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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Archive for March, 2011

In the ring of the rise……..

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Thursday was a turning point for the change from early season fishing to the fish getting into the spots where you would expect, and hope, them to be. We’ve had some pretty good hatches of large dark olives, medium olives and some nice march browns too just to spice things up a bit.

MFD works his magic

The low, clear water along with good hatches has meant the fish have had more than half an eye on what is going on at the surface, but as ever the good old pheasant tailed bead head does the business when fishing deeper.

Rob covers a riser

I thoroughly enjoyed our casting day yesterday. I think it is better to call it a casting and fishing techniques dayas we packed loads in to the morning covering casts for the rivers and methods of fishing; both more modern along with traditional. We had 4 of us instructing and Emma taking some pictures as there was a good turnout. We then headed in for a well earned carvery and a team fishing session afterwards. Although I am on the water most days I didn’t fish a great deal last year so I am going to do my best to see if I can do a bit more. It was nice landing a good 11 incher though!

John covers the far bank

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Fly Fishing in Devon has started!

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Sometimes it felt like it was never coming, but the season is upon us at last. I marked it with heading down to the hotel to meet up with a bunch of anglers looking to get the season started. Over coffee I sorted the beats and then everyone headed off in search of trout.

Nigel and some open day flies!

It had been a clear night and it was cool to start with, but as the day progressed fish were starting to be caught. There were a dozen anglers out on the water and it was nice to all meet up for lunch and then a post fish drink too. The really nice thing was that everyone caught fish and,, most importantly had a good time. Hatches weren’t heavy during the day as can often be the case this early on. We all saw a few large dark olives and some medium olives too.

Carol swings some spiders on a guided day

I have a casting demo coming up for a fishing club close to my heart. I have done it now for at least 6 years ( I think) but it is great to get people interested in casting and, of course, the important bit – the fishing. It has sort of evolved over this time and started as an out and out casting day with tips and advice but has sort of become a bit more than that. I try and cover fishing techniques and ways of getting the most out of our tackle, and also how to fish more effectively throughout the season. We are always trying to push things on to make it more interesting for those attending. I can’t wait as we have lots of things to show our guests!

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We’re under starters orders!

Monday, March 14th, 2011

So the 2011 trout season is almost upon us. I can’t work out if it feels like a long time since I fished the Taw or not, but one thing is for sure I’ll be fishing there tomorrow.

We’re having a bit of a get together to mark the season as we did last year and it will be great to meet faces old and new to mark the occassion. I was teaching this morning and walked one of the beats with a couple of hotel guests who will be joining us tomorrow. The river is low and clear and it was nice to see the odd large dark olive put in an appearance.

Jamie plays a fish!

I’m hoping the cloud that has come in will keep the temps higher than last night as we had a pretty heavy frost. It doesn’t matter though; I’m happy to be out and on the river again.

Casting tuition has been taking up time and it was great to meet Jamie last Friday. He is a self taught fisherman who had done a really good job with his casting too. We worked on just a few things that really seemed to help add a few feet to distance, along with good presentation.

Bob watches Steve make a spey cast

I have also been busy working on spey casting with single handed rods. It is often thought that the spey is just used for fishing big salmon rivers with double handed rods but this just isn’t the case and can be a great addition to the casting armoury. Steve was back again and we worked on a few spey casts that would be useful for his river trout fishing.

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Thursday, March 10th, 2011

It amazes me sometimes how we go about things in a complicated manner when we are  trying to convey a simple point. Fly casting can sometimes be like this and making things uncomplicated and easy to understand allows the learning process to be an easy one.

I have been doing a fair bit of casting tuition over the last few weeks and a phrase I seem to be using a lot is “the line follows the rod tip” it sounds obvious but if you can get a student to grasp that from an early stage it really does help and make a difference. By just demonstrating a forward cast and showing an exaggerated low stop with the rod tip right at the water conveys a lot especially when the line hits the water like a bag of spanners. You can do the same with a back cast too. You use excessive wrist break and the line follows that rod on a downward path into the grass.

Richard gets to grips with single handed speys

I was also teaching an advanced angler the other day who is going to be fishing one of my favourite rivers upcountry and wanted some help with learning some slack line casts. Again, using the same phrase of line following the rod tip he was soon making wiggle casts with ease and putting mends into his cast whereever he wanted. We had great fun coming up with combinations for the ultimate drag free drift.

The drag free drift maestro!

I know there are lots of other elements involved to make a good cast, but this was one that seemed to crop up a lot of late and worked really well with the learning process. I’m from the school of keep it simple!

The trout season is almost upon us and the wind has shifted from the chilly North Easterly we have had of late. It is still blowing a bit but I’m just in from some gentle pruning and making sure access points are all looking good for the off….can’t wait!

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Fly Fishing in Devon 2011 and a bit of 1953

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Life is full of little twists and turns and sometimes a series of events all seem to drop into place perfectly into a perfectly formed, completed jigsaw.

Something like this has happened over the last few days to me. I was at the hotel talking to some early season salmon anglers who turned out to live just where my parents do. No big coincidence there but next day I was at the hotel ahead of pruning some of the banks when Nick the hotel owner showed me a copy of a book they had left behind for him to read. It turns out that one of them had “liberated” it from a hotel he was staying in while on a trip to San Francisco.

The book, called Where to Fish, is a 1953 edition and just inside is an advert for the hotel where we are based: the Fox and Hounds. It even says that it was possible to get a train from Waterloo Station in London direct to Eggesford. This probably doesn’t either sound much or mean a great deal either but Eggesford Station is now just a little provincial station where a 2 carriage train stops once an hour.

So this is a nice little start to things. Next though,yesterday Emma and I decided to take the train from Eggesford to Barnstaple instead of making the drive in. It is a great journey for the fly angler as the train follows the Taw all the way. I think it was a little embarrassing for Emma as I jumped from side to side of the carriage as the river turns and twists its way to the sea. It was great to see the water I work on from a different perspective and further down the river I even saw a couple of anglers out on the water.

We did a little wander around Barnstaple and decided to head back. We quickly darted into WH Smith as I like to keep up to date with the fishing magazines and as we walked out of the door I saw a little section of local books. The cover of one had a guy fishing on the cover so I called back Emma and popped back in.

I flipped open the cover and saw that it was a collection of essays regarding fishing trips a gentleman had made over his fishing career. The one that caught my eye was 20 odd pages about fishing the  Taw at the Fox and Hounds. At  over 200 pages and in hardback the £2.99 seemed pretty fair and made it even cheaper than all the magazines, so I bought it.

When we got home I sat down with a cup of tea and opened the book at the Fox and Hounds chapter. The next spooky bit was the the writer first visited the hotel in 1953, the same year as the book I picked up the other day.

I have to be honest and say when I bought the book I was guessing it was going to be one of those “it wasn’t like that in my day” sort of affairs, but it wasn’t. It probably won’t mean much to most people but I read the chapter intently as it describes the fishing down all of the beats. It was so nice reading about pools that I have come to know so well and see how the writer used to fish them. I even picked up a tip on how he used to fish one of them!

I don’t think I would have noticed this book unless it was placed right by the door as I hardly ever go in the book section at Smiths.

The writer, Peter Harvey, was born in 1921 but the book was published in 2006 so I have contacted the publisher to see if they can try and put me in touch with him (if he’s still alive as he’d be 90 now) as I would really love to talk to him about the times he used to fish on the water so my fingers are crossed that he gets my message. I’ll keep you posted.

The book has some other sections about his fishing experiences so I’ll have a read of those too. It probably won’t mean a lot to a lot of people but just in case it does here are the details.

So, there are just 11 days til the trout season starts…getting excited?

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