Fly Fishing Iceland – Mythical Fishing On Lake Thingvallavatn

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Tackle consultant, expert angler and seasoned fishing guide Chris Ogborne was lucky enough to jet off last week to a magical North Atlantic destination. Here he reports on a special fly fishing trip to Iceland, in search of mythical fighting fit brown trout of gigantic proportions. Take a read to find out how he gets on- and find out whether the myths match the reality!

It’s a sad fact of life that so many fishing trips turn out to be, well, slightly less than your expectations. Travel companies turn on the hype, famous anglers report on the good bits and omit all the downsides, and all too often you’re left with the feeling that it was all slightly over-egged. The reality rarely lives up to the myth….

The majestic lake Thingvallavatn

First glimpse of the majestic lake Thingvallavatn.

Not so with Lake Thingvallavatn. I was lucky enough to be invited to fish this fabled place, set in remote countryside in the Thingvellir National Park in Iceland. Surprisingly it’s actually quite easy to get to it – pack your fly fishing tackle, fly to Reykjavik and then either hire a car or guide and its less than a two hour drive from the capital. But in that two hours the contrast could not be more marked for as you leave the urban environment behind you enter the rugged, austere but stunningly beautiful landscape of rural Iceland. In mid May the mountains are still snow-covered and indeed there was lying snow even at low levels, as spring is only just beginning. And then you see the lake, a vast sheet of blue water nestling in a huge rift valley some 12 miles long. As always with a new venue, you get that tingle of anticipation: could the stories of giant trout be true? Can the average size really be around 5lbs? Can the water really be that clear?

Chris wetting a line on Lake Thingvallavatn

Chris wetting a line on Lake Thingvallavatn.

On my first day of fishing those questions were answered – all in the affirmative! To be honest, the reality was even better than the stories because Lake Thingvallavatn is truly the most amazing, most spectacular and arguably the most beautiful fly fishing destination I’ve ever seen. Many thousands of years ago it was open to the sea but now it’s landlocked, with a brown trout strain that reaches far back into history.

The stats are daunting at first, and probably best ignored. Yes it’s a vast body of water many miles long and yes the water temperature rarely rises beyond single figures of degrees, even in the short Icelandic summer. But what matters is that there are places, just a few special spots, where the inflow of thermal spring warm water creates a micro climate, providing conditions where huge shoals of small Char congregate. And those small Char provide food for the resident wild Brown trout, who feed on them relentlessly. And gain weight. Lots of weight, and lots of condition. And they reach epic proportions. Read on……….

On my first full day our guide Bjarni took us to his favourite spot where a small river flows in to the lake. The river is fed by thermal springs and it has colour, that milky green colour you get from snow-melt. This colour spreads out along the bank and it was here that Bjarni said we’d find the fish.   To be honest, conditions weren’t easy as there was a strong, icy on-shore wind, rain showers, and the temperature was struggling to get to 5 degrees. Hardly conducive to great fly fishing. But after less than five minutes my fishing companion was into a fish. I heard his shout at the same time that I heard the sound of his reel, emptying fly line and then backing at a slightly alarming rate. By the time I’d put my rod down and walked to his side he had lost nearly 200 metres of backing from the reel! We exchanged meaningful glances. Perhaps the stories of giant trout that fought like salmon and looked like sea trout were true? Fifteen minutes later and after a spectacular fight that included getting all the line back on the reel, losing it all again (twice!), and huge bow wave surges, the fish was ready for the net.   All eight pounds of it. We took the obligatory photos, admired the beauty of the silver-blue flanks and then released it. Far from being a sluggish swim-away, the trout took off through the shallows as though nothing had happened, fresh and strong. We both high-fived with Bjarni. This was going to be a special trip!

the first fish - finally into the net!

The first fish – finally into the net!

And so it was. We fished a whole mix of flies over the four days, using everything from streamers through nymphs and even dry fly. Some of the beats involve water inflow whilst others are long lava-black gravel beaches. We saw loads of Char that the fish obviously feed on – one fish that we took for dinner had a ten inch Char inside it – and also experienced a sporadic sedge hatch that provoked a casual interest from the fish. I say ‘casual’ because we and the guides are convinced that the fish feed mostly at night, spending the days happily enjoying the warmer water locations where they literally frolic in the shallows. They will obviously chase a fly and will certainly take a dry if presented well, but the reason for their great size and amazing condition and fighting qualities is their staple diet – small Char.

A new PB - 11lb 4oz which fought like an express train

A new PB – 11lb 4oz, which fought like an express train.

Highlights of the fishing are too many to list. Over four days I caught and released three doubles, the largest of which is a lifetime PB for me at 11lbs 4ozs, probably the biggest wild brown I will ever catch. It went like a train and took nearly twenty minutes to subdue. Whilst it was obviously special I think it was equaled by the stunning 8 pounder that I caught on a dry hopper. We’d seen fish showing interest in a sedge hatch in a wide bay, slashing at the insects within feet of the bank. Bjarni and I sat in the shallows to keep as low a profile as possible as there was no cover at all to hide us, and the fish took the fly with a savage slash. Another highlight, or low light depending on your point of view, was having played a huge double figure fish that took the dry dropper for five minutes and then seeing a fish of four pounds or so take the trailing nymph. Long leaders are essential so that black damsel must have looked so good to a passing fish. Guess which one got away?

Another well fed Icelandic beauty graces the net!

Another plump char fed Icelandic beauty graces the net!

Tactically you need to be aware that these are huge, immensely strong and dramatically fighting fish. Leader strength needs to reflect this. Even on dry fly I was using nothing less that 3X Airflo Sight Free Platinum fluoro and for streamers you want 1X if you expect to keep the fish on the line. Single fly is used for everything except dry fly work, and even there I could make a strong case for single dry fly only. The water is literally crystal clear so long leaders are the order of the day and they needed to be well treated to get rid of any shine. I was using the Super Dri Elite line on my 10 foot 7 weight most of the time. The rod is the Airflo Elite kit rod, fantastic value and a perfectly balanced outfit that’s ideal for travel fishing, being a 4 section with a custom case which also takes your reel.  Long casting is not usually needed as the fish hold close the shoreline, but accuracy and presentation are vital. So too is good watercraft, as the fish will spook very easily in the gin clear water . If you have the luxury of rocky outcrops then use them for cover, but if not you’ll need to get down as low as possible as any form of skylining is treated with scorn.   Remember that these are truly wild fish and they don’t grow to this size without learning a thing or two.

Airflo Airtex clothing and waders kept Chris warm and dry

Airflo Airtex clothing and waders kept Chris warm and dry.

I’d also have to say that I was massively impressed by my Airflo clothing. The low temperatures and biting winds meant multiple layers were needed, and all too often this results is restriction of movement. But the Airtex jacket was perfect, very comfortable and with no feeling of bulk at all in spite of three underlayers.  I stayed warm and dry even in the face of a near blizzard of hail and rain, whilst others in our party were getting wet in far more expensive gear. The new Airweld fishing waders also performed supremely well, even putting up with the obligatory knee-walking on gravel beaches. You need to stay comfortable and dry in conditions like this if you’re going to fish effectively, and that’s exactly what happened.

It would be wrong to pretend that this is easily reachable or affordable fishing, because it’s not. I was privileged to be invited by a great friend of mine to join his party, but otherwise it needs to be said that these trips are not cheap. Most are custom packages created by the specialist travel company Frontiers, who will sort out the whole thing for you from flights through to hotels and top class guides . They can be found on and I can totally endorse their service.

As a final note, it has to be said that Iceland is one of the top destinations in the World for the serious fisher. I’ve been three times now, and every trip is special. The rivers have some of the best salmon and char fishing, the seas are full of all kinds of sporting species, and the lakes are just superb. And for me, Lake Thingvallavatn tops them all. If its not there already, it should go on your bucket list. I’ve been around the World a bit and there’s nothing in my experience that comes close. Not even remotely close! The largest trout this year (so far) is over 20lbs and the record for the lake is, incredibly, over 30lbs With every cast you make there is the very real chance of a fish of a lifetime. This is the stuff of myth, magic and dreams. Iceland, land of ice and fire, is truly one of fishing’s ultimate destinations.

Chris Ogborne

May 2015

Carp Fishing On Crowsheath Fishery Essex

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Gareth Morris, our resident sea fishing sales adviser at Fishtec tries his hand at fishing a commercial carp venue in Essex for a few days. Take a read to see how he gets on with his first attempt at landing some hard fighting carp.

I visit some family members each year in the South east of England. This occasion I had decided to combine the trip with some carp fishing, having never really done any serious carping or any overnighters before. I had heard my destination, Essex, is basically the birth place of modern carp fishing- where Team Korda began their epic journey, as well as Nash and Mainline Baits. I packed the car up with the carp fishing tackle and began the long drive from Brecon in South Wales, to fish a fantastic well established Essex fishery called Crowsheath.

Crowsheath Fishery Essex

Rods out on Crowsheath Fishery Essex.

Crowsheath has been established for many years and is actually within the Essex greenbelt making it very peaceful, you can’t even hear a car go past and the only view you have is pleasant greenery and the only sound you will hear is the birds and bank side wildlife. Nick who is the onsite bailiff and owner of Crowsheath is a great character, who constantly strives to improve the fishery.  As well as the main carp lake that is situated here there is also the ”cat canal” which boasts some of the biggest catfish in the UK, with some knocking over the scales at 100lb+ and also including the unique ”mandarin” breed. There is also a predator lake on site with pike to  the high 20’s, and a new match lake is in the pipeline.

We arrived at the fishery with very high expectations of that dream big double figure carp, our hopes were somewhat dampened by the news from other anglers that had been there all weekend. Nothing was coming out, and even if it was something it wasn’t what they wanted… Myself and my brother in law Sean moved quickly to get settled into our bivvys and pre-baited our swims ready, and got the rods out onto the pods- eagerly awaiting that first run to the alarms. My chosen set up was a TF Gear Compact 10ft 2.5lb matched up with DL Speendrunner 6000 reels, with 12lb TF Gear Nantec Gunsmoke Mono Line. This set up is perfect for the size of carp we were looking to encounter this week.


TF Gear Lok Down bivvy - home for the next few days

A TF Gear Lok Down bivvy – home for the next few days.

The baits that I had selected were the Mainline Frozen Cell 15mm boilies– a perfect all round bait used all over the country with great results. I used a Korda DF size 10 Barbless rig, with PVA bags fully loaded with mainline Cell Stick Mix and hempseed. It wasn’t until the next morning we had the first run, but here she is, a nice little common to start off the day.


8lb 6 oz Nice little common carp

8lb 6 oz Nice little common carp.

After a nice start the weather was soon on the change from ideal cloudy and mild fishing conditions to heavy rain and extreme winds! The lake soon turned choppy and it felt like I was sea fishing on the South Wales sea coast and not on a lake. Everything just switched off. A few hours later watching the rods and with a break in the weather it seemed the perfect opportunity to try a bit of stalking a few other swims closer to the main island on the lake. With my brother In-law pulling another 8lb carp out from there earlier that morning. As the sun was staring to come out the fish were on the rise, but they were not interested in the bait, even if you dropped it in front of their nose. We tried the new Korda Ready Tied Zig Rigs, but absolutely nothing was happening.

The next day things picked up somewhat, after a night of heavy rain and wind.  The Lok down bivvy thankfully kept me bone dry all night, and at 4.30 am the alarm was screaming once again. After tripping over the bivvy door and stumbling over the bait bucket I was quickly into the second carp of the trip. Again not the biggest but a nice welcome after such a horrid night!

Another mint condition common carp - 12lb in weight.

Another mint condition common carp – 12lb in weight.

The weather had really picked up and this was out perfect opportunity to rove around the lake before other anglers had arrived later that day. Moving up a few swims with the rods in hand I wasn’t long before the carp were jumping out the reeds. After carefully putting the two rods in just before the reeds it was time to sit back, relax and wait. Less than 30 minutes of the rig being in the spot the rod almost got pulled off the deck. This fish was a proper rod bending, drag running carp! Having picked up the net to safely get the carp it darted into the reeds near the deck and bolted, this is when I knew it was over, he got off the hook. Gutted wasn’t the word that was used. It had a lovely dark colouration to it and it felt a really nice fish.

A welcome 10lb carp

A very welcome fish.

After relocating back to our swims it was back to the drawing board. I got out out the spod rod and baiting up a large area not far off the reed beds, and placed the rods over it. It wasn’t long before I had a run, It was a double figure carp but only tipping over at 10lb 10oz. Things were going well for Sean too, with several nice double figure carp to 12lb also gracing his net. We didn’t have long left to fish, and the rods where still out and fully loaded, whilst we packed up to make our way home, but I was still hopeful of latching into a bigger carp before time ran out. The bivvy and kit were packed away, with the rods of course being the last thing you bring in. Looking at the reel closely as I was just about pick up the rod, I saw the line twitch… and suddenly the TF Gear Magrunner alarm screamed off with the spool releasing line at a rate of knots! The hard fighting  carp was welcomed to the net after a strong fight.. After letting her settle down in the net it was weighing time. Sean announced it was another PB, 15oz 2lb! Not the 20 I was after but it was a very welcome fish after a difficult fishing session with challenging bankside weather.

15lb 2 oz Common Carp

15lb 2 oz Common Carp.

We were very happy to leave the fishery with ten nice Carp landed between us – no giants but it had been great fun on balanced fishing tackle. Being an experianced sea fisherman  this is the very first time I have been proper carp fishing- and what a buzz it was! I had well and truly caught the carp fishing bug, and hope to return to Crowsheath next year. Many thanks to the bailiffs Nick, Darren, Connor and Jason for a very memorable trip, and advice given over the few days.

For more information and catch reports please go and follow them on their face Facebook page. If you are in the area, pop in and have ago. There is a good head of carp at this venue and it’s worth every moment!



Rene Alleyne’s Sea Trout Blog – Early Season Sport

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The Sea trout season is up and running now, and with a decent rise in river levels, the fishing is really starting to pick up… So It’s time to get your fly fishing gear out of storage and hunt down a sea trout! Veteran sewin chaser Rene’ Alleyene has already ventured out and started his season on the famous River Towy. Here he gives us his first report of the year.

I started the season with my usual setup for night fishing, two Airlite nantec rod’s, some Airflo v-lite reel’s, loaded with slow inter, mid inter, fast inter and Di3 Airflo forty plus lines. April got off to a good start. I was out with Barry Stearn, at Golden Grove, on his first night session of the season in the  first week of April. We weren’t fishing long when there was a big explosion of water, and Barry was into a fish. After a good fight, I managed to get the net under it for him, very relieved. A belting seatrout, weighing 15.5lb. A quick photo and the fish was released and went back strong. Barry took the fish, using a fast inter forty plus and a 3 inch aluminium tube.

Barry Stearn with his 15.5lb sewin

Barry Stearn with his 15.5lb sewin.

Through April we had very low water and bright sunshine in the day time. The algae was getting worse by the day, making fishing difficult. I was mainly fishing at this time with slow and mid inter lines, with plastic tubes and snake flies, to try and keep the flies out of the weed, and I did have some decent takes, and a few fish lost, one very good fish. I was out fishing with Philip Bissmire one night, when he hooked into a cracking fish, which spent most of the time in the air and managed to jump into a snag and the fish was lost, very unlucky with that one. I managed to land my first sewin of 3lb the other week,it  gave a good account of itself, and was a lovely bar of silver.

The first sea trout of the season for Rene'

The first sea trout of the season for Rene’ – a proper silver bar.

Into May now, and last week we had a good rise in river levels, which has cleared out a lot of the weed. Some really good sewin have been landed on the fly and spinning. The Tywi (aka Towy), at Golden Grove was at a nice height for night fishing last night, so I went out for a few hour’s. I fished the pool through first with a mid inter, stinger on the point and a size 6 single on the dropper. Picked up two nice brown’s, but no takes of a sewin. I gave it 5 minutes and then went through with a fast inter and a 1 3/4 inch copper tube. Waded out into the river, and fished this slow until it came down below me, and then a very slow retrieve. After a few cast’s doing this, everything went solid, and I was into a cracking fish. The fish came straight up and was thrashing like mad on the surface, but then headed straight for a snag in the water. While trying to stop it going in there, the hooked pulled and everything went slack…. oops. After taking 10 minutes on the bank to pull myself together, I went back in fishing the same way and after four or five cast’s, had a belting take, and I was in again. The fish headed for the snag again, but this time I managed to keep the fish my side of it, and after a strong scrap managed to land this one. Weighed in the Mclean’s weigh net, a quick photo and the fish was released. A cracking sewin weighing just over 11lb. It’s funny how you can go from being devastated, to being over the moon in just a short space of time with fishing.

First big Sea trout of the season from the river Towy - 11lb

First big Sea trout of the season from the river Towy – 11lb

I am hearing some fish showing at night now, and hopefully thing’s will pick up now. More rain today, so it’s looking promising for the rest of May.

Tight lines All,  Rene’

Waders that help you catch fish!

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How would you like a pair of clever waders? Boots that can tell you exactly the best spot in the river in which to wet a line?

That’s just what one Dutch scientist has come up with, waders that measure the water temperature to give a real time picture of where’s best to fish.

Here we take a look at how these waders ever came to be, and whether they’ll actually benefit you…

The science

Close up of a river underwater pebbles

Image source: Igor Kolos
Water exchange in rivers is a complex subject.

The researcher is interested in hyporheic exchange – the study of water exchange in rivers. It used to be thought that groundwater entered rivers gradually along their length.

But now scientists have realised that instead, there are specific spots where upwellings of groundwater pass into the stream, and places where river water seeps into the ground.

Why fishermen?

Depth of field fly fisherman  with focused fly in river

Image source: Annette Shaff
So where do fisherman enter the equation?

But they needed to capture more information, and that’s where anglers come in. After talking to a fly fisherman friend, the scientist realised that here was a potential goldmine of information. Who better to collect water temperature data than people who spend all day wading about in the river? Fly fishing enthusiasts.

So the scientist fitted a temperature sensor to the heel of a pair of waders. The sensor relays information to a smartphone in a dry pocket. In turn the phone streams the information to the cloud, from where scientists back at the lab can analyse it.

Because groundwater is usually a lot colder than the surrounding river water, a wading angler can help detect cool groundwater upwellings, helping scientists build a water exchange map of a river.

The information is invaluable to scientists, helping them to understand how river systems work, and it’s gold for fishermen too. Some species love cold water swims, while others prefer a slightly warmer temperature – a real win win situation.

A win win situation

Man fly fishing in iceland

Image source: J. Helgason
Good news for scientists and fishermen alike.

By getting anglers to wear the smart waders, scientists hope to profile many more stretches of river they wouldn’t otherwise have the time or money to investigate. In return, anglers will be collecting valuable angling information they can store and share.

In time, scientists hope to fit other sensors to the boots in order to capture even more useful info. Data on river salinity, and nitrogen and dissolved carbon levels could all be gathered by anglers wearing smart waders.

The information captured would provide scientists with a wealth of accurate data about the health of rivers and would also act as a real time pollution alert.

Sounds good! When can I buy them?

The waders are still at the early prototype stage so you can’t buy them in the shops yet. But if this Dutch scientist has anything to do with it, we’ll all be wearing smart waders soon.

The only  “fly” in the ointment for us it that we wonder how sporting it is to know exactly where the fish are hiding. Fly fishing is after all an art, not a science.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary MAY 2015

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This month the mackerel feathers, floats, mini lures, etc are returned to the fishing tackle box – Its summer, well the calendar says its summer, although that cold easterly wind reminds us to keep that spare jumper handy!

Lures make a return to the fishing tackle box

Lures make a return to the fishing tackle box.

This time of year sees lots of species movement around our coasts and it’s a time to keep alert to what’s going on because the fish can appear and be gone in a week as they migrate north. Here in the South East the fish move through in a rush and it’s so often the anglers who are out and about regularly that make the best catches. Take the mackerel and garfish, they are now rare during mid summer. In the region with May the time they move through, you can make some great early catches of mackerel this month, but look the other way and they are gone all in a rush. One of the reasons why catching those early mackerel can be a good idea is that many consider they are the best for freezing down because they have not got the oil content of the late summer fish which have stuffed themselves with oily whitebait and other tiddlers and are said not to freeze down so well because the flesh is soft when they thaw out. How true this is I am not sure, but I have noticed a difference in the quality of the flesh of different batches of frozen mackerel. Same from the shop – have you noticed how some frozen mackerel, sandeel, even squid catches and others don’t and could this be the reason? It’s also worth mentioning on this subject that garfish flesh is far less soft when frozen than mackerel and many anglers consider it a better bait when frozen than mackerel.

Good news for fixed spool users this month is the arrival of the new TF Gear Force 8 fixed spool reel – Having been forced to swap from multiplier to fixed spool I nagged TF for a better fixed spool model. The cheaper models are great, but it’s like most things when you improve your skill, you want better equipment and that costs more. Well the new Force 8 fixed spool has arrived and I am well pleased with the result. It’s got all the features of the expensive models, but only sells for £129.99, currently on offer at a £79.99 introduction price.

The new TF Gear Force 8 white edition reel

The new TF Gear Force 8 white edition sea fishing reel

It includes a long tapered casting spool, 4 to 1 retrieve ratio, pucker front drag with quick wind off setting, a full set of bearings (7) a comfy handle and a cotton reel like line lay system all in a compact and balanced design that sits neatly under the butt and rejects the fixed spool past reputation as gawky. On the beach it casts great with 12 -15lb mono, not tried mine with braid yet – My only complaint and that may be rectified very soon, it doesn’t come with a spare spool. The big thing about fixed spool reels is that a couple of spare spools give you spare reels because the spools can be swapped in seconds and they can be loaded with different size and type of line – far more versatile than the multiplier.

Dogfish love or loathe - either way they are easy to catch!

Dogfish love or loathe – either way they are easy to catch!

I have been out on the club match scene locally recently and it’s noticeable that dogfish numbers have increased – SLIGHTLY!!!! The problem is that whilst it’s great to get a bite when you are fishing, after a couple of dogfish they get boring and on many venues it’s the guy on the dogfish hot spot, end of the pier etc, that wins the event. My local club, Folkestone SAA have tried to solve the problem with a three dogfish limit – You can cull up with fish so that you bring your three heaviest to the scales at the match end, but you are only allowed three. Not a bad idea, conservation, but killing a few to try to control numbers, although after a few events the general feeling is that a limit of five would be better. Other clubs in my region catch and release all dogfish so the count for 500 grams which also works well although at the end of the day being good at catching dogfish is what match fishing is all about in many regions! My advice in that respect is learn to cast long and fish with quality frozen sandeel, although in some regions a single black lugworm or a lugworm tipped squid bait works well. But beware when using tipped baits for dogfish, often the fish go for the main bait (worm) up the hook shank and line and can miss the hook point.

A typical summer shore Smoothhound

A typical summer shore Smoothhound

Species to look for this month include the smoothhound with the potential for some big specimens through the English Channel and up into the North Sea around Lincs and the Irish Sea and Bristol Channel. The species is growing in numbers and size and although the well known venues where the bigger breeding fish are found in a few small areas, the main run of fish is getting bigger on many of the other venues so keep an eye on your rod because even a three pound fish can pull your rod over! As for the best bait – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, the best bait for hounds everywhere is crab and that goes for the boat or shore – A whole common shore peeler, a hermit, a lump of edible, velvet or spider cannot be beaten.

Tight lines,

Alan Yates


Top 5 Tips For Small Stream Fly Fishing Success

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Fly fishing a small stream or brook can be a daunting prospect if your have never fished one before. Many have tried and have come away from the water empty handed or frustrated. Lets be honest it can be a difficult challenge at times, but by keeping things simple you can catch lots of fish and really enjoy yourself! Take a read of these top tips for getting the most out of fly fishing a diminutive river.

A delightfull little trout brook

A delightful little trout brook only a few yards wide.

1. Scale down – there is no point heading down to a small stream 15 feet wide with a 10 foot 8 weight reservoir rod. I have seen this done many a time! Lets face it you need to scale down to suit your water. I would say a perfect all-round length for a smaller brook would be a 7’6 3/4 weight fly rod. Short enough to get under dense overhead tree cover, but with enough power to stop a bigger trout and push a fly into a breeze.

Scale your tackle right down - 7'6 3/4 weight Airflo streamtec rod

Scale your tackle right down – a 7’6 3/4 weight Airflo streamtec rod is ideal.

2. Watch your back cast – with small stream fishing the back cast is just as important as the front. Get into position and plan the path of both your forward and back casts – consider your position in the river and anything that may get in the way, overhanging foliage, brambles etc. We all know what it is like when your fly goes into a tree branch just out of reach!

3. Move with stealth – Small stream trout get to a catchable size by being cautious. These fish are ultra sensitive. A clumsy footfall or bow wave from entering the water like a bull in china shop  is sure to put all the fish down in each pool. So enter the water as quietly and softly as the terrain allows. Also don’t walk up to a pool along a high bank – plan your entry spot with the knowledge that trout face upstream.

Fishing a small trout stream

Fishing a small trout stream – move as quietly as you can!

4. Make your first cast count – OK the pressure is on, but it will be worth it! If you get your cast right on a small pool, and if there is a fish in there the chances are it will nail the fly first chuck. So be ready for action. By the same measure don’t spend too much time in one pool – if nothing happens withing 3/4 decent casts then move on.

5. Keep fly choice simple – There is no need to make things complicated. Small stream trout are not picky when it comes to fishing flies. Changing the fly countless time will not get you more fish, its more about presentation. So take general searching patterns if fishing dry – parachute adams, klinkhammers, foam beetles and daddy long legs will do the job. For nymphs something as simple a 2mm gold bead head and some brown thread will actually catch, but copper johns, GRHE, pheasant tails etc. will all come in handy. My usual starting approach is a duo – a big dry fly acting as an indicator with a small nymph tied direct to the bend of the hook. if fish keep slashing at the dry and miss it scale the size down and take the nymph off.

The end result - a fine wild trout

The end result – a fine wild trout which took a nymph fished duo style.

Fish & chips apocalypse

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With sea temperatures rising, traditional sea-caught fish could be off the menu in as little as 50 years, meaning fish and chips will probably be a luxury item for future generations.

Fish could be so scarce that you wouldn’t even get a bite if you took your own sea fishing tackle and went fishing yourself – and who’s to say that will be legal in the future!

Fish and chips 2.0

Fish and chips sign

Image source: Sarah Jane Taylor
Fish & chips – but not as we know it…

So a future without fish and chips could be a reality – and we’re seeing the early signs of that already with the decline in some species of fish like cod due to overfishing. This has resulted in the rise of fishy alternatives in some UK chip shops with hake, pollock and barramundi (and chips) just a few of the examples.

But with the current global population of 7.3 billion growing by an average of 74 million people a year, it is predicted to peak at around 10.5 billion by 2050. That’s around 50% more people, which is bad news for fish and your fish and chip suppers. So hold that thought and examine our suggestions for the brave new world of fish and chips.

Squid and chips

Squid and Chips

Image source: lsantilli
Popular – but has it got broad appeal?

Calamari with a little salt and pepper is very popular as a starter in restaurants around the world, but is it big enough to sit on the newspaper throne with the chips?

Well it’s certainly tough enough with its ‘chew harder’ texture but it’s very different to traditional fish and chips and it is a popular appetizer for a reason – it’s not very filling (unless super-sized). It could be pricey too for what you get — at least five squid a portion.

Overall, we think it lacks the near universal appeal of traditional fish and chips. Sorry squid!

Sardines and chips


Image source: stockcreations
You’d need a few to count as dinner!

Whilst some of the larger fish are endangered the smaller ones like sardines are getting on okay. In Portugal, one of the biggest exporters of sardines in the world, they are already very popular as a main dish.

Sardines can also be much bigger than the type we are used to seeing in tins and 3-4 good-sized sardines with chips would be a substantial meal, although they might not be the best fish for battering.

Salad and chips

Overweight man salad plate

Image source: Ollyy
A sad, dystopian future.

Oh – the thought of it! There will be uproar for sure as carrot-sticks, bean sprouts and pickled onions just aren’t unhealthy enough to give you the greasy satisfaction only cod in batter can.

Sure, the chips could be greasier and cooked in lard and there’s the nostalgic hit from the onion’s vinegar, but carrot sticks (not even battered) just aren’t up to it – unless that is, the future is exceptionally healthy. Sounds boring.

The future

Robot fishing on a river

Image source: iurii
What is the future of our nationals favourite supper?

The UK’s fish and chips industry has a turnover of £1.2billion and there are 10,500 chip shops nationwide, so with money and profit as the driving force there will probably be an excellent alternative (created).

The jury is out on food science, because for the most part it’s controversial due to it’s caginess about revealing ingredients, but it’s highly likely that there will be a scientific solution to the fish and chips problem. Whether it’s grown, produced or beamed down from space we cannot predict but it’s probable that it will taste just like cod in batter. It’s entirely up to you if you eat it though.

The CDC Bubble Back – A Caddis Solution

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There is a tendency among some fly fishers to view caddis flies as a less complex insect when compared to mayflies. To a certain extent, this is a valid perception but there are times when a caddis hatch can yield difficulties requiring an imitation that does not conform to a common image associated with the stage that can cause trout to feed from the surface. I find this to be particularly true during a heavy emergence when trout have the opportunity to select only those individual insects that are least likely to escape quickly from the water.

In the U.S.A., it was probably the late Gary LaFontaine who introduced caddis patterns that target the brief but often attractive transition from caddis pupa to winged adult. Putting my own touch on LaFontaine’s concept, was mostly a matter of exchanging CDC for the synthetic yarn used in the original, but the Bubble Back Caddis possesses a couple of other distinctive features as well.

CDC Bubble Back Caddis (Tan)

The CDC Bubble Back Caddis (Tan)

While fished mainly as a dry fly, the CDC Bubble Back Caddis is tied without wings or hackle. This pattern draws its name from the bubble effect created by cupping the CDC feathers over the abdomen in a manner that provides remarkable flotation with little else to support the fly. Like most other emerging patterns, this fly rides fairly low in the film and should be fished either dead-drift or twitched gently with the rod tip.

Olive, Tan, Gray, and Black are the colors I find most useful on the waters of the Yellowstone region, although the color chart for caddis does not end there. Adding a selection of Bubble Back Caddis to your fly fishing boxes can provide a back-up plan for those times when trout seem unusually resistant to a more common representation of this important insect.

CDC Bubble Back Caddis
Hook:   TMC 206 BL size 12-20
Thread:   8/0
Shuck:  Sparse tuft of dubbing over three Wood Duck fibers
Abdomen:   Paired CDC Feathers looped over dubbed body to create a humped effect.
Legs:    Partridge fibers tied as a collar.
Thorax:   Dubbing to match natural

Rene Harrop Netting FishRene’ Harrop with a fine Yellowstone rainbow trout – on the CDC bubble back caddis.

Celebration carp cakes!

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Planning a celebration for the carp fishing fanatic in your life? You need fishcakes, and we’re not talking about mashed cod and potato either.

From across the country, cake makers put their sugary crafts on show to bring you our carp cake collection, a review of the best of British novelty cake baking.

So put away your carp fishing equipment and prepare to feast your eyes.

Gemma Cakes

Gemma Cakes Carp

Image source: Gemma Cakes
A bright green delight!

Home bakery that’s a step above the ordinary comes courtesy of this fantastic creation from Gemma’s Cakes and Desserts. From her Jacksdale kitchen, Gemma bakes sumptuous and imaginative cakes and cupcakes to order.

We think you’ll agree this specimen is one any birthday angler would be more proud to be photographed with!

Dave’s all occasion cakes

Dave's all occassionas cakes carp

Image source: Dave’s all occasion cakes
Having a swim.

“Baking is like being a builder…it’s just different materials”. That’s what Dave Mason told the Sun newspaper about his passion for doing the impossible with cake. The Cake maker from Cornwall once featured on the Alan Titchmarsh show where his work was praised by none less than Paul Hollywood one of the judges of the Great British Bake Off. Judging by this stunning carp cake, we’d say Dave has no need to be “koi” about his considerable baking and artistic talents.

3 Tiers

Three tiers cakes carp

Image source: Three Tiers for Cake
Super lifelike carp.

How do you end up baking a cake like this by accident? But that’s the story of this lady’s cake business. What began as a way to jazz up her young son’s birthdays soon developed into a cake baking passion she never saw coming. Now Three Tiers for Cake goes from strength to strength. We’re not surprised if this super life-like carp cake is anything to go by!

Creative cakes of Blackpool

Creative cakes of Blackpool carp

Image source: Creative cakes of Blackpool
So koi!

Not only does Sue Summers bake incredible cakes, she’s a fan of puns too, as evidenced above – our kind of baker! With over 20 years experience, Sue continues to create outstanding cakes as well as pass on her expert techniques to fellow icing enthusiasts.


Slattery Koi Carp Cake

Image source: Slattery
A carp on water.

What a catch! This creative carp confection was created by Slattery Patissier and Chocolatier, Whitefield’s unique centre for all things sweet toothed. More than just a cake shop, this place is an emporium of sugary delights.

Watch the bakers at work, eat in the dining room, take a baking, sugar craft or chocolate making course in the second floor, Slattery school of excellence. Forget the diet – tuck in!

Anyway – we’ll stop carping on now, it’s over to you! Let us know what you think of these creative creations on Facebook and Twitter.

No-go fishing zones: The big debate

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No-go fishing zones – how do you feel about them?

A long term study has found an 80% difference in the biomass of coral trout between areas where fishing is allowed and no-go zones.

So is there a case no-go fishing zones in the UK? Or does the angler have a right to take his fishing tackle and go and fish freely?

Australian evidence

Great barrier reef

Image source: Tanya Puntti
The study took place across the Great Barrier Reef.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science carried out long-term studies across the Great Barrier Reef and the results are impressive. Supported by substantial underwater data collected between 1983-2012 from around 40% of the reef’s marine park, fish numbers in protected zones have expanded to levels not seen since the Europeans first landed in Australia.

The biomass of coral trout more than doubled in protected areas and in areas where fishing was banned there was an 80% difference in coral trout biomass. Biomass is measured in both the number of fish and their size and the coral trout were found to be much larger in no-go zones, which allows them to spawn more offspring.

Current situation in the UK

Port Isaac

Image source: Ian Woolcock
Currently no-go zone free.

So how about no-go fishing zones in the UK? Well, currently there are none. There are Marine Protected Areas, where limits and restrictions may apply. According to the government: “There are now just under a quarter of English inshore waters within marine protected areas.”

However ‘limits’ and ‘restrictions’ seem a bit grey, compared to No-go zones, which make their point perfectly clear. No-go zones could potentially be easier to manage, so in theory would protect fish stocks from European trawlers. Though this would also impact the UK’s fishing industry.

A fisherman’s right

Man fishing on the beach

Image source: A7880S
An historic right?

There is also the historic right of an angler being able to fish unregulated in the sea. Surely a hungry man can fish for his dinner in the big blue sea like he has done for thousands of years, right?

Well, not everybody sees it this way and there have been attempts to sabotage and disrupt competitions and upset anglers. PETA – the international animal rights organisation — have used provocative and hard-hitting advertising campaigns to sway public opinion against angling. Not only do they favour no-go fishing zones, but want fishing outlawed altogether.

Angling isn’t the problem

Fishing equipment

Image source: Sandra Cunningham
Individual anglers shouldn’t be blamed.

We’d argue that PETA is wrong targeting sea anglers as in economic terms sea angling is very good for the economy and doesn’t harm fish stocks. It is commercial fishing that is the problem.

The book and documentary, The End of the Line, explains that anglers spend billions of pounds on fishing equipment, bait and travel-related costs, but only take a small fraction of the number of fish that commercial fishing fleets do.

But due to being under the spotlight and pressure from PETA it’s essential that sea anglers follow a code of good practice such as observing minimum size limits and not fishing endangered species. Of course, there will always be a small minority that spoil it for the many, but when done responsibly sea angling has minimum impact on the marine environment.

No-go vs Go-go

Great barrier reef close up

Image source: Dobermaraner
It works in Australia, but would it work here?

There’s an argument that it would make no sense to enforce no-fishing zones for sea anglers due to the practice not being the real problem. But due to the success of the Great Barrier Reef, could it be beneficial to introduce tighter regulations to protect vulnerable areas from commercial fishing fleets from home and abroad?

About 30% of the Great Barrier Reef is now protected from any kind of fishing and this has proven necessary to safeguard the future of the reef and drastically increase fish stocks. Over fishing has destroyed other reefs around the world, so it is essential protected zones are managed.

This is the age we live in and never before has humanity had to consider the reality that resources — energy, food, water — can and will dry up and disappear. The challenge is leaving something in our oceans for the generation, so the planning must surely begin now.

Are you in favour for no go fishing zones or against?