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.
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.
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.