10 Summer Holiday Fishing Tips

Off on your travels this summer? Whether it’s a dedicated fishing break, or just a rod snuck away on a family holiday, a lot of us will be on the road this summer. But if you want to get the best from your trip, you’ll need to be prepared. We’ve asked Dom Garnett for some timely advice. Here are his top 10 tips for the travelling angler.

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Successful fishing abroad just takes a little careful planning.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

1. Make a list

Once you’re on the road, you can’t nip home, so be prepared. Make a list of all your basics, from rods and reels to lures and cameras. It’s worth doing just for peace of mind, and you’ll be able to use your list again next time.

2. Protect your neck

There are things that save your neck time and again on long haul fishing trips. I always store a few essentials in the boot and they come with me on any holiday: Bottled water; a hat (wide brim is best); sun block; spare socks and a towel. Get a simple first aid kit too.

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Local tackle shops might not be what you expected, so be prepared!
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

3. Map it out

Mapping out where you’re going will save you time and hassle when you get there. The internet is a great resource for maps, postcodes and so on. I tend to go low tech on holiday and have them written down too – if you’re in the middle of nowhere with a poor signal, a hard copy beats Google every time. Maps and directions can also be screen-shotted on your mobile phone, as can fishing licenses and addresses.

4. Be social

We live in a brilliant age for networking with other anglers. I’ve been on a lot of fishing trips simply through making friends on Facebook, messaging a blogger, or following up a conversation. So be friendly. Ask questions. You may get some great advice, or better still make a new friend.

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An American smallmouth bass, from a summer road trip.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

5. Bait’s motel

Don’t court disaster by travelling with too much bait, or filthy live stuff. It can smell worse than election expenses in a hot car. If you want to take maggots, worms or other fresh bait, it needs to be put in a cooler bag or box, and well packed! Boilies, pellets and groundbaits are much easier to manage. If you’re flying, get your bait when you arrive.

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Featured product: Savage Gear Tele Finesse Lure Rod from Fishtec

6. Travel light with lures and flies

If time is limited, or you’re juggling fishing with family time, lure fishing is probably my favourite method. A travel rod and a couple of boxes of lures take up little space and you can sneak in short sessions whenever the chance arises.

Fly tackle is similarly light, with a fly box or two weighing next to nothing. Chris Ogborne’s recent blog for Turrall has some great recommendations for hitting wild rivers and the coast this summer.

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Invest in some travel kit that won’t take up much space.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

7. Rods, bags and customs

Airport staff can be an utter pain when it comes to taking fishing tackle on holiday. They like slapping on extra charges, or going right through your things. Be polite though, and above all be prepared. Lures, scissors and bait can raise their hackles if included in hand luggage. Have everything well organised, smile and they shouldn’t give you too many problems.

Rods need to be well packed, padded and in tubes if you are on a long haul flight. Many airlines will insist that they go in the hold luggage, so do pack well. I swear they play football with some of the cases.

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Featured product: Airflo Multi Fly Rod Tube from Fishtec

8. Get a Guide

There is no substitute for local knowledge and guides are worth their weight in gold. OK, so you might not fancy paying extra. But a guide can save days of guesswork and put you right on the fish. Furthermore, the new skills and knowledge you pick up will last for more than just a day.

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Local guides offer know-how and experiences you’ll never forget.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

9. Water-tight packing

Wet gear or water-damaged kit are bad news on any journey. Bring a large zip or plastic bag to store pongy nets and always take a waterproof hike bag for your phone and camera. I always wrap things like cameras in bubble wrap for the long haul.

10. Go boldly forth…

Finally, my last tip is to be brave, try something new and challenge yourself. There are so many amazing countries out there and not all cost the earth to travel to. Look for cheap flights and anything is possible. The same is true in your own country. If you haven’t already, why not try your hand at the Wye Valley and the Norfolk Broads. Or the Scottish Highlands and rugged coast of Cornwall (see last year’s blog on our top UK fishing destinations for five great options closer to home).

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Jason Coggins fishes the Isle of Skye. You needn’t travel far to find good fishing.

More from our blogger

Read two-dozen great angling tales from Dom Garnett in his most recent book Crooked Lines. With original illustrations and travels from Arctic Norway and the streets of Manhattan, it makes great summer reading. Find it at www.dgfishing.co.uk or as a £4.99 E-book for your tablet or Kindle at www.amazon.co.uk

Sea Fishing: The Canary Islands’ Best Beaches

Whether you’re in hot pursuit of first-class fishing opportunities or looking for a few hours angling during a well-earned holiday, there’s every reason to pack your fishing tackle on a getaway to the Canary Islands.

From spinning on the rocks to boat fishing off the coast, the Canary Islands have it all when it comes to sea fishing. We asked fishing enthusiasts at the Optima Villas team about the best beaches for angling on these volcanic isles. Here’s their insider’s guide to fishing the Canaries…

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A marina in Lanzarote

1. Playa Quemada, Lanzarote

From boat excursions to shore fishing, this small fishing village retains the traditional Lanzarote culture, despite being just minutes from the large resort of Playa Blanca. Boasting an unspoilt, sheltered bay which protects visitors and locals alike from the prevailing winds and currents of the Punta Gorda, this quaint coastal village is brimming with a diverse selection of fish in its waters.

Translated as Burnt Beach, it’s the black rocky bay which gives the village its name – and it’s the lack of golden sands which means that Playa Quemada is such an undiscovered corner of the coastline. Home to just three restaurants and several residential houses, this largely untouched bay is arguably one of the most idyllic spots for any anglers looking to fish in guaranteed peace and quiet.

2. Playa del Moro, Corralejo, Fuerteventura

Situated on the north east coast of Fuerteventura, the town of Corralejo is best known for its dune-backed beaches and endangered wildlife in the Corralejo Natural Park. With the island famous for its bonita tuna, barracuda, garfish and bluefish on the coastline – as well as the chance to catch mullet, bream, amberjacks, palometa and parrotfish on organised boat fishing trips, Corralejo’s waters are a must-visit for any keen angler.

As the day draws in, this former fishing village boasts an excellent choice of eateries and bars – and with the volcanic Montaña Roja promising spectacular panoramic views across the island, there’s plenty to see and do once you’ve packed up for the day.

3. Playa las Teresitas, San Andrés, Tenerife

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Playa las Teresitas, Tenerife

With a history dating back to 1497, San Andrés is one of the oldest villages on the Canary Islands, and is located just a stone’s throw from the vibrant capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Set against the impressive backdrop of the Anaga mountains, the picturesque village of San Andrés boasts some of the most sought-after fishing opportunities on the island.

With the majority of residents relying on fishing as their source of income, the new 360m long jetty operates as a breakwater – as well as providing anglers with a much-needed fishing dock. If you’re looking to get a closer look at life under the sea, why not swap your fishing pole for a snorkel and scuba dive, taking the plunge into these unspoilt waters?

4. Playa de Melenara, Gran Canaria

The island may be a favourite stop off for cruise ships due to Las Palmas’ array of duty-free shopping opportunities, but it tends to be the black lava and white sand beaches which attract so many of us to this mountainous island each year. Playa de Melenara is just 7km from the historic town of Telde, where visitors can discover some of the most important archaeological sites on the island and see what life was like in the town’s pre-Hispanic past.

On the coast, Playa de Melenara boasts a beachfront promenade that’s packed full with bars and restaurants – and with the expansive Atlantic Ocean so close, experienced anglers looking for a new challenge can head out into the waters to try their hand at catching barracuda and marlin, as well as tope, smoothhound, dogfish and angel sharks.

5. Playa de Puerto Naos, La Palma

As the largest beach resort of La Palma, Playa de Puerto Naos is no doubt one of the most beautiful hotspots on this island – and still relatively undiscovered by tourists. With its volcanic black sand boasting light green hues due to the olivine crystals that are present on its beach, Playa de Peurto Naos offers something truly unique.

The strong surf means that sea bass (lubina) can be regularly caught from La Palma too, and with barracuda and wrasse common on the coastline, there’ll be no shortage of things to catch during your stay.

Whether you try your hand at shore fishing or cast your net further on an afternoon of boat fishing, the beautiful climate and well stocked fisheries make the Canaries an excellent choice for anyone in search of an exotic fishing break.

This article was kindly provided by the team at Optima Villas, Lanzarote. If you fancy some exciting sea fishing and need somewhere to stay, check out the choice of villas on their website.

5 Reasons to Go Fishing in Newcastle

Whether you’re an expert in angling or your looking to try your hand at fly fishing, Newcastle upon Tyne’s waters make this city an ideal location for fishermen visiting from across the country.

With varied fishing opportunities in both the River Tyne and the city’s vast collection of angling lakes, there’s no shortage of fishing hotspots to explore in this vibrant metropolis.

Here are 5 reasons you should spend a long weekend casting your line, in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Bridge over Tyne

Image: Shutterstock
The Millennium bridge over the Tyne River

1. Fishing locations

Whether it’s the River Tyne or Stargate Pond, there’s no shortage of places for you to cast your line in Newcastle upon Tyne.

With the coast just a 10 minute drive away from the city centre, the North Sea is brimming with fishing opportunities. James Dixon of North East Kayak fisherman, has created his own location guide detailing the species of fish you can catch along the North East coast.

In addition to the bountiful coastline, Newcastle’s inland lakes and rivers boast a diverse selection of fish in it’s waters, attracting anglers from all over the country.

With 3 lakes spanning over 8 acres of water, the Angel of the North Fishing Lakes provide an unrivalled fishing experience for carp and coarse anglers. But if it’s salmon and sea trout you’re after, stick to the River Tyne.

2. Unrivalled views

Angel of the North

Image: Shutterstock
Angel of the North

From iconic landmarks to the spectacular views of the unspoilt countryside, angling in and around the city centre guarantees a day of peace.

As dusk falls and you pack up your fishing tackle gear for the day, head to the quayside and feast your eyes on the glittering illuminations of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

3. Salmon and sea trout spots

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Image: Tyne Salmon Fishing Facebook
A large end of season Tyne Salmon

Attracting around 30,000 salmon each year, the River Tyne is famous for being England’s best river for catching salmon. A vast clean up of the waters has transformed the River Tyne into a haven for wildlife – and its thriving population of salmon and sea trout makes it one of the finest fishing spots in the UK.

With legendary Tyne salmon weighing up to 35lbs, as well as the river’s excellent coarse fishing opportunities, the Tyne promises a challenging catch.

4. Accessible surrounding areas

Image: Tyne Rivers Trust Fishing the Haughton Castle beat

Image: Tyne Rivers Trust
Fishing the Haughton Castle beat

The North East is famed for its affordability, and that includes Newcastle’s fishing opportunities.

Gain access to wild brown trout, salmon and grayling in a choice of 16 different beats within the area with the Tyne Angling Passport scheme. A day ticket from the Tyne Rivers Trust is available for just £8, and offers anglers the opportunity to fish across the Tyne catchment.

After packing up for the day after some great game fishing, why not take a look at the array of affordable and exciting activities in the city centre? Dine in style, or immerse yourself in culture at the Live Theatre. There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Newcastle upon Tyne.

5. An abundance of angling opportunities

Image: Leazes Park Beautiful scenes in the city’s Leazes Park.

Image: Leazes Park
Beautiful scenes in the city’s Leazes Park.

If you’re having to fit your fishing between other activities, you may not have time to travel to spots outside the city. Luckily, you don’t have to.

Just minutes from the city centre, Leazes Park offers roach, tench, bream and carp – perfect for spending an afternoon. Or wake up early and visit Big Waters nature reserve just north of the city. The convenient parking and inner-city public transport systems make it easy to access all corners of Newcastle – so you can make the most of your time in this vibrant city.

Newcastle is a haven of adventure. So, whether you’re seeking somewhere to angle or fancy walk along the treetops, this city is sure to bring you an experience like no other.

Winter Fly Fishing in the Sun

Fly fishing in river

Image source: Shutterstock
Fly to New Zealand in December for some much needed sunshine.

Just because it’s winter, it doesn’t mean you have to fish in the cold. There’s a wealth of fly fishing destinations that are warm while we’re wrapped up in layers of fishing gear.

We’ve taken a month by month look at some of the best winter fly fishing destinations. Take a trip, stay warm, and check out some of the most exciting fly fishing on the planet.

November in the Bahamas

Wahoo fish

Image source: Shutterstock
Catch a Wahoo in The Bahamas

The Bahamas are paradise on Earth. Just ask any of the six million holidaymakers who flock there for the year-round summer and the postcard-perfect beaches.

It’s also a major draw for fly fishers. The world’s most famous bonefishing flats are in the Abacos, a group of 120 islands in the north. From November onwards you can also expect healthy hauls of barracuda, wahoo and snapper.

If you like the idea of a technical, yet rewarding challenge, the bonefish off the islands of Andros, swim right up to you. But when they’re hooked, they can swim off at up to 30mph. That’s when you’ll need to use your skills.

Tips
There are limits on the quantities of certain species. Bahamian fishing regulations require you to obtain a permit to fish, and there are bag limits on wahoo, kingfish and other species.

Fish on as many of the Abacos islands as possible with a chartered boat from Cruise Abaco. They hop from place to place and remain moored overnight, so you get to fish in different waters each day, and wake up in a different cove every morning.

December in the Antipodes

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Image source: Shutterstock
The greatest prize for an angler

Giant black marlin are a tremendously prized catch. There’s no better place to nab one than the stunning Australian Great Barrier Reef in Cairns at the start of the Antipodean summer. These behemoths can weigh in at a massive 750kg.

If you prefer a more remote getaway, head to Cape York. These uninhabited islands have pristine beaches that are excellent for cod and salmon. You’ll need a 4×4 to reach them, but this can only add to the sense of adventure!

A third of New Zealand households once owned a fishing boat, writes Thomas Petch in Angler’s Mail. River fly fishing is just as important as sea fishing. The waters teem with trout at this time of year.

There’s plenty of accessible freshwater fishing in New Zealand. But if you’re after more of an adventure, the North Island is home to creeks and rivers that hold brown and rainbow trout. A count of the creeks in the Central region tallied around 900 fish per kilometre.

Tips
You need a license to fish in New Zealand. Applying online is very simple.

Giant marlin are the dinosaurs of fish. If you’re new to fly fishing, you’ll need an extra pair of hands and expert knowledge from a captain.

Your usual flies may not do the job on the other side of the world. Check out what’s likely to work south of the equator, and get your gotcha ready!

January in Cuba

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Image source: Shutterstock
There’s always plenty of fish in the Cuban sea

In Cuba’s Cayo Largo there really are “plenty more fish in the sea”. The catch-and-release fly fishing rule means there’s an almost limitless supply of permit, tarpon and barracuda. Guided fishing trips are the best way to experience these stunning waters, as beach fishing is prohibited.

It’s the country’s top resort, but you’re unlikely to spot other anglers along the island’s remarkably peaceful 25km of saltwater flats, as there are only a few boats that take anglers out each day. Its protected status means the sea is replete with coral, and on land you’ll see iguanas and pelicans.

Cayo Largo is just 30 minutes away by plane from the bustling cultural hub of Havana, so you can double up your fishing trip with some full-on tourism, too.

Tips
Avalon’s Fishing Centres provide chartered boats six days a week. They helpfully divide the vast marine park into six areas, taking you to a different one each day.

You’ll need a visa to visit Cuba.

Mosquitos can be voracious in this area. Pack plenty of repellent, or make sure you eat your Marmite before you go!

February in Kenya

Sailfish out of water

Image source: tribe-watersports
Hook yourself a sailfish in Malindi

Kenya’s Malindi coastline is one of the only places where it’s possible to achieve a fantasy slam – that’s hooking five types of billfish in one day, including swordfish and marlin.

The undisturbed beaches are stunning. Early in the year is peak billfish season. It’s also when the weather is at its warmest and driest. February’s the peak time for marlin in this area, and sailfish are in plentiful supply. Further north in Lamu, billfish thrive, and you can pick a fight with a yellowfin tuna in reasonably shallow water.

The town of Malindi merges Italian, Muslim and African influences into its food, architecture and art, so you get a brilliant fly fishing and cultural winter sun break rolled into one.

Tips
Pack a waterproof camera. Whales, dolphins and turtles inhabit these waters. You’ll want to record these images to show everybody back home.

There are over a dozen clubs with boats and crew to accompany you out to sea. It’s a world class fishing destination, so you’ll find it easy to find experienced guides here.

Winter months in Panama and the Florida Keys

Tarpon fish

Image source: Shutterstock
Tarpon jumping for joy in the Florida Keys

Hanging off the southern tip of Florida is Key West. Much of the fly fishing here is done on the flats, which are areas of sea where fish congregate to feed. Think of them like jungle clearings – underwater.

Bonefish, tarpon, redfish and snook are all in abundance during our winter months, and there’s no shortage of experienced guides to take you to the best flats for fishing.

Heading further south? In the local language, Panama means ‘abundance of fish.’ Dorado, fierce deep red cubera snapper and the striking mahi mahi, are all ready to be caught in this Central American country. You can fish from rocky coastlines or sandy beaches.

Gatun Lake in the North of Panama offers amazing freshwater fly fishing for peacock bass and tropical bluegill along with a myriad of tropical species. Protected for over 100 years, the lake is also host to land species like howler monkeys, anteaters and three-toed sloths, making it a nature-lover’s paradise.

Almost entirely surrounded by sea, Panama’s just two and a half hours by plane from Miami.

Tips
In Florida you don’t need a license if you’re fly fishing from a charter boat, this is covered by the company.

If you’re going solo you need to buy one online from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation‘s website or from a local tackle shop.

Yellowfin tuna are at lower numbers in January and February, but this is the peak period for black and blue marlin at up to 600lbs.

There’s a huge fishing world out there beyond the northern hemisphere. Where has your pursuit of winter fishing in the sun taken you? Share your stories on our Facebook page.

Fishing Wisconsin’s Brule River – The River of Presidents

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

The Brule River Wisconsin

The Brule River Wisconsin.

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

A river of two halves

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

The upper Brule river.

The upper Brule river.

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

The river of presidents

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

US President Calvin Coolidge fishing the Brule.

US President Calvin Coolidge fishing the Brule.

Fishing the Brule

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

Steelhead fishing the lower Brule river

Steelhead fishing the lower Brule river.

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

A Brule river brook trout

A Brule river brook trout.

Early morning on Big Lake, Brule River.

Early morning on Big Lake, Brule River.

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

Brule river trout love dry flies

Brule river trout love dry flies.

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

A brace of Brule river Coho salmon

A brace of Brule river Coho salmon.

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

A beer stop on big lake

A beer stop on big lake.

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

Brule river grand slam - brown, brook and rainbow.

Brule river grand slam – brown, brook and rainbow.

Night fishing

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

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

Evidence Trout eat mice - a Brule night feeder

Evidence Trout eat mice – a Brule night feeder.

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

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

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

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

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

A tradition Brule river guides supper

A traditional Brule river guides supper.

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

The hanks creation surface lure

The hanks creation surface lure.

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

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

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

Night feeding Brule river browns.

Night feeding Brule river browns.

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

The Brule river – the ultimate northwoods experience.

The Brule river – the ultimate northwoods experience.

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

Fishing in France -The Beausoleil Carp & Catfish Experience

Well it was that time of year again and a carp fishing holiday to France was just around the corner; with a just week to go it was time to double check the carp tackle and get everything ready for the trip to France, including checking essentials like a GB magnet for the car, alcohol tester, headlight deflectors and hi-viz vest – all these are a legal requirement when traveling to France, so make sure you bring them!

The week had just flown by and the car was packed to the brim with all the fishing gear needed. Our route was via Portsmouth to Caen, with a 125-mile drive to our destination, a lake called Beausoleil, near a small town of Le Pertre which was in the Mayenne region of France.

Beausoleil Lake in the stunning French countryside.

Beausoleil Lake in the stunning French countryside.

After a long journey through lovely French countryside, myself and fishing pal Bo’ arrived at the lake. We were met by the owners Matt and Ren who welcomed us to the venue and showed us into the house.

The house at Beausoleil lake

The house at Beausoleil lake.

After Ren’s quick tour of the accommodation,  Matt took us on a visit round the lake. We started from points A, B and C and worked our way around the water. It was a really helpful tour, as Matt talked us through each swim and all their features. It’s always good to keep your eyes peeled on the walk around a new venue and make notes of what you see as this can lead to banked fish. On the tour I spotted a few feeding fish about forty yards in front of the dam end of the lake. When we walked over the bridge to the island we spooked a lot of big carp that were in the shallows, in front of the home swim and another mental note was made!

Beausoleil Lake Map

Beausoleil Lake Map.

We headed back to the house to be faced with the task of unloading the car and putting everything ready for the start on Sunday morning as we had decided to just chill out with some food and a few beers for the first night followed by a few games of pool as there was a cracking table on site.

Sunday morning was here and we got some breakfast and a coffee before going to the swims to set up for the week, Bo had decided to fish from the big double swim so I had decided to fish from point B and this also gave me the option of putting a rod in point A and C if I wanted too.

Bo's Large double swim

Bo’s Large double swim.

So we got on with the set up and made sure everything was ready for the week, I had put one rod out and moved it around a few times just to try and pick up an early fish from a random spot, until I had sorted the main areas I wanted to fish.

Bo’s rods were out and he was waiting for his first take – he didn’t have to wait long as his middle rod which was placed on a hard spot in the middle of the lake took off, and he was in. I think this rod had only been out about forty minutes and he was playing a lump, it was a catfish and it was giving him a good battle. He did have a dedicated catfish rod but as you have guessed, it never goes to plan and it was on his TF Gear 2.75 test curve carp rod!

He played the cat for about thirty minutes and couldn’t believe his eye’s as the fish just came up like a submarine and he managed to slip the net under her, he was over the moon as his PB cat before this one was about 13lb. I was on my way round to help him weigh the fish, which was 74lb – 6oz and it was now time for some pictures of the beast before slipping her back in to the lake. This was a good start and hopefully plenty more to come.

Bo's 74lb-6oz catfish

Bo’s 74lb-6oz catfish.

I finally got back to my swim and finished getting everything set up, before casting out I decided to have a quick chuck around with the FishSpy underwater camera and found some really good areas despite the murky water. The first area I found was a nice clear gravel spot tight to the island under an over hang which was for my middle rod, the second spot I found was for the catfish rod and this was a soft silty area on the far bank to the left of catfish corner for my left rod, the third spot was in the shallows to my right where I didn’t need to do any marker work. This rod was going to fish a chod rig, as I had already seen fish crashing in this area so I knew where the bait was going.

I started to bait up these spots, beginning with the island and decided to use a mix of the two boilies I had with me cranberry and trigga blue in sizes 16mm, 18mm and 20mm, I also used some particles which were mixed seeds and maize. Then I moved on to the catfish spot, which was baited up with mixed pellets from halibut to shrimp and krill in sizes 12mm to 22mm I also added in some of the boilies as well. The last one will be the shallow bay to my right and all I would do to start with was scatter about eighty of the two types of boilies over a large area just to keep the carp there and keep them confident and feeding; the areas were now ready and all they needed now were the rigs.

My first rod out was the chod rig with a very buoyant 20mm cranberry pop up which had been in the dip for around three weeks.

Next up was the island spot and I used a running rig system which I will explain about a bit later on, hook length was a ten inch Korda N-Trap semi stiff 30lb link in gravel with a Korda krank size 4 hook, I had taken back about two inches of the coating at the hook end to allow the bait to move freely. Bait used on this one was the Trigga Blue bottom bait in 18mm and this was taken out in the bait boat along with a mix of boilies, mixed seed and maize as I wanted this one tight to the island under the overhang of a tree.

Then finally the catfish rod, again with a running rig system and I used ten inches of Kryston Ton-up with a Cox & Rawle Chinu size 1/0 hook, attached to this were four boilies 2x 20mm cranberry and 2x 20mm trigga blue. I also put this out with the bait boat with a mix of pellets and boilies, I also used the TF Gear long handled baiting spoon to spread some more of the same baits over a larger area to try and attract the catfish in.

The running rig set up was a cog system but with a twist as I had the cog flat distance three ounce lead with the cog attachment number 4 which is for the three ounce flat pear lead. First of all, put the tubing on which is a metre of Nash cling on tungsten tubing and then the lead, followed by the Korda run rig rubber and then tied on a Korda cog system no.4 which I would then attach a hooklength to. The twist was that it was a running rig cog system which works like a dream, but for this lake you had to lightly push the swivel into the rubber on the lead other wise these fish would use the lead to dump the hook and get away without you even knowing about it. With the lead pushed in lightly it meant that the first shake from the fish dropped the lead and then straight to free running and the fish wouldn’t know what to do so bolted every time.

My swim - ready for action.

My swim – ready for action.

All the rods set and ready for a take, so it was time to sit back relax and take in all the surroundings. A few hours passed and at 9.20pm on the Sunday I had a screaming take on the right hand rod as the line just peeled of the spool, I lifted the rod and I was into a hard fighting fish, the fight went on for about fifteen or twenty minutes and the carp finally surfaced, I managed to slip the net under her and she was mine. I looked into the net and couldn’t believe my eye as I knew I had a new PB, after weighing the fish I was ecstatic as my first fish banked weighed in at 37lb-02oz and now it was time for some pictures before I slipped her back to the depths of the lake, then put the rod back out for another fish.

37lb 2oz

Simon with cracking 37lb 2oz mirror.

Time for a brew as all the excitement was over for now, I thought I would pass some time by tying a couple of new rigs and nodded off in the chair. I was woken by another screaming take again on the right hand rod at 12.40am early hours of Monday morning, I was into another hard fighting fish but unfortunately a few minutes into the fight and the hook pulled, I was gutted so checked everything on the rig and all seemed fine, so before putting the rod back out I sharpened the hook again and put a fresh bait on. I also spread another eighty baits back in the area before bedding down for the night.

Monday morning was here and I was woken at 7.15am by another one toner, again the line was just ripping off the spool and I scrambled out of the sleeping bag lifted the rod, once again was into yet another hard fighting fish, after about fifteen minutes I had the fish in front of me and it was just moving from left to right keeping deep but after another five minutes the carp surfaced took a gulp of air and was ready for netting. I looked at another lump but not quite as big as the first one but still a thirty as she went 32lb-14oz, all the fish so far had fallen to the chod rig with a 20mm cranberry pop up and I was over the moon because I had three takes in the first night so was looking forward to an awesome week.

32lb 14oz - nice wake up call at 7.15am!!

32lb 14oz – nice wake up call at 7.15am!!

It’s been a lovely sunny day and I’ve seen a few fish moving but nothing on the bank, evening was here and the rods are out so time to sit back and wait for a bite. It was about 10pm and I had a few beeps on the catfish rod so thought I would take a closer look and nothing happened again, so I went back to the bivvy. Another forty minutes passed by and the alarm started beeping again and line slowly started coming off the spool this time so I lifted into the fish and the rod doubled over, I was into a large catfish which started to move very quickly to my right but I only had the catfish on for about ten minutes and the hook pulled, I was gutted and couldn’t work out why the hook wasn’t set properly, so could only put the rod back out to try and get another take from a cat.

Essential fish care gear.

Essential fish care gear.

Nothing else happened that night, Tuesday morning arrived so it was time to wind the rods in and go for some breakfast then to the supermarket to get some supplies for the rest of the week. We got back for about mid day and put the rods out for a few hours before going to sort food for the evening, the rods had been out for a couple of hours or so and the right hand rod took off again – I was into yet another fish with a right battle on my hands. The fish was trying to get to the oxygen pump that was in the lake but I managed to stop the fish from getting to it, the fish was now in front of me just moving from left to right again just holding bottom and I couldn’t get the fish to the surface, the fish then started to move hard to the right so I put some side strain on and the hook pulled. This was the second hook pull on the chod rig so it was time to think of something else because I didn’t want this to happen again!

Before I put the rod back out it was time to sort a new rig out and I decided to use the cog running rig with a hinge stiff link for my hook length, the hinged stiff link was made up from a six-inch section of Korda N-trap semi stiff in 30lb and a three to four inch chod link with a size four chod hook, I used some putty on the ring below the swivel of the chod link to keep the boilie from lifting to far off the lakebed as I only wanted it three to four inches off. All ready to go back out but it was time for the evening meal and a few beers then back to it.

I was back at the swim after food and had put all the rods out for the night, with all traps ready to try and trip up another fish it was time to make some more hinged stiff rigs for back up and then chill out for a bit before bedding down for the night. Wednesday was here and everything was really quiet through the night, not even a single beep from the alarms so time to change the baits on each rod and get them back out for a few hours before breakfast. Whilst sitting and watching the lake the fish looked like they were starting to get ready for spawning as the water temperature was about right, also some movement about thirty to forty foot out in front of the island caught my attention, it was the tail of a catfish popping out of the water and the fish must have been feeding so I made a note of this one so I could put a bait there later in the day. Time had come for breakfast so I headed over to the house to meet Bo and we got started with it, we chilled out for a few hours at the house to rest the swims as it’s good to keep the rods out of the water from time to time, especially on a pressured venue.

Tranquility in the French countryside.

Tranquility in the French countryside – perfect place to chill.

Later that afternoon after resuming fishing I was just about to get up off my chair and wind the rods in for evening grub when my alarms started beeping and swinger slowly started moving up. This was the rod I put out for the catfish I had seen this morning-  the line started pulling off the reel so I lifted in to it, the rod doubled over I felt a head shake from the fish and it just turned and made off with about eighty yards of line across the lake.

There was no stopping this fish as it was not happy at all, it made about four to five unstoppable runs and at one point tried getting behind the island but with a lot of side strain and Bo getting out in the boat to slap the surface of the water with an oar, I managed to turn the fish.  This battle went on for about forty minutes and the fish still had lots to give, we tried netting the fish a couple of times but the fish was keeping her tail down which made it really awkward to do. In the end Bo gave up with the net, and simply grabbed the bottom of her mouth and held on tight! I got the mat sorted and we both pulled the fish up onto the mat. This was another big cat but I wasn’t sure if it was a new PB for me, after weighing the fish she went 73lb–12oz just slightly smaller than Bo’s cat and as I had guessed not a new PB for me this time but still a lump of a fish, I was really happy with the result! After some pictures of her and also getting wet for some water shots, she went back to the depths to fight another day.

73lb 12oz catfish water shot

73lb 12oz catfish – water shot.

That evening I changed two rods around and put the catfish rod in the middle of the lake and took the one off the island to put half way between my swim and catfish corner, about twelve foot off the bank as I had seen a carp top there when I got back to the swim. With all the rods set just as the light had gone it was time to just sit back and wait for another take.

There was no action until I was woken by a screaming run early hours of Thursday morning about 4am, I lifted the rod into a fish which fought hard from the off. The fight went on for about twenty-five minutes; the fish surfaced so I took my chance and netted the carp. I weighed the fish which went 28lb on the nose, not the biggest fish of the trip but a stunning looking specimen, one which Matt had named Dark Night.

Dark Knight at 28lb

Dark Knight at 28lb.

Nothing happened through Thursday at all, but I was woken early hours of Friday morning at about 3.15am to a screaming alarm, the right rod was off again. This fish didn’t seem to be fighting very hard to start with but five minutes into the battle the fish soon woke up eventually the carp was in the net; I had bagged myself another thirty going 33lb on the nose. This fish was taken on the new rig I had tied to replace the chod rig, the fish was nailed in the bottom lip so I was well happy with that. After a few pictures I put the carp back and had a quick cuppa with Bo before going back to bed for a few hours.

33lb cracker at 3.15am

33lb cracker at 3.15am.

Well Friday passed and Saturday morning came around too quickly with no more fish for Bo or myself. It was finally time to tackle the rods down and get the car packed ready for the journey home to the UK, Matt and Ren turned up about 9.30am, we sat down with them to go through all the pictures we had and chatted over a cuppa before we had to say our good byes.

All I can say is what an awesome venue with quality fish which is well looked after and what a lovely couple to be the hosts, you really couldn’t ask for anything more. This will definitely be one venue I will be visiting in the near future and one I would recommend to others.

For information on carp fishing Beausoleil visit their website here.

Bo, Ren, Matt and Myself - what a trip!

Bo, Ren, Matt and Myself – what a trip!

Great British Fishing Breaks: 5 Top Holiday Destinations

british sunset

UK fishing gives some of the best fishing – and the most beautiful views

Experience top class fishing in fantastic surroundings without the need for long-haul flight. Dom Garnett singles out five great angling destinations that are closer to home, and that have better fishing than you might think.

There is a nation with stunning waters and some of the most varied fishing anywhere in the world. We’re not talking about somewhere thousands of miles away; it’s right here at home! With top class fly, coarse and sea fishing all within less than a day’s drive, there are some amazing fishing holidays right on our doorstep.

Naturally, there are other benefits to a shorter haul fishing trip too. You won’t need to dig out the phrasebook, or risk dodgy post-Brexit currency exchange rates. Nor will you spend a fortune on flights or travel.

With the money you’ll save on plane tickets, travel insurance and the rest, there’s no need to rough it. In many cases you can stay right by the water, with plenty to keep a non-fishing family happy too.  Here are five top destination tips, complete with suggestions on what to catch, where to stay and what to bring:

1 – The land of a thousand Lochs

fly fishing loch boat

All aboard!

For anyone who enjoys lofty scenery and wild fishing, the Highlands of Scotland is an epic destination. There are countless lochs to explore of all sizes – many of them offering excellent free fishing for wild trout.

The larger water bodies can be challenging, so it’s always worth tracking down a local guide. Smaller hill lochs are plentiful too though, and offer trigger-happy fishing for wild trout. Sport can be fantastic on bushy, loch-style flies, although lure fishing is also a fun way to fish.

scottish trout

Scottish trout is just one species you can target here

Target species: Brown trout, sea trout, salmon

What to bring: 6 or 7 weight fly rod, plenty of loch style flies (Zulu, Kate McLaren, Black Pennell, Sedgehog). Waders can also be useful. Remember to also pack midge repellent, sensible outdoor wear, and walking boots.

Where to stay: You’re spoilt for choice, but the Ardnamurchan area of West Scotland is especially beautiful in summer, with angling for brown trout in both large and small lochs, several rivers and saltwater marks to go at (check out ardnamurchan.com for further fishing information). Kilamb Lodge is right on the banks of Loch Sunart, with spectacular views and a fantastic restaurant for lovers of seafood and single malt whiskies.

Other activities & attractions: Wildlife cruises, whisky tours, Highland walks.

2 – Coasting it in Devon

devon lure fishing

Lure fishing in Devon

Explore beyond the bucket and spade crowds, and there are some beautifully wild coves and rocky beaches to explore in Devon. It almost seems a waste that so many holidaymakers are content with lobbing feathers out for mackerel, because there is brilliant fishing for wrasse, pollack, bass and other species.

Single out the smaller beaches, and try rocky areas and manmade structures. Light lure fishing is increasingly popular and probably the most exciting method of all, although you could also bring some bait fishing gear. Last but not least, kayak fishing in Devon is excellent, whether you bring your own kayak or simply hire from a local provider.

wrasse caught in devon

Devon caught wrasse

Target species: Wrasse, mackerel, pollack, bass

What to bring: A lure fishing outfit with a good selection of artificial baits. Plugs and small spoons for bass and mackerel. Weedless lure for wrasse and pollack. LRF tackle is also great fun for the species hunter. A kayak is optional! Bring some decent, profiled boots for rock fishing.

Where to stay: You’re spoilt for choice with campsites and accommodation, but for the ultimate beach retreat, The Cary Arms near Babbacombe offers cool, quirky sea-view lets with your own fishing spot just footsteps away, not to mention excellent local food and drink.

Other activities & attractions: Coastal walks, sea kayaking, National Marine Aquarium (Plymouth).

3 – Wild Welsh rivers

wild fishing river irfon

The Irfon is probably Britain’s greatest wild grayling river

Some of the prettiest stretches of water in Britain can be found in rural Wales. Clean water and limited fishing pressure equal great sport with pristine fish, whether your idea of happiness is a feeder rod or fly tackle.

For some of the best barbel and chub fishing in the land, the River Wye is capital, with plenty of accessible day ticket water on The Wye & Usk Foundation. But perhaps the most unsung treasure of all is the grayling fishing on the River Irfon. Some huge grayling are caught every season – and summer is just the time to get a big one by fishing the dry fly. Thrilling stuff in clear water.

huge grayling caught on river irfon

An epic fish from the Irfon; grayling of over three pounds are possible.

Target species: Grayling, barbel, chub.

What to bring: A four weight fly rod for grayling (reliable flies include the Kilnkhamer, F-Fly and Griffiths Gnat). Robust feeder tackle for the barbel. Waders are essential for fly fishing or trotting.

Where to stay: Lake Country House Hotel is perfect for the fly angler, with seven miles of pristine, lightly fished specimen grayling water on the River Irfon, as well as its own pretty trout lake for those unlucky days when the river is high.

Other activities & attractions: Country walks, riding, cycling.

4 – A cast in the Lake District

fishing on the lake district

Large or small, Cumbria’s lakes offer stunningly wild fishing (Image: Scott Winstanley- see his brilliant guide to tarn fishing).

For big scenery and classic waters, it really doesn’t get much more classic than The Lake District. As for waters, you can take your pick! Grasmere is a pretty coarse fishery with some exceptional roach and perch.

The larger waters such as Windermere have some huge pike, and Esthwaite water is excellent for brown and rainbow trout. Last but by no means least, there are stacks of tarns containing wild trout and coarse fish, with some lovely free wilderness fishing for those not afraid of a walk!

pike fishing in the lakes

The larger lakes, such as Coniston and Esthwaite, have fine pike fishing later in the year.

Target species: Trout, roach, perch, pike.

What to bring: Bring pole, waggler or feeder tackle for some brilliant mixed fishing, or a 6/7 weight for the trout. You could also try a lure rod for the pike – but do tackle up tough, and return your catch quickly if it’s warm.

Where to stay: Sitting right by the river, Rothay Garden Hotel is within walking distance of several pretty tarns, as well as Grasmere lake, with Windermere and Esthwaite both just to the south. An excellent spa and restaurant should keep the other half happy, while you plot some fishing!

Other activities & attractions: Arts, crafts and a huge range of adventure pursuits and watersports, not to mention some fantastic English heritage sites such as the William Wordsworth’s former home, Dove Cottage.

5. Broadside fishing breaks in Norfolk

norfolk broads fishing area

Image source: shutterstock
Countless beautiful waters await on the Broads

Norfolk’s wetlands are ideal for life in the slow lane. There’s some of the best coarse fishing in England for all kinds of species, and more waterways than you could explore in a whole summer (norfolkbroads.com has a good overview of fish and venues).

For the adventurous, bringing your own boat or hiring a vessel is a great way to stay mobile. For a supremely laid back holiday or family trip though, little beats a cottage or campsite right by the water, with excellent pleasure fishing for species such as roach, bream and tench.

bream caught in norfolk by dominic garnett

The author, with a Norfolk Broads bream

Target species: Roach, perch, bream, tench pike.

What to bring: Bring pole, waggler or feeder tackle and plenty of bait for some brilliant mixed fishing. You could also try a lure rod for the pike- but do tackle up tough and return your catch quickly in the summer months.

Where to stay: For a self-catering accommodation right by the waterside, try Riverside Rentals. Or for the ultimate week on the water, you could even live and fish from your own hired boat. Hoseasons is a good place to start looking for various lets.

Other activities & attractions: Kayaking, sailing, bird watching.

Further Information

Keep an eye on the Fishtec Blog for news, tips and more on all manner of fishing topics, whether it’s picking the right rod or targeting a new species. Meanwhile you’ll also find a huge range of fishing equipment, including handy travel rods, in our main store.

All images ©Dominic Garnett unless otherwise stated.

For more of Dom Garnett’s blogs, books and photography, see www.dgfishing.co.uk

Fishing in the Hills – Tackle & Tactics for Wild Brown Trout

As an alternative to your usual stocked fishery why not get away from it all?
Here Ceri Thomas talks us through the best fly fishing tackle and techniques for wild brown trout from natural lakes.

Llyn Hir & Egnant - typical upland natural lakes.

Llyn Hir & Llyn Egnant in Mid Wales – typical upland natural lakes.

The highland areas of Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the North of England are full of natural lakes and upland reservoirs that offer fantastic sport in beautiful, isolated surroundings. Many are available to fish for a very small fee, and are well worth the leg work needed to reach them, if breathtaking scenery and getting away from the crowds are your thing.

Don’t expect big fish, but do expect beautiful wild fish in surroundings that match the awe inspiring views.

A typical high lake brownie - from the Teifi pools.

A typical high lake brownie – from the Teifi pools, Mid Wales.

Tackling them however is a completely different story to your conventional stocked lowland fisheries.

Why? Brown trout behave in a totally different way to stocked rainbows, so understanding this is the key to catching them.

In a lake brown trout will occupy a small territory, and will usually stick too it. They do not cruise around the lake in shoals like the pelagic rainbow trout. Brownies typically lurk just above the bottom and not far out from the bank, most often on the drop off into deeper water or near structure such as a weed-beds, or breaks in the shoreline. Large rocks, inlets, corners of bays will all potentially hold fish. There, they lay in ambush; when food comes into their cone of vision they move vertically to intercept, making a lightning quick ‘snatch and grab’ assault to the surface.

So, the crux of it is unlike rainbows they will not come to you…. You must go and look for the fish.

Walk and Cast

You must cover a lot of water when fishing upland lakes – it’s a numbers game – the more fish see your fly, the more you catch. No brainer. But it needs to be done right.

I like to pick a bank with the wind blowing over my left shoulder simply for ease of casting. Stealth is important – approach the bank with care; quietly and keeping a low profile. Don’t wade out right away, stay on the bank and cast out just a few yards of fly line to begin with.
It’s amazing how many fish I have caught like this, without the need to get your boots wet!

Should wading be necessary keep a low profile when entering the water, and try not to dislodge rocks or crunch the bottom substrate loudly with your wading boots.

Walk and cast fishing on a mountain lake.

Walk and cast fishing on a mountain lake.

Once your initial short line casts are made, work out a bit more fly line and fan cast the area – make a cast straight out, at 45 degrees and then tight ALONG the bank. When your cast hits the water let the flies settle for 10 seconds or so – expecting a hit on the drop. Then start your retrieve. I like a jerky figure of eight interspersed by short pulls. Always make sure you lift and hang the flies for a few seconds right at the end – again expect a take at this point in the retrieve. Side step 2 meter’s downwind and repeat the process.

Never make more than 3/4 casts in one spot unless you see a persistently rising fish – Most of the time if there is a receptive fish that has seen your flies it will attack, as long as it isn’t spooked. So move on rapidly if nothing happens. By moving down a bank you can cover a lot of water very quickly. In this way I often fish around the circumference of an entire lake in a session, and so maximise my chances.

I seldom cast more than around 15 yards – there is simply no need – these fish are where the food is, and that is usually in the margins. Struggling to cast further with back-cast restricting steep and rocky banks behind you will only hinder your casting and presentation. Good turnover is vital – it is far better to achieve perfect turnover every cast than struggle for an extra few yards.

The Flies

The old adage ”small and black” does hold true. Classic wet flies such as Black pennell, Zulu, Bibio, Connemara black, Black & peacock spider, Kate Mclaren, Red tag and so on all work well, I tend to use them in size 12 and 14. More modern Black cormorants, crunchers and diawl bachs in the same sizes also work well.

A victim of a 'red tag' wet fly.

A victim of a ‘red tag’ wet fly.

A little known fact is ”big and black” can also work a treat – something like a black tadpole or woolly bugger on a size 10 hook, with a total length of about 1.5 inches. For some reason a fly like this can trigger very aggressive takes; perhaps the fish take them for leeches which can be found in highland waters. Who knows, but they certainly trigger a reaction especially on rough overcast days and in the evenings.

A black woolley bugger fished on the point can be deadly.

A black woolly bugger fished on the point can be deadly.

I like to fish a team of flies to cover my bases – using traditional wet flies on the droppers, and a larger black lure on the point. The theory is the big fly draws fish up from deep or entices a follow, and then the fish goes on to take the dropper if it finds the point fly too much of a mouthful.

Dry flies

Don’t forget dries. More than 50% of upland trout’s diet comes from terrestrial insects during the season.  If you are lucky enough to come across a fall of ants, bibio heather flies, coch-y-bonddu beetle, daddy long legs or sedges then they will be the first line of attack.  You cannot go wrong with a team of black hoppers, bibio hoppers, black bob’s bits, black CDC shipmans and the like. Remember dries can be very effective at any time, even when just a few fish are moving. Wild fish are always looking up for a meal!

Dry flies can be very productive in the right conditions.

Dry flies can be very productive in the right conditions.

Target areas with wind behind you, and cast to the ripple edge where terrestrials tend to blow onto the water. Also look for points with little slack areas out of the wind – food will be blown into these wind traps and the fish will be not far behind. Cover the water with your team of dries – cast, let them sit there for just a minute, then step down the bank and repeat. Takes tend to be pretty instant, so no need to linger in one area if nothing happens.

The tackle:

A mid-tip action fly rod of between 9 to 10 foot in a 6 weight is the ideal weapon – a 6 weight still has the punch to cast into the teeth of the wind if you need it, and the power to turnover a team of flies in a stiff breeze. A 7 or 5 weight can of course be used, but a 7 is overkill for small fish and impedes delicate presentation, and a 5 can be really limiting in the often strong winds. I like to use the Airflo Streamtec 10′ #5/6, it’s the perfect rod for this sort of fishing, with just the right forgiving action.

Fly line: Only a floater is required! The Airflo range of floaters such as the Xceed and Elite are ideal. They have a low stretch core so help connect with the lightening fast takes you will encounter from wild lake trout.

Leader material: These fish are not overly leader shy. I use 6lb G3 fluorocarbon to aid good turnover, and for keeping droppers tangle free in the wind. As a leader butt to further aid turnover I use a 5 foot intermediate Airflo polyleader, to make a total leader length of 18 – 20 foot.

Places to fish

Practically anywhere in Scotland – the highlands and Islands especially are full of loch’s and Lochans holding abundant wild trout. Plenty of useful ”Where to fish” info can be found online, including the excellent where to fish in Scotland.

In Wales Snowdonia and the expanse of the Cambrian mountains in Mid-Wales are spotted with numerous Llyn’s (Welsh for lake). Many of these can be booked with the Wye and Usk foundation.

In England the Lake district, Pennines, Yorkshire dales and Peak district are all great areas for upland fishing, with plenty of tarns and corrie lakes to be found in the high fells.

Upland lakes are truly magical places to fish.

Upland lakes are truly magical places to fish.

Fishing holiday destinations in Northern UK

fishing lake district

Image source: ElenaChaykinaPhotography / Shutterstock.com
There are stunning places to fish in Northern Britain

Britain is full to the brim with picturesque places to cast your line. From freshwater fishing to coastal angling spots, the UK holds a wealth of places to fish – and you don’t have to leave the family out!

When we asked what your top fishing holiday destinations were in our Big Fishing Survey, New Zealand, Spain and Norway figured highly. But there are plenty of destinations closer to home that are well worth bringing your fishing tackle to.

The holiday experts at Cottages in Northumberland have found you some of the best fishing spots in the North of Britain – with tips on nearby activities and accommodation options, so that you’ll get some good fishing in, and find great things to do with your family.

Northumberland

River Tyne

Hexham Bridge River Tyne

Image source: shutterstock
Hexham Bridge over the River Tyne

This North Eastern river has been named Britain’s best salmon fishing spot, and you’ll find first-class trout fishing opportunities here too. The Tyne is also one of the most affordable fishing opportunities anywhere in the country, with day passes available and a number of locations where you can fish for free. With 30lb fish regularly caught in this freshwater hotspot, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth!

Regular dam releases from Kielder Water to the North Tyne are a welcome bonus when nearby rivers are low – meaning it’s always salmon fishing season!

When your day of angling in Northumberland is over, cosy accommodation isn’t far away. Bordering Kielder Forest, you’ll find a number of local towns and villages home to unique self-catering Northumberland cottages – a perfect way to spend a relaxing night in the region.

Looking for spectacular night views too? The county’s incredible Dark Skies give you the spectacle of the Milky Way and shooting stars. On darker nights, the sky lights up with astonishing meteor showers – best seen from May to July.

Amble Pier

Fishing off Amble Pier

Image source: Steve Fareham 
Fishing off Amble Pier

Amble is a quaint harbour village nestled in the heart of Northumberland, and a favourite spot for many local fishermen. Start your trip at the nearby Amble’s Angling Centre to stock up on bait and gather some local knowledge before you get started. You’ll find plaice and mackerel in abundance here – and if you fancy going a little further afield, you could always charter a fishing boat from Amble’s marina and try for some cod!

One mile south-east of Amble, you’ll find the famous Coquet Island nature reserve. It’s home to over 35,000 local nesting birds during the summer months, and a 600-strong colony of playful seals! Take a boat trip from Amble harbour to the island to see the wonderful local wildlife up close.

Cosy coastal cottages can be found throughout Amble and in the surrounding towns of Warkworth and Alnmouth. You have plenty of options when it comes to finding self catering seaside accommodation.

Scotland

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond – a good variety of coarse fishing here

Loch Lomond is Scotland’s largest freshwater loch. At 24.5 miles in length, it’s home to over 30 unique islands. You need a permit to fish in Loch Lomond’s beautiful freshwater, which is easy to arrange at one of the many outlets found through Trossachs National Park.

Loch Lomond offers the chance to catch salmon, sea trout, brown trout and a variety of coarse fish – but pay close attention to local angling law before embarking on your fishing trip.

With no less than 2628 cubic metres of water in the stunning Loch, this is an ideal spot for white-knuckle watersports. From wakeboarding to speed boat tours, thrill-seekers make their pilgrimage to this Scottish hotspot every year in search of a new adventure.

There are a number of nearby holiday parks and lodges make it easy to find a peaceful way to spend your nights at Loch Lomond – with incredible views of the rugged local scenery.

Trossachs National Park

Loch Katrine

Image source: shutterstock
Loch Katrine, in the heart of the Trossachs

The Trossachs National Park gives keen predator anglers a chance to take part in a range of guided pike fishing trips, surrounded by some of Scotland’s most breath-taking scenery.

Guided fishing is available all year round, even on Sundays, for access to some of the country’s most exciting fishing opportunities – with everything from one-day excursions to week-long fishing holidays on offer.

To get the most out of your visit, test your mettle on West Highland Way – a challenging walk which passes through the Trossachs National Park – and when it’s time to rest your head, there are plenty of lovely log cabins nearby to suit all budgets.

Cumbria

Lake District National Park

Lake District National Park

Image source: shutterstock
Stunning views of the Lake District National Park

Freshwater fishing in the Lake District National Park is an unmissable experience. Brown trout, salmon and sea trout are all abundant in many of its rivers, and there are superb pike and coarse fishing opportunities in many of the larger lakes.

Local Angling Associations are your go-to authority when it comes to fishing in this National Park, with daily and weekly permits up for grabs. If you don’t want to get another permit, you can fish for free on Ullswater, Windermere and Coniston Water.

The National Park is packed with fascinating history, and offers access to a number of famous historical sites – including Muncaster Castle, Lowther Castle and Rydal Mount (widely known as Wordsworth’s much-loved family home).

With a huge variety of local wildlife living in and around the park, you’ll find no shortage of extraordinary experiences here. And the wide selection of local inns, barns and B&Bs make finding a place to stay simple – guaranteeing that your Cumbrian fishing trip comes with first-grade accommodation.

St. Bees Head

St Bees Head

Image source: Wikipedia
St Bees Head – great fishing, but watch your step!

St. Bees Head on the Cumbrian Coastal Way is a headland home to mackerel, bass, pollock, and a wide range of other species. There’s some great fishing from St. Bees Head but in wet weather or on dark nights, much caution is advised, as the climb to the better spots becomes treacherous.

It’s helpful to bring someone familiar with the area when you visit this Cumbrian highlight. The fishing can bring dividends, but the cliffs take some careful navigation!

For a taste of days gone by, visit St. Bees Priory Church – founded around 1120 and beautifully preserved, with gorgeous Early English Gothic arches found inside the priory’s nave.

There’s plenty for kids too – in nearby Workington they can immerse themselves in laser tag and tenpin bowling at the Eclipse Leisure Centre, or just a little further on in Maryport, West Coast Karting lets any budding Lewis Hamiltons shine!

You’ll find a diverse range of accommodation options in and around the village of St. Bees Head, from hotels and guest houses to farm lodges and barns – meaning visitors of all tastes and requirements will find their perfect place to stay.

Take your pick!

fish in container

Catch of the day!

Whether you’re a fan of freshwater fishing or prefer a coastal experience, Britain is an angler’s paradise – packed with popular fishing hotspots and more obscure gems.

The key to having a satisfying trip is to do your research in advance – and to make sure you take care of any necessary permits and payments. After that, the UK is your oyster!

Tackle Up for Destination Fishing – Chris Ogborne.

One of the most rapidly growing sectors in the angling market is destination fishing. Here experienced guide and tackle consultant Chris Ogborne takes a look at what’s available and how to get the best out of it.

Destination fishing is having a massive upsurge in popularity

Destination fishing is having a massive upsurge in popularity.

Destination fishing – or fishing holidays to you and me – is enjoying a massive upsurge in popularity at the moment. It’s hardly surprising when you consider the vagaries of the British climate, plus of course we’re all feeling more confident as the recession fades into memory and there’s a degree of optimism about.

But I think it goes beyond this, as more and more anglers realise that destinations considered ‘too expensive’ a few years ago are actually well within our reach. Coupled with the poor results on many fabled UK salmon rivers, and the fact that more and more anglers are looking for something that’s more of a challenge, and you can see why travel is a definite option.

It’s also true that the whole concept of destination fishing has a certain cachet to it, an appeal that exceeds the expectations we have of fishing in our home waters. It’s actually quite cool now to bore your friends with tales of huge brown trout from Iceland, GT’s from warmer waters, or fisheries where you can expect rather more than the miserable returns on over-priced Scottish rivers or Hampshire chalk streams.

he whole appeal of going away for a fishing holiday or break is that you escape the confines of our small island and visit somewhere remote and wild.

The whole appeal of going away for a fishing holiday or break is that you escape the confines of our small island and visit somewhere remote and wild.

For me the key word always has been and always will be ‘wild’. Like it or not, fishing in British waters is becoming just a bit predictable – some would say domesticated – and pressure on fisheries in our small islands is huge. The whole appeal of going away for a fishing holiday or break is that you escape the confines of our small island and visit somewhere remote and wild. With no people around, a wilderness setting and just the local wildlife for company, it’s absolutely possible to get back to nature. If the fishing’s good as well then it’s almost a bonus.

There are now a load of specialist companies to help you plan your trip. Whilst it’s arguably unfair to select names from the list, I wouldn’t be able to write this article without at least giving a few pointers and I have to say that the following are amongst the very best. I’ve travelled with all of them and their service is simply amazing:

www.aardvarkmcleod.com Saltwater, salmon, char and all fishing in between, these guys do it all. Aardvark McLeod is a company managed by anglers for anglers, and it shows.

www.frontierstravel.com Frontiers are one of the longest established companies and still at the very top of their trade From Argentina to Alaska their trips are the stuff of legend. Immaculate admin and stunning locations.

www.gofishingworldwide .co.uk Great locations, great guides and great attention to detail.

Equally, there’s nothing to stop you saving a few quid and doing it all yourself although I can fully understand why so many anglers prefer to let companies like this do it for you. Travelling with an established destination company gives you security and confidence, and whilst you could arrange it yourself with an evening on the internet, it’s arguably much safer to travel with the experts.

It’s arguably much safer to travel with the experts.

It’s arguably much safer to travel with the experts.

The choice of destination is a personal one, and such is the variety on offer that I simply can’t list all the options here. Have a quick look at any of the websites above to see what I mean. In the end, it will come down to what floats your particular boat, although for many it will be a combination of other things besides the actual fishing. For me, the scenery and the wildlife is just as important, whilst for others it will be the quality and skills of the guides, or maybe the luxury of the accommodation, or even the food and ‘apres fish’ activities. Whether it’s wading in warm water for bonefish, hunting specimen brown trout in Iceland, trophy salmon in Alaska, or huge Grayling in Lapland – for me it’s the wilderness, the remoteness, and the feeling of being unavailable to the rest of the world that really matters! That old phrase ‘far from the madding crowd’ is very relevant!

Alphonse Island - Far from the maddening crowd.

Alphonse Island – Far from the madding crowd.

 

However, whatever your choice and wherever your destination I do have a some personal tips to offer, borne of long experience and from fishing trips all over the World. Hopefully these will help a little:

Destination: What, EXACTLY what do you want from the trip? If it’s wilderness you seek then maybe a camping trip or a remote lodge is the key. If you want luxury as well as great fishing then consider a decent hotel or lodge as part of the package. If you want variety then choose a destination with multiple fishing options, whereas if you want to target a specimen GT then make sure your chosen venue has that capability. By far the best advice here is to TALK to your trip provider – most of them are anglers themselves and they understand fisherfolk. By doing this you can be sure that your dreams are brought to potential reality – it’s just the bit about catching the fish that’s down to you!

travel light - an organised selection of fly fishing gear

Travel light – an organised selection of fly fishing gear.

Travel light: I never understand why anglers feel the need to clutter themselves with too much gear, and I know many who aren’t happy unless they can take the kitchen sink with them. My advice is to go light. Take minimum gear but still ensure that you’ve got enough to cover ALL the fishing available at your chosen venue. You may be after Salmon, but do you REALLY want to miss out on those specimen Grayling and Trout as well?

Luggage: Custom fishing luggage is not a luxury, it’s an essential. Airflo produce some of the finest in the form of their Fly Dri range. A combination of the roll top back pack and the 90 litre duffel will give enough capacity for most trips, and the smaller carryall will double as a carry-on for the flight. If you need a huge capacity with the ability to fit in literally everything (and the kitchen sink!) then the 150 litre Fly Dri cargo wheelie bag is the one. This cleverly designed bag is super tough, with more than enough room to accommodate several fly rods, in addition to a huge mountain of fishing gear. All Airflo Fly Dri luggage is made of super tough nylon coated PVC tarpaulin, which is 100% waterproof as well as being rip proof –  ensuring they are remain safe from even the most careless airline luggage handler.

Airflo's custom designed Fly dri wheelie bag

Airflo’s custom designed 150 litre Fly dri wheelie bag.

Safety: This is my top tip – ALWAYS take your fly boxes and favourite reels as carry-on when flying. It’s a fact of life that luggage sometimes goes astray and whilst you can almost always buy a new rod, your fly boxes are near-irreplaceable. With this in mind and if the worst happens, you can still borrow a rod and go fishing whilst the airline finds your bags!

Rod Tubes: Very few airlines these days will allow you to take rods on board, even the short multi section ones, so sadly you need to consign them to hold luggage. So buy yourself a decent rod case. Amongst the best and most practical is the Multi rod tube. It’s strong enough to withstand the worst that baggage handlers can throw at it, yet it’s still light and very portable.

Clothing: Obviously this will depend on where you travel – you don’t need too many fleeces in the Caribbean. However, whatever the venue you’ll ALWAYS need a fishing vest, so that you’ve got all your favourite accessories to hand. It’s all too easy to think you can manage without it but take it from me, you cant! My Airflo Mesh vest goes with me, everywhere, every trip.

Rods: The most regular question I get asked at shows and Game Fairs is about rods. Is there one rod for all seasons? Probably not, but there IS one rod that comes close – the Nine Foot 5 weight. There is VERY little you cant catch with this and I have my Airflo Elite kit in the boot of my car every single day of my life. If I get an unexpected invite to fish, then I can do so with this kit, irrespective of the where, when and how! It’s very close to the holy grail of ‘all things to all fish in all waters’.

Airflo's essentail fly dri luggage!

Destination luggage safe and sound after a successful international transit. Next stop the river!

Tightlines

Chris Ogborne.