This weekend saw me heading off the fish the River Tone near Taunton with my fishing buddy Jason. Sadly this wasn’t a fly fishing trip but as it saw a couple of pike I thought it worth a mention.
The river was slightly coloured with a bit of flow on it, and the fishing was hard. Not a lot of fish activity apparent for the most part.
I managed to fluke a small jack pike, spinning with the trusty “midi S” plug on the stretch near the village of Ham before we up and moved to the bridge near North Curry. Jason was desperately unlucky to lose a pike, hooked on ledgered bait – it looked from the frayed end of line that was returned, like the pike had taken him into a snag of some description.
After this set back we moved downstream until we found a shoal of bleak feeding on the surface. There was obvious pike activity here, as there were regular bursts of scattering fish every few minutes as bleak leapt out of the water in little panicked explosions. I really thought we’d be into a few pike here, but after a reasonable period of time we’d still drawn a blank in this most promising of spots. Just at last knockings when we were pretty much at that “last cast” stage I had a tentative take on my ledgered bait, before connecting with a solid 12lb fish. Really pleased to finish the day literally on the last cast with such a lovely and beautifully marked fish.
Success at last – a cracking 9lb pike on the fly rod!!. Great to christen the Greys GS2 with a decent fish as well. To date, fly fishing for pike has proven far more challenging than the plug / lure fishing that I’m more used to but I’d say the final result was well worth the effort.. It really is a joy to play a nice fish on a fly rod and reel with the direct feel that you don’t quite get with more traditional tackle.
After last weeks near success I was feeling pretty confident of finally managing to tempt one of the small jack pike this time round. I managed to get down to the Grand Western Canal at ‘Greenway’, near Tiverton just before first light but with the kids in tow this time. Bitterly cold and pretty windy conditions this morning made fishing unpleasant. With a bit of rain overnight the water was quite coloured too and nowhere near the crystal clear state the canal had been in last weekend when I fished here. I’d only fished a couple of swims before the finger tips were numb and I was reconsidering the wisdom of dragging a 7 & 8 year old out for company. 30 minutes fishing was about all I could take before I’d pretty much decided to have a last few casts and head back to the warmth of the car, when to my surprise I finally got that elusive take. Rather than the small feisty jack I’d been expecting it turned out to be the rather more robust and stubbornly slow fight of a great looking 9lber. It has to be said, the fight was pretty slow and steady with no great runs that pike sometimes give when first hooked, in fact the fish came to the net very quickly. A chorus of shrieks and screams from the girls greeted the landing and unhooking of the fish – and I’m surprised we even managed to get a single blurry photograph considering all the fuss the toothy predator elicited from the girls. Nevermind – at least I got a picture of sorts and the girls got to see Dad catch a ‘crocodile fish’.
The successful fly today was a shop bought ‘roach’ type pattern with a semi-circle hook. I’d shortened the fly slightly with a pair of scissors to make sure the hook wasn’t too far forward (I’m sure I missed so many of the takes last week because the small pike were grabbing the tail of the fly and not getting the hook). Even with the tail trimmed back, the fly was still 6 inches long but cast very well, as the synthetic materials it was made of shed water well on the initial back cast. My next target pike wise will be to tempt a few on flies I’ve tied myself. Now there’s a challenge!
Just a quick update on today’s efforts…. Encouraged by my near misses from the previous trip to the river Culm, but put off of a return there by the recent rain, I headed out to the Grand Western Canal near Tiverton. I knew the ‘Tiverton’ Canal would be crystal clear despite the recent rainfall and with a spare day over this weekend, decided on a dawn start. Perfect conditions – overcast and absolutely still without a breath of wind made for great fly fishing conditions. I started off out on the stretch between the Minnows caravan park and the bridge at Westleigh. The canal there proved to be crystal clear, and very shallow and with no interest from any pike – in fact no signs of fish of any description on the whole stretch.
After an hour or two of no action, a quick drive down to the ‘Greenway’ stretch near Halberton was in order, and again the water there was gin clear and being slightly deeper here I did fancy my chances. The resident jack pike were obliging and I had small jacks attacking the fly in various different swims along the Greenway stretch. Despite the enthusiasm for attacking the fly, none of the little terrors were unlucky enough or big enough to get themselves hooked on the 6 inch roach pattern fly. I did try changing flies to differing patterns as well as smaller flies but none of these could induce a take so I sadly decided to call it a day – I had reached the stage where the cold was getting the better of me anyway.
…maybe next time!
They seemed to love this fly – but hooking them was another matter!