Essential Early Season Fly Lines

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The clock is ticking down towards the UK fly fishing season opening days on many of the UK’s large reservoir fisheries. We are talking of famous and popular venues such as Rutland water, Grafham, Blagdon, Chew valley , Eyebrook, Stocks, Draycote and many more.

Thousands of fine rainbow trout are being stocked in readiness, and the fully finned overwintered residents are bound to be hungry and ready to rip that fly line out of your hands! (Check out their facebook pages for more information on stocking)

1 e1424957034679 Essential Early Season Fly Lines

A rare calm opening day on Rutland water

We tend to have a mental image of a balmy spring day as the perfect season opener, with the trout gently sipping buzzers off the top in mild and calm conditions… The reality however is almost always very different in mid March – its often way too wet, windy and cold for top water fly fishing to be successful. The trout will have a much slower metabolism due the very cold water temperatures, and will invariably be inactive and deep down in the water column or hugging the bottom.

Thankfully to make things much easier for us, the team at Airflo have come up with the ultimate early season fly lines, the Sixth Sense range! They are perfect for those dour cold windy days – when you really need that deep and slow presentation, or for fishing a booby static.

Gareth Jones, Airflo Sales Director describes the uses and benefits of the whole Airflo sixth sense range:

For us the Airflo Sixth Sense Di7 in particular is the ”must have” early season line

If you are a bank angler early season can be even more of a challenge than on the boat. Airflo’s answer to this is the 40 plus range of fly lines. Airflo have successfully updated the old fashioned ”shooting head” tradition. Long gone are the days of hearing that annoying rattle of the crude lumpy join going through your guides, and the frustrating hours spent unpicking your curly mono running line. With the latest generation of forty plus lines, Airflo have seamlessly integrated the head and running line into a smooth tapered join, with a continuous non stretch core for superb take detection. The result is much easier casting execution combined with superb longevity.

Here’s Gareth explaining more about the forty plus fly lines:

For early season bank fishing we’d recommend the Airflo Forty Plus Di 5 & Di 7.

Readers’ favourite fishing tackle

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We asked our readers for their favourite fishing tackle, here are the results!

We’ve covered coarse fishing, sea fishing, fly fishing and of course a few miscellaneous bits!

So here it is, our readers’ favourite fishing tackle

Coarse Fishing

Carp fishing tackle 525x257 Readers favourite fishing tackle

Image source: Dudarev Mikhail
Your favourite tackle to catch these guys.

“My rod licence. Without it I cannot go and do what I enjoy.”
Simon Colledge

“My little 8ft Middy “puddle chucker” feeder rod. It has never let me down and landed me a very unexpected 21lb catfish on 6lb line!”
Steve O’hare

“My shakespeare 2.75tc rod and shimano reel, because I was using them last week when I landed my PB pike, approx 27lb.”
Christopher Fuller

“My first ever bedchair from TF Gear. I’ve had it for 8 years and still giving me a good sleep (which I don’t like because I’m going fishing, not camping).”
Peter Pepo Drozd

“My Mk IV carp rod By Richard Walker.”
Raymond Johnys

“ABU 1044 closed face reel. It the best reel I have used for long trotting on rivers like the Severn. And it has helped me bring many good Barbel and Chub to the net.”
Tony Young

“Fox polarised glasses. Most vital piece of kit I have.”
Jamie Cousins

“Diawa longbow DF spod rod, coupled with Diawa spod reel. It’s just so easy to use.”
Peter Lacey

“My favourite float. That’s why I catch so many fish!”
David Wiggings

“Jag hook sharpening kit, gives me alot of confidence.”
Peter Collins

“My binoculars as they help with spotting fish at distance. If you turn them upside down you can check your hooks for sharpness.”
David Davies

“TFgear pitbull reels! The best looking, nicest to use and hardcore durability!”
Si Taylor

“Scout two man bivvy, it’s ideal for winter sessions. It’s got more room inside this than I’ve got in my house!”
Mark Smitty Smith

“My 10ft shimano catana spinning rod and my shimano exage xc 4000 spinning reel. Why? Because the wife bought it me for my birthday and it catches pike sofar, and hopfully bass and pollock later in the year.”
Chris Nicholson

Popular Coarse Fishing Products

Sea Fishing

Sea fishing tackle 525x259 Readers favourite fishing tackle

Image source: Buckland
Reap the rewards of the ocean with these tools.

“Rods: zippys f-zero x2, daiwa btb sea match special x1. Penn 525mags. Good casting rods and last forever. Plus reels that are fast on the retrieve. Best brand overall daiwa.”
Peter Cornwell

“My rods are century match and a tip tornado compressor sport reels are Penn 525 mags.”
David Machon

“My rods (Nash outlaw), without them I wouldn’t catch anything.”
Nigel Lemon

Popular Sea Fishing Products

Fly Fishing

Fly fishing tackle 525x237 Readers favourite fishing tackle

Image source: Debbie Nelson
Improve your time fly fishing with the right gear.

“Airflo Fly Lines, they help me cast further than I ever thought possible.”
Luke Thomas

“Hardy Demon 9′ 6″ #7 for the bank and a 10′ #7 for the boat. The mid flex and fast recovery lets me cast all day with little effort. What a great rod!”
Nick Moore

“Airflo super stik #8 comp special. Great action and packs a punch lovely rod.”
Nathan Dickinson

“Hardy CLS 7000. It is just a beautiful piece of engineering. It also balances my GR50 perfectly.”
Richard Titterrell

“Greys xf2 #7 great all rounder a pleasure to use.”
Bobby Smith

“Sage Z axis rod and box of own self tyed flies.”
Eleanor Brown

“Sixth Sense fly lines. Take transmission, right down the line length. Just superb.”
Stuart Smitham

Popular Fly Fishing Tackle Products

Miscellaneous

Extra fishing tackle 525x285 Readers favourite fishing tackle

Image source: Svitlana777
Cheeky little extras

“Hip flask to keep the bones warm!”
Dyfan Morris

“My kettle, It makes my tea.”
Colin Prickett

“My Kelly Kettle; nothing like a fresh cup of tea when your on the river for the day.”
Tim Harte

“The wife, it makes the food.”
Mike Chandler

Have we missed your favourite piece of kit? Let us know your opinion on Facebook and Twitter!

Dave Lane Zig Fishing for Carp

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Dave Lane is one of the top UK specimen carp anglers, In this video he shares some fascinating insights into the world of zig fishing for Carp! Watch on to discover how Dave puts his own twist on this devastating method, which will help give you the edge when the fishing gets tough during the winter months.

Subscribe to our YouTube playlist to receive up to date notifications of new Dave Lane carp fishing videos.

Top 10 Tips for successful river Pike Fishing

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laypike 525x320 Top 10 Tips for successful river Pike Fishing

25lb plus wild river pike

Catching a prime specimen Pike from a river can look like a daunting prospect at first glance…  However they are a relatively easy fish to catch, once you know how ! Read on for my top 10 tips on how to land yourself one of these magnificent wild predators before the coarse fishing river season ends in the next few weeks!

1. Travel light and keep your fishing tackle to a minimum. Be prepared to walk long distances – the biggest specimens won’t be in the car park swim! Waterproof breathable fishing clothing and waders are essential, and also a quiver system or fishing rucksack to carry your fishing gear effectively. Don’t bother taking a chair or a day shelter,  just use the bank to sit on!

2. Move swims every 20 minutes – if you don’t have a run within that time then there are either no fish there, or if they are they are simply not feeding in that area. The more water you can cover the greater your chances will be.

3. Tread carefully and quietly when approaching a swim– the pike are very often under your feet in the margins, and can spook easily. Many large pike have been caught just an arms length out from the bank.

4. Use fresh bait from the fishmonger’s counter – e.g herring, sprats or sardines. They smell much better and emit more oil.  Another benefit is the low cost. They are soft for casting purposes, but you won’t be casting them out far – Use sea fishing bait elastic to keep your deadbait on the hooks.

5. When roving there is a lot of physical activity, so breathable waders are a real benefit.  They stop moisture build up which in turn keeps you warm and dry. Breathable chest waders also help if you need to scramble down into the water to net a fish or retrieve your rig from that inevitable snag up !

6. Experiment with added oils and attractants – one of my favourite ploys is to add a cod liver-oil pill (the clear jelly-type ones sold by health food shops) on to the bend of one of the trebles. It leaves a tasty little slick for the pike to home in on.

7. Don’t be put off by colour in the water, or if the river is in partial flood. These conditions often push fish into slack marginal areas and actually make them easier to find.
A full bank bursting spate with trees drifting past on the other hand is a no go!

8. Set your float over depth by about a foot, and use a very long bank stick to keep your mainline up off the surface. This helps reduce drag from the current, and stops debris from building up on your line and giving false bites.

9. Once your float starts to bob under, or  starts moving steadily across the surface set the hooks! Only little jacks tend to fall off from striking too soon…. Big pike are pretty wised up and often drop the bait when they feel resistance. It also makes unhooking a much easier task.

10. Keep your best spots secret! Pike are vulnerable to heavy fishing pressure, so once you land your dream pike and get a picture keep the exact location to yourself and close fishing buddies only, or you might find your future sport declines.

riverpikefloatfishing 525x293 Top 10 Tips for successful river Pike Fishing

Waiting for the float to disappear

Airflo at the Glasgow Angling Open Weekend!

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glasgow show 525x306 Airflo at the Glasgow Angling Open Weekend!

The Glasgow Angling Centre is host to yet another open weekend, just in time to celebrate the new fishing season. This year the brilliant 3 day event is being held over the 5-6-7th March – With some of the biggest names in the sport on hand to offer advice on all aspects of fishing, from fishing tackle to technique.

Open Weekend Opening Times

  • Friday 6th – Open 8am – 6pm
  • Saturday 7th – Open 8am – 6pm
  • Sunday 8th – Open 9am – 5.00pm

Colin Thomas and Kieron Jenkins will be on hand at the Airflo tackle selection at the GAC open weekend, they’ll ensure you’ll get the best service and knowledge of any Airflo product stocked at the Fishing Megastore.

What to expect over the 3 days

  • Loads of help and advice to help you become a better angler
  • Meet the biggest names in fishing, including: Stevie Munn, Paul Proctor, Billy Buckley, Mike Thrussell, Hywel Morgan, Paul Young and many more.
  • Huge discounts on all the biggest brands: Airflo, Hardy, Greys, Daiwa, Savage Gear, Simms, Patagonia and Shakespeare to name just a few.
  • Fly tying demos, fishing advice, presentations and loads more
  • Casting Competition with fantastic prizes on offer
  • Learn and improve your Lure fishing with our exclusive lure tank
  • Learn all about outboard engines, motors and related services, courtesy of Clyde Outboard Services
  • Free Parking
  • On-site Food & Refreshments
  • Snack/Sitting Area
  • Clean customer Toilets
  • Casting Pool to try before you buy on fly rods and to see demos of new and exciting rods for 2015

You won’t want to miss it!

The Open Weekend has such a unique atmosphere. People from far and wide flock to the 30,000 square foot fishing superstore to rub shoulders with the biggest names in fishing. However it also gives anglers the opportunity to share experiences, meet new faces and to express their passion for the great outdoors and love for the sport.

For more information on the Glasgow Angling Centre Open Weekend, click here: blog.fishingmegastore.com

5 Surprising items every fisherman should own

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Are you an avid sea angler? For true devotees of the noble art of sea fishing, investing in a wide range of sea fishing tackle is just the start.

It’s also important to own things that connect you to the ocean and the sport you love. We’re talking nautical knick-knacks.

Not only do they perform a useful function, they also look good about house and they’re a talking point, helping to cement your reputation as a true salt. Here are our top five things every sea fisherman should have.

1. Seaweed

Seaweed 525x297 5 Surprising items every fisherman should own

Image source: lovleah
Keep your eyes peeled for an attractive clump next time you’re out!

If you have a veranda, balcony or porch, you need kelp, a string of seaweed to dangle from a conveniently positioned hook. When you pop out to give it a stroke each morning, your neighbours might give you a funny look, but what do you care? You’re a sea angler.

But aside from it’s obvious connection to the sea, seaweed is an effective – albeit alternative – weather forecaster. The salt in the seaweed attracts the moisture in the air. Damp weed indicates a higher likelihood of rain, a dry brittle feel is a sure sign of dry, sunny, anti-cyclonic conditions. You could of course check the weather forecast – but where’s the fun in that? A true sea fishing fan needs to sniff the air and caress the kelp for himself.

2. Sextant

Sexant 525x324 5 Surprising items every fisherman should own

Image source: scorpp
Cool, quirky and actually useful.

It’s made of brass, it looks awesome, and if you really know how to use it, you’re so salty you make Ahab look like a landlubber. Strictly speaking, a land based sea angler has no need to possess a sextant. But if you do venture out to sea and lose sight of land, this instrument, along with your watch, is a nautical fall back you can’t afford to be without.

Before the advent of marine electronics and GPS, knowing how to use a sextant and chronometer to pinpoint your position on a chart was essential. A sextant is all too often treated as a quaint reminder of our nautical heritage. Until you lose your electrics.

3. Lunar calendar

Lunar Calendar 525x269 5 Surprising items every fisherman should own

Image source: ricardokuhl
Track the moon and land big.

When most people think of the lunar landings, they think in terms of “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But as far as you’re concerned, it’s all about the fish. Most people know fish often feed at dawn and dusk, but you’ll increase your chances of making a catch if you also factor in moonrise and moonset.

And if you combine this new knowledge with fishing on the new or full moon, you’re really making out your chances of catching a specimen. So if you really want to know when it’s best to cast, add a lunar calendar to your shopping list!

4. Tide clock

Tide clock 525x303 5 Surprising items every fisherman should own

Image source: Bin im Garten
Do away with your tide book and invest in a clock.

No self respecting sea angler would allow him or herself to be caught on the hop when it comes to knowing what the tide’s doing. But if you live beyond sight of the brine, keeping an eye on the ebb and flow can be aided considerably by owning a tide clock.

Unlike a normal clock, the tide clock has only one hand which indicates high or low tide and the hours until the next tidal extreme. A tide clock’s efficacy at foretelling the time of the next tide varies according to where in the world you live, but in semi-diurnal tidal regions like most Atlantic coasts, it’s fairly efficient.

That said, because tides are brought about by the gravitational influences of the moon, sun and rotation of the earth, your clock will tend to gain by about 15 mins per month, so don’t forget to also invest in a tide timetable!

5. Barometer

Barometer 525x342 5 Surprising items every fisherman should own

Image source: Baloncici
Get your own mini weather station.

“Noi viviamo sommersi nel fondo d’un pelago d’aria,” said Evangelista Torricelli. And he was right – we do live at the bottom of an ocean of air. What the 17th century scientist realised was that “air ocean” currents create whirlpools and eddies which in turn give rise to areas of high and low atmospheric pressure.

In 1643, Torricelli took a 1 meter long glass test tube, filled it with mercury and stood it open end down in a trough filled with the same metal. The level of the mercury fell to 76cm, leaving a vacuum above. This level varied with changes in atmospheric pressure; it was the first barometer. These days, your barometer is more likely to be of the compact, air filled Aneroid variety. Either way, if you’re a proper angler, you need your own weather station. Go tap that glass.

What do you reckon – have we missed anything out? Let us know your must have items on Twitter and Facebook!

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Feb 2015

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Hythe ranges cod Chris Snow 2lb codling Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Feb 2015

The early spring sunshine brings lots of false dawns at this time of year with spring seemingly about to arrive daily, especially around the south of the Country. But extremely low temperatures, snow melt water and icy winds lay in wait to dampen enthusiasm for many shore anglers and the only true pointer to springs arrival are the extending daylight hours.

Lots of anglers may believe that temperature plays the biggest part in the arrival of spring and the start of the improvements in fishing it brings, but it’s the daylight hours that count the most. Look on the land to see why – sunshine hours are steady, regularly improving each day, tangible proof to life that spring is coming. The light does raise ground temperature, but it’s the extending length of each day that sets nature on its spring journey! On the shore the sunny side of the groyne sees the sand and mud warm in readiness for the crabs to moult, whilst shallow water calms and clears allowing the water temperature to increase.

It’s a great time of year with the change in the fishing tangible – The pin whiting so long a winter pest, start to thin out with small pouting amongst the arrivals. They are good news for the match anglers and bass food so don’t knock them! In recent years it’s a time for the rays to show along with returning dogfish and whilst the rays may be spasmodic in terms of which species and location they, especially the thornback, have become a major spring species in many southern regions.

This year with the codling fairly prolific throughout the winter, they too will show in spring and this year should be the first proper spring codling run for several years. Too small to spawn they did not leave to the deeper water at the end of the winter and will linger and fatten around many coasts to take advantage of the peeling crabs before then heading to deep water and an all fish diet.

Other spring species include the plaice and they too have enjoyed an upsurge in local populations in some regions – said to be because of a plaice quota reduction on the commercials. Whatever, it’s nice to see these very slow growing flatties making a comeback, although in the early weeks of spring fresh from spawning they really are lean and not worth eating so return if you can.

Clarkies undulate 525x348 Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Feb 2015

Chris Clark of Lymington with a big undulate ray – was it late winter or early spring?

 

Time to get the sea fishing rods out if you haven’t already – I’m particularly looking forward to the extended evenings, which make a late afternoon beach or pier session once again worthwhile. Night fishing is great in the winter, but daylight fishing is so much more enjoyable!

The debate about bass preservation rumbles on with EU proposals to raise the bass minimum size limit much talked about and generally supported by anglers. Whatever the limit set it will never be high enough and the commercial lobby will oppose it and angling has a fight on its hand if the commercials think they can have a legal limit lower than anglers! Catch limits are also essential and I as I have said before would also like to see a bass upper size limit. The Angling Trust is doing its best to fight the sea angler’s corner and all power to them – you can help by joining them as a member, a small price to pay for a voice!

On the tackle front the year brings, amongst a few new developments in the TF Range, a new fixed spool reel. I had to switch to fixed spool reels because of a ruined shoulder caused by years of dogfish and weed hauling and must say lightening down in general has helped make much of my shore fishing prove far more fun when the going gets tough. I have tried braid line, 10lb mono, 4oz leads, lighter rigs, tapered leaders and all in all I must say it’s been an experience. But one major factor was that I got fussier about reel performance and found some of the cheaper fixed spool models less effective than I required. And so we are introducing a new lighter model with a more sophisticated line lay for increased performance both in terms of casting and feel – I hope you enjoy it.

tfgear reel1 Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Feb 2015

New TF Gear Sea Fishing Reel

Finally, have you noticed that suddenly mono line quality has improved dramatically with the arrival of more lines containing co polymers? A tougher outer shell, higher knock resistance and overall improved strength are now something you can take for granted and I urge anglers who think they are using the best line to look again, because some of the new kids on the block are awesome and they are in the Fishtec catalogue!

Tight lines,

Alan Yates

Valentine’s Day: Seriously steamy seafood

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Fish and shellfish are the food of love, the way to your partner’s heart and a wonderful tasty way to begin your Valentine’s celebrations.

To prepare the perfect love potion, it’s time to put away your fishing rod, waist waders and tackle and check out our collection of fishy recipes.

Here are some seriously steamy seafood dishes to get you in the mood…

1. Classic Oysters

Oysters 525x312 Valentines Day: Seriously steamy seafood

Image source: Klippigraffen
Ahhh oysters, the original aphrodisiac.

The classic aphrodisiac, there are many who argue that the only way to serve oysters is alive in ice, with a twist of lemon and a drop of tabasco sauce. It’s the taste of the sea that’s rich in zinc which is good for the male reproductive health.

But not everyone likes their oysters raw and wriggling, so for those who don’t why not try our recipe for grilled oysters in lemon garlic butter?

Ingredients

  • One dozen live oysters
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Dash of Tabasco
  • Pinch of sea salt to taste
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 sprig of finely chopped parsley


  • Method

    1. Fry the garlic in the butter
    2. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper and Tabasco
    3. Shuck the oysters and place them on a grill rack, add small amount of the sauce to each shell and grill on a high heat for five or six minutes until the edge of the flesh starts to curl slightly

    2. Crab cakes with a kick

    Crab cakes 525x350 Valentines Day: Seriously steamy seafood

    Image source: evgenyb
    Crab cakes with a chilli kick.

    Never mind that crab is another zinc rich seafood – it belongs on any Valentine’s day menu simply because it’s delicious!

    Here’s a great way to combine the sweetness of the crabmeat with the spicy kick of cayenne pepper. Serve with a lemon mayo dip for starters, or pair with hand cut chips for a rustic main course.

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb cooked crabmeat
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3 or 4 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of sweet red pepper finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Cayenne pepper to taste


  • Method
    1. Fry off the garlic, red pepper and spring onions, let cool
    2. Take a bowl and carefully mix the rest of the ingredients together, except for the breadcrumbs
    3. Form the mixture into small balls about 2” in diameter
    4. Lightly coat in breadcrumbs
    5. Fry in butter at a medium to high heat for 3 – 4 minutes per side or until golden brown

    3. Rustic Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse 525x348 Valentines Day: Seriously steamy seafood

    Image source: HLPhoto
    A true taste of the sea!

    A traditional favourite of Marseille fishermen, you may not have access to some of the fish available in the Med. But that needn’t stop you evoking the sultry flavours of the South of France.

    Ingredients

  • 10 oz fresh mussels
  • 10 oz of firm fleshed fish cut into 1” cubes – monkfish or conger work well
  • 8 oz shell on prawns
  • 8 oz fish stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Splash of dry white wine
  • Pinch of fennel seeds
  • Cayenne pepper to taste


  • Method
    1. Lightly fry the onion and garlic, add the tomatoes, fish stock, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, white wine and olive oil and fennel seeds.
    2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
    3. Add the fish and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
    4. Now add the mussels and prawns and simmer for 6 – 8 minutes.
    5. Remove from the heat, remove any unopened mussels and discard.
    6. Serve with crusty French bread.

    4. Tuna Sashimi

    Tuna sashimi Valentines Day: Seriously steamy seafood

    Image source: JRBJR
    For those with adventurous tastebuds.

    A team of Japanese and American researchers took a sample of 78 students, both male and female and fed them supposed aphrodisiacs, testing after 30 mins and 60 mins for a sexual response to visual stimuli.

    They discovered that the most ‘stimulating’ of foods was Tuna sashimi which elicited a sexual response in 90.2% of males and 72.3% of females. With a success rate like that, it’s no wonder raw tuna makes our Valentine’s menu.

    Ingredients

  • Fresh raw tuna
  • Soy sauce
  • Wasabi
  • Pickled ginger


  • Method
    1. Slice the tuna as thinly as you possibly can*
    2. Add soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi to taste

    *If possible employ a sushi chef – it takes at least 2 years training to do it properly!

    5. Simple Salmon

    Salmon Valentines Day: Seriously steamy seafood

    Image source: legaa
    A simple salmon supper – delicious!

    What you’re getting with salmon is protein, serotonin, and mood protecting fish oils. It’s a versatile ingredient full of vitamins and minerals that might also have the added bonus of pepping up your love life.

    Why not try this simple salmon miso marinade and watch Cupid’s arrow fly.The slightly sweet and salty taste of the marinade works wonderfully with the oily fish, delicious!

    Ingredients

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • Miso paste
  • Soy sauce
  • Fresh bunch of asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • Method
    1. Mix miso with soy sauce to make a marinade.
    2. Coat the salmon and leave to steep under cover in the fridge for between an hour and overnight if it’s a strong taste you’re after.
    3. Grill the salmon under a medium heat for between 5 and 7 minutes a side, or until cooked.
    4. Pan fry asparagus in butter
    5. Serve together

    Progress – Fly Fishing in the high country

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    FullSizeRender 525x395 Progress   Fly Fishing in the high country

    Beginning with winter solstice, the journey to spring in my part of the world is measured in pitifully small increments of advancement in temperature and daylight. While the improvements can seem barely noticeable through December and January, hope begins to appear with the arrival of February when average daily highs hover around the freezing mark and more than an hour of fishing light has begun since the shortest day of the year.

    A fishing day for me is anytime I am not fighting ice encrusted guides or the risk of frostbitten fingers. And while winter conditions remain a constant throughout the month, a reduction of subzero nights and a northerly migrating sun bring a progressive increase to the number of hours I am willing to spend pursuing trout on the Henry’s Fork when winter’s worst lies in the rearview mirror.

    Looking for coffee Progress   Fly Fishing in the high country

     

    Although the arrival of February brings a fairly significant increase in opportunity for casting to rising midge feeders, most who fish above the 5,000 foot level will spend more time probing the depths of deeper runs and pools for the larger residents who will remain disinterested in the exertion of surface feeding until emerging insects are larger and the water warms to above 40ᵒ F.

    Whether fishing nymphs or streamers; deep and slow are the bywords for fishing water only a few degrees above freezing. And unlike juvenile trout which will occupy the shallow edges, adults are prone to the comfort and security of depth in their selection of winter habitat. With metabolism slowed by cold temperature, big trout do not seem to require a high volume of food nor are they often willing to expend energy or fat stores in pursuit of fast moving prey or food drifting outside a distinct comfort zone.

    Feb. hook up 525x350 Progress   Fly Fishing in the high country

    In cold water, mature trout seem inclined to hug the stream bottom where the water is generally warmer and most food sources are concentrated. Upward or lateral movement of more than a foot or two is the exception rather than the rule for winterized fish which feed opportunistically on organisms drifting close by rather than chasing down a meal.

    Aside from midge larvae, which are about the only aquatic insects to be truly active in mid-winter, trout will not generally see a consistent food image during times when cold water dormancy limits the activity and availability of aquatic organisms. Therefore, acute selective feeding behavior associated with trout isolating their attention on a single insect species or other source of nutrition is seldom a problem through most of the winter months.

    Since the opportunity to feed during this period is usually based on a random selection of nymphs, larvae, and other fish, I do not usually concern myself with precise imitation when selecting a fly pattern. A typical nymphing rig might include a heavy, black or brown stonefly pattern in size 6 or 8 and a smaller Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ear nymph in size 14 or 16. The flies are tied to move naturally with the current by utilizing thin rubber legs or soft, flexible materials like marabou and Partridge hackle.

    My winter streamers in size 6 and 8 are relatively small in comparison to what I would normally tie on in other seasons, but they seem to work just fine and represent much less work when fishing with chilled hands and a lighter fly rod. And like the nymphs, I want my streamers to display action without excessive manipulation with the rod or line. At times, I will also fish a nymph and streamer in tandem.

    A 9 foot 6 weight rod allows me to switch back and forth between nymphs, streamers, and dries with relative ease, which is particularly helpful when changing rods can mean a considerable hike through knee deep snow.

    My line is a double taper floater, which allows me to manage the drift with mending techniques that keep the fly moving slowly and close to the bottom. And I try to maintain a dead drift whether fishing nymphs or streamers when temperatures are at their lowest.

    elite lichen 525x286 Progress   Fly Fishing in the high country

    A 10 to 12 foot leader allows the fly to sink quickly to the proper depth, and I will add a small split shot or two in deeper or quicker currents. In the interest of controlling fly drift and detecting the always subtle take, I try to limit my cast to 30 feet or less.

    In the high country, the rewards of winter fishing are not always defined by the size or number of the catch, especially on those welcome days in February when calm winds and a climbing sun can mask the reality that true spring weather can lay two or more months into the future. And at times like this when progress finally becomes noticeable, simply being outdoors and fishing can be reward enough.

    Fly Fishing Coaching with International Anglers

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    10524653 10152454632401022 5945319226503247130 n 525x164 Fly Fishing Coaching with International Anglers

    If you’re in the south Wales area and are looking for some fly fishing tuition, call along to Cwm Hedd Lakes on 21st February where a selection of top Welsh International anglers will be on hand for casting tuition, fly tying demonstrations and fly fishing talk.

    All proceeds of the event will go towards raising funds for the 2015 Welsh Ladies International team. The Welsh Salmon and Trout Angling Association (WSTAA) is the governing body for game angling in Wales and Cwm Hedd is pleased to be supporting the WSTAA by hosting this fly fishing coaching event.

    The event is ideal for anglers of all abilities – from complete beginners through to experienced anglers – who are looking to hone in a specific technique or learn the basics of fly fishing.

    The cost of coaching will be £15 per hour for adults and £10 per hour for under 18s and students, with all proceeds from coaching going towards team funding.

    There will also be fly tying in the lodge and instruction for beginners on how to set up a fly rod, tie a fly to your leader, and the opportunity to get advice on choosing fishing rods and reels (no charge for activities in the lodge).

    To book a coaching session, download an entry form from the Cwm Hedd Events page

    coaches 525x164 Fly Fishing Coaching with International Anglers