Spent Monday on the Dove with JT.
It was freezing cold and it was extremely muddy and we didn't catch the monster but, what a fabulous day it was. A few lovely Grayling put the cherry on a well iced cake.
Made a pleasant trip with JT to another, once polluted, urban river. You know the kind of place, where the town centre has grown up around a river and over the years the burghers have used the water as a dumping ground for their rubbish. Did they somehow imagine that once cast into the murky depths their detritus would be washed away along with any thoughts of guilt.
However, as the traffic rumbled overhead, we descended into an overlooked underworld for surely the people walking around the town above us were unaware of the beauty that lay beneath their feet. During the day I saw three magical Kingfishers darting up and down the river and we both spotted a large brown dragonfly zipping overhead. It hovered for while a few feet above us but we proved of little interest to this particular aeronaut and in a flash it was twenty feet away.
Dry fly beetles and a bit of double-nymphing brought enough plump and beautifully marked brown trout to hand to keep us both quite happy. A quick break for a liquid lunch and we were soon knee deep once more on a higher stretch. However, the fish had faded away and after some time we called it a day.
A few pints of Guinness in a pleasant beer garden - the perfect spot for the debriefing.
I enjoyed an afternoon up at Entwistle reservoir yesterday, my first trip of the season. En route, I called at Anglers Den in Darwen to collect my day ticket.
Harry, the proprietor, is a lovely chap. You could easily lose a whole afternoon while you chew the fat as he talks about his days as a pilot and how his dear wife caught a Salmon that was so big it took him years of grim determination to beat her record - sorry Harry.
As we chatted away I spotted something that took me back thirty years or more - an old Mitchell 300 reel. The very model I bought brand new as a teenager. You see, one of Harry's other talents is the repair and restoration of old reels and this was one he'd resurrected. I handed over my cash and this lovely old reel is back in my pocket.
Some might scoff and look to their fancy, shiny baitrunners etc. etc. but what price memories - and it's still a bloody good reel and will marry up well with my old carp rod. Come the winter it will see duty on my spinning rod and the three of us will go in search of some Pike.
After leaving Harry's place I made my way to Entwistle and headed to one of my favourite spots. I cast many times as the sun bore down and nothing came to my fly. I sat and glugged some drink and remembered my previous visits over 35 years with friends like Clive and Fred and all the many fish we'd caught and the laughs we'd enjoyed. Happy days.
I stayed until nine and at the death a fish rose not four yards away (an easy reach for this duffer).
The fly landed softly upon the surface and very soon it was gone and all that was left to see was a swirl and a bend of water. I struck and was in and my rod bent into a fish that made the whole afternoon worthwhile.
I quite fancy catching a Salmon - on the fly - using a double-handed rod.
The thing of it is, Salmon are a bit scarce in Manchester. It must be the rain. Well, it's the last thing you'd want after travelling so far. To reach your destination and it rains all the time.
Some speak of Salmon in the Mersey, which is only a 30 minute walk from my house. Then again, if our mutual friend, Mike Duddy, can't tease a Salmon from the Mersey I'm sure my chances are much slimmer. I found a report on Google from one, Sam Billington.
Sam had carried out some detailed and scientific research into Salmon in the Mersey and the results were less than exciting.
Also, the Mersey, at least near me, has steep banks that would make the fishing a little awkward to say the least. Or, perhaps I'm just too fat...
So, last season I had a mooch around on Google and I found Glyn Freeman and http://www.cumbriaflyfishing.co.uk/ A day was arranged and not long after I found myself thigh deep in the River Eden. A more beautiful fishing location I have yet to discover.
Glyn, a lovely chap, took me through the rudiments of Spey casting and yes, I was pretty rubbish at the whole thing but, drawing on the same steely tenacity I regularly employ to finish a half decent bottle of merlot - I persevered.
The day was sunny and bright and quite mild and - I didn't catch a thing. But blimey, what a day! Surely some part of our greater enjoyment of fishing must be the scenery and the Eden was glorious.
Not a half capsized shopping trolley or truck tyre or french letter in sight. Just crystal clear water and blue skies and lush green vegetation - paradise, to coin the phrase.
Anyway, I've booked another day with Glyn and I'm off up to Cumbria Friday week - weather permitting...
Now, the River Ribble is quite a bit nearer to home, as is the Lune. And I remember 30+ years ago fishing the Ribble for dace and Chub (Clive and I caught more eels than anything else) while all the time Salmon were leaping in the Warrington Anglers stretch.
We'd turn off the M6 at The Tickled Trout and park the van in front of De Tabley Arms pub. Then we'd walk through farm fields - and the farmyard - for 45 minutes or so to reach our spot.
Recent reports in Trout & Salmon don't make exactly good reading for the budding Ribble Salmon angler, but I'm still willing to try.
So, if you ever fly fish the Ribble or the Lune, for Salmon or Sea Trout and you don't mind a chubby and wheezing duffer coming along. Let me know...
I joined JT for more urban river explorations. We waded into what used to be a veritable sewer running through a local town centre. The water was largely very clear but the banks still spoke of the years of neglect. No manicured lawns or carefully tidied banks. Instead, we stepped over bricks and tyres and shopping trolleys and god knows what else.
Still, two drifted nymphs brought us some beautifully coloured brown trout, their bellies sporting a dash of butter gold.
Even I managed to persuade the lovely brownie above to leave the river and spend some time aloft. 2 and a half pounds was the guessed weight - good enough for this duffer.
A few quick snaps and the fish was returned to fight another day.
She who must be obeyed said Boundary Mill was calling her name...
What the hell. I dropped her off and headed up to Roughlee once more. Terry, the previous owner, had buggered off and a new boy, Mark, was now running the show. He seemed keen, pleasant and eager.
I cast a few lines without success but was happy enough just to be out and wetting a line.
Then, another fisherman turned up. He was one of these geezers dressed in a flashy red jacket, jaunty baseball-cap, track-suit trousers and a pair of white pumps. Being the boring fart that I am, this disco-desmond (DD) rather jarred my senses. In my book fly fisherman, even stillwater types, should be wearing mainly shades of green fishing kit, or dark blue at a push. To add insult to injury (DD) threw out a long, beautiful and effortless cast and began catching fish straight-away.
I continued, rather heroically, making a total arse of meself with my usual sub-standard casting. My back cast resembling a ball of string found in a corner of the shed and my forward cast looking like I'm trying to lasso a duck.
Even so, by the end of play 3 trout were on the grass - 2 rainbows and 1 blue. All were returned and I was rather chuffed.
Driving home, the motor loaded with Angie and numerous bags full of shopping, I thought it was about time I sought out some expert tuition on the casting front.
After a bit of waffle on the blower I found myself in a sitting room belonging to Mr John Tyzack (JT). A Mr Glen Pointon was also in attendance and he provided a most amusing floor show as he described recent events leading up to him almost being chomped be a shark. Read more here...
Later, I found myself in a local park, rod in hand, under the surgical eye of JT. After a few attempts, my casting was officially stamped 'poor'. JT pointed out my various errors and how to improve them. Patiently, he demonstrated a number of techniques which, hopefully, will help to improve my casting.
Im hoping this new season will see my casting improve and my trips to the river increase.
Finally, I return to you after stepping off the merry-go-round of work for a change.
I'd texted my chum, one John Tyzack (JT), a few days earlier and arranged a day on the river. It was time to get the old waders wet, if I could fit into them...
Waders, as we all know, have the nasty habit of shrinking, especially around the areas of ones botticelli and midriff. Dining out twice a week and enjoying the odd bottle of half decent merlot or rioja have little or nothing to do with it....
The day got off to a good start when my dear wife presented me with a plate of succulent bacon-butties liberally dashed with HP sauce and two nice cups of tea to wash them down. She persuaded me to also consume a fruit slice, just to keep me going you understand.
Feeling prepared, I climbed into the motor and headed off to meet JT and before long we found ourselves in JT's motor, tootling along heading towards a days fishing. Much fun was had along the way as we both waffled on about this and that. I pointed out to JT that I was half-way though an excellent read; Hooked, by George Melly. Georgie boy regales his reader with various memories and ribald tales of his fishing exploits. I recommend it to the broadminded, over eighteen, fishing enthusiast. (RIP, Georgie).
En route to our destination we found ourselves in a delightful market town. Feeling the need for further refreshment I requested JT pull over so we could both enjoy a coffee. The needle on the thermometer had only just crept past zero. Perfect for Grayling but a bit nippy for yours truly.
We sat outside a cafe sipping our hot coffees. JT's dog, Scruffy, had been tethered to our table and was looking rather unimpressed as we enjoyed our drinks. However, her spirits lifted somewhat when the proprietor of the cafe appeared with a juicy sausage in her hand. 'Scruff' made short work of the snack and cheered up considerably. I felt a tad peckish...
We drove on a quarter of a mile until we found a car park, here we could dress for the occasion and leave the motor. Me worst fears were realised though, as I tugged on me waders - they had shrunk!
Anyway, after much puffing and cursing I was suited and booted, but only after having made a mental note to return to my local tackle supplier to purchase a new pair of waders, marked with sizing code XXL!
A short walk through this busy town led us to the riverbank. We must have looked a very strange pair as we mingled, rods in hand, with shoppers and people in their working suits and clothes.
Quite soon though, we were climbing down a riverbank towards what appeared to be very clear water. The banks may have been littered with all manner of debris and detritus, but the water was gin clear. Further testament to the fact that many of our once stone-dead and polluted urban rivers have now been reborn. Nothing short of a miracle, for me, dear reader.
An Iron Blue?
Fishing two nymphs, the point fly being weighted, and with the traffic roaring across the road bridge over our heads, my indicator stabbed down half an inch. I struck and my rod hooped over into a very fit, pound and a half Grayling. Soon, she was brought to the net and what a sight. A length of glittering silver brightened the bleakness of the grey environs. Chubby, is a polite way of describing her as she was slipped back into the water.
After a few more fish we moved up the riverbank towards a weirpool. I always think - Pike, when I meet a weirpool. Something dangerous about their nature, I suppose. You just don't know what lurks beneath the swirling blackness. Slowly, we stepped deeper into its depths and began to fish.
We spent about an hour in the pool and we must have brought dozens of fin-perfect Grayling to hand. Each one carefully unhooked from our barbless fly's and slipped back to join their friends. I caught two biggish males, again around the pound and a half mark and each a very splendid sight.
We decided to move on from the weirpool, JT had another spot in mind. So, we waded back to the bank and trekked back along the river and on reaching the road bridge, scrambled back into civilization.
A brief drive took us to an industrial estate on the edge of the town and we parked outside a pub. A few moments later we were once again descending towards the river. This time the river snaked its way through the buildings that formed the industrial estate. Sitting on top of the river banks were the sheer cliffs of large units housing noisy saw mills and the like. Funnily enough, we found the best beat on this urban river ran along the side of a very noisy commercial enterprise. Machines whined away behind us as grayling came to the hand before us.
I waded a little deeper into the river and suddenly felt an icy grip on the back of my leg, the tell-tale sign that I'd sprung a leak! I mentioned this to JT and he said Diver Dave was the chap to call on.
I'll be posting the waders off to Dave asap.
We caught a few more grayling but the cold of the day was gnawing away at both of us and we decided we'd had our fill.
Greetings, I suppose like many others I've created this blog for my own enjoyment. Reports of my (too seldom) fishing adventures will and do provide happy reading for me - and so it seems, a handful of others.