Christmas was great but the days leading up to it brought a lot of rain which precluded fishing for a while. Father Christmas did however bring a nice set of waders and a fly tying vice (many thanks to my wife). With the limited materials to hand I tied what looked to me to be a killer pike fly – professional fly tiers may laugh but I was pretty pleased with my first effort. I went for blue and white to give a different colour option to all the shop bought ones I already have. Variety is the spice of life after all. The main thing I was after was a fly with plenty of movement, which as it turned out, my creation had as I saw first hand on my next fishing trip.
After a short spell of dry but bitterly cold weather after all the rain leading up to Christmas, I finally had a chance to get out and try for that fly caught pike that I’ve been so desperate to get before the end of this year. I arrived at the river Culm at dawn and set out to try my luck. The river was reasonably coloured but I thought it worth a go all the same. A few casts later and after pausing to thaw out my fingers it became apparent that it wasn’t just my fingers that were freezing – the wet line coming back through the rod rings was freezing on the rings, which meant I had to stop every few minutes to free the rings of ice. Who said fishing should be easy….
I had an enjoyable morning working my way along the river but without much success. I was particularly pleased with my pike fly and how it looked in the water – even more pleased when a pike, probably around 4lb followed it in to my feet. Frustratingly it couldn’t be tempted to bite.. A few casts later a little further down the bank a slightly smaller jack shot out of the backside weed to take the fly – the nice bend in the rod was sadly short-lived before the hook came free. That explosive take that came out of nowhere reminded me so much of many of the pike I’ve caught on lures in the past and certainly reminds me why I love pike fishing so much.
Today’s session has definitely left me more determined than ever to persevere with my efforts to catch that elusive pike on the fly – and on top of that I finished the session feeling a lot better about casting the big pike flies. For now though it’s back to the fly tying vice and dreams of the next trip!
After my recent casting lesson, I was keen to get back out again and put into practice what I’d learnt. A very cold Sunday morning saw me heading out to Hollies Trout Fishery near Dunkeswell for an early start. Arriving just after dawn I decided that as I was likely to be practicing my casting more than anything else, it best to go for the cheapest ticket on offer, which was the half day catch & release option. Having the place to myself was great and it’s always nice to be up at sunrise anyway, even though there was no sign of fish moving. A few experimental casts reminded me of how much practice I still need but with the line unexpectedly tightening on the 4th cast things were looking up. A nice little rainbow trout gave a good account of itself and I have to admit to being relieved once I’d managed to slip the net under it. Always nice to get an early fish on the bank – especially so as it proved I must of been doing something right! This rainbow was probably around 2lb so no monster but it was in great condition and really fought well. It took a black blob fly on a sinking leader, slowly retrieved.
After that my casting went downhill for while, and it took considerable effort to remind myself of everything I’d learnt on the recent lesson. Once I managed to get back in the swing of things, a change to a longer leader and an orange blob resulted in a 2nd fish – slightly smaller but still in great condition. Again, this one fought well for it’s size and left me feeling pretty good about my mornings efforts.
All in all, some useful casting practice, a couple of fish plus more proof that the unlikely looking blobs work! who’d have thought it.. Time to thaw out the fingers!
Many thanks to my lovely wife, who after having to listen to me moaning for some time about the need for casting lessons, took the hint and arranged for a days tuition with Nick Hart up at Exe Valley Fishery. Initially arranged as a present for my birthday, the original date was rained off and the after a couple of weeks wait the big day dawned still and overcast, if a little chilly.
Having never fished Exe Valley Fishery I really had no idea what to expect. Arriving I was greeted by Nick at the tackle shop on site and after a good chat and welcome cup of tea we got out on one of the lakes to make a start. Fair play to Nick for keeping a straight face when I was demonstrating the extent of my ability (or lack of). What followed was a day of patient and thoroughly useful advice and guidance on where I was going wrong and how to do it right. I have to hand it to Nick, but he never showed any frustration with my bad habits formed over the last year or so, and was really good at analysing where I was making mistakes and then demonstrating how to correct them. I’ve got quite a bit of practice still to go, but having had the day’s lesson at least now feel I have a solid base of understanding as to what I should be doing and what I need to look out for.
Not only was the casting tuition top notch but Nick was able to offer guidance on tackle set up, techniques and some fantastic tips on fishing still waters such as the lake we were tackling.
We started off running through set up, roll casts and over head casts before moving on to shooting line. All stuff I’ve been doing (or trying to do) to some extent before, but now at least I have a chance of putting these techniques into practice correctly. After a few hours of casting we moved onto actually casting to fish. Nick demonstrated how to fish with blobs, which is certainly something I’ve never even considered trying before but which proved exceptional on the day. I had several follows and gentle takes from fish as well as temporarily hooking up a couple even if only briefly, before finally managing to land a cracking rainbow trout. Not a monster but a great fish to end a thoroughly enjoyable day.
I’ve come away from the day with enough knowledge and encouragement to see me through for a while, and will look forward to doing another session next year once I’ve got a bit more experience under my belt. Just need some spare time to get back out again!