Top Stillwater Trout Tips for Top Temperatures

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The weather is making headlines at the moment but as with so many things there are downsides to all this amazing sunshine and record high temperatures. Fly fishing expert and fly fishing tackle consultant Chris Ogborne gives his top tips for maintaining sport on stillwaters in hot weather, even when the thermometer goes through the roof!

A blazing hot day on a stillwater trout fishery - Garnffrwdd in West Wales.

A blazing hot day on a stillwater trout fishery – Garnffrwdd in West Wales.

Fish in general and game fish in particular don’t like it too hot. Anything above 22 degrees and trout will pretty much stop feeding and become lethargic and very reluctant to take a fly. Prolonged high temperatures can actually be dangerous and this is especially relevant on shallow lakes or smaller stillwaters where the fish cant retreat to cooler depths. But there are ways around this. Here are the top tips for dealing with these conditions and still enjoying our sport:

Seek deep water off the dam wall  in hot weather.

Seek deep water off the dam wall in hot weather.

Look for deeper water! It sounds obvious but its still the top tip. Boat and bank anglers will head for the dam wall area, submerged river beds or any area of known deep water The depths are cooler and more hospitable to the fish.

Small stillwaters: The top tip here is to look for inflow, whether from springs or inlets. Most smaller waters don’t have deep areas where fish can retreat to and instead they will look for cooler spring water, or better oxygenated inflow water. Just ask the fishery manager where the springs are – he’ll be impressed that you’ve asked!

A late evening trip to the water is a great time to fish in hot weather.

A late evening trip to the water is a great time to fish in hot weather.

Evenings and Early mornings are by far the best times to fish when the weather gets hot. Forget those sweltering afternoons and wait for the cool of evening when the fish will normally come on the feed to some degree. Or make a very early start and enjoy the freshness of those productive morning hours.

A hot orange blob might trigger a reaction.

A hot orange blob might trigger a reaction.

Trigger a reaction: When fish are in a dour mood with warm water, you can often trigger a reaction with a brighter fly. If all else fails, offer them something outrageous and it might just work.

Thermoclines and oxygenated water:
Most big reservoirs these days have oxygenating pumps working These are effectively anti-stratification pumps which help to keep the water in good condition and keep algae levels down They’re also a magnet for the fish – ignore the bubbles at your peril!

Look out for aerators aka boils on big reservoirs.

Look out for aerators aka boils on big reservoirs.

Imitative flies can also often hold the key to avoiding a blank. The fish may be dour but they still need to feed and something that looks ‘just right’ presented in deeper, cooler water might just save the day.

Shade
on waters big or small, look for some shade or areas where the trees overhang the water Even in shallow water, the fish will often hide in shady patches and with careful wading you can often reach them.

And if all else fails, head to the pub! Remember that you can always use the excuse that we anglers need re-hydration in this weather, and what better way than with a pint of the good stuff and a chat about the fish, even if you cannot catch them!

If all else fails head for the pub!

If all else fails head for the pub!

 

 

How do fish fish?

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Underneath the tranquillity of that shimmering sea it’s a fish-eat-fish world, and only the biggest, baddest and smartest survive.

Evolution has done a sterling job of creating some truly impressive fishing machines down there in the big blue; in fact the baited fishing hook is a lifeline compared to the brutality and betrayal used in fish-on-fish warfare.

Here are our seven favourite methods. Be warned though, they’re not pretty.

Speed kills

Image source: Jeff Feverson
“Open wide…now say ahhh”

Bass fishing remains one of the most popular types of fishing amongst anglers, and knowing how this fish catches its prey should give you the inside track on catching it next time.

Bass use an ambush and chase method that relies on their tremendous speed, a kind of hit and run tactic. Bass expert Hal Schramm explains on the Outdoor Life blog: “In bursts, they can exceed 3 body lengths per second. This means that in 1 second a 20-inch bass could travel 60 inches or about 5 feet.”

Along with that impressive speed, they can create a vacuum with their mouth to suck prey in – see above!

Weapons of mass destruction

Some fish don’t play fair, and employ some special heavy duty fishing equipment to capture their prey. One of the most impressive is the electric eel (which incidentally isn’t actually an eel but a knifefish).

Electric eels are able to discharge around 600 volts into the open water around them, taking out prey and any lurking predators. The Slate blog explores what happens if humans take a hit from an eel’s taser.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, it’s now been discovered that electric eels can use their electric organs to remotely control their prey. “This makes the fish easier to capture either by immobilizing it or making it jump to show where it’s hiding.” Visit the BBC website for more information and a video.

Subterfuge

Image source: Mirek Kijewski
You wouldn’t want this guy in your family fish tank

Subterfuge or befriending prey is a shocking tactic employed by certain fish, but it is equally impressive as a means of hunting. This cute Dottyback fish wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney animation, but it would give children nightmares if they knew the truth.

The Dottyback fish can change its colour to blend in with schools of damselfish and over the course of just a few weeks, they trust it as one of their own. It’s explained in greater detail by the i09 blog: “During those weeks, the Dottyback gets closer and closer to the school of damselfish… and then young damselfish start disappearing.” And what if they get caught? Well, they find a new school of damselfish and start over!

Collaboration

Making allies to combine individual strengths is a tried and tested formula in the human and animal kingdoms. It’s no different underwater. The speedy grouper fish may be quick, but it would normally lose its prey if it manages to escape down a hole. This is no longer a problem when it has a vicious ally in the guise of a moray eel, perfect for squeezing into those holes. Tag team.

Researchers discovered that when prey escaped the grouper, the grouper would move over the place the prey was hiding and use sign language to communicate to the moray eel where it needed to go. Game over.

Live Science says, “The results of the study suggest these fish may be smarter than previously thought. The findings may also show that this type of sign language doesn’t require a large brain, but rather arises out of necessity when it can help an animal survive in its environment.”

Trickery

Anglerfish

Image source: BMC Evolutionary Biology
Here fishy, fishy!

Is that a light? No, it’s a trap with teeth. Down in the darker depths of the ocean there’s a fish that lures its prey by shining a light just above its mouth with a ‘fishing pole’. The aptly named Anglerfish is a gruesome creature and is rarely seen in the wild. It also has an interesting stomach as explained here in the SFGATE Blog.

Berserker

Sheer aggression and ferocity does the trick for many fish, like the pack-hunting piranha or the terrifying Goliath tigerfish. The Goliath tigerfish is a carnivorous freshwater dweller, which can weigh in at more than 57kg, and measure over 6 feet long.

It’s swift, voracious and owns massive serrated teeth that protrude from its mouth when closed. It’s a killer and will chase down most things in the water including smaller crocodiles, hippos and even humans.

Camouflage

Image source: Kristina Vackova
Now that’s a face only a mother could love

Camouflage can get serious below the surface, and the Stonefish is the perfect example. Touted as the most venomous fish in the world, it hides on the ocean floor, armed with its highly venomous spines. This thing will kill you if you step on it and don’t seek medical attention. What a looker, too!

It doesn’t rely on the venom to capture its prey, however (that’s only used to defend itself against predators). It opts instead for the element of surprise coupled with speed, just like the Bass. The Padi blog lists some of the other brilliant camouflaged killers down below.

Top Ten Pictures Taken From Inside Your Fishing Bivvy!

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Views from you bivvy - Simon Howells Lakemore Fisheries

Views from your bivvy – Fishtec’s Simon Howells at Lakemore Fisheries.

We recently ran a Facebook competition on our Coarse fishing page where we asked for pictures taken from inside your Carp fishing bivvy,  with the best one winning a TF Gear Airlite baitunner reel. We had such an enthusiast and varied response we just had to share some of these images on the Fishtec blog! Here are our top 10 favourite images- each featured bivvy photographer will get a TF Gear Cuban style baseball cap, with the winner of the TF Gear Airlite reel announced at the end. Good luck!

1. Simon Naylor – With what looks like a giant killer swan emerging from the lake – Swanzilla?

Swanzilla attacking Simon Naylor's bivvy

Swanzilla attacking Simon Naylor’s bivvy.

2. Al Maclaren – It looks like he has all the creature comforts you will ever need inside a bivvy; including a TV and electric kettle! The bivvy is an almost house sized  Avid Carp Euro HQ, which he calls the ”armordildo” for some reason!

Inside and out of a monster Avid euro HQ bivvy

Inside and out of a monster Avid euro HQ bivvy.

3. Harry Robinson – A crack of dawn close up of kit on the pod. You can tell this man is well into his carping gear – this is a lovely neat and ordered selection of fishing tackle,  and those Delkim TX-I alarms are a great bit of kit!

Close up Carp tackle shot. Harry Robinson.

Close up Carp tackle shot. Harry Robinson.

4. Nick Stroud – Morning mid-summer sun burning off the mist.  A great shot, which really makes you want to get out there and fish!

Early morning sunshine over the Lake.

Early morning sunshine over the Lake. Nick Stroud.

5. Christopher Millward – Two mates in a bivvy. This is what it’s all about fella’s! Good times on the bank with a pal. Who cares if you blank?

Two pals carp fishing.

Two pals carp fishing. Chris Millward.

6. Anthony Locke – Looks like he is set up to fish a narrow urban water with his excellent TF Gear compact carp rods – 10 foot long so great for getting into tight spots.

TF Gear compact rods - set up on a pod. Antony Locke.

TF Gear compact rods – set up on a pod. Antony Locke.

7. John Fletcher – Best bite of the day. We would have to agree John- those sausages look awesome, just the start to the day us fishermen need.

Bite of the day - John Fletcher

Bite of the day – John Fletcher.

8. Michael Liddell – Man’s best friend. A fishing dog – a great fishing buddy and invaluable company for those days when not much happens.

A Fishing dog - man's best friend. Michael Liddell

A Fishing dog – man’s best friend. Michael Liddell.

9. Stephen Dean – An evening shot that almost looks like he is fishing on another world with two suns- perhaps a binary solar system like Star War’s Tatooine?

Sundown with two suns in the sky. Stephen Dean.

Sundown with two suns in the sky. Stephen Dean.

10. Lee Freeman – This is great shot on a tranquil lakeside setting, hope the swans didn’t start playing with your bait!

Sunset and swan - Lee Freeman

Sunset and swan – Lee Freeman.

And finally the winner of the TF Gear Airlite reel – Brent Parkinson has come up trumps, with this classic carp fishing image of a beautiful rainbow over the lake. Lets hope as well as a pot of gold there was a nice golden bellied carp at the end for him.

Rainbow over the lake - Brent Parkinson

The winner – Rainbow over the lake – Brent Parkinson.

 

 

 

 

 

Top tips for snapping your catch

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What’s the best way to photograph your trophy catch? Our step-by-step guide to fish photography draws on advice from some of the best fishing bloggers online.

Here we give you the benefit of their combined wisdom to bring you some baseline tools to help you capture a great picture for posterity.

With a little practice, who knows? Perhaps one day we’ll see your snaps published in print or online!

First steps

The results you get are down to skill just as much as your camera kit

Image source: North Country Angler
This one’s looking a bit out of plaice we reckon

Using a phone camera or the latest digital SLR? Fancy toys will only get you so far. The quality of your photography is as much about getting the basics right as it is the kit you use. Hone your skills using the equipment you already own before investing in the latest camera technology.

But before you do anything else, writes Sean McSeveny in his blog Fishing Tails, invest in a soft camera cloth; use it to ensure your camera lens is free of smears every time you use it.

Think of the fish

Tickling your subjects can in fact improve your photos

Image source: Northwest Fisherman
Tickling your subjects can in fact improve your photos

Always put the welfare of your catch first. Scope out where you intend to pose for your photo and, if you’re using one, assemble your tripod so it’s ready should you make a catch. The aim here is for the fish to spend as little time out of the water as possible. Will you be self-shooting? If so, set your camera’s timer and take some practice shots, adjusting your position until you know exactly where they should stand or crouch and where you need to be in relation to them.

Writing in his excellent fishing blog, Dr Paul Garner advises that a slick photographing and weighing process should see your fish spend a maximum of two minutes out of the water.

Framing

Who's the prettiest fish in the river?

Image source: Fishing for memories
Who’s the prettiest fish in the river?

Get in close, or zoom right in on your subject, advises ace angler and photographer Dave Lumb. In his blog, Lumbland, he advises allocating the maximum number of pixels to your subject. But be careful, he says, not to get so close that you cut the head or tail off your catch. It’s best to leave room around your subject, so you can crop it later.

If you’re taking the photograph, make sure you position yourself at the same level as the fish. This usually means kneeling down.

Take care with the background too, says Dave. Choose a sympathetic backdrop that complements your catch, like the water itself or a grassy bank. Brick walls, roads and rubbish will only clutter the shot and look messy. Do also check before you shoot that your subject doesn’t look like it has a tree growing out of its head, Dave writes.

The rule of thirds

Fishing on hook

Image source: JevgenijsB
Stick to one third of your view

Looking through the viewfinder of your camera, divide your image horizontally and vertically into three equal parts, creating six imaginary lines. The eye is naturally drawn to both the intersections of those lines, and the lines themselves. Put the main point of interest at one of the points where the lines cross to create a visually interesting photograph.

The angler

Dave Lumb

Image source: Lumbland
Smile obligatory, sunglasses optional

Are you the proud co-subject of the snap? If so, remember to look proud or pleased! Engage with the camera by looking into the lens and smiling. Photographing at night? Unless it has a built in light to help it, getting your camera to focus in the dark can be tricky, writes Dr Paul Gardner, but your head torch should provide a point for it to hone in on. Angle your head torch so that it shines over the fish’s flank, adds Dave Lumb, and remember not to wear clothes that are so dark you photograph as a disembodied head.

The standard trophy shot has you holding your catch close to your body, square on to the camera. Why not mix things up a little? Turn your body so your shoulder points to the camera for a head shot of your fish. For smaller species, Sean McSeveny suggests holding the fish closer to the lens so it takes up more of the frame and you avoid it looking like a giant.

Focus

I'm ready for my close up now

Image source: North Country Angler
“I’m ready for my close up now”

The striking image above was taken by Matthew Eastham, who shared with us his top tip for snapping an image like his:
“To get a striking portrait of an impressive capture, select a wide aperture to obtain a shallow depth of field with a rapid drop-off of focus. Ask the captor to turn the fish slightly towards the camera and make sure you focus on the eye – this helps to isolate the fish as the primary subject within the frame ahead of a blurred background of ‘bokeh’ (the out of focus portions of an image).”

Unless you’re really into your photography, your camera’s autofocus mode will probably be sufficient for your needs. Prefer manual mode? In his blog, Dr Paul Garner recommends the following camera settings: ISO 200, Shutter speed 125, F-stop F8 – F20.

Perhaps your shot is in focus but the pictures still come out looking blurry? Paul advises checking your camera’s F-stop setting. F-stop, he tells us, refers to the aperture. Set it too low and the camera’s field of focus is too narrow.

Lighting

Haddock about enough of these tips yet?

Image source: Rocksweeper
This angler uses the sunset lighting to his advantage

Where is the sun? If it’s right behind you, there’s a danger you and your fish will end up silhouetted. If it’s in front, you’ll screw your face up to squint into the lens. Ideally, have the sun behind and to one side of you, Dave Lumb writes.

Take care too with the way you position your fish, he advises. Flat-flanked species like pike tend to reflect the sun like a mirror, ruining your shot if you’re not careful. Round-bodied fish are arguably easier to photograph because they reflect light over a smaller portion of their bodies. Play around with the angle at which you hold your subject.

Using a flash? Dave Lumb, Paul Garner and Steve McSeveny all write in favour of using it even in daylight conditions. The extra lighting is useful, not just for dull days and evening shots, but for photographing in bright, sunlit conditions too, where it helps counter shadows. Red eye is always a risk with use of the flash, but modern cameras and photo editing software should be able to deal with the issue. If not, another top tip, courtesy of Sean McSeveny, is to cover the flash with a small square of tissue paper to diffuse the light.

Self Shooting

Just Fishing

Image source: Just Fish
Don’t leave selfie photos floundering in the shallows

Your camera, a bank stick with a tripod attachment, and a remote control are all you need to self shoot, writes Andrew Kennedy in his Angling Adventures blog. Just experiment until you work out exactly where you need to stand or kneel in relation to the camera. That way when you make a catch, simply unhook, pose and click. His concise guide to self photography will soon have you producing consistently high quality selfies for your scrapbook.

Mark Erdwin of Fishing for Memories (complete with YouTube channel!) told us his top tip:

“I use the remote with a 20 second timer and set it to take 10 pictures with a 6 second interval between each; this minimises the total time the fish is out of the water to only a couple of minutes and invariably you are left with at least a couple of good photos from the set of ten you have taken.”

Storytelling

What could be better than a fishing trip album?

Image source: Traditional Floats
What could be better than a fishing trip album?

Finally, do remember to be imaginative with your angling photography, advises Dave Lumb. Make your picture tell a story. Complement your trophy shots with wide angle views, action shots and still lifes. Create a narrative record of your adventures with your fishing tackle, but most of all, have fun!

5 Top Tips For Sea Trout by Steffan Jones

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If you are thinking of dusting down the fly fishing tackle and heading down to the river this summer to try for sea trout at night, then take a read of these top tips by Welsh angling guide and sea trout supremo Steffan Jones. All you need is a pair of fishing chest waders and your standard trout reservoir fly fishing rod and you are ready to go! It is often the simple things that you help catch fish, and these invaluable tips will help give you a great head start when in pursuit of these silver river warriors.

A monster sea trout caught at night

A monster sea trout caught at night.

1.Don’t move into the slow, glassy water until it is properly dark; – unless the river is carrying some colour or extra height. Sea trout are not that wary at night, but can be incredibly so in the daytime or when significant light remains at dusk – more akin to a brown trout than anything else. They will start to move from pool to pool at dusk and will also move into the faster water at the head of the pools etc. so target this type of water before darkness descends, rather than the slower holding water where the fish may be easily spooked. Only venture into such water when it is completely dark and do not get tempted because you are seeing fish jump in these areas – they will still be there in half an hour. If, however, the river is carrying some colour then the fish will be less easily spooked and since night fishing is rarely productive in such conditions you can target such fish before darkness falls.

2.Do not fish with a light leader; otherwise a fool and his sea trout will soon be parted! Sea trout are not leader shy at the best of times, with this being especially so at night. Fish with a minimum of 10lb breaking strain, with 12lb or even 15lb being preferable. Fluorocarbon is not always needed; you can stick with the likes of cheap and cheerful but very reliable maxima ultragreen if you wish. If fishing in the daytime or at dusk with smaller flies, then fluorocarbon should be utilised, with my preference being the Airflo G3 or extreme in 8lb.

A welsh river sea trout which was caught with the help of a Forty plus line from Airflo

A double figure welsh river sea trout caught on a Forty plus line from Airflo.

3.Make life easy for yourself; use an Airflo 40+ line, an Airflo sewincaster or one that’s +1 line weight heavier than your rod’s rating. You are rarely going to be fishing longer than the belly of your line, so utilising a slightly heavier line for your rod helps casting at night – especially when you cannot monitor your loops and especially when you are using heavy flies that can hinge on lighter lines. As for the rod; do not fish a fast/tip action; this is a recipe for disaster! Tight loops are the last thing you want at night, as tangles will soon follow. Choose a slightly softer action (middle to tip), which will also help keep a good hook-hold on fresh fish – these have softer mouths where a stiff rod will rip the hook-hold.

4.Keep artificial light to a minimum. The fish are not particularly ‘shy’ of artificial light and will not go scurrying back to sea if they sense such things – even though old literature may have you believe this. Prolonged exposure will make them wary, so it is best to avoid this, of course. However, the main reason to keep it to a minimum is to maintain your night vision, which is soon lost once you have utilised your fishing head torch. A red filter can help with this, but keeping any light to a minimum is the best cure. Also, when changing flies, sorting out the inevitable tangle etc. always turn your back to the water before turning the torch on.

A simple yet effective selection of sea trout flies.

A simple yet effective selection of sea trout flies.

5.Don’t over complicate your fly selection. I would much rather see someone fish for sea trout with every fly being black and silver but then in various length, weights and profiles (silhouettes) than a myriad of different colours in the same length and style. I often hear people saying that they like slim flies for sea trout. Yes, you need slim flies, but you also need fat flies! Try flies with palmered bodies, thick head hackles etc. along with the slim flies. Both are needed in your armoury to present different silhouettes to the fish. As a simple rule fish with flies up to one inch long before dark then an inch and above after dark. That should hold you in good stead!

Steffan has been guiding people on sea trout on the River Teifi in West Wales for twenty seasons now. If you would like to gain more of an understanding about these fish and how to target them then drop him a line to set up a package or guided night. Check out www.anglingworldwide.com or you can email him at steffan@anglingworldwide.com

Head For The Hills – Fishing An Upland Lake For Wild Trout

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Getting bored of visiting your stocked fishery for rainbows? Fishing been a bit slow with warm water temperatures and algae messing up your fly line? Fancy getting some fresh air and heading into the wilderness for a bit of peace and proper fishing solitude? Then head out to a hill lake- the United Kingdom has literally thousands of them! Ceri Thomas pays one a visit in the middle of June- read on to see what it’s all about.

Trekking up to a wild lake in the hills.

Trekking up to a wild lake in the hills.

Fishing an upland lake can be one of the best experiences in fly fishing, especially at this time of year, when the lowland stocked fisheries enter the ”dog days” of summer and sport really slows down as the water warms up. Upland lakes are found all over the UK, many of which are either completely natural in origin or created hundreds of years ago. In Wales they are called Llyn’s, Tarns in England and Loch’s in Scotland. The ones I prefer to target are generally the smaller lakes – from just a few acres to a hundred or so. If you want something a bit different from the norm, with truly wild and pretty fish to be found amongst magnificent surroundings.

Playing a wild trout on an upland lake.

Playing a wild trout on an upland lake.

These size lakes are just perfect to cover from the bank on foot in a day, and most highland lakes tend to be this size anyway. They are easy to find, just look at at ordance surveymap or google earth at any remote hilly area of the UK, such as Snowdonia, the lake district, the Pennines, Bodmin moor, the fells of Cumbria, and the Scottish highlands  The cost of day tickets on such venues are never very high – £10 or less for most, and some are even free to fish.  A quick google search will help you find a likely looking lake, and who controls the fishing and off you go…

Surveying a remote upland lake.

Surveying a remote upland lake.

Many of these lakes are well off the beaten track, so expect a brisk hill walk to reach them-  but this is actually part of the fun; you get to admire stunning scenery and keep fit in the process.  Your aquatic prize in many cases will have never even seen an anglers hook before. The wild brown trout that inhabit these lakes are either competely natural or were originally stocked from neighboring wild waters by the Victorians or even medieval monks, such is their native heritage.

I recently fished a lovely Llyn in the cambrian mountatins of mid Wales with Chris Jones of Fishtec. Chris had contacted the owner who kindly granted us permission to fish. At just over an hour drive from our Brecon HQ we decided to fish on a June afternoon and fish into the evening – often the best time to catch wild trout.

Amazing what you can fit into an Airflo FlyDri bag!

Amazing what you can fit into an Airflo FlyDri bag!

You can fish a wild lake from the bank with a pair of breathable chest waders, or from a float tube depending on the fishery rules. Float tubing is one of my favourite fishing methods for wild trout; it allows you to approach them with stealth, and fish areas of the lake which are otherwise inaccessible. I had packed all of the fly fishing gear into an Airflo flyDri 60lt roll top bag, which also doubles as a rucksack; and managed to fit float tube, fins, wavehopper life jacket, fly vest, spare spools and wading jacket inside with room to spare for food and drink. This really is a fantastic product, and obviously made by a fly angler with so many thoughtfully designed features.

The fly rod of choice – an Airflo rocket.

The fly rod of choice – an Airflo rocket.

We arrived near our destination around 4.30 pm and shouldered the Fly dri rucksacks and set off for a mile walk over the verdant green hills, which were dotted with sheep, gorse and vivid rhododendron bushes. I had decided to bring my new Airflo rocket fly rod, in 9 foot #6/7 4 section configuration which is great for east transportation. Chris rigged up with a lighter option – a Streamtec 10′ 4/5 which is ideal for fishing smaller wets and dries. In either case we both decided to put on a floater, from the Airflo super-dri range. Sinking lines are very rarely needed on these sort of venues, the trout are almost always looking up for food. Non-stretch cores are absolutely essential for wild lake trouting, where the takes can be lightening fast and easy to miss.

Float tubing in bright conditions

Float tubing in bright conditions.

The conditions were poor to begin with at first, with bright sunshine and wind which makes for far from ideal  brown trout fishing. With nothing happening on the surface or any rises seen we walked the circumference of the lake first in search of fish; getting to know your water seriously improves you chances of catching, and a short reconnoiter is well worth doing. Making the odd cast from likely looking spots along the bank I was able to catch 3 nice browns despite the poor conditions, the best one being around 14 inches. These fish fell to my no.1 wild trout set up – a 20 foot leader which includes an intermediate polyleader, floating line, with a small woolly bugger on the point and a traditional style red tag wet on the dropper. As usual the smaller fish went for the wet, whilst the bigger fish nailed the point fly.

A lovely wild trout graces the net

A lovely wild trout graces the net.

Once we completed our lap of the lake the wind dropped somewhat, and several decent looking rises were sighted out off range off some weedbeds. Chris took to the float tube first, and latched into a couple of nice fish which unfortunately threw the hook, one looked quite large and tail walked the water to a foam!  I took over after an hour or so; the lake became much calmer as the evening progressed, with the odd fish popping up here and there. They seemed to be cruising quite fast under the top so landing the flies in their path at the right time and place was a challenge. However when presentation was just right they nailed it with a bang.. that’s beauty of the tube- you can follow the fish!

A bronze Wild brownie from the float tube.

A bronze Wild brownie from the float tube.

I managed to land half a dozen more, including two bronze beauties of around 16 inches, all carefully released to the water.  The dark colouration of these fish was typical for a tannin stained water with lots of boggy marginal vegetation and weed beds. Chris also ended the evening with some nice fish off the bank, which had finally come close into the margins to look for food as the light faded. We left the lake for the hike back very happy anglers indeed- with a return trip in mind!

A nice wild fish - caught off the bank.

A nice wild fish – caught off the bank.

Recommended mountain llyn’s to fish in Wales:
Teifi pools- Book online with Wye and Usk foundation.
Aberystwyth angling association- http://www.aber-angling.co.uk
Welsh water’s Claerwen reservoir in the Elan valley, this includes numerous natural lakes in the ticket for just £8. http://www.elanvalley.org.uk
Cregennan Lakes- Snowdonia http://www.cregennan.co.uk/fishing.cfm

 

10 Gone Fishin’ Excuses

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We understand when you’ve got to go fishing, you’ve simply got to go. And with Father’s Day coming up, it’s the perfect excuse to treat yourself to a day’s fishing.

Unfortunately, not everybody else gets it. For many of us, other people – our bosses, partners, family and friends – often throw barriers in our way. When that happens, you need a list of good excuses ready at your fingertips.

Here are ten to get you started, but we bet you’ll be able to think of more!

1. “I’m teaching the kids how to fish”

Dad and kid fishing off of a pier

Image source: BlueOrange Studio
“Can I have a go?”…”In a minute, son.”

If you teach your children to fish, you will have the perfect excuse to go fishing whenever you want to. Who could possibly object to a father spending quality time with his kids? In fact, if you play this one right, you should earn brownie points while you’re at it.

Blogger Peter Moore tried a spot of Father’s Day coarse fishing with his daughter. It didn’t exactly go to plan (read: they didn’t catch any fish), but they did have a lot of fun organising maggot races!

2. “I’ve got to check my waders are fixed”

Man in waders fishing in river

Image source: Goodluz
You’d need at least an hour to check for leaks, we reckon.

Sew/stick a patch on an old pair of waders, preferably making as much fuss about the whole process as possible. Then declare the need to check the effectiveness of your efforts, and head down to the water to do it. You will of course have to keep the waders submerged for a long time in order to give the repair a thorough testing.

3. “It’s stipulated in my fishing licence”

Few people who don’t fish will have bothered to acquaint themselves with the terms of the average fishing licence. Who could possibly know it isn’t a term of your licence that you have to put in a certain numbers of hours every month, or risk a severe penalty? Use this one wisely, as it wouldn’t be too hard for a suspicious mind to check it out.

4. “I’m catching our dinner!”

BBQ fish with chilli and herbs

Image source: Marcus Bawdon
You can’t have a decent BBQ without fresh fish, right?

Invite friends over for a BBQ and offer to cook them fish caught with your own fair rod. There’s no need to explain the likelihood of actually achieving this – that’s what the visit to the fishmonger on the way home is for. The main point is, you must spend a great deal of time trying.

Of course the downside is you will actually have to cook something. Fear not! Check out Fish on Friday’s guide to BBQ Seafood; it covers everything, from picking the right fish to stopping it stick to the grill (pro tip: wrap in bacon or banana leaves).

If you fancy something a bit more, er, primal, check out this guide from Dryad Bushcraft for cooking a fish on a stick. Whilst not for the squeamish, they describe it as “one of the simplest and most pleasant ways of cooking in the outdoors.”

5. “I’m helping out a friend”

Vintage image of friends drinking and fishing by the river

Image source: chippix
Fishing buddies stick together.

Have a friend knock on the door, begging you to go with him because his other mate has pulled out, because that mate’s missus (by inference, the mean one) ‘won’t let him out of the house’. As soon as you get the green light, grab your gear and go – you won’t want your mate hanging around too long and getting tripped up by a lie.

6. “It’s fishing or the drums”

You don’t have to be any good at drumming. In fact, the worse you are, the more effective the ruse. Wait until the fish are jumping, then pick up your drumsticks, plaster a determined look on your face and sit down to practice. The family will soon be begging you to go fishing.

7. “I’m testing out my thoughtful Father’s Day gift”

Fishing gear

Image source: Sandra Cunningham
It would be rude not to show enthusiasm for your Father’s Day gifts!

Let’s face it, kids never know what to buy their parents for birthdays, Christmases or Father’s Day, so why not help them out? Hint at wanting some fishing gear, then insist that it would be rude not to use your lovely present as soon as possible.

Or you could point them towards the TAFF campaign (Take A Friend Free), and you might get to take your mate along with you too. Perfect. The campaign states:

“It’s easy to participate in TAFF: cut out or print off the rod licence voucher, fill in your contact details, validate it online, read the Terms and Conditions, grab your fishing tackle and the voucher and go fishing with your Dad or a friend!”

You can read more about how to get involved with TAFF for Father’s Day on their website.

8. “The dog needs a walk”

Firstly, you’ll need a dog. If you do this, it’s important that the dog is a bit of a pest – lots of energy and plenty of noise when trapped indoors for too long. Then offer to take the dog out fishing with you, to give it some fresh air. Not only are you free to go, you are something of a hero too.

9. “The dog needs a bath”

Muddy dog by river

Image source: normanack
Looks like Rover could do with a dip in a nice, clean river.

Offering to take the dog to the nearest lake or river for a much needed dip is a great excuse to be gone for a good while. At almost any given time, our average canine friend could do with a good rinse and general de-ponging, so this one offers year round possibilities.

If your family pet happens to be a pampered pooch with shampooed locks and manicured claws, then hunt out the nearest mud pool and chuck their ball in it for them. Obviously, this one only works if you have paid attention to excuse #8.

10. If all else fails… “It’s Father’s Day!”

Man sat on chair fishing by a river

Image source: Kintaiyo
Go on, you deserve it!

This is one day of the year when you shouldn’t need an excuse. Just go.

Airflo G-Shock Fly Line Review

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Small stillwater expert Stuart Smitham gives a new fly line a very thorough work out on his local Ellerdine lakes trout fishery. Find out what he makes of the new Airflo G-Shock floating line, and if he manages to successfully land any fish with it.

For a fly fishing line manufacturer like Airflo, to introduce a line that has an increased level of stretch, is something I thought I would never see? Being a low stretch addict for so long, you know that there is nothing like hooking up at distance and feel is everything for me. Though I think there’s always scope to add another dimension to the mix!

The new Airflo G-shock fly line

The new Airflo G-shock fly line.

For years Airflo have been hitting the sounding boards with lower stretch lines. We’ve seen stretch points taken down to a very remarkable 6%. These fly lines offering a radical perception on take detection‎, right down their line length, no matter how much line you have out.  The take and that first run, feeling like a pulse coursing up the fly line and bucking the rod tip.‎ With this characteristic, Airflo have gained a worldwide following, with nothing to match it.

New for 2015 are Super Dri G Shock. The latest addition, to the massive Airflo fly line range. G Shock have a controlled stretch of around 15%, compared to the 20 – 25% on offer with some competitor manufacturers lines. There really is something to be said in looking for the “HolyGrail”, in fly line technology. So how could this line be a game changer for you? Especially if your an Airflo line addict like me, and now have the chance to experience twice the level of stretch that you’re used to?

Well for a start, many anglers now use lighter, thinner tippet diameters in lower strengths. Realising that these finer leaders, can often out perform others,when pitched against a thicker material.  There is also a trend for stiffer faster action fly rods, designed for purely distance casting, which of course have less shock absorption capability. You need something to balance this out or suffer a break off from some very violent takes. Having something that offers a little more in protecting these light tippets is always a bonus for me.

Let’s face it, some of us have been there, when a hard hit can bend a hook out of shape, or worse break off a leader. When a true water horse, has just powered away on the take and left you wondering, what’s gone on? I went through a phase of this last year, at Ellerdine Lakes. Hits from large stocked rainbow trout in the 5-7lb range were just mind blowingly hard. Upwind runners that were‎ looking for food in the upper layers and they’d rush onto the flies and continue on track. Sometimes pulling the line, out of your hand on the take, Just an amazing show of raw power in a fish!

Talking this over with Gareth Jones at Airflo, in the Autumn of 2014, I found I wasn’t alone. Others had been treated to the same “trout abuse” on UK stillwaters.  Fishing with lower stretch lines and using finer tippet with a fast action fly fishing rod, you will always come to a decision point, where you have to take a closer look at your rig make up. My answer to this, was having a little buffer that acted like a shock absorber, I custom made one of these out of pole Elastic and micro poly backing and this worked a treat. Positioning this about 4ft from the line tip, I could maintain contact with these hard runners, but the absorber pulled the leader length under too quickly.

A little shock absorber - made from pole elastic

A little shock absorber – made from pole elastic.

Gareth who designed this line, had this to add, on why G Shock came into being. “Having stayed out of the stretchy line arena for many years, we decided to offer SUPER DRI technology to those that actually prefer a stretchy type line. Most PVC lines have a core that elongates over 20%, but keeping the line to a stretch level of around 15% actually gave a nice balance and will help on those days, when fish are feeding quickly on the move and are ripping the line out of your hand on the take”‎

Constructed on the Super Dri Elite taper. This already has a huge following, as a great ”all round” taper for both distance and presentation.  Making long controlled casts a breeze.‎ It’s probably the most widely used line of the Super Dri range. Also remember as with all the Super Dri lines, the G-shock is UV, DEET and Sunscreen resistant. So you can apply whatever you want to your hands, knowing it won’t affect the lines performance.

DIY fly line spooling

DIY fly line spooling.

Opening the box on the fly line, the spooled line needs very little attention, apart from a piercing in the centre of the spool with a pencil or screwdriver. Once I’ve attached the backing to the “Reel end”, all I need do now is take a pew and place the spool between my knees‎. Just a case of reeling in and watching the line fill the spool. Always consider your backing requirements when spooling up. Floating lines need less backing, because of their bulk. Sinkers need more because they tend to be thinner in diameter. The specification on your spools, are available from your reel manufacturer.

Pay close attention to your fly reel backing knot too. Over the last few months several fishers here have had all their fly line pulled on the water. Then the inevitable happens and the backing parts company with the fly line. Not the best of outcomes on the fish of a lifetime, but it happens!  Factory welded loops are standard ‎on G Shock so in the case of attaching backing a simple tucked blood knot gives you an ultra secure join. If your not a big fan, then simply snip the loop off and seal the end of the line with a dab of superglue. You can then fit a braided loop if you prefer.  With two colour choices in Hot Coral or Peach on this line. I’ve chosen the Hi-Vis element, for a better focus point when marked up. I personally add black bands with a permanent marker on this colour line, offers me much more scope in spotting those subtle takes‎.

Into a fish on the G-shock line

Into a fish on the G-shock line.

Peeling off the first 30ft I get to see the grey ”hauling zone” which is a good contrast point, for a great visual at distance. The plastic polymer is also slightly stiffer in the zone, like all Super dri lines. This low compression compound is in the part of the line exposed to the most stress, and ensures the line doesn’t stick to the rod guides when hauling and shooting.  What also strikes me is the line is totally free of any memory, and feels extremely supple and ultra smooth in the hand. From the line tip to the 30ft point is this shocking Hot Coral colour, which certainly stands out. I’ve peeled this and all the 20ft hauling zone out off the reel. For the moment, I just want to get a feel for the this line, so fishing is secondary. I’ve about 10ft on line on the surface, so a quickly lift and I  just want to do some small casts. I want to feel this line load the rod tip. It’s on the backcast, that I can feel more of increased stretch in the line, which although is  quite fractional, does indeed make a difference. Another thing I notice is the welded tip of the fly line is extremely buoyant, in fact it floats like a cork!

Extending my line length with 30ft of line out, my rod reacts a little more, to the added line weight on the rod tip. As I introduce more line, I can use the hauling zone‎ as intended. Being a harder compound than the rest of the line, this is where you can really build up some line speed. You just have to remember, to slow your casting stroke, so that you allow for the line to extend out normally.  Even though this is fractionally slower, when you get it right the line just flies.

This is a 30yd line, so getting all this out is do able, but I don’t need to. I’m just finding as I cast more with G Shock, I like the way it handles. You can create neat loops and the line reacts well to speed changes. Roll casting is really nice with this taper too. It just lends itself to so much more‎. If you want to punch this out, beyond the running line, then build up your speed slowly. Use the hauling zone for this. It’s what it’s intended for and works extremely well.

Skinny buzzers - ideal for fishing on a G-Shock line

Skinny buzzers – ideal for fishing on a G-Shock line.

I’ve attached just two skinny buzzer, that are a firm favourite of mine now. I’ve got 12ft of G3 fluorocarbon on, and this is more than enough for the 5 – 7lb  ”boomers”, that Ellerdine Lakes is famous for. Wth a steady retrieve, bunched as a figure of eight into my palm I once again notice that there is zero line memory- I can honestly say this must be one of the straightest fly lines I have ever used right out of the packet! The first hit on this line, feels a little strange. I saw a boil and just caught the line banding jag forward. When I chopped my line hand down, I just felt the slightest of pulls on the line. So drawing the rod sideways, was when I really felt ‎the pressure on the take and then the ”thud thud”. Having used low stretch, then changing to double what I’m used to is something that I can get the hang of. Moving from Marsh to Meadow, there are some big fish running here. I’m soon feeling a boomer hit the fly, slamming sideways then a hard run for about 20ft. It’s this initial hard run, that was breaking me before and it’s why G Shock works so well.  You feel the head shakes and the lunges yes, but the stretch absorbs so many hard pulls and turns. It makes staying connected to one of these bruisers so much fun!

The end result - one of 15 nice trout.

The end result – one of 15 nice trout.

To cut this short, finishing on 15 fish and landing all of them is just a superb plus for me. True I did miss several fast hits, but those that were hooked stayed attached and that’s what this test was all about. No more hand made shock absorbers and worrying about break offs! When you try the line, you’ll understand everything about hard hits and remaining connected after it. That’s why G Shock now has a permanent spot in my fishing tackle‎. Because it works!

Now if Gareth would make me a Mini tip with G Shock, then that would be enough for me…..  Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Best regards, Stuart

 

 

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary – June 2015

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Well June is here and finally the weather is getting better. I have made several trips this month with mixed results – The long hike along Samphire Hoe, Near Dover, was made easier with a trolley and I have a large four wheeled freshwater version that allows me to take all of my sea fishing tackle… and the kitchen sink.

A trolley to help with the long walk.

A trolley to help with the long walk.

The Hoe may be a long walk to my favourite spot at the western end, but its wheelchair friendly with slopes rather than steps to negotiate which makes it ideal for the trolley. I always fish the venue over low water when it’s calm and then the first of the flood, first because it’s less crowded with mackerel anglers and second because the ebb and first flood is the best time for the bass and pollack on a float. The ebb tide is not so strong so a sliding float, baited with a ragworm or frozen sandeel can be trotted down tide with ease and in comfort. Using a sliding float you need to continually adjust the depth by moving the stop knot on the mail line. The system is simple really, but a couple of novice anglers nearby were moaning that their float would not stand up – Really! I explained that they were fishing too deep and should move their stop knot nearer the float. We do take things for granted sometimes, not realising the simple things can baffle the novice – The happy ending was that they eventually cottoned on to the need to keep adjusting the depth they fished with the tide and caught plenty of pollack.

I have landed a few bass on the method, but netting them alone with the ledge below the wall is awkward. On this trip, no bass, but a 47cm pollack gave me some fun, not a monster, but from the Kent shore round about as big as you will get, great eating too.

Alan Yates 45cm pollack - at Samphire Hoe

Alan Yates 45cm pollack – at Samphire Hoe.

There were also plenty, but not too many dogfish, plus a few pristine and brilliantly bronze banded pout (is there a prettier fish straight out of the sea) along with some vivid green ballan wrasse. The venue is fairly snaggy and so the float for fishing alongside the wall is the most effective way to avoid hook ups – For the bottom little beats a Pulley rig, one hook only, fishing 30lb straight through. The Hoe has been taken over by new management and the day fishing ticket has gone up to £6 available from the bailiff on the wall, freshwater style, parking is a couple of quid and the wall open around 7am..

I also fished at Littlestone inside Hythe Bay and Dungeness Point – it’s a very shallow venue, great for lug pumping, but after or during a SW storm its sheltered and produces lots of fish. A bonus in summer is that the water is always coloured whilst elsewhere its gin clear and the fish love that. My day was punctuated by silver eels, now protected I landed several that wrecked by light mono rig, but included a couple of big beasties. Great to see them making a comeback despite their slime they give you a good bite and raise in adrenalin for a few minutes until you realise they are not a bass. I also landed lots of pouting and these too have made a comeback this year in the English Channel, I also had whiting, a double shot of schoolies and a small smoothhound. All on lugworm fished at 100 metres over high tide. The venue and the surrounding beaches have also been producing rays at night.

I was using the new Force 8 fixed spool reels with my Force 8 Continental beach casters – A great summer combination fishing light, although the new rods cast three hooks and a five ounce lead with ease. There is something about fishing with 8/12lb line on the beach – I’m using tapered carp leaders (40lb) and the whole set up promotes more refined bait presentation and yes I am seeing more bites and catching more fish, be some of them smaller. But getting a bite and catching something on some days is an achievement. I’m yet to test the set up on a big smoothhound and I guess a double figure hound will test the gear and my ability to flick the drag into action. Don’t I just hate yellow breakaway leads (150grams), I’m always going on about it, well Breakaway are now producing impact leads in Luminous – Great!!!

Mark Scott with a Wigtown bay smoothhound.

Mark Scott with a Wigtown bay smoothhound.

My only match this month was the Dover Sea Angling Association midweek species competition fished from the Prince of Wales pier at Dover in less than ideal conditions with an East wind gusting Force seven straight into the harbour and the competitors faces. The event was two rods with two hooks on each with one cast out and one down the wall and fished measure and return. Winner, pegged near the old Sea Cat gate was my son, Richard Yates of St Margaret’s with nine species. This included dogfish, pouting, whiting, and pollack, flounder, eel, weaver, blenny and wrasse all caught on a mixture of lugworm and ragworm. Richard claimed the top prize for the most species plus four biggest fish prizes. He fished Continental style with light gear and small hooks which is the way to go for species. My only claim to fame in the event was the biggest pouting which was a 40cm specimen. Other winners included Tim Fagg (dogfish and dab) Martyn Reid (smoothhound) John Wells (flounder) Alan Underdown (pollack).

Sorry about the pic of my biggest pollack from Samphire Hoe – No one has yet invented a selfie stick that can take a picture of you holding a fish – Ideas please to TF Gear!!!!
Talking about smoothhounds – some large creatures have been showing up all around the UK with venues in the Solent, off Lincolnshire and Humberside and even the Kirkcudbrigtshire coast in South West Scotland producing some large specimens.

John Lewis with a decent  South Wales smoothound

John Lewis with another decent smoothound- from the south Wales coast.

Peeler crab is THE essential bait, don’t let anyone tell you different. Fresh crab switches the hounds into feeding mode, boat or shore. Other prominent species at present include the rays with plenty around plus some big stingers with the species like the rest enjoying a big comeback.

Top 10 Bass Fishing Tips- By Chris Ogborne

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Ahead of the new saltwater season, Chris Ogborne looks at the vital statistics of Sea Bass fishing and gives you his shortlist of things to look out for! Invaluable bass fishing tips, whether you throw a fly, cast a lure or launch a bait out into the surf- these tips are sure to help you land more and bigger fish.

Chris Ogborne's beautifull local bass mark

Chris Ogborne’s beautiful local bass mark.

1. Specimen hunting.   If you want a big bass then you’ve got to target them, ignoring all the tempting smaller fish.  I stalk mine, late evening on the beach, just after the sun goes below the horizon.  Short rod, tight fly presentation and very careful watercraft are the key ingredients.

2. Wet wading.   This gives you a huge ‘edge’ over people in waders.  With shorts and bare legs you feel the temperature changes and when you find these, you find fish!   It’s also a lot safer in the marine environment and a lot more comfortable in high summer

3.Lighter rods.   Don’t be drawn into the old school thinking that you need heavy tackle, whether on fly, spin or lure.  Lighter rods give you precision, minimum disturbance and better presentation.  There’s very little you can’t do with a 9foot 6 weight fly fishing rod.

4.LRF.  If you haven’t tried it, you should!   Light Rock Fishing is all about an approach to fishing that is absolutely more fun, and more rewarding.  And it catches lots of fish!  It brings delicacy and subtlety to saltwater fishing.

Boat or shore?

Boat or shore?

5. Boat or shore?   Shore and beach fishing is great, and essentially it’s free. Find yourself a good drop-off, fish the blue water channels, or prospect around the rocks.  Remember that weed covered rocks are best, as they provide cover for the things Bass feed on. But occasionally you will need a boat, either to each those impossible marks or simply because of the weather.   Top tip is to pick the best skipper – they will make or break a day out!  Ask the local fishing tackle shops and they’ll tell you who the local stars are! And always ALWAYS look out for feeding birds – that’s where the bait fish will be.

6. Soft Baits.  Bass are clever fish.  They ‘feel’ a hard metal bait in their mouths and will reject it if they can.   But soft baits seem to feel good to Bass – they take them more confidently and hold on to them.  You miss a lot less fish with soft baits, like the sidewinder bass fishing lures.

7. Leaders and rigs.  Don’t go only light with leader strength.   Bass fight hard and you don’t want to lose a big fish on a breakage.  For flyfishing leader I rarely go under 7lb and for soft baits I normally start at 10lb, unless I’m on really fussy fish.

A bass about to go back in after a quick photo snap

A bass about to go back in after a quick photo snap.

8.Catch and Release.  Bass are beautiful fish and deserve respect.   They are very slow growing so a 5lb fish can be upwards of 6 years old.  As the Bass stocks around our coast are under huge pressure, think long and hard before you kill one.  Maybe it’s better to have the pleasure of watching it swim away?

9. Late summer.  September is my favourite month.   The tourists have gone home and I get the beaches to myself again.  Treat yourself to a long week end in Cornwall in September, enjoy the softness of the climate, and put yourself in with a real chance of a big fish before the season ends.

A stunning bass beach in september - not a soul in sight!

A stunning bass beach in September – not a soul in sight!

10. And finally……… Don’t ignore the schoolies!   Smaller bass are have fun on light tackle and they can often fight better than fish twice their size   Out on the sand bars they can give tremendous sport and massive fun.