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Devon School of Fly Fishing Team blog

Archive for October, 2011

Fly Fishing in Devon

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Emma and I popped out for our first trip to have a look at how the salmon were getting on now that we have at last had some serious rain. I know I am not the greatest (or even near) photographer in the world but I tried to capture a couple of photos of what we saw. Don’t think there is the need for any more words really….

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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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Winter Fly Fishing School

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Now that the main part of the season is over one of my main priorities is to try and not to over winter too well. From walking miles a day when I am guiding to not doing as much has an impact on the wader size and I do my best to try and keep it under control. Usually I do some running but after years of wicket keeping the knees aren’t as flexible as they once were.

On that front I have been thinking of dusting the gloves down again and have been thinking of joining a local team and playing the odd game and have been delighted to hear that in my forties I can qualify for the local veterans team. I always thought there was a chance to play again at a sensible level as there were professionals still playing the game like Graham Hick and Teddy Sheringham in the Premiership who are both a similar age but now they have sadly retired. I listen to sport now and see that guys now playing at the best levels are the sons of people I used to watch. I am sure in my mind that I can still dive across first slip to take the thick edge but I think in “real life” that I’ll let the guy in the slips have a go for it!

The other thing I’d be thinking of trying was cycling but I just think it is so uncool. I have to admit it is nice to see a bunch of people getting out and doing some excercise but when they are riding 4 abreast and holding up the traffic thinking they are doing a good speed it can be annoying especially when I am in the truck and have trout to catch.

Emma and I recently walked to a nearby village where the Tour of Britain cycle race was passing. It was all very exciting but we had walked 4 miles to see something that passed us in about 1 minute but as least we had a lovely walk.


There were a couple of guys standing there in their cycling regalia which looked in my mind ridiculous and then another one of them turned up and I listened while they talked in a technical language that sounded like gibberish. Emma and I talked about it on the walk back and we came to the conclusion that people would have probably said the same if I had stood there in my waders and had started speaking to another fly angler. That is the great thing about hobbies and pastimes. There are so many some might be of interest to some people but not to others and once you get into them they are great no matter how silly we might think as an outsider. That having been said my new Simms jacket is rather stylish….well, at least I think so!

Fernworthy Brown

I met up with Howard the other day to fish Fernworthy. The wind was pretty similar to what I had exeprienced at Colliford the week before. I used the same set up, a 6wt rod with intermediate line and black tadpole and it worked really well. I caught quite a few fish and once Howard tied on a tadpole so did he. I fished the lee side again and the fish were pretty well bunched and liked the fly with really short, brisk strips. I did have a couple on a fry pattern too but tadpole was the fly of the day.

I am just back from a couple of days fishing the chalkstreams and they have some seriously low water. It meant that the grayling were bunched in big pods and we also saw a few pike on the edges of the pods just keeping an eye on things. I’ll be writing more about this soon.

Westcountry grayling are back on the menu this week so with temps dropping I’ll be sure to keep the knees warm.

My good friend Jim Williams has a new version of his site up which is worth a look with agreat blog too.

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Fishing with friends

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

There is nothing like the company of a good friend when you are fishing. Sharing the highs, lows and adventures makes having a buddy along to share it that bit more special. As the river season for trout is over I have a little bit more time for some fishing myself. Last week I headed down the A30 to Colliford with my good friend Dave. Dave runs The Dartmoor School of Fly Fishing. I don’t think anyone knows Kennick as well or spends as much time there (although Jan might give him a run for his money!). Both he and Lee are real experts on fishing Dartmoor too but he hadn’t been down to Colliford for a few years so we thought it might be worth a look.

Colliford is one of my favourite stillwater destinations and at just under 1000 acres is always an interesting proposition with plenty of water to cover and as there are no boats you get to have a good walk too.

We pulled up and two things struck me. Firstly, the low water. This was no big surprise but the second was the white horses that the wind was whipping up that were crashing into the bank at the far side of the car park. We thought the wind would be a little lively but with the lake being perched up on Bodmin Moor it was always going to be a little worse.

Anyway, it was a day’s fishing and wind wasn’t going to get in the way. We both rigged up our 6 weights, Dave with a floater and me with an intermediate line. Floating lines are usually the norm but I like to fish a black tadpole and move it a bit and the intermediate keeps my fly a little lower in the water.

When I fish Colliford I like to get myself on the lee side of the wind as I often find fish there. I remember guiding there in conditions only slightly less windy and fishing the lee where the wind hadn’t rippled the water. The unbroken water was only a small area but it was like a bonefish flat as we walked along shin deep casting to rising fish with a dry fly

That was the plan. We fished the carpark bank frst though as the wind was on our backs here. Dave had a fish swirl at his fly almost immediately. I had a lively take from a stone and lost my fly and that was about it. We decided to head over to one of the bays and try where there might be a bit more shelter. The wind was a bit like the stuff that can blow up in NZ and Dave had to hang on to his cap as it was blown off a few times.

After a walk and a few M & M’s (they seem to have taken over from Hobnobs as they are easier to transport) we hit the new bay. It was a bit more sheltered but still a little lively. We split about 50 yards apart and had a go. Distance isn’t really an issue on the brown trout lakes as the fish can often be close in but  I like to alternate and cast one straight out and then one parallel to the bank. I did notice that there was a drop off and and so made sure that I fished my fly right in case I got a fish following right in.

I kept working the water but was watching Dave. He was having some fun spey casting his line out and firing it a good long distance. It was a pleasure to watch. I whacked one out and felt just the slightest touch and struck. The fish shook and then decided it didn’t like what was happening. I managed to get it in, get a quick photo (not a very good one) and then slipped it back.

It was that sort of day. We had to work hard for fish but felt we did ourselves justice. Dave had brought some excellent pasties and we sat on some rocks, had a breather, chatted and enjoyed it all. I guess that is what it is all about.

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Dartmoor School of Fly Fishing Fly Fishing Kennick Lake and Guiding on Dartmoor

The End?

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

The Taw has shut for the year now. I could get all teary eyed and reflect on a season that has passed but there is no need, I’d much rather do that in December. There are still bass, pike and grayling to catch. I am having a quick breather before I get going again and there are things like cutting the grass that has got a bit long and trimming the hedges which we knew needed doing. We did the hedges today and I am really pleased that that one has been ticked off.

The other thing is that I have got back is tying a few flies. I haven’t had the time to tie as many as I would have liked and I have relied on a few shop bought patterns and the last few of my “specials” that have lurked at the back of the fly box. I have never carried many patterns as I don’t feel the need and I much prefer to tie one on and make subtle changes rather than going for something completely different. The change up fly will be the same but might be a little smaller, or perhaps even bigger, or just a little darker. Often this will do the job as the river is telling me what is hatching, or not hatching. So the clues are all there.

Geraldine casts for salmon

I have been giving the flies I have been using some thought and in some cases I have tweaked them just a little. I really like this part of fly tying. Sometimes I’ll tie 1/2 dozen identical copies (or as near as I can get) and then sometimes they sort of mutate a bit and I start thinking what if I tie a trailing shuck instead of a normal tail? This can be really good fun to do and  is great when I sit at the vice, look at the flies and think, yup, they look good. It is even nicer when the trout give them the thumbs up. The only downside of this is that when I am experimenting I only tie a few and we all know that the life expectancy of a fly decreases when you only have a few in the box and the trout are biting hard on them. Then there is always that tree that wants to grab them.

I’ll put in a few of the new ones as I am out fishing with a good friend of mine in a few days and I’ll give them a go. It sounds like the good weather we are having is on the turn now but it will be good to be out there. I spoke to Ray (the Dude) who was hot footing it back to Denmark after a trip to Miami and he reminded me that we were wetting a line in Montana this time last year. I think it is OK to get a bit sentimental about that but I tend to let go after a while. Still banging on about a trip like that after a few years means you need to go on a new one and we have one in the planning. That’s the great thing about fly fishing there are so many great adventures you can embark on. Some may be a long way away but some of the best ones can be right on your doorstep.

Paul with a Taw trout

So is it the end? No way. As I said at the beginning there are still a lot of fish to catch if you know where to look and I can’t wait to go after them!

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