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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Archive for August, 2009

Devon Fly Fishing Guide

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

As a fly fishing guide the most important thing for me is that my guests have a great day and that they learn something along the way. Even if it is the tiniest thing it might just be something that helps get a great drag-free drift over a fish and is the thing that makes the fish decide to take. I also feel very strongly that I rarely touch my guest’s rod and if I do it might only be to illustrate a point and you can be sure it won’t be cast into the fishing area! I remember I showed Pam a cast when we were on The Test and a fish took. I was mortified and had the fish in and released before it even knew it was hooked!

Anyway, the other thing I try and be as honest as possible with is size of trout. As a guide it is easy to say the fish is bigger than it actually is but what’s the point? It is much better to be realistic and if it were a 12 incher and I said it were a 14 incher it is not doing the 12 incher the justice it deserves and lets face it, for our rivers a 12 incher is still a great fish.

Our guests have been catching a few nice fish of late. Ian has been a great supporter of our fly fishing school and this time he came back with his fishing buddy Phil. I had seen signs of salmon on one of the beats a few days before with Faure and so decided to have a quick look for them. The guys were doing a great job and throwing their flies expertly into position and it felt a really fishy morning! Phil had a grilse follow the fly right the way in and despite me quickly changing patterns this didn’t bring him out again but he later had a sea trout have a go at the fly. Ian fired off a cast at an 8lb salmon we saw too but it wasn’t to be. We decided to hit the trout as it felt as though the barometric pressure had dropped and it worked out a good plan. Below is a really nice fish Ian caught.

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As you can see this was a fine fish, Ian and Phil were excellent anglers and no doubt will be terrorising trout in Devon again next year.

Sadly I didn’t get some photos of Guy and Roger who came down from Hertfordshire to fish with us. They were great and the saying I will remember from Guy was ” I am only 73″ it was agreat attitude and despite them both fishing some pretty nice chalkstreams and doing really well they wanted to leave their comfort zone and try something different so we went trouting and even went out for some sea trout. They were great company and really good fishermen!

I have just got in from a great day with Richard who is another great supporter of our school and has visited many times this year from Hampshire. He has just moved home and as soon as the dust settled he shot off down to us for a spot of fly fishing!

He had fished solo on Saturday and done really well catching plenty of trout and even skated a caddis pattern down stream and got bust by a great big sea trout. Today I wanted to show him some new water so headed up to the Top of Beat 5 and picked up a few fish there and then before we had lunch we headed to Beat 2 as he is fishing alone on Tuesday so I thought it would be good to show him. We headed down and came across a pool with a few fish rising, we couldn’t leave it…would you?! Richard fired out a shot and the dry dipped. I thought it was a peal but saw it was a really nice brown as it took to the air. Despite it knowing all the dirty tricks, Richard expertly got the fish to the net. We covered lots on the day as we decided it would be great to  analyse each fishing situation and how we would approach it to maximise the potential. It worked pretty well!

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Dude, where’s my fish?!

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Faure came back to spend a couple of days of guided fly fishing with us last weekend and we had a ball! The fishing was pretty good and the company was a blast. This time Faure made sure he didn’t get the sleeper train and had a more relaxing journey down and was ready to hit the river bright and early. We headed down to beat 7 and tried our luck and managed a few. The fish were on caddis and the hatches were coming in trickles rather than pouring. It was a case of 10 minutes of activity and then it would go quiet and then it would start again. We worked through one pool and saw a grilse of about 5lbs take to the air and then a larger slightly more coloured salmon of 9 to 10lb also go airborne.  We also couldn’t believe the amount of kingfishers we saw and this also added to the otter Dave from Portland and I saw the day before. These are some of the little things that add to a special day on the water.

Faure had got into the groove really well and was keen that he used my Helios fly rod again and I was happy to oblige as he casts a really nice loop with it!

We ended the day with a nice tally of fish but more importantly Faure had a good time and fished like a demon.

We’d planned some small stream fishing for the next day and although the fish weren’t as cooperative (we still had plenty) Faure coped fantastically with the challenges of threading his loop through the various obstacles to get to the fish. I love the appetite for knowledge that he has as it spurs me on even further. One of the highlights was showing him how to fish a small non descript spot and seeing his face as he became attached to a rather good fish!

As I think I have mentioned before I am no photography expert but I always try and get a photo of the day  for my guests and the couple below show that sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan!

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Easy come….easy go….I’d got the shot lined up but the fish had other ideas and Faure made a desperate lunge to try and catch the fast escaping trout!

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Here’s what Faure made of his time with us

Hi Pete,

           just calling to say thanks for a great time this weekend. I feel truly confident to hit the rivers of Devon solo now, and I have memories that will last a lifetime. Apart from catching loads of fish, there were loads of great moments; dropping that fish, the big one that got away upstream (that was residing to the left of the fast water), the one in the pool that you showed me how to fish Dartmoor in, to name only a few. More than just teaching me, you provided an experience, one that covered many aspects of fly fishing, and one that made fishing both interesting and fun at the same time. Excuse the cheap pun, but I think you have helped get me truly hooked to flying. I would love to meet up again in September (one last time before the season finishes)
Faure
For a related post about Faures fly fishing exploits click here

Fly Fishing Guide

Monday, August 24th, 2009

One of the challenges of being a full time fly fishing guide is making sure you can get your guests fishing even when conditions might make you think twice. It looked like it might be the case when I had spoken to Dave from Portland about chances of fishing. We knew there was rain coming but decided to have a flier. Dave is as keen as me and I was secretly pleased that we had gone for it.

I mentioned he was keen and I knew he’d be early so I headed to the Hotel a little earlier as I had a hunch he might be there. Spookily enough he was and after a cup of coffee we hit the river. We started by heading higher up the Taw and despite a quiet start we started finding a few fish. We had to head for some shelter as the rain gods did there stuff but it didn’t put Dave from Portland off!

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The rain stopped and we headed upstream a bit and Dave spotted a fish, cast to it and caught it. It was simple as that but it was all perfect. After lunch we headed to one of the Hotel beats and again we came across a feeding fish which hit the fly hard. It was a nice fish getting close to 12 inches.

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One thing about Dave is that he is cool as a cucumber but when we saw a sea trout take to the air just in front of him I reckon I saw just a hint of the coolness slip just a tiny bit!

Fly Fishing around Devon and a bit of Cornwall too!

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

They say variety is the spice of life and we have had a good mixture of fly fishing for our guests so far this week!

David and Glyn have been great supporters of what we are doing here and popped in for some casting on Saturday and then we headed off to catch some bass on Sunday. They were throwing their flies a good long distance and Glyn was soon rewarded with a thumping take, she was into her first ever bass.

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David wasn’t far behind and was soon playing a fish too. I must admit we walked a fair bit and I think we broke into a run when we saw gulls hitting bait fish. It was worth it though as the bass were taking advantage of the bait ball too and the guys hooked into fish.

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It was a great session and as ever they were great company . I headed off for a breather and something to eat before taking Mike and Lee out in search of sea trout. Mike has also been a regular visitor and despite us trying really, really hard we didn’t get lucky. We headed off to the river on Monday in search of trout and the guys did a great job. Mike took the honours and landed some good fish including a stunning 12 incher. His first of the day is below. I am also out with Mike on Thursday and we are going to see if we can tempt a day time sea trout along with a trout or two.  He is an excellent fisherman and great company!

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I’ve just come in from a great day on Colliford with Rob. He recieved a gift voucher for Christmas and has often pulled over at Colliford when driving down from the Midalnds and has looked longingly at the water so I was happy to help. When we met the weather wasn’t the friendliest but we pulled off a few shrewd moves and got into some fish and even had them on dries when the books might be suggesting otherwise. It  was great fun!

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Dry waders?….perhaps not!

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

I thought this week was going to be a slightly quieter one than of late. I sort of put it down to family holidays that meant aspiring trout bums have had to pop the rods away for a week or two and do some non fishing related stuff. Well, this is what I thought but it has turned out not to be the case and we have been hitting some great caddis hatches and getting guests into a fish or two.

Lyndsey had popped down with her Dad who is an excellent fisherman for a few days fishing and asked if I were able to help with some casting and fishing tips. Lyndsey was an excellent learner and I gave her a few secret tips that had her giving her dad a run for his money on the catching stakes. He has taken some photos which I hope to pop up shortly.

Lewis had only had a brief session of casting two years ago and wanted to try again so we spent some time on the casting lake where we covered the essential casts needed for fishing the river and then went down to the river and discussed watercraft and how to read a river. We put all of this into action and it all happened pretty quickly and effectively. There is nothing nicer than seeing someone catch their first fish and even better when it is one of our wild brown trout from the River Taw!

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Bob was celebrating a major birthday and despite fishing the reservoirs of the Midlands he was keen to catch a bass. We were happy to oblige and I still smile when Bob and I spotted bass busting and ran like a couple of children so that he could cover them with a clouser. Pic below shows he did a great job and I quickly snapped the fish before he carefully released his first bass. I’m pleased to say it was the first of many!

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I’ve just changed my wading boots as the last pair managed to last just over a season which I am pretty pleased with. I do abuse my gear a bit but at the end of each day I throw my stuff into the back of the truck so that I know I have it ready for the next day. This does mean it doesn’t get much of a chance to dry out. The new boots come with studs built in where as the old ones I had to screw in. Towards the end of their life the old boots wouldn’t hold studs which meant I was doing some pretty impressive down hill sking on the wet banks of the river. I am still proud to announce I haven’t fallen in yet but now that I’ve said this I have a bad feeling coming!

Massive Respect!

Friday, August 7th, 2009

As hard core fly fishers we will do whatever we can to make sure we are able to get out and go fishing. I fished with Faure today and he comes under the heading of hard core without a shadow of a doubt. He is based in London and got the sleeper down from Paddington last night. I say sleeper but what I mean is he was on a train that had sleeping carriages but that would have been a bit too soft for him! The train got into Exeter at some ridiculous time where he jumped onto the Tarka Line to head for Eggesford and our fly fishing school. Apparently he was there at just after 6.30am and chilled out by the river. I knew he was coming early so was there (not 6.30 though!) to meet him.

We popped down to the lake and I showed him a few casts that might be useful for fishing down here on our streams and then we had a quick coffee and hit the river.

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He has fished the Kennet but hadn’t waded and hadn’t fished a spate river before. It didn’t take long though for him to get into a really nice rhythm and he had a nice fish putting a bend into my Helios. We had a few more and didn’t realise what the time was when I suggested perhaps we should have some lunch.

After a most excellent Steak Peri Peri (my new favourite lunch) we headed to another beat and were quickly into the fish. The caddis have been hatching from 2ish onwards and we hit it just right. The fish were still sitting in slacker, slower water and throwing against the banks was reaping rewards.

I showed Faure a favourite sea trout haunt where we have picked a few up during the day recently but it wasn’t to be the case today, so as we headed up I talked to Faure about fishing spider patterns. We found some nice water to fish them and I tied a few of Karl’s awesome patterns on and they weaved their magic again. It is a real fun and deadly way of fishing and worked really well.

Again time had raced away and I dropped Faure back at the station to head back to London. I suspect he might be sleeping all the way back and hopefully dreaming of fly fishing in Devon!

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Fly Fishing School

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

You might have thought our fly fishing school might have been quiet given all the weather we have had of late but luckily I was able to get guests out on the water and even better, into a fish or two. I met up with Chris last Friday who had some fishing lessons a number of years ago and was after a refresher on casting and watercraft. Despite not holding a rod in anger for such a long time it was great to see that muscle memory was still intact and his body remembered how to cast a fly. He even had his own gear that he had bought a few years back that had been unused. It was great to see it getting a good work out!

Gavin was down for the weekend and is a really keen river angler. Despite the weather and unfishable water at the Hotel we headed higher up the Taw and found somewhere to cast a fly and caught a few. We did the same on Sunday and managed to fish the Hotel waters in the afternoon.

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Above you’ll see Gavin with the last fish of the day on Saturday. This is one he had spotted rising, made a cast to and caught. It’s nice when it all happens like that!  You might notice the background and how wet it had been. I stupidly believed the weathermen and on Sunday after lunch I headed down to the beat out back of the Hotel with just a shirt. Big mistake, it poured down on me!

On Monday the water was clearing down on the Hotel water but still pushing a bit. Having done a bit of casting with Ray there was little doubt he needed much help and having shown him some casts for the river (his background is lake fishing) we hit the river. Ray was like a sponge taking in every little word or tip and put it all into practice. The picture below shows Ray into his first fish a nice 10 incher!

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When Gavin came down he brought his girlfriend Andrea too. There was lots for her to do. She popped into Exeter for a look round but on Sunday we found her relaxing with papers and a pot of coffee when we met up for lunch. That is one of the nice things about where we are located that there is plenty for the non fly fisher to do or they can just kick back and relax! The Hotel now boasts an in house beauty therapist, Georgeana, who offers a wide range of holisitic treatments.

If the weather people are to be believed then we have some good stuff coming so fingers crossed. I have Geoff tomorrow and he is in to light lines and small streams…..perfect!