I have laid aside business, and gone a'fishing.

Izaak Walton

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Salmon, a bit scarce in Manchester....

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...

Meanwhile, my dreams are filled with...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Duffer comes good....

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.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fixing the odds.

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.

I wish you well, my friends. Tight lines.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Going urban


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.

A Red Letter Day, for me. Cheers JT!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Taking it where I find it...

A work call had taken me to Bacup in Rossendale, Lancashire. Before I left I had a quick mooch around on Google and found Hillside Fishery and noted it wasn't so very far away from my call.

I took the trusty Shogun and filled the boot with some gear. A funny mix, briefcase and fly tackle!

Hillside was a rather bleak and unromantic place. A number of coarse fishing holes-in-the-ground with a separate, small hole in the ground for the fly fisherman. But, during my current attempt to "catch-up" and do rather more fishing than last year, I'm not adverse to, dare I say it, slumming it.

I fished from a couple of the fishing stages, without luck. Somewhere I'd read that the fishing was considered easier at the "top-end". I moved to the "top-end".

A few casts later - a solid take from the bruiser above.
One or two of the larger Pike I've caught, on feeling the hook, went deep and then shook their heads from side to side in an attempt to shake free. This blighter did exactly the same. I hooked him and he sped to the deeps (all of 4ft.) and held firm just shaking his head from side to side. Good prevailed and after a bit of surface thrashing, he was in the net.

I'm sorry, dear reader, that I didn't take a very good photo. I'm always anxious to get whatever fish I'm lucky enough to catch back in the water asap. Rather than spend time setting up the perfectly placed rod, reel and fish shot.
Anyway, I'm tempted to say that this, rather thick bodied, Rainbow was just a smudge under 3Ibs.

A lesson to me, as if I needed reminding, that it isn't only the nice looking fishing venues that can provide some joy

Until next time...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Taking Mick's Advice...

It was Mick Jagger, and his chum's, who said, "You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you will find, you get what you need". And with that in mind...

I'd love to catch a 2Ibs Grayling, from the River Goyt, on a nicely drifted nymph, on a crisp winters day. But so far, that goal remains a dream. So, in the meantime I enjoy whatever comes my way.

Angela declared she wanted yet another shopping expedition to Boundary Mill,  my mind turned to Roughlee, a fishery I always enjoy visiting.

After a 40 minute drive, we arrived at Boundary Mill - it's not the best photo I've taken but my heart wasn't in it... I deposited Angie and headed toward the fishery, which is only a 10 minute drive away.

Terry, who lives in the house below, owns and runs the fishery and is very accommodating, but today he was nowhere to be seen. No one else was fishing and the place was very quiet. Terry's dog was in the house, but he never has much to say. I was alone.

Thankfully though, the fishery was open and after signing in, in the "signing-in-hut", I tackled up and cast my first line of the day. Temperature was around 4C but a strong wind off the hills made if feel closer to 0.
The Hills

I was fishing a large and weighted, dark green nymph. Drawing the line in from my third cast met with a gentle nibble, then a pluck and then a solid take and it was good to see a bend in the old rod. After a short, but spirited fight, I was joined on the bank by the chap above. A nice, silvery Rainbow weighing in at around the 1Ibs mark. He remained quite still for his close up and then I slipped him back to live another day.

Bolstered by my early success, I was expecting another fish straight away.  I saw neither hide nor hair of another fish for at least another hour. I fancied a break, so I toddled down the bank to the "cabin". 

Terry leaves tea and coffee and fresh milk, and there's even a microwave for those who may have brought food with them. I never feel the need to display my cordon bleu skills, by heating up a three course meal. A coffee usually does it.

I normally work on a Wednesday (yes, it's Wednesday, today) but continuing with my plan to try to fish a little more and work a little less, I had taken the day off. A friend of mine, John Tyzack, was a high flier in the world of I.T. He got sick of the job and became a fishing guide (and a very good one at that).

I doubt if I ever could give up my job completely, and I would never make any kind of guide. Our family business will always have a strong hold of me, but its nice to daydream of maybe's.
By the way, take a look at J.T.'s website, but be warned, it could make you very jealous.
Click here for the link.

After my coffee break, I headed back up the bank for another try. Within a few minutes I was into fish number two. Again, another nice Rainbow that gave a very good account of itself. A quick snap and once again it swam off to join in the fun underwater.

I cast an eye at my watch, Angie had said she'd be finished by five and it was just after four. I'd had a number of nibbles and plucks, but no solid takes. I cast another line out and it was nearly pulled from my hand by the fish above.

It must have taken my fly, turned in a flash and bored away at top speed. A good scrap ensued with plenty of diving and thrashing and finally, we were together. I loved the look of this rainbow; very healthy, very clean and a blush of deep purple on the flank.
I thanked him and slipped him back.

I wasn't in my office, or in a school, or in a motel, or stuck in a jam on the M25, M6, M11, M40 - take your pick, dear reader. I was a part of the world again - my world - my fishing world.
It's a beautiful place to be.

I broke the rod and wound the line back on the reel, it was time to go and collect Angie from her shopping.

Within the precincts of the shopping centre is Barney's, a fish & chip cafe/restaurant...
Angie was happy....

And I was happy!

Until the next time...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Return of an old flame...

Last year I was working none stop, and I went fishing 6 times!!!

This year, I want things to be different....I want to go fishing a hell of a lot more. The main reason I started this blog was for my own satisfaction. So that when I'm confined to a home for the elderly, or the insane, or both, I can look at my blog and remember all those happy times when I was out there in the world, becoming some small part of it.

But if I'm not careful, I won't have too many posts to read while I'm being spoon fed sago by an eastern european nurse who began life as a man called George but after some strong medicine grew breasts, became a "woman", changed her name to Magdalena and won an olympic bronze in the shot putt.

With that in mind I cleared my diary for Friday and got the hell out!
I fancied a trip to the River Goyt in the hunt for some of the Grayling.  If you can see beyond the rubbish littering the banks and the odd shopping trolley that lies in wait on the river bed to snag your fly - it's a lovely little river with lots of features and twists and turns.

With hope in my heart I struggled into the chest waders. Excessive feasts and parties and a few dozen bottles of Merlot over christmas made the task that bit more of a struggle, but finally, suited and booted I made off for my favourite pool. The river was a bit low and still quite cold, but I didn't give a hoot and tied on a couple of heavy nymph's. (Thanks J.T.).

I waded out a few yards and fished about 20 yards of the far bank, wading gently and following the flow and the bubble-stream, letting my fly's drift down with the current. I didn't get so much as a pluck. I repeated my efforts a few more times but then I was joined in the swim by a large black dog.

A man appeared, dressed in running gear, he announced that this was the dog's favourite pool. Mine too, I replied. The dog emerged from the water and before he had time to shake, the man threw a hefty branch into the river a few yards from where I stood. The dog launched himself into the water in a way that reminded me of the launch of the QE II. All the scene lacked was the Queen, a Mayor and a bottle of champers tied to a length of ribbon.

In his excitement, the dog (I didn't ask his name) was breaking wind from his rear end. And as he swam to retrieve the branch the farting gave the illusion of some kind of jet propulsion system.
Aaawwh, cried the man, he just loves a good swim. I departed, somewhat miffed.

Further upstream I came across a few boys scaling the wall of one of the many bridges that cross the Goyt. I stopped to take the photo, but didn't stop to chat. It seemed a dangerous way to spend an afternoon but each to their own and all that.
Quietly, I wished them well and hoped they get their hands on the Eiger, one day.

I fished several more of my favourite places, a twist here and a turn and a glide up there there but, again I didn't see a single fish. The sun, which had fought all day to break through, had reddened my face and the cooling breeze had chilled me a little. I thought of home and a meal and three fingers of irish but still, I had enjoyed the best day of this young year and I want to do it again and again and again.