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.