Coarse Fishing for Welsh Grayling

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They’re big, they’re angry and they’re bloody wild those Welsh Ladies. Well who can blame them?  They hardly get fished for in the areas of Wales that we fish and we turn up and disturb their peace.  Most of the rivers barely see another angler.  That’s the beauty of travelling to Powys to fish for these stunning grayling. We arrived on our first day to find the hills shrouded in mist and low cloud.  We could have just as easily been in the Himalayas.  Later that day the sun eventually broke through the gloom and the hills and surrounding countryside were lit up in a blaze of colour. We have found in the past that late February can be a tricky time to fish for grayling.  They tend to shoal up and become a little more delicate and finicky. Large areas appear to be devoid of fish, even places that have proved very productive previously.

One option is to fish a little more delicately with lighter mainlines, hook lengths and floats, the other is to keep moving and find the fish. Eventually on that first day I located some grayling.  I lost a couple of nice fish and then eventually landed a small one of about a pound.  I did have a bonus chub though of around 3lbs.  My angling companions; Geoff, Kevin and Dan were also struggling.  That afternoon we only managed just a few fish, including one other small grayling.  So it had been a tough start but not unexpected.  Both Geoff and Kevin at least got to try out their new purchases.  They had both acquired a TFG Classic Centrepin after me raving about them for ages and were keen to put them through their paces.  They were delighted with the reels and I’m not surprised.  With a glut of cheap and poorly made centrepins flooding the market recently, this reel puts them to shame.  But there again it’s not a cheap pin, it’s a great quality pin at an exceptionally low price.

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On day two we headed to a Wye tributary, the Ithon to do some trotting.  We had several miles to explore.  The Ithon is more of a lowland river, but a beautiful river to practice coarse fishing.  It winds it way through woodland and meadows where the riverbed is a mixture of gravel and silt.  There are still lots of lovely gravel runs, glides and deep pools to go at, despite the abundance of silt and mud.  It’s a truly wild and unkempt river.  Thick foliage and trees choke the banks and make access difficult in places.

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This river showed no signs of human interference or for that matter any signs of being fished.  I’m not surprised though really, it was a tricky place to wade or to fish from the banks.  Still we found some cracking little spots and were confident of a few fish.  We were wrong on that count.  We never had a bite, despite covering a couple of miles of river and even resorting to driving further downstream for a look.  However we did see 5 otters together in one spot and 2 more a little way downstream.  So maybe this spooked the fish and they were hidden up under the snags. So the following day we headed to a private stretch of the Irfon.

We arrived in the morning and it was a bitterly cold day but at times bright and cheery.  This was a delightful stretch, once again very wild, remote and unkempt.  The riverbed here was mainly bedrock but with quite a few gravel runs.  Wading was difficult but manageable with care.  A word of warning when wading on bedrock, don’t be complacent.  It’s very dangerous to get over confident.  The rock is slippery as hell and very uneven.  It’s easy to get a foot stuck and then slip.

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We worked our way upstream, frog leaping each other as we did so.  By early afternoon we were biteless.  We stopped for lunch and discussed the situation.  We had fished so many cracking swims but failed to so much as illicit a bite.  We decided that despite the beauty of the beat we should move to the town section of the Wye, where we knew fish holed up in the winter. The move paid off.  Geoff and Kevin fished the main area, whilst Dan and I tried down near the town bridge.  I managed several nice upper 1lb+ grayling and Geoff and Kevin really got stuck in.  They ended up with 17 or 18 grayling apiece, nothing huge but certainly to the 1lb 12oz range.  However it was incredibly cold with a vicious easterly wind and we could take no more.  The warmth of the fire back at the cottage beckoned and a warm meal was needed to keep the chill at bay.

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The next two days saw us return to the town section.  Dan and I fished the main swims this time Kevin and Geoff explored the Irfon and the Wye.  To be honest they both struggled.  They did manage a few fish each.  Dan and I both did well.  By using a bait dropper we managed to keep the fish interested and in close.  By running a float along a near bank crease, which then travelled out to mid-river, we kept bites coming all day long. Double red maggot seemed to be the bait.  I think Dan and I were both using relatively heavy floats to deal with the wind and hold the line that we wanted to fish.  Mine was a 10BB Avon, shotted down low.  As usual the bulk of the shot was located around 12-18inches from the hook with a small dropper shot 4-6 inches from the hook.  I prefer to use Kamasan B983s for this sort of fishing.  They provide an excellent hold and even with the barb crushed (makes unhooking fish easier whilst wading) I seem to land a high percentage of fish.

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We ended the day with me on about 23/23 grayling and Dan on 17 or 18 both taking fish to just shy of 2lbs.  Dan also had a lovely bonus chub of 4lbs too.  The next day saw our final fling on the Wye with a rather unusual and interesting finale. Kevin dropped into a perfect swim. The river straightened after a bend and then the shallow water dropped into a deep run, where a crease created a lovely smooth glide.  First run through and Kevin stuck into a very nice fish.  It fought well and evaded capture for a while before I finally slipped the net under a fine grayling.  It had big thick set shoulders and a lovely bright dorsal fin and weighed 2lb 3oz.  There was a small v shaped scar just below its dorsal fin where a cormorant or some other predator had grabbed it at some point and a single scar on the other side.

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After sorting his camera out and re-baiting the hook, Kevin dropped the float in to the same spot again.  His reel tangled whilst his float sat almost motionless in the swim.  The float then seemed to drag under and I informed Kevin that his float had disappeared.  He lifted the rod tip to dislodge the float from what appeared to be the riverbed, when he found another good grayling attached!  Incredibly, despite the lack of a strike, the fish stayed on.  It fought for a while but soon gave up and I could see it was another ’2′.  As the fish slipped into the waiting landing net I saw a familiar scar!  Er it was the same fish again.

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The scar matched and so did the weight.  Well who would have believed it, the same fish in two casts.  That was nothing, believe me. The next trot through got the exact same result and the same fish.  So that was three times on the bounce. I had a go in the swim whilst Kevin watched and incredibly managed to capture the same fish again, on the first trot through the swim. Four casts and four times it appeared.  This seemed remarkable.  The fish was returned again and as with the previous 3 occasions rested for a short while before gliding off silently into the bright waters of the Wye.

 

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Trotting our way into Spring

As we reach the last few days of the season there is no better time to be out with your fishing rods, trotting the odd red maggot into an unwary shoal of Grayling or Roach. As winter slips into spring the rivers become slightly warmer and the days that little bit longer which provokes a strong feeding urge in most of our fish species. There is no better time of the year to target roach especially as they are fighting fit in readiness for their spawning activities in a month or so’s time.

I have been fortunate to fish a couple of exclusive sections of two of the Southern Chalk rivers, the Test and the Wylye but returned for a very pleasant trip on a small river much closer to home, the Lugg. Each river is very different from the rest and my approach had to reflect those changes in the methods used, here is how I went about it.

The Test was my first port of call, its a trip I make most years and I know that the fishing will be relatively easy but you still get more out of it the harder you work. I used a 13′ float rod with a very soft tip as I was predominantly fishing for the grayling that swim there in large numbers and they have an uncanny knack of shedding hooks due to their twisting action during the fight. My ‘secret weapon’ when grayling fishing is the Guru QM1 hook, its circular design helps to secure a firm hook-hold and I find that more fish are landed as a result. They are barbless and easy to remove from landed fish indeed often the hook falls out in the net. I tied a size 16 or 14 to a 4lb hooklink attached to 6lb mainline which may sound strong but, it was low visibility fluorocarbon and, as the river is very fast, the fish have little time to decide whether to take the bait or ignore it, so there is no point in going ultra fine. The other factor in choosing line strength was the presence of numerous large brown trout which ignore the fact that they are out of season and gorge on the bait, fish up to 15lbs have been landed and their toothy mouths and powerful fight makes short work of light tackle.

Although the river was only 3 to 4 feet deep I put most of the bulk shot about 15′ from the hook with a no4 dropper 10” below that to get the bait to run deep and I was immediately into a shoal of grayling taking several over a pound in the first hour.

Fishing with my mate Tony, we leapfrogged down the fishery trying several glorious runs and pools catching more grayling, numerous trout to about 4lbs (I lost one much bigger!) and a few roach albeit mine only went to 12oz whereas Tony had one knocking the door of 2lbs and another almost as big. We both scored best with red maggot as bait whereas on some days its sweetcorn that sorts out the better fish. I did find that sweetcorn attracted the attentions of too many trout so I baited with corn to keep them chasing the yellow grains whilst I trotted maggots beneath, it seemed to work well on the day and it shows that experimenting with bait is always worthwhile.

The next day saw us fishing a tiny tributary of the Wylye where you could almost touch the opposite bank with the rod tip. A smaller float shotted ‘shirt button’ style was called for. This means  spreading the shot evenly spaced down the line (like shirt buttins) which allows the bait to drop slowly through the shallow water and also enables the angler to hold back and get the bait to rise up off the bottom so, by holding back, you can get your gear to negotiate depth changes and weedbeds along the run. Also, holding back and letting the bait rise is an enticing movement often irresistible to fish.

For such a small river the fish stocks are astounding and we caught countless grayling from a number of different features, my best, which must have been very close if not over the magic two pound mark, came from a slightly deeper bend where I had bites from just one small area beneath an overhanging branch.

The last swim we stopped at was in the main river and is renowned for it’s abundance of grayling and Tony had the privilege of fishing it. He had switched to his old split cane float rod and had countless grayling testing its soft action. I borrowed it and had a few myself, it reminded me of the rods I used as a kid but I was also struck by the forgiving nature of the cane and how it absorbed every lunge of the grayling, the old rod and the new hooks meant that every fish hooked was landed in that pool and that, for those of you that grayling fish, is food for thought.

Back on home soil I was after chub on a narrow, overgrown river, time for a tackle change. I have a Drennan float rod designed for carp fishing, it is however, perfect for chub and barbel and can be used as an 11 or 13 footer. I opted for the 11′ version and set about trotting any likely looking swim. I was using a 3 AAA balsa and can float which was shotted fairly well down with a single no4 shot between the bulk and the hook as the current was quite fast and I wanted to get my bait down quickly. I had a 5lb hooklength and was again using the wonderful Guru QM1 in a size 16.

I had my first bite by slowing the float right down and letting the bait waft up a little off the bottom at the end of the swim, a 2lb chub couldn’t resist the two red maggots and it fought hard in the tight swim seeking sanctuary amongst the overhanging branches of a willow tree. I have always found that balanced tackle will stand a lot of pressure and have landed much bigger chub on much lighter gear albeit in far less snaggy waters but, as long as you move smoothly and let the rod absorb the lunges, you can steer hard fighting fish with relative ease. This point was proved with the biggest fish of the day, a chub not far short of 4lbs that got stuck around a branch but, by walking down to point opposite it, my constant pressure slowly brought it back into the current and eventually to the waiting net.

In these days of our obsession with bigger fish the humble float gear seems to be ignored by many anglers which is a pity, it really is a great way to learn about the contours of the river and the art of presenting a bait on the float will bring guaranteed pleasure. The other benefit of trying it nowadays is that so few are actually doing it, its a method that is unknown to many of the fish. Go back a few years and everybody float fished to a point where it was often necessary to go ultra-fine to entice the wisest fish but nowadays they are as green as grass so you can get away with quite robust gear on many rivers so it is still a viable method for chub and barbel but with the possibility of having some wonderful sport out coarse fishing. Give it a go.

Grayling in the Welsh Valleys

As I sit here eating my porridge, I am just about thawed out from the sub zero conditions of my last Coarse fishing trip to Wales. We had temperatures down to -10. I believe the term is brass monkeys?

The heavy snow that fell in Kent Saturday night was a bit of a shocker. I was driving back from a day on the Itchen and was caught in the ensuing blizzard. Most of the trip back was in heavy snow and it was becoming apparent the snow was laying quite quickly. By the time I arrived at Reigate, the motorway was covered. Luckily on reaching the Sevenoaks area, I had managed to get ahead of the snow and arrived home safely.

With a trip planned to Wales for 5 days on the Monday, things were looking a little tricky. On awakening Sunday morning, I found we had had maybe 4-6 inches of the white stuff. Lots of phone calls ensued. It seemed my roads were pretty good. The gritters and ploughs were out in force and the roads from about Swindon onwards looked clear. By the end of the day on Sunday, we had decided to go for it.

We headed over the Severn Bridge and cut across the Brecon Beacons. The Black Mountains were covered in snow but the roads were good and eventually we arrived at our destination. We managed to find a cafe in a small village and stuffed our faces with the local health food. You know the sort of stuff; eggs, bacon, sausages etc etc. Low cholesterol and fat free.

We arrived at the river and hoped it would be in good sorts. It was actually quite coloured and up about a foot from our last visit. Despite this it still looked fishable but it was bitterly cold, however at least snow free. We decided to give it a go and explore the section as best we could. I headed up stream with Dan, whilst Geoff and Kevin opted to go downstream.

It was a tough start. I started out fishing a deep pool. I lost a fish almost first cast and then despite numerous moves, I couldn’t muster a bite. I decided to leave Dan to it and move downstream. Bit by bit I worked my way down to the other two guys and ended up fishing in between them. Kevin had found a few fish and was doing reasonably well, considering the conditions. The area was just off of a bend and was smooth water with a reasonable depth. I think in really cold conditions you will struggle to find grayling in very deep water, they seem to prefer the shallower parts. This area was about 3 foot deep.

I watched as Kevin landed a few fish but sadly lost several big fish. We couldn’t be certain what they were but he felt confident that they were big grayling. I fished the inside line and trickled in a constant supply of maggots. After a couple of runs through the float buried and I hooked into what felt like a bit of a zoo creature. It quite literally towed me all over the river. It was heavy and very powerful. I decided it must be a decent chub and this stretch does produce some clonkers. The fish broke surface and I caught a quick glimpse of it and it looked like a grayling but I couldn’t be sure. After another spell, again the fish broke surface and I saw that long, sail like dorsal rise out of the water.

It was indeed a big grayling and is why we come to this region. Eventually, after a touch of jelly legs syndrome, I managed to net the fish. It looked huge and as I called for the guys, I was convinced it would be close to 3lbs. I was a little ambitious and on the scales it went 2lb 11oz and 3/4. It was weighed in a small plastic bag and so I settled for 2lb 11oz. It equaled my PB and was a magnificent specimen. I was over the moon. It’s been a long time since I landed a grayling of these proportions and was worth the wait.

 

We carried on fishing. Kevin ended up with a good tally of fish but sadly lost several very big fish, one close to the net. He estimated the fish to be over 2 1/2 pounds and having seen mine, it’s likely to have been so.

The three of us ended up catching a few but not many, whilst Kevin made double figures I think. It was a tough start. Still we headed off to the cottage for a nice cuppa and some food. Our hosts Jane and Richard were there to welcome us and we booked in for a breakfast with them on the Wednesday morning. They are wonderful hosts and make our stay here all the more special.

 

The Taff Demise? I think not.

Fly fishing on rivers has become vastly popular over the last eight to ten years, I remember days when we were the only anglers on the river. You could go anywhere, on any river and not see ten other anglers throughout the whole winter! There would seem to be just the few hardy grayling fishers, standing in the river with the water below 3 degrees and the air temperature even lower. Then, we had two techniques. Czech Nymphing and the Indicator.

Overtime, our flies and techniques have evolved, the Czech nymphing has more or less turned into french nymphing, using tapered leaders with short indicator pieces. The indicator, superbly impressive on its day – using a foam indicator (fish pimp.etc) has become the ‘Duo’ and ‘Trio’ fished with a dry fly as the indicator. All, very, very effective.

The lower Taff is designed to relieve the valley of water quickly. The steep banks and pools gather the water and lets the water flow  uninterrupted downstream in theory reducing the risk of flooding. Over the years, pools have changed and water flow has increased and subsided in some areas, obviously pushing the fish around into more comfortable areas.

Fish caught czech nymphing Mid winter 2009

But. There’s always a but. Especially on the Taff, the numbers of large grayling getting caught have dropped dramatically. Fish in access of 1.4lbs, which were very common in previous years. There is much speculation on what has caused the decrease of large grayling, angling pressure, cormorants and their life cycle.

I fished a tributary of the River Wye, the Irfon on the weekend with two friends last weekend, Tim Hughes and my usual fishing buddy, Jon. Tim has been around for some time, representing Wales at Rivers and Lake internationals and World-championships.

Tim had observed anglers from European countries fishing the Czech nymphing style whilst fishing the World Championship in Wales 1991 –  The Euporeans swept away the glory through fishing deep with heavyweight nymphs, something he wanted to master, and went on to qualify for river teams and take top welsh rod at one international on the Dee too.

We got talking at the bank about techniques, flies, fish, the usual stuff when on the bank and holding a rod. Tim had opted for a Czech nymph set-up, the way we used to do it, two heavily weighted, pretty large czech nymphs – Pink on the top dropper, a hotspot pink & hares ear in the middle, and a tungsten headed red tag hares ear on the point. Me and Jon, the usual, french leader setup.

Looking for a pool which the three of us could fish, we walked from the mouth of the Irfon upstream and eventually broke off the path into a long run. The kind which is only up to your knees, easy to wade and has plenty of pea gravel… The perfect grayling tertiary, right?

I pitched my fly into confluence of the slow & fast water on inside seam, and within a few seconds, I struck into a feisty browny on a pink bug… skill eh? Into the same crease, Jonathan made the same cast, and the indicator shot forward… it was a lady of around a pound. Again, third cast, I had another brown. A small shoal was located and as we move upstream it was obvious why, a small depression in the bottom with a dip of around 10 inches. Only if all pools where like this? We met up with Tim after he ‘bugged’ his way downstream to no apparent avail.

From there up, the water started to deepen, pools started to get larger and our catch rate seemed to go down, many trout but less grayling. This is how we usually fish the Taff, two nymphs.. change the weight and leader length accordingly to the depths. Tim on the other hand was ‘whacking ’em’ – Fishing these pools with heavy czech nymphs and double tungsten caddis patterns. I had heavy bugs on, 4mm tungys, I seemed to be fishing the bottom, but I couldn’t get them.. I quick change from the french leader to a braided fly line and three heavy bugs went on. A few casts in I was into a lovely grayling. We continued fishing picking off grayling and the odd trout in the fast and powerful water.

Talking to Tim later in the day we were discussing the lack of larger grayling in the Taff, their there, because their caught sometimes.. Usually when the waters low.. When we can reach them. It suddenly hit me, with the same situation happening that day, Jon and I would have had a pretty dower day for grayling if we hadn’t switched to the Czech style of nymphing. When fishing the Duo, Trio and the French Leader – Our flies are naturally lighter – Its our mind set. Dryflies can only suspend so much weight before being submerged, and two flies are never going to be as heavy as three.

Maybe we’re not catching any large grayling because were not fishing like we used to? Our flies may be too light, and not getting down to them. Trout don’t usually feed on the bottom unless grubbing, maybe that’s why trout and small grayling catches have increase.

Are we REALLY getting down there?

Written by Kieron Jenkins

Welcome to Slovenia!

Throughout my short fly fishing career I have had the pleasure of fishing many beautiful and wild locations across the globe. But without a doubt the most breathtaking place was Slovenia.

With the stunning scenery and never-ending fishing possibilities you can find yourself in awe of the locals.

We travelled with one of Slovenia’s most prolific guides Rok Lustrik www.lustrik.com who was not only a very experienced guide but also a true gent. The fishing package consisted of 7 nights and 6 days guiding. The Flights were easy and Rok arranged all the transit between airport and destination.

To experience everything that Slovenia had to offer we split our time fishing both of the main river systems and its tributaries, the Soca and Sava. The Soca is probably the most famous alpine river in Slovenia, and rightly so, with its very different tributaries. Set in breathtaking scenery overlooking the Julian Alps, it is home to the most fascinating and elusive fish species in the world – the marble trout – as well as Adriatic grayling and rainbow trout.

The river Sava is the longest alpine river in Slovenia. It starts divided into two forks, the Sava Bohinjka and Sava Dolinjka rivers. The upper part is world-famous for its grayling as well as for large rainbows and good-sized browns. In the wintertime, it is ideal for fly-fishing for our land-locked Danube salmon.

During our time in Slovenia we managed to catch every species they had to offer. Gorgeous Golden brown trout, the slender Lady of the river the Arctic Grayling, the elusive monster of the river the Marble trout and the playground bully the Rainbow Trout.

Armed with excitement and enthusiasm we headed to the river. As soon as I was on the bank I knew we were in for a treat. Rok set me up with a simple cast of around 6ft of 3.1lb Airflo Ultra Strong Co-Polymer, with a single copper john size 16 and an indicator. Within 5 casts I was in to my first fish of the trip. As soon as I hooked up I knew what I had on, with the head down wiry fight I knew I was in to a Grayling. My 10ft #3/4 Streamtec Nantec fly rod was bent double and with a single lift of her dorsal fin more line came poring off my Vosseler RC L. And with a little determination I managed to land her.

Well worth the trip in its own don’t you think??

Through the days fishing it just got better and better with incredible river systems and stunning scenery. The quality of fish that we had was just incredible and the style of fishing for them is a whole different experience. Mainly Nymphing with an indicator seemed to be the most favoured plan of attack.

And boy was it affective!

 With this stunning PB River caught Rainbow of 5lb 3oz coming to a 16 Woven Nymph.

One of the days we experienced a heavy downfall of rain and with the rising river we started to admit defeat for the day……..But no, I could hear a splashing downstream and as I turned to look I could see Rok running back upstream and shouting  “MARBLES” witch I must admit at that point I thought that is precisely what he had lost !  But no as he came nearer he explained that when the river is starting to flood there is a strong possibility of getting the shy Marble Trout.

Rok then began taking out these flies of which I can only describe as being leaded bunnies! This fly was tied on a size 6 hook with a huge jig head and covered in white zonker strips; it resembled nothing I had ever seen before.  He then began to tie this fly onto my line, baring in mind I still have my river gear i.e 10ft #4. Rok then explained how you fish for these “Marbles” ‘just lob it out and strip as fast as you can!’ Now I did not hold high hopes for this method and must admit was slightly beaten before I started, thinking the pub is calling !. But I kid you not In the first three cast I had two fish hit the fly like a steam train. This is fishing like I have never seen. In that few hours of fishing I managed 6 Marble trout. It is the most savage and aggressive take I have ever experienced out of all the fish species I have caught. When you are stripping the “fly” back you just see the shadow of the Marble appear out of nowhere. Without a doubt one of the most heart stopping fishing I have ever done.  Now there is very little difference between a marble and a brown trout as you will see from the below picture.

The world of fishing in Slovenia had taken me by surprise and there was still one left hidden. I had not experienced this personally during the trip but my father Greg Cann managed to pull out another surprise. In the river systems when a Marble Trout and a Brown Trout breed it creates a Hybrid. Now this fish inherits both of its parents attributes, the turbo charges hunger of the Marble and the gorgeous colouration of the Brown. And this truly was a lovely fish.

Throughout my fishing in Slovenia I have been truly inspired by not only the fishing but also the landscape. How the rivers define the country and weave through it like veins. And I can honestly vouch for the superb quality and service you get with Rok Lustrik he truly makes the experience that more special. I have now been on two trips to Slovenia, once in 2009 and again in 2010. And am now planning another trip there!.

If you are looking for a fishing experience of a lifetime I strongly recommend you visit Slovenia.

Tight Lines !!

Britford Coarse fishing

As the evenings draw mercilessly in and the frosts creep over the land, it’s time to hang up the barbel fishing rods for a while and head to one of the countries great chalk streams, the Hampshire Avon.  It’s a river shrouded in history and endless tales of mythical giants are regaled in the local hostelries.

It is a magical river and one that I’m proud to say I fish on a regular basis.  I still feel I don’t fish it enough and I’m sure the day will eventually come, when I end up joining Christchurch Angling Club but only when I can do it justice and that time is not now.

Britford Dawn

Still, today Geoff and I headed down through the Wallops to Britford.  The river here lies in the shadows of Salisbury Cathedral, which gives it an almost hallowed feel and rightly so.  For those that know of theAvonin this region, they will be aware of the treasures that it contains.  Visit the river in the height of the summer, when the waters are gin clear and you’ll soon see why this river is so famous.  With a little patience, discretion and some Polaroids you’ll soon be spotting huge roach and dace.  The old river also contains a healthy stock of grayling up to specimen sizes and with the odd decent chub, a few barbel and plenty of trout thrown in for good measure, it makes this quite a mixing pot.

Britford Cathedral

As we arrived at the river, the late autumn mists hung in the fields.  The sky was clearing after a night of rain and there was still a dampness in the air.  Still, the sun was beginning to break through, so the day held some hope of decent weather.  We took a wander down to the river, expecting it to be up a little and with a touch of colour.  We were surprised to find the old river still gin clear and very low.  There was still thick, flowing ranunculus evident throughout the river system, which would make for some tricky float fishing conditions.

So on went the waders and I headed off in search of a few grayling and dace.  I found numerous deep runs in between the weed.  I had set-up my trusty Drennan float rod and coupled that with my Young’s pin.  The line was a little on the heavy side for this sort of fishing, but I had not brought another reel with lighter line on.  Ideally I would like to have used around a 2lb 6oz mainline.  So I had to make do.  I spent the morning wading along the river and fishing all the likely runs.  The fishing was tricky due to the density and abundance of weed but nevertheless I started catching from the word go.

Two red maggots seemed to do the trick, on a very light float set-up.  First up were a couple of nice grayling and shortly followed by some reasonable dace.  Nothing big mind you-grayling to about 10oz and dace to 5 or 6oz.  By now they were coming thick and fast.  Each new spot produced a few bites, before the inevitable presence of the minnows became known. Once they come every cast, I will move.

It is wonderful wading out into the river.  You find all the deep runs and gullies.  Even slight depressions are easily found and a mental note made for future reference.  It amazes me how close you can catch fish to where you are wading.  The fish rarely take any notice.  After a while and several moves, I had taken about half a dozen grayling, and couple of dozen dace to about 8oz, 2 enormous gudgeon and countless minnows.  I decided after lunch to fish for another hour and then have the last 2 or 3 hours on the main river, above the sluices.

Britford Grayling

Geoff was sticking it out for the roach but as they often do, they were not playing ball.  Surprise, surprise!  I wandered upstream and found a nice swim, with a reasonable depth and not too much weed.  The swim produced plenty of dace over the next hour or so, including the best of the day, a fish of about 9oz.  As the light was beginning to fade, I decided to head downstream and try for some roach.  Again wading out into a likely spot by some alders, the first trot through produced a bite.  This time something much bigger was banging away on the end.  I guessed it was either a British record roach or possibly a chub.  After a nice scrap the fish turned out to indeed be a very nice chub of 4lb+.  I always think if they look like a ‘5’ they are probably a ‘4’ and this is invariably the case.

As the sun started to sink below the horizon, I was getting a fish a cast.  Another grayling was added to the pot and lots of nice dace.  Still, eventually it was time to call it a day and pack down my sparsely selected coarse fishing tackle.  I guess I ended up with around 30-40 dace, 7 grayling and that nice chub.  Oh and fifty hundred minnows…..well that’s how it came out anyway.

Terrestrial Patterns – part 2

The terrestrial-imitations fly box has holds just a few trusted patterns. Choosing which to use may be a little more complicated than when identifying what is hatching. But careful observation will often help you make the right choice. Are there aphids about? Are the fish rising under leaf filled trees? Are there explosions of ants? Are the fish rising persistently? Remember that fish are opportunistic and will rise to even the odd offering that passes over-head… be that a steady trickle of aphids or a one-off fallen caterpillar.

The odd off-target cast that catches the leaves (does that ever happen..?) may pay dividends as you induce a fall off aphids as you free your fly. It has happened!So here are a few more patterns that can produce the goods when the fish are feeding on terrestrials:Aphids
Tie them small; my preference is for a #28 and #30 and have been really favouring the dual fibre thread called Hends Synton. Neat compact bodies with good colour can be achieved even in the smaller sizes:
Ants
There are plenty of patterns suggested for ant imitations, but a CDC wing makes a good sighter for this imitation, whilst allowing the body to pierce the surface film. I like the Varivas 2200BL-B for these patterns:
The Super-Pupa
This pattern was originally produced from the vice of Lennart Bergqvist and was devised for use when sedge were taking to the wing. However it is a devastatingly effective pattern and works well even when the fish are taking terrestrials. I first came across the pattern when I was handed a version by Johan Klingberg whilst tying next to him at the British Fly Fair a couple of years ago. A simple palmered hackle with the upper and lower hackles trimmed, this pattern seems to suggest everything and nothing:


The ‘FP’: Fully Palmered
This is very similar to the superpupa, but simply leaves the palmered hackle in place. This is a superb pattern. It takes fish dry, wet, upstream and downstream. Simple to tie, it just requires a sparse dubbing and a Rooster hackle palmered through the dubbing. I also prefer to trap the hackle in place using my tying thread – rather than using a more traditional ribbing material:


Perhaps the fish see the ‘FP’ with its generic shape as a spider, beetle of small caterpillars:


Big Klinkhamer
I know I have already mentioned the Klinkhamer in part 1, but it warrants another picture – this time in larger sizes. A black / peacock Klinkhamer in larger sizes will often induce a fish to take even when your other offerings have been ignored. An essential addition, I prefer the pink wing post and in larger sizes value the Partridge Klinkhamer and the extreme versions too:


As ever, fly choice is always second to good presentation. As mentioned previously, your fly fishing tackle will have a big role to play in getting your flies where you want them. Fishing flies as small as 28’s and 30’s, like big flies, take some turning over! . If your fly/flies turn over, you know roughly where they are, giving you a better chance of hooking a fish which may take your ghostly size 28. If you get turn over, your more than likely going to get decent presentation. Make sure you aim for accurate casts and drag-free drifts.

Back to part 1 – Terrestrial Flies

Post written by Dave Wiltshire of DW Fly fishing & Tying

Terrestrial Patterns – Part 1

September can be a great time to pursue brown trout and it’s also the the time I really start to think about targeting grayling. However, the end of August and on into the new month can be lean pickings when it comes to fly hatches – which in turn, can make finding feeding fish a little more tricky. Sure, you can fish a nymph, but before you open the nymph box, try a terrestrial pattern. 

Take a look at the bankside flora and you’ll find that it is (and has been for the last few months!) literally crawling with insect life – some of which will find itself falling onto the surface, directed down the food lanes and ends up as a decent meal for a stationed trout. Here are a few of the patterns that sit in my terrestrial fly box and have found me some success:The Hawthorn Fly 
Whilst used as a Hawthorn fly imitation early in the year, this imitation continues to bring success right through the summer (and Autumn) months. It’s a simple tying with Pheasant tail fibres knotted for legs and a folded CDC wing. I prefer a curved hook – with my preference being for the Varivas 2200BL.
The Procter Beetle 
A brilliant, simple pattern that I picked up from Paul Procter. Whilst we usually aim for our artificials to land on the surface gently, this foam backed beetle lands under the leafy bows with a resounding ‘plop’ – and this can be part of the attraction. The fish respond well to its dark outline and silhouette. My preference is for a pink or orange tag so it is clearly visible on the water.
This has become a favourite pattern of mine when rains brings the water levels up and the river is carrying some colour.

As you can see from the above, tapered poly leaders or fly lines with a heavier rating or a steeper tapper allows casting some of these beasts much easier. Some of the Beatles which end upon the water are huge so a size 10 foam backed fly needs to be pushed harder on the cast, something like an Airflo Supple Technical fly line can haul these flies to your desired trouts!
The Klinkhamer 
OK, this works in most hatches, but a small, black version can take some beating if the fish are feeding on terrestrial patterns. I prefer it tied in a #22 with an orange wing post. Again, the Varivas 22ooBL takes some beating for this small offering.

Part 2 now available – Terrestrial flies
Post written by ~Dave Wiltshire  of DW Fly fishing & Tying

World Youth Fly Fishing Championships

The Welsh Youth World fly fishing team headed off to Sansepolcro, Italy on Friday 26th August to compete in the Fly Fishing World Championships along with another 11 countries. The Youth World fly fishing championships was just a small part of the Sport Fishing World Championship being held in Italy, along with 24 other disciplines and 51 countries competing. The categories ranged from Disabled Carp fishing through to long distance casting with beach casters, and every thing in between.

The Competition

On the Sunday, All the teams competing in the Youth Championships, headed off to Florence for the opening ceremony. This is where everyone, or some members of all the Countries and discipline’s who were competing met up and marched. This was to give the Country a presence and play each anthem, welcoming everyone to the start of the world games.

The Welsh Team

Walking with our Mascot to the parade

After all the teams had walked, and the anthems played, we headed to a buffet to talk and meet others competitors, from our own and other countries. Talking to some of the other competitors from Wales it was great to meet others who were as enthusiastic about fishing, as all of the Youth.
We were left with a great sunset over the Italian hills which seemed to relaxed everyone before the hard and physical days ahead.

Five sessions on 5 miles of the Tail Water Tevere were to be fished by each competitor. What made the competition more interesting, was the river was Catch and Release only, One fly, and one session dry fly only. This was going to be a test for everyone!

Throughout the competition, none of the team captains or managers were allowed to use cameras to take pictures or videos, other than Official press. As a result, there are not many pictures freely available until they are published. Below are some of the images I took whilst fishing/practising, before and after the competition.

The Fishing

After a four hour drive from Rome, we arrived at Sansepolcro late Friday evening, and decide to get some shut eye before we headed to the Tevere for our first practice day.

All in anticipation, we turned up at a beautiful river, an aqua blue sort of colour, but perfectly clear. The weather was hot and sunny, somewhere in the high 30’s! We tackled up at the van, and headed down towards the river. The first pool we arrived at, set us off, there were fish rising, swimming and jumping out of the water. Down along one of the creases of the run, we could see fish in access of 40cm, flashing, lifting and picking off nymphs as they drifted past. Great to see feeding fish in a new river!

The fishing was good, with all the boys taking fish, but quite bizzarly, all on the same method, the French Leader. The fish seemed to have held up in the shallow waters of the pool, just like the water above. Ankle deep.

With the water so clear, the fish could be spotted under the far bank, in my eyes, making them easy prey! If the fish was stationary, it would be pretty well camouflaged so a decent pair of polarised glasses would gain you an extra fish or two. Fishing the French leader with flies as small as 22’s unweighted, and 1.5mm tungsten beads was the way forward. Casting to spotted fish, not necessarily watching the fly, but the fishes actions; if it moved off station or lifted in the water he was yours, if it darted, it was spoked. Surprisingly many fish were spoked by the fly or nylon.

The takes were very slight, if you were watching the indicator in the leader and it moved, you were too slow! It was moving ever so slightly, maybe not even a CM! By the time the slack in your tippet (it was only 2 ft long!) was taken up with the flow+fish to move the indicator the fish would spit the fly out and spook. This is why watching the fish was so crucial, striking at any movement of the fish itself, as long as the fly was in that sort of area.

Nymping the deeper holes we caught a few trout, but nothing compared to the shallows. Judging by the takes we were getting in the slow water, more than likely we were missing the takes in the fast, with the leader not even registering with the slight takes.

The last session of the competition I was drawn on the Dry fly only section of the river, a cracking weir pool – perfect for nymphing!! Looking at the pool, I only had around 15 yards of fishable water, the back end of the run, were the water flattened out off the run slackened off.

This was the pool, the day after the comp - the water dropped 6 inches!

I took 11 fish off that section on a variety of dries, but a spinner being one of the best patterns. It was a perfect copy of a crippled olive. Olives live and hatch in fast water, a weir pool being perfect. But the faster the water, the harder it is for the olive nymph to emerge, dry its wings and fly off. The turbulent water would trap the olive and ‘cripple’ it causing its wings break in a sense.

Before and after - the after one looks even more tasty!

We fished this pool the day after, just for a few hours before the closing ceremony and prize giving. The boys all tackled up with nymphs and headed off up and down river to try and tempt some of the fish that hadn’t been caught on dries previously. Disappointingly,  it didn’t seem to pay off! I tackled up with the dries and fished the same pool and approached it the same as the previous day in the comp.

Within a few minutes of waiting, 2 fish moved onto the gravel bar at the back end of the pool, not rising, but they were there.

These fish are super spooky, a cast from below covering the fish with the nylon and fly would spook the fish and cause them to stray off  into a less accessible bit of water. The club which run the Tevere river, sell over 6000 tickets a year to guests, that’s 500 a month! So these fish knew flies and nylon!

I moved to above the fish, spooking the larger one in the picture. Sitting on the gravel, I changed my nylon to 0.80 kg.

Lets stop and talk about my kit.

Tackle was key! Light fly rods and fly lines were essential, the new Airflo Streamtec Nano 9ft 3/4 weight was my choice, the softness of the rod allowed me to use tipper as light as 1.5lb and not get broken off by big lunges off the fish. Accompanied by an Airflo Ridge supple technical fly line, it would allow me to cast 20yards plus, covering rising fish at distance with great presentation. The fly would seem to turn over however far I dare to cast, catching me bonus fish.

Another important aspect of my fishing gear were my waders. Purchasing a pair of Simms G3’s before heading out was one the best ideas I’ve had for a long time. The use of breathable material and Goretex, would allow the waders to breath, not causing me to sweat, which is a hard task in 30+ degrees! Sweat building up in the usual areas, around the ankles etc, would cause rubbing and itching and being out fishing all day, walking miles in blistering heat does become very uncomfortable! Thank’s to breathable waders I was very comfortable and could focus on the fishing. Imagine fishing in neoprenes in that heat?

Back to it.. I waited 5 minutes, and the larger fish appeared in the same lie. Giving it a few more minutes to settle, I threw my first cast over the fish, landing it around 5 feet above the first fish. The fly came down gently and drag free, up he rose in the water, getting a better look at the fly, it’s mouth opened sucked the fly in and gently lowered back down into the lie. I lifted and he was on. A pretty hefty fish of around 2lb, 45cm.

Each time I caught a fish, I changed the leader, the fishes teeth would rip shreds into the nylon and curl the end near the fly, not good on spooky fish, any fish in fact!

I sat in that same position for nearly an hour, taking the best part of 6-7 fish of that gravel bar, working the near and far side. Some cracking Italian trout.

This was my favourite fish of the whole trip. The day before, when I was on this stretch of the river in the competition, being modest I walked across the weir into the corner on the far left. Behind the small bush in the water in the slack, I spooked 2 fish, which I was pretty gutted about, but I thought I wouldn’t have caught them on a dry anyway, there were just milling around.

So now, I crossed the weir gently, and crept up behind the bush, to revel another fish lying in that same area! I swapped the dry for a 1.5mm tungsten nymph, dropped it in and up he came, taking the nymph at about mid level. Within seconds he was in the net, if he ran he would have come off!

Behind the bush!

The Results

Personally, I had a great competition, the years I’ve spent on the water in all different fishing situations seemed to have paid off getting me a 4th place Individually. Winning two of my sessions a 2nd a 5th and a 6th getting me just 15 place points in total, Just another two higher, and I would have been in with a medal! Maybe next time.

Below are the results of the whole competition.

Individual

Team

USA 1st - Italy 2nd - Poland 3rd

Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did fishing it! Tightlines!

Written by Kieron Jenkins

Game Angling Scotland

Fly fishing with Alberto Laidlaw

alberto laidlaw

Fly fishing with Alberto Laidlaw

Alberto  is a qualified instructor based in Scotland in the city of Glasgow is a member and past Chairman of GAIA (Game Angling Instructors Association)

Name: Alberto Laidlaw
Website: www.gameanglingscotland.co.uk
E-mail: info@gameanglingscotland.co.uk
Phone: 7778526859
Qualifications: GAIA, APGAI, L2CCA
Instruction: double handed,single handed casting and fly tying
Levels: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Guided Fishing: Yes
Instruction for Corporate Groups: Yes
Onsite Shop: No
Fishing tackle provided: Yes
Accommodation: No

Alberto has proven his ability both to demonstrate and teach fly fishing techniques and methods. Tuition is offered for beginners, intermediate and advanced levels using structured methods designed to suit different levels of skill. Instruction is available on an hourly, half day or full day basis. As a full member of the GAIA Alberto is covered with full third party insurance to £5,000,000 for himself and anyone teaching with him.
Guiding is available on the rivers Clyde, Tay and Tweed and the Trossach Lochs especially the Lake of Menteith and Lochs Lomond, Katrine and Venacher

Licensed coach with the Angling Trust, Alberto is alsoFirst Aid trained and CRB checked