trout – brown, brook and rainbow. Large migratory browns from Lake Superior also like to hole up in this part of the river. The upper river and lakes can be accessed from several road bridges and waded in a few areas, but is perhaps best fished from a canoe.

The upper Brule river.

The upper Brule river.

Half way along it’s forty nine mile course the Brule abruptly changes character and becomes a brawling, fast flowing river with a strong deep flow, much more like a freestoner. Here the quarry switches to lake run steelhead and salmon, suitable for wade fishing only with fly and spinning techniques.

The river of presidents

The Brule is sometimes referred to as the ”river of presidents.” It was on the banks of the upper river that several United States presidents essentially relocated the White house and spent their summers fly fishing. The Brule’s fishing presidents were Grant, Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Harry Trueman and Dwight Eisenhower. They stayed in secluded log cabins in the midst of the woods at the private estates built by lumber barons, including the grand Cedar Island Estate. Here they fished by canoe in the main river and also in large spring ponds, safe from prying eyes. Back in those days, the fishing for brook trout was simply incredible – the now extinct ‘coaster strain’ were lake run brookies that averaged 3lb and ran to 14lb.

US President Calvin Coolidge fishing the Brule.

US President Calvin Coolidge fishing the Brule.

Fishing the Brule

During my five days on the Brule, I did plenty of wade fishing – including two tough morning sessions for steelhead in the lower reaches, where I landed small browns and rainbows in abundance, but not my intended targets.

Steelhead fishing the lower Brule river

Steelhead fishing the lower Brule river.

On the upper river I spent some time fishing the famous ‘big lake’, the largest lake in the Brule system, and also at spots above the Winnebojou bridge and Highway 2. I caught a lot of fish each time – numerous eager native brookies, small rainbows (most are juvenile steelhead) and a good number of browns to 12 inches all came to hand, using a selection of dries and streamers.

A Brule river brook trout

A Brule river brook trout.

Early morning on Big Lake, Brule River.

Early morning on Big Lake, Brule River.

What I noticed was Brule fish especially loved big dry flies, and were eager to strike at them. A large klinkhammer special proved a winner, especially when cast tight to cover.

Brule river trout love dry flies

Brule river trout love dry flies.

I also encountered coho salmon on big lake, and landed a fresh, silver brace using a black woolly bugger. These diminutive salmon fought like demons for their size. Some big Chinooks in excess of 20lb were also spotted, many in full spawning mode.

A brace of Brule river Coho salmon

A brace of Brule river Coho salmon.

I spent one afternoon in a canoe on big lake, where gusty winds and bright sun made it hard to fish – despite this plenty of brook trout, small browns and rainbows took klinkhammer specials and streamers with gusto, fished close to cover.

A beer stop on big lake

A beer stop on big lake.

You could say there are game fish for every discipline here – the species selection of naturally reproducing salmonids on the Brule is simply incredible; it was hard to say what you might hook into next. At times I caught brook, brown and rainbow all in consecutive casts – you cannot do that in many rivers in the world!

Brule river grand slam - brown, brook and rainbow.

Brule river grand slam – brown, brook and rainbow.

Night fishing

Brule river guides and local anglers have a tradition of night fishing for brown trout on the calmer waters of the upper river – resident and lake run browns behave much like our sea trout do in the UK.

In summer and autumn the bigger browns on the Brule become almost exclusively night feeders, preferring to slurp down hapless rodents swimming past in the dark. See the image below for proof of this!

Evidence Trout eat mice - a Brule night feeder

Evidence Trout eat mice – a Brule night feeder.

Large surface lure patterns fished on 7 weighs are the order of the day. Fishing out of a canoe is the best way to do this, but you can also wade in some areas such as the south west shore of big lake.

My experience of night fishing this trip was on the Brule’s famous night fishing spot, ‘big lake’ with my uncle, local fishing guide Tom Heffernan. The early evening was spent casting dries and soft hackle wets tight to overhanging cedar trees, log jams and weed edges. I landed around a dozen small but beautiful brook trout and a 12 inch brown using my 9′ #5 Sage fly rod to start things off.

A brook trout that fell for a soft hackle on Big lake.

A brook trout that fell for a soft hackle on Big lake.

Before we began night fishing proper, we joined some of the local guides for a traditional northwoods dinner in a shelter on the lake shore – a delicious feast of bacon, fried potatoes and chicken were cooked up in the cold evening air, all washed down with beer and vodka.

A tradition Brule river guides supper

A traditional Brule river guides supper.

The 7 weight rods were then rigged up with various floating abominations, including the Hanks creation – a local night fishing special tied by Steve Therrien. (For more info, check out this blog post by Steve).

The hanks creation surface lure

The hanks creation surface lure.

I choose to rig up with a Jambo, a wake fly that works great on Welsh Sea trout. The Jambo’s small flying trebles ensure a better ratio of hookups, something surface lures are notoriously bad at – big single hooks can let you down. Combine with low stretch Airflo fly lines and you have a combination that will result in far more conversions… that was the theory anyway.

After our campfire feast the night was fully dark and we headed out into the lake. It turned out Tom knew every stone, log and channel by heart – it was remarkable; not a wrong turn or harsh bump on a rock was to be felt, a mean feat in what was a pitch black night.

Following Toms directions I worked the Jambo in several prime spots – resulting in 5 fierce takes, with 4 fish landed, 2 of 14 inches, one of 15 and a plump 17 incher that felt as if it had a few mice in its fat belly. After an hour of good fishing we found the other end of the lake crowded, and with a cold mist descending we left the lake – but not before hearing a lure angler on the shore tussling with what sounded like a true behemoth of a fish in the darkness.

Night feeding Brule river browns.

Night feeding Brule river browns.

The Brule didn’t give up it’s biggest fish for me this trip, but what they lacked in size they certainly made up for in numbers. The fishing here is really all about the experience – on the Brule there is a calming remoteness and feeling of pure escapism from civilization.

The Brule river – the ultimate northwoods experience.

The Brule river – the ultimate northwoods experience.

Afloat or wading you can easily imagine yourself back in time at the days of the first pioneers, with nothing but the sound of eagles, woodpeckers, flowing water and wind in the pines to keep you company. It’s little wonder presidents wanted to fish here, to get away from it all. For a true northwoods wilderness experience, this is one for your bucket list.

The Best Month By Rene’ Harrop

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There is never a time when I am more distracted by fly fishing than October.

In a year of negative extremes with respect to weather and water conditions, October brings a welcome relief from hot, dry, and extremely windy weather. Uncommonly high and often turbid flows in the Henry’s Fork have been replaced by low, clear currents, and dry fly fishing is the best it has been in months. Daily hatches of Mahogany Duns, Baetis, and midges have the trout looking up and the fishermen smiling.

Baetis time

Baetis time.

Competing for my attention are the waters of Yellowstone Park where the Fire Hole, Madison and Yellowstone all beckon me northward.

While surface feeding becomes largely nonexistent on most local lakes, there is no more tempting time to be on Hebgen, Sheridan, and Henry’s Lake. October brings urgency to these wonderful still waters as the largest inhabitants feed ravenously on subsurface organisms in advance of the approaching winter.

Hook up on Henry's

Hook up on Henry’s.

As the month progresses I become almost frantic when the mating urge sends the big male brown into a state of frenzy. As colder temperatures begin to dominate, I will return to my winter home in St. Anthony where the remainder of October and even longer will be spent throwing streamers on the lower Henry’s Fork.

October magic throwing streamers

October magic throwing streamers.

With more opportunity than time, I will try to sample every item on October’s expanded fishing menu, and I will gorge myself on some.

Henry's lake cutty.

Henry’s lake cutty.

In a land where winter arrives early and leaves late, I will compress more fishing into October than any other month. Beyond that time, there is no assurance that frigid weather will not put an end to fishing for another year, although I will hope for more.

It is with this in mind that I will savor each day as though it is the last while building the memories that sustain me through deep winter. This is life in the high country and I would have it no other way.

Five top tips for Autumn Bass Fishing

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Fishtec’s customer service man Ceri Owen looks at autumn fishing for Bass – a prime time of year to catch this species! His top five top Bass fishing tips are sure to bring you success when sea fishing this autumn.

5 Tips to help you catch more bass...

5 Tips to help you catch more bass…

Tip1. Look for high tides 9 meters and above (remember to know your mark well as safety is an issue). A high tide encourages Bass to enter the shore-line zone in search of food.

Tip 2.
Fish under cover of darkness, always a great leveller. Bass loose their caution and feed hard when the sun goes down.

Tip 3. Do not cast that far – usually just beyond the breakers will be far enough. Fish come in very close to where the tide is stirring up the sand.

Tip 4. Do not be afraid to use BIG baits – usually cocktail bait (worm, mackerel, squid) are a great combination.

Tip 5. Give bites time to develop as bass in shallow water can be very gentle with their take and even sit on a bait for a while. So after the initial bite don’t rush in and strike, let it develop slightly, as a Bass will quite often hit a bait, drop back and return just like it would when striking a prey fish.

Point 5 is exactly what happened when catching and landing the fish picture below, a good Welsh coast Bass of 7lbs.

A Welsh sea bass of around 7lb in weight

A Welsh sea bass of around 7lb in weight.

Another of 4lbs fell to same tactics well hooked and returned safely.

Remember if you are not catching do not be afraid to move spots and search for the Fish!

Good luck and I hope my top five Bass fishing tips help you catch more fish.

Ceri Owen.

Alternative Piking Methods

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underwater pike shot

Image source: shutterstock
Pike – your chosen quarry

Want to add some more variety to your fishing and catch more predators this season? Fishing author Dominic Garnett has three killer methods to try.

One of the best things about pike fishing is the sheer variety of methods and waters to catch them, whether you enjoy casting lures or watching the tip of a juicy float.

But quite often, just a small handful of methods are used, to the exclusion of the rest. Which is fine – but the best and most enjoyable pike fishing methods are not always the most obvious. Here are three alternative tactics (and some of the fishing tackle) I use every season to catch more pike:


wobbled canal pike

Re-inventing wobbled canal pike

Re-inventing wobbled canal pike
As old as the hills, wobbling or sink and draw fishing for pike was once hugely popular. It involves retrieving a dead fish rather like a lure, but has big advantages. It gives a lovely, slow presentation for one thing, and tends to work well on difficult days and waters where the pike have seen all the usual lures.

My favourite way to wobble is to ditch the multiple treble hooks and old fashioned rigs though, using a modified clip to hold the bait in place (usually a large snap link, with the arm bent straight and sharpened). I then use just one large treble hook.  A medium to heavy spinning rod is ideal, with a casting weight to match the size of the baits you prefer to use.

Rigged bait

Rigged bait

It is a seriously mobile method, best suited to coarse fish baits such as roach, rudd and small skimmers- although smelt is also a great bait. You can add a little weight too, and fish your wobbled bait at any speed – although one of the deadliest ways for bigger pike is to fish it really slow. As with dead baiting, you should strike quickly and firmly as soon as you see or feel a take. If a fish is following and not taking, you can stop the bait dead in the water.

It’s absolutely lethal, and seems to take an excellent stamp of pike, even on pressured waters.

Trotting for Pike

Pike fishing bait and float

Pike fishing bait and float

River piking is great fun, but it’s sometimes confusing as to why most anglers seem to prefer their bait on the bottom, completely static. On running water, pike tend to be fit and active, and a moving bait can work wonders.

By setting a bait under a decent-sized float to fish from midwater to just a foot or so above the bottom, you can search out a lot of water. You can use any hooking arrangement, but I quite like just one decent sized hook through the back of a smallish bait, hooking it so that it drifts upright.

Floating braid and a longer 12ft rod are ideal for this method. If you want to go ultra traditional, you could even try a centrepin reel, loaded with strong floating line.

The trick is to pay the line out carefully and let the bait search in the current.

Roach, smelt, sprats and others will all work well – and highly visible, dyed baits also appeal to predators. The bites tend to be lovely and obvious, allowing you to strike quickly. It’s definitely a method to try with just one rod, roaming lots of swims in a day.

Feeder Fishing for Pike

piking feeder method

Feeder method – well worth the effort

Whenever you are fishing on venues where the fish might need to travel a fair distance to find your bait, or the water isn’t very clear, ground baiting for pike can be extremely worthwhile. The smell of oily groundbait moving through the water attracts both pike and the fish they like to feed on.

The easiest way to try is simply by taking your usual pike leger rigs and adding a large swimfeeder instead of your standard lead. Many mixes work, but an effective approach is to mix a fishmeal based groundbait with some standard brown crumb, before adding a dash of oil.

With a heavy feeder, it can become cumbersome to cast large baits, so try a chopped half or perhaps a small sea fish or section of lamprey. Another thing I often do is to ditch the treble hooks and just hair rig with a larger wide-gape single.

When conditions are really ugly, such as in a muddy lake or when the river is flooded, the use of groundbait can make a huge difference. Sometimes I have fished my feeder rig and a standard version side by side for comparison; the ground-baited rig will often outfish the other by two or three to one.

Try one or more of these methods next time you’re out piking – and let us know on the Fishtec Facebook page how you get on!

Get more from your pike fishing this winter…

tangles with pikeDom Garnett’s book Tangles with Pike makes ideal reading for any pike angler. Packed with stories, articles and brilliant photography it covers many different methods and waters in entertaining style. Order it now in collectible hardback from www.dgfishing.co.uk, or as an Amazon Kindle Edition e-book




All images © Dominic Garnett

Osprey Fly Fishers Association

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The Osprey Fly Fishers Association control fishing on the River Taff, Rhondda, Clydach, Usk and the Beacons reservoir.

Website: www.ospreyffa.co.uk
Dennis Baynham
Email: dennis@thebaynhams.fsnet.co.uk
Telephone number: N/A
Day ticket available:
Yes, Available from Harvey Angling, Cafe Royal Pontypridd.
Season permit available: Yes, £65. Options for winter grayling only available.
Region: South East Wales
Social Media:  Yes, Facebook group.

With a diverse selection of fly fishing water, this is one of the best value angling clubs you can join in Wales. The Osprey section of the middle Taff is the best on the river for large brown trout, and also has prolific grayling shoals that allow for sport to continue in winter.

A river Taff brown trout

A river Taff brown trout.

A small tributary call the Clydach joins the Taff above Pontypridd. Know locally as the Bwll brook, this rugged mountain stream teems with small trout, and provides great fun on a light set up.

River Clydach - aka the Bwll brook

River Clydach – aka the Bwll brook.

The Club also own rights on the Rhondda river which has great trout stocks plus a few grayling, and a short stretch of the river Usk in Brecon, where it is deep and slow but holds a lot of fish for those willing to wade deep.

Finally the Ospreys lease the Beacons reservoir near Pen y Fan. Beacons is an upland wild trout fishery where traditional floating line and lough style tactics works best. It’s fish are mainly around 3/4lb but it does throw up some 2lb plus fish each year.

A typical fish from the Beacons reservoir

A typical fish from the Beacons reservoir.

Not forgetting the places to fish, The Ospreys also have a very active social calendar including club competitions on various stillwaters including Clywedog, Barrows, Chew, and Llandgefedd. The Ospreys also have a club house in Abercynon, where every Wednesday evening you can enjoy fly tying demos, fishing talk and banter with members.

Autumn Carp Fishing – By Dave Lane

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Dave Lane simply loves autumn carp fishing! In this article you will find valuable insights into Autumn carp fishing tactics. Read on to find out how to improve your catches this autumn.

A big Autumnal leather carp

A big Autumnal leather carp.

I love the autumn, after all what’s not to love about it, particularly when it comes hard on the heels of the sort of summer we have just had.

Hot summers are the thing of dreams in this country but, when we eventually get one, we remember all too quickly just how rubbish they can be from a carp angling perspective. The autumn however, now that is another matter altogether.

When everything is suddenly drenched in dew every morning and the low pressure systems start to outweigh the highs, we know we are on the cusp.

Way before the leaves start to fall you can smell it in the air, and it smells like carp!

Autumn is nature’s grand finale, the fanfare to herald the end of summer and the approach of winter. The colours of nature are awesome during the autumn, how a leaf can turn so red or a whole line of trees appear as if they are on fire is beyond me but I never tire of looking at it. I think we are all guilty of spending more time photographing sunsets and amazing scenery than we do fish during this period of the year.

I love this shot with the golden leaves and nice forty pound mirror

I love this shot with the golden leaves and nice forty pound mirror.

Traditionally we look at it as the big feed up before winter but, in reality, it is just a culmination of perfect conditions for feeding carp. The natural food is not as abundant, the big fly hatches of summer have gone, the clouds of daphnia and algae have cleared and anglers bait must seem like the perfect alternative, an easy meal.

It always used to be September that was the magic month for me, particularly the second and third weeks. Quite why this was I do not know but I have had so many big fish in Septembers past that it cannot just be coincidence.

Nowadays, however, the seasons seem to have shifted a little and September can often be as hot as mid-summer.

I think it is more relevant to the type of summer we have had and the level of change as the seasons start to shift.

I often find during autumn that the fish, although not exactly pugged up for winter, are still a lot slower to change areas and spend a lot of time in certain spots. Whether this is because of the location of the remainder of the natural food or just that the shallower and marginal areas play less of a part in their daily habits I am not sure. The result though, is that once found they can be targeted a lot easier and deep water marks, with the correct baiting, can turn up fish week after week and give you a chance to really get things going.

Another phenomenon that I have seen time and time again in the autumn is the way the bigger fish in any lake will all get caught in quick succession, almost as if they all need to visit the bank one last time before winter. How many times have you been on a lake and somebody puts together a last burst of captures culminating in the biggest carp in the pond and then, as if a switch has been thrown, it’s straight back into to scratching time for the rest of the winter. Maybe they just feed so hard that they make mistakes a lot more readily as I can’t believe they actually want to get caught, but sometimes it does seem that way.

If you are staying on the same venue throughout the autumn and winter then this is the time to start to get a bait going, something that you can use with confidence right through the remainder of the year. Because the carp will eat such large quantities of bait throughout the autumn this will ensure that, come the winter, the small amounts of bait you give them are recognised as something they readily accept.

Personally I tend to change my venues in the winter so I often miss out on the opportunity to get a bait (and baited area) well established for the winter and I have to make it up as I go along.

A big thirty common caught at the end of september over a bed of bait

A big thirty common caught at the end of September over a bed of bait.

The reason for this is that I like to stay on those harder and lesser stocked waters throughout the autumn and hope to hit that one big payday when the fish throw all caution to the wind, eat everything in sight, and hopefully my hook-baits are included in that.

I do like to get onto my winter water before the frosts though, to at least give myself a shout of learning a bit about the carp’s behaviour before everything is shrouded in winter again.

Results throughout the winter can only really be measured against what is happening around you, not only on the lake you are fishing but surrounding lakes as well. If you are trickling the odd fish out while everyone else struggles then that, to me, is a successful winter, even if you are not setting the world alight with your captures.

So, with a chance of a big hit on the cards and winter not too far away, what bait to use?

For me the choice is easy as autumn spells boilie time, there is nothing better than a big bed of top quality boilies to keep a shoal of hungry carp interested. It offers a far more substantial form of protein for them and, as far as I am concerned, it’s a lot easier to deliver than a bucket of hemp or tigers. I also find it makes rig choice a lot less important as it’s so easy once you have fish shovelling back great big 18mm boilies, just a simple bottom bait rig or a matched pop-up will nail them every time.

I do love my boilie fishing, I know a lot of people put faith in little PVA bags full of crumbs, bits of plastic for hook-baits or single chod style presentations but I really don’t think you can beat a few kilos of goodness out in the swim, something for the carp to really get their heads down on. It lowers their cautionary level and, during the autumn, I really wouldn’t consider a different approach, even on waters that do not respond so well to it during the summer.

A cracking looking 34 mirror on the boilies in Autumn

A cracking looking 34 mirror on the boilies in Autumn.

I think the only place I’ve ever struggled for a bite on boilies as the temperatures drop was during my time fishing around the Oxfordshire venues, particularly Lynch Hill. Those waters seem like a law unto themselves and the fiddlier it all gets with rigs and baits then the more bites you seem to get, maybe it is a result of the extreme pressure they are under for almost every single minute of the year.

I think the one exception to the boilie rule though, but not until slightly later in the year, have to be maggots.

For me this is a newer method, although I know others have been at it for years. I really had my eyes opened to the effect maggots can have on a water during the latter part of autumn and the early stages of winter.

It seems like a follow on to the big feed ups on proper bait though and I think you can miss out by turning onto them too early in the year, not only that, they are hard work to fish effectively and also bloody expensive.

I am also not sure what would happen to a lake if nobody actually started on them, which may sound weird but hear me out here.

On Monks the fish would happily eat boilies throughout the autumn, great big quantities of them at times but, once the first person started with the maggots then it all seemed to change. As soon as the fish started seeing huge quantities of spodded maggot it was as if the boilies got forgotten and you had to be on the ‘germs’ to keep up.

This creates a situation where everyone is suddenly putting one or two gallons of maggots into the lake every couple of days, sometimes a lot more. Maggot fishing can often just be a matter of who can put the most out, or at least that how it may seem sometimes. I am not overly convinced that it’s the best method for the lake though, after all they can’t all get eaten and then what happens to huge beds of rotting, ammonia filled maggots?

I know I have turned up at Monks in the past and cast out a marker only to retrieve a lump of weed still full of somebody else’s old maggots so I know they don’t all disappear. Also, as the weather gets even colder the small fish don’t seem interested at all in the crawling variety of food; in fact they almost seem to disappear, particularly from the deep water where the carp often are.

On my last winter there, however, the maggot boys were not out in force as they had been during previous years and I persevered with the boilies and had some unbelievable results but I wonder if that would have been the case if someone next door was pumping gallons of maggot in?

This coming winter I may well be going back to the Quarry in Essex, scene of last year’s capture of my new PB January carp of forty six pounds but, before then, we have a whole autumn to look forward to, and I cannot wait.