2015 CLA Game Fair Update

CLA Gamefair Update

KAYAKS AT THE GAME FAIR

I’ve just come from a planning meeting for this year’s CLA Game Fair and one of the most exciting developments for many years is in the pipeline:

They’re creating a complete ‘Kayak Experience’ within the fishing village. Game Fair visitors can come and see the very latest kayaks and fishing equipment, but beyond that they will also be able to try them out on the lake! Wetsuits will be provided with full changing room facilities and experts will be on hand to help! offer advice and look after safety. Leisure, sport and surf kayaks will be involved, as well as kayaks specifically designed for fishing.

This looks to be a golden opportunity to sample this exciting and growing branch of game fishing so put the dates in your diary: Harewood House near Leeds, 31st July to 2nd August 2015. Save money and buy tickets now at www.cla.org.uk

Sea Trout Fishing Tackle Setup

 

Sea Trout Fishing Tackle

Sea trout are funny things, they tend to make human beings obsessive and with the sea trout season nearly upon us, I for one are one of those who are obsessed and cant wait to be back out on the river. It’s hard graft early on in the season as there are not so many fish around, the weather is usually a bit groggy but going through a pool at night, waiting for the first heart stopping take of the season cannot be beaten.

Unfortunately I haven’t picked up a fly fishing rod in months. It’s been a very long winter with some terrible weather and Im hopefully that it will settle down soon. To keep me somewhat sane through the closed season, I’ve dug out my fishing equipment and started to get everything in order.

I like to use two fly rods at night, with my favourite being the Airlite from the Airflo range. For the past three seasons or so I’ve been using these almost religiously and find these rods will do everything I want them too. The two I use are, 10ft 7/8 weight, and the 9ft 6′ 7/8 weight. Each rod allows me to cast well and in tight spaces. Both are kitted out with Airflo V-lite 7/9 fly reels, loaded with a set of Forty Plus Lines – slow intermediate, fast intermediate, and a DI3. I find this set up ideal and the 40+ lines cover everything that I need them to, whether it’s a short cast or long cast at night, or for finding the right depth while fishing through a pool.

My preferred leader for night fishing is either Maxima ultragreen in 12lb, or Airflo sightfree extreme in 15lb. I started using the sightfree extreme last season and found it to be very strong, especially when you hook the odd tree on the opposite bank!

Flies wise, I would normally use tubes between 1 and 2 inch including a few large singles at the beginning of the season, and as the season progresses the fish become more active and a surface lure, depending on weather conditions, can produce some decent action. I’ve had some good fishing as early as the second week of April on a surface lure, so it’s worth mixing your tactics up a bit. Generally though, I would use two tubes, or a tube and a big single on the dropper as we start the new season.

I like to use a headlamp with a red and white light. The red light is great for using close to the water, and doesn’t effect your night vision as much as the white light. In my fishing bag I usually have a spare jumper in case it get’s a bit chilly, a couple of 5ft Airflo polyleaders fast or extra fast  if I need to get the fly down a bit deeper, a spare headlamp and something to drink.

I’m looking forward to getting out on the river and tightlines to all for 2014!

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary February/March 2014

8lb-summer-flounder-out-of-New-York

New York plaice like bling too!

One of the worst winters on record for weather has taken its toll on shore and boat angling, not only venues made unfishable but piers damaged and closed, charter hours lost, competitions cancelled and a general feeling of when will it end? Well so much doom and gloom, but it has its upside and that is that the commercial nets have also been hit hard and a few extra small fish may have survived the winter this year and that may improve the fishing in the spring…

I have taken some time off to sort some of my fishing equipment and generally plan ahead – the Spring IS just around the corner and although those last few weeks can drag, it will get here. OK so I have more terminal rigs that Gerry’s of Morecambe, all my reels are loaded with new line and my tackle box is pristine. All I need is to get out on the beach for a few casts, but that’s just not going to happen until the sea flattens off and clears. First up is a plaice trip but as I said, red spots don’t like coloured, rough or silty water – Chesil Beach at Cogden is a favourite venue to head for, but only when that sea settles! In the meantime the tackle box retains my attention and one of the many jobs I keep promising to do but never get around to be replacing grip wires in my lead collection. Normally when a wire or a bead on a lead goes, I dump it in the throw away bucket for fishing the Irish rocks, or Samphire Hoe. It’s essential when fishing rough ground to have plenty of spare leads and to not worry about losing them. But the throw away bucket is overloaded so its wire cutters, pliers, beads and wire time.  The tasks brings about several options, for starters you can change the shape colour of the breakout beads, I hate blue and yellow and prefer red and so replace this missing etc with round  red beads, make sure you use decent strong plastic beads because some smash just looking at the beach. You can also change the grip wire length, bend them differently or simply straighten out and upgrade the lead in general. Whatever, the result is a box of new functional leads.

Another worthwhile spring clean job, is your sea fishing rods, because if you look closely you may have a cracked ring. After the countless times my rod has been pulled off the rest this winter I will be surprised if I haven’t got a ring that need replacing. The beauty of Fuji’s, Seymo and the other top makes is that they take lots of shit, but even the best cannot survive many more than one a gale driven clatters on concrete, rocks or beach stones and can be damaged and it pays to look.

First wash the rod free of sand, weed and all the other crud it has collected with use and give the rings and the reel seat the once over with a tooth brush. This will remove most of the unwanted and reveal the ring back at its best. Reel seats really benefit from a good scrubbing and you will find them less likely to jam afterwards. Examine the rings closely under a good light, the smallest crack can skim whisks of mono almost unnoticed. Of course losing a ring is a disaster on a beachcaster – it’s like scratching the door on a new motor UUURRGHH!!! For me it’s the menders and I mean specialist rod repairs not DIY. Sometimes an on the beach a temporary repair may be required and that’s fairly simple. I cut one leg of the rig whipping off. Wriggle the other ring foot free and remove the ring. Insert a new ring in the whipping and then tape up on the other side – good as new, for some!

One economic way to re-invent a tired beachcaster is to replace the shrink wrap handle. Most tackle dealers nowadays offer a range of different types, colours, materials of shrink wrap. You can buy it to the length required and simply shrink it on. Don’t be tempted to do it over the old handle though, remove this and thoroughly wash and dry the rod section before putting on the new shrink wrap. To close down the shrink wrap tightly you can use a hair drier, whilst boiling water from a kettle spout is more dangerous, it does a better job!

Best of all the rod refurbishments are those offered by lots of the major firms – Send your rod back to them and for a fee they will replace it to its original glory, well worth the money if you are fussy about your sea fishing tackle.

Already there are rumours about plaice – the first sunny day for months and tall plaice stories have started. Now let’s get one thing clear before we start talking about plaice. They are frail, thin and pasty when they first arrive inshore in March after the vigour’s of spawning and not worth eating or retaining so please unhook carefully and return. In a matter of months they will be returned to their red spotted plumpness and then will be prized for the table.

Time now to make up a few rigs with the usual plaice bling, beads and glitter, my tendency is to make the bait stop on my clipped rigs the bling and there are lots of options ranging from pop up bead, plastic beads, luminous beads, sequins, glass beads, vanes, luminous tubing etc. Don’t skimp either plaice often respond the flashiest hook bait and the rule is anything goes!

A recent letter in Sea Angler magazine criticised me for keeping (and grinning) with a catch of small dabs and whiting (4 dabs and seven whiting) Now excuse me, but I eat a lot of fish and the number I retained that day was a small percentage of that caught and returned – You see there is not much else in the sea around the UK coast in winter and I enjoy a few dab and whiting fillets.

Tight lines

Alan Yates

 

Moment of Truth – Rene Harrop

Rene Harrop Netting Fish

There is no time when the experience of losing a special trout carries anything but a sense of disappointment. However, the emotional pain of watching an exceptional adversary swim free when only a successful application of the landing net at the end of a spirited battle stands between the exhilaration of complete victory and total deflation is nearly indescribable.

You learn early on the Henry’s Fork that many things can go wrong when the hook is small, the tippet is fine, and the trout are often very large. Developing skills dedicated to preserving a precarious connection to a big fish is only marginally secondary to perfecting the ability to present a fly in a manner that will allow the battle to begin.

In both instances, much depends on the quality of the fishing equipment being used but mental and physical components also apply to the process of hooking and successfully bringing a meaningful trout to hand. Most who desire advancement in fly fishing understand the need for learning that comes only with experience and practice, and this is where the problem lies in gaining the ability to close the deal when finish line is clearly in sight.

From my own experience and also while watching others, it has become clear that the true drama lies at the very end of a battle between angler and trout. This means that it is not weathering a 100 yard run into the backing or surviving a series of tail walking leaps across the surface. Instead, the most intense pressure occurs when the trout is near surrender and the angler prepares to put the net into action.

Gaining the opportunity to practice netting skills is entirely dependent upon having everything go right prior to the time when the prospect of actually landing the fish becomes real. With an average tippet size of 6X and a fly usually size 16 or smaller, landing a trout in the 20 inch class is seldom greater than a 50-50 proposition. This means that even on a good day when 3 or 4 fish in this category are hooked, there may only be one or two times when the net will actually come into play.

The tendency to become almost uncontrollably excited is a difficult reaction to overcome when it becomes evident that the strength of the fish has begun to wane. In moving water, this generally occurs when it grows weary of revisiting both pressure from the rod and the force of the current.

When possible, leading the fish to shallower water of lower current velocity is preferable to allowing the fish to maintain the advantage of depth and water force. At this point, it is a mistake to allow a false sense of urgency to cancel the practicality of creating a condition that improves the likelihood for a favorable outcome. And while complete calm is seldom possible, applying patience and mental discipline are key in resisting the temptation to rush the netting process.

For a wading angler, the typical landing net features a short handle, a 20-22 inch bow, and a deep mesh bag. And while a net of these dimensions may be rejected by some as being too small, correctly applied landing techniques will usually accommodate a trout of 2 feet and even slightly longer. Carrying a larger net with the notion that its size will cancel poor decisions of technique is, in my opinion, erroneous behavior.

Through trial and error over many years of hunting big trout on the Henry’s Fork and other waters of the western U.S., I have developed preferred tactics that apply when fishing wadeable water. When organized into a systematic process, these principles incorporate proven ways to minimize disappointment at the end of an otherwise successful encounter with a hard earned trophy.

Identification of the best area to control the fish in preparation for landing should be made well before the thought of reaching for the net enters the mind. Often times, simply leading the fish close to the bank and away from the main current will create the advantage needed to overcome its ability to resist capture. Other situations may require moving some distance downstream to access water of less depth and current speed than where the main fight takes place. Trout will use leverage provided by depth and current against the resistance of the rod in an effort to become free from the restraint. This effort intensifies when the angler comes into view, and the close presence of the net can evoke a violent reaction of panic.

A tired trout in slow, shallow water can be more easily held in position while the angler closes the distance between them. Given a choice, I will always position myself upstream from the fish in preparation for landing. Reeling while moving toward the fish is often preferable to trying to bring it upstream, especially if significant distance is involved. Firm pressure with the fishing rod along with slow and careful movement work together in helping to keep the fish calm as final approach is made. Always important in any phase of playing a big trout, concentration is especially critical in the ability to react quickly to any sudden movement that can bring last minute freedom to the prize.

In general, I consider 1½ times the rod length to be the right amount of line and leader separating the rod tip from the fish, and I will not touch the net until this finishing point in the approach is reached. As resistance from the fish becomes noticeably weakened, I will begin to apply upward pressure with the rod while holding the line between the index finger and the handle. With superior control, I can begin to bring the fish into netting position by stripping the line rather than trying to use the reel. As the distance is shortened, lifting the head above the surface with the rod tip will help to negate the trout’s ability to use the current against you because it cannot swim in this condition.

Rene Harrop Netting Fish

With the trout within an arm’s length and aligned with the current, I will free the net from its magnetic holder and position it directly upstream from the exposed head. The body of the trout should be parallel with the surface of the water before the net is lowered to allow the front rim of the bow to pass beneath the head. With the ventral fins as a guide, I will lift the net when the heaviest portion of the fish is directly over the center of the bow, and the rear half will follow into the mesh.

Attempting to chase the fish with the net fully submerged is a surrender of control needed to manage its capture. Excessive disturbance near the fish is assured to cause a forceful reaction as will careless contact with the net. Its instinct is to escape and, sadly, this is what usually happens when a trout is given the opportunity to break free.

No method of net application is guaranteed to result in a successful capture—-there are simply too many things that cannot be fully controlled. However, utilizing proper landing techniques will help to minimize crushing disappointment when complete victory over a special trout becomes the ultimate desire, and the moment of truth is at hand.

Leader to Hand Technique

Jeremy Lucas describes the advantages of his leader to hand techniques in his February Fly Fishing Diary.

Most of us are starting to get excited about the improving prospects on river and lake even though the weather is turning colder with what seems to be a late winter freeze. Most of us in the north and west of the country have been kept off the rivers for long periods because of wild weather and floods, even while the south and east has been experiencing drought. Certainly, on the Eden in Cumbria the days when the river has been perfect, or nearly so, have been comparatively scarce. Difficult for our southern friends to appreciate, actually, because I know that most of them have been complaining about lack of water.

A common, disturbing theme, however, is that most rivers throughout Britain have fished poorly for small grayling, fish up to 30cm. On Eden, for example, I have caught very few of these since early last autumn, and far more fish between 30 and 45cm; indeed healthy numbers of these. We do have a goosander problem on the system and we know that cormorants are a devastating threat to most other river systems – all over Europe. Also there is the continuing and increasing devastation of industrialised farming. This is very severe now throughout England. Heavy working of the land with enormous tractors has ruined the substrate over vast areas, the end result of which is erosion and siltation on an unprecedented scale. Water crowfoot, many invertebrate species, and juvenile trout and grayling all suffer and we are seeing this everywhere.

Notwithstanding the above, we all love to catch the big fish and I have heard of outstanding catches on some rivers. My friend John Grindle told me that some days on the Dorset Frome have been ‘too easy’, and the grayling in this river tend to be among the largest in the country, with two pounders commonplace, and three pounders hardly rare. Here on Eden, I tend to have one hour sessions through a typical winter day, trying to choose the times (usually early afternoon) when the grayling are at their most active. In the mild weather in January trout were still coming to the nymph, but in the deeper cold now these have disappeared. Most sessions yield ones and twos, with an occasional three or blank; though the fish have been outstanding specimens and, to my eyes, the most beautiful grayling in Britain. Yesterday, was exemplar. I reasoned, being late afternoon, that I had arrived a little too late. Indeed, second cast, allowing the pair of Czech PTNs to drift way downstream, on the hang, there was a tiny nudge and I set the hook into what I thought was a small fish, but which materialised into a magnificent 43cm cock fish. This was followed by high expectation but not another single take in 45 minutes before the cold, and the satisfaction of the big grayling, enticed me off the river.

I have been fishing exclusively with presentation leader-to-hand technique (for two years now) using #2 and #3 weights; the Greys Streamflex XF2 fly rods 10′ and 11′ which, in my view are utterly the best river rods ever designed, whether with conventional fly line approach or the new presentation leader. In combination, the above have changed everything in the river sport and is now beginning to make similar headway in terms of application on still waters. It all stems from World and European championships, and particularly the European approach. Famously, this involved the French leader at the outset, though this technique has been utterly surpassed now by properly constructed leaders that can be cast, at range, with low mass flies, particularly dry flies (for which a French leader is not good).

The point is that conventional fly line presentation, on the river, of either dry fly or nymph (including spider), at ranges greater than six metres, necessarily involve fly line on the surface, and interaction with that surface which, ultimately, results in compromised presentation, and the related factors of control and contact. For this reason I have long maintained that most fishermen are limited to a maximum range of 10 metres, beyond which presentation and control rapidly decline. Even top international competitors and casting gurus will manage very little greater range at which they can maintain control, on the river, no matter what they claim.

It took me a long time to develop a leader suitable for both dry fly and nymph and I have described this process elsewhere, but what I discovered has far surpassed expectations. I would have been satisfied to have improved presentation and control out to the fly line limit of 10 metres, but we now have this to 18 metres, with a subsequent controlled dead-drift running for up to 20 metres! This is simply astonishing and really has extended the boundaries of possibilities. Moreover, as I embarked on this process in order to achieve better presentation than is possible at range (6-18m) with either fly line delivery or French leader, we find that the casting skills we have learned and become dependant on with conventional fly lines are not lost. We have a new paradigm now, and merely must extend the casting we know and understand into new applications, specifically, with low mass leaders replacing the anachronistic AFTMA system fly lines.

The outstanding Greys Streamflex XF2 fly rods 2 and 3 weights are the ultimate casting tools for these leaders, particularly in lengths of 10′ plus which also give supreme control at these unprecedented ranges on the river. The essence of casting a presentation leader I have covered elsewhere, but it involves primarily the ‘constant tension’ cast with nymph, and the conventional overhead or, better, side cast with dry fly or spider (or low mass nymph). With an overhead, the stop points must be closely observed, as in all fly casting, while the rod tip between the stop points moves much faster than with fly line. Also, the pause on the back cast, and the final follow through on delivery, are appreciably longer. Very strong winds, or conversely dead calm air, give the greatest problems, but in practice we discover that we are no more dominated by wind strength and direction than we are when using fly line; not, at least, when we have learned to extend our casting skills to compensate for the comparatively low mass of the leader in flight.

If these blogs prove popular, I will describe the development of this new approach, particularly now that we have made the breakthrough to a new level of dry fly presentation on the river, as well as the applications on still water.

Jeremy.

Unhooking and Handling fish – Dogfish

One of the mostly widely asked questions and problems people encounter whilst out fishing is what is the easiest way to unhook a fish? Fish such as Dogfish which usually take the bait deep and are very difficult to handle. Using their very abrasive skin to their advantage, the dogfish always tries to wrap itself around your arm which causes a rash and burning sensation. Using the correct fishing equipment to unhook and handle fish can make a your fishing session a lot more enjoyable.

Alan Yates describes the best way to hold and unhook a dog fish.

Disgorger tool available here 

TF Gear – Dave Lane Hardcore Bedchairs

The TFG Dave Lane Hardcore bed-chairs is one of the most comfortable and practical carp fishing bed chairs available.

Delivering all the essential benefits of pressure reliving comfort and theraputic support the Hardcore range offers complete, essential back protection. The deluxe mattress padding works in perfect harmony with the latest breathable technology designed to eliminate moisture and guarantee temperature controlled rest and recuperation.

Dave Lane describes the features and how to get the best out of the DL Hardcore bed-chairs.

  • Deeper more restful sleep guaranteed
  • Mattress moulds to the shape of your body
  • Offers complete support for neck, back and shoulders
  • Strong load bearing frame – built to last for years
  • Premium alloy construction – so easy to carry
  • Fully adjustable legs – maintain level seating on any bank
  • Total comfort pillow
  • Extra layers of support
  • Luxury padded mattress
  • Breathable spinal column regulates temperature
  • Super strong frame
  • Lightweight and easy to transport
  • Fully adjustable legs

Woolhampton Wandering Anglers

Geoff and I felt it was about time we explored a little more of the canalised stretch of the Wasing’s River Kennet.  It always seems quite tragic when a beautiful, natural, meandering river gets the ‘canalised’ treatment.  The river is straightened and most of the bankside undergrowth ripped out, so basically you end up with a canal, obviously.  However, to be fair, this section still retains plenty of cover both in and out of the water.  It still looks like a river and holds some pretty good fish too, for those that care to explore.

At the lower end of the fishery is the famous Old Mill at Aldermaston and one of the Kennet’s tributaries; the Enbourne.  You may or may not know, that it was barbel from the River Enbourne that were taken for stocking into the Severn, all those years a go.  So at this end of the section you have the option of nipping onto the Enbourne if things are a little slow on the main river.

We found a couple of lovely swims, with lots of overhanging cover.  I was armed with worms and it was my intention to target the perch after an hour or two of trotting but as I’d forgotten my horse……sorry!  This area is so deep (around 10′) fishing the float was going to be difficult.  So I opted for a light link ledger set-up and dropped a big juicy lob worm out amongst some trees that had fallen into the river.  I didn’t want to get too close, for obvious reasons.  After about an hour and a half and I’d had no bites and two lots of lost fishing tackle.  On re-tackling I had looped the line twice round one of the eyes and hadn’t noticed.  Well, until I tried to cast out that is.  My best two or three casts were a bit like a little girls (sorry girls) and then after a couple of checks I realised how stupid I’d been.

So I was now in the mood for a change of scenery, so headed off to the triburay.  It’s a lovely little winding river.  The bottom is gravel and there are loads of little deep runs.  The river itself is not overly deep but there are plenty of pools and runs to offer a likely spot for a few fish to be holed up in. It’s pretty overgrown here and despite my best efforts at trotting, it really didn’t suit it. Once the winter sets in, most of the undergrowth will die back and more areas will become open to trotting.  So it was to be a day for the quiver tip.

I decided to wander up and down the river to try and locate a few fish and hopefully a few perch.  I dropped into a lovely deep  pool.  There were numerous overhanging trees and a crease that crossed the pool.  I flicked out a big lob worm and awaited the results.  I didn’t take long.  The tip rattled a couple of times and then plunged over.  A nice, jagged fight suggested perch.  Indeed, that’s what it turned out to be.  Throughout the day in numerous spots, including one quite unlikely area, I caught about 8-10 really fit, magnificently coloured perch.  Serveral were over a pound and the biggest went 2lb 6oz.  They were all stunning fish and very rewarding to catch.

I was a little surprised that no chub had showed up.  Some of the swims looked very chubby.  I kept switching baits, from worm to bread flake in an effort to tempt a chevin. Eventually a small one showed its face, a fish of about 2lbs.  As the light faded I felt one more cast with a worm would do the trick before we packed away our fishing equipment. Geoff had joined me at this stage and as we chatted the tip ripped round and a heavy fish was on the other end.  I suppose I was secretly hoping for a big perch but I certainly wasn’t disappointed when we scooped out a lovely big chub.  It looked well over 4 so I weighed it and it was in fact 4lb 15oz.  It was an immaculate fish, a real stunner.  It was a great end to a rather chilly but enjoyable day.