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Pete's Weighty ( Fly Fishing ) Words

Posts Tagged ‘Fly Fishing Lessons’

New Zealand fly fishing and beyond…

Monday, February 9th, 2009

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…….

Not long now…

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

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!

Here come the girls…I mean the ladies

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

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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In the ring of the rise….

Friday, May 9th, 2008

I had a really good day on the river guiding Jo today, the conditions were spot on and the fish were poppin! We started off hanging a nymph under our dry but seeing risers had me cutting it off pretty quickly. The stretch of the Culm we were on is a long one with lush weed growth and plenty of insect life. We had a wealth of hatches today with various caddis, light and dark olives, hawthorns and we even spotted a lone mayfly!

 We covered rising fish and Jo did a great job hitting just about every fish that took a liking to our offering. The interesting thing was that we had great success with sighted fish but casting blind into likely looking holes didn’t work as well as we might have hoped. It seemed the fish in the pools were either on or off and no inbetween. Thankfully there were plenty who were “on”!

I am on another river again with Gavin tomorrow and hope it will be as good!

Our good friend from AAPGAI, Lee, has just come in from a very successful trip on Coniston chasing pike…well done mate!

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One for the box

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Paul had done something a little different with an elk hair caddis we used on the Culm last week when I was guiding him and has written a little bit about it below. Hope you enjoy!

Had another great day out with Pete on Wednesday, helping me come to grips with our stretch of the Culm which has consistently defeated me both in terms of wadeability and catching fish. The demons have now been exorcised!During the day there was an excellent rise to caddis- in fact the fly of the day was an emerging caddis of Pete’s that caught the whole afternoon. However, on looking in my box, Pete was quite taken with some of the caddis that I’d tied. He hadn’t seen one like it before; I’m sure there’s any number of people that have tied it, written it up and claimed it as their own, but I’d just developed it myself as a solution to my own fly-tying inadequacy.

I’m newer to tying than I am to fishing- and this is only my second season on the rivers. Hence I’m still all thumbs. When trying to tie elk hair caddis in particular, I end up with a fly with no eye- covered by hair and /or thread. I therefore tried tying one back to front so the eye was clear. To my surprise, it worked quite well. Nothing particularly needed to say except tie everything backwards. It helps to start with a good head at the bend. This stops the hair drifting down round the tail during successive chewings. You also get a nice little narrow bit once you’ve tied the body that acts as a nice well in which to fix the hair.

The second thing is to keep the hair on top of the hook else one starts to crowd the gape of the hook and could lose hook-ups. The other advantage for a beginner is that you can actually see the length of hair wing as you tie rather than having it hidden by fingers.

I’d wanted to apply what I learnt on Wednesday by returning to the Culm today. Unfortunately, I had a little vehicular disagreement with the owner of my local pub and, as it was my fault, a few rainbows are needed as a peace offering and I have to go up to a little stocked lake to get them!

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A few from last week….

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Natasha and Wendy spent a day learning to fly fish with Mark and below are  a few words from them…

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We just wanted to write to thank Mark for a fabulous introdution to fly fishing -
we had a lovely day on the lake and hopefully this will be a great start
to many years of enjoyment by the water.

 Alan Stevens into a fish!

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Alan has also made a return to fly fishing after a break but under Marks expert guidance he was casting a beautiful line in no time!

In search of new waters…

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Bob is away from today for a couple of weeks and not withstanding the thought of him sunning himself in his Speedos Mark and I had Sunday off as he did the teaching honours so we could do some fly fishing.

 We are building a few new river venues up as we think it is nice to offer different options rather than the same old same old, its not so much fun when you know the names of the fish! The little gem we have found flows into the Tamar but clears really quickly as it is high and straight off of the Moors and so is handy if we do have a wet one. It is a really pretty little stretch and one for the small stream fan and is just 10mins away from SFFS mission control. I might give it a shot Weds if the weather stays the same as I am out guiding.

Whilst on that it reminds me of a joke about a fishing guide who dies and wakes up on a riverbank with his client waiting to go fishing. He has a perfect day picking the right fly, spotting the fish and the client fishes perfectly and doesn’t miss a fish. The day ends with a very happy guide. Next morning the guide wakes up at the same beat, same client, same conditions. The client starts fishing and everything is exactly the same and at the end of the day everything has happened as the day before, even the conversation. The same happens for the next few days. Frustrated and at the end of the 12th day of exactly the same the guide turns to the client and says “hey, I thought this was supposed to be heaven” the client flashes him an evil smile and said “who said anything about heaven? welcome to eternity!”

When a little bit of sun creeps through and things warm up the Large Dark Olives are looking to hatch and we have also seen the odd hawthorn. If the winds are right look for places like Colliford and Roadford for spectacular brown trout fishing with hawthorn flies. There is nothing like seeing a fit 2lb wild brown hit your offering and head off for deep water!

Reely, reely special…..

Friday, April 18th, 2008

I managed to get back from a two day trip to California in one piece and despite a nasty case of jet lag I have to say it was really worth it. We have been extremely honoured to be asked to distribute Abel reels in the UK. Part of  the signing off process was to visit the factory and meet the guys in person. The really cool thing is that first of all they were a great bunch and we all hit it off really well but secondly they are all hard core fishermen. This means the guys who are building the product know and understand what they are building and actually use it out there; be it on the flats or on a trout stream. Any little tweeks that might be needed are understood from both an engineering perspective and more importantly from a fisherman’s view too!

They are fiercely proud of their product and it was wonderful to see everything is built in the factory even down to the screws and pawls, nothing is outsourced. This means no corners are cut as they build exactly what they want and need and to the exact specification. Like Scott, everything is built in the USA by fly fly fishermen for fly fishermen so you know you will be getting a product that has spent hours out on the water with a lot of knowledge and know-how behind it. 

On the 28th April at the annual dinner at the IGFA museum Abel are to be recognised as the world’s leading reel manufacturer. High praise indeed and well deserved. This speaks volumes about the quality and durability of their reels!

We finished the tour and meeting and it was really nice to pop down to a local bar for a quick drink before the flight home.

Abel are famous for their anodised reels and you can really go to town and have a custom pattern for just about every occassion. Your local Abel dealer will have a selection for you to have a drool over! We have some exciting plans for these reels in the UK.

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It was a real pleasure to meet the guys and to see a company that puts quality, passion and pride into the product they are making…here’s to you guys!

 I had an email from Jim who has just popped his Permit cherry…good work fella!, hopefully I’ll be getting a crack in December!

Next week is a really busy one for the school, I’ll be busy guiding and Mark is on our lake with plenty of newcomers including a couple of ladies. Looks like my new camera is going to be busy…shame about the operator of it!!

Birthday Grayling

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

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Just in from a most excellent day having taken Joe for a days guided grayling fishing. It was a special occasion as it was his birthday and thankfully there were a few presents waiting in the river for him. The river is still thundering through. It is lower than where I left it a week or so ago but still meaning options are still limited to heavy stuff. The pink nasty was the fly of choice and I think Joe was just a little shocked at how pink it actually was. Don’t forget pink is the new black. It again worked pretty well for us and even a brownie or two thought it looked the part which amused Joe as I think he might have had a few reservations about how something so bright would attract a grayling let alone a trout.

I’d love to say it was easy fishing but it seemed the fish have still not really shoaled up after all the water we have had so it has been a case of one or two fish and move on rather than locating and then systematically picking off a shoal. There had also been some overnight rain and the river was carrying some colour and there was a nasty down stream wind just to spice things up a bit.

Despite this Joe was up to the task and more and the amount of fish he caught speaks volumes on a day when many might have stayed at home.

So here’s to you Joe and a very happy birthday!

Down to Devon

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Graham continues to tell us about his fly fishing lessons and a little bit about when he came down to see us guys at Scott Flyfishing School HQ.

Well my next indoctrination to the world of “tight loops” and awesome
casting prowess was a trip down to Pete’s part of the world to meet up with
him, Bob and Mark to find out how inept I still am. I always thought I was
a bit of a nut when it comes to fishing but these guys are the ultimate
true geeky bums who I believe don’t count sheep to fall asleep but the
number of tight loops they can achieve. Upon arriving and welcoming me,
Pete ushered me in to show off a video he and Mark did on …..guess
what… You got it casting. And where did they film it? In a sport hall!
For some odd reason they were rather proud of it whereas I still get more a
kick out of Bond movies. A quick coffee and a chat and it’s off to the lake
out the back of their premises and some hard core casting. Mark’s
enthusiasm is infectious and I enjoyed the lesson immensely and I certainly
picked up many hints and improvements to my technique and that was despite
it being bitterly cold and blowing a gale. Anyhow just to show how badly
afflicted they are, at the end Mark suggested to Pete “let’s see if we can
get down to the backing and get a loop so tight it makes you eyes water”!
I’m sure there is medicine available to help these guys. Anyhow back to my
practicing in my local canal and next venture will be lesson 2 from Brett
and probably a bundle of criticism. Watch this space.