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Pete's Weighty ( Fly Fishing ) Words

New Zealand fly fishing and beyond…

February 9th, 2009 by petesblog

I got back from a couple of weeks serious fly fishing in New Zealand yesterday afternoon. I went with my good buddy Ray who was celebrating a special birthday and the trip was part of the present. I was asked if I would like to accompany him and it didn’t take too long to say yes followed by much excited leaping around the room. I asked him if he would write a report so there will be one along with some photos but needless to say it was a fly fishing trip of a lifetime and something I don’t think I will ever forget. We fished the South Island and despite fishing solidly from 8.30 in the morning until 9.30 at night we felt we had only scratched the surface of the fly fishing opportunities that were there.

We had one amazing day where the planets aligned or the fly fishing gods smiled on us and we just hit fish after fish. We had a guide for this day and although Ray and I never really count numbers the fly fishing guide reckons we hooked 50 for the day. As I mentioned I just think we lucked out but it was a great experience. We took a  fly fishing guide for one other day who took us up to a spring creek where we caught some nice rainbows from a spot where Lord of The Rings was filmed. The weather wasn’t at its best but Al worked hard and did a great job.

We left feeling that we had almost earnt our wings and had caught fish pretty consistently from all of the rivers we had fished. We even visited a couple of big salmon rivers that are not known for trout and had a few there too which was a really nice feeling. I caught 95% of my fish on dries and 90% of them came to my scruffy klink. It seems to come up with the business whereever I go and our guide Barry took a few for himself which I took as a compliment.

Looking back we really covered some water and I have shed a few pounds (some might say weight I can ill afford to lose!) and we fished like men possesed. We managed a 10 mile hike one day but still had the energy to find a another river and fish til dark. This is one of the great things about New Zealand that all water is public access so if you like the look of somewhere you just hit an access point or knock on a farmer’s door.

For me though, being able to stalk fish was the highlight. Nearly all of the fish we caught came this way and I would love to say that we stalked the fish, made the cast to them, played them and got them in but this isn’t always the case. A lot of the fish hold in pools often with cover of some kind and will head for it the moment they realise something is up. I would have days where I hooked 4 or 5 fish and they all came off but I will never forget the takes where the fish slowly rises up and the great big head peeks out of the water and engulfs your fly. It takes nerves of steel not to strike too soon but you better hold on when all has gone to plan.

We managed to fish so many rivers but my favourites were the Mataura, Aparima, Egglington,Rangitata and lastly the Ashburton.

I’ll pop some photos up in a couple of days but I am sure you won’t want to see me grinning like a cheshire cat holding great big trout….do you?

We decided on the name change for the fly fishing school as we felt it encapsulates where we are and what we do and as we were planning on revamping the Scott site we thought it was the right time to do it. The blog name will change as well but keep an eye out for new stuff as it appears.

Thank you so much for all the comments and feed back we recieved for the new site. We are really pleased with it and there will be lots, lots more coming to make it an interesting read. We see it as an ongoing project that we really intend growing on a regular basis so watch out for lots more updates soon.

We are also thrilled with our new base at the Fox and Hounds. Having 5 miles of river to show you along with our other beats means there is plenty to choose from and we have our own private lake in the hotel grounds which allows us to teach newcomers to fly fishing and is also a great location for fly fishing lessons. I will be stocking in the next week or so and there will be a few surprises in there!

There is no need to be a guest of the hotel to join us but if you are travelling down the rooms, food and hospitality are excellent and Nick and Tara are great hosts. It is possible to walk from the hotel to the river and we even have our own little spot in the bar called the “snug” where we will be meeting guests in the morning and having a sit down at the end of the day to swap fishing stories. I don’t think I have ever been so excited about a coming season…….

A big thank you!

December 18th, 2008 by petesblog

Firstly I thought I would do a condensed report on the bonefishing trip..

Awesome!, I couldn’t fault the place and the fishing is mind blowing..I’ll get round to writing it up soon but as this is probably the last Blog of the year I just wanted to say a big thank you for all the support you have all given our little venture.

We were blown away and couldn’t believe the feedback we had to what we were doing and the way we are doing it which has made us even more determined to provide the ultimate in fly fishing experiences for 2009. Things are pretty much completed in what will see some major changes to the fishing school including a name change, location change, web site change and some new members of the team! The old web address will automatically reroute you to the new one!

It has been a lot of hard work but we are almost there and we are really pleased with how things are looking and I apologise for not popping the photos up from the last few weeks of tuition. I’ll get them up soon and thank you for the sausages Mr Kittow!

Most of all though it has been fun and we have always done things with a smile on our faces and even laughed when things didn’t always go to plan.  I think that has been why we all get on so well as friends and as part of a team as well. We always make sure we have time to do some fishing though! I am so proud to be part of such a great team.

It has been great to welcome so many new fly fishers to our ranks and to see experienced anglers try something new. We hope to do much more of this in 2009!

So this is the Scott Fly Fishing School signing off, but in the words of Arnie “we’ll be back”

Lastly, I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and tight lines and pointy loops for 2009.

Not long now…

December 3rd, 2008 by petesblog

So it isn’t long til we set off in search of bonefish in Mexico and the excitementmeter has just been turned up a few nothces to the “very” setting. The gear is ready and flies are packed. I have decided that I would like to try and fish with a lighter rod on this trip so I plan on doing a fair bit with my ever trusty Scott 6wt. I have used this for just about everything over here and thought it would be nice to add a few more species if I am lucky.

Its funny that I mention luck, I don’t think there is any involved here but my pal Paul is out at the same place this week and has managed a super slam. This is an awesome achievement but a testament to his skills as an angler. If you are wondering what a super slam is it is catching a tarpon, bonefish, snook and permit in one day! Apparently there were also 5 other permit hooked on the week and there are some good sized snook around too. It is really nice to hear these stories but has a small part of you worried that you have missed the perfect week!…It is easy to think that way but with the glass always half full I have taken a view that it is a hot destination and the fishing is amazing. All will soon be revealed! 

Graham is packing something called a spinning rod, he apparently wants to go after cuda with it. I’m sure I will too with a fly but there is a flat right out the front of where we are staying so I plan a few early morning forays too. When we were fishing in Scotland someone remarked “Pete likes to fish a lot doesn’t he?” Too right I do, I always take the view that if I am on a fishing holiday I like to squeeze every little minute out of each day. It doesn’t matter if the fishing sucks at the time there’s no point sulking about it you just have to get on with it and make as much out of it as you possibly can. Life is too short and there are too many fish out there to try and catch!

 See you when I get back!

A quick sneak out….

November 26th, 2008 by petesblog

I think I mentioned that I was supposed to be doing some real work and I sort of pencilled in Monday and a bit of Tuesday to do so. Well, that was the plan but Monday was a bit of a write off. I had just turned the computer on and checked the emails. I had one in from Ray about fly selections for our NZ trip. I didn’t really think too much about it and got to work with the job in hand but I don’t know if you are the same but when you start thinking about other things you just have to stop what you are doing for a bit. To be truthful I was thinking about the flies Ray had mentioned and I thought I better tie a few. I find I do my best tying when I am really in the mood and this was one of those cases. I sat down and tied a couple of dozen nymphs in varying sizes and was overall pretty pleased. I started with the original job and the phone went. It was Jim. I like talking to Jim as we always end up talking about loads and it is always usually about fishing…actually it is nearly always fishing related. He is a bit of a computer whizz too and he is a great person to get some help from. He also makes the best furled leaders around. I spent an enjoyable 25 minutes chatting and sat down again. I think I wrote a sentance and the phone went again. It was Brett, he had phoned to tell me about his tarpon fishing trip. Sounds like he had some monsters. The largest landed was 134lb and jumped one huge fish that the guide reckons pushed 200lbs. It sounds like the fish were brutal and three rods got broken!

I popped the phone down from him and couldn’t stop thinking about the tarpon and fishing holidays….best I tie a few more flies for NZ then. I made myself some late lunch and Mark called up. It was one of those “what are you doing tomorrow” calls. I was looking after Charlie and said I would be taking her in to school. I had one of those lightbulb moments “how about you meet me at home and we drop Charlie off and swing by Exeter canal for a couple of hours. The plan was set.

I didn’t really get a lot done but it was a productive day for other, nicer reasons instead. The fishing wasn’t outstanding yesterday but Mark had a fish, I didn’t. We had a nice lunch at a pub by the water and sat outside. All in all it was very civilised! We even bumped into Paul while we got our day tickets. His wife was at the dentist and he had offered to take her in but I think I know the real reason. He was stocking up on fly tying stuff.

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Sometimes it’s an easy choice

November 22nd, 2008 by petesblog

I had some plans to get paperwork and words for the site sorted for wednesday but I got a call from Toby saying that despite conditions being far from perfect that he had a few pike biting up his way and was planning to go the next day. Did I fancy coming? I like calls like this. You are sitting thinking about the job at hand but something much more interesting comes along and it only means that things get shoved back for a day so it wasn’t a big deal. In the grand scheme I could run around saying “I’m too busy” but I’m never too busy to wet a line.

 It wouldn’t be a pike trip without Mark so he came to mine nice and early and once I had inspected his fare we headed off. By fare I mean what goodies had he brought for the journey. Chocolate covered brazils did the job perfectly and we tucked in. Emma always says she knows when we have been on a good trip by the amount of chocolate wrappers that are on the floor of my truck.

We met up with Toby and he took us to where things had happened for him the day before. The water, as he had said, was far from perfect but it didn’t matter, it was good to be out on what turned out to be a stunning day. Toby had an early pull and I had moved down to where I saw a few small fish moving. I too got an early pull but nothing more. We did a fair bit of walking and just fished likely looking holes. We noticed the wind had shifted a bit and decided to try another venue. This gave Mark and I the chance to have another quick snack. I would reccommend Ripples, they are easy to eat on the move and you don’t get out of the car with a chocolate blanket on your lap. Sadly this makes the close relative of Ripples, Flakes not practicle for these purposes but incidently they do make a good post fish treat.

Toby was a perfect host and really looked after us. The fishing wasn’t stunning but we had a few and it was fun.

On Friday Bob, Mark and myself heading off for our first aid course. Ours had lapsed recently so we went for a 6 hour course and learnt loads. We weren’t the only people there but kept the others amused and Mark had us all laughing with his questions. Bob had been fearing how the two of us would behave and as a whole we were really good boys! Bob has a thing about gadgets and I could see his eyes light up when they showed us how to operate a defibrillator!

Next week…more grayling

Toby relaxing……

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Trying so hard to be cool but not really pulling it off….

November 15th, 2008 by petesblog

Mark and I popped down to the Taw the other day to see if we could watch some salmon make their way upstream. We timed it right and saw a few. The interesting thing was that the flow of water moving under the bridge was too great and it was halting progress. The cool thing was that there was a leat that provided an alternative route and the fish had sussed it out pretty quickly and headed this way. It was still hard work and we saw a few make and a lot not do so. The funny thing was that I started shrieking with excitement every time we saw one. I guess it just got to me to see what dogged determination these fish had and that nothing was going to stop them in achieving what they had set out to do on their long journey. I am sure there is probably a metaphor for life in there somewhere and to some same degree this true for the fish. I popped down again yesterday with Charlie and the pair of us were equally excited but when as a 16 year old it is not really the done thing. If I ever lose this sort of excitedness about fish or fishing it is time to hang up the rod.

I met up with Richard on Thursday who is a newcomer to fly fishing and he took to it just fine. He is one of these guys that you say “stop the rod just a little higher” to and it is done perfectly, he had the line sailing out with no worries at all. The lesson was a gift from his son and I think he will be doing a bit more. He had two pals along watching who do a bit of fishing and they are already planning trips out. He had a few fish and took one home for dinner.  With Richard being a butcher I am hoping to do a bit of bartering with fresh fish against his sausages!

Today, I had a great fly casting lesson with Nigel. I am just a tiny bit jealous of him as he is off to the Seychelles in a couple of weeks, I say a tiny bit as I am off to Mexico the week after! Nigel wanted to add a bit of distance to his casting and to tidy things up a bit. He was soon hauling really sweetly and we added extra stroke length to his cast with drift and also covered a few extra things to make life a whole lot easier on the flats. He had an 8,9 and a brutal 12 weight rod to throw big flies at giant trevally. Hopefully he gets a few. Fingers crossed for you Nigel!

One of the interesting things was that we did the early stuff with yarn on the end of the line but when you are heading out for “real world” fishing that things can be different. I often like to snip the hook off a fly which we did with a clouser to see if the stuff we had covered would work in a real fishing situation. I know Devon is not the Seychelles but with a bit of imagination…. Anyway, I am pleased to say it was the case and Nigel hit the same distances with the fly attached and landed the fly gently on the water. It was really good fun pulling the fly in before recasting as the fish were all over the fly…I must remember a chartruese and white clouser for next weeks lessons!

I plan on spooling up my new reel for Mexico tomorrow. I am using a 6wt for as much as possible but will pack an 8 and 9 wt for heavier wind and permit. Flies are pretty much ready and the excited meter has just been turned up a notch too!

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Here come the girls…I mean the ladies

November 6th, 2008 by petesblog

It is amazing that even after all this time I tend to wake up an excited little bunny at the prospect of a day on the water. I had set the alarm for 6.15 am but was awake from just before 6 so thought I’d get going a bit earlier. Those who know me know that I tend to be early and if it is fishing related this is always the case. There’s nothing wrong with being excited is there?! 

I headed off with a bit of a heavy sky and as I headed into chalk stream territory the sky got heavier still with, at times, more than a hint of drizzle. As I got nearer though the sky had lifted. I stopped and picked up a coffee and a snack and went off to wait for my mate Paul in a pub car park. He has fished here before with me so knew where to go. As I pulled up I looked and I was 1/2 hour early. I drank my coffee and started to get my waders on as the car park is right by the river and I thought it would be rude not have a quick fish while I was waiting. Silly me, Paul is as keen as me and I hadn’t even got my waders on when a car pulled up and a quick “hello bud”  came from the car window. I quickly finished getting my waders on and jumped in my truck and we headed to where we were going to start fishing.

 I thought it would be nice to start where we finished last time and Paul elected to go for a couple of nymphs to start with and a 10ft rod. I had my ever faithful 8ft 8″ 4wt fly rod with the scruffy klink and pheasant tail hung 3 ft below. I walked down with Paul as it is always nice to see a friend get off the mark. He did this very quickly and I headed just a little bit upstream to a bend where I thought I would fish slowly as he worked up and then I’d take him to another spot.

It was still early and as I stepped down towards the water I got a pleasant surprise as there were fish hitting duns. I had stumbled across a nice little rise and I planned to take advantage of it! I kept the nymph on but having had a few on the dry quickly snipped it off. There is nothing like catching fish early in the morning in November on dries! A gentleman walking his dog stopped and watched me land 5 fish. It turned out he is a salmon fisher and I asked him to mention to Paul that there were plenty of rising fish where I was fishing. He was doing just fine though and had emptied the pool behind. The hatch sort of went in 2 waves with a small gap in between and Paul caught up with me as the second wave started. I offered Paul a crack and after tying on a dry he had a few! I don’t think I had moved more than 5 feet and the fishing had been amazing.

Next we headed up to a bridge where there is a dip in the river and it can hold some huge fish. Sadly the river was carrying just a tiny bit of colour and spotting in deeper water was a bit of a no goer. I suggested we head up stream a little bit where the river was a little wider and we could fish together. This spot is a little shallower and being knee deep I thought there was a good chance of bringing fish up for the dry. As Paul is a left hander it worked perfectly as I took the right bank looking down stream and Paul the left. We sort of shared the middle of the river but kept accusing each other of poaching each others sides!

We continued to catch at a pretty consistent rate and I had some swans up stream of me that were feasting on weed but appeared to put fish my side down. I decided to go back to hanging a nymph off of the dry and popped a size 16 pheasant tailed nymph. My thinking that the fish may take a look at any nymphs dislodged by the swans ahead of me. It seemed to work pretty well and I felt like I was fishing the nymph more than the dry. It was interesting to see a few refusals to the dry and Paul had mentioned that he ties his dry on with a more conventional dropper set up as he fears the nylon from dry to nymph can put the fish off of taking the dry. I have to say this hasn’t been too much of a problem on our fast waters back home and I will usually start a days guiding in this manner but on a slower more even flow of a chalkstream the fish have more time to inspect our offering. It made perfect sense.

Sport was awesome although I kept getting ribbed about having the better side of the river but I’m  not so sure about this. Whenever Paul was moaning he seemed to be pulling in another fish!

We had no idea how many we caught, we didn’t really care, neither of us are fish counters but it was one of those days that was just perfect. Paul is one of the best fishermen I know and it is always a pleasure to wet a line with him…great day mate!

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Down time?….nah!

November 5th, 2008 by petesblog

The Fly Fair was a blast and it was nice to meet up with friends both old and new. There was a good contingent up from down here and a group from Kennick had hopped in a mini bus and headed up to grab a few bargains. That reminds me, we had a shocker getting up there. I left home at 9.50am and got to Stoke at 4.30. Howard had caught Birmingham later than us and didn’t start setting up until 6.30. We gave him a hand and then shot back to Karl’s where his wife Andrea had prepared dinner and then Toby and I shot back down to give Howard, Hels Bells and Kirsty a hand. They were bushed at 9 so they arranged to get there early next morning to finish. Toby and I hung back to finish our bit and then shot off. Next morning when we got there Howard had been working hard and I reckon this was about as close as it got when they finished just as the doors opened!

It was really great to meet up with Mat from Fly Odyssey he is a top guy who knows his stuff! He also had Mark helping who is salt water fishing mad. I don’t think there are many fishing destinations they haven’t been to between them. It was cool just talking fishing. It turns out they will be down in NZ same time as Ray and I which will be fun.

I got to talk fishing with my mate Richard today as I owed him lunch. I picked him up from home and we headed for Fingle Bridge and the pub down there that sits right on the Teign. As any sensible fisherman would do we first headed for the bridge to see if there was anything sitting there but sadly not. We watched a few caddis flutter up and agreed the river looked just about perfect. It is times like these that despite the closed season you can still appreciate how lucky we are to be able to fish in places like this. I wish I had my camera but I had got it ready for tomorrow. We headed off to the pub, had lunch and talked fishing. Richard is a veteran of Colorado and Montana and we swapped favourite rivers and fishing stories. If you are sitting right next to a trout stream and can’t fish it talking about fishing keeps you going….well almost. I dropped him off and as generous as ever he gave me some vension mince and then handed me some smoked salmon. This was from a salmon he’d had off of the Teign and I really look forward to trying it. Thanks mate!

While we were staying at Karl’s he had been leant a spey casting video from the very early 80′s. It was really interesting to see how much things have changed from a technical perspective. I guess it is always has, and will be a big learning curve. I guess thats why we love it so much!

I have to admit that I have a mild case of “man flu” but I’m off to the chalk tomorrow….

Red and pink….

October 30th, 2008 by petesblog

I’ve been busy tying up pink bugs for the upcoming grayling trips. I sort of stumbled on the colouration by my lack of a subtle shade of pink in my fly tying kit. The funny thing was that the grayling loved it. This is a shocking pink the sort of thing that makes you think “naaaaah, no way” but it works and works really well!

As ever with my fly tying it is simplicity more than anything else with a lead wire under body, clear back and 5lb mono as the ribbing. I have tied it as big as a size 8 and a little bit smaller too. Dependent on water height an conditions I’ll throw it under a dry or grease up the end of the leader and watch for the line to dart forward as a fish falls for it.

I don’t know if it is me but it feels pretty cold today. The wind is blowing and it feels miserable. I thought of warmer climes when Nigel phoned this afternoon to book a fly casting lesson and told me about his trip to the Seychelles in December. Sounds like he’ll be having a look for GT’s and wants to throw his fly just a little bit further.

I popped up to London yesterday and was amazed to see snow had fallen. Surrey had a hint of Siberia (OK just a little bit) about it and reminded me of how things are changing globally but also in our tiny little world we call fly fishing. The Russians are coming! I noticed it in London yesterday but also at a trade fair a few months back. It was held in Amsterdam and there was a good smattering of folk from across Europe but I bumped into some Russians too. Hardly surprsingly they spoke very good English (they probably write better English than me too!) and they could cast a bit too. I had a cast with a couple of them and they were pretty good. One of them had just passed his European Fly Casting Exam and the other was interested in coming to see what AAPGAI was all about. Apparently there are not a lot of fly fishermen there at the moment but things are changing as the locals are getting in to sport fishing as opposed to fishing for the pot by whatever means is required. Russia has long been a destination for travelling anglers but as the local economy has continued to grow more are taking it up.

We loaded up my truck and strapped a glass cabinet onto the roof to take up to Howard for the BFFI this weekend. I managed to get it there in one piece and Howard will take it the rest of the way. Sounds like there will be a good group going and please pop by and say Hi if you are there.

Lastly, I didn’t get a chance to fish with Jo on his stretch of the Exe this year but he dropped me a mail today and had 7 salmon this year….excellent work and see you Sunday!

Dare to be different?….

October 22nd, 2008 by petesblog

It has been a busy few days having just got back from the Tackle and Guns show. We were busy bunnies and had the pleasure of Jeff from Abel over to help on our stand. He was a most welcome addition and fitted in very well with our sense of humour and handled himself very well despite me spending most of the weekend trying to push him in the casting pool. It is so nice to have a company like this behind you and even better that their philosophy to life and fly fishing is the same as ours. It was nice for him to meet a lot of our accounts and a few new ones too. The nice thing is that the industry is getting what we are about in offering a quality product at a fair price.

We have done our best to price our products made in the U.S. as close to the U.S. retail price as possible so that the public are able to buy here and, most importantly, support their local dealers throughout the country. The nice thing is that we know the companies that we use in the U.S. are actually using the products themselves as a very large percentage of them are fishermen themselves. It is nice to know there is some heritage involved and they are not just trading on a faded old name of yesteryear. We were amazed by the support we had for St Croix and it is a brand anglers throughout the UK will be able to get their hands on from a large variety of fishing shops in the very near future.

Jeff leaves today and has seen some of London as he, Bob and Graham called in to one of our dealers but thankfully he got a look at fly fishing in Devon when he visited Wimbleball with Mark last week and is on a small trout stream with Graham in Hertfordshire as I type, just before he leaves for Heathrow. A man after my own heart!

I popped in to see Howard yesterday as we are supporting him at the BFFI the weekend after next and I also was in Crediton and was dying for a tea and hob nob!!. BFFI is also Marks birthday weekend and I am sure we will all be out to mark (quite literally!) the occassion. A lot of the lads from the association will be there too.

I am off for a couple of days as my brother is getting married. Mark is at the helm and taking Helen out for some casting and fishing and then off guiding for some toothy critters on Mon. Bob is doing some spey stuff with Steve and then I have a busy grayling diary coming up; look for some pics and movies too. I promise I’ll be behind the camera!

Many, many congrats to Mat and Georgie at Fly Odyessy on the birth of Thomas. At 9lb 2oz you’re talking a fair sized bonefish!