Introduction to equipment...........
I am waiting.
Waiting for Christmas. Waiting for the new season. Waiting to win the lottery. I am waiting.
Today I have been waiting for three hours in a VW dealership in Chester as my catalytic converter has popped, right in the middle of a working trip through Shropshire and North Wales. It is very tedious!
Should I be waiting? Obviously I will have to wait here in this slough of despond until my car is cured, but generally I mean - should one wait or should one DO?
I have not the funds to shoot regularly, which is my other passtime, so if not in waiting, what should I do to make best use of my time?
Answers on a postcard please - or e-mail me with invitations at firstname.lastname@example.org !!
I don't mean to sound like a big head, but I am not often wrong. Well that's not strictly true; I am often wrong but nobody knows it. What I mean is that I rarely say something unless it is proven to be so, but I often think things that I then seek to confirm or disprove before I announce whatever it is I have to say - ergo, I am not often seen to be wrong.............even though my opening statement and it's immediate correction above seem to instantly contradict this statement, but hey, there we go. It's a pride thing and the fact that I am not a fan of conjecture, especially when it is offered as fact. I know what I mean anyway.
I have now though to admit that some information I have long proffered as said fact, turns out to be no more than spurious opinion at best and actually should be more accurately described as a load of tosh.
I have always made a point of stating that a 10ft 7wt rod that costs £50, in the right hands, can be just as effective as one that costs £500 in those same hands. In certain situations this is undoubtedly true and it is certainly true that a good angler can catch fish with a £50 rod, whereas an indifferent one might struggle with a very expensive model costing ten times as much - that would be user error in the latter case and adaptability/sound technique in the former. The trouble is though that I have never qualified the original statement and I truly believed that I could fish a cheap 10ft 7wt rod in every situation where one is needed and get by. It would never be ideal, but just good enough to warrant not spending out on a better model (plus I have a habit of walking into fences at night and breaking the things into several bits!) and I have always caught plenty of fish with cheapies so that was that - the statement became a fact!!
I have expensive, what I would call specialist rods. I have a 10' 4wt a 9' 5wt and a 7' 3wt that cost hundreds of pounds. I have a nice salmon rod that cost a small fortune (and several really good ones that didn't because I got them second-hand, but that were very expensive when new) but I have never owned a really nice 10' 7 or 8wt, even though I use a rod of this configuration more than any other. It is a summer salmon rod, a catcher of reservoir trout and a night-time sea trout tool.
Well. The other month, September to be precise, I was invited down to fish for sea-trout at night by my chum Alistair, on the Test and at Testwood. Blimey, you can imagine the excitement - then BOOM!!! It hit me like the spear of Osiris whacking the Scorpion King in his bracelet of Anubis; like a bag of spanners dropped from a height of something over 30ft, onto my head, after a night on the beer. Whack it went. It was a shadow - a shadow......of doubt. DOUBT. Doubt in my own assertions. A doubt about the accuracy of MY fact.
This trip would be outside my comfort zone and in the company of someone who knew the beat. Would my cheap rod be up to the task? Would I look like an incompitent fool? Would, for the sake of a £400 horseshoe, the battle be lost? Well I say a shadow of doubt. It wasn't a shadow at all, not even a slight shading. It only lasted a nano-second and I soon wiped it away with a brief self chastisement and a shrug, but on the two hour drive down it resurfaced as a niggle and I could do nothing to negate it. Damn that niggle. Damn that doubt. Damn my tight arsedness.
It was 9pm when I met Alistair at the hut. It was nearly 10 by the time we got fishing as the other guest, Rob, was late (he's a great chap is Rob. A student. A fisherman. A good egg. Just.......well......late. I am never late.........). By 1am Al had caught 5 fish including a four pounder and Rob had had 3 including a 5 pounder - his personal best. I had caught nothing. Nothing. Not a fin had I touched. Why? Because I couldn't get the fly where it needed to be as quietly as it needed to get there. Good grief I struggled.
The Test at Testwood is a pretty wide river below the bridge and a stealthy delivery is required in the dead of night. The boys, who are both good casters but normally no better than I am, were fishing expensive rods and pitching their flies in the hot spots silently and with ease whilst I began to doubt my abilities as a caster. Alistair sussed I was struggling and we swapped rods for the last half hour. He used my £50 effort and I his £600 one. He couldn't get a line out past what I would describe as normal distances for me if I were at home, and never caught another fish, whereas I was suddenly hitting the spot every cast (which required the joint from line to backing to be only a turn onto the reel) and on my first time through the pool I caught a lovely fish of 8lb, the biggest of the night.
My assertion that a £50 rod is as effective as a £500 one was, of course, based on the fact that I only ever fished withing the abilities of a £50 rod, as that is the kind of rod I always fished with. I regularly caught fish on water that I know and so the 'fact' was never challenged. That night in Southampton it was and I have to say it came as a shock to me dear reader; a shock.
Obviously some cheap rods are better than others and some expensive rods are probably over priced cheap ones. There are situatons where a cheapy will perform well enough as I stated earlier and I do think that some good rods are simply too expensive and that they simply cannot warrant their price tag when compared to some others.
Did I leg it straight to Alistair's wonderful shop and part company with a wad of notes? No I did not. What I did do though was buy second hand 10ft rods in 7 and 8wt via the internet in models that I could never afford to buy, or be forgiven by the boss for buying, new. Sorry Alistair!
So here is my FACT for the day: Buy the best you can afford as PRICE REALLY DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!......................
Actually forget that. It is my OPINION for the day. I think I am giving up on facts - they only lead to trouble!!
Oh........and don't be a tight arse!!
I sometimes head north at this time of year and as the seasons change and indeed their timings as the years pass, the need to be able to identify any fish I might catch is becoming more and more relevant.
This is an excellent guide by Robert White:-
|Lovely spawning water on the Upper Dart|
|The River Culm Above Hemyock|
We, that is my family and I, have just returned from our first holiday in Scotland since Harry's arrival almost a year ago. We stayed in a cabin in the middle of a forest, 5 minutes from the paradise that is Glen Affrick, traditionally beheld as one of the finest of its ilk in the country. Forget the Kunlun Mountains of Lost Horizon - this is Shangri-La..................well I think so anyway. Here there are not just mountains but also waterfalls, The Tomich Lochs and the River Glass to explore, not to mention some fine pubs and inns that offer the weary explorer refreshment and sanctuary from the elements. But I guess you have to visit the place to know of what I write and so to help you along and for your delectation here is a picture or two:-
Anyway - it is on the River Glass that I wish to elaborate, as this is after all a fishing based blog and I haven't got to do a lot of fishing this year or indeed blogging either, so her we go.
I booked the day on the BALMORE beat through FishPal several weeks in advance. Now I am not one for gratuitous advertising, but when others may benefit from my own experiences with something then I think that something worth sharing. All I did was go onto the FishPal website and click a button and hey presto - I had a day on the Glass. Simplicity itself. No sooner had I clicked said button than an e-mail of confirmation was received and also one from the beat owner giving me directions and a beat map. Brilliant.
So, um, there we go then - FOR ALL YOUR SALMON FISHING, GO TO http://www.fishpal.com/ You can pay me later Fishpal people!!
So the morning of the 5th September arrived and........................ahh "Darling we have a puncture....."
You can imagine my reaction. Actually because we were on holiday it wasn't that dramatic, until that is the wheel brace that came with the car broke in two. I was a a tad more animated then. But Victoria, ever calm, called the RAC chap and he put on the thing that is passed off as a spare wheel, I was dropped at the river and Vicky went into Beauly for the day. Two tyres needed replacing in the end - £337.00 !!
The first thing that struck me about the Glass is its size. It is a tributary of the Beauly and a Highland river, so I was expecting a Borgie or Avon sized affair. But no; this is a proper river and even a square cast would have to be 35yds in places to fish any lies on the other side. Having said that, there are plenty of lies within easy casting distance - after all the great misnomer about salmon fishing is that the fish ALL lie on the other side. The anglers opposite catch fish and as this is a commonly held misconception it stands to reason that there must be fish lying on your side of the river! Follow? No - oh well never mind. Suffice to say, big as the river looked, I wasn't too over awed. I am a goodish caster and determined, even before arriving, that I was going to fish the river rather than just cast cast cast.
The second thing that struck me was that ALL the water on the 1.25 mile of the Balmore stretch was fly water and that the water was at a very fishable height. The latter is due largely to the fact that the Glass is part of the Scottish Hydro Electric scheme and as such the levels are controlled by way of damns from power stations along its course. This ensures that even in the driest of conditions there is water by way of compensation flow. It also means that the level can change quite quickly, both up and down and this in itself can be a little strange. There are several tributaries above the river's confluence with the Farrar and its subsequent renaming to the River Beauly and these ensure that after rain perfectly natural spates can occur to.
I am, I am afraid, a believer in the fish's ability to tell the difference between a compensation flow and a spate. They tend to run on the latter. Unfortunately there had not been one of these for some time and only one fish was seen all day. The syndicate members who fish the other bank and most of the rest of the river are struggling and it would appear that at time of my visit the fish simply had not arrived. Never mind.
When all is said and done, and herein lies my point, the Glass is a big but rather lovely river. The facilities at Balmore are great and Michael the owner keeps it all very well. The new hut is very comfortable and access very easy. The fly fishes beautifully down the entire beat and the wading is easy.
Here's another couple of pics.............................GIVE IT A GO
Friend Marc – he works for Musto you know, which musn’t be held against him – and I launched our boat on Kennick Reservoir in beautiful sunshine and a nice breeze.
For those that don’t know, Kennick is a lake of about 50 acres on the southern edge of Dartmoor. It is stocked with excellent rainbow trout and has a good head of brown trout too. It is a beautiful place and offers ample compensation for the continuing lack of water in our salmon rivers.
Normally we would look through our fly boxes, discuss the various patterns and their relevance for the time of year, pick out the ones that take our fancy from an imitative point of view and then discard the lot in favour of a black tadpole or an olive bugger/damsel type thing and think no more about them! Last time we even coupled them with sinking lines for the complete package.
Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with fishing a lake for rainbows in this fashion. It is easy and effective and very little can go wrong. But this time, in my continuing efforts to make the most of my fishing I decided to actually read some catch return cards and formulate a plan based on something more considered than the devil I know so well. Said catch returns, submitted by other people who have fished the lake over the past days and weeks, pointed to flies that actually resemble something – in most cases buzzers, which are imitations of emerging midges – and these I have in spades. They are widely employed, but being an active sort of fisherman I find they need to be fished in too sedentary a manner for my liking and thus I have rarely used one and NEVER caught anything on one or a team of them.
But this day use them I did, on a floating line to boot, for the entire morning and guess what………….I caught fish. Ok, Musto Marc on the other hand didn’t change his tactics and caught twice as many - um yeah - but I felt more virtuous.
So there we are. Never be afraid to experiment and there is nothing wrong with trying something new.
Previously I have written about how determined I am this year to make the most of every fishing opportunity. The weather has been really beautiful so far this April, with temperatures rising to 20 degrees +. Unfortunately, when I went to the Taw yesterday evening (Friday 8th April) with the idea of trying for a salmon, it was only to find the river desperately low.
Chum Glyn has put a webcam opposite as part of the excellent Farson Digital network, but as we had a lot of rain last weekend I didn’t think of checking it. The fact that I had forgotten of course was that we have had the driest March for ages and so everything soaked the water up like a sponge. Apparently the water hardly rose at all, although looking retrospectively on the webcam’s log, it had been fishable up until this warm spell.
Now I normally fish the Rising Sun Water for salmon and stay in the pub of the same name, and the Fox and Hounds water for trout and yes – stay in the pub of the same name. Thursday I had to stay at the Fox because there are new tenants at the Riser, who are, quite wisely I might add, refurbishing the rooms. (The Rising Sun has always been one of my favourite places to stay. It will be even better now.) So why then you might ask, did I not just go trout fishing. Well I shall tell you. Because I had neglected to take my trout gear with me.
I refer the reader to my previous article – PPPPPP.