Sunday, 22 October 2017

Storm Damage

With another storm hitting our shores for the 2nd weekend in a row, it was a no go for the fishing. The rivers have been up & down all week then just as they are starting to settle another storm trashes the country at the weekend, last weekend it was Ex hurricane Ophelia and this week its storm Brian.

Not a good start to my Grayling season but at least Im well prepared with the amount of flies I have managed to tie, the two nymph boxes are full.

Dropper Box hasn't looked so full and in such good order for a while, but I dont see it staying this way for too long, if I get fishing.

The sloe whisky production is into full swing with 4 kilner jars full of berries and whisky and tucked away in the cupboard for a few months, and I was so bored yesterday before the heavy rain came on that I went and picked another couple of pounds in weight of berries so they have all been cleaned and are now packed away in the freezer until required.

The Grayling Society had its AGM & Symposium over this weekend but unfortunately due to work colleagues having holidays booked & me having to cover I never got the opportunity to attend but they were in my thoughts. I had the pleasure of purchasing & reading Steve Skuce's  book Grayling Flies which kept me occupied for a few hours.

A long standing member of the Grayling Society Steve has filled a gap in my library about Grayling & fishing for them as there was no books solely concentrating on the fly patterns for Grayling, this hole has now been plugged thanks to this book and its well written and explains each fly in great detail as well as how to fish them and the tackle, a good book all round.

Im hoping the next blog entry is one about fishing but who knows what storm will roll in over the next week or so, fingers crossed the weather improves.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

A Day of Dries

This week I finally found time to get some tackle made in preparation for the Grayling season, with a couple of floats finished off, a couple of furled leader indicators made up and some flees tied.

A mixture of point nymphs and droppers

Flees & Floats with a couple of furled leader indicators, as this year I plan to give the trotting rod some daylight unlike last year when it never seen the river once.

After a hectic week at work and some intense negotiations with my boss over work load, I was in desperate need of some me time. I had all intentions of going along to the annual Grayling day held each year in Wensleydale and catch up with old friends but today was just one of those days where I needed to be alone and have some me time, so rising early I headed up another Dale for the first time this year in search of the Grayling.

I retired a couple of trusty friends yesterday in the way of my simms 4 seasons old wading boots, they have finally given up the ghost but after 4 seasons I think they have ran their course and I only hope the new set lasts as long as the old ones.

The river over the last couple of days has been up in spate and running off again only to be topped straight back up again so I knew it was high and most probably running with a colour in it.

Sure enough on reaching my starting point my suspicions were confirmed a large water with a lot of colour in it but undeterred I scoped out a place where I suspected a few fish would be lying. About 20 minutes into the session and the first fish of the day sent the indicator to a standstill,  but it wasn't what I was looking for instead it was a heavy with milt trout around 2.5lbs which was released immediately to carry on its breeding.

Moving down the pool I intercepted another 4 trout smaller in size and all released immediately, so I decided to move away as the trout seem to be in residence more than the Grayling.

Sitting on the bank looking at my intended pool to fish next, I noticed a few olives hatching, followed by a few more, the heat from the sun was starting a hatch and a few fish were moving on them almost immediately.

After 10 minutes of watching Grayling rising freely to the olives I decided to switch over to upstream dry fly, as there is no nicer way to take grayling than on the dry fly in my opinion.

2nd cast upstream and my fly was sipped down by a small Grayling. At least I knew my little CDC olive was working.

The next 30 minutes consisted of casting upstream to have the fly sipped down by a rising Grayling and soon I had over 30 Grayling & a couple of small trout cross my fingers, all around this size which was absolutely great fun on the dry fly.

The olives continued to hatch so I decided to head upstream to the next long pool and see if I could find any larger fish, almost immediately the fly was intercepted with this slightly larger fish.

More of the familiar sized fish took the dry and  it was turning out to be a great day on the dry fly, nothing large in size but who cares when they are rising freely and it was giving me plenty of great sport on the 3#.

A few larger trout made an appearance amongst the Grayling and like the earlier one were well advanced into their spawning regime, but the Grayling were now more abundant than the trout, with the odd slightly better sized fish making an appearance.

I reached my finishing point and sat on the bank in the warm sunshine taking a few moments before heading back to the car, when I seen this fungi taking refuge at the base of the tree.

The day which I thought was going to be a difficult day chucking nymphs along the riverbed to try & seek out fish had turned into a day of great sport on the dry fly with over 80 grayling caught in the few hours I was out and a few trout which although were advanced in their spawning regime were still golden in colour.

I took a walk past the blackthorn bushes on my way back to the car to see if they were in fruit and confirmed a thought I had...
Last year the bushes I was stood beside were laden in fruit with over 8lbs picked in less than an hour and the ones I frequent further down the Dale were bare, this year the roles are reversed and these bushes are bare, all bar one sloe which I found tucked away and the bushes further down the Dale were heavy in fruit as I picked them last weekend so my suspicions that these Blackthorn bushes only bare fruit on a 2 year cycle was confirmed, Im unsure about elsewhere but certainly in these neck of the woods they only bare fruit every other year.

Making way way back to the car I passed by the old derelict farm, still stood proud. There was rumours it was going to be renovated back into a working farm but not this year thats for sure.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Out with the Brown & In with the Silver

The weather forecast for the area was severe rain and a yellow warning for wind, so that was the fishing scuppered or so I thought!

I woke up this morning to find drizzle rain and no wind so a quick look at the water levels for the rivers and most were up but steady so it was a game of chance to see if I could find some Grayling for an hour or so.

I headed onto the river and found it to be up and coloured but still in a fishable state so arming myself with a couple of nymphs I set about looking for the Grayling.

First fish and and it was a trout, a quick photograph and it was gone, it never even seen the inside of the net.

The river seemed a lonely place today, most of the wild flowers have now died away and the birds which frequent the banks all but gone apart from the odd dipper making an appearance, all the sand martins nesting burrows empty apart from the odd spider which has now took up residence.

The second fish of the day, another trout.

and the third & forth which were all smaller,

The final shot of a trout, none to be seen again until the new season next year, and hopefully the blog will now be full of the most beautiful fish that swims our rivers, in my opinion!

I was beginning to lose faith about the Grayling as the wind was starting to pick up and I knew time was getting short, moving to a stretch where I had seen a few Grayling during the summer I was hoping that they had not ventured far and sure enough the indicator stopped and a Grayling graced my hand.

Nothing big but beautiful in every detail

As my nymphs hung in the flow whilst taking the photograph another grayling took the point fly.

Casting back into the pool the line went taught almost immediately and I lifted into what I initially thought to be another trout but turns out to be a slightly better Grayling.

The wind was gusting strong now and controlling the line & indicator was turning out to be a pain so decided another 10 minutes and I would call it quits after all I had been privileged with almost 2 hours of fishing that I thought I wouldnt have got.

A few more run throughs of the same pool and another Grayling almost identical to the last comes to the net.

It was time to head back to the car, I was contented and the fishing demons had been laid to rest for another week or so.

The trees are definitely looking autumnal and it wont be long until their golden leaves are washing downstream in the current leaving them bare. 

As I stepped over the last obstacle before arriving back at the car I seen a couple of fungi on the sheltered side of the trunk.

It wont be long until these too have disappeared and with that I disappeared away to the car, leaving the river to the wind, fallen leaves & rain.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Sloe Time

After driving past the Blackthorn bushes last weekend and seeing them heavy with berry I decided to have a trip up this afternoon for an hour of foraging.

 I had a good look at the half dozen or so bushes I frequent and the ones with undisturbed views of the south were heavy with large ripe berries where the one on the northern side of the bush were slightly smaller but ripe never the same.

After about 50 minutes of foraging  and my fingers starting to feel the effects of the sharp thorns which protect the berries I called it quits and headed home.

Washed, de-wooded and ready to weigh into 2 lbs bags for freezing, to split them prior to the sloe whisky making process.

From the foraging in the short time I was out I accumulated 7 lbs of sloes, enough for 3 litres of whisky as I like to use 2 lbs of sloes to a litre of whisky for a nice flavour.

Everyone has different ways of producing sloe whisky or gin but the recipe I was taught many many years ago and has stood me in good stead every year with many friends complementing me on the taste is as follows:

  • 2 lbs of sloes, thawed out after spending a couple of days in the freezer to help split the skins, this takes out the need to prick the skins with a needle as so many people suggest!
  • 1 litre of whisky, entirely up to yourself which brand, but does not need to be expensive brands so a supermarket brand will suffice as the sloes change the taste anyway. I personally prefer famous grouse as my base.
  • 250g of white sugar, Everyone has personal tastes, some prefer sweet, others prefer stronger. Personally I prefer edging towards the stronger with a hint of sweetness as did the man who taught me so I've not changed the amount since being taught.
  • Place all the ingredients in a Kilner Jar, and label up with date etc.
  • Place the Kilner Jar in a cool dark place and once a week shake the jar until the sugar has completely dissolved then leave well alone for a set period of time. I leave mine for a minimum of 3 months before straining off the berries from the liquid & bottling.
The final result a smooth lovely sloe whisky.

Happy Foraging!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

All Ahead Full

With all the home improvements now over for this year and both Karen & myself working flat out at work and on our home for the last few months it was time for a rest, so two weeks ago we flew out to Rome & joined the ship Celebrity Reflection for a two week cruise around the Mediterranean, just what we both needed, some rest & recuperation.

Whilst away I managed as always to seek out one of the local fly fishing shops on one of our port days and what better way to cheer myself up than grab a bargain with a new fly tying vice amongst many other things.

Now back home after our holiday, totally relaxed and looking forward to the Grayling season over the winter.
As the blog followers will know, a fish Im very passionate about than any other and I look forward to the trout season ending so I can get on with the Grayling season, so today I decided to grab a few hours fishing before heading back to work tomorrow.
I headed out up the Dale in search of a last trout before calling it quits on them.

The first look at the water after a few weeks absence was like being reunited with an old friend, I was really looking forward to a few hours on the river and seeing what changes the last few weeks had brought. The first difference was the trees are starting to turn golden colours and you can tell that Autumn is setting in.

The river was low and slightly coloured so opting for a couple of nymphs to start with I eagerly tackled up and dropped in at the tail of the first pool I intended to fish through.

2nd run through I felt a small tug and lifted into the first fish of the day, a small Salmon Par.

A couple of more run through's and the line went static again and the 2nd species of the day was hooked, this time a Grayling had succumb to the dropper I had tied up on the new vice last night.

With nothing more coming from the pool I headed upstream searching the pools as I went, it wasnt long before I bumped into the club secretary and his guest who had decided to have a few hours on the river, after almost an hour of catching up with all the news and going's on and scanning the water for rising fish I left them at one on the long slow stretches chasing a couple of rising fish and headed upstream to the next pool.

It wasnt long until I was into another fish and the the third species of the day giving me the full house of game fish from the river.

Stopping for a bit to rest my knee and look to see if any fish were rising to the flies which were now hatching in the warm weather that was moving up the Dale, I seen a nice fish rising at the top of the pool so sat and watched for 20 minutes or so to see if if it was a continual riser or just being an opportunist and it was a fish which was rising continuously, so swapping over to a dry fly set up with a jingler pattern which always works well on this particular stretch I approached cautiously from below and cast a long line well above it.

The first pass of the fly and it took and ran upstream almost immediately, after some acrobatics and  a few more short runs I slipped the net under a lovely wild Brown Trout.

I thought this as a very apt time to finish this years Brown Trout season and end on a high with such a lovely fish on the dry fly.

Heading home I stopped off at one of my favourite places away from the river, which is a clump of blackthorn bushes which are now dripping with Sloe Berries, so it looks like I will be harvesting them next weekend as its always the end of September or thereabouts that they are ripe enough to pick and get them turned into one of my favourite tipples, sloe whisky.

Getting home I remembered that I still had a couple of litres still turning in the kilner jars since the end of April so in preparation for next week I strained them off and bottled them, You can tell I've been busy this year with other things as normally by this time I have none left and here I am with a couple of litres which will see me through dark nights sat tying Grayling flies, A nice thought to end on.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Favourite Time of the Year

Today I was determined to get a couple of hours up the river but first I had some electrical jobs to finish off in the nearly completed rooms upstairs, all that really remains to be done is for the carpet fitter to come in and move everything back into place....It cant come soon enough if I were to be truthful.

Anyway just before 11am I decided to head up the Dale and split my time between two places seeing as the river was so low, so headed high up into the Dales on the search for some wild trout.
Arriving I found a cold downstream wind blowing and no movement on the river at all, the flow was a mere trickle so I had to put a bit of walking in to find water with some movement in it.

I always love this view of the river as I emerge from the thick fir wood and just glimpse the river.

A few fungi dotted around the wood as I passed through.

I found a couple of deeper runs with some flowing water but nothing was moving at all on the surface so decided to set up a couple of spider patters and fish them upstream with the hope a fish would take an interest.

Nothing looked at the flies for almost an hour so decided to take a break and have a wander to one of my favourite places at this time of year, a few hawthorn bushes which should be starting to bear fruit at this time of year & sure enough the bushes are loaded with unripened sloe berries.

Another couple of weeks and I will be back with my bucket picking them ready for this years batch of sloe whisky making.

Back at the river I had some competition in the streams I was fishing.

 more distinctive when it turned around

A kingfisher sat on its perch looking for a meal.

I made my way fishing upstream back towards the car without a single sighting or touch of a fish, not that I was complaining as it was great to be out especially at this time of year when things are starting to change and the countryside is so colourful right now.

With no fish caught on this particular stretch I jumped in the car and drove the short distance downstream in the search for a fish or two., and on arrival at my next part of the river, the very first upstream cast of the spiders accounted for this small Grayling.

I continued in the stream which ran into deeper water but was hounded by Salmon Parr on nearly every run through with the spiders, I lost count after 10 and decided to move on in the search for fish at another point on the river.

The river was really down on the levels as this is normally a good fast paced stream to fish and here it was hardly moving.

Heading to one last spot before calling it a trip I hooked into a stockie and lost another one at range, nothing big but it was a trout nevertheless, and with that I headed home, not many fish but that didn't matter I still enjoyed my couple of hours away from it all gathering my thoughts and enjoying the surroundings that mother nature has to offer.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Reap the Rewards

How slowly a month passes when your not fishing!

Over the last 4 weeks & more we have been having major going on's in our home, all the windows & frames have been removed and replaced with new, the whole of the upstairs had to be packed away in preparation for new ceilings to get fitted and the walls plastered and all the radiators hung back on the walls & connected, then finally everything painted, which was no mean feat, all that remains in the next week or so is the carpet fitters to come in & fit new carpets and then we can start moving things back in, I will be so glad when its all done and I can sleep back in my own bed instead of a mattress on the floor.
Im definitely getting too old for this sort of stuff & I swore today that this would be my very last time I picked up my paint brush & roller for decorating!!

Anyway after finally sweeping up the last of my mess this morning I decided to take a few hours off and get myself some peace & tranquillity and head up the Dale, something I've only been dreaming of.

I arrived just after lunch and as you can see the field will be easy walking with the grass been cut ready to dry.

I really was hoping on the walk down that I would come across some rising fish  as I really fancied a day of dry fly fishing.

As I sat on the grass and tackled up I noticed some dew still sitting on some of the blades of grass along the riverbank, which surprised me as there has been no rain and strong sunshine,  and early afternoon I though this would all be dry.

As I glanced over the river it was down on normal levels and the bottom was quite dirty with weed covering everything but it looked in good condition and most of all the occasional fish was rising which really made me happy.

With nothing specific hatching I put on a small cdc olive and hoped it would entice some interest from a fish or two and I didn't have to wait long to find out. On the first cast at a rising fish up it came and took my artificial and I was on. Summer Grayling on the Dry Fly it really doesn't get much better than that!!

As I moved down the run a few smaller Grayling rose to my fly before the trout pushed them out the way and took interest.

a lovely wild fish which nailed the fly and sped off without me even having to set the hook.

It wasnt long until the next trout moved on my fly, another wild fish and spirited in its fight.

As I moved downstream the rising fish dies away so I decided to sit & have a break and just chill as its been a busy 4 weeks with long hours after my normal work so I just needed to recharge the batteries. As I placed my rod down I noticed lovely small orange flowers sitting in the undergrowth.

a chill half hour just lying in the grass watching the clouds pass overhead.

I sat and watched as a few fish started to make an appearance in the pool below me, nothing of any great size but they were rising nevertheless. 

Starting off small they started to increase in size as I got to the head of the pool.

I was chuffed to bits, all the Grayling coming to the dry fly which makes it all the more sweeter as I think too many anglers are heading to rivers with one thing in their mind which is to trundle nymphs along the bottom looking for anything they can find and not bothering with any other method.

Up under the cover of some overhanging trees I could see a fish rising so approached as best I could along a deep grassy bank until I was within casting range and I stood and watched as the fish rose a couple more times in what looked like slow motion as it broke the surface and slurped down a small terrestrial fly. 

A few casts over it and the net went under the fish soon afterwards.

a few feet away another small fish broke the surface so a quick flick of the rod and the fly landed almost on the trout's nose as it rose at the exact moment the fly hit the water, small but beautiful in every detail.

Time was getting on and I told Karen I would be back home before 5pm, so I set off back towards the car unknowing that the best was still to come!

As I made my way back towards the car I wasnt really fishing much, but just taking in the surroundings more than anything else with a flash of blue as the kingfisher flew past heading upstream and the occasional dipper hopping from rock to rock.. I was almost level with the car and decided to have a last cast across a deep slow glide, I hadn't seen anything rise it was just a spur of the moment decision I took and proved to be the best decision of the day, on the second cast a fish slurped down my dry and the rod bent over hard, a nice trout I though, Oh how wrong I was, it was a lovely big Grayling and it was putting a good bend in the 3#.

A few moments later I slipped the net under what I would describe for this river as a clonking Grayling, hooked squarely in the lips with a small size 16 cdc dry fly.

This really was the icing on the cake and made all my days of not getting out with the rod worth while, I was one happy angler thats for sure. I couldn't top that so it was head for home time on a definite high, as Grayling like that dont come from the river very often and to come to a dry fly made it even more special, one I will remember for a while that Im sure of. Just over 4 hours of absolutely brilliant dry fly fishing on the river, what an antidote to weeks of time away from the river. 

In the downtime away from fishing I took delivery of another rod after trying out Martin's rod when we headed off together at the start of July for a session.

a small fibreglass 3# for the small stream fishing we plan to do together in the future, not as in your face as his light sabre coloured one but Im happy with it, just need to get a trip organised to test it out.

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