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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Posts Tagged ‘Fly Fishing westcountry’

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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