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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Fly Fishing School Devon’

Bashing the Balsam

Friday, June 6th, 2014

The mays are hatching, we have been flat out guiding and the Himalayan Balsam season has started. We try out best to keep it under control but it seems to creep up on you.

At the start of the week I made a note that it might need some attention and then a few days later it was like the day of the triffids.

DSCN0858

Emma and I popped down and went to work on one of the beats that suffers the most and having read Theo Pike’s excellent new book I went armed with a scythe like some sort of angling grim reaper and a lot more knowledge.

Emma at work

Emma at work

We usually just pull the stalks and Emma went for that option but Theo says it is OK to cut it as long as it is below the first node of the stalk so thats what I did. The only time I have been aware of the word node is when talking bamboo rods so it felt as though there was some sort of angling symmetry.

The grim reaper!

The grim reaper!

The Grim Reaper

The Grim Reaper

We worked hard and long and had a quick lunch at the Fox and Hounds, did some more and although the river level has dropped back there was a bit of colour so I opted for dropping a salmon fly in a few holes. I really enjoy this method of fishing rather than fishing just one pool all season. It tests my skill and knowledge as an angler and is fun too.

There has been a slight delay with Eat, Sleep, Fish as I haven’t had a chance to finish things off but it will be out soon. As a guide, and as it is the busiest time of the year, I’m not spending much time behind a computer keyboard and I doubt any other full time guides are sitting behind keyboards right now, they are out spreading the fly fishing word and the ones I have spoken to are doing just that. I’m pleased.

Pete

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Devon Fly Fishing

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

I had the chance to fish a sweet beat on the Taw for salmon on Sunday. The water was pretty low but I figured there may be some resident fish I might be able to stir up. I managed to irritate one in the morning after ripping something nasty through a pool. I gave it a few more casts, rested the pool for a few moments while I tied on something more subtle to see if I’d annoyed the fish enough to make it bite. I hadn’t.

The highlight for me though was that Emma, my wife, had come down for the morning as she wanted to brush up on her Spey Casting. She’s already is a fine Spey caster and prefers to fish a double hander for salmon rather than a single hander for trout. That having been said I have measured her double hauling a single hander to 70 feet which is really impressive. There were was no signs of rustiness and after a couple of warm ups the line was flying out across the pool.

Issue 18 of Eat, Sleep, Fish is now underway and I have really enjoyed loaded and reading the reader submissions we have this month.

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Obsessive?

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

I don’t think I am an obsessive person, not even mildly although I worry I show signs of it when fishing. I don’t know if you are the same but when I fish a pool and I either know there is a fish in there, or I can see one I need to work out how to catch and it and can’t leave until I have either got a response from the fish or better still caught it. This can sometimes take some time and friends I fish with often shake their heads and walk off as I pursue my quest.

The pool

It happened the other day when I was fishing a stream with a couple of friends Peter and Vince. They had invited me up to fish with them on a tiny, overgrown stream.

Fish 1

The clarity of the water was pretty good and when the sun shone you could see right into the pool. I saw two trout sitting there picking up passing nymph from time to time.

I cast out expecting to catch them. I got a half hearted look from one of the fish but that was it. I changed the way I presented the fly, the pattern, the colour of the bead and a few other things too.

Fish 2

Peter walked up and probably heard me curse a few times as I made what I thought was the perfect drift only for the fly to be ignored. He smiled and walked upstream as I carried on. I wasn’t machine gunning the pool with casts or anything and I made sure I gave the fish a good long rest between casts. They also stayed on station which told me they were perfectly happy.

I had been fishing a 3mm tungsten bead on my nymphs and I felt it had been OK depth wise as the fish had looked at them more than once. I decided as the water had a hint of push to it that I’d go all out for some heavy gear and tied on a caddis pattern that had two, 3mm tungsten beads on.

Vince brings one in

I winced slightly when the fly landed at the head of the pool but it didn’t bother the fish and as it passed the two fish I was targetting a small trout came out of nowhere and took the fly. I carefully got it out of the way, released it and cast out again. This time I lifted the heavy nymph as it came to the fish on the left. It took straight away as did the second fish using the same induced method.

I don’t know how long it took but I don’t really care. In hindsight it probably wasn’t obsessive; perhaps I have an inquisitive nature that makes me want to see what makes the trout tick!

Issue 17 of Eat, Sleep, Fish is underway and should be out early May

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Fly Fishing News

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

We have been working hard on Issue 14 of Eat, Sleep, Fish. Latest news below!

Eat, Sleep, Fish

Back on the Deveron

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

I think this is my 6th year of travelling up to fish the Deveron in Scotland. It is a wonderful river that is often overshadowed by the “big name” salmon rivers but I like it that way. It is the sort of place that is great if you know about it and you shout a bit about it Not too much that it draws too much attention.

This trip was different for a couple of reasons. Firstly that we decided not to fly. I am a little tired of the stealth costs of flying, especially when you are lugging a lot of gear with you. For this reason it made sense that we took the new fishing truck out to stretch its legs and I have always wanted to drive from the bottom of the country to pretty much the top.

The second reason is a pretty significant, and special one. It was to be Emma’s first fishing trip. I can’t really write how exciting this was to me and all the way up my fingers were crossed that we would have a good one.

We decided to split the upward leg of the journey by leaving on Saturday, staying in Kendal in the Lake District and then heading up to Banff on Sunday. Bar the usual traffic problems on the M6 we checked in to the hotel on Saturday night had a good dinner and excellent breakfast the next morning and headed north. That was, of course, before we made the obligatory stop at John Norris in Penrith. They very smartly open on a Sunday and the place was jammed full of fishermen making the trip up to Scotland who were eager to stock up on a few last minute essentials and even a few I saw who were getting completely kitted out for their fishing trips. It really is a nice store with friendly, helpful staff. It sort of reminded me of a store in Colorado The Dude and I visited a few years back that was the sort of place you wanted to visit before hitting the river.

As we made it just over the border into Scotland we passed over the Clyde as it snaked under the motorway. I think it was the third time we passed over it and looked to the left and it looked just like a stream from Mid West America. I really, really liked it!

When we got to the river on Monday it was just dropping, having come up a little. In my experience what usually happens is that after it has coloured it then goes a really dark peaty colour before clearing completely. As we are pretty much at the bottom of the river it means that the fish will run through pretty quick and so the top of the beats is the place to fish. That is where we started. We did see plenty of fresh fish along with a few coloured ones but no joys.

Circle Spey

On Tuesday we were towards the bottom and again we saw some fish but we didn’t really feel like we were in the game. I did have a trout followed next cast by a small sea trout.

Wednesday we were back at the top and in the afternoon Emma and I had the very top beat and the water was starting to just about clear a little. I was fishing a pool lower to Emma but heard her let out a yell and saw the rod briefly buck before a fish came off. I ran up quickly to help but the moment had passed. That was only before I had got back in and again Emma was briefly attached to a fish. The really nice thing was that she just laughed it off and made another beautiful cast.

Covering the water.....

It looked like the fish were on and not long after my line went tight and I lifted into a fish. I was guiding Paul just before we made the trip and he described the salmon he had caught as being plugged in to the electricity. That sounds just about right. Emma netted the fish, abeautiful hen, perfectly which we admired briefly before letting her continue her journey upstream.

One for me....dig the hat!

Thursday and we were back on the very lowest beats. Again Emma cast and fished beautifully and again was briefly attached to a fish that just didn’t stick. I had another small sea trout but despite covering the water well that was it for us.

Friday and the water looked really good but it felt a good deal cooler. Morning was quiet but after lunch it warmed a little and Emma chose her fly and decided the pool she wanted to fish. You know what? She was dead right as the line went tight and she lifted into a fish. I was standing by the truck putting an intermediate tip on my line as I had done with hers as we had fished fast sinkers all week.

The fish was hooked on the lip at the very tail of a pool and Emma expertly played the fish, keeping it under control. I headed out with a net and after a while the fish was netted. We thought we would keep the fish as it was a cock fish and Emma’s first salmon and so after dispatching, we hugged each other and I don’t mind admitting that I had a tear in my eye. It was the perfect moment and after all of the hard work Emma had put in she had been rewarded.

The reward for all of the hard work!

We had planned to fish the morning of the Saturday but thought that we would make the drive home in one go and so didn’t hit the water.

There were so many highlights of the trip but the main one is looking upstream and seeing Emma smile as she watched her line swing through the pool or being upstream of her and hearing her sing as she sent out another beautiful cast.

I don’t think it could have been a better trip. I think that the spinner outfished the fly that week but we wanted to fish the fly. It isn’t a snobbish, or certainly not an elitist thing – we just enjoyed making a nice cast feeling we were covering the water.

The other thing was that you don’t need a whole load of tackle or gear. As long as you can cover the water efficiently you are in with a chance. All we did was use a variety of differing sink tips and had doubles and various tubes. Emma used a Skagit set up which made life easy when you coupled it with a Circle or Double Spey.

Sometimes we get all hot under the collar with technicalities but there just isn’t always the need. We could easily say the Skagit line can land a little heavy on the water but when Emma had her first two takes it was in shallow, relatively clear water and the fish didn’t seem to mind too much. They are the ones who decide if we have done things correctly or not and they certainly don’t care how nice the loop was on the cast or if you have the latest “must have” fly on!

All in all though the fishing wasn’t the easiest but it was the most enjoyable. The truck was excellent (fishingmobile V.3), the food and accommodation outstanding and Emma, thank you so much for making this such a wonderful trip, I don’t think it could have been more perfect.

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Fly Fishing in Devon

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

I can’t remember how many times I have said to myself, Emma and have probably written here too that I intended to do more fishing this year. It hasn’t played out that way but it makes those days when I have a rod in my hand even more special.

It is also great when you get to fish with people that are great company and superb fishermen. Jim Williams ticks both of those boxes for me in a big way. I speak to Jim a fair bit as I think we share the same views about life, business and fly fishing. Namely, that they should all be fun, not complicated, shrouded in mystery and not to be  taken too seriously.

Jim had fished one of the beats here a few years back but I was keen for him to catch a few fish on the Taw and then to head up to Dartmoor the next day. We met at the hotel, had some coffee and hit the river.

It is interesting to watch and learn how other people fish the water you know so well and it was great to see Jim catching fish from the off. As we both had a few days off it wasn’t about catching huge numbers but about sharing the fishing together and enjoying the whole thing. We decided to just fish some dries and see what happened. It worked just fine!

We headed back to mine where Emma had prepared a curry which we wolfed down and then we popped out to have a look for some sea trout. We dropped by the hotel to pick up Daran who I had been guiding for a few days to see if he wanted to tag along. He did and we hit the water. Daran had a good pull off of a fish and I sat back and watched the guys fish. We were all a bit tired so headed back pretty early for a nightcap at the hotel where we ended up talking fishing for a good long time.

Next day I took Jim up to Dartmoor and to a few of my favorite stretches. Once again, within minutes he was in to fish and the pattern pretty much continued. I think we only fished about 3 patterns the whole 2 days but the highlight was watching Jim pick the pocket water of a stretch I like to head to. It was great seeing him enjoy it so much. I have a feeling he’ll be back!

We both like fishing light lines and were both fishing 2wts for the couple of days. I have a new 2wt that I am over the moon with and I think it will be my main rod from now on. Jim is a huge fan of 10ft rods and fishes them almost exclusively. I think he was one of the small handful of people who were first to do so, whereas now they are a common site for me on the river. He really thinks about tackle and what he is trying to achieve with it and puts it to such good effect in both his fishing and teaching.

Jim, it was a real pleasure buddy and I can’t wait to hit the Coln with you. To read Jim’s report and much better photos on our trip click HERE.

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Fly Fishing in Devon

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

I had always had this little fear that when the mayfly was over that the fish had feasted so well that it would take them time to get back into the swing of things again. Thankfully this has not happened and the fish have fed right the way through. Last year I seem to recall that it was black gnat that was the hatch that really got them going again but caddis and Blue Winged Olives have been the main hatches that the fish seem to be most interested in on the Taw.

Dave learns to fly fish a river

The caddis have been pretty heavy starting at around 11am and then stopping for a bit, starting again around lunchtime and then starting and stopping until evening. It has meant that it has looked like all you needed to do is tie on your favourite caddis pattern and go catch all the fish. If only fishing and come to think of it, life, were that easy. It hasn’t been though and just the slightest trickle of BWO’s has been lurking about in the background that has really got the fish going.

We always like to take a bit of time to watch the water but you really need to watch even more closely to see just the smallest of hints that tells you to think a bit more about the fly selection you make.

Interestingly we are still getting some pretty good numbers of mays coming off but the fish seem to just ignore them now. How is it they can gorge on these big flies and then just switch off of them? Is it just a case that you can get too much of a good thing?

I was lucky enough to be out guiding Paul last week and I know he has had a really busy time looking after his wife Margaret after an operation and project managing a house rennovation. He was dying for a day of fishing and so I took him out to cast a fly at a few fish. Despite not having the chance to get a fly rod in his hands for a bit he fished liked a demon and had plenty, including picking up a well earned sea trout. Really, really well done Paul!

Well done Paul!

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Fly Fishing Lessons

Monday, April 25th, 2011

It feels as though we have entered a really busy period over the last few weeks with plenty of anglers out on the water with our team having a good time and catching a few fish.

Dan into one of our rainbows

The grannom hatch has been really good and we have taken advantage of it but now it feels and looks like that is over and medium and lighter olives are on the trout’s menu.

Elizabeth lets one fly!

Lottie covers a likely run

Mark releases a fiesty Taw brown

There are some big sea trout on the hotel waters and I’ll get down and have a go at them soon. I also took out my good friend and fellow instructor and guide Brett and his friend Simon. They were down for Simon’s brithday celebrations and wanted to see if they could connect with a bass or two. It felt like it might be a little early but they were game and although they didn’t catch big numbers Brett managed 3 fish which was a great start to my saltwater guiding this year!

Brett and a bass!

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River Taw fly fishing

Friday, April 8th, 2011

It is always nice to get to fish or guide on a new water. I was down on the south side of the Moor to meet up with David who has over 1 1/2 miles of some really nice water and wanted to see how we would approach and fish it for migratory fish. It was a really nice piece of water with a mixture of deep, shaded, slow pools that looked the ideal spot for sea trout and some classic salmon pools too. David covered it and fished it really well. It was one of those bits of water that, despite the water being low, you are always in with a chance.

David fished his stretch of water!

Yesterday I hit a new piece of chalkstream. Small, overgrown, low, clear and intimate. The sort of water where you have to spot the fish and creep up on them. We fished light with a one weight and worked hard on the stealth stuff. You know what? It worked pretty well. Despite the fish up there not having fully woken up we looked for the shallower water where fish were lying and offered them a CDC emerger. The only downside of this simple, but hugely deadly fly is that once they have had a fish you need to nip them off and tie on another. I had at least three of them being rotated on my fly patch during the day.

The grannom have really been flooding off of the Taw and the fish have been on them. We have a new section of water for our fishing school which is about 1 1/2 miles long. It is lower down the Taw and has some nice salmon pools and spots for sea trout along with brown trout. I have walked it a few times now and reckon it is longer than that as the river twists and turns but there is a great amount of water for our guests to fish, be it migratory or non migratory fishing they are after. This is along with all the great water that the hotel has so I reckon we have nearly 8 miles of private water to show anglers now.

I was guiding further down the Taw with Richard the other day. He has a cottage right by the river and wanted to learn how to fish the water for salmon. I was happy to help and showed him the pools and how best to approach them and how to fish them under differing water levels. It was one of the first bright, sunny days but we had a good go and it was nice walking back to Richard’s cottage for a pizza and sit in the garden before hitting the river again. Things weren’t to be but I’d mentioned that on the bright days it is worth heading down early to the river. I had done this a bit last year and it is really nice being there as the sun comes up. Anyway, Richard did just this and I had a call early the next day saying that he had landed his first salmon. He thinks it was a really well mended kelt but it is a great start to the second day of his salmon fishing career. My advice to him when I left him was to listen to everything anyone tells him about salmon fishing but don’t be afraid to do something from the left field. That is what he did and it turned out well for him. Well done Richard!

Richard swings a cascade

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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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