Freedom by Rene’ Harrop

For a fly fishermen living at high elevation in Yellowstone country, the arrival of May is like the release date from a prison sentence.

Whether through biological management measures or restrictive climatic influence, many attractive trout waters are not available for fishing until the flowers bloom and migrating birds have returned for nesting.

Henry's Lake Cutthroat

Henry’s Lake Cutthroat

On the Idaho side of the Park where I live, all but the Harriman Ranch will be relieved of seasonal management restrictions by the end of May and the same applies to any water that remained iced over prior to that time.

Across the border in Montana, opening of the general fishing season occurs about two weeks earlier than Yellowstone, which for most park waters is Memorial Day Weekend.

May - Henry's Fork

May – Henry’s Fork

With the road to another summer now clear I can turn full attention to the most serious business of life, which is fishing. With fly boxes fully restocked and all other tackle items ready to go, freedom is obscured only by the move back to Island Park from our winter home on the lower Henry’s Fork. Once completed, I am virtually surrounded by more temptation than even a disciplined man should be expected to withstand, and I have never been especially strong in that regard.

Sheridan Morning

Sheridan Morning

From our cabin, the Henry’s Fork is nearly within casting range and rivers like the Madison or Fire Hole are less than an hour away. Rested still waters like Henry’s, Sheridan, and Hebgen do not make my choice easy on where to spend any given day, and I have been known to hit as many as three of these irresistible fisheries between sunrise and dark.

Nice Loop On The Fire Hole

Nice Loop On The Fire Hole

I spend six months of each year living in this mountainous dream world, and May is just the beginning.

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Dave Lane’s Top 5 ‘Must Have’ Carp Fishing Kit

Dave Lane talks about his top 5 carp fishing essentials – never leave home without them!

1. A good set of Polaroid Sunglasses – these are essential for fish spotting, not only when looking down through the water from trees etc but also when looking out across the water to reduce glare. Location is so important that it would be mad to fish without them. I use grey tinted for really bright sunny days and amber for everything else but, if I had to have just one pair it would definitely be amber.

Dave Lane wearing a good set of polaroids!

Dave Lane wearing a good set of polaroids!

2. Binoculars – I have got right back into using binoculars for my angling. If a fish rolls at range it’s so easy to see if it’s bubbling up or just cruising past. Tiny movements on the surface can be zoomed in on and identified between carp activity and small fish or insects.

3. Tea making equipment – I just cannot function without a regular supply of tea. I recently filmed some footage for Fishtec’s website and, out of the five of us needed for filming I was the only tea-drinker! I just do not understand how people can resist it. I will try anything when my supply gets threatened; building fires form twigs when my gas runs out, drinking black tea when my milk has soured and re-using tea bags. I would even consider milking a nearby cow if I could catch one!

Tea time!!

Tea time!!

4. Good Bait – It sounds obvious but I have to have my little collection of Mainline pop-up’s in the side pocket of my rucksack and at least five kilos of the best boilies I can possibly use (at the moment this is the new Hybrid). I need to know I have a hook-bait for any situation and I even have them in differing buoyancies, sizes, colour and flavours.

5. Decent fishing clothing – I have spent so many years in the past being soaked and cold or too hot and sweating while fishing. I always make sure I have a set of TF Gear waterproofs rolled up small just in case and a decent jacket to keep out the cold, even on a summers night.

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Dave Lane ‘Biggun Spots’ Q & A

When you’re fishing for these known big fish, do you literally sit in their known capture swims, even if there are fish showing elsewhere on the lake? Large carp obviously have areas where they spend a lot of time and seem to only get caught from those one or two spots, but do you think that they still travel around the lake but just don’t feed in other areas?

It is very easy to fall into the trap of fishing as others have done in the past; in fact I know I have done this on more than one occasion and sometimes suffered as a result.

For instance, if a fish is reputed to have a liking for tiger nuts instead of the usual boilie approach then every angler on the lake will, at some stage, use tigers, even if it just on one rod. Suddenly you have a scenario whereby thirty, forty or even fifty percent of the hook-baits on offer are tigers, and the chances of that fish getting caught on a tiger have just gone through the roof.

If nobody used tigers then it would have to get caught on something else, because it would get caught, they all do eventually.

The same situation arises with areas as it does with bait, those highlighted areas from previous captures tend to get more attention than the rest of the lake, more rod hours equals more chance of a result and more chance of perpetuating the myths surrounding one particular carp.

Putting back the Burghfield Common after ‘doing it all wrong’

Putting back the Burghfield Common after ‘doing it all wrong’

The other way of looking at it is that there is a reason and a truth behind the mythology, that one big carp really does only feed on the shallows, really doesn’t like boilies or does only gets caught on a full moon, but why?

Every carp must feed regularly to stay alive and it could be argued that the bigger fish need a greater amount of food to maintain their weight, so what happens the rest of the time, they feed elsewhere of course and on other things.

Certainly, I believe that a carp will use almost every part of the lake, regardless of where it is most often caught. Maybe, in the other areas it has regular food supply that does not include angler’s baits. There may be natural larders that it always visits on these sojourns away from its catchable areas. There may also be areas where a carp will go regularly with no intention of feeding whatsoever, in fact the big Common at Burghfield seems to have one of these. It is an area where it has been seen a lot but never seen to feed and certainly never on bait of any description, more like a safe area, or sunbathing spot.

To think that a carp only feeds in the spots where it is caught and at the times of year of previous captures is madness.

If it was as easy as to cast under Basil’s bush on a full moon with a yellow pop-up then that particular fish would get caught once a month, the swim would be booked in advance, the poor creature would not only be labelled a ‘mug’ but he would starve to death over the ensuing three and a half weeks.

There is always more to a situation than it first appears, if not carp fishing would be simply carp catching, and as boring as hell.

A carp is a living creature with free will and this is what makes our sport so much more interesting, challenging and ultimately rewarding than most other pursuits; the rules are constantly changing and nothing is totally impossible.

All information about a target fish is good information, it has been correlated over years by capable anglers taking notes about their own particular observations, and most of it will be true and valid. I think though, you need to add your own observations into the mix rather than blindly follow a script.

When I caught the Burghfield Common it went against all the preconceived ideas of where and how that fish would feed.

There was a folklore surrounding him that said it would never get caught in the open water areas of the lake and it would always be a loner or feed with a small band of select ‘friends’ but never with the bulk of the fish.

In fact the exact rumour was that “if you are catching carp then the next bite will never be the common”.

Well, I had it from the open water area as the second bite of a six fish catch so it’s a good job that I ignored the legend on that particular occasion.

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Beneath The Surface At Bramble Mere

Fishtec marketing director Allan Crawford-Plane recently visited the tranquil Bramble Mere fishery in the Cotswolds for a quick overnighter. Thanks to a FishSpy camera Allan was able to save vital time, and importantly catch fish!

Read on to find out how FishSpy revealed what was beneath the surface in a less than clear lake….

The bucolic Bramble mere lake had long been a favorite venue of mine. Situated in the tranquil Cotswolds near Fairford, I had arranged a flying visit with just a single night on the bank, hoping for some rod bending action.

After a meet and greet with the owner Steve, a quick reconnaissance of the main lake was made. It was obvious right away that the lake was being dye treated for weed, with a blue green tint being evident.

Bramble mere

The lovely Bramble mere lake

Tactically this is where a FishSpy really comes into its own. With poor visibility from the surface, a quick cast of the FishSpy on record would hopefully give me an idea of the bottom despite the murky stained water. Several exploratory casts were made in various swims before I decided to set up and fish. I was glad I did – as you can see in the footage below the bottom was carpeted in really dense weed of several feet thick.

This presented a problem of finding a good area to lay the traps. A bit more probing with the FishSpy on record revealed a lovely marginal gravel clear spot about 10 yards out from a tree lined swim, a perfect area to add some bait. I fed in a decent amount of the new Dynamite Complex-T 15mm plus 10mm white chocolate and coconut cream – a sure fire way to attract fish. The FishSpy was then submerged on record to check the spot, as shown in the clip below.

With a nice bed of bait in place I was confident that the fish would feed near the margins – the murky water would give them security to come close in, especially with the light now dropping. The FishSpy was set on record for an hour over the spot, as the Airflo bivvy was set up and rods rigged. A quick review of the footage astonishingly revealed investigation by what appeared to be a decent common!

A cast into the area with the TF Gear 10′ Banshee carp rod resulted in a screaming run within a matter of minutes…. a nice fish now graced the net, possibly even the same spotted on camera earlier on. Would the run have come so quickly without using a FishSpy?

Carp in the net...

Carp in the net…

As the night set in several fine steaks were enjoyed on the TF gear Toastie grill. With the rods set, things turned even better that night with two runs at 2.45 am and 3.15 am resulting in two nice upper doubles.

Steak on the grill

Sizzling Steak on the grill pan.

The next morning, a quick inspection of the area revealed the bait had been picked clean. So more Dynamite Complex-T went into the spot. I had to pay the nearby Horseshoe lake a visit for a few hours, so the Fishspy was submerged and set on record over the spot, just to see. Upon returning, a quick scan through the footage revealed yet more fish activity…

A quick recast in the spot resulted in a few liners, but no runs. So without much time left of my session, I packed down the gear leaving all but my rods out. Suddenly the alarm sprung into life – a last gasp take! With Steve on hand to take a snap, a pretty little specimen ended the session on a high.

A last minute run

A last minute run

Without the FishSpy would I have caught four fish? It certainly gave me the edge for a quick visit. The moral of the story – don’t forget your FishSpy.

FishSpy - dont leave home without one!

FishSpy – don’t leave home without one!

For full details of fishing on Bramble Mere, visit www.bramblemere.com

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Halliford Mere Trout Fishery

In this blog smallwater specialist Stuart Smitham visits Halliford Mere trout fishery, situated on the outskirts of West London. Read on to find out more about this interesting venue and how the fishing was.

Where it all started for us. I was posted to Hounslow in or around 1998 for public duties and by chance had heard of a small fishery, offering trout fishing on a Catch & Release ticket. Situated near Heathrow Airport and near the bustling M25 and M3 motorways, this venue was a gravel pit. It’s stones and gravel no doubt used to build the surrounding road ways, that are now a familiar feature in our day to day lives.

Halliford mere fishery

Halliford mere fishery

Some months ago, I was chatting with my good friend Michael Valler, when he mentioned he wanted to try another trout fishery, so I put Halliford Mere forward as a choice of destination for a future day trip. I phoned the fishery on the 25th April and spoke to the owner/ manager Bill who runs the fishery with his brother Gerry. They also run the very successful restaurant which won a Les Routiers award for Venue of the Year 2017. With a full a’la Carte menu and Seafood, you could be spoiled for choice.

With around 15 acres of fishing and utilising four lakes, this fishery has a lot to offer, for a slim £20 C&R ticket. Three of the lakes offering up and Perch & Trout fishing and Lake 4 is a predator lake with some very large Pike lurking the depths. One thing is for sure, we’ll have to work hard to get a fish to the net today, as the sun starts burning the low cloud away and the all too familiar sound of jets streaking to sunnier climes. Having gleaned some info from Bill on the previous Tuesday, we arrive on Saturday having travelled the short journey from Michael’s house.

Mrs Valler isn’t keen on us losing weight today, so she has put a snack bag together to feed a small Army. We have lots of flies to try, so as we drive in the fishery we park up and go to meet Gerry in the restaurant and pay for our day tickets. There’s a chap on the main lake, trying to tempt fish that are on the fin, in the lake centre and they’re having none of it. Some of these look like lumps, plus there are brown buzzer coming off, right now?

Gerry gives us the run down on the lakes and some idea on depths we can expect, stating the main lake is around 22 feet, so I get some idea leader length? We get to the car with fumbling fingers and hasty tackle ups. Some of the better casting points on the main lake are already being used, so we opt to wander off to Lake 2 for a sniff around. There’s a regular here who feeds us some info on what he fishes, then tells us about the 30lb Pike he lost on the main lake the other week. Now a pike is one thing, but a 30lb pike is quite something else. We start a wander, to find feeding fish and end up walking past the houses that back onto the main lake and lake 2.

Ending up directly opposite the chap we just spoke to, Mick has the Airflo Super Dri Bandit, 10 feet of 7lb G3 tippet and a single black buzzer with a gold rib and red tag. He’s also using and airlock indictor, which float really well and can be adjusted up or down the leader, without affecting the leaders strength. Me, I opt for Super Dri Mend, which is a great line for supporting heavy flies, being slightly thicker and is Hi Vis in the sharp sunlight. I have 14 ft of 7lb G3 and I put a dropper on, around 5 feet from the fly line tip. A #14 Black Mirage Cormie on the dropper and a Pearly green buzzer on point.

From our area on a spit, we can see fish moving and smashing buzzers coming off on a wind ruffled segment in the middle of this water. Try as we might, we get nothing so opt for some fun. There are fish moving with a rod length of us, so Mick now puts on a green beaded shammie and I have a red beaded one to try to get a reaction. Mick makes a cast and starts moving his lure in toward us. I leave mine static. Mick makes re-cast and starts talking to me, when he misses a hard pull and starts cursing! I then miss a take too. Serves us both right for not watching eh?

Missed take!

Missed take!

We continue this for a while and see more fish starting to rise to buzzer. We make a bold move up to Church Bay on Lake 3, after getting some hot info from our friend, but when we get there, there’s a lot weed and the banks side fringes are choked with weed, so we wander back to the main lake. After a few tentative casts into some very dark deep holes, we can hear our bellies talking, so a brew and some scotch eggs are very welcome. Re-energised we start a cast and peek around the bottom of the main lake near the road in.

Mick now has an Olive Damsel knotted on with a silver Tungsten head and silli legs trailing off it. I have changed to 17ft of tippet and a single tanksie lure, in black and green with a black 4mm brass bead at the head. I can hear this whistling past me as I cast, so I check the position of my glasses before starting the retrieve. I am fan casting in short and medium length shoots and spot a faint shadow on right heading for me. I stop retrieving and regret it straight away! A brown of around six pounds just sidles by as I’m left pulling line in, to make a re-cast in front of this beast. Nothing?? We move to the opposite side of the Lodge and restaurant and some other chaps are trying to tempt the trout in the lake centre. These fish have seen a line or two before and are out of my range, because we have restricted back cast room with hedges and trees.

Moving up a peg, I can get a line out and miss what I think was a fish. Then bring back some weed about three-foot long. With weed choked lake fringes at the top end of the main lake, we wander again. As we walk into what looks like a secluded section on lake 3, Mick heads for a point and I make for some tree covered bank, that offers an opportunity for challenging casting. I now have about 18 feet of tippet and a Yellow hot body with a white tail. This little gold head works well and has a fluttering action in the tail. Second cast to the far bank and I lock up, the see a small brown around 2.5lb spit the hook and give me the fin. Gutted yet ready again, I make another cast to the same spot. I watch the fly come back then see the flash, Instead of waiting to feel the hit, I line strike straight down chopping my line hand away. That’s when the rod tip comes to life.

Winning combo. Hot body and G3

Winning combo. Hot body and G3.

That was some take, so I ask Mick to pop a few picks off while I play the sprightly Halliford Bow. After a few snaps it streaks back down into the dark water. I lengthen my cast and shoot about 40 feet of line under the trees. Success straight off and Mick comes over to see the hustle and bustle, as a hard-scrapping bow sparkles the water surface with a splashy head thrash.

Into a fish...

Into a fish…

Mick moves ahead of me and starts small casts into the margins. Most of my fish are deep but just visible in the gloomy water. Mick misses a take and so do I. This little hot bed area is pretty cool with lots of activity. I miss several takes because I’m watching Mick then glancing back and catching the pluck on the my fly.

We move to a point which is a great area for casting a long line. I start joking with Mick about getting a smiley pick with a fish, when he locks up! He is well chuffed and fights this fish hard. Rod bent and smiling like a Cheshire cat, he just releases the pressure on the hook hold slightly. Just enough for the feisty bow to slip the hook as Mick is ready to net it. Supremely gutted, Mick checks is rig then changes his leader to about 12 feet long and casts out. I make a long cast with the hauling zone outside the tip ring. That’s over 60 feet of line out, then thump thump and my rod tip starts dancing. What a hit that is! I start gaining line then lose it again? I’m now thinking big fish, so play it safe and gain line slowly. The fish is coming in, so I reel in the line on the deck and gain the upper hand. My line banding is shooting in and out of the water as we both try attempt the battles wits. Then it pops the water surface in a splashy scrap and I slide the net under. What a tussle and this fish is around 2.5lb so nothing massive, but a nice tail explains the fights all to clearly.

A fine Halliford mere bow'

A fine Halliford mere bow’

I rest on the peg as my toes are killing me! Before anyone says anything, I don’t have feet like a hobbit. Because the points of the lakes are slanted, you end up pushing your feet into the front of your boots. Hence me taking a rest Lol. I encourage Mick to watch his line, he is fishing one of our fave flies, the techno cat. A Cats whisker with a red bead head. Mick is using the FTA method and makes a long pull, after some plucks and stops, then just brings the fly back to the surface and misses a splashy follow and take.

I tell Mick to make a long cast near the reeded far bank. He is about to start a retrieve when I stop him. I tell him we don’t know the depth there, so let it sink few seconds more, then make a pull. As soon as he starts the pull, he gets hit and the fish spits the fly at the surface! Unbelievable or what? He makes another cast just to the right of his last cast and the banded starts juddering? Mick strikes and he is in!!! Keeping up pressure with no let up, I give Mick my net as I’m shooting pics off like mad. He leans down and pushes the net out and this bow pops the hook!! You couldn’t write this could you?? Don’t answer that.

One that didn't get away

One that didn’t get away

As the afternoon starts ebbing away, we both realise that time is not on our side. We have to negotiate the M25 and M3 again, but this time when everyone else is driving on it? We have the last, last casts and walk toward the lodge at 4pm. Catching Gerry at the lodge and Bill who looks very dapper in readiness for an evening in the restaurant. We tell them about the Brown at the bottom of the main lake, then find out that they haven’t stocked Brownies for a few years, yet we’ve seen two??

A good day and one Mick will remember as the day that could have been? I would have loved to see Mick with a fish in his hands, but that was not to be. From my perspective, a nice fishery with £20 for a C&R ticket. Dark water bright fly worked a charm for us. It did take a while to cotton onto the ideal method, but it was good fun trying different approaches and tactics.

Super Dri Mend came through again for me. It just floats like a cork and shoots really well, even with heavy flies. G3 came up trumps! Zero breakages, even on the hard pulls and lunges. Impressive

So, if your ever in London and stuck for a place to wet a line, give Bill & Gerry a buzz. Take the Mrs and enjoy the evening stroll after your meal. Whatever you think of Halliford Mere, all I can do is give you a flavour of what we enjoyed on our day. Lets hope yours is, as enjoyable as ours.

Best regards

Stuart

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Dave Lane Spring Carping Q & A

What areas do you target as the light levels begin to increase? Do you look in snaggy areas where the carp may go to rub up against the sunken branches to remove leeches accumulated during the winter, or maybe shallow areas that catch the sun and warm up quickest? Where do you think we should be looking for our quarry to get that early spring action?

Spring carping

Spring carping in all its glory….

The best thing about that transition period between winter and spring is that the entire lake comes back into play. Areas where the carp have not been for months will suddenly become viable areas to fish and, much more than just viable, they can be the most likely spots to get bites.

A prime example of this is the shallowest parts of the lake, particularly if they receive a decent amount of sunlight and not a lot of wind. These are areas that warm up a lot quicker with a few hours sunlight on them and the fish, when they re-visit their old haunts, always seem to be infinitely more catchable.

To my mind, fish in an area where you wouldn’t expect them to be, whether in spring or even in the middle of winter, have only gone their because they either feel more comfortable or they are expecting to find easily accessible food. Either way, a well-placed trap usually gets a rapid result although it’s not a situation where I would invest too much in the way of bait. A lot of my fishing in the early spring is with single pop-ups or just a handful of free offerings as I feel that the carp will, invariably, move back off these areas just as quickly as they arrived.

Reeds and snags can be good areas although snags, to me, are more of a safe haven at any time of the year whereas reeds are often warmer and shallower and a great place to find fish in the early part of spring.

Monks Pit has a large bed of reeds in one corner where fish will stay right through the winter. Generally, it is the smaller fish but, as the light levels increase, the bigger fish will also leave the deeper water and visit this area far more often and some big hits can be had on the right day.

I am sure that heat from the sun is transmitted down through the reeds and huge beds of Norfolk reed can create the perfect environment for carp at this time of year.

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Dave Lane On Silt

Dave Lane’s no-nonsense approach for effective carp fishing over silted areas….

I suppose a lot of today’s carp anglers have started off their fishing on silt bottomed lakes, most smaller ponds and fisheries, especially the natural old lakes, will be sited up through time.
I know all of my early fishing was on either Estate lakes or ponds surrounded by trees and, usually, fed by an inlet stream of some sort. Both of these things will contribute towards a build-up of silt.

Back in the early days we didn’t really think about a lot, we just cast out and caught fish, there were no fancy carp rigs and the question of where your bait ended up in relation the silt never raised its head.

Most of the rigs cast out in the seventies and eighties, by me at least, involved a basic nylon hook-link of about ten inches and a lead somewhere between one, and one and a half ounces which, bizarrely enough, is the exact rig I would now advocate for fishing in deep silt.

We certainly never considered methods to stop the hook-baits sinking into the silt, such as pop-up’s because, after all, that was surely where the free offering ended up?

Such a simple philosophy and one born, I suppose, through lack of outside influence but like I say, still something that I firmly believe all these many years later.

The food does not sit up nicely on top of the silt so why on earth should you want your hook-bait to do so.

All the interim years spent mucking about with helicopter rigs, paternosters, slow sinking leads (made from a float wrapped in fuse wire) and various other balancing devices were, in hindsight, a waste of time really. None of the afore mentioned ‘developments’ ever caught me more carp than a standard nylon hook-link and a bottom bait when fishing soft bottomed lakes.

I will admit that the addition of a very small PVA bag of crumbed baits has slipped into my armoury on occasions but, this is due more to the want to add smell to the area than by a need to keep the bait aloft.

I don’t want to give the impression that I am happy to just chuck a basic rig into any old smelly silt filled ditch and feel confident because that is really not the case at all; there are many different types of silt ranging from clean and barely settled ‘soup’ to hard packed detritus of the ages.

If I look back at the history of some of the siltier places I have fished it is amazing just how much they have changed over the years and the sheer depth of the silt that has collected there.

I recently fished for a winter on particular Estate lake where the average depth is about three feet and, whilst there, I got chatting to a guy who had fished the lake a decade or more prior to my visit and he assured me that is was closer to ten feet deep back then.

Now that is a lot of silt but when you look at the way the lake is fed and the depth variations throughout the year you can see just how this has happened.

There is a small steam at one end that runs through a dam wall into the lake, most of the year this is either dry or just a mere trickle but, during the winter and spring, it can turn into a raging torrent. Not only does it empty the contents of the stream bed into the lake but the stream itself is fed by the run off from the surrounding fields and the water is the colour of chocolate as it pours into the lake.

So much water comes in at one go that the level of the lake can rise two feet over night and that is a lot of suspended particles to add to the silt. By the time the water floods out of the other end it is much cleaner and a lot lighter, having dropped its payload of new silt as it travels along the lake.

Year in year out, three or four times each winter, spring and probably autumn, it doesn’t take long for the build up to accumulate and the lake to lose another foot of depth.

For a while I did muck about with various pop-up and balanced presentations but, in the end, I cut the whole lot off and fished all my rods on nylon rigs, bottom baits and tiny little bags of crumb, just to add a bit of smell. I caught plenty that winter, multiple catches on some occasions, and all from below the top layer of silt.

Not all silt is nice though and I am sure that a lot of areas are not favoured by the carp because of the ‘wrong type’ of silt. Nobody likes to retrieve their leads and rigs to find them covered in stinking black ooze and, I must admit, I have never knowingly caught from these obnoxious smelling areas.

Silt that has arrived via an inlet is probably going to be cleaner than silt that has occurred through a rotting process that has taken years of decay and trapped a lot of gasses during the process.

Try dragging a heavy ball or square lead through the silt to investigate which kind you have and avoid the disgusting black smelly stuff. A FishSpy camera float is also a good way of taking a real-time look at just what you are fishing over.

The FishSpy camera float

The FishSpy camera float.

When the carp are feeding in silt they also release a lot of the trapped gasses and you can sometimes see very obvious bubblers as the patches burst onto the surface.

Occasionally I fish a small silty lake set on the edge of Thetford forest and the fish in there bubble like crazy, particularly at first light when your swim can resemble a Jacuzzi.

I have only fished there a handful of times and always caught fish but, I had always thought I should have caught more and spent most of the day chasing bubblers up and down the lake. Eventually I decided to take a different approach and, rather than chase the fish, I would try and make the fish find me and offer them more than they were getting by feeding on the natural food within the silt.

I didn’t try for a clear or hard spot, I just picked somewhere they had bubbled up that morning and then fished as accurately as I possibly could, by this I mean baiting on the exact spot with every pouch-full and marking and clipping up my lines to ensure I was not just close but ‘bang on’ every single cast. I also put at least a kilo and a half of bait on each of two spots; I wanted them to stop when they found it rather than just keep trawling all over the swim rooting for food.

The next morning was a completely different ball game and just one glance at the surface told me my plan had worked. Rather than little individual streams of bubbles popping up randomly all over, there were two huge patches of froth, one over each spot and as soon as the bites started they came in frenetic succession. I had about six fish in as short a time as it was possible to land them and recast again.

All I had done different was to give them something to home in on, and a reason to stay there once they had. My rigs were just the trusty nylon hooklinks and bottom baits but the method change had been the key, it was that simple.

I have used this heavy baiting approach to concentrate bubbling fish in both silt and weed to very good effect quite a few times since then. The most noticeable of these was on the shallow lagoon at St Ives last year. By baiting heavily and accurately I managed to put together a string of incredible captures that culminated in the big mirror known as Colin at over fifty pounds, all from very tightly baited spots.

A big St Ives bubbler from a tightly baited area

A big St Ives bubbler from a tightly baited area.

Once again, I managed to condense the feeding activity to just my baited areas but outdoing the supply of natural food.

A lot of anglers will avoid silty areas and always be searching for that elusive ‘donk’ of the lead as it hits a hard spot but sometimes you can be missing out by not fishing the areas where the fish are used to finding natural food.

Don’t be afraid of silt or weed, just find a way to embrace it.

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An Emerger For All Seasons – by Steffan Jones

Large Brook Duns are a big meal and one that any self-respecting trout would reluctantly refuse, as each morsel provides substantial sustenance.

The Large brook dun

The Large brook dun.

As a rule, they do not hatch in the middle of the river and you are more likely to find them in greater numbers closer to the bank or in back eddys. Should you have a current deflection from a stone however, then this will often push the duns out into the stream and towards the trout. The trout will often locate themselves around such deflections, becoming known as likely ambush points and strong feeding lanes. The brook duns will also bring up the wiliest of trout that often hide underneath banks or bankside vegetation, as the trickle of duns may be strongest and most concentrated in such areas; always pay attention for small, unenergetic rises as they are often the largest fish.

The duns often try and scurry across the water’s surface towards the bank after hatching, often climbing up onto rocks after doing so. As such, the adults themselves can be a problematic food source to hone onto for the trout, as they escape before interception. This makes the emergers or cripples a securer meal and a better food source, often favoured as a result.

Signs of Brook dun emergance

Signs of Brook dun emergence.

No need to get complicated with a pattern to cover such eventualities. Indeed, the same pattern dressed in different sizes will cover a myriad of different olives and will see you right throughout most of the season. The important of the pattern to me is that is signals to the trout ‘eat me; I’m not going anywhere’. If they invest energy into intercepting an object they want to be rewarded as a result, so don’t make them question the investment in the first place in order to maximise your chances of interception.

No need to get complicated

No need to get complicated.

For this, I prefer to fish my emergers with the buoyancy placed out the front of the fly; fished over and beyond the eye, rather than up and over the body. This allows more of the fly to be fished in and under the surface, with only part of the thorax and ‘wing’ fished on and over the surface. I understand and appreciate that this does not follow the natural, as the wings to not emerge first nor do they protrude forward. However, outside of this observation I have not found the trout to question this unorthodox style and I believe the benefits outweigh such semantics.

An emerger for all seasons

An emerger for all seasons.

Tying instructions/ingredients

Hook: Partridge K12ST for the large patterns as it’s a longer hook, then Partridge K14A for the smaller patterns

Thread: Veevus olive (C12) in 12/0

Tail: Coq de leon; don’t go crazy, 6-8 fibres will be ample. Take the thread behind the tail once to help prop and elevate it slightly, preventing the tail from getting wrapped and hindered on the hook bend.

Body: Stripped peacock quill; colour to suit. Golden olive here. Or, try the Magic Quills, which are transparent, adjusting the colour of the base thread accordingly. UV resin over to help protect the fragile quill.

Body2: Between the quill and the thorax place two turns of oval mirage tinsel. UV resin over this too, to protect the tinsel from the trout’s teeth. I believe this tinsel provides a little strike point, but also emulates the air pocket created during the emerging sequence of the natural. It is worth, however, dressing a few without this, just in case you find  some particularly picky fish.

Thorax: Fox squirrel; this can be thick to dub. Chop the fibres a couple of times to shorten the fibre length then dub onto the thread after adding some tacky wax to aid the process.

Wing: x3 plumes of natural CDC (adjust amount and plume size according to hook size). Pulled over the thorax and tied shuttlecock style. Make sure to dress a thread base between the eye and the plumes at the head, to help prop and elevate the plumes somewhat, which, in turn, helps counterbalance the fly and force the body subsurface. Also, when drawing the cdc over the thorax do so by drawing from the tips; this will allow a few loose fibres to escape and trail back over the body of the fly.

A victim of the Steffan Jones emerger

A victim of the Steffan Jones emerger.

Steffan has been guiding at home and abroad for well over twenty seasons now. If you would like to arrange a guided trip please visit www.anglingworldwide.com for more details.

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Top Five Water-loving Dogs

man and dog

Some dogs love a day’s fishing almost as much as their owners
Image source: Shutterstock

Some dogs have an innate love of water and, with patience, can be trained to be excellent fishing companions…and there are other mutts, incredibly annoying four legged fur balls whose presence on the riverbank is a blight on your day.

If you like a hound for company, here are five breeds which, with the right instruction, will enjoy a day’s fishing without driving you and your fellow anglers to distraction.

1. Standard Poodle

poodle

Poodles love to play in the water
Image source: Shutterstock

Originally bred to retrieve waterfowl, the poodle gets its name from the German word pudeln, “to splash in water.” Poodles are still used as hunting and retrieving dogs, their famous “poodle cut”, an 18th century invention designed to make them more buoyant.

Standard Poodles love to impress their human families and get along well with children and other dogs. Intelligent animals, they’re protective, love to be trained, and often excel at dog sports.

2. Newfoundland

newfoundland

Newfoundlands are extremely strong swimmers and can withstand cold water
Credit: Jeremy Tarling. Image source: Creative Commons

A big-hearted dog that’s gentle, protective and loves children, Newfoundlands also have an affinity with water that makes them excellent angling companions.

In J.M.Barrie’s Peter Pan, ‘Nana’ is the Newfoundland employed by the Darling family to look after the children. In reality, Newfoundlands were a tough working dog bred to help fishermen by hauling nets, towing mooring lines and moving loads by cart.

With their double-layered coat, webbed feet and immense strength, Newfoundlands are superb swimmers which are also known for their courage and determination. One Newfoundland called Whizz was recently posthumously awarded an OBE for saving the lives of nine people during its lifetime.

3. Portuguese Water Dog

water dog

Bo, the Obamas’ family dog outside the White House
Image source: Flickr Wikimedia

Remember Bo and Sunny, the Obamas’ White House pets? Portuguese Water Dogs weren’t originally bred for high office, but for herding shoals of fish into nets.

Portuguese Water Dogs also retrieved lost fishing gear and acted as boat-to-boat couriers, carrying messages between fishermen.

Closely related to the standard poodle, this intelligent breed has webbed toes for swimming, strong legs and a wavy coat that repels water. Portuguese Water Dogs are content to stay close to their masters and can be trained to follow complex commands.

4. Labrador Retriever

lab

Labrador Retrievers love to swim
Image source: Wikimedia creative commons

The modern Labrador Retriever is a descendent of the St John’s Water Dog, a Newfoundland breed famous for its swimming and retrieval abilities. Benefiting from a dense coat that repels water and keeps it warm, the modern Labrador is the UK’s most popular family dog.

A Labrador’s soft mouth means it can be trained to retrieve fowl and fish, and because it’s intuitive and responsive to body language and hand signals, giving your Lab’ orders needn’t disturb your fellow anglers.

Labradors can sometimes be very intense around water, but you can avoid this by beginning their water training while they’re young.

5. English Setter

english setter

A loyal English Setter will even help to carry your tackle
Image source: Pixabay.com

English Setters were originally bred as bird dogs to point and retrieve game on English moors. Known for being affectionate, gentle, intelligent and social, they excel at a wide variety of tasks including pointing, retrieving and tracking.

These beautiful water-loving dogs mellow from about the age of three years and love human company. In fact, even more than most dogs, English Setters need to be with people and part of their owners’ daily lives.

An ideal dog for those looking for companionship and affection, your English Setter will love you even if you never catch a thing.

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Top Ten New Fly Fishing Products

fly fishing tackle

New tackle to get your season off to a flying start

Which new fly-fishing products are turning heads and winning rave reviews as we enter the new 2017 season? Here is our quick guide to some of the best tackle out this year.

Reel value from Vision

fly reel

The Vision Deep Fly Reel

While it is easy to be wooed by the bling on show in any selection of modern fly fishing reels, those that give top performance and good looks at well under £100 are a rarer beast. Which is why we think the new Vision Deep Fly Reel is sure to be a big hit with anglers across the UK. Strong, light and with a high capacity, they also feature quick release spool system and a smooth, reliable drag. Find them in sizes from 5/6 to 11/12 at Fishtec from just £69.99.

Slick fly fishing accessories

scissors

Dr Slick XBC Accessories

Blending style with top quality, the new Dr Slick XBC Accessories are sure to win fans and wow those already in the know. When it comes to trimming knots, unhooking fish or debarbing flies, these new tools really excel, while the funky designs are sure to earn jealous glances from your pals! Get some on your zinger for the new season from £5.99 up.

Sure to polarize opinion!

sunglasses

Lightweight glasses with polycarbonate lenses

Fish spotting specs come in various guises these days, but few combine top quality polarization with style quite like this. Funky yet functional, these Tetra White Frame Polarising Glasses from Bolle (£99.99) would make a great buy, or indeed an eye-catching gift, for any style-conscious angler.

Waders to combat wear and tear

waders

Airflo’s Super Tough PVC Chest Waders

Are you one of those anglers who likes tackling the rough stuff? For anyone who puts their waders through a real test every season, the rigors of rocks and undergrowth can take their toll. Hence we like the approach of Airflo’s Super Tough PVC Chest Waders. Double stitched seams, reinforced knees and other features make these a tougher breed for the angler who doesn’t do manicured fishing. Taller folks will be pleased to see that they go up to a size 13, while the price is also very reasonable at just £79.99 to Fishtec customers.

Fly lines that deliver…

flyline

Greys Platinum Stealth Flyline

It’s always good policy to renew your fly lines every so often. Should you be looking for brilliant performance without breaking the bank, however, the new Greys Platinum Stealth Fly Lines are worth every penny. Already Trout Fisherman award-winners in 2017, they are super slick and perfectly tapered for easy casting, while the dual-colour finish is ideal to avoid spooking fish. Sure to be one of our best sellers this year, find them at Fishtec for the excellent price of £34.99.

Top notch wading jackets from Vision

Lohi jacket

Vision Lohi Jackets

For anglers who often get immersed in their local water, a quality waterproof jacket is a must. But with high street brands seldom cutting it for this type of use, perhaps it’s time to treat yourself to something built-for-purpose? The new Vision Lohi Jackets (£219.99) not only look the part but perform beautifully. Totally waterproof and breathable, they’ll keep you dry and comfortable for many seasons to come. Great quality and durability, in sizes M-XXL.

Take wading and walking in your stride

wading boots

Scierra X-Force Wading Boots

If you’re someone who often walks a fair distance in a day, typical wading boots are not always ideal. With trekking style soles that will tackle rough terrain on land as well as the river itself, the Scierra X-Force Wading Boots (from £169.99) look like winners. Reinforced toes and soles, along with superb ankle support, further add to durability too.

Fly fishing wear with classic appeal

jacket

Snowbee’s popular jacket

Ok, so it would be a little disingenuous of us to call Snowbee Prestige clothing completely “new” after several years of popularity. But you would struggle to fault the current range in terms of sheer comfort and practicality. Innovative, breathable designs are matched with traditional good looks and sound value throughout, from jackets to bibs and braces.

Get a “Grippa” on your flies

fly box

Airflo Grippa Silicone Fly Box

We all love a good-looking fly box, but the new Airflo Grippa Silicone Fly Box (£14.99) is one that stands out for other reasons too. Durable, shatterproof and water resistant, its silicone fly slots will never wear out, while it is also slim enough to be stowed away with ease.

All Weather Winners from Simms

bib and brace

Simms bib and brace

If you’re the type of angler who needs to feel comfortable in all weathers, all year round, the new Challenger Clothing from Simms sets an uncompromising standard in 2017. Available in both subtle and higher-vis colours, the new Challenger Jacket (£249.00) and Bib and Brace (£199.00) offer unrivalled quality to tackle the very worst of the British climate. Thoughtful features such as fleece-lined pockets and draw cord adjustments add an unrivalled level of comfort to keep you focused on the fishing rather than the weather.

Catch the latest products and best tackle deals from Fishtec…

Did we miss your favourite new product? Or perhaps you were looking for something completely different? Fishtec stock a huge range of the best fly fishing gear, from great value starter outfits to top of the range rods and tackle and we always welcome your product reviews and queries of all kinds.

Keep an eye on the Fishtec Facebook Page for our latest fly fishing news and current tackle deals!

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