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.

Your top three sea fishing holiday destinations

Norway fishing

Image source: wikimedia.org
1000 years of cod fisheries at Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Norway is your ultimate sea fishing destination, Florida is second and Iceland third. Those are the results of our big fishing survey. What surprised us most was that two of your top three fantasy sea fishing holidays involve trekking to the Arctic circle.

So what is it about fishing in chilly climes that had you voting decisively in favour of the frozen North? And what does Florida have going for it that other places don’t? Let’s take a look.

Norway

Midnight Sun - Buldersanden, Troms

Image source: wikimedia.org
By the light of the Midnight Sun – Buldersanden, Troms

Norway’s Lofoten Islands are the Holy Grail of sea fishing angling. They’re the venue for the cod fishing World Championships held in the middle of spawning season, each March. Think millions of Arctic cod migrating from the Barents Sea – what’s not to like?

And if gigantic cod aren’t enough to lure you to the frozen wilderness, the seas off Norway also teem with haddock, halibut, coalfish and wolffish, all of which can grow to huge proportions.

And of course the scenery is spectacular. Barren rocky wastes in the far North give way to lush fjordlands further South. It’s a unique landscape full of sheltered bays, perfect for boat fishing because there’s usually somewhere to go whatever the weather.

Plan your visit between mid-May and the end of July, you can fish by the light of the Midnight Sun. During winter trips, you’ll not only avoid the crowds but you’re also likely catch a glimpse of the spectacular Aurora Borealis.

lotofen islands fishing boats

Image source: shutterstock
Heading out to bag a Championship-winner, Lofoten Islands

There are just so many great sea fishing destinations to be found in Norway. The Skagerrak coast in the South can’t be beaten for short drive times from mainland Europe. There’s even a sea bass festival held each August on the island of Tromøya. Other frequently-fished areas across the country include Fjordkysten (Fjord Coast), Trøndelag, Finnmark and Troms.

If you do your homework and book through a reputable organisation like Sportquest Holidays, you should find that most charter skippers can provide you with equipment and protective clothing, whatever your destination.

sheltered seas

Image source: shutterstock
Gorgeous scenery and sheltered seas await in Norway

Tips for sea fishing in Norway

  • Don’t skimp on warm clothing.
  • If you’re not willing to endure freezing temperatures cheerfully, you’re in the wrong place.
  • No special permits are required for deep sea fishing.

Florida

Key Largo

Image source: pixabay
Sunset and silhouetted boats, Key Largo

Forget Disney, it’s the Florida Keys that made second place in our Big Fishing survey. Over 16% of you said if money were no object you’d head for this tropical archipelago of sand-topped reefs that stretches over 100 miles from the tip of mainland Florida towards Cuba.

Think shark, marlin, barracuda, amberjack, cobia, mahi-mahi, grouper, sailfish, snapper, swordfish, tarpon, tuna and mackerel to name but a few of the species you can expect to get stuck into.

Sea fishing in Florida is best in the southern half of the state, from Tampa onwards. As for the Keys, wherever you choose to take your dream sea fishing holiday, you’re bound to find a professional sport fishing outfit to help you make the most of your time there.

Trophy shot from Key West

Image source: wikimedia.org
Trophy shots galore await off the coast of Key West

Tips for sea fishing in Florida

  • If you plan to retain any of your daily catch, you’d do well to bone up on Florida’s extensive fishing regulations, as they differ from species to species.
  • When packing for your trip, remember that the sun will be reflected off the waves at the same time as beating down on your head. Stay hydrated and protected.

Iceland

Fishing Iceland's open waters

Image source: shutterstock
Fishing in Iceland’s open waters

10% of our readers would make Iceland their first port of call for their fantasy sea fishing adventure. And it’s easy to see why: The abundance of specimen cod, haddock, wolffish, monkfish, Atlantic halibut, mackerel and pollack mean that a slow day’s fishing in Icelandic waters is likely to be anything but.

The Westfjords are the place to be. Every year, drawn by some of the North Atlantic’s largest fish stocks, more than 1500 enthusiasts make the trek to the villages of Flateyri and Sudureyri to try their luck.

When it comes to sea fishing, Icelanders know their stuff; fishing brings in nearly half of Iceland’s export revenue. And with volcanoes, hot springs, glaciers and rich Norse heritage, Iceland is a destination for those with a touch of seafaring romance at heart. And thanks to the warming effect of the Gulf Stream, it’s not quite as cold as you might expect either.

You can charter a boat from almost any coastal town or village in Iceland, but most of the population resides in the capital, Reykjavik. It’s a coastal city, so if you want the option of some nightlife and creature comforts at the end of the day’s fishing, you could do worse than making Reykjavik your base.

nightmarish yet delicious, wolffish

Image source: wikimedia.org
The nightmarish, yet delicious, wolffish

Tips for sea fishing in Iceland

  • If cod is what you’re after, then winter is the time to fish for it. Be aware though, that this close to the Arctic Circle, winter days are extremely short – the shortest being around four hours. You may want to pack some vitamin D supplements.
  • To drive a chartered boat in Iceland, you must hold a Skipper’s Certificate.
  • The waters around Iceland are popular for whale watching. When you’re not busy hauling in your catch, keep an eye out for these breathtaking creatures as they surface for air and food.
open sea fishing

Image source: shutterstock
No better feeling

So these are your top three picks for fantasy sea fishing destinations, but with salt water covering two thirds of the planet’s surface, the possibilities are as broad as the ocean is deep.

Reel to Reel: Fishing on Film through the ages

old film camera

Image source: shutterstock
Reel to reel – vintage fishing clips

How much has fishing changed over the years? We thought we’d find out.

Check out our collection of charming vintage fishing film clips and see how they compare to the videos from today’s cutting edge of angling. We think you’ll be amazed by just how far fishing has come – and how much it’s stayed exactly the same.

Competition time

Flat caps at the ready! Back in the 1960s angling contests were no less hotly contested than they are today but just look at the acres of tweed on display…

A decade later and the Brits were competing in Denmark. Check out the snazzy plastic sun visors these British anglers wore while competing in the Woodbine challenge. Locals were apparently “bemused” by their interest in coarse fish in preference to salmon and trout.

Fast forward to the 2015 World Angling Champs and what’s most striking is the professionalisation of the sport. The fishing, however is just the same as it always was.

Deep sea fishing thrills

Jump on board a trawler and chug your way out to sea for a 1960s cod fishing adventure, Icelandic style.

Now take a look at the next video, courtesy of the good folks at Sportquest holidays. The venue is the same, but check out how much quicker it is to get to the fishing grounds!

A rod’s a rod

Simple yet effective, in the 1930s rods were crafted by men working in harmony with their machines – not to mention plenty of good old fashioned elbow grease.

76 years later and the materials have changed but making a quality rod remains a skilled job with a strong craft element.

Child’s play

Worthing’s the venue for this charming summer holiday clip from the1930s. As the commentator says, the kids here are only too delighted to “swap hated books for baited hooks”.

Now it’s all about keeping the kids off the streets – here’s a novel approach – an indoor fishing venue.

They say you no longer even have to step outside your bedroom to experience the thrill of fishing. The latest gaming technology means fishing games that are just like the real thing – apparently.

But then again, maybe not. Just check this little boy’s reaction to catching his first fish. Some things never change!

Your Top 3 Fantasy Fly Fishing Destinations

whatamango bay

The stunning Whatamango Bay in New Zealand

New Zealand is far and away your dream fly fishing destination. That’s what the results of our big fishing survey tell us. Canada is next and Alaska is the third most popular choice. When we asked for your ‘money-no-object’ top fly fishing destination, we were staggered by the response; nearly a thousand of you took the time to answer and the results were unequivocal.

But why do so many of you want to fly long haul in search of fly fishing adventures? Let’s find out.

New Zealand

Bringing a New Zealand bow' to hand. Image: jakub-kanok.com

Bringing a New Zealand bow’ to hand. Image: jakub-kanok.com

Almost a quarter of those of you who responded to the survey said your ideal destination is New Zealand, even though it’s about as far away as you can get from the UK. This means the travelling alone sucks three or four days from your holiday. It must have something special going for it…

First of all, the New Zealand summer coincides with our British winter. Just as the salmon and trout seasons here draw to a close, the rivers on the far side of the world open. For anyone who wants to fish year round, New Zealand is the perfect choice.

New Zealand offers world class trout fishing. Image: jakub-kanok.com

New Zealand offers world class trout fishing. Image: jakub-kanok.com

And the fishing is stupendous. There is arguably nowhere else in the world that offers such a quality and variety of rivers, lakes and streams – and all within relatively easy reach of each other.

The welcome is warm, as Kiwis are famed for their hospitality. Accommodation and food are reasonably priced, too. Heck, they even drive on the same side of the road as us.

A New Zealand spring creek brown. Image: jakub-kanok.com

A New Zealand spring creek brown. Image: jakub-kanok.com

Where to go

There’s good fishing all around New Zealand. But the South Island is where the fun really starts. Get ready for some wonderful wild brown trout and salmon, all the way from sunny Nelson to the wilds of the Southern Alps. Fish the meandering rivers of the Canterbury plains before heading south to Queenstown and Gore, the “brown trout capital of the world”.

Stalking South Island Browns. Image: jakub-kanok.com

Stalking South Island Browns. Image: jakub-kanok.com

To make the most of your adventure, use an experienced destination outfitter. Aardvark McLeod, for example, offer tailor-made fly fishing adventures all over the world. They’ll source the best accommodation, and their stable of experienced guides will make sure your trip lives up to your dreams.

This outstanding video by Jakub Kanok pretty much sums up the appeal of fly fishing New Zealand:


Gone West & Manic Tackle Project present: Set & Release from GW, Jakub Kanok on Vimeo.

Canada

Fly Fishing near Vancouver island, Canada. Image: coastwild.com

Fly Fishing near Vancouver island, Canada. Image: coastwild.com

Canada’s wilderness is quite staggeringly vast. Getting to your fishing destination can involve flying in a float plane across hundreds of miles of pristine boreal forest, before touching down in a lake fed by glacial waters so clear and so clean you can drink them. Imagine fly fishing for native rainbow, steelhead and chinook – and more – fishing that’s better than any you’ve ever experienced.

A huge Canadian salmon. Image: coastwild.com

A huge Canadian chinook salmon. Image: coastwild.com

We’re talking tall trees, awesome glaciers, bald eagles, grizzly bears and rivers like you’ll find nowhere else on earth. No wonder over 16 percent of you would choose to go west for a once in a lifetime fly fishing holiday.

Where to go

There are hundreds of incredible angling destinations across Canada. If we were forced to choose the best, British Columbia would be a strong contender. The fishing season runs from February to October and of course, the Rocky Mountains are just spectacular. But there’s also Saskatchewan, Northern Ontario, Quebec…

A catch from British Columbia. Image: coastwild.com

A catch from British Columbia. Image: coastwild.com

Log cabin accommodation ranges from backwoods basic to the last word in luxury. Again, to really reap the rewards of crossing the Atlantic in search of fishing heaven, you really need the services of a guide. They’ll help you find the best spots, and share their years of knowledge so you can get more from your fishing. Somebody like Curtis Smith of Coastal Wilderness adventures will ensure your trip is as productive as possible.

Check out his awesome steelhead fishing video on the Campbell river:

Alaska

serenity lake alaska

Imagine fishing Serenity Lake in Alaska…

If rather less of you dream of wetting a line in Alaska, that’s probably only due to the remoteness of the location, and the perceived difficulty and expense involved in getting there. But make no mistake, though just under 10 percent of you favour making the trip to the frozen north, those who do are in for some spectacular (and abundant) fly fishing.

Alaska offers the opportunity to experience untamed wilderness in search of wild rainbow trout, Dolly Varden and Steelhead. But wonderful though these species are, the US’s 49th state is really all about salmon!

A Bristol bay salmon. Image: AardvarkMcLeod Facebook.

A Bristol bay salmon. Image: AardvarkMcLeod Facebook.

King, Silver, Sockeye, Pink and Chum – you’ll find no less than five species of this splendid game fish in the rivers of Alaska. So make sure you time your visit to coincide with the spectacular salmon runs.

Where to go

Pushed to choose, we might head for the Kenai River in South-Central Alaska. Early runs in June average 16,000 fish, but the late runs are truly incredible. Upwards of 40,000 fish surge upstream, some weighing in at near 100lbs. As one Alaskan fishing and lodging outfit puts it: “May through September, something is always jumping in the Kenai.” Now that’s fly fishing at its best!

If you’re intending to fish in Alaska, the services of an experienced guide will prevent you ending up as bear food.

Did your top choice make it into the top three? The UK was in fifth position – perhaps for those people, it’s a case of ‘East, West, home’s best’!

Summer Holiday Fishing in Brittany France

If you are heading off on a summer holiday across the channel this year with the family, then why not sneak in the fishing tackle to? Our online marketing manager Ceri did just that for a trip to Brittany.

Fishing in France can be easy to find and available at a low cost if you don’t have the time or resources to book a full length fishing trip. Find out how easy it can be on this blog post!

River Blavet near Pontivy Brittany

River Blavet near Pontivy Brittany.

Brittany, my holiday destination most summers is a fine spot for varied fishing of many disciplines. Easy to get to with a fairly short ferry crossing and dotted with fish filled water bodies of all types. One day you can spend an evening casting the fly a freestone trout stream, the next feeder fishing for tench on a lake,  and then the day after spinning for perch on a canal. A few hours fishing like that is very easy to integrate into a family holiday, so you can have the best of both worlds on your summer break.

The main thing you need for fishing in France is a ‘carte de peche hebdomadaire’ – a weeks tourist fishing permit. Available for the princely sum of 30 euro’s online at www.cartedepeche.fr. This permit is aimed at holiday anglers and covers you for 7 consecutive days on state controlled waters in the area you choose. Just a few years ago obtaining a carte de peche was a really arduous task – you had to traipse around various bars, tabacs, bricolage’s etc. in search of somebody willing to sell you one. I personally ended up on many a wild goose chase, and often resorted to making motions of casting and reeling in imaginary fish- only to be have the finger pointed at the tabac across the road… with language barrier to deal with it was definitely hard work, and most amusing for the locals.

Nowadays with chrome as your web browser or by using Google translate; doing this online is  a piece of cake. Upload a picture for ID purposes, pick your week, the region you are based in, pay by card and then download a PDF which you print off in colour and voila you are good to go. In my case I stayed in Morbian, which allowed me to fish the whole region as shown on the map I downloaded below from the cartedepeche website.

The Morbihan region of Brittany - all this for 30 Euros!!

The Morbihan region of Brittany – all this for 30 Euros!!

Many rivers and lakes in France that have a right of navigation (i.e a watercourse flowing through them) are free for the public to fish if you have one of these permits. This opens up a vast expanse of fishing opportunity for all types of fish species- both game and coarse. Most waters have very easy access, and generally you can work this out for yourself with Google maps or a tourist brochure map map of the area.  There are often large parking places or laybys at bridges where you can easily get onto the water. If unsure where to start look for the larger rivers and lakes – these places are invariably free for the public to fish, and easier to access being navigable to water craft.

What fishing equipment should you take?

Well for me its the TF Gear compact allrounder rod. It do almost anything well- great for feeder fishing, float fishing, ledgering and even spinning in the the 8 foot configuration.
For a fly rod you cannot go wrong with the 4 section Airflo streamtec rods – the 7’6 3/4 is ideal for the smaller overgrown headwater streams where you will find trout at the height of the French summer.

The TF Gear allrounder rod with TF Gear match special reel

The TF Gear allrounder rod with TF Gear match special reel.

Should you be a coarse fisher then you really are spoiled for choice. Every larger slow flowing river will have bream, tench, perch, roach, rudd, carp pike and zander to name a few. So take fishing tackle to cover these species – cage feeders, pellets, a small selection of lures will all come in handy. You can pick up bait locally – simple stuff like tinned sweetcorn will do the business, these fish are not pressured as on some UK venues.

The French call the larger rivers the 2nd category. 1st category rivers hold trout, and sometimes salmon. However most of them also hold plentiful coarse fish, bar the very fast flowing upper reaches. For trout make sure you take a selection of dry flies – in the summer the rivers get low and weedy and the fish are always looking up for terrestrial insects from their lies in cooler tree lined stretches.

There are plenty of great tackle shops in Brittany should you forget anything. Ardent Pech was a really good one I found in Pontivy. The diverse selection of fishing tackle, particularity the unusual and varied soft plastic lures and jigs was especially impressive.

A selection of fishing lure bodies at the Ardent Peche tackle shop, Pontivy.

A selection of fishing lure bodies at the Ardent Peche tackle shop, Pontivy.

My top 5 public fishing places to try in Brittany:

1. The Léguer river. Cotes-d’Armor-  Full of wild brown trout. Salmon in lower reaches, shad.

The Léguer river - central Brittany. Trout fishermans paradise.

The Léguer river – central Brittany. Trout fisherman’s paradise.

2. River Blavet’ and Nantes Brest canal. Pontivy, Morbihan – bream, tench, chub, perch.

The nantes-brest canal near Pontivy.

The nantes-brest canal near Pontivy.

3. Lac au duc. Ploermel – Pike, Zander, perch, carp.

Lac au duc - Brittanys largest natural lake, and its public fishing.

Lac au duc – Brittanys largest natural lake, and its public fishing.

4. Callac lake (Etang de la Verte Vallee) Cotes-d’Armor – big carp, tench, trout and silvers.

A lovely tench from the lake at Callac.

A lovely tench from the lake at Callac.

5. River L’Hyeres. Carhaix-plouguer – decent wild Trout, specimen chub and pike fishing in lower reaches.

A typical River L’Hyeres brown trout.

A typical River L’Hyeres brown trout.

There are plenty more public venues in France, which can be found here on this helpful website: www.publicfishingfrance.com

Fly Fishing Iceland – Mythical Fishing On Lake Thingvallavatn

Tackle consultant, expert angler and seasoned fishing guide Chris Ogborne reports on a special fly fishing trip to Iceland, in search of mythical brown trout of gigantic proportions. Read to find out whether the myths matched the reality!

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

The majestic lake Thingvallavatn

First glimpse of the majestic lake Thingvallavatn.

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

Chris wetting a line on Lake Thingvallavatn

Chris wetting a line on Lake Thingvallavatn.

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

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

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

the first fish - finally into the net!

The first fish – finally into the net!

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

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

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

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

Another well fed Icelandic beauty graces the net!

Another plump char fed Icelandic beauty graces the net!

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

Airflo Airtex clothing and waders kept Chris warm and dry

Airflo Airtex clothing and waders kept Chris warm and dry.

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

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

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

Chris Ogborne

May 2015

Bucket List Fishing – The Lough Corrib Experience

Every serious angler should have a bucket list, a select wish-list of places to be fished before we head off to the great rivers and waters in the sky. Here Chris Ogborne ticks another one off his already impressive tally. He packs his fly fishing gear and jets off to Ireland’s mighty Lough Corrib to sample the infamous early spring duck fly fishing. Read on to find out why this place is so special and how he gets on!

Although I’ve been privileged in my angling life to fish so many amazing places, traveling literally all over the World with the England Teams and also on business, I’ve never managed the infamous duck fly on Corrib. It’s partly oversight but somehow the diary has never been free enough. I’ve always meant to go, I’ve always wanted to go, but pressure of life has conspired against it. Until last week. Some very special friends said ‘lets do it’ and so I did!

The vast expanse of the mighty Lough Corrib

The vast expanse of the mighty Lough Corrib

Nothing prepares you for the first time you see Corrib. At just under 40,000 acres it’s over ten times the size of Rutland and you could fit the whole of Chew Valley Lake into one of its bays. It’s a vast body of limestone lough, a huge expanse of water that is overwhelming at first, daunting at best, and one of the few true remaining challenges in our sport.

I’d fished it once before when the World Championships were held there in ’95, but that was in ‘normal’ months when traditional wets and pulling flies were the order of the day. This time it’s early season and we’re here for the explosion of fly life that takes place every year in March and is known the World over as ‘duck fly time’. To quickly dispel any myth about it, the duck fly are simply buzzers. Black ones. Millions of them. It’s a miracle of nature that this phenomenal hatch takes place each year, providing the first real feast of the year for the trout, the birds (the Ducks love them, hence the name) and various other forms of life in the lough. The numbers are beyond definition or imagination, as columns of the insects rise like smoke above the islands, trees and bushes in their mating dance. Clouds so dense you feel you could cut them with a knife. And when the breeze takes them out over the lake they fall to the water and occasionally, in those elusive moments when conditions are just right, the trout go mad!

There are many schools of thought on how to fish for them, and that’s not the purpose or intention of this article. These words are intended as a simple tribute to the place. Dry fly works well, and so does imitative nymph. Some suspend a buzzer beneath a floating dry, whilst others fish just a singleton. Some cast far from the boat or bank, others fish a short line with great stealth   Fine leaders are a must for me, although stories abound of fish taking happily on heavy lines. In truth it matters not – you’re there, and you’re fishing the duck fly hatch. That’s all that really matters.

A rare calm morning on Lough Corrib

A rare calm morning on Lough Corrib

The key is weather, and thankfully I just happened to get lucky last week. Amidst a period of high wind and rain there was a day, just one day, when it all fell calm. Intermittent sunshine was coupled with a mix of gentle breeze and flat calm. Temperatures rose and in the afternoon it felt more like June than March. The flies drifted onto and over the water and if you had a good boatman. as I most certainly did, then it all came together.   I took fish of 2lb, just on 3lbs, and one trophy fish of 5lbs 1oz, the latter being one of the most beautiful browns I’ve ever had in my life.   After weighing and a picture, it was returned to the water to fight another day.

A stunning 5lb Lough Corrib duck fly feeder

A stunning 5lb 1oz Corrib duck fly feeder

The amazing backdrop of countryside and stunning scenery makes an impact and enhances the day. At every turn of the boat a whole new part of the lough becomes visible, with the vista changing completely in the space of a hundred meters. Islands appear, large and small, some covered with vegetation and trees and others little more than a collection or rocks. You’re constantly amazed at the skills of the boatman, guiding the boat with innate skill and avoiding submerged rocks just inches beneath the surface. The micro climate changes, as does the clarity of the water. You drift past spots with evocative names, some famous for generations an others merely a private mark stored carefully in the boatman’s mind.

The amazing light on Corrib

The amazing light on Corrib

It was over by late afternoon as the chill returned to the water, but that didn’t matter. I’d had the red letter day, fulfilled the big tick on my bucket list, and enjoyed one of the ultimate angling experiences of my life. With the very best of company and a little – OK, a lot! – of the black nectar known as Guinness it was, as they say in Ireland, a great Craic.

Beyond that it was emotional, and I use that word carefully and in full knowledge that not everyone will understand.   Fishing Corrib is a humbling process, as you’re always aware that the lough can and will have the final word. But if it goes right, just once in your life, then you are a happier angler and a richer man for having been there.

6 Bonzer Australian fishing spots

Strewth! It’s Australia Day, so it seems only proper to honour some of the most beaut’ fishing spots down under.

With thousands of miles of coastline and varied regional climates, Australia offers a huge range of fishing options, so it’s no wonder around 5 million Aussies enjoy fishing in their leisure time.

Just take a look at these bonzer locations. Warning: the following may induce severe jealousy.

For barramundi fishing: Kimberley Coast, Western Australia

Kimberley Coast WA

Image source: John Benwell
Could you catch an elusive barramundi on the Kimberley coast?

We’ll start with one of the best excuses to bring out the sea fishing tackle: barramundi fishing. Australia’s most famous fighting fish – also known as the Asian seabass – barramundi is an Aboriginal name meaning ‘large-scaled silver fish’ and it provides one of the great fishing challenges. One of the best spots to catch it (and other large fish) is the stunning Kimberley Coast, a region bordered by the Indian Ocean, Timor Sea and sandy inland deserts. So, as the Aussies say, give it a burl!

For catching something tasty: East Coast, Tasmania

East Coast Tasmania

Image source: Mariusz Kluzniak
A truly stunning spot to fish.

Tasmania’s east coast is a haven for fishing and attracts both professional and recreational anglers from all over the world. There’s everything here from jetty fishing for beginners, to diving for rock lobsters, to serious deep sea sport fishing charters. You’ll definitely catch something tasty to put on the sunset barbie.

For huge variety: Gippsland, Victoria

Gippsland

Image source: Lincoln Peh
Why not try lake fishing in Gippsland?

Few places in the world offer the diversity of fishing opportunities found in Gippsland (in fact we had to check Gippsland wasn’t another Aboriginal word meaning fishland, but it wasn’t).  There are heaps of fish species in this area to ensure year-round fishing and a variety of spots to fish from including coastal lakes, rivers, estuaries and even a 90-mile stretch of beach. Fair dinkum, we’re stoked just talking about it!

For a fishing safari: Gove Peninsula, Northern Territory

Grove Peninsula Northern Territory

Image source: Matthew Grooby
One of the largest areas of Aboriginal-owned land.

The Gove Peninsula is the most eastern extremity of the Northern Territory and is one of the largest areas of Aboriginal-owned land. And the fishing there is legendary. Charter a fishing safari in the pristine waters of the Arafura Sea and fish a bounty of species including tuna, marlin, barracuda and red emperor. You can even spend the night camping on Wigram Island. It’s so remote you’ll be drinking with the flies.

For tinnie boat fishing: Bega River, New South Wales

Bega River

Image source: Peter Hindmarsh
Take a tinnie down the river.

For those of you not familiar with the lingo, a tinnie isn’t a can of beer, but rather a small aluminium motorboat that resembles a sardine can. Hire one at sparrows fart (dawn) and find a spot on the enchanting Bega River off the Sapphire Coast where you’ll find bream, bass, flathead and tailor.

For pier fishing: Tathra, New South Wales

Tathra Pier NSW

Image source: John
Fish on the pier with your peers.

For many Aussies the joy lies in tossing a line from the end of a pier and being in the company of other like-minded anglers. Tathra Pier in family-friendly Tathra, NSW is one of the most popular piers for fishing in Australia. So chill out with some fellow anglers and try your hand at catching a yellowtail kingfish, bonito or Australian salmon while you’re at it.