Sunday, 31 December 2017

Almost the New Season

A day when conditions were okay
November and December saw some unfriendly water levels, not really ideal for Grayling fishing, most of the time, and a few cancellations by me along the way because of this. However we did have the odd day trying for them, but with limited success, i.e. just the odd fish.

Never mind we cannot complain I suppose as we have had some great days throughout the season and I am looking forward to many more when the New season is upon us again, which isn't far away I might add. Here's to 2018!

Enjoy the New Season!
This brings me to the main reason for sending this quick blog out to everyone on the eve of the New Year, and that is to wish you all the very best best for 2018, health and happiness, and to thank you for your excellent company over the 2017 season. I look forward to catching up with many of you again this coming year for tuition, fishing, and plenty more tales by the river bank. "Tight Lines" to you all.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

As the Salmon Season Closes

Simon getting in some casting practice whilst fishing for Salmon on the River Eden

Unfortunately the forecast was correct and the additional water we were expecting did arrive making the last few days towards the end of the Salmon season on the Eden difficult to fish, with the water up and down like a Yo Yo once again. However it didn't stop us from trying and we certainly gave it our best shot, some days paying off and some days not!

John with his first fish on the Fly
However, the days when the water was too high did give some of you the opportunity to get some casting practice in despite these higher water conditions, and the last few days of the season also saw some of you catch a few salmon too, and on one of these days in particular, it was great to see John (pictured left) catch his first ever salmon on the fly, a very fit little hen fish that gave a good account of herself and happily took off like an express train when returned to the water. (well done John). 

Another fish being returned
Apart from seeing the odd fish here and there, there was one particular day when things were definitely looking good and Jeff (pictured below) got off to a good start, with a large coloured cock fish, (into double figures) taking his fly relatively early in the daywhich I might add, he he quickly returned. However, there is no doubt in my mind that there would have been more fish to follow, given the amount of fish moving through the beat, but the reason for this soon became apparent as the water eventually began to rise fast and the river was ultimately out of order yet again.

A large cock fish (quickly returned)
Unfortunately we had to abandon the last day of the season as the water levels were far too high and on the rise once again, even the beats higher up the river were off limits, but at least we were offered a small window of opportunity the day before when conditions were okay to at least afford us the possibility of a fish. 

Nothing much more to report on the salmon front I'm afraid given that there was just two weeks of the season left since my previous blog, but at least we did have a bit of action in the interim period.

Into one of those large trout
However, that said, it has to be mentioned that we did, once again, encounter several of those larger brown trout that often elude us during the trout season, which were (as they often are) very active and aggressive at this time of year, many of which were literally hammering those quite large salmon flies with a vengeance. Some of these trout that were caught, and quickly returned, were formidable too, with several well over two pounds. However it was really good to have some confirmation that these guys are still lurking about out there.

Another large Brown on the Salmon rod
Moving away from the Eden, my next stop was Wales for the annual AAPGAI assessment event in Builth Wells. This is a great opportunity for potential new instructors to gain their teaching qualification, and for current instructors to move forward on the ladder to the next qualification level in their individual journeys. This event is always a great get together and affords AAPGAI members (amongst other things) the opportunity to watch some great demonstrations from other instructors.

One of the many Demonstrations
This years event also gave us the opportunity to watch a fantastic film and presentation delivered by my good friend and fellow AAPGAI instructor, Ken Whelan, scientist and research director for the Atlantic Salmon Trust (AST). The film and presentation was very interesting and focused on the migratory paths of the Atlantic Salmon and how this may ultimately effect us as anglers. I am looking forward to the next get together which will be held in Cockermouth, Cumbria, where I am hoping to see the return of the popular AAPGAI public open days. Watch this space!

Whats next you might ask? Well I do have a few people booked in for Grayling sessions over the winter period (water conditions permitting). So let's hope the weather stays fine long enough to help make the fishing is good and that we can tempt a few of these magnificent winter season extenders to the net. Here's hoping!

Friday, 6 October 2017

A Very Unsettled Month

Chris into a small salmon
In terms of fluctuations in water levels, September was one of the most unsettled months we have seen this year, which in my opinion never bodes well for any type of river fishing, let alone salmon fishing, however some of the people I had out in September did connect with a few fish all the same, both Salmon and Trout, and even though we were not seeing lots of salmon showing in the pools we did manage to record some success.

Returning a small Cock fish
The problem with constantly high waters, from a fishing stand point, is the fact that fish can simply get their heads down and concentrate on navigating the river and nothing else, not a bad thing I might add, as this can only be good news for future generations of fish, and anglers too. However you will certainly see fish from time to time, literally sneaking upstream on these higher waters, often barely breaking the water surface as they do so, leaving their regular holding pools, especially those that fish best on a low water, (often on the lower river beats) almost devoid of fish. We have witnessed this several times this month, which can be very frustrating for the angler, but remember this, they do have to stop from time to time on their journey upstream to rest up, and this is when we get the opportunity to connect with one or more of them on the fly.

Andy into a Double Figure fish
Despite these conditions we have definitely still had opportunities to catch a few salmon this month, and we have also hooked and lost a few too, however, some of these salmon we have connected with have definitely had plans of their own, parting company with their potential captors, one of which you can see in the picture above left as Andy fights a double figure salmon on the lower river, just before disaster struck and the fish came off. That said, at least he did get to see it before it parted company, and to hook it in the first place is always a confidence booster.

Another fish of around 15lb
The fish above wasn't the only substantial fish to escape either, as Allan (pictured right) will testify to, as he played yet another double figure fish (much higher up the river) of around 15lb all the way to the net, just before it gave a final shake of the head and ultimately ejected the fly in front of him before turning tail for deeper water. It sometimes happens I'm afraid as I am sure many of you have experienced yourselves. Never mind Allan revenge is sweet!

Greg with a nice Brown
The few times we targeted trout in September also proved quite productive, although with the water predominantly on the high side and very little surface activity, the most effective method was often a Goldhead nymph, or an alternative weighted nymph pattern of a similar ilk. This was the method chosen by Greg and Nick, (pictured here) taking advantage of a guided fishing opportunity whilst over from France on a business trip. Well done guys!

Nick playing a Brown on a Goldhead
Brown trout, towards the end of their season, are often neglected as our attention turns to salmon fishing, "I see this all the time". However towards the end of the trout season they often become very aggressive as they move closer to their breeding time and some good catches of decent fish can be had, I am sure many of you have experienced this whilst fishing for salmon, often hooking very large browns on a salmon fly, especially as you move from September to October. It's as if the trout know their season is over and they are now safe!!!

A Borderlines Day by the River
More Borderlines events took place again this month affording us the opportunity to continue our current project of introducing many more youngsters to angling and the environment. The picture on the left shows one of our Borderlines instructors explaining to the youngsters how to set up their tackle in preparation for fishing. Prior to this section of the day the youngsters themselves gave a safety talk and we also discussed the life cycles of the fish themselves and the insects they feed upon at the various stages of their lives. Another good day!

The river levels are now beginning to fine down again after yet another rise of water, although there is more rain forecast over the next few days, but let's hope going into October that the water settles down again and gives us the opportunity to connect with a few more salmon before the season finishes on October the 14th. The saving grace is that whilst the river has been rising and falling over a period of time it has remained a reasonable fishing colour for the fly, especially on the higher beats. This is down to the persistent flows of water we have had continuously flushing throughout the system as it makes it way downstream towards the sea.

After the salmon season is over we will once again be focusing on the Grayling fishing which as you know can offer up some great sport and extend our fly fishing season, which is always a bonus. So here's looking forward to getting a few of you out on the river over the winter months to target these wonderful fish. "I know I will be out there regardless".

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.