Salt Water Fly Fishing – Bring on the Pollack!

A family holiday to the Isles of Scilly last week, raised the exciting prospect of bagging my first ever saltwater fish on a fly. I’ve fished the Scillies several times before, and each time to great success, but with “traditional” saltwater tackle of spinning rod or float fishing off the rocks. The rocky shoreline of the Scilly Isles is perfect ground for catching wrasse, pollack and mackerel from, and leading up to this years trip I felt supremely confident of some spectacular fishing. As it turned out however things weren’t to be quite what I’d hoped for….

This year we were camping on one of the off islands, St Agnes. The weather sadly threw a spanner in the works from the word go, with very strong winds forecast all week and a smattering of rain thrown in for good measure. Never-the-less I was determined to make the best of things and fish where and when it proved possible.

Upon arrival we set out the tent and made ourselves comfortable, before I decided to have a quick explore during a window in the weather. Hiking out to one of the rocky headlands I promptly slipped and fell before I’d even got near the water. Landing hard and awkwardly on the unforgiving granite boulders, I was initially convinced I’d broken my hand / wrist at which point I slunk back to camp feeling rather sorry for myself – all without having even cast a line. Given that a broken hand would mean a boat ride to the main Island of St Mary’s and would more than likely well and truly ruin the holiday as well as put pay to any fishing to say I was disappointed would of been an understatement. My lovely wife (being a nurse and knowledgeable in these things) after making a few sympathetic noises gave me a couple of paracetamol told me I was fine and to get over it. Anyway – next morning despite a bit of pain it seemed obvious nothing was broken and I would be able to soldier on.

After surviving a couple of days of storms, including 50mph winds and rain, we did have some great weather in the end which necessitated exploring St Agnes, a trip to St Marys and to Brhyer, along with trips to the beaches with the kids. All in all a great family holiday. The last 2 days did see an improvement in the weather and an opportunity between beach & family activities to get away for some fishing. By picking the rocky headlands that were not only sheltered from the wind but also the sea swell, I managed to winkle out a few fish in the end.

Fly Fishing Isles of Scilly Rock Mark

Given the limited opportunity for fishing to date, during my first session rather than experiment with the fly rod, I used the spinning rod and lures to tempt a few small pollack over low water right at dusk. The next session now having had a few fish, I decided to concentrate on the fly rod and returned to where I’d had fish previously but this time armed only with the #8 rod, an intermediate line and extra fast sinking tapered leader. The wind and prevailing swell dictated the choice of fishing location, and a nice rocky outcrop near Beady Pool on the South East of St Agnes gave me a good platform from which to fish, that was sheltered and gave me access to deepish water. I used a couple of different flies but the most successful proved to be a self tied white and mackerel coloured fly of about 2 inches in length. Quite early on in the session I saw a small pollack follow the fly in before turning away but then had no further action for a while. After much perseverance I again saw a shape follow the fly in, and a quick strip of line to make the fly dart forwards, provoked the following fish to rush forwards and grab the fly. It wasn’t a big pollack and was to be fair pretty out gunned on the #8 – but still, after a brief but spirited fight I netted my first ever fly caught sea fish! Mission accomplished.

Fly Fishing Isles of Scilly Pollack

With light fading fast and the family waiting for me back at the tent I called it a day. I’ve proved to myself it can be done and have now opened up a whole host of further fly fishing opportunities to go alongside the fresh water species. On top of this, I really did feel pretty comfortable with my casting in the windy conditions which should bode well for the future.

River Brue Chub

It’s not that often that I manage to fit in a whole weekend of fishing but this weekend has been just one such instance. My monthly boat fishing trip was booked in for the Sunday which meant Saturday was to be the day for flexing the fly rod. Following the success of my last session to the River Brue I decided it really did warrant a return trip.

A slightly overcast and chillier than of late, afternoon saw me walking the Brue looking for chub. I saw a few and spooked the majority with my less than stealthy approach. The chub really do deserve the reputation for eagle eyed alertness! I tried various large chub flies, and other assorted smaller dry flies but without a great deal of success other than a few missed takes from smaller fish. Eventually with frustration getting the better of me I switched to the flicker spinner and managed a couple of chub with the largest maybe around the three quarters of a pound mark. With a couple of fish under the belt it is always easier to relax, and at this stage I then felt more comfortable switching back to ‘proper’ flies. I had a few respectable chub come up to mouth the big flies but was still unable to tempt any into a proper take. I did get a few of the smaller chub but just couldn’t tempt any of their bigger brothers. Even with quite large files it is quite amazing how the tiny little chub will have a go, and given their cavernous mouths maybe they’re not being overly ambitious either.!

Fly fishing River Brue Chub

A move to a different stretch of the Brue did see me manage to get up unnoticed to a shoal of good sized chub. From my  hiding place amongst the long grass I could see about a dozen fish up to 2 or 3lbs. My first cast into their midst resulted in an eruption of water as several fish went for the fly the moment it touched the surface – but despite the frenzy I didn’t hook anything. At the sound of the commotion a couple of much larger chub rushed out from the lilypads – maybe 4 or 5lb fish?. With heart in mouth I managed another cast that to me looked perfect and again resulted in a flurry of activity and again no fish!!!. At this point the larger fish all melted away leaving me with just the smaller ones to target. The lesson I think I can take from my experience in this instance is that with the bigger chub a stealthy approach is essential and also that you need to make the first (or second) cast count… Maybe next time!

Fly Fishing River Brue Chub

The successful flies of the day were a Letort Hopper and a klinkhammer.

Just to round off my weekend of fishing I had my monthly trip out of Minehead on the boat on the Sunday. A box of fresh peeler crab, a coupe of packets of frozen sandeels and some ok weather forecast. All should of been great. As it turned out, it was really windy which made the day uncomfortable and the fishing was harder going the anticipated. We did manage a few smoothhounds (both common and starry) as well as a nice spotted ray and shed load of dogfish (as usual) and also a bonus bass! Having said that it was a strange old day really as the hounds didn’t show up in the numbers or size we’d been expecting (or had seen last month), and likewise neither did the rays. Still, that’s fishing…

Minehead - Spotted Ray Minehead - BassMinehead - Smoothound

Summer Chub from the Jungle

This afternoon saw me and the family up in the Street & Glastonbury area, so it would of been rude to not try to sneak a bit of fishing into the itinerary seeing as we were up near the river Brue in any case.

In the end I managed to get an hours fishing on one of my favourite stretches, albeit with the kids in tow. This time of year the bankside vegetation seems to have gone into overdrive and is a veritable jungle which made for some challenging fishing conditions in places, what with the profusion of lily-pads in the water and the overgrown banks themselves it was not easy.

Chub River Brue

Luck was definitely on my side today however as I quickly found a few large chub amongst the lily pads, and although the first couple I saw weren’t interested, I managed to tempt a cracking fish a little later on. Given that I was using my new #4 rod I had a few heart stopping moments trying to steer the fish though the weed and lily pads. The high banks where I was fishing made landing the fish a little dicey for sure. The end result was a 4lb 6oz chub – my best to date! made even better by having the kids witness it.

River Brue Chub

I moved onto another stretch and fished on for a bit, but with the wind increasing and visibility into the water pretty much non-existent I was now fishing blind. I managed another much smaller but perfectly formed chub before deciding to quit while I was most definitely ahead.

Chub - River Brue

Whilst I finished the short session having my biggest ever Chub it was the number of even larger fish I’d seen and not caught that is so tantalising. Just need to find a free weekend soon to put in a longer, more concerted effort on the Brue!