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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Fly Fishing Guide’

The name isn’t important

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

I seem to have a really bad case of the fly fishing bug right now. I wake up just as it is getting light and start thinking about the day ahead on the river.

I was due to meet my pal Toby to fish a small stream at 10am. The reason for this was that up until a few days ago it had still been a little chilly early on and getting on the water early didn’t make a lot of sense. Like I say, that was until we had some sun and warm temps too.

I’d been up and at my computer getting the last bits of Eat, Sleep, Fish ready since 6.30am and decided I’d wait until 8ish before I called. It turned out to be 7.45 or 7.47 to be exact. I got his voicemail and left a message. A few minutes later my phone ran and I was soon in my car.

Toby was there just a few minutes before me and we were soon putting our waders on. He said he thought we should just fish dries and I was happy to follow suit.

We walked to the first pool and he gallantly let me have first crack. The water was clear and we both watched the first trout of the day take a look at my fly and eat it.

Tobys ‘glass rod was bent soon after as he had hooked a good fish.

We strolled up the river taking it in turns to have a go at either rising fish or working likely looking water.

We were briefly joined by a pal of Tobys, Mike, who knows the river well. I had met him once before and while we chatted we watched Toby pull out 3 or maybe 4 fish from a run.

The rises were all confident ones that meant some of those early season mistimed strikes were not going to happen. Seeing the fish in crystal clear water helped too.

I’ve no idea how many fish we caught but I think we caught our fair share.

As we got into our cars to leave I have a feeling he may well of headed off to try somewhere else. I hope he did.

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Opening time

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

March 15th has felt a long time coming but when I got up the weather wasn’t as good as the previous day but on checking the river it was perfectly fishable.

We were due to meet at 9.30am but I knew some of the guys would be a little early and it made me smile to see my buddy RFH just a few cars in front of me at 8.15am. I think he had slept as much as me the previous night and was equally excited.

Coffee drunk and beats sorted we hit the water in search of trout. We caught some too and the day finished perfectly with a couple of drinks and some fishing banter.

I am just writing an article for Eat, Sleep, Fish that will be out early April.

The next day was my first proper one of the new season and on checking the webcam I saw the river up 4ft.

Brett was cool about it and we spent the morning casting and we arranged for him to come back in May. Hopefully conditions will be a little more friendly when he hits the river for the first time!

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Feeling it…

Monday, August 20th, 2012

The river has been out of sorts again and after tying flies over Saturday I was hitting the Taw on Sunday. As the river still had a tinge of colour and some height, bugs were the choice and my trusty PTNs were the flies of choice. I did pretty well and had some nice fish, infact they were biting really well and I had a good number before I headed back home for lunch.

Emma suggested I hit another river in the afternoon and so I did just that. This one takes a little longer to clear and had just a little morre height than I normally like. My flies were getting down but it didn’t feel right so I made a decision to head off back to the Taw and a different beat. The one I chose is fed by a trib of the Taw and that was still pushing a little and by fishing just off of the flow I hit a few trout.

I walked upstream a little to a spot that I like to guide for daytime sea trout. Just below it is one of my favourite salmon pools. As I was fishing for the trout I kept a eye on the salmon pool as it is a place where they will often show. I realised I was getting that niggling feeling, the water was good it was really humid, it’ll only take a me 10 mins to walk back to the truck and get the salmon gear out and ready. “Sod it”. I did just that and was soon back making a few casts. It felt right.

About 4 casts later the line went tight and I lifted into a salmon. It was a strong fish that I could already tell had been in the river a little. I played the fish just the right side of a little hard as I wanted to make sure it got back.

You have to excuse the photo as I netted the salmon, took a quick snap and made sure it got back quickly.

It’s funny how often your gut tells you something and more often than not it is quite correct!

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Fishing with friends

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Spending time on the water with good friends is something I really enjoy. These sorts of days aren’t heavy on fishing, well, not always but are about good company. Sometimes good food, more often than not unhealthy and of course a few fish.

I met someone at the hotel the other day who had been staying and doing some fishing. I’d been washed off the river (again) for a day’s guiding but thought I’d rig up a rod for salmon just in case. I asked David what he had planned and he was heading off home at lunchtime so I asked if he fancied tagging along. He did and we hit where I thought we might have our best chance. When we got to the river we both knew it was against us as the fish would struggle to see our fly but we didn’t care. We had a great few hours that was interspersed with sharing fishing stories. I really enjoyed it.

I also recently met up with Jim for a fish. The weather couldn’t be more different with no clouds and bright sunshine. The river we were fishing still had some height and was pushing a little and Jim opted (correctly so) to fish nymphs. I hadn’t seen much by way of rising fish on the Taw due to the weather but I just wanted to catch a fish on a dry so stuck with it. We strolled up the river together with me fishing any slower spots that might have a chance of a riser. This plan worked and I managed to have a few and missed a few while the nymph reigned supreme. It was a great day I thoroughly enjoyed.

Keep an eye out for Eat, Sleep, Fish next week. We’ll be publishing it then and hope you’ll enjoy it. As ever, if you do, please pass it on to your fishing friends!

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Fly Fishing Devon

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

The weather is cold, the wood burner is alight and I could talk about tying a few flies or I could go and do some fishing. I decided on the later as I think tying is a cop out when I am sitting here in what most of us would call a perfect grayling day.

Tie flies or go fishing?

It turned out to be a couple of day’s fishing and I am so glad I went. The fishing was excellent, the company brilliant and all in all I had a great time. I had arranged to meet my friend Dean who was keen to pop his chalkstream grayling and had come down from South Yorkshire to do so.

First day was just above zero but after meeting up we were soon in waders and in to fish. Dean is a catching machine and works the water methodically and so effectively. I followed him up the river and everytime I looked up his rod was bent. As a host there is nothing more pleasing and it saved me hopping out of the river to see how he was doing. I even bumped into RFH who was fishing just a bit downstream who wanted to have a go of my rod. He was trotting maggots and I secretly think he regretted not having his fly rod with him.

The fishing switched off just after 4pm but Dean and I carried on for a half hour or so, just to be sure and had a quick drink in the bar before having a hot shower and some dinner. Well, that was the plan and we didn’t really get back to our rooms and Emma, Dean and I rolled back to our rooms just before midnight having eaten and drank well.

With a slightly heavy head I poked my head out of the window to see that the snow had continued overnight and it couldn’t have looked prettier. Dean put any signs of a hangover aside and was on fire. I wish I could say I was the same but held up my end with a few fish too, although he hooked a bunch of grayling out of a hole I’d not managed but I was too fragile to put on the heavier fly that was needed. Well, thats my excuse!

All in all it was a great couple of days and again it is why I love fishing so much. Sharing a few fish and beers with good friends. Now where is my vice?!

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Fly Fishing in Devon

Friday, December 9th, 2011

As a full time fly fishing guide I am often asked what I do in the winter. There are a few things but one of the main couple are to replenish my fly boxes and secondly I get to go fishing.

I have been out on a few trips recently that I’ve written about and I was getting some gear rigged up for my next days fishing. This time of year I really enjoy fishing nymphs and where I am fishing the water is low and clear and it lends itself really well to french nymphing. I was getting the leader on my reel and felt a tugging at the end. Despite fighting the urge to strike I saw that one of our cats was having some fun with the long leader as I got it rigged up. What I didn’t realise was how much fun she had and had bitten rather a lot of it and it was one of those sickening moments when you can see the marks on the leader and when you give it a gentle tug it parts. Sadly there were quite a few of these and I had to bin it. She has this butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth looks and so I couldn’t get angry plus she had been well trained with my chop stick and string casting routine which meant she had gotten pretty good at catching the line when I tried to curve it around her.

The Leader Muncher

The other thing I like to do is tie flies when it means I can’t go fishing. It is one of those things that I have to be in the mood for and I’ll sit and tie a bunch of flies or I have been thinking about the season just gone and have thought ” I wonder if I tie it like this it might work better ” Today has been one of those days and I have had a few “brainwaves” I have come up with a few ideas that I’ll try soon for a quicker sinking nymph (not just extra weight), a new sort of mayfly emerger and a fly that I think is a whole lot better for using as part of a duo or trio set up. It is easy to tie and I have just tweaked the early prototypes I used last week. I find it more fun to try and tie something to fit the purpose rather than hearalding the latest fly from a fly company as the latest and greatest. It is also good to show the people you are guiding why you are tying on the fly and why you have tied it rather than just tying on a parachute adams ( great fly though) and hoping for the best.

It is a nice feeling when sometimes the flies you have thought about during the winter layoff actually work in a real life situation. Not always the case though and I have had what I thought were perfect for the role flies hidden away in the crevices of my fly box!

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Thanksgiving sea trout

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Emma and I made our second trip out to Denmark to see Ray (The Dude), his wife Christina and their daughter Mia for Thanksgiving. It has turned into a really nice tradition and this year was our 11th . It might appear a little strange that 2 Brits and a Dane are joining an American to celebrate a strictly American affair but it harks back to the days when The Dude lived in the U.K. and was a long way from home so we thought it would be fun to hook up and help celebrate.

Last year we got snowed out but this year it was mild and after some excellent turkey and pumpkin pie we headed out on Sunday to go to a Christmas fair at a nice place that was an old monestary with a mill which meant there had to be a river nearby.

Dude and Al with a NZ fish

The girls headed off to learn how to make a few Christmas decorations and Dude and I headed off to a hall area where they were serving coffee. We sat talking and noticed that the hall started to fill and they had wheeled out a piano. It turned out that there was going to be a few carols being sung. We thought it might be nice to hear but we both slightly panicked when they started handing out song sheets. This didn’t look good. There is no way I would inflict my singing voice on anyone. I remember when I was at school and the music teacher thought I was singing out of tune on purpose. Since then I do my best Cheryl Cole impression and move my lips to the music.

Just to make things worse though the words were in Danish. The lady at the front started to show everyone the warming up excersises before launching into the first song with great enthusiasm. The assembled crowd were loving it as Dude and I just looked at each other. I have never heard Dude sing but knowing he is now fluent in Danish made me think his vocal talents were similar to mine as I didn’t hear a note come from his lips either.

Now, I pride myself on my manners and I wouldn’t dream of walking out after one song as it would have been rude but how long are you supposed to wait? 40 minutes later I saw the leading lady walk behind the piano to grab something and thought that was our window to escape. We made our exit.

Checking on the girls, they were still doing their decorations so I suggested to Dude that we head outside to look at the stream. It was pretty small and clear but I saw a large splash. The light wasn’t great and I had no sunglasses to see what it was. As the sun was in our faces we headed to the other bank through a mass of trees so we might get a better look. We couldn’t see anything but walking upstream a bit Ray saw one big sea trout then another. I’d missed them but was dying to get my first glimpse of a Danish fish. To do this I did something I haven’t done in a while and that was climb a tree. Some of the magic was still there and I managed to get up high enough to give me a better view of the river and I saw a few fish. They were big.

We walked further upstream. By now my shoes and jeans were caked in mud but we saw a guy standing in the water by a small footbridge. We saw a few more people and some were holding nets. We then saw what was going on.

It turns out they had been electro fishing the river for sea trout and then milking them for eggs. They fertilise them and bring them on in their own little hatchery. It was a great little operation and we got to see some real big sea trout up close. The guys belong to a fishing club which, when we got back to Dude’s, we looked up. The great thing is that the club is based right by where Dude lives so I am hopeful he will have some guys to go fishing with.

Just back from some grayling fishing and yesterday was the first day it felt cold. There were just the slightest hint of a small hatch every time the wind dropped and Toby and I even had a few fish take a look at the dry.

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Exe-cellent Grayling

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

I have been giving some thought to the whole “being cool” thing after a few amusing phone calls and emails after the last blog. It is funny that in our little world of fly fishing, what we consider what looks good might to others look ridiculous. I have also come to the conclusion that I am not too bothered either way. I like to wear brighter colours when fishing and in most situations I am fishing I am approaching the fish from behind so it doesn’t really matter that much but in my little mind it is nicer to wear clothes other than green or khaki.

I also remember when Ray (The Dude) and I were sorting out our trip to NZ and we got all hot and bothered about not having the right drab coloured lines that are mostly required down there. It is funny how these things permeate down and we suddenly find that these are the only things that will work, although I did speak to a guide down there before we went who told me he fished a bright orange line that he reckoned had no impact on his catches. It is that sort of thinking I always like. The long shot stuff that you just can’t help but want to prove wrong. Not to ram home a point or anything but just to see if it will work for your own satisfaction. This isn’t the best example though as Dude and I went for the drab lines just in case but if we go back I’ll give it a go with an orange line.

Jo in action

An example of a case nearer to home is Roadford. Roadford is a 700 odd acre lake that is brown trout only. It opened some time in the ’80s and is a place I used to love to fish. Somehow, some perch got in there and they did rather well. Now, it is seen as a bit of a shadow of its former self and whenever Roadford is mentioned in fishing circles the word perch will be in the same sentence or not far behind. As a result of the perch the fishermen are not fishing there like they used to. To me this is a a real shame as it is such a great place and the trout are still there but not so many fishermen. I was told that it had been fishing well of late so I hope it gets the benefit of the doubt next year. To me though this is another case of how things are percieved and so it is taken as how it is.

Anyway, back to bright stuff. My new orange fishing jacket ( a drab orange of course) was packed in the truck as I had been invited to fish the Exe with my friend Jo. It has been a long standing invite but work had meant I hadn’t had the chance but the water was low and clear and the sun was shining. Coming back to Roadford for a second Jo told me he had gone up there to catch some perch as he likes to eat them but he couldn’t stop catching bloody trout!

I had set up with a 10ft 3wt and my new favourite 8ft 4″ 2wt. It turned out that I left the long rod back by the truck as we ended up fishing dries to rising fish for a large part of the day. Jo had mentioned that the grayling could be tricky and he was right. A lot of them would try and drown the dry as it came past them. I thought I would be clever and downsize the fly but the same thing was happening and when I went even smaller they ignored it completely. It is these sorts of things I really enjoy trying to work out and a size 18 sparkle dun with a long trailing shuck was the right fly. We shared a rod and took it in turns catching a few fish. Towards the end of the day Jo took me to one of his favourite pools where there were some good fish rising. I covered one and missed it and then hooked what felt like a hefty fish. It came off. Funnily enough we both said the same word at the same time.

I don’t get to fish the Exe much these days. It is a great river and one I hope to get to fish again soon.

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Fly Fishing in Devon

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

I’ve just looked up and we’re nearly in September, has it gone that fast?

It seems like it to me. Not that I am sitting here doing a retrospective of the year just yet. On that front though I have already handed out my award for new bit of tackle of the year award and that goes to my Helios 8ft 4″ 2wt. It is just such a good bit of gear. I have been fishing 1 and 2 wt rods for many years but I haven’t got my hands on one that I would use just like a 3 or 4wt. It rammed the fact home to me the other day when fishing with Ray (The Dude) when I was casting a good sized nymph into a deep pot that had two 2.5mm tungsten beads on without a problem at all. I keep saying the thing feels like a 4wt and I treat it like one but it just comes back for more!

Anyway, shameless plugs aside it has been a really interesting time on the water. The fishing has been interesting and challenging at the same time. I guess I am a sucker for punishment but it is really, really good fun working out what these fish want and where they want it. The hatches, at the moment, are more trickles and can switch on and off pretty quickly which means I have been dragging people off one stretch to another to gain the best of the fishing. It is one of the advantages of having plenty of water to show people, and it really does help.

I have also noticed the fish have not been hitting the fly with the same sort of vigour as they did. I’m sorry but I don’t subscribe to the “they have seen a load of flies” theory it is just how it has gone recently. I know anglers like to blame themselves when they miss a strike or think they have pulled out of a fish. Sometimes the fish just miss it or just don’t fully commit. I think it has been the latter over the past couple of weeks, but more settled, slightly warmer weather might just change things a bit.

John has one on a caddis!

I had a cancellation the other day that was booked in Jan. I think this is one of the first signs of how tough things are out there that we have seen and it hurt us a bit from a lost revenue perspective but I guess when the guy first booked he hadn’t figured how bad it might get. I wasn’t told this but it I am reading between the lines. I know, we should take a deposit. Well, it is the first time it has happened and we like to run a more relaxed business and I know when people want to go fishing they always turn up.

The upside is that I get to go fishing and that is not a bad consolation. I know where I am going to head and am looking forward to it.

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The Dude is in the building!

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

I have just finished a few days fishing with my fishing buddy Ray (The Dude). He was over from his new base in Denmark for some fishing and hadn’t really picked up a rod for a while. I had been thinking how long it had been since we had chucked a line together and I reckon it was in Montana last year.

He had flown into Heathrow so we thought it only right that we started with a day on the chalkstream and so we headed to a venue that we have spent so many happy times fishing. I went up early as we were going to fish the next day and stayed in the most excellent Grayling House B & B. Grayling House is owned by Rick and his wife Lorraine. I remember the first time I stayed there and Rick answered the door in a Simms fishing shirt and I knew I was in the right place. The rooms and breakfast are also stunning.

Rick pops one back

As The Dude wasn’t due ’til later I asked Rick if he fancied a fish for a few hours, which he leapt at. We strolled up the river casting to rising fish and caught a few nice ones. As well as running an fantastic B & B, Rick is an excellent fisherman, fly tyer and great company on the river too. If you are in the Salsibury area look them up, it is worth it!

The Dude had arrived and had sniffed us out on the river and as it was dark we thought it best to head to the pub for dinner and a few drinks.

Another one for Dude

End of day grayling

Next morning the sun was out and the fish were rising. Dude was in to fish straight away and I watched him pick up trout and grayling. I got into the river and followed him upstream, thankful that he’d left me a few fish to catch. There was one run I was watching him fish and it looked to me like it was almost a fish a cast!

As with every proper fishing trip we ate some junk for lunch then had a tailgate dinner which for Ray was a Chinese and for me one of the best fish and chips I think I have ever had. It looked as though things were getting cooler and quieter at 7pm but the bugs and the fish got a second wind and we fished on late before heading down the A303.

For the Devon leg of the trip I wanted to show Dude some places he hadn’t fished before, so on the first day we headed to the river that shan’t be named. It was cloudy with some light rain when we left home but when we got there the cloud stayed but it warmed. Perfect. I hung back and watched Dude get off of the mark and then went up and found some water to fish. Dude told me he had been reading the latest Gierach offering and he had mentioned that when fishing with a buddy he would leave 3 large stones in an obvious place where he had got in so that his fishing buddy knew where to get out. We tried it and it works really well. The day was perfect and we fished long and hard and just had a packet of chocolate biscuits for lunch.

A fish from the nameless river

under the tree Dude!

A fish for me from the nameless river

Planning for the last day was easy. We had always planned a trip up to Dartmoor but other trips had got in the way, so this was to be the destination. Weather was ideal and the first stream we headed to had some great pocket water that I know the Dude likes to fish. After a sausage roll (we’d had a barbie the previous evening so there were a couple left over) we fished Cherry Brook. I love Cherry Brook. Although small it is easy to think that there are only small fish in there but I have seen some real hogs that have come after smaller fish that my guests have hooked. I even let out an expletive when I saw this and spent the rest of the day apologising!

Picking a pocket

It is also easy to think that you need to fish tiny flies on Dartmoor. While this is often the case, the monster 14 1/2 incher we had the other week was on a size 14 and Dude fished a 16 on the first stream we fished but we did go down to a 20 for Cherry. The fish don’t read the books!

Dartmoor trout

We walked, talked and fished. It was such a good day with rising fish and we headed back for an ice cream and last look at the river. Where we stopped there were people, dogs and just about everything else and the fish were still rising just beside them I guess they just get used to it all. The hardest part would have been trying to make a cast with all the tourists about.

Cherry Brook trout

So that is the trip. It was great, as ever, to fish with Dude I miss him so much now that he lives abroad but we are already planning another trip. His daughter Mia is showing an interest in fishing and Mia if you are reading I hope you’ll join us one day!

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