Friday, 31 December 2010

The Last Lady

Well what a great way to end 2010!
This afternoon I had decided to head over to Ellastone for a couple of hours whilst the rest of the family went to 'Wind in the Willows'. I'm sorry but I just don't get pantos, what is funny about fat blokes wearing dresses? Unless you are on rugby tour of course when it is perfectly acceptable behaviour.
Anyway, it has been a while since the fly rod has been out and I've been tying up a few patterns over the holiday inspired by some DVDs from Brian. So today I did not bother with maggots and took my 9' #3-4 rod to have a go at some bugging. The Czech nymph technique is deadly in the hands of an expert but I don't seem to get chance to practice it that often as when the weather gets colder my mind turns to the trotting rod.
I knew I would not last long in the water at this time of year but it felt a lot warmer than my trip to Eaton a few weeks back when it must have been a good ten degrees colder. Into the fast water at the top of the beat without seeing any other anglers as I walked up the meadow. In the first fifteen minutes I bumped off two fish and thought I was going to get a few. Then it went dead as I moved upstream and then I realised that the fish were in the slacker water. Re-tracing my steps I started to work upstream again from just above the outflow. My legs were really getting numb now but that was soon forgotten when I netted the fish above after a determined fight. It took some working to get into the net making a strong play to remain downstream of me. The fish took an olive shrimp pattern that I had tied up in the Autumn.
This is one of my most satisfying fish of the season, to trick a wily wild river fish on a hand tied pattern using a method I would love to master.
Happy new year all!!!

Monday, 20 December 2010

The Bleak Midwinter

I'm not known much for reciting hymns but when the conditions are like they are at the mo it always brings to mind:

In the bleak midwinter
frosty wind made moan
earth stood hard as iron
water like a stone

And so it was as I arrived at Eaton Dovedale yesterday morning. I'm absolutely kicking myself as for the first time for a while I forgot the camera. I thought I would get away with taking some pics on my work blackberry but it won't let me download the photos onto my computer, that's the IT police for you. No pics then for this post folks.
On leaving Chellaston it was -5 deg.C and is usually a good few degrees less out in the sticks so I'm guessing at about -7 deg.C when I arrived. As I walked round to my chosen spot my fingers were absolutely screaming madness and I nearly retreated. I set up with my 'new' Bruce & Walker and Dad's 'pin. My float was a Drennan 5BB wire avon this runs through well and is a set up I'd recommend.
The first spot was quite streamy and did not produce this time. After 45 minutes or so I moved further downstream below the swan island to the slacker deeper stretches. I soon started getting bites and lost a couple of fish, thought I'd got through the grayling dropping off bit but guess not. It was a great morning to be out and I kept the cold at bay by batting my reel back furiously. Several times i had to stop to de-ice the rings, this was the coldest session I can remember for a long time. There was very little wind and the Dove valley looked truly desolate. After landing a couple of fish I struck into something much better and when it surfaced knew this was the fish I'd been after for the last two winters. I soon forgot the cold when it made a good run and I hoped the size 18 barbless would hold. It used all its tricks to remain downstream but I eventually got it over the net. Well this was the fish I had yearned for and I was all fingers and thumbs due to the combination of the cold and the excitement. My balance was in the bottom of my bag slung across my back so after getting a couple of phone pics marked the length against my rod. That was enough messing about and now it was important to return the fish safely. I was pleased to see it swim off strongly, the huge dorsal up in the current.
Last night the marks on my rod measured 44cms. I've done a bit of googling for grayling length vs weight table and found an interesting paper on the grayling society website. That puts the fish at around a kilo so I'm safely putting that down as a 2lb'er, my best ever lady. Over the moon with that and a great way to christen the rod on it's first outing. Trotting is a fine method for the grayling and most traditional. The swim I was fishing was a good 6' deep and there is no way you would have got me in that stream with the current weather, it would have been bloody dangerous to Czech nymph that stretch without company. The fly rod can take a back seat until it warms up a bit. The pics would have been great and I'll save the one's on my phone but the reader will just have to conjure up the image of that magnificent fish sitting in my net on the snow covered banks of the Dove on a bleak midwinter morning.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Trotting Rods

Followers of my blog will know that most of my coarse fishing gear is vintage late 70's early 80's. This period was when angling really captured my imagination and I would daydream the week away at school thinking of such venues as the River Derwent at Borrowash or Findern Pond. I still find myself doing this at work. These were the days before the carp explosion and prior to anglers really targetting barbel on the local rivers in the numbers seen today. There were very few if any commercial fisheries in south Derbys so all the matches were fished on running water. So tackle then seemed to be dominated by the match scene and the Shakespeare Alpha was one of the 'hot' rods. A couple of years back I found one for an absolute song and it has served me well since. My float fishing on running water is now mostly confined to trotting the stream for grayling in the winter. I have had some good fun with the Alpha matched with either a centre pin or a Mitchell 440A.
There were two rods that I remember from this era that were considered to be a cut above. They were the Hardy Matchmaker and the Bruce & Walker. Recently I was lucky enough to find a Bruce and Walker on ebay. I won the auction and the rod was not too far from me at Heanor. This morning I drove over to pick it up and I'm really pleased with it, the model is a Flyer 12L. Hopefully I'll get to give it a go before Xmas but fishing trips seem to be at a premium in the run up. If there is a big thaw this week the rivers are likely to be up but it will give me something to ponder whilst trying to concentrate on work.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Grayling on the 'pin

The winter is well and truly with us now and to avoid freezing my nads off wading the stream I decided to get out the trotting rod and run a few maggots down on the centrepin. Eaton Dovedale was looking very desolate when I arrived this morning with the Dove carrying some extra water and colour. The river appears very bleak now with signs of the first winter floods now passed, there was flotsam and jetsam liberally dispersed over the banks.
I kept fairly mobile and it wasn't until the third swim I fished that I picked up a couple of small fish just below the swan island. I had invested in a wire stem Drennan Avon 5BB and this suited my outfit a treat being just the ideal weight for trotting. I dropped off a couple of better fish but put this down to being a bit rusty on the pin.
Another move put me on the best pod of the morning with the fish above being the better of my session. I soon remembered my grayling playing skills after losing a couple more and kept the rod tip low to keep them off the surface.

I enjoy using my Shakespeare Alpha 12' rod for this type of fishing as it has a nice action. I do have a 14 footer that was bought for fishing the stick on the Trent. The extra length sometimes comes in handy but it has so many rings I'm ready for a sit down and a cuppa by the time it is threaded up. The last swim I fished was a delightful trot with some broken water at a steady pace. I did use some loose feed which kept the fish coming and thankfully did not attract those greedy spotties.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Barney's first haircut

Barney our Cocker Spaniel is now 7 months old and has just had his first trip to the doggy barbers. These first two photos were taken about a fortnight ago when he was a full on fur ball.

The next shots are the after version taken today in Calke Park and he now looks a lot lighter and streamlined. Calke is one of our favourite places and this morning Barney has a great run round having some good fun with other dogs.

We took a picnic of tomato soup and some cheese cobs, it was great to be outside for lunch and the kids enjoyed exploring some of the more off the beaten track parts of the park.

It feels like autumn is now slipping into winter but there are still some great colours about. This year the autumn rainment have been the most vivid I can remember or is this just as I'm getting older and appreciate it more?

Tomorrow I'm having the morning on the River Wye with the Erewash lads so am looking forward to some nice grayling if everything goes to plan............
Post script - why oh why did I write that last sentence?? Last night Barney decided that he would like to have several bedtimes, about one an hour in fact. In the end I couldn't work out whether he had the screaming ring twitters or just fancied a walk round the garden. By this morning I was completely cream crackered and could not get my backside into gear to get up the A6. Many apologies to the REF team and I hope you had a great day.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Take That

I'm afraid I took a slap round the gills blank this morning. After I had taken the dog out this morning I had managed to convice myself I was on a banker; a mild overcast autumn morning.
Mrs Squire was going to be shoo'ing me out of the house before 9am so I didn't distract her from the job of the day which was procuring Take That tickets. When I left she had two laptops and her iphone on the go, the kitchen looked like mission control.
Very different conditions from last weekend when I arrived at Ellastone though. A bit more water on but more significantly very coloured, I could not see my boots when wading about knee deep. As I was there thought I give the bugs a run but it was to no avail, returning to the car about and hour and a half later with frozen legs. Funny how much colder it feels when the fish aren't biting.
I reached home at about noon to find that the tickets had been secured which has delighted Mrs S, looks like the kids will have to spend another day looking after me on June 5th.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Autumn on the River Dove

It is at this time of the year that we are reminded again of what a beautiful country England is. What could be better as the trees display there varied colours of yellow, brown, and green with all shades inbetween than a couple of hours spent on the River Dove. Yet again I was off up to Ellastone where all of the autumn glory is on show. I was hoping for a few grayling and found the river still looking very low and clear. The recent rain had hardly troubled the scorers in terms of the conditions, after the downpour we had in Derby on Friday evening I had expected it to be a little higher.
Fish were hard to come by this afternoon and I was fortunate enough to tempt four, the best is shown in the photo below.
This lady did not fall to one of my big bugs but a small gold head pheasant tail size 18. The other three fish I caught were smaller and although it is frustrating speaks volumes I feel for the future health of the river.
For the second time in about five years I had my license checked by the EA. It is good to see these chaps out and after a brief chat he was off up to the weir. The autumn really marks a watershed in the fishing year for me and the temperature is now really going south. After a couple of hours in the river my legs were well chilled. I walked back to the car with the angler in the picture below who had had a good day. Mind you he deserved one as he was the chap who saved my 'Guiness' mug for me a few weeks back after I left it on the wall.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Ladies on the feed

This morning I headed off to the River Dove at Ellastone in the hope of finding some grayling. The conditions were perfect being very overcast first thing. The sun did break through about 10 o'clock ish which slowed down the sport somewhat.
I had plenty of fish but they were mostly smaller grayling the fish above being one of the better ones. Unfortunately it was the story of the two that got away as I lost a couple of decent fish. I put this down to being a bit rusty at nymphing but one really got the better of me with a strong run downstream and then did that graylingly thing where they use the current to throw the hook on the surface. The lies have been noted for this pair though and I will return. Successful flys were gold head PTN's and some of the Czech Nymphs I've tied up. The ones that I tied on Partridge size 12 do look enormous though I would recommend anyone buying these hooks to go two sizes smaller than you think you need. I spoke to another angler who was fishing the Norbury stretch and he was catching on similar PTN's but quite small I'd guess about an 18. An encouraging start to the autumn's grayling fishing and I hope to get out a few more times.
For those familiar with the locale there are reports of larger fish arriving at Norbury Weir.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Findern Pond

This evening I had a walk up the canal with the dog to Findern Pond. This is a water on the DRAC ticket that holds great memories for many of us. However, it has been blighted in recent years by poaching and illegal camping/nuisance behaviour. Consequently there is a debate about whether to continue to rent it. I just can't make my mind up.

I took 9 tench between 2lb and 3lb from the swim above as a schoolboy. This was only after my dad showed me how to catch a tench. Nothing by todays standards of course but I felt like Dick Walker in the car on the way home. At the time it was a lot bigger pitch that two could fish in comfort.

A lot less litter in the area below than my last visit. Can't imagine who has picked this up unless it is Phil.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Czech Nymphs

Here are this weeks product from my vice which I would like to share. This method intrigues me and I fancy having a bash on our rivers through the autumn. Unfortunately time is at a premium at the weekends and the evenings are now gone so I hope to get some time out in the next few weeks but suspect it will be just a couple of hours. No bad thing really as I soon get cold.
These nymphs have been tied on Partridge authentic czech nymph size 12 hooks. I had forgotten that Partridge are in a world of their own when it comes to sizing hence they are a tad bigger than I envisaged but should do OK. The bodys are various mixtures over a lead wire underbody, covered with 1/8" clear scud back and ribbed with 4lb mono. Some of the dubbing (pink, olive) is Swaledale which is good stuff from Lathkill fly tying. Incidentally, the delivery from Lathkill is spot on. I ordered some stuff on Monday evening and it arrived in the post Wednesday morning.
I particularly like the hairs fur version this looks very buggy to me. I'll advise soon enough if the fish agree, now I just need to get some practice in with the method.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Derbyshire Derwent

Yesterday will probably be my last full session of the trout season and the venue was the glorious Derbyshire Derwent. This is arguably the jewel in the crown of the DRAC trout waters and it is a beautiful stretch. Autumn is a special time of year with the bleak days just around the corners and it was a joy to be out in the countryside. I met up with Andy at about 1pm and we got sorted out and decided to head down towards just past the bottom of the fly only stretch as this is one of the easiest areas to access.

Modest sport was enjoyed through the afternoon and I was soon off the mark with a brownie to the Sturdys Fancy. We had rain on and off throughout the afternoon and the first sharp shower seemed to put the fish down for a while. Persevering with our dry patterns though brought more fish to hand and a couple of hours soon shot by before we stopped for a Kelly brew. Luckily Andy had a flask so I was able to have some refreshment whilst sparking the kettle into life as I have still not quite got the hang of it. I'm probably putting too much in to start with.

Working our way back upstream we saw pockets of feeding fish which were difficult to tempt refusing most offerings. Finally I got some interest on a deer hair emerger but bumped off both fish which was down to poor angling on my part. Stealth was the key though and we stalked a pod of fish well on the fin, this was going fine until we were just within casting range as Andy slid down the bank and entered the river in a fairly un-dignified manner. We swiftly moved on.
Things died down as evening approached with just the odd sporadic rise. My most successful flies of the afternoon were black and olive Klink type patterns with the black having the edge.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Down on the Farm

Yesterday I managed both to cut the hedge and clean the roof of the conservatory which opened up an unexpected window of opportunity this morning. The DRAC water at Eaton Dovedale farm was my quickly chosen venue this being the fastest venue for me to get to with the hope of a fish on the fly, I only had a couple of hours. I was hoping to also have a look at how the rivers were fairing after the recent much needed rain as I also plan to fish Darley tomorrow afternoon.
Upon arrival the river was quite coloured but at a good level and perfectly fishable. It was drizzling as I tackled up and I had a quick chat with another angler who was going to try trotting a method that yields good results on this stretch. The rain was still light and I chose to fish with two weighted nymphs and give those a run through. It wasn't until I swapped the point fly for a heavier Pink Charm that I took my first and best fish of the session. Mmm, get them right down I thought but having been glad to get a fish under my belt did not have another on this method.
Not unless you count a very greedy river minnow that was definitely bigger than the size 10 charm but there wasn't a great deal in it. I had not strayed too far downstream and returned to fish the car park stretch. Soon the sun broke through and I noticed a few fish rising. Last week I had tied up some Sturdys Fancy and this fly was put to good use taking three or four fish in quick succession. This pattern will definitely be given a swim on the Derwent tomorrow and as predicted it certainly brought the grayling up. It wasn't quite the classic pattern as I used buff thread instead of purpleand a grizzle hackle but the Dove fish did not seem to know the difference.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Jolly Boys Outing

Brian, me, Adam, Mick, John, Guy, & Glen
The day finally arrived for my second trip to the Haddon Estate water on the Derbyshire Wye. Tackle into the car then it was off up to Rowsley to meet the other anglers at the Peacock. Once we were quorate the lower river just upstream of Cauldwells Mill was decided upon. This year I was in a much better frame of mind than my last visit where I had convinced my self that I would have a string of monsters throwing themselves on the bank. You have to fish well to get the best from this river and many have returned with backsides truly slapped. There are no easy casts which will cover a fish through the day and with no wading you have to get your presentation spot on with no drag. Once you get it sorted you will be rewarded with superb fish like this wild rainbow.

The fishing went well in the morning and this is a productive stretch. You could spend a lot longer there than the couple of hours that we did.

We then explored the water just north of the town and had some good sport there. Glen put both Brian and I onto some corking fish just below the sheepwash. This was a tricky cast and these clunkers were not fooled.
Sport then dried up and we headed back to the fishermans car park stretch for a leisurely afternoon the highlight of which were several fish for Ads from a difficult cast, more fish for John, and one each for Brian and Mick from Heartbreak Corner.
Then it was time for chilling out with talk of monsters, tackle and flys before heading into town for some grub before a last go at the town water. The fish proved hard to tempt and I had a couple of browns which put the cap on the day nicely. The last from just upstream of the footbridge was a true Derbyshire warrior and I swear it bit me as I extracted the fly.
Those of you who follow Mick's blog will know he has an uncanny knack of winkling out the better fish. Yesterday was business as usual and this 5lb 8oz fish really made his old bamboo creak.
All in all a good day and great company.

Sunday, 5 September 2010


Yesterday I checked the braided loops on both of my river lines. As per usual there were several frays in the braid and I decided to replace them. Each time I inspect a loop I realised I always find something I am not happy with and even lost a fish last season when the loop itself failed. Enough is enough I thought and decided to go back to needle knotting a length of strong mono to the end of the fly line. Once completed I was very pleased with the results and with the benefit of hindsight this is a far more secure method to use for the interface between the line and the leader. Having considered it further it should also provide a better transfer of energy from the line to assist leader turnover.
In the week I have also been stocking up my fly box for next weeks trip to the Wye with some small olive and sedge patterns. There is a fresh stock of sedges and JT Olives, also a single plume olive in slightly smaller sizes than I normally use for the JT (Tiemco 103 size 15). Recently I have read reports of the Griffiths Knat being quite productive so will knock up some of these in the week on Partridge surehold barbless size 16. At this time of year I'm not expecting to need a great deal more as on the Wye it is dry fly only but any pointers would be welcomed from other anglers.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Back on the Fly

This season I have somewhat neglected my trout rod and have turned attention to catching some tench and barbel. I have felt drawn of late back to the fly and having booked myself onto the Haddon water of the Derbyshire Wye with some other Gentlemen Piscators for a jolly boys outing thought I had best get some practice. I had blanked spectacularly in an hour and a half on Monday morning and had a similar time window last night. Again I chose Ellastone as the venue.
Arriving about 7pm I noticed a few rises but it was not exactly alive. In the end I managed to extract 3 brownies which under the conditions I thought was a good result. The rises died at about 8.15 and I finally gave up at half past. This fish put up a great struggle and I would welcome any comments from more experienced anglers as to whether they thought this was a wild fish. All three came to drys but this one was on an emerger, a fly that I won't be able to use on the Wye. It barely sipped it off the surface and as is often the case the most benign take yielded the best fish.

Monday, 30 August 2010


My pal Martin and I had been commissioned by the Parish Council to investigate the fishing at a gravel pit at Barrow-upon-Trent. We were looking forward to the prospect of fishing this virgin water particularly after seeing a shoal of large bream going through their spawning rituals earlier in the year. Plans were made on Friday evening after taking refreshments and an 0830 start was in order.
We should have stopped in bed though as no recce since May meant we were greeted by pond weed stretching out about 15 yards from the bank pretty much round the perimeter. We eventually found a gap where our lads could get a line in but it was to no avail. I tried putting out a feeder about 30 yards but it just bounced off the weed. One to cross off the list but may fish well earlier in the year if the Parish Council decide to issue day tickets.
That was Sunday morning and today I went off to the River Dove at Ellastone for a quich sortie. Didn't stop long though as it is still low and the bright conditions meant no sign of trout or grayling in an hour and a half. After a summer spent after tench and barbel it has whetted the appetite to get the fly rod going again.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Oh What a Beautiful Morning

It was certainly grand at Scropton this morning and I was the only angler out to enjoy it. Perhaps not the best of fishing conditions and and everyone clearly knew better than me as I returned a nice blank. Very strange activity at the rod tip though. I was fishing halibut pellets on a hair. As soon as the feeder hit the bottom there were little knocks and tremors on the tip. None of these developed into a good pull round though. After a while I was easily distracted from the rod tip by a pair of kingfishers working the river. Each time I retrieved the pellet was gone and twice a river minnow had impaled itself on the hook. Has anyone else had experience with gangs of minnows poaching halibut pellets?? How queer.

The One That Got Away

I've been a bit slow clocking onto this one but that is just my age. This is another blog from an angler that fishes the same club waters as I. Patrick has put some really detailed info on here, none of this tripe like 'from a midlands stillwater', he even divulges the peg!! Completely honest and open with no bull5hit. Keep it up Patrick.
A recommended read:

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Cross Jolly Boys Outing

My son and I went to Glazebrooks pool this morning so Sam could have another go with the whip. He had about half a dozen perch and a chub. I set a rod hoping for something a little more substantial but failed miserably.
Grandad appeared to watch Sam in action with his old whip so that is all three generations on the bank at the same time. Next step is us all to have a session together.

Nuisance Fish

Is it too much to ask for a chap to have a decent evenings tenching??

This week I have done rather well for pass outs and last night I decided to continue my quest for a monster tench. Also, long overdue, I have finally bought a unhooking mat that I needed to commission but was nervous about the karma created by the presumption that I was going to put something on it. The size of the thing was also rather embarrassing I was worried about actually getting it on the peg. It was about 1930 when I arrived at the pond and it looked in great nick. I had decided to fish with the feeder on the swingtip, I method that was reasonably successful a couple of weeks back. Soon after starting I had a chat with another chap from the DRAC forum who was also just about to commence.
Soon afterwards I had a great bite and in the excitement of my sweeping strike rolled straight off the back of my basket, good job no-one saw that one. This was followed by the perch below that I used to christen the mat so that was the monkey off my back.
Like a big chump I then swapped my feeder for a plain lead and cast it straight into the far bank trees. By now it ws 2100 and I debated packing up but in the end persevering and was all fingers and thumbs quickly tackling up again in the dusk. It was now the last few casts as fishing ends on DRAC waters at 2130 in August. A good indication on the tip met with something very solid that took some playing on my avon rod with the fish initially taking line so needed careful guiding to keep out of the many snags at Triangle. This was clearly a good fish and if it was a tench then this was the monster I had been searching for. It was difficult to tell when it surfaced but as I drew it over the rim of the net all was revealed. A bloody great carp! The fish weighed 9lb 4oz and well and truly broke in my new mat. A great way to end the evening and left me with a tired arm. The bigger brothers must pull hard.

But oh if it was a tench.......