10 Ways To Feed Your Swim More Effectively

The way you introduce bait when fishing can be absolutely key to success. Dom Garnett has 10 top tips and suggestions to boost your catches.

Fishtec_Feeding_Tips

Smart, accurate feeding can make the difference between the odd fish and a full net.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

1. Keep it coming…

All too often, anglers dump a load of bait in, wait, and that’s it. Try feeding less but more often. The sight and smell of bait falling in regularly is attractive to fish. A steady supply gets them competing and entices new fish to come and explore.

Fishtec_feed_little_and_often

If in doubt, feed little and often to draw fish and get them competing.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

2. Catapult happy

Catapults are very useful for pinging feed out, but do get the right one for the job. Try squeezing the pouch to concentrate your free offerings. Accuracy counts!

3. Pick a marker

Talking of accuracy, it’s no use throwing in bait everywhere. Pick a marker on the far bank, such as a tree or platform, to improve your aim.

4. Mix it right

Fishtec_groundbait

Make groundbait into balls.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Groundbait is a superb way to get bait in a concentrated area. Don’t do it slapdash though. Consistent feeding calls for consistent groundbait. Make it evenly and thoroughly so it can be formed into balls. Wetting your hands at the end to make a “skin” on each ball helps keep balls of bait together.

5. Feeders for accuracy

Rather than throw your bait willy nilly, a feeder offers great accuracy at distance and does the regular feeding for you. If you’re fishing a bomb or carp rig, you could always unclip the lead and attach a feeder to give them a few payloads. If the water is deep, you can also try taping up the holes of your feeders to release the bait right on the bottom (as shown below).

Fishtec_feeder

Taping up your feeder will allow bait to get right to the bottom of deep water.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

6. Colours

As a rule, fish have less trouble finding bait in clear water- and can even spook if you go OTT, so try dark groundbaits and simple offerings like bread. If it’s murky and muddy, you can try brighter groundbaits, such as red or orange.

7. Don’t scare them

Occasionally, it’s better not to feed! If you suddenly see fish in your swim, avoid smashing free offerings down on their heads. It’s often better to cast just one bait or add a small handful rather than charging in.

8. Top droppers

If you regularly fish running water, especially deep rivers, a bait dropper is excellent for getting the feed to the fish without being swept all over the shop. That said, if you fish a stillwater full of “bits”, you might use one to get small baits like hemp and maggots straight to the bottom without getting picked off!

9. Spombs away

Fistec_Spomb

A Spomb from Fishtec currently costs just £9.99.

Spods are great for launching loads of bait out quite accurately for carp, but are a bit big and unwieldy for other anglers. A spomb is the answer! These neat devices will cast on a regular barbel rod and are fantastic for fast, neat baiting. Also fun to use, they cost just a tenner from Fishtec.

10. Cheat!

Of course the ultimate way to feed accurately is to bend the rules a little. A pole cup is one excellent way to feed (even if you are not fishing the pole). PVA bags are another great shortcut to tight feeding (just see any carp magazine in the history of time). Heck, use a bait boat if you must!

Fishtec-bream

A large bream on the method. Big catches of this species often depend on feeding accurately and generously to hold the shoal in your swim.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Read more from our blogger…

You can catch more from Dom Garnett in the Angling Times every week, or through his various books and regular blog at www.dgfishing.co.uk.

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A Summer Feast By Rene’ Harrop

Summer is a long time coming to the high country, but the wait is always worthwhile.

Summer Morning

Summer Morning.

Despite two snow storms during the month of June, the rivers in most of the Yellowstone region have stabilized after extensive spring runoff and the lakes are at maximum capacity. While mornings are inevitably cool even in July, we have not seen frost in more than a week. With these components in place the blooming of summer hatches is currently underway and the menu can only be described as extravagant.

Reaching For A Rise

Reaching For A Rise.

On the Henry’s Fork alone we are currently being treated to Green, Brown and Gray Drakes. Smaller mayflies including Pale Morning Duns, Flavs and Blue Wing Olives are a daily feature on this and other nearby rivers. Summer caddis in assorted sizes and colors adorn both moving and still waters in morning and evening, which are the most comfortable times to be on the water when temperature and wind are considered.

Whether wading or launching a drift boat, I am struck by the number of different fly patterns that may be called into service during a day on the water in early July. With this in mind, my vest holds weight unbecoming a man of my years, but I dare not leave a single fly box behind.

Summer Prize

Summer Prize.

These are the longest days of the year, and a starting time of 7:00 A.M. or earlier is not unusual. A day beginning with PMD Spinners and ending perhaps fourteen hour later with a Brown Drake emergence can be somewhat exhausting but to complain would be a criminal act in the mind of a true fly fisherman.
!

Well Fed Brown!

Well Fed Brown!

With months of far less opportunity only recently left behind, such opulence is like a feast for a starving man. Summer is a season far too short in the mountains and I plan to utilize these treasured days in the most appropriate way.

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Top 10 Angling Disasters (and how to avoid them!)

hook-head

We’ve all done it right? The hook in the hand…
Image source: Dom Garnett

It’s only fishing, what could possibly go wrong? For some of us, quite a lot! Dom Garnett talks us through his top 10 angling disasters, with a healthy dose of hindsight humour. Take the chance to learn from Dom’s mistakes and make sure you don’t get caught out in the same way…

1. Rod pulled in!

napping

Don’t get caught napping! If there are big fish about, you could lose that rod in a flash.
Image source: Dom Garnett

There’s a price to be paid by those that don’t stay alert. Heavy hitters like carp and barbel can easily pull your prized rod into the drink. That rule about never fishing unattended rods is there for a reason. There are three easy ways to avoid this common error: Set the drag on your reel carefully (a little loose if your mind tends to wander); double check baitrunners are on for carp; and for goodness sake, pay attention!

2. Forgotten landing net

That sickening feeling… it’s not there when you open the boot. Sure you can fish, but how are you going to land anything? The only solution is to nip back home. Or find a more accessible spot. Or buddy up with an angler who is better organised than you.

3. In for a soaking

getting-wet

Falling in might be a bit of a joke, but hypothermia certainly isn’t.
Image source: Dom Garnett

Getting wet is the stuff of angling banter, but not always a laughing matter if you’re the victim. I’m constantly amazed by the fact that over a quarter of fishermen can’t swim. Assuming you get out safely, it could be more than your pride that hurts. Cold is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. Unless it is baking hot, you should quickly change into dry clothes if you plan to keep fishing.

Having got my feet wet on many occasions, my answer is simple: always have a spare set of dry clothes in the car. Anything will do, even that old band t-shirt from 1995. Just don’t make yourself ill.

4. A hook in the hand

Ouch! That looks nasty. Whether it’s a point in the finger or an unwanted piercing somewhere else, getting hooked isn’t much fun. If it’s a small or barbless hook, you might be fine. The best way to remove an errant hook is to push down against the barb, then pull up (try practising on something other than your hand!). If the hook is big or lodged solid, you should go to hospital, period. It’s also a good idea to make sure your tetanus boosters are kept up to date. (There’s yet another argument for barbless hooks in there somewhere too).

5. Missing bait, lures or flies?

Oh for goodness sake, how did I forget my bait box or neglect to pack any lures? It’s easily done, but what happens next? If you’re a messy angler, you might just find a few stray flies, an old spinner, or a tin of sweetcorn in the boot. Otherwise you’ll have to improvise.

If you can’t nip to a shop, perhaps you could gather some bait on the bank? If there are old leaves, rocks or stones to turn, you might just find a worm or other snack. But the best answer is to have a sneaky bag of bait and a little handful of lures stashed away in the boot of the car for emergencies.

6. The call of nature

It’s not a pretty business, but there are times when you (ahem) have to do what you have to do, but are miles away from the nearest toilet. The prospect of going Tarzan style in the bushes is fairly horrible, um, so I’m told… but needs must. Always have a roll of loo roll and a thick resealable bag hidden in your car or supplies.

7. Lost or cut off

cut-off

Tides and conditions must always be watched.
Image source: Dom Garnett

It’s easy to lose sense of time or direction, especially if you enjoy fishing wild areas or those exposed to the elements. The weather can change very suddenly. You can easily get stuck or even stranded by the tide. For any fishing trip in a new or risky area you should always try to get advice from a local, let someone know where you’re headed and keep a mobile close.

8. Plenty of bites

Mosquitoes, midges, horseflies and other insects can be pure evil. For anyone who fishes in Scotland, Finland or Alaska, plagues of these creatures can crop up! Repellent is essential (“Skin so Soft” is a good one, for those who shrink at deet). If things are really heavy you may even need a mask (no kidding). It’s often good practice to cover up ankles, legs and exposed areas so you’ll avoid ticks and other critters too.

9. Bird trouble

Birds love eating bread (or any floating baits) and can also tangle with line. We all need to be vigilant and fish with care. As for what to do if you hook a duck or other bird when fishing, that’s another mess altogether. Try to retrieve the line and hook as quickly and delicately as possible. Usually the best way is steady pressure. If you can see and free the hook, great. If it’s more awkward, the best thing to do is to cut the line as closely as possible- and remove anything that might hinder the bird. A small barbless hook will cause little harm; but being tethered to fishing line is serious. If you are concerned for the bird’s welfare, you can call the Environment Agency, who will direct you to the best local source of help.

10. Broken rod

broken-rod

At some stage in your life it will happen… crunch!
Image source: Dom Garnett

It can be the most heartbreaking thing of all. Your favourite rod, snapped. What can you do? If you had the sense to pack a spare, at least you can keep fishing. If it’s broken near the tip, you might even get it fixed. However, if the break is a bad one you might need a spare section; which can be a pain if it’s more than a couple of years old. In any case, it’s probably time to speak to the good folks at Fishtec!

More from our blogger:

Dom Garnett is an avid all round angler, author and photographer. His books include Canal Fishing: A Practical Guide; Crooked Lines and the Amazon bestseller Flyfishing for Coarse Fish. Catch his weekly column “The Far Bank” in the Angling Times, or discover more from him at www.dgfishing.co.uk

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Hodgman Wading Boot Review

Wading boots are a vital bit of gear for any river angler – get the wrong wading boots and you can easily waste your money!

In this long term review, Fishtec marketing director Tim Hughes sheds light on the new Hodgman Vion H-Lock wading boots after three months of hard use.

With nearly 100 salmon fishing days each year, a decent wading boot is an essential piece of fishing tackle for me, with reliability and comfort being crucial. I have tried numerous brands on the market over the years with mixed results – some have been brilliant and others have simply not made the cut!

Hodgman Vion Wading boots

Hodgman Vion Wading boots

Without exaggeration the rivers I fish in Mid Wales have some of the worst wading conditions known to man. Anyone who has fished the Usk or Upper Wye will be familiar with slippery bedrock gutters, lethal sharp rocks, glass smooth boulders and steep, obstacle ridden banks. So any wading boot that isn’t built to take sustained, serious fishing pressure is not going to last long with me.

I had been on the look out for a fresh set of boots for the start of my season, so naturally seeing US giant Hodgman enter the UK scene I became curious about their extensive range of premium wading gear.

Hodgman have been established in America since 1838 and are very well regarded on the other side of the pond. They are I believe the oldest established manufacturer of waders and boots in the world, but have only recently become available to British anglers. After speaking to the guys at Hodgman UK, I was further assured of the quality and pedigree of their products, so I decided to give a set of their boots a shot for my 2017 fishing campaign.

I opted for a pair of their flagship Vion ‘H-Lock’ interchangeable sole wading boots – some info on these on the video below.

Once they arrived my first impressions of the Hodgman Vion H-Lock were of a sturdy, no-nonsense boot with quality uppers and eyelets. They felt nice and solid but were also lightweight. These boots came supplied with two interchangeable soles – one felt, the other a sticky rubber known as ‘Wadetech’. I also added a studded rubber sole variant that is available as an accessory.

The way to change these soles is quite different to others on the market – they swivel on a central pivot, meaning the soles are quick and easy to take off. With this design there is no danger of losing the sole or of it coming adrift whilst you are fishing. They lock extremely securely allowing you to fish with confidence.

On the river I immediately began to appreciate the comfortable feel of them. The boots are neoprene lined, so are very pleasant to walk distances in, plus easy to slip on and off. They are also contoured nicely allowing for a comfortable fit around the foot. Speaking of fit, unlike most other brands there is no need to ‘size up’ with Hodgman boots. Simply order your regular shoe size and you are good to go – with plenty of room for wader stocking feet.

I found the rubber studded sole to be excellent on the treacherous bedrock sheets that the River Wye is infamous for. Grippy both in the river and on the bank, the ankle support was also first class.

One thing I particularity loved was the water draining function of the sole. The motion of your walking forces the water out through specially engineered channels beneath the sole, therefore reducing weight from excess water retention very quickly.

In the three months to date of hard fishing spent in the Vion’s, I have yet to see any signs of  wear. For me three months is probably equivalent to a few seasons worth of a ‘regular’ anglers fishing – for example the other day I went fishing at 4.00 am before work, then straight after work the same day until 9.30pm, followed up with a 12 hour full shift on the weekend. If the water is on i fish -simple as that!

A River Wye silver salmon

A River Wye silver salmon – good boots allow you to concentrate on fishing!

To conclude, these are some serious wading boots, without doubt the best boots I’ve ever used – and I’ve used a lot ! As a tackle essential these are worth every penny, especially if you are a hardcore fly fisher that spends every free minute on the water. I have a feeling these boots will be in service for a good few years to come, so I will keep you updated on how long they actually last me.

A full range of Hodgman Fly Fishing waders, boots and outwear are available here.

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A Beginners Guide to Fishing for Catfish

Ebro catfish

Fishing for cats is not for the faint-hearted.
Image courtesy of Simon Howells

With brute power and a bad attitude, catfish are an exciting target species. Fishing for cats is not for the faint-hearted. Wels fanatic and former Ebro guide Jim Sutherland offers some handy advice.

The Wels catfish

Wels-catfish

The Wels catfish could be the biggest fish you ever catch.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Whether it’s their sheer strength, or one for your bucket list, fishing for catfish is an exhilarating experience. They represent not only a mysterious, deadly quarry, but for many anglers, the chance to catch your biggest ever freshwater fish.

Of course there are many catfish species all over the world, but for the purposes of this article we are referring to the Wels, or European catfish (Silurus glanis). A voracious hunter and scavenger, these beasts can grow to a formidable size. On the River Ebro, Spain, where I used to guide for the species, they run to over 200lbs. But in the UK, many waters now hold fish to 40lbs and bigger.

Whatever your reasons for seeking catfish, they are a beast that demands a special, considered approach. There are not many fish that will strip line at such an alarming rate, or ask so much of your tackle. Here are a few golden rules to get you off the the right start.

Preparation, confidence and respect

catfish

Catfish are becoming more common right across the UK. Dom Garnett caught this one from Anglers Paradise, Devon. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Preparation is essential for any successful angler. Where do you begin this challenge? Finding waters that hold a reasonable supply of catfish is the best start. It’s no use heading to a venue with just one or two rumoured monsters. You could have a long old wait and no doubt the novelty will dwindle after the second night and you’ll start to wonder why you bothered.

Initially at least, stick to a water that holds a good head of catfish that vary in size. Up to about 40lb would be a good start. But always be prepared for the unexpected, because catfish are often a bit of an unknown. I’ve fished waters and managed to winkle out monsters that the owners had forgotten about or didn’t even know existed!

One excellent source of information is the Catfish Conservation Group. They have a list of catfish waters. I would always pick one nearer to home before you think of venturing further afield. You may have to persevere for a while to catch your first cat, so targeting a fishing venue closer to home will allow you to focus your efforts.

Tackle for catfish

fishing-for-catfish

Catfish fight powerfully! Your tackle must be up to the job.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Catfish are a powerful species that will punish any weakness in your tackle, so you must have complete confidence in your gear. Carp tackle will often suffice, but you need to step up your lines and other gear to handle them.

Rods: Choose a rod that can double up for the larger carp, as most waters will hold a possible PB, so again, expect the unexpected! Go for a 13ft 3.5tc. There is a nice range on the market but remember, these rods do the job and you will have a lot more pleasure when fighting the battle. You don’t need a telegraph pole to catch cats!

Reels: I prefer big pit reels for catfishing. The simple reason being that these creatures can easily tear off 100m of line on one run. You have been warned! If you are night fishing, you can set your baitrunners a little tighter than for carp, to help set the hook. Be sure to set your drag carefully.

Line: It must be a robust braid, as they will take you to places on a lake that only they know. Behind trees, islands, gravel bars and the last thing you want is to lose your quarry because you opted for the cheap seats! Go for a 20-30lb breaking strain as a minimum.

The Business End: You have a choice between an inline lead or lead clip. I usually use both options on my two rods. Inline is better for distance casting I find, although cats are not always far from the bank. In fact, they will patrol close in at night.

When fishing to snags close in, a lead clip system that will dump your weight during the fight is the best system. This should help avoid getting weeded or smashed up. I tend to use 3.5 or 4oz leads for cats, as this weight tends to hook them straight away so there’s no need for a vicious strike on the rod – you can just lift into them.

catfish-tackle

Don’t be caught out – have the right tackle.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Hook link and bait: You can use large boilies, or even small dead or live baits where permitted, but I tend to like pellets. I hair rig two 21mm halibut pellets on one rod and three on the other. Why, you may ask? As I’ve said, you should sometimes expect the unexpected, big carp! I use a catlink of about 23inches and 70lb breaking strain. The catfish have teeth like very coarse sandpaper and they will do their utmost to chew through your leader!

Should you be fortunate enough to capture a fish, do always double-check your rig for wear and tear before recasting. You’d be surprised at the number of fish lost due to blunt hooks or a frayed bit of hook link. Use about a 4inch hair, or even longer, as you can always take up the excess by wrapping it around the hook. The pellet can be hard up against the hook if need be.

I always like to have a few pellets soaking in halibut oil for hook bait. Soak these for a week, as you might have to rely on the aroma to attract your quarry. A 9-ply pva stringer with around 5-7 pellets around your hook bait usually works a treat.

In terms of other bait, I would always recommend groundbaiting for cats. Fishmeal based mixes are ideal, as are any crumb mixes that will also draw in small prey fish. Cats can eat a lot, so you can also introduce plenty of free offerings, such as large pellets and fishmeal boilies. Prebaiting can also be well worth the effort.

catfish-eyesight

Catfish have poor eyesight and are avid night feeders.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Hooks: Use either a BP Special size 1 or 2, or an Eagle Claw size 4. Always make sure you are allowed to use these hooks on a venue. If there is a size restriction, a nice wide gape carp hook will do the job nicely.

Backleads: It’s always worth pinning the line down with captive back leads and these will drop off when you lean into the fish. It’s not that catfish are line shy, but more the case you want it pinned out of the way, because these are big, clumsy fish! You don’t want spaghetti junction at 3am.

Night fishing: A tidy rod pod or two bank sticks, fully alarmed, is ideal for catfishing. Bite alarms are very useful, given that I find late evening, night, and early morning the most productive time. You can’t beat the warm summer nights, when catfish will be at their most active in the year.

Respect!

catfish-glove

You’ll need a large landing net or a glove to land your fish.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

So you’ve hooked your catfish, the next question is how the heck are you going to land it? We come back to the golden rule of preparation. You have two choices here. A large landing net or a glove. I always opt for the glove method but it can feel a bit unnatural at first.

If using the glove method, make sure you have some idea of the hook hold. You don’t want to run the risk of a late night outing to A&E! The fish is likely to be tired so it will feel heavy. Don’t be fooled. Tap the cat on the head, should its mouth be shut, and it will oblige. Put your hand into the mouth and position your thumb under its chin. It will feel like a suitcase handle but stay alert. They can catch you out and it’s not unusual to get a broken wrist from 100lb+ fish.

For most beginners to catfishing, the net is the way. Pack an extra large triangular-headed net, fully anticipating a fish that could be six to eight feet long! A large, well-padded unhooking mat is also a must.

A strong, quality pair of long nosed forceps is a must for unhooking, In spite of their mean appearances, catfish can be quite docile on the bank. But you must take charge of the situation, so be positive and keep the fish under control.

Always have your mat and unhooking tools together, and a spot to take your picture worked out beforehand. It’s essential not to stress the fish in any way and get it back to where it belongs ASAP. When releasing, hold the fish and give it a couple of head rubs. You can even kiss it if you are that way inclined (just don’t tell the wife)! The fish will tell YOU when it is ready to swim off – and what a moment – to see that monster say goodbye with a sudden wrench of power. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but you simply can’t help respect a creature like that.

100lb plus river Ebro catfish!

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Fishing In Droughts – Lack Of Rain Stops Play?

low water fishing

Summer low: dry conditions call for extra caution.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

With some of the lowest rainfall levels on record, 2017 could prove testing for fish and anglers alike. Dom Garnett offers some thoughts on the challenges of low water fishing and the issues facing our rivers.

For both coarse and fly anglers, low rivers present a difficult scenario. We might dream of full, healthy waters during the closed season, but often the picture is very different on the bank.

This year we have been hit by some of the strangest weather on record, and whether you blame climate change or just freak chance, more extreme weather patterns look set to stay. The driest April for decades was followed by some of the warmest temperatures we have ever seen; including the hottest June day since 1976. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the huge effect this can have on our rivers.

New highs, new lows

dried-up-river

Down to the bones: a drought-hit river.
Image courtesy of Angling Trust.

While pretty much all UK rivers have been at low levels lately, some have witnessed dramatic extremes. In Wiltshire, for example, parts of the River Kennet ran totally dry earlier this year, and experts warned that Britain’s rivers were in danger of drying up.

Of course, it is not only extreme weather that causes problems. Human activity also exacerbates low river levels, with abstraction and water wastage two of the biggest causes of falling waters. Indeed, groups like the Angling Trust and WWF have been campaigning for years to push for better standards, as population levels grow and water management still leaves a lot to be desired.

Effects on fish and fishing

chub

A summer chub lurks in inches of water; fish like these can be painfully cautious.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Welcome rain has stemmed some of the extreme drought recently, but as river levels across the UK remain low, what can anglers do? Should we be fishing at all in extreme conditions? This is a very personal choice, but caution is advised and we must be extra careful with our catch.

For the fish themselves, low water can be a time of stress. When the body of water shrinks, temperatures rise quicker. Lower flows also result, further depleting oxygen levels. Just as we feel lethargic and short of puff on a hot day, the warmer the water becomes, the lower dissolved oxygen it holds for fish.

Some species should probably be left alone altogether when the water is really low and warm. Pike are especially fragile, but some anglers also cease fishing for barbel and other types of fish too. The choice is yours, but the fishing is likely to be challenging- and if you do succeed you must be responsible for your quarry.

Low water tactics

avoid-spooking-fish

Anglers will need to work harder to keep a low profile.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

When rivers run low, fish are often at their most vulnerable. Less water means more exposure to predators, so they tend to be cautious. They will often move from their usual haunts too, meaning you must track them down. Many fish, such as chub and even carp, will migrate to fast, shallow flows where they have cooler, more oxygenated water. Others may abandon shallow, exposed lies for deeper pools and cooler depths.

The most obvious consequence for the angler is that they must be stealthier than ever to avoid scaring fish. Keeping a low profile and cautious wading are a must. Line and tackle are also more obvious when the water is clear and shallow, so finer kit makes sense. Smaller baits and hooks are a good idea for those seeking coarse fish, while fly anglers should resort to fine lines and smaller, more natural looking flies.

On trout streams, low water can make keen-sighted fish especially spooky. Those you find in the steady glides can become painfully shy to any disturbance. Spots with broken, faster rushing water tend to fish better therefore, providing oxygen for trout and enough commotion to conceal the angler.

On coarse rivers, standard tackle never looked so obvious to the fish and you might have to scale down. Simple link-legered or even free-lined baits are one answer, and you might find smaller, more natural baits such as maggots and casters work best. Another good dodge is to try fly fishing for the likes of chub, roach and dace.

Fish care in hot weather

handle-fish-with-care

Keep fish wet and handling to a minimum in hot conditions.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Low rivers and warmer temperatures make the fish we catch more vulnerable to angling pressure. As we’ve said, it is a personal decision whether to fish or leave them alone, but in the hottest weather we must take extra care. Keepnets, for example, can be dangerous when fish are retained for any length of time.

A good general rule for the summer is to handle your catch as little as possible. Waders are useful here, allowing the angler to unhook and release most fish without them leaving the water. Should you want a quick picture though, your quarry can always be retained in a submerged net- much better than them flapping around on a dry bank. Should you need to land a fish, make sure your unhooking mat is well-doused with water.

Fish often need more recovery time on a hot day too. Just as you find exertion leaves you exhausted on a balmy day, fish also suffer in the heat. Where possible support the fish you are releasing and give it time to recover. Point it nose first into the flow and be patient; fish like grayling and bream may need a few seconds to fully come to their senses.

Above all, use your common sense and be as kind as you can to fish in low water and hot conditions. You might also find my selection of catch and release tips handy, on the Turrall Flies blog.

Longer term lows?

cracked-river-bed

Is this what the future has in store?
Image source: Shutterstock.

Are current low water levels an exception, or part of a troubled future for our rivers and waterways? Even Donald Trump would have a hard time writing off present day extremes as “normal” as records continue to be broken and the vast majority of scientists point towards a future of more freakish changes in our weather.

The bigger picture for rivers is that they will face more floods and droughts in coming years and require our protection more than ever. It falls to all of us to be more cautious about water usage and to lean on authorities to manage natural resources more wisely.

Finally, there are two further things we can all do to play our part. The first is to report any worrying signs such as painfully low water levels or fish in distress to the Environment Agency (the number is on the back of your EA license). The second is to support the Angling Trust, who relentlessly campaign to combat abstraction and other critical issues. If we anglers aren’t conscientiously taking care of our fish and the fragile habitats they depend on, who else will?

More about our blogger…

Dom Garnett is a weekly Angling Times columnist and author of several books including Amazon bestseller Flyfishing for Coarse Fish and his recent collection of angling tales Crooked Lines. You can read more from him at www.dgfishing.co.uk.

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Dream Fishing Property For Sale – Golden Grove Estate

Would you like to own a prime stretch of UK river, full of super size sea trout and salmon? Well now you can – the world famous Golden Grove fishery is up for sale.

The Golden Grove Fishery on the River Towy is widely regarded as the best Sea Trout fishery in the United Kingdom, if not Europe. Situated in verdant Welsh countryside near the Carmarthenshire market town of Llandeilo, this renowned game fishery attracts fishermen worldwide.

The 5 year catch record for 3 out of the 6 main beats is an incredible 565 Sea Trout and 51 Salmon. The same 3 beats have produced 25 Sea Trout over 10lbs on the 5 year average.

As well as 10.5 miles of exclusive double bank game fishing for salmon and sea trout (locally know as sewin), the estate includes 649 acres of land, including the ruins of the ancient Dryslwyn Castle.

The quality of Sea Trout the Golden Grove regularly produces

The quality of Sea Trout the Golden Grove regularly produces.

Owned by the well-known sportsman, Sir Edward Dashwood, with a fishing partner, the Golden Grove Estate offers a unique opportunity to acquire a high class sporting estate which is also a total haven for wildlife of many varieties. The video below shows the estate in all it’s glory.

The Golden Grove Estate from Skyvantage on Vimeo.

As well as the superb fishing, there are sporting rights to a further 3,366 acres of farmland and woodland with numerous ponds, splashes, oxbows and small areas of back water and small coppices, in addition to the main river. This attracts a diverse range of wildfowl over the winter months, including Geese, Teal, Mallard, Widgeon and Snipe making it a sportman’s paradise. In addition to the wildfowl, the estate is also a haven for many Fallow Deer.

Golden grove upper beats

Golden grove upper fishing beats.

Included within the estate is a 3 bedroom farmhouse with adjoining outbuildings which have great potential for conversion to provide a perfect fishing lodge. There is also a tenanted cottage and a redundant farmhouse and farm buildings which also offer great potential to create a second fishing lodge.

How much?

Estate agent Knight Frank (London and Cirencester) are giving a guide price of £5,000,000 for the property as a whole. For further information, please contact: Hollie Byrne or Atty Beor Roberts on 01285 659771

Sunrise on the River Towy

Sunrise on the River Towy at the Golden Grove estate.

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Fly Rod Eyes Explained

Ever wondered why your fly rod rings are set up the way they are? Does it really matter what sort of guides you have? Our blog explains all!

Fly rod guides can have real effect on casting and fish playing performance. Most anglers never pay attention to the eyes when making a rod purchase, but they should – because eye configuration and quality can make a big difference to your fishing.

Fly rod guide types

You will find three main types of rod rings on a fly rod.

At the butt end you will always find a stripping guide. This is the largest eye, with a wide diameter to allow line to shoot through it easily on the cast. They tend to be manufactured with a ceramic insert to reduce friction. They are built to handle the energy from the power generated in a stiff rod butt section. On higher line rated rods designed for distance or throwing large flies, you will often find two stripping guides. If you intend to do a lot of distance casting, then a rod with two of these guides is a must.

Stripper guides

Typical stripper guides

Snake eyes are the most commonly found guides on a fly rod blank. Basically these are simply twisted pieces of wire; designed to help your rod flex and your fly line flow through them unhindered. Made of chrome, stainless steel or even titanium, the standard double snake guide is very lightweight and a favourite the world over.

Double leg snakes

A double leg snake eye

Theses guides will be spaced at an optimum distance apart to allow for smooth flexing of the rod and for good line flow. The diameter of snake guides vary, according to what the rod builder had in mind for the performance of the rod.

If large diameter guides are used, this helps with shooting line for extreme distance; however some line control is lost in the process which can affect presentation and accuracy. Narrow eyes allow for precise control of the cast and better loop formation, but distance is harder to achieve. Most fly rods are built with their guide diameters as a nice balance between distance and line control.

Single leg snakes are also very popular on UK fly rods. These reduce the weight further by having just one leg that requires whipping to the rod blank – thus reducing the quantity of rod epoxy and thread needed to attach them.

In the UK most fly rods sold feature either standard double or single leg snakes, bucking the trend from heavy, narrow, lined ceramic eyes that were very popular a decade or two ago.

Single leg snake

Single leg snake

The tip eye (or tip top) is a vital guide that is fitted to the end of your fly rod. They are especially important as they are the most prone to wear, and need to transfer casting energy at the thinnest part of your rod. So they need to be of superior quality and just the right size for best performance.

Hayfork tip eyes

Hayfork tip eyes

Hayfork tip eyes are the most common, but there are also round tip tops available. These reduce friction because there is nowhere for the fly line to catch or get slowed down in. They are used by some of the top manufactures such as Sage.

In addition to the three main rod eyes described above, keeper rings are generally found just above the rod handle. These are usually just a simple looped piece of wire, placed to accommodate your fly.

The addition of a keeper eye on a fly rod is for convenience – it will help you resist the temptation to plant your fly into the cork handle, or onto the stripper eye and risk damaging the lining. Several modern fly rod manufactures have taken to leaving the keeper eye off their rods –  a trend that some may find annoying, or may not be bothered by. But, it’s something worth considering and checking when making a purchase.

Keeper eye - with or without?

Keeper eye – with or without?

Remember the more you pay for a fly fishing rod, the better the guide quality and overall thought to rod ring size and their placement is likely to be. These little differences can make a rod massively easier to fish and cast with. Be warned that on cheaper rods chrome snake eyes of poor quality can get grooved, or even corrode within a season or two. The old saying ‘buy cheap buy twice’ certainly rings true when it comes to fly rods and their guides.

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Airflo Stormbox Competition Tackle Boxes

The Stormbox by Airflo is the ultimate fly and tackle storage system for the boat angler.

Fully waterproof, durable and shock resistant the Stormboxes have rapidly become a firm favourite of boat based competition and pleasure anglers throughout the UK and Ireland.

A large central compartment swallows up multiple fly lines, spools, fly boxes and leader material with ease, whilst the strong bash resistant ABS plastic construction will keep your gear safe and sound in the boat, car and on the jetty whatever the conditions.

The Airflo Stormbox is available in two sizes:

Large (55.5 x 42.8 x 21.1 cm)
XL (59.4 x 47.3 x 21.1 cm)

The larger XL model has wheels and an extendable handle.

Many Stormbox owners are turning to the services of Andrew Barrowman, who is providing high quality custom ‘Foamtex’ interiors built to whatever specification the customer requires. Some examples below show Andrew’s excellent handiwork.

Airflo Storm boxes with custom inserts

Airflo Storm boxes with custom inserts.

Customise your Airflo Stormbox interior!

Customise your Airflo Stormbox interior!

For more details on obtaining a customised interior for you Airflo Stormbox, visit Andew’s new Foamtex Facebook page here

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6 Summer River Fly Fishing Tips

At this time of year fly fishing rivers becomes increasingly difficult; with low water conditions and increased daytime temperatures mainly to blame. Throw in high angler pressure throughout the spring months, and you have some truly challenging fishing by mid summer.

With that said, it is still possible to make some decent catches even when the river fishing is rock hard. The following river tips should help you keep on catching all summer…..

Stealth will bring you results....

Stealth will bring you results….

1. Stealth. A common sense tip, but often overlooked. Trout are wary creatures at best and with a river lacking in flow they are even more attuned to the presence of predators. A clumsy slip of the wader boot on a slimy rock will often spook a whole pool. So really take your time when approaching the water and if possible avoid unnecessary wading.

2. Walk the river. It really pays to go looking for fish when the going is tough. Walk the banks quietly and look for signs of fish rather than charge straight it. When river temperatures are warm in summer fish tend to be much more clustered together in refuse areas that offer extra cover. A tell tale rise or splash can give a tightly packed pod of fish away, saving you wasting time fishing empty water.

Walk the river to find fish

Walk the river to find fish – a trout that gave itself away with a splashy rise

3. Fish the faster water. In low summer flows fast water offers fish cover and oxygen, as well as helping mask the sound and vibration emitted by the angler. So It can pay to solely concentrate your efforts in rapids, pocket water and necks of pools when the river is fishing poorly during hot weather. Such areas can be fished effectively with a french leader, a method very much suited to spooky fish.

Look for fast, oxygenated water

Look for fast, oxygenated water when temperatures are high

4. Minimise your false casting. I often see too many anglers making false casts that they simply don’t need to. Less false casts equal less shadows and line flash that will alert spooky low water trout. A short head weight forward fly line such as the Airflo Super Dri Xceed is designed for quick rod loading, and will help reduce false casting. Also try and make your false casts lower down, at a side angle where your cast will intrude less into the cone of the trouts vision.

5. Use a long leader and scale down. The lower the water the longer the leader. Don’t be afraid to fish a 20 foot leader length on a low river. The further away from your fly line the fly is, the better! A clear floating Airflo light trout polyleader combined with a supple, thin diameter co-polymer such as the superb Airflo tactical allows you to achieve great turnover and subtle presentation at range.

6. Make the switch to low light conditions. Early or late can be the answer during heatwave conditions. From Mid Summer onwards trout in warm water tend to switch to surface feeding at last knockings and through into the night, when water temperatures fall and food sources are more abundant. Likewise crack of dawn fishing can produce good fishing, especially on nymphs, where trout remain in the faster shallows briefly before the sun rises.

A fish captured at last knockings...

A fish captured at last knockings…

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