Fly Fishing the Wye & Usk passport waters

It’s not all fun and games working at Fishtec you know. A lot of the time after a long days work, your forced to go fishing on some of the best waters the Wye & Usk foundation offers. The voucher beats of the Wye & Usk foundation require a number of vouchers to be used per person.

Ceri Thomas, Garret Cann and myself ventured to the Llynfi Dulais after work Monday evening, a small stream which runs through the heart of Talgarth.

We knew the fishing would be tough, the river was low, on it’s bones in fact but with plenty of fish to be spooked. Scrambling through the bush, we found the river, a beautiful and picturesque part of the Llynfi.

After studying the water for a few minutes, each pool seemed to be the same, a shallow back end, and a deep undercut along each meander in the river. Perfect. The temperature had gone, and the sun was descending and would see there was next to no fly hatching, probably a bit late in the day for a decent hatch.

We all opted for the nymph approach. Although fished differnt styles, each with a single fly. I was using the French Leader, Garret a short furled leader and Ceri, sighting the takes with his leader/fly line.  Our tackle choice for the night ranged from 8ft to 9ft rods, with 3-4# rating fly lines.

As Ceri had fished the river before, he volunteered to show us the ropes. Casting a fair line upstream, where you can, and staying relatively low seemed to be the key as the river was so low and clear.

We fished pool for pool, standing well back and observing the angler fishing.  We were all keen to find and fool some of the rivers inhabitants, Ceri had fished through the first pool with no luck, although we did see a few fish that we spooked darting about the pool. It was a good sign, they where there, just had to get ’em out.

Walking around the corner, we could hear the light tumble of water, the sound of a nice run was in the air. Ceri fished to the top of the pool in the above photo and we notices a small but tasty looking run. I started to fish it with the French leader, watching the nymph sink into the hold and from no where a fish darted and grabbed the size 19 nymph. Fin perfect.

The fish by now in that pool where very unsettled, darting back an forth, the result of being spooked I guess. so we made our way up through the next few pools with no success. It was down to Garret, he posed as he changed his fly.

 

The river was looking in great condition, although low, there wasn’t much weed or algae build up, which showed the river was full of life and oxygen. There were thousands of water boatmen on the surface. I’ve always wondered why fish don’t take them?

The short fly rods we took seemed to be the right choice, some of the pool where ‘hairy’ to fish to say the least with overhanging trees ready to jump out and claim your flies as you cast, short tippets and stealthy ‘catapult’ casting normally allowed for accurate shots between the brush.

A (not so) little surprise for me, a minnow, nearly the same size of some of the trout we were getting.

 

Ceri with the biggest and last fish of the day, a cracker.

As the light was fading, and lost sight of our leaders we decided to call it a day and head back to the car. After a great nights fishing we were already planning our next trip out on the Passport waters. For more information take a look at the Wye & Usk foundation website, or the W&U passport booklet.

 

Written by Kieron Jenkins

Fly Fishing at The Other Henry’s

Mention to any flyfisher that your heading for Island Park, Idaho and they’ll immediately think you’ll be packing a selection of CDC and biot creations intended to deceive the wonderfully selective leviathons of the Henry’s Fork.

However, my latest visit to Rene’ Harrop and the boys at Trouthunter was all about the incredible Stillwater’s of the region, and more specifically Henry’s lake.The plan was to see how fishing UK flies and techniques would work on the great Cutthroat and Hybrids that inhabit the lake.

This was not the first time I’d fished the lake, having visited 10 years earlier and remembered enjoying some wonderful sport from a float tube, fishing damsels through the gaps in the late summer weed. Needless to say, I was fairly confident that some of my own flies and techniques would produce on this trip.

Being mid October, it is always risky with weather, but the fishing gods were in a kind mood and when I arrived at the county boat dock on the eastern side of the lake, I was greeted by a gentle breeze and mild temperatures, which certainly put fish in the mood to hit the fly.

Starting from the shore, as I waded carefully into the water I actually saw a fish swim right by me, a nice Cutthroat of about 18” and prime target for settling me into the swing of things. A short cast, a pause for the fly to sink and a fish took my ‘Minkie’ streamer on the drop – one cast, one fish – you really couldn’t ask for better.

With Henry’s being such a shallow lake, a good cast was only putting my fly into about 6’ of water, add to this the extensive remains of summer weed growth – my set up needed to fish just over the these to put it into the path of any trout cruising between them.

A Airflo 10’ 7# fly rod matched with a 7# slow intermediate fly line, gave me the ability to cast a long line and help keep my flies high and out of trouble on the back cast. With a sink rate of only 0.5” per second, the line eliminated any wake on the otherwise calm surface and helped put me in direct contact with my flies.

At the business end, my leader held a team of 3 flies, each spaced 5’ apart, with a further 8’ of level 3X fluorocarbon looped directly to the flyline. When fishing with this multi fly rig the point or tail fly is generally the largest with smaller flies placed on the droppers to help with turnover.

The olive and brown Minkie on the tail seems to be just the ticket, with Cutthroats, hybrids and even brookies regularly hitting it like a ton of bricks. Tied with a very fine layer of lead, this fly sinks slowly and more importantly it sinks level. Mink seems to have a great ‘Snake like’ movement in the water and unlike flies tied with rabbit strips, it maintains its shape even when the fly is paused between strips.

It is fairly common that once you’ve caught a few fish from a short section of shoreline that fish in the immediate area seem to go off the feed, but with regular changes in retrieve and showing the flies at slightly different angles of cast, you can still catch fish.

As the day wore on, the fish started to get a little more tricky to catch and it was then that some of the subtleties of UK Stillwater techniques started to have an impact.

The first thing that I noticed was the takes were becoming more gentle – by holding the rod tip 12” above the water and watching the movement of the Airflo line as it swung up and down on my retrieve, I was able to visualise the take before I actually felt it at the hand. With a firm strip strike at that point I was able to hook and land several more lively Cutthroats to over 20”.

The other factor that became important was to constantly change retrieve speed and style to help induce a strike. The best way to explain this is to imagine a cat chasing a piece of string – the cat quickly becomes bored if you move the string at the same pace on each pass. However, a change of speed or direction will have the cat bouncing on the string once again.

The same proved true with the fish, by constantly varying the flies path and speed through each cast, many additional takes were induced.

Another small, but subtle technique that I found effective was to hold the flies briefly in the water before each recast. At the end of each retrieve, instead of the usual roll cast into a back cast, with about 20’ of line still in the water, I would slowly sweep the rod upwards and then stop at about 50 degrees – then with the flyline hanging down in an arc I would watch this for up to 10 seconds for any signs off a following fish taking the fly.

Known as fishing the ‘Hang’, this short pause has be responsible for so many additional fish over the course of my fishing seasons. Just think how many times a good fish has boiled at the surface when you go to make a recast – try this technique and you’ll convert quite a few of those into hooked fish.

To be a successful lake fishermen, you really need to develop a feel or a sixth sense for what is happening below the surface – to help me, I constantly imagine that a fish is following my fly and I truly expect a hit on each and every cast- that way when I get a hit, I am not surprised and tend not to miss them.

Our last day on the lake, cold weather hit us and whilst we knew wherefish were holding, their interest in chasing streamers had diminished like the weather. However, these fish were still catchable and local anglers started to hook a few with #12 bead head midges suspended about 4’ below the surface using an indicator.

Not wanting to miss a spot of midge fishing I set up with system that’s known in the UK as the ‘Washing line’, because of the way it hangs you flies in the water column.

Using the same 3 fly cast on a floating line, the tail fly is now replaced with a buoyant eyed booby fly which acts as a float and helps suspend the midges at the correct level.

By mending slack line into the cast, the midgesfree fall on the slack line, then by applying tension, you can hold the flies at a depth. Then with a long slow pull on the line or raising the rod tip, you can lift the two dropper midges almost vertically.

Red and Claret Superglue Midges worked a treat and caught several fish on a tough day and proved the technique to be a great alternative for those who prefer not to use indicators.

The flies

Minkie

This simple pattern has worked for me from lake Otamangaku in New Zealand to Lake Akan in Hokkaido and remains my ‘go to’ Stillwater streamer pattern. You can tie in many colour combinations and unlike beadhead flies, it sinks level – a feature that I feel significantly helps improve hook ups.

Cruncher

A popular nymph/wet fly in the UK, this style of fly can be tied in various colour combinations and a great general pattern when you are unsure of what the fish may be feeding on – it just looks like fish food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Glue Midge

The patterns are easy to tie, look extremely realistic and are incredibly tough. Just match the size and colour to the midges found hatching. If you cannot see any, try black or red – these two colours will catch, even when fish are feeding on other colours of midges.

Boobies

Originally designed to be fished on a short leader and fast sinking line, UK anglers have found out in recent years how versatile this style of fly can be – from a surface disturbance pattern, to a float to help keep your other flies at the correct depth.

 Post Written by Gareth Jones of BVG-Airflo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Dec/Jan 11

Scratching for bites is the quick answer – After one of the direst cod seasons on record and record low temperatures, most shoreline are devoid of fins. A few rockling, and thankfully some dabs and flounders, are keeping the shore anglers occupied, although its mostly the match anglers who bother at this time of year. My latest match was the 120 peg Folkestone angling Open fished at Seabrook and Hythe in Kent and organised by ex international Peter Owen. I finished a creditable second behind Nick May of Eastbourne, and in front of Martyn Reid of Folkestone, with 25 dabs for 3.025kg. The best bit was beating young whippersnapper Nathan Elliott from Dover. Nathan is the current Penn League champion and a great scalp for an old codger like me. Needless to say, the Yates house hold has been feasting on dabs fillets this week, although I was shocked at the match weigh in to see how many anglers did not take their dabs home and left them at the weigh in.

Fortunately the wind direction has changed dramatically, back to a warmer, wetter south West, and that will have an effect on the fishing. Maybe it will return the cod and whiting inshore if it hangs around, although I hear through the grapevine that the cod have returned up the North Sea Coast, with Hornsea/ Bridlington region producing fish to 12lb. Fingers crossed we get a run of fish in the South and no more snow, because I am just about to restart a new club match series with my local clubs.

Match and Tackle News

I went out with a group of sea angling casting novices at Herne Bay recently. It was for a feature for Sea Angler magazine and will appear in a couple of issues time. But one thing struck me as I watched the instructor take them through their paces. All were hugely outgunned by their choice of rod. Why is it anglers want such stiff rods? I have compared a beachcaster rod to a bow and arrow before, but it’s worth repeating. An over stiff bow that the string is difficult to pull back will shoot the arrow nowhere, whilst a sloppy bow will lack distance. Get a bow you can just about bend and it will give you maximum distance. It’s the same with beachcasters, you want a rod you can bend – not a rod you cannot bend, or a sea fishing rod that bends too much, but a rod you can just about fully compress when you turn on maximum power. No two anglers are the same in terms of strength and most would benefit from advice from an instructor as to the best rod, but initially advice is to forget about macho man or macho rods unless you are fully skilled up caster.

Here’s a great tip for this time of year for club and open match anglers and its about casting. On lots of venues the hot spot for fish is the low tide mark at the bottom of the beach, etc. It’s the place the low tide waves gouge a gulley or ridge, and it’s the place fish food collects. On some venues it’s as close as 40 yards, on others closer or further, but it’s the place to target when the fishing is slow because the dabs, flounders and others will be looking for food in the gutter. So don’t over cast, rein in your distance and try a plop; you may be surprised at the result.

Around the Scene

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstal’s Fish Fight has drawn some interest and support from UK sea anglers, because of the prospect of some better fishing as a result of a ban on discarded fish; BUT, he allowed the commercial fishermen to tell the public, amd I quote: “The North Sea is full of cod we are not allowed to catch.” What planet do these commercial fishermen come from? They must know that the average size of all of the commercial species has fallen dramatically in recent years and that cod really are facing extinction. I have fished with rod and line around the British Isles for nearly sixty years and have witnessed the decline. The commercial fishermen and bad fishing laws have gradually degraded fish stocks and they are at an all time low – The scientists are right and the commercial fishermen are blinkered by their greed. They have moved from species to species leaving nothing in their wake and it’s about time the British public realised the problem is the FISHERMEN. UK farmers would never leave the land in such a state.

I call for a one off quota ban, minimum size limits for all species not just the commercial ones, commercial and angling limit bans on precious fish species like bass, smoothhound, tope and cod, and a ban on any kind of commercial or private netting within one mile of the shoreline (two miles if we can get it). I also note the rest of the TV Chefs have joined Hugh’s Band Wagon and the whole thing smacks more of a publicity stunt than true concern about the plight of UK fish stocks!

Fishing Tackle that will last you a lifetime

I’ve been trying out some new fishing tackle, and been using my TF Gear V8 Distance reel for over a year now, and can honestly say that I’m more than impressed with it! When I’m looking for a fishing reel I need one that can stand up to the abuse of big French carp and English fishing too.

TF Gear V8 Distance Fishing Reel

TF Gear V8 Distance Fishing Reel

I like the smoothness, performance and feel of the reel and most important the light weight of it. The line lay is perfected which helps with those long casts to the horizon, and the gear ratio can cope with any size of fish you have hooked. You can set the front drag from semi tight or as loose as you desire. I love the big reel rubber handle when winding in from extreme distance, as it seems to be no effort at all.

V8 Distance and TSI Rods

V8 Distance and TSI Rods

When mixed with the TSI rods you will have the ultimate tools for catching carp, which is very light weight and a perfect match. I use the 3lb test rods which are incredible thin blanks with a beautiful black carbon finish to it. The TSI handle has a Japanese shrink-wrap covering which gives you a good grip of the rod when playing monster carp.

TF Gear TSI Fishing Rod

TF Gear TSI Fishing Rod

The TSI is an all through action rod which will cast any lead to extreme distances all day long, even with a PVA bag, it won’t let you down. When playing fish this is where the rod comes to life as the rod will do all the work for you and is fantastic for playing fish under the tips; I have never lost a fish when using these fishing rods.

pit 4

So if you’re looking for fishing tackle which will last you a life time and won’t let you down, check out the TSI rod and V8 reel.

pit 5Happy fishing!

Les Noyer

I arrived at the gates of Les Noyer around 9.45am on Saturday following a two & half hour drive from Roscoff, and after a short wait for the bailiff to let us in we pulled up outside a large house overlooking a small lake.
Talking to bailiff she told us about the previous couple of months fishing and informed me that the previous months fishing had been fairly quiet. As we started to unload the van and looked at the water I decided to have a walk around the lake so I could get my bearings and start to build a plan of action for my fishing.
After a good stroll around the lake I decided to set up on the second bay and fish to the far side of the lake, to the outlet which was the deepest part of the lake. I cast my line onto the other bank and placed my bait onto my hair then slowly lowered my rig in to my chosen area, scattering 60 freebies around the area.

At about 4.30pm, a single bleep from the bite alarm stopped me and I looked round just in time to see the middle one of my fishing rods roar off. After a ten minute battle I slipped the net under a lovely looking 21lb mirror, and I wondered if this might be a taste of what might be to come, by the late afternoon the temperature had hit around 12 degrees and the rain had started, I still had to put my other rods out.

I had a good play around with a marker float and soon had the lake mapped out. My second rod was going towards a small bar which was straight in the middle of the lake. I casted out a small pva bag fill 15mm fruity boilies and pellets onto the bar and scattered 100 boilies around the area, after setting up my third rod I saw a fish top in the bay to the left of me, I walked my rod round and placed my rig close to the edge with about 10 crushed boilies scattered around it.
I was awoken the next morning by a 2 bleeps from the bite alarm on my right hand rod, after a few minutes watching my rod nothing happened. Later that day set up my sons 6ft rod and set him up in the stock lake with a float and fresh maggots, within 1 minute of casting out he was into a fish; a small roach, and then every cast he was in again, that was a good days sport while I was waiting for some action of my own.
The sun was soon setting in the background and the temp slowly dropped, it was time to get a good warm meal in me, which got delivered to my peg, beef wild mushrooms white asparagus fresh truffles with a nice glass of red wine from the local area, I’m glad I had my own chef with me for this week. There was no action through the night, so it was time to recast and start again.
Still no fish so we decided to wind in the rods pack away our fishing gear and have a day out, we headed to La Mans which is about one and a half hours away, we walked around the old part of the town and got a few bits of fancy food for the next couple of days, then a drive to La Mans race track for the rest of the day. It was good to get out and see France and clear my mind of fishing, we headed back and I soon was planning my new plan of attack.

I changed all my rigs to a combi set up with small pva bags out they went in three new areas of the lake, now it was waiting time to see what would happen. The next morning my right had rod screamed off and as I hit it I soon saw it was not a fish but a carpal that had taken my bait up on the bank (at least my alarms work). Friday soon came I was now under pressure to catch another fish before I left, later that day I was sitting out enjoying the sun and a spot of lunch when my margin rod screamed off, I shot over like a rocket as I hit into a good fish, I played it slowly trying to wear it out, after a short battle the net slipped under the fish and in the net she was, a last a nice looking mirror well worth the wait. Then after a few photo shots back she went, the pressure was off now I can back and finish of my lunch, lobster salad it’s a hard life!


Saturday morning was soon here and time to pack the coarse fishing tackle away as I loaded up the van and sat on the wall with a nice cup of tea looking out on the lake, this was a very peaceful place. Maybe the summer months might produce more fish? But I still had two nice mirrors and a good day out in Le Mans.

Samantha Collins-Ratcliffe

New Compact Fishing Rods

I am very excited about the new range of TF Gear Compact fishing rods. For many years now I have believed that we use rods that are too long. Long rods are unwieldy on all but the biggest waters, and on most modern fisheries (where long casting is unnecessary) they can be a liability. Anyone whom has tickled the backside of the bloke in the next swim when trying to feeder fish on their local water will appreciate what I am saying

The Compact range, designed and tested by yours truly are, I reckon, the best fishing rods to come out for a long time. The rods retain all the power and attributes of regular rods in but in shorter lengths. And those of you who have tried using short rods will know that you get much more power and leverage.
When I go fishing, I like to be as mobile as possible, and these rods are so easy to carry that you forget that you have them in your hand sometimes. Indeed, touch legering with the eight or ten foot Compact feeder is effortless – you can sit there all day without the tip wobbling around.

The Compact Range includes 10′ Carp, 10′ Feeder, 8′ Feeder and a 10′ Specimen Float. All are real pocket battleships with killer actions.
I recently used the 10′ float at Himley Hall in Dudley where I caught carp of 10, 14, 16, 22, 24, 25 and 30 pounds without one snap-off or lost fish. Incidentally, I also landed grass carp to twenty six pounds too! The ten foot float is also a great floater rod for commercials and a nice alternative to an avon for barbel and chub on small rivers.

The carp rods are perfect for small to medium carp waters, and perfect for anglers who don’t want to carry a heavy armoury of carp kit. At two and half pounds test curve, they are perfect for general carp fishing and also make great stalking and floater rods for big fish. I would use them without hesitation on all commercial-style waters where long range casting is not required. Having said this, the rods will cast over eighty meters in the right hands. A big bonus is that they make cracking pike boat rods!

Perhaps the star of the show, though, is the 8′ feeder. This is a cracking little rod and a real pocket battleship. It too has already landed carp into the mid-twenties without breaking sweat. I can’t wait to use this rod for some touch legering for barbel and chub this winter. I used the prototype last year and it was awesome!
The best part is that all the fishing rods come in at decent money. They are top quality but because they are shorter we use less carbon, hence a lower price!

Creedy Fishing Lakes

I recently spent a day at a lovely water near Exeter called Creedy Lakes, which is owned and run by Sandra & Stewart Tuner. Set in peaceful, picturesque surroundings, these two 18th century spring-fed waters offer some of the hardest fighting carp in Devon. Abundantly stocked with immaculate commons to over 31lbs, mirror and koi carp, together with green and golden tench, making it one of the best big fish day ticket water venues in the Southwest. The main lake is about 4 acres and holds a good head of carp up to 31lb.

On this session I was more than pleased with all 3 fish over the 20lb mark, but the one I won’t forget is the bigger one of them. I knew as soon as my barbel rod had screamed with this fish and I had hooked into it that is was unlike any of the others I had played that day. It played me hard, much more so than the 21lb I had landed that morning. It used its weight to try and hold up in the water and I had no option but to let it play me and take more line off my fishing reel when needed.

After what seemed like a long tense struggle with the fish it was finally by the net but was still not going to give up that easily and was still fighting hard. With a final struggle the fish was in the bottom of the net and already I knew that I had a fair sized carp in there. When I put it on the unhooking mat it became apparent that this fish was not only pretty long but also pretty wide and weighed in at 27lb 3oz. What a cracker of a fish it was and I couldn’t wait to have my photograph taken with it.

I was proud to be able to put this fish back into the lake ready for someone else to catch another day. I know that I can’t expect action like this every time I visit a day ticket water but it is a good feeling when it does happen. I will never underestimate, and neither should anybody else, the success that can be achieved from a day ticket water.

Winter Barbel Fishing

When I was a kid (and yes, I know what you’re thinking but it wasn’t that long ago!) it was generally accepted that the barbel hibernated in the winter. The standard practise was to fish for barbel in the summer and autumn and then hang the fishing rods up until the following June. Eventually, the thinking changed and we began to realise that not only are barbel a good target in the winter, they are also in their best condition. I think it was fishing on the Severn that persuaded people: a few late autumn matches were won with ‘bonus’ barbel caught by legering a big lump of meat down the edge in a flood. Pretty soon anglers started adopting the same tactic in the winter and hey presto we were suddenlty all year round barbel anglers….

Living as I do near the river I often get the chance to play around with barbel baits and tactics. Many years ago I got a new rod for christmas and I was desperate to try it out so, while my mom was stuffing turkey and the rest of the world was opening presents, I snuck off up the river and nailed my one and only christmas day whisker in less than an hour on a big lump of meat. When you know a river really well such things are possible and so too are endless possibilities to try out new fishing baits and ideas. It was on the Severn, for instance, that I invented the new infamous ‘time bomb’ method using an open ended feeder stuffed with pellet groundbait and boilies/pellets – an approach that has changed the way anglers fish the river irrevocably.

The middle Severn was also the place where I played around with boilies when formulating the amino active CSL boilie that is now a flagship product in the TF-Gear range. Amino Active CSL is basically a commercial version of a home-made boilie I had been using for a number of years to catch barbel. Amino active is one of those rare baits that not only works the first time you use it but carries on getting better the more of it you put in over a period of time. That’s because the base mix (food value) of the boilie is naturally strong whilst the flavour label (an essential oil) is very subtle. It’s my experience with barbel (and other species, actually) that baits heavily laced with flavour never catch fish for very long.

People often ask me how to fish the river barbel given the success of pellets. ‘Have the pellets blown?’ they ask. The answer is yes and no. On the heavily fished stretches of river you can forget about using great big halibut pellets on the hook – the barbel have wised up to them. A few small pellets in the feeder or bag (3-4mm) jobs will help to attract the fish but keep the free pellets at a low level and instead stuff the feeder with a mixture of mini pellets, Crunchy Fish groundbait and broken amino active CSL boilie with the edge nicked off (this releases the subtle aroma that barbel will home in on). Using this combination I feel confident of catching barbel anywhere on stretches of river ranging from easy to difficult.

Of course, no bait will work unless you use it in the right swim and in the right conditions. In winter, the conditions that you are looking for are rising or stable water temperatures with the river temperature at four degrees or more. Don’t worry about the colour – I’ve caught barbel in rivers so dirty that visibality is reduced to just a few centimeters. Quite how the barbel manage to sniff the bait out in chocolate coloured water amazes me sometimes but they do.