Monday, 4 September 2017

More Shows in August

The Eden now settling back down
August conditions have continued with their early trend of unsettled waters on the river Eden, which has certainly affected the Salmon fishing, with fewer fish now showing in the pools as there were before, simply because the constant up and down river levels have given them the green light to spread themselves throughout the system, with very little preventing there journey upstream. Therefore we haven't recently had the concentration of fish we were seeing in many of the pools before, especially on the low water beats of the lower river. However, over the past week or so, the river has begun to settle again and with only a few showers forecast over the next few days, hopefully fish will begin to hold up again in the pools and hopefully tug a line or two.

The first of many (T&S Rod Test)
In the meantime, along with my good friend and colleague, Brian Towers, we kicked off the month with another rod test for the Trout & Salmon magazine, this time around it was 15 footers we were given to test, which I must admit on many rivers, apart from the rather large ones, or the ones where you may have to deep wade, are rapidly becoming overlooked by many anglers for shorter more manageable outfits, which I have to admit, (in most cases) do the jobs required remarkably well.

A youngsters first fish (Borderlines)
Anyway, that said, there was very little between them with regard to performance to help us separate many of the rods on testwhich I must admit, is often the trend these days, a conclusion I am sure you will have already come to if you have read the article in question in the Trout & Salmon magazine. This is great news for the angler as it offers something for everyone, depending on the action of the rod and style of casting you prefer, which are just some of the things that we try to take into consideration when deciding what we think will suit a good cross section of anglers. Not always as easy as you may think!

Lupei into a good Rainbow
On another note, as you will all be aware by now, the Borderlines team are constantly involved in delivering a variety of youth days, and this month was no exception, (see picture above) with several events successfully planned and completed, including river, sea and Stillwater sessions. We have been very fortunate again this year to have had one particular group of youngsters for a series of different events and it has to be said that it is very apparent how quickly they are learning how it all works along the way. In their recent outing some of the youngsters involved took up the challenge of talking to the rest of the group about a variety of things, including safety, how the equipment we use works efficiently, and several other relevant points. All the youngsters had a great time and caught a few fish too. Always a bonus!

Another good Rainbow (a family effort)
With the river a little too high at times this month, I have taken a few individuals, and families, to a very picturesque local Stillwater to learn how to cast a fly and hopefully catch their first ever fish. These sessions have proved very successful and enjoyable, so if Stillwater fishing is your scene, or if you just fancy a change from trout fishing on the river, then it is worth considering giving it a try. It is also a great environment for getting to grips with your distance casting technique (double hauling) if Stillwater fishing is your usual escape.

Cindy with her fist ever fish
Plenty of fly casting instruction going on again this month too, some of which played a big part in the aforementioned Stillwater sessions, from total beginners, seen here, (above and left) to more seasoned casters, simply brushing up on their current skills. There has also been a couple of mentoring sessions for those working toward their instructor qualifications in October, you know who you are, and I would therefore like to take this opportunity to wish you the very best outcome in your forthcoming assessments.

The fishing Island at the Lowther Show
August also sees the two main shows of the year we are involved with, in both Cumbria and South West Scotland, both under the AAPGAI, Borderlines and Border Game Angling banners. The two shows I refer to are the Lowther Show and the Galloway Show, both of which we have attended for many years now, where several AAPGAI instructors (and a variety of other people too) come together to provide demonstrations, competitions and advice to those attending the shows. These shows are great social events too and if you haven't 
The Galloway Show
attended one before then hopefully you may consider attending in the future, maybe even next year. If so might I suggest a great place to start, and the main hub of the two angling events, would be the fishing island at the Lowther Show near Penrith in Cumbria. I hope to see some of you at future events, where you would be made very welcome, giving us the opportunity to have a chat and a catch up.

A nice Brown on a parachute Adams
On another note, the trout fishing in the early part of the month became very slow, and again I think this was down to the fluctuating river levels we have been experiencing throughout the month, which I have seen happen many times over the years, and which, I might add, often effects all species too. However, over the past week or so, things have noticeably improved as the water has begun to clear and settle again. 

Grayling (also Adams)
August can be a strange month sometimes, where trout are concerned, but it often improves (as long as the water stays reasonably settled) as we move into September. I took a trip out myself yesterday to test the waters, so to speak, and managed to coax a couple to the dry fly, whilst at the same time noticing a large influx of small Grayling in the runs again, which will hopefully bode well for the winter Grayling trips that some of you have arranged with me later this year.

I look forward to seeing some of you again soon and I hope the salmon fishing improves over the next six weeks or so before the last day of the Eden Salmon season on October 14th. "Tight Lines".

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Events in July

Setting Up at Killyleagh Castle
July started with the annual pilgrimage over the water to the Irish International Fly Fair held in Killyleagh, N. Ireland. This is a very friendly event held in the grounds of Killyleagh Castle, where fly dressers and casting instructors alike, from both sides of the water, and further afield, congregate, to both socialise, and offer demonstrations and tuition to those attending the show. A great event for everyone and one I have been attending for almost 10 years now, in fact next year is the events 10 year anniversary.

Allan Spain in full Flow
Back home on the Eden salmon have continued to enter the system on a regular basis, with fish showing in most of the pools, but not always obliging, as several of the people I have been out with will testify to. However, as many of you will know, it's a great inspiration in itself to see a fish or two opposite you as your fly traverses the pool, as apposed to seeing nothing at all. That said, there are still fish being caught every week and in addition to this we are now seeing (since the middle of July) runs of Grilse entering the system too, always a good sign!

Borderlines (Entomology Session)
Once again, when water conditions have been right, we have had some very good trout fishing sessions on the dry fly, although I must admit, I have not been involved in as many fishing sessions this month, mainly due to the fact that I have either been helping to run alternative fishing related events, or I have been involved in a variety of casting tuition sessions (like the one pictured below). That said, I do enjoy these sessions very much, and you do meet some very interesting people too.

Carlisle Angler Tuition Event
There is no better feeling (from my point of view) than being able to help someone out with their casting problems and then watch them improve as they put it into practice, now having the ability to identify their own individual faults and a better understanding of how to rectify them in a fishing situation, after all that's the main reason I got into this game.

A Borderlines first Brown Trout
Borderlines sessions have also kept us very busy this month at a variety of venues, both home and away, covering a multitude of fishing related activities, and the youngsters and parents involved have also caught their fair share of fish at times too. Plenty more youth day sessions planned for the rest of the season too, so watch this space!

Jeff Jones (in at the deep end)
Towards the end of this month I have been back on the river again, involved in a mix of tuition and guided fishing sessions, and just recently (although somewhat unsettled) we have had some good salmon waters, mainly higher up the system, as the recent rain we have had lifted the lower river a little too much for good sport, however, although we are still seeing salmon in the pools, they have become a little frustrating, but I am personally hoping that when the river stops rising and falling like a yo yo, (due to the intermittent heavy showers we have recently been experiencing) and settles a little more, that the salmon fishing will improve again. After all, we know they are there because we are seeing them. "Tight Lines".

Monday, 3 July 2017

Some Like it Hot (but not for fishing)

Phil playing a trout.
The conditions in early June were relatively good and the fishing reflected this, but as the month moved on, then so did the temperatures, soaring to the mid 20's and above, which did slow the salmon fishing down a bit, although there were still plenty of fish showing in the pools, with the odd one still succumbing to the fly too, however if you were prepared to search the pocket water (yet again) in pursuit of the trout, you would be pleasantly surprised, with some good catches being recorded, and as we entered the final week of June with the higher temperatures giving way to much more comfortable weather,
Lewis with his first fish of the day.
the dry fly really came into it's own, with non stop action from one end of the day to the other, with our top two flies proving to be the Parachute Adams and the Klinkhammer, but what made the whole process even more exciting, was the concentration required to identify the takes in the first place,
(especially when having to cast slightly further whilst covering broken water) as many of these takes were mere sips in the surface film. This simply added to the pure satisfaction when you got it right and made contact with numerous hard fighting browns throughout the day.

Peter playing a Rainbow trout.
I had a good session with a couple of Stillwater anglers in the early part of the month too (Steve & Peter) as we visited one of our (very picturesque) local Lakes to do some follow up casting tuition and a bit of Rainbow trout fishing which followed on from a previous session they had with me some time ago. The weather stayed fine and after some improvement and a few changes of fly patterns, Peter made contact with a couple of nice fish too, always a bonus!

Although we have concentrated mainly on the trout fishing this month, as conditions did lend themselves better to this approach, there has definitely been no shortage of salmon showing in some areas of the river, especially on the lower beats, but they were still playing hard to get, although I did manage to hook one during a casting session, (more by good luck than good management) and one local angler also hooked one of these difficult to tempt salmon (opposite us) whilst fishing a gold headed nymph for trout, not the first time he has done this I hasten to add, although we too have had the odd salmon on the nymphs over the years when conditions for salmon fishing have been difficult. Possibly a lesson to learn here!

Craig with yet another Brown.
Around the middle of the month there was a good influx of Sea trout showing in some of the beats too, and I was asked by a keen Sea trout angler to take him out through the night to have a go at them, which needless to say I did, but unfortunately on this occasion the evening was very slow, with very little activity from the fish and quite a sharp cutting wind intervening as the night went on, putting paid to the better part of the early hours, however, I plan to give it another go in early July as I have another booking at that time which will hopefully give us the opportunity to once again cross swords with some of these truly enigmatic fish, so here's hoping that we get a warm overcast night with no wind and low clear water (a much better scenario for night time Sea trout fishing). Surely that's not too much to ask!!!

Safety talk before a Borderlines day.
There may not have been much activity on the aforementioned Sea trout session, but there has definitely been lots of activity via Borderlines throughout June, with several youth days organised and delivered to a multitude of youngsters (of all ages) covering a wide range of venues on both sides of the border, (SW Scotland and North West England) with plenty more to come too, including a youth Sea trout session on the river Nith, but not at night I might add. Looking forward to that one!

Friday, 2 June 2017

The Merry month of May

A Specimen Brown for Charles
As expected, May certainly hasn't let us down on the fishing front, yes it was difficult at times in the early stages of the month, but as soon as those northerly and north easterly winds gave way to warmer South Westerlies, the trout fishing improved no end, and when we did eventually get some fresh water there were plenty more salmon caught too. That said, the salmon fishing continues to produce fish on this low water, especially on the lower river where a lot of fish are being spotted on many of the beats, not to mention the ones that have been hooked and lost, including some good fish lost by myself and the rods I have had out on the river. You know who you are!

Richard into Another Brown
In the early part of the month the trout fishing did take a little bit of time to get going, but if persistent, you could have some very good days, however as the month progressed, we did catch some cracking browns and more of them too, especially on the dry, and as more and more fly life appeared on the river, the nymphs, and eventually the spiders, (which it has to be said, took a little time to come into their own) began to produce the goods.

Rob into his first Trout
May was also another great month for Borderlines with plenty of youth sessions delivered at a variety of venues, (both coarse and game) encouraging many youngsters to try angling for the very first time and really enjoying it too, whilst at the same time recording some good catches along the way, and with many more sessions arranged for June (and beyond) youngsters becoming involved in angling looks very promising indeed for the future. 

Better Access to the River
That said, youngsters were not the only people I had out for the first time, as several new to fly fishing anglers ventured out with me on the river to see what all the fuss was about, and it has to be said, that it was great fun to see them getting to grips with their new found skills, whilst often catching their very first trout in the process, very rewarding for all involved.

On another note, I was really disappointed for David Pinner, as he was one of the rods, (whilst out with me on the lower river) who after eventually hooking his first salmon sadly lost it again, as it parted company with him during the ensuing fight, (as they sometimes do I'm afraid) but it didn't phase him too much, as following a further attempt to catch another, he put the salmon rod down, set up his trout rod and promptly had some success there instead (as you can see in the picture below). Never mind David your time will come!

David's Consolation Prize
More improvements to the lower beat this month too as I have added some concrete steps (pictured above) to make the corner section more accessible to you all when you visit the lower river with me for both trout and salmon fishing. I have also improved the path along the main run and a new rod rack has been added to replace the old one, all done in time for some late night sea trout fishing in June / July.

On that note, If anyone is interested in booking some night time Sea Trout fishing with me (on the Eden) in June / July, or late evening trout fishing, (or both) it would be advisable to let me know a.s.a.p. as you will see from the link to my calendar that dates in these two months are disappearing fast. See you in June!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Better Conditions Ahead

Discussing the one that got away!
For the most part, April never did warm up, with cold winds persisting throughout, prompting many of us to put the thermals back on underneath our fishing clothes at times, especially when spending longer periods of time wading in the river, in fact the previous month (March) often threw up much more pleasant temperatures in comparison. 

David with a Cracker!
The river itself has remained low and because of this, for the most part, (during fishing sessions) we have been targeting trout, as apposed to salmon, however it is interesting to know that those salmon anglers who have persisted with the fly, whilst faced with these low flows, have actually been picking up very fresh fish, granted not in great numbers, but certainly in good condition, as you can see from the picture on the left, showing one of these beautiful creatures caught on Thursday from the beat I manage on the lower river. The same angler went on to catch another fish almost identical to this one three days later. Well done David!

Eoin with his first Trout
With the trout fishing generally remaining difficult throughout April, (both above and below the surface) most certainly influenced by those cold windy days we have been experiencing, it has to be said, despite these colder snaps, that we are now seeing a bit more activity from the trout, which has recently been affording us a much better success rate, especially toward the end of the month as we approach May (a great all round month for fishing).There is something quite exciting about May as things generally tend to reliably warm up, as nature bursts into life, often offering us some incredible sport at this time of year.

Phil into a nice Trout
This recent activity is most certainly being influenced by the availability of a wider variety of fly life which is appearing on a more regular basis on the river as we move into May, and although we have already been seeing small amounts of Large Dark Olives, March Browns and Grannom, (at times) we are now seeing a few Iron Blues and Olive Uprights in the mix too, the latter two species should certainly become more available to the trout as we move into May.

Phil's friend Henry also playing a fish
I certainly cannot be accused of being a purist throughout my fly fishing career, i.e. dry fly only; as some people advocate, because I do like to fish wet flies, (spiders etc) nymphs, both light and heavier versions, and a variety of other techniques too, I also like to teach these many and varied techniques to others, simply because as I am in no doubt that having these options available to you as an angler, given the many situations and conditions you will be faced with on rivers or stillwaters, can really improve your success rate. However, I also have to admit that when we do get good numbers of Upwinged flies on the surface, that there is nothing more exciting, visual, and enjoyable than fishing the dry.

Eden Trout Returned (underwater shot)
I have also been very active under the Borderlines Banner again this month, along with the rest of the Borderlines team, (as shown in the picture below) with several youth sessions already completed this year and several more in the pipeline for May and beyond. These sessions are incredibly rewarding and the feedback so far, from both the youngsters and their families has been fantastic. Let's hope many of them go on to become future anglers, or better still, future instructors!

Borderlines Entomology Session
Finally, lots of casting sessions again in April with many people coming along to get themselves up to speed with their casting and fishing techniques prior to their planned fishing trips later in the season. I always enjoy a casting session and With May now upon us I am also looking forward to catching up with many more of you this month and meeting several new faces too, many of whom are already booked in for tuition, fishing and guiding on the river Eden. See you soon!

Friday, 31 March 2017

Mixed Messages in March

Out with Jeff on a cold March day
The conditions in March have been fickle to say the least, from very cold winds coming off snow capped hills, to exceptionally warm days for the time of year, during which time we have actually had to peel some outer layers off as the day progressed.

The early season Salmon fishing has continued to produce a few more fish for those willing to venture out, with one angler actually recording three double figured fish to his own rod on the same day, no mean feat when fishing for Spring Salmon I might add.

In contrast a much warmer March day
I have also had a few people out again this month, mainly for tuition, but we have had a couple of forays for the Spring Salmon too, especially when the water was looking good, however with water conditions becoming very unsettled again towards the end of March it did make things a little more difficult again, That said, conditions are set to improve as we head into April, (along with the usual showers) and if last year is anything to go by we did see some good runs of fish between Mid April and mid June, so here's hoping!

The trout fishing has also been slow since the season opened on March 15th, but that can often be the case until we get further into the month (as those trout fishers amongst you will testify to) and better still, as we move into May when things generally begin to liven up quite quickly as temperatures change and we see better fly hatches, coupled with more activity at the surface. Although nymph fishing at the right stage during these hatches can often offer up some fantastic sport too.

One of our Borderlines days
I have also been out with the schools again this month (as part of the Borderlines team) covering a wide range of activities, i.e. entomology sessions, Stillwater fishing sessions, life cycles, all about the fish sessions and family casting tuition sessions, including several competitions to get youngsters interested in fishing and all it encompasses. These days are always a great success and they do throw up some very keen potential future anglers. We have many more of these sessions planned for 2017, several of which have been organised by Debbie Parke (pictured above right) who is the operations Manager and Fishery Biologist at the River Nith Catchment Fishery Trust and a great supporter of the work we do under the Borderlines banner. Thanks Debbie!

Another happy youngster
Finally, I am looking forward to meeting up with lots of familiar faces again in April/May as we venture out onto the river for both casting and fishing sessions. I never get tired of seeing the river come to life again at this time of year and I am forever grateful to it for offering us some fantastic sport whilst enjoying good company. See you on the river in April.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Cold Winds and Snow Melt

Eden High and Coloured
February has not displayed much out of the ordinary this year, with cold winds in attendance at times and the recent snow melt off the Pennines and surrounding areas making the Grayling fishing a little more difficult than usual, but as long as we have been well wrapped up we have certainly enjoyed some relatively nice days too. This has been apparent as a small number of you have already been braving the elements to indulge in a bit of casting tuition in preparation for the new season.

Beat improvements
It has to be said though that the Grayling fishing (in general) this winter (on the Eden) has been relatively slow in comparison to other years, and when venturing out for them we've had to be prepared to do a bit of searching, this has also been the general consensus from several other anglers I have spoken to on the river over this period.

The problem we now have toward the end of this month is the recent heavy rain, causing high and coloured water levels, not the best scenario for either Grayling or Salmon fishing I might add, but whilst the water levels were behaving themselves the river did produce a few salmon, caught by the few early season stalwarts who always venture out at this time of year. This is always a god sign!

A good bend in the Rod
I have taken out the lease this season for a section of the lower river, which a few of you have fished with me in the past, (and caught some good fish too I might add) therefore I have been kept busy lately with a few repairs and improvements down there and have several more in the pipeline. For those of you who haven't fished this section of the river with me, the beat is a tidal stretch, not far from the sea, and can therefore be a good opportunity to catch fresh salmon on low water when other beats may be struggling a bit, however there are some good Brown trout and night time sea trout fishing opportunities down there too, so it can be a good all round beat.

Tony's good condition Early Brown
Whilst down there I did indulge in a little bit of early season salmon fishing myself, along with Tony Bell, (pictured above) as there had been a couple of fresh salmon spotted on the beat from the other bank. Unfortunately we did not connect on this occasion, but Tony did do battle with a good conditioned early season Brown Trout, on a tube fly, which was quickly unhooked and returned to the water, but it has to be said that the condition of this fish, which was around the two and a half pound mark, was pristine and very plump, hopefully one for the trout rod later in the year!

Chilling in the Hut
Tony and I will be back down there again at the weekend (water levels permitting) to do a little more tidying up and to Coppice a few willows whilst we are there, February can be a good time to do this before the tree's start to actively grow again. I am sure we may wet a line too whilst we are there, as it would be rude not to. Watch this space!

It won't be long now before we are properly targeting some of these good Browns on lighter tackle, being as the season starts again (on the Eden) on March 15th, so let's hope we encounter a few more of these good quality fish when the trout fishing gets going again and throughout the season too, which I am sure we will. "Tight Lines to all".