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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Archive for July, 2010

I love it when a plan comes together

Monday, July 26th, 2010

It seems as though we are preparing ourselves for the summer blockbusters at the cinema. I am not a huge cinema goer myself but do go from time to time. The last visit was a few days ago and I was quite excited to see that they have done a remake of the A Team. For anyone my age A Team was required viewing whilst getting ready for a Saturday night on the town and although a little far fetched it was good, camp fun. I hope the new version does the same and hits all the right notes the orginal did.

Anyway, the reason for the title is in honour of Hannibal Brooks and his merry band of mercinaries. There are also times when something does just about go to plan. Last Monday was a great example. I was guiding regulars Ian and Phil who have been great supporters of our little fishing school and they were back for a few days of guided fly fishing.

Bass were on the list so with a late low tide we decided to split the day into a morning of river fishing and then to meet up late afternoon for the bass. As they rigged up I suggested that perhaps we went looking for some day time sea trout despite the fact that it was a cloudless bright, hot day.  They are both fine, accomplished anglers and I was keen to raise the bar for them and I guess myself.

We fished a few pools as a warm up where they picked up a few trout and then I took them to where I thought and hoped there might be some sea trout that were hunkered down for the day. I dropped Phil into a pool and talked him through it and took Ian upstream to a similar pool to try his hand. Having left Ian I headed down to Phil and saw a great big grinning face. He had picked up a sea trout, his first on a fly, and was over the moon. Ian wasn’t quite so lucky this time but has managed the feat on a few other occassions.

I met the guys later on and we headed for the coast. There had been a bit of wind but as we headed to our mark the wind just stopped for a few minutes and the bass started showing. It didn’t take them long to connect and Ian was on to his first fly caught bass.  The fishing started coming thick and fast but as the tide gathered momentum the bites eased off. It really was a great day of fishing and a few milestones achieved.  I guess Phil achieved some sort of Grand Slam which is do-able even when more traditional ways of getting one might have been easier but it was much more fun this way!

Phil has sent me some photos which I am having problems uploading so Phil if you are reading can you send them again please?!

I’ll post them when I get them but in the meantime I have popped a pic up of a painting that Charlie did for me for Father’s Day, it is one I really love and hope you do too.

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Fly Fishing Guide and Grass…..

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Our new little lake, despite being newly dug in Feb has settled down really nicely. The clarity has been great allowing those we have taken fishing to be able to see and observe the fish and the hatches of buzzers have been fantastic, we have even had caddis the last week or so. I have today off (Sunday) and despite just a touch of rain the grass has shot up and I thought it needed a bit of a trim. It didn’t take long and I’m really pleased with how it looks and how quickly everything has matured.

To be honest I thought it might take a fair bit longer but I am really thrilled with the results.  It has already become a place where newcomers have caught their first fish and it has been a great location for fly casting lessons too. I asked the guys with the diggers to cut the promontaries so they are ideal for roll casting and spey casting purposes and the guys dug the lake to 12 ft in depth so in these warm conditions the fish have somewhere comfortable to hide up until the sun is off of the water.

It has been another great little addition to our fly fishing school and being right on the doorstep of the hotel saves our guests having to head for a public fishery.

Emma and I had a quick look at the river and my hope was the rain we have had might bring the water up and a few salmon with it. I was messing about but Em said she thought she saw a fish come into the pool.  There was an angler staying and fishing the hotel waters who said he saw a salmon move which was, to put it politely, rather sizeable. If you bump into me ask me where it was and what size!

Peter was back again this season. He joined us in early March and despite some tough conditions he did a great job and it was nice to show him the river in a nicer light. It is a real pleasure to see his angling come on each time we meet and he was rewarded with a really nice trout, amongst all of the others, on one of the days we were out. Well done Peter!

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Fly Fishing and Memorable Fish

Monday, July 12th, 2010

As fly fishermen I am pretty sure we all have a fish that we remember well that we can recall every moment of how it all played out. Often it will be the one that got away that sticks in the memory just as well and kind of haunts you for a while. I still know one that my good pal and fishing buddy Ray lost on the Wye several years ago and I think it still gets to him a bit despite being the most relaxed guy I know.

David and his first fly caught fish

Probably the ones we remember the most though are the landmark first fish and a big one. I have a great story to tell about Tom who works at the Hotel where the Fishing School is based. He is mad keen about fly fishing and has really got into it in a big way this year. It has been really nice to hear his tales of fishing trips to the river and to a still water fishery he likes to frequent over a coffee before I start work.

Alexander into a fish!

He came fishing a few nights ago when I was out looking for sea trout myself. It was nice to spend time on the water with him and to see what a nice little caster and fisherman he is. Sadly there wasn’t much going on and we called it a day but he was out the next night and when I turned up for work it was great to hear how he had got on.

Fishing the same beat we’d hit the night before he had seen a swirl and covered it with a large Hare’s Ear. The fish took without hesitation and he found himself attached to a large sea trout. After a long tussle and a broken net he had landed a sea trout that was weighed at 8 3/4lb. To top it all it was his first sea trout and one I doubt he will ever forget.

Paul into another fish!

It is a really nice story and it could easily end there but there is more. Emma and I were having dinner with some guests and Tom was serving dinner. After we had ordered he placed a folded piece of paper in front of me. I opened up and saw a picture of him holding a trout from a stillwater fishery of 21lb!

Talk about “on fire”! The guy is white hot at the moment and it is so nice to see him telling anglers at the hotel about both his fish. Tom, well done fella!

Despite the lack of water the fishing has been pretty good and we have had some amazing hatches of caddis from about 3.15 pm onwards.  The catch board at the hotel for trout is through 600 and we look to be on target to match last years totals and I have barely had the chance to add anything to the total myself but it is so nice being on the water with anglers and seeing them tempt our beautiful Taw trout.

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Fly Fishing on Dartmoor

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

I love to head up on to Dartmoor and fish the many and varied small streams that are found up there. My preference is to head high and fish the smallest pieces of water I can find and to fish the small pockets that are formed between rocks as the stream takes a step down. It never ceases to amaze me that the smallest of these pockets are often home to a trout and sometimes one a little bigger than you might be expecting.

Looking downstream

The typical size of fish is in the 5 to 6 inch range but despite their size they know how to fight dirty and will give you a scrap way beyond their size.

Dartmoor brown trout

I was lucky enough to get up there recently with my good pal Toby. I had recently bought some tying gear from his Funky Fly Tying Range (www.funkyflytying.co.uk) and having tied up a few patterns thought it only right that we road tested them before I use them for my guests. There is nothing worse than lavishing time on a fly that you are convinced will work and then, when you tie it on when fishing, it fails to deliver. I think I have written in the blog before that I only have three criteria for my flies. Firstly, they are quick to tie, secondly they work and lastly that if they get hung up in a tree I don’t mourn their loss. I am sure part of this is still down to my “rustic” style of tying though!

Toby had not fished Dartmoor before and despite him being an excellent fisherman I wanted to take him to some of my favourite spots and then the plan was to just keep walking and see what we could find.

The day could not have been more perfect. Warm and overcast and not a hint of wind. It is often the case there is a firm downstream wind when I jump out of the truck but today could not have been more perfect. I’ll often use a 10ft 4wt rod to enable me to keep line off of the water and to almost dap my fly into a likely spot but it was just a fun day. With us not  being motivated by numbers of fish we thought it would be fun to fish lighter lines on short rods and see how we got on.

After a 1/2 hour walk I dropped Toby into a pool and stood back and watched. He expertly dropped his fly into the right spot and a fish liked his fly and Toby was off and running with his first Dartmoor trout. It is always great to be a part of a new landmark for a fisherman and although not a huge one in the grand scheme of things it was still cool to see it happen.

A Dartmoor first for Toby!

I watched for a bit longer and then thought I had better get fishing. I like fishing dry flies up there and had a size 20 klink tied in my scruffy style with loosely dubbed substitute grey seals fur. I don’t carry much by way of flies when I fish up there.  Small and black usually covers the bases.

I unstrung the 3 wt and stepped into a pool. I’d been on the river most days but it had been in a work capacity meaning I hadn’t held a rod to fish with in a little while. I know how fast these fish were and with Toby down stream of me I knew he’d let me know if my strike was a little slow!

I threw a cast into a slightly slower, deeper part of a pool and a fish was on the fly almost immediately. Thankfully my reflexes were up to the job and I was in. It was good to hear a cheer from Toby as he saw me bring the fish in. The great thing about fishing together on such small pools is that you can easily leapfrog each other as long as you stay well back from the pool your buddy is about to fish as these fish are as spooky as they get.

Toby heads up stream

It was really interesting seeing the different way we would both approach a pool. Toby likes to throw a slightly longer line whereas I’ll have a minimal amount out and quickly work a pool. We have spoken about this before and the really neat thing is that both methods work really well. I’m a huge believer that if it works, go for it! We talked about it some more when we had lunch and decided that it was about getting the fly into the right spot. If you did that  the take would be pretty much straight away, so as long as you are primed and set when the fly touches the water you are in business!

The lack of rain meant the water was low and even a well presented fly would be enough to send fish scattering for cover in the slower sections of pools. As the day progressed and there was more by way of hatches then the fish were more confident and our success improved.I concentrated on the slightly faster stretches and seams of pools where I thought the fish would have less time to analyse a fly.

Just a few nice little pools....

We headed for one of my most favourite spots, where the river drops more steeply and there was more pocket water to fish. Toby went to work and picked up a fish and I jumped upstream of him to a spot I liked the look of. It was not a big pool but had a nice deep section with the current running right up against some really big rocks. I flipped my fly in and it was taken straight away. I am not sure who was the more surprised but the the fish certainly reacted more quickly and headed up the pool and in to a crevice where we were parted. Toby had seen what had happened and we both knew it was a good fish but I am from the “better to have loved and lost” school than letting a lost fish get to me.

Toby gets ready for action!

I’m not sure how many fish we had but it didn’t really matter. We’d had a great time and made the long walk back to my truck. The great thing about Dartmoor is the sheer expanse of water to fish. We didn’t see another fisherman and managed to fish miles and miles of water.

It was one of those days you just want to eek the most out of so over a coffee at a service station we decided to hit the Taw for some more trout, have a bite to eat and then hit the river for the off chance of some sea trout. We threw in the towel at midnight and had covered plenty of miles and caught plenty of fish. Did we get lucky with the sea trout?That will keep for another story!

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