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 Anglers 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!

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
Jeff Jones (In at the Deep End)
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".

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

And So it Begins!

Welcome to the 2017 Season with Border Game Angling
Happy New Year to one and all and a very warm welcome to a brand new season here on the river Eden in Cumbria. Here's hoping 2017 produces the goods!

The few times I have been out for Grayling this year have resulted in about a 50% success rate with a bit of searching to do along the way before locating them, but with a little will power and plenty of persistence, we did stumble across a few from time to time.

On another note, this reasonable weather we've been having has certainly brought out those of you wishing to improve your casting skills and it has to be said that we have already had some very pleasant sessions in the sunshine. Yes I admit we've had a few cold days here and there too, as well as a little bit of unwelcome extra water now and then, but apart from that the first month of the year hasn't been bad at all here in the North West.

Anyway, on to the job in hand. For the first blog of the season I thought I would do something a little different and focus on some of the flies you may wish to bring along with you if you are coming to fish the Eden with me this year, in particular those flies that were consistently successful in 2016. Here are some suggestions you may find useful:

Grayling:
A selection of Grayling temptations
Grayling can be fickle at times, to say the least, especially winter Grayling, but believe me, when they are on they are on! The general rule is to fish deep when it is really cold (in which case very heavy nymphs and bugs, to represent the aquatic stages of a variety of flies, can be a real bonus) and then to fish higher in the water as the temperatures improve. However, over the years I have come to realise that the phrase "general rule", is just that, and I, like many other anglers I am sure, have been caught out in the past by following that "general rule". Yes this can be a good guide for most of the time, but do not be afraid, or too lazy, to change your offerings to something like North Country Spiders for example, regardless of whether or not you are fishing in a hard frost with low temperatures, you may still see the very odd winter upwing on the surface with no apparent interest shown in it from the fish, do not dismiss these observations as changing to this method in these circumstances can sometimes save the day I can assure you!

Brown Trout:
Dry Adams (with posts)
I could go on forever about the flies to use for brown trout and at some point most of them will work too, that said, the idea here is to give you a small selection that works on the Eden without having to go out and buy a multitude of flies to experiment with, so as a suggestion for a small selection that work very well on the Eden my list would be as follows: Spiders (yet again) can often be a very good early season offering, although they will usually work all year round too. A good selection of spiders to have in your box would be: Snipe and Purple, Orange Partridge (Partridge and Orange) Partridge and Yellow and Waterhen Bloa. Dries are a mine field, but if you have Greenwells Glory, Adams, (Adams with a post can be a very useful visual aid) and Klinkhammers, you will not be far off the mark. The Klink and Dink can be a lethal cocktail at times, often referred to as the Duo method of fishing, which is why it is essential to carry a few goldheads with you too, and for this requirement you won't go far wrong by having a few GRHE's and PTN's in your collection, and finally the f fly (CDC) can also be a useful addition to your fly box. As I said, I could go on forever, and all of the above will work on many rivers, but the important thing here is that these flies have all proved themselves here on the river Eden.

Sea Trout:
Sewinmeisters
As I am sure many of you will already know, Sea Trout can be caught on all of the above, especially throughout the day, although usually when we are not expecting to, i.e. whilst targetting Brown Trout and Grayling. This is fact as we have experienced this many times over the years here on the Eden. However, most of our Sea Trout sessions are scheduled for the evenings and into darkness, therefore we need a few specific flies for this approach, we also need to be armed with both floating lines and more often than not, sinking tips. The suggestion I would make here for the Eden is a selection of small to medium sized doubles, and both small and large singles. e.g. doubles of sizes 10 and 8 and singles of size 10 and 6. The smaller flies will mainly be used in the first half of the evening up to about midnight, (approximate time) and my arrangement for these flies on the leader would be, double size 10 on the point and single size 10 on the dropper (sizes can vary depending upon temperature). Then after midnight, as the temperature (usually) drops a little more, the larger double on the point (size 8) and the larger single on the dropper, (size 6) or alternatively, two large size 6 singles on both point and dropper often does the job. Choice of flies to bring for the smaller singles would be the traditional Peter Ross and Mallard and Claret, any black doubles you fancy, and a selection of Sewinmeisters for the larger singles, although again the traditional Teal Blue and Silver also works well.

Salmon:
Cascade Double
As with the Sea Trout, I could tell a story or two of Salmon we've had on dries and Goldheads in previous years whilst fishing for trout on 5 and 6 weight rods, in fact some of you reading this will remember enjoying this experience whilst out with me on the river. That said, the last thing on your mind as you decide upon which Salmon flies to bring with you to the Eden will be goldheads or dries, "You wouldn't take a tea spoon to an all you can eat competition would you", so we want something fit for purpose. 

Most Salmon flies will register an interest from the silver tourist from time to time, but there does seem to be a small selection of these flies that excel on many rivers, and several that are often river specific, or so it seems, so based on these considerations, and 45 years experience of fishing the Eden, here are just a few I would suggest to bring with you: 

Cascades and Ally's Shrimps, (both good all rounders) Willie Gunn, Silver Stoat and last but not least a black and yellow tube fly, (plastic tube) however, all of these flies can be dressed on either doubles or tubes. Obviously we have caught Salmon on a wider range of flies than this over the years, but this small selection has been very effective here in previous years and are all worth considering. It is also worth mentioning that many of our successful forays have been when using smaller versions of these flies, (given the right water conditions) i.e. 10's and 12's for instance, certainly no bigger that 8's, which can often (in my opinion) be too big, unless we have high and coloured water conditions that is, in which case there is an argument for this larger offering.

Summary:
A selection of spiders
I do appreciate that flies are not cheap these days and not everyone can afford such a selection all in one go, so don't despair, because what you don't have with you I probably will, but if you are looking for a more affordable condensed selection to cover the above scenarios as best you can, my choices would be as follows: For the Trout and Grayling angler, a selection of Spiders, two or three Goldheads e.g. Gold Ribbed Hares Ear and Pheasant Tailed Nymph, a few heavy Nymphs and Bugs, some Dry Adams, (with post) and some small CDC's, (f flies can be good). For the Sea Trout angler, a couple of small and medium sized black doubles of your choice (Silver Stoats will work for both Sea Trout and Salmon, thus saving some money) and some small and large singles as discussed above. Finally, for the Salmon angler, bearing in mind you will have some Silver Stoats to fall back on, a Cascade would be a great choice. 

With several bookings already in place for the 2017 season I look forward to seeing many of you on the river again this year and I hope the above information goes some way to making your trip a successful one. See you soon and "Tight Lines" to all.