Daddy Long-legs flies – possibly the daddy of all flies when it comes to Chub Fishing

After the failure of my last trip chasing the chub on the river Brue, I decided to try again. A silly o’clock start to make the most of the forecast light winds saw me at the bankside by 7am after my hour and some drive. I went straight to my favourite spot where I’d failed to land a nice fish previously, and then been sabotaged by Wessex Water chaps. This time I went for a heavy tippet of 7lb mono straight to my fly of choice – the trusty foam bodied daddy long-leg fly. Something big, easily visible and worth any lazy chub’s effort to go for..

I made my way carefully down the bank through the long grass opposite to the spot, where I knew the fish would be and was pleased to be proved right. Several big chub were present and actively feeding.. Only problem was that quite a lot of weed and lilies were now present, leaving only a very small patch of open water to fish.. Any fish hooked would undoubtedly be straight in the weed. I weighed up my chances with my now much beefier setup and decided that I had a fair chance of extracting a fish from the weed if need be with the stronger tippet. Just had to hook them now!

First cast landed a little way out from the bush I was aiming for, but happily a couple of nice sized chub came out to investigate and the first one there, snaffled the fly without hesitation. I had a short and thrilling battle in open water before inevitably the fish found the weed. At this point I was relieved I had gone for a heavier line than last time and prayed to the fishing gods as I eased the fish and a not inconsequential amount of weed to the net. The fish went just shy of 3lb which in my book is a very decent fish. 1 cast and 1 fish! not a bad start to the day and well worth an early start and the drive.

I headed off down stream looking for other groups of fish and eventually found quite a large group feeding in close the the near bank amongst the lilies. I sneaked down through the nettles until I dared go no closer for fear of spoken get fish. By this time I was probably just over a rod length from the fish and just needed to flick the fly out over a few reeds and nettles that had screened my approach. I must of got lucky because a gentle flick and the daddy long-legs touched down gently in the margins and was devoured straight away. This fish, much the same size as the previous one put up a spirited fight and I just mangled to steer it clear of the surrounding lilly’s and into the waiting net. This one also just nudged he 3lb mark.

Again, the fight had put all the other fish into hiding so I continued my travels. Throughout my ambles this morning I had been plagued by horse fly’s and after this 2nd fish they just seemed to be getting more persistent; enough so that I headed for the car with some haste to try a different stretch of the river.

A short drive saw me at another of my favourite sections of the Brue. I had the place to myself and took a stroll to see what fishy activity I could see. Thankfully the place was devoid of horse flies! the river was also a little less overgrown with aquatic vegetation and offered slightly more opportunities to fish. This place had large shoals of chub basking at the surface. The fish weren’t big but were plentiful. My first cast again landed another fish, this time all of 6 ounces, after which I couldn’t get another take. I tried everything and practically every fly I had in my arsenal, all to no avail. The fish either ignored the offering completely or took a look and shied away. I even tried going much lighter with the tippet strength given that the fish here were smaller and the water less overgrown, but nothing worked.. With the temperature rising and the wind starting to pick up, I decided that I’d had the best part of the day and headed for home.

I could have packed up after the first two casts of the day having landed two nice fish and saved myself some hassle – but that’s not necessarily the point of fishing is it. Half the fun is in the trying!

 

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Sabotaged by Wessex Water

I’ve had my fair share of misfortune, bad timing and general sessions where nothing goes right and by now have learned to accept these days with a certain magnanimity. My most recent trip being no exception.

Having dropped my wife and kids off at Clarks Village in Street, I rushed off for a quick session with the fly rod to one of my favourite spots on the River Brue, promising that I’d only be an hour or two at most. The weather was far better than on the previous trip and the river looked it’s normal inviting self, the wind was light and it was warm and dry – couldn’t be better…

I set up my #4 rod by the car and sneaked stealthily down to the bank. Just as expected I could see a good few chub feeding under one of the overhanging bushes on the other side of the river and wished I’d brought a slightly heavier set up with me. In fact there were a couple of monsters which in true “wily chub” fashion, I fully expected to melt away as soon as I got near. As it happened, they were either too preoccupied in their feeding, or I was stealthy enough on my approach this time that they didn’t seem to notice me. I couldn’t believe my luck (and bearing in mind that I know I’m no stealthy ninja, it was apparent they were feeding hard which boded well from my point of view!). A good cast put a daddy-longlegs fly right under the bush and next moment I was connected to a pretty hefty lump of a chub that did a good impression of being rocked propelled as it shot off down stream. Awesome! for the few brief moments he was hooked – but sadly the combination of large fish, numerous lily-pads and light tackle meant that particular fish wasn’t destined to grace my landing net….

By now my presence on the bank was no secret and the fish in this area all seemed to have lost their appetite. I took a stroll downstream looking for other opportunities to put my ‘new found’ stealthiness to the test. Saw a few other big old chub and even managed to present flies to them, but this time around the fish just inspected and rejected the fly. To be honest, whilst I did see several big chub, there wasn’t really any sign of small stuff feeding and I didn’t catch anything at all which is very unusual. I wasn’t unduly concerned at this stage by my lack of success, as I knew that after resting the first swim for an hour, the original group of fish should hopefully be back and feeding.

On arrival back at the original swim I was proved correct – the monster chub were back and feeding under the same bush again. Again I sneaked down the bank and made ready to cast. At this point a very friendly chap from Wessex Water, wearing a bright orange jacket ambled down the opposite bank and stood right above the bush I had been hoping to extract the chub from under. We exchanged pleasantries – and he cheerily announced he was just inspecting a culvert that was adjacent to “my bush” but that he wouldn’t disturb me at all. We chatted. His work colleague turned up as well. They got out a petrol strimmer and other tools of destruction. I headed back to the car and packed up.

Summer time on the River Brue

What a summer! It’s been so hot for so long! Today’s trip was no different – very very hot and sunny although a bit breezy at times.

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I mainly concentrated on fly fishing although without massive amounts of enthusiasm. I think the heat installed a general malaise in me that sapped my willingness to perservere after the first few casts at each new place.

I did catch a couple of small chub on fly. Although it wasn’t until I switched to float fishing with maggot that I started to catch a little more regularly with gudgeon, perch and minnows.

Jason coarse fishing throughout and had a good variety of fish including: chub, rudd, roach, perch, gudgeon, minnow and hybrid.

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We started off at West Lydford in the hope of making use of the shade of the trees we knew were along that stretch, before ending up at the Cowbridge stretch. I had fun stalking large chub that could be seen on the surface basking in the sunshine, and managed to tempt one of the biggest to take a daddy-long legs fly, only for me to miss the take! If only!

 

Family friendly fishing at the Waie Inn

Summer has well and truly arrived – Hot & Sunny! Took the family up to the Waie Inn near Crediton for a couple of hours of tranquility – picnic and a spot of fishing. Set up the fishing umbrella to give us some shade and set the girls fishing with float fished luncheon meat on the pole.

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True to form the Waie Inn delivered with numerous small and greedy carp. Bites were very easy to come by on the pole, so much so that we wondered if they would even take our picnic scraps, and went on to catch a carp on a piece of banana which the girls thought was hilarious.

I fly fished briefly with a dog biscuit imitation fly amongst loose fed dog biscuits. Surprisingly the fish were especially wary of floating baits which seemed to be in direct contrast to their apparent kamikaze approach to float fished baits. Whereas in the past we’ve had no trouble tempting carp from here on the fly – this time it took some doing. I switched around flies a bit and landed a few on my own scruffy self tied biscuit fly. However, the shop bought biscuit flies were rejected upon inspection by the fish every time.

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All in all we had a fun session made all the better by the fantastic weather. Whilst the majority of the fish were on the small side – Izzy did land a 5-6lb fish on the pole which really made her arms ache…

 

In search of my fishing mojo at Bellbrook Fishery.

I visited Bellbrook Fishery in Devon, with Ben – the first trip for either of us for some time. We were treated to sunny, if very cold conditions and with a gusty easterly wind blowing straight up the valley just to test our casting.

Fly Fishing Bellbrook

This was the first trip for myself in a few months. Now a couple of months without fishing for me is pretty remarkable – the kind of break from fishing that is unheard of.  I can’t remember the time when I’d had that number of months without fishing since being a small kid…. Still, this was my chance to get my fishing mojo back!

We arrived to find we had the place to ourselves and as soon as we started fishing I had two takes from trout which I landed and lost a third fish. It seemed a very promising start! However, that was as good as it got, and I had no more fish and Ben didn’t manage to get off the mark.

It turned out that either we were both unlucky, incompetent or maybe the fishing was just hard. Personally I like to put it down to the fish not being on the feed…. Either way, the conditions were testing when the wind got up and despite going home with a couple of fish, I was left feeling we could’ve done better….. Now where did I put my mojo?

Tube Fly Experiment for Pike Fishing

Popped up to the Tiverton Canal for a spot of fly fishing for pike. Arriving at dawn and with conditions seemingly perfect I had high hopes of a few jacks if nothing else.

Tried various flies over the course of the session but mainly experimented with some new tube flies that I’d tied up after reading various articles on their benefits for pike fishing. Used authentic wire trace which could be treaded down through the tube and looped onto a small stainless steel single hook which allowed the flies to be changed really easily whilst also ensuring the hook was positioned nearer the rear of the fly – always useful for snaring those pike that just nip at the end of a fly.

As it turned out, I only had one take from a small jack before I had to get home to do the usual fatherly duties of chauffeuring the kids around. Still – I liked the tube flies, and their flexibility and generally considered my first experiment with them a success of sorts and worthy of more experimentation.

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Isles of Scilly 2017 (Part 1) – Fly Fishing

Two weeks of holiday in the Isles of Scilly provided the perfect opportunity for a spot of fishing – The weather was changeable throughout the holiday – generally dry with sunny spells although the wind varied between brutally strong to light. Strong winds favoured lure fishing and made fly fishing difficult (See Part 2 for a lure fishing slant). The first real chance to fly fish was on a trip to Tresco. Whilst the Family played on the beach, I explored the north end of the island to shelter from the southerly wind. Used fast sinking 40+ line which cast really well and sunk super fast – much faster than any fly lines I’ve used before. This caused problems when fishing shallower weedy marks but was really good for the deeper areas. Despite all the promise the location held, I had no interest from the fish at all sadly.

The next fly fishing opportunity was whilst fishing the rocks on the east of St Mary’s with lure and fly rod. I mainly used the lure rod and had a lot of success. I did however give the fly rod a reasonably thorough go with various flies and did have a few follows from small wrasse, but frustratingly no takes. Given that the fish were queuing up to attack the soft lures there was no contest as to which method to concentrate on.

With nicer weather forecast for one of the days it finally tempted me to pop out to Penennis Head at dawn to fish the deep water there for Pollack. The wind blowing in an awkward direction however, made things difficult and on top of this my casting was pretty atrocious too – despite this, I had numerous takes on small sparsely dressed sandeel looking flies and landed several small pollack. Just happy to catch something on the fly rod at least.

With the easy fishing and greater success on the lure rod, I found myself reaching for the lure rod rather than the fly rod for the majority of the holiday so didn’t really manage to do as much fly fishing as I had intended. Will have to be a little bit more single minded in future perhaps.

The frustration of fishing for mullet

Following my recent success with catching mullet on the fly rod I was bringing to feel a certain confidence that, as it turned out wasn’t justified as my two most recent trips proved. For the first, I took advantage of the calm and warm conditions to chase the mullet again with my fly rod. I ended up walking along the river Exe and fishing every dozen yards or so for the mullet that were plentiful along the whole stretch of water. All to no success it has to be said. Nothing I tried made the mullet show even the slightest interest. After an couple of fruitless hours in the heat I made my way dejectedly back to the car and on the way got chatting to a group of coarse anglers. They were all float fishing – generally trotting baits down the far bankside. It turned out that they had been fishing this stretch for a couple of days now with some success; generally chub, dace & roach, although they had caught several mullet. This piece of information coupled with my complete failure spurred me to try coarse fishing tactics for the next trip. A light float rod with a pint of maggots and half pint of pinkies seemed a sensible approach. Again, the weather was fantastic and the mullet were visible & feeding everywhere. Bites on the other hand were far from plentiful. A couple of dace and chub fell to the float fished maggot but other than that I remained fishless. The mullet could be seen feeding in the clear shallow water, and were clearly ignoring maggots and pinkies. Loose feed remained on the bottom with the mullet seemingly feeding on the weed / algae around the maggots. It only took a couple of hours of frustration to lead me to conclude that today wasn’t going to be the day I nailed the mullet on maggot. For a second time in the space of a couple of days I found myself heading home, mulletless….

Thin-Lipped Mullet from River Exe

Chasing mullet on River Exe with Isobel. The water level lower than of late but this could possibly just be a result of the tidal affect on this part of the river rather than low rainfall; I didn’t check the tide times. We were treated to blue cloudless skies and scorching hot sunshine even by 8am in the morning.

Mullet were feeding everywhere along the river in small groups but would scatter as soon as I got near. By sitting quietly on the bank and waiting patiently, the fish would return and continue grubbing around feeding on the river bed allowing me to sneak a cast or two before they would spook again at which point the waiting would have to resume.

As ever, the mullet were frustratingly difficult to tempt with a fly, with fish after fish simply ignoring the flies. I did eventually catch a thin lip mullet on a red tagged dial bach. I cast slightly upstream of the feeding fish and watched the end of the line as the flies drifted down through the feeding fish – a swift 6inch or so movement on the line signalled that one of the fish had grabbed the fly and I lifted the rod to set the hook. The fish put up a very spirited fight on the #5 rod in the shallow water. It was a slightly better fish than my previous one, so I was more than satisfied.. Flushed with success and starting to wilt a bit under the sun, we only fished for about 2 hours before calling it a day. Still – 2 mullet on a fly now proves it isn’t a fluke.

River Brue – Summer Roving

I met up with Jason at the river Brue; after yesterday’s solo fishing I was looking forward to having a fishing companion. Much like the previous day, the weather was quite spectacular. The wind had died to a slight breeze and with cloudless skies and blazing sun, temperatures were scorching hot. We started off fly fishing; searching out shoals of chub visible amongst the lilies & reeds. We caught a steady stream of chub, mainly on bead headed flies but some fell to dry fly. Nothing big graced the net but we did see some very large bream basking near the surface obviously enjoying the sunshine too. The larger chub were all very skittish and would inevitably melt away before we could get within casting distance despite our best efforts at stealth and the help of the verdant bankside vegetation.

A few hours of stalking chub in the sunshine was enough for us, and we moved along to the West Lydford stretch of the river Brue to try some more sedentary fishing. The glorious weather had brought people out bridge jumping & swimming, so we put as much distance between us and them as possible. We settled into a couple of swims and tried float fished maggot and bread baits but after an hour or two had little to show for our efforts. Some good chub were visible on the surface lurking under the far bank vegetation so with a lack of action on the float rod, I switched to fly fishing with a large wasp dry fly. Almost the first cast one of the larger chub idled over to the fly and slurped it down – somehow in my eagerness or possibly surprise I mis-timed the strike and pulled the fly out of it’s mouth..! Cursing my stupidity I recast only for one of the smaller fish to intercept the fly, which after playing and landing meant that every other fish in the vicinity had become instantly more wary. No more fish followed after that.

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With evening approaching we jumped in the cars and headed to another section of the river hoping for some of the large perch we had encountered there several times previously. We arrived to find a section of the bank and a large tree had fallen into the river right at one of our favourite and most productive spots, but set up anyway on the basis that the tree would only provide the fish a nice bit of cover. I found I’d left my rod rest in the car and could face the trudge back to the car in the heat, so had to improvise with a conveniently shaped and proportioned stick. Who says you need to spend a fortune on fishing tackle?

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Jason built up a swim opposite the new feature and had a steady procession of bites and fish; numerous chub, roach and gudgeon – & even a cheeky little brown trout not to mention a decent sized eel. In the meantime I float fished maggots at various spots and really struggled to get bites, eventually concluding with a small chub, roach and a solitary gudgeon. The days exploits were nicely finished off with a fantastic Chub that Jason tempted on a ledgered lobworm from beside the new submerged tree feature.

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For me the evening ended with a half chewed gudgeon that was savaged by something with teeth on pretty much the last cast. Whilst not the spectacular end to the day I might of wished for, we could at least face the drive home with memories of a varied and fun days fishing.