Met up with Jason to fish the River Brue, but I arrived late due to the summer holiday traffic. Met Jason at the Cowbridge stretch of the river, where he’d been fishing for a little while by the time I eventually arrived. A pretty lively wind was blowing straight down the river making conditions not exactly idyllic. Jason had been catching roach and rudd for a while and drawn the attentions of one of the resident pike which was trying periodically to snatch fish as he brought them in. Fortune was smiling on him, as he managed to hook and land the marauding pike on his coarse gear before I’d even managed to wet a line. Nice angling! not that I was jealous, honestly….
With this success recorded for posterity we decided to move on in search of some shelter from the wind. Given the rather exposed nature of the Somerset levels, we didn’t really manage to find much in the way of shelter from the wind so just had to persevere. One of our favoured spots was showing quite clearly the affects of our long hot summer with the weir running dry and actually leaving dry steps from which to fish.
We both float fished maggot and had a steady stream of fish (chub, roach, gudgeon, perch and minnows) – although nothing big. Still – all good fun.
It was really strange because despite looking insanely fishy, the weir just didn’t produce the quality of fish it has done in the past for us. Maybe it was the low water levels, lack of flow or just “one of those days”.
As dusk approached the wind did finally drop to give us some nice fishing conditions and at this point I had a small chub decide to take a minnow – showing its not just the pike and perch that the little fish need to look out for!
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.
It isn’t often enough that my fishing comrade, Jason and myself can both coordinate our diaries and grab a day’s fishing together. This weekend was one of those times that the stars aligned and we managed to meet up. We had decided to try our luck out in the boats at Chew Reservoir and had got lucky enough in the preceding week to book the last free boat. Chew Reservoir is rightly famous for it’s trout but also it’s pike, and this is what really grabbed my attention. The opportunity to fish in a water that is known to hold a good population of very big fish! You only need to get lucky once after all…
Traditional pike fishing is only allowed at Chew on a limited number of days through out the year, and getting hold of a boat on those days is not easy to say the least. Bristol Water who run Chew, do however allow fly fishing for pike outside of those specific days. This seemed ideal to us, as Jason intended to target trout whilst I would target the pike on the fly. Having never fished Chew, myself I had no idea what to expect, but my hopes were high all the same.
We met at Woodford Lodge to collect our boat and were greeted by the sight of waves on the reservoir. A fresh wind was going to make things difficult for us but with the hope of being able to find some shelter around the lakeshore somewhere or other we weren’t too dispirited. Following the safety briefing and the opportunity to pick the staff’s brains on best location and flies to try we headed out into the wind.
We found some shelter in Vellice Bay before trying Herons Green Bay. Both locations offered some shelter from the wind and seemed to be where most of the other boats had decided to head to as well. We did see the occasional sunny interval, but overall the day stayed pretty grey and miserable. Jason and I, tried everything we could think of but to no success. I have to say I saw no-one else catch anything either which offered some conciliation and proved that it wasn’t just us being complete failures..
Later in the evening the wind did die down a little and we tried around off of Moreton Bank but again to no avail. By this time my efforts at casting a pike fly in the wind were growing tiresome but despite this there still seemed a faint hope that any moment I could connect with a surprise last minute fish which helped keep the excitement alive.
As time drew to a close we headed back towards the jetties and were pretty much the last boat back. I felt we’d given Chew a good shot and really enjoyed fishing from the boat even if it wasn’t successful fish wise. I’d love to revisit Chew in better weather and would fancy my chances at the trout in calmer conditions. At the same time, it would be rude not to have a few casts for the monster pike that lurk in there somewhere..
We realised this morning that I hadn’t been out fishing for a while, which is most unfortunate – so decided to do something about that during a spare couple of hours. What else is Sunday afternoons for in any case? Rhianna and I headed off down to the River Culm with a fly rod in the hope that there might be a couple of pike feeding despite the cold.
A favourite fly always instills confidence, so it was only natural to start and then persevere with mine – all 6 inches of him. After a very cold hour and a half, including a short session of the obligatory “letting the daughter” have a go, I did eventually tempt a small pike of around 3 or 4 lb to rush the fly. It missed, and couldn’t be lured back.
Not long after this wake up call, I managed to lose the fly in an underwater obstruction whilst trying to search some deeper parts of the river, which necessitated a new wire trace and change of fly. We worked our way back towards the car in the failing light and with no sign of further action was beginning to feel I was just going through the motions, when I was mildly surprised to find myself attached to something that started fighting back on one of the retrieves.
A small jack pike was my first thoughts, although after the first few spirited runs I glimpsed a flash of fish and realised it wasn’t pike at all, but a nice chub. The fish gave a good account of itself to start with although it was more than a little out-gunned on the pike tackle and quickly came to the net after it’s first burst for freedom. A few pictures for posterity and we decided to call it a day. Mission accomplished! we caught a fish, even if it wasn’t quite what we were after.
We’ve had a very mild autumn until now and it was only on Guy Fawkes night that the temperature here in the South West has really dropped to somewhere approaching what we’d usually expect for this time of year. Bonfire night in Devon was clear and cold, and the following morning was frosty and bitterly cold to match. I was awake early and down at the river Culm for around first light hoping to grab a couple of hours fly fishing for pike.
Trampling through the frosty fields to get to the river I was feeling really optimistic and hopeful. It only took two casts for that early enthusiasm to wane… The rod rings were iced up by the 2nd cast which meant stopping to break the ice build up off. Numb fingers also required warming before continuing casting. This cycle carried on for a while with me only able to get a couple of casts before needing to stop to de-ice the rod rings and warm my fingers.
The cold and a distinct lack of fishy activity quickly dampened my desire to be out in the countryside at this hour of the morning, and with the onset of numb toes I decided to head for the warmth of the car before the first hour had played out. Maybe it was the sudden temperature drop after such a long period of mild weather that had put the fish off feeding, or maybe I just didn’t put in the time – either way I didn’t feel bad to be heading for home early on this occasion. There’s always next time in any case.
The last few of my recent fishing trips have been to the Grand Western Canal after Pike. The venue is great for when everywhere else is rained off as seems to have been the theme for the last few weeks – the canal seems to remain clear…ish and fishable no matter what the weather, even if some parts are clearer than others.
Yet more bad weather this week saw me heading back to the Tiverton Canal, this time with my fishing buddy Jason. I would be fly fishing for pike, and he toting the lure rod with a selection of shads and plugs. We hoped to tempt a few pike, even though we knew that realistically the chances of anything big were not that high. Still – even the jacks are fun on light gear!
We met up at dawn and headed over to the Greenway section near Halberton. After depositing one car at the Dudley Weatherley Jubilee Bridge we drove back to the Greenway Bridge at Halberton and set off on foot. This way we could walk the whole big loop of water between the two cars without having to back track at any point. It turned into quite a walk as I hadn’t really appreciated just how big a loop of water this was.
Things started promisingly with an early take on a small fly retrieved slowly. A little later I landed a tiny pike that most satisfyingly, had taken the fly that my youngest daughter had helped me tie up recently! What a relief! … and in this case the size was irrelevant, I knew Isobel would be delighted!
The weather was seemingly perfect with no wind and still, overcast, mild conditions. Very nice for just walking and exploring the water. A couple of other takes, including a fish lost to both of us followed pretty swiftly after the first fish and things were looking up. A good bit of action in the first hour and plenty of time left! We began to wonder how many fish we’d actually get to bank….I certainly expected a couple more fish in the remaining time. It wasn’t to be however as for some reason the bites dried up and we fished and fished with no more takes, despite persevering for a good few hours more.
Even though the flurry of fish I’d expected after the first hour, didn’t happen, I left at the end of the day with the satisfaction of christening Isobel’s fly and maybe more importantly for future, having seen some different and interesting looking stretches of water that just invited a return visit at another time.
Christmas is fast approaching, so maybe I’ll have to drag myself away from the Tivvy Canal of the festive break and visit somewhere else.. Just need some favourable weather.
Wind and rain seems to have been non-stop for the last couple of weeks, and considering the river Exe was in flood a couple of days this week I wasn’t that hopeful of being able to get out fishing over the weekend. However, the weather forecast seemed to show the wind easing off over Sunday so I decided to grab my chance. Despite a pretty hectic weekend of family orientated activities I managed to get out down the Tiverton Canal this morning for a quick 2 hour session. Experience has shown that whilst the rivers may be a flooded un-fishable mess, the canal will often remain crystal clear. Fingers crossed! I arrived at the Greenway section near Halberton, in the dark and wasn’t feeling that encouraged by the blustery & overcast conditions and it wasn’t until first light that I could actually see the water I was fishing in. Given the amount of rain we’ve had over the last few days it was a relief to find the canal was very clear.
I stuck with the successful #5 rod and #8 floating line combo that has been working so well over the last few trips. I worked my way along the canal trying out a couple of my self tied flies without any sign of activity until after switching to a small fly that Isobel had helped me tie a couple of weeks ago, I had a small jack rush and grab at the fly. Frustratingly the hook didn’t take hold and the jack couldn’t be tempted to come back for a second attempt.
I decided to rest the swim and moved on, before coming back 20 minutes later. A few casts convinced me that I wasn’t fooling my quarry by presenting the same fly to him so I switched to a larger shop brought grey and white fly. Despite the fly being fairly big at 5-6″ long, it cast very easily and sank slowly too – allowing a very slow a twitchy retrieve without snagging the weed on the bottom. The second cast was hit pretty decisively by something that obviously wasn’t the small jack! The fish went crazy from the first moment and fought like a demon. I was really relieved to get the net under a fat, healthy and toothy looking pike that tipped the scales to 7lb.
I’d crushed the barb on this particular fly so it is effectively a barbless hook which made unhooking a doddle! A quick photo and after slipping the fish back, I examined the trace… Whilst the wire itself was in perfect order, the snap link itself had snagged the net. A gentle pull to free the snap link from the mesh and it pulled straight! What crap! Absolute miracle it didn’t do this whilst I was playing the fish! Lesson learnt – I certainly won’t ever use these again!
Thankfully it was a lesson, that didn’t cost me a fish..
The Grand Western Canal has been kind to me of late – whilst none of the pike have been monsters, I had caught now on the last 5 trips here! Famous last words? Hope to extend the run of good fortune next weekend.
After the last few successful trips to the Grand Western Canal near Tiverton, where I’ve succeeded in catching a few small pike on the fly rod, I set out this week to prepare for my next trip by tying a few flies purpose made for the venue one evening after work.
Of course as soon as I’d sat down to start tying the first flies, the inevitable call of “what are you doing dad?” rang out as I was joined at the table by my curious 8 & 9 year olds. Colourful feathers, fibres and thread must of looked like a perfect kids craft session to my daughters! To save myself the hassle of arguing I let them help. They both picked the materials as well as did some of the tying itself on two flies apiece. By gently steering and suggesting ideas to the two terrors, we amazingly ended up with some flies that looked like they might just work! The proof is in the pudding as they say – so Sunday afternoon after a stressful morning at the indoor climbing wall with the little darlings, I found my way to the canal with a couple of hours of daylight left. There’s nothing like an hour or two of fishing to calm the nerves….
Tackle was the same as had seen me through the last couple of trips – #5 rod, #8 floating line, a short fast sinking tapered leader and a wire trace. I started off fishing the Greenway section of the canal near Halberton. The water was pretty clear despite the recent rain and the temperature had dropped dramatically to leave me facing what must be the first proper cold day of autumn. I’d forgotten what it is like to fish with numb fingers!
I tried out both girls flies as I worked my way along the canal. Using one of Rhianna’s flies I had a little jack pike nip at the tail before long. The following cast it raced out of the nearside weed and properly hit the fly with serious aggression and snapped me off! not sure quite what happened but suffice to say I was now down a fly. Seeing as the girls had both tied up two of their respective flies I at least had a backup, so carried on with what seemed to be the successful colour today.
A little later & a bit further along the canal I got chatting to a fellow fly fisherman who was out for a walk. We compared local waters and swapped yarns before saying our goodbyes. The following cast a feisty little pike hammered the fly pretty much as soon as it hit the water and gratifyingly I landed him with the help of the fellow fly fisherman. Always useful to have someone on hand to play cameraman!
After that I did have a few more casts, but with dusk fast approaching and the temperature dropping even more I called it quits. I got home to recount the tale of my fishing prowess to the family and how it’s gratifying to catch a fish on a fly I tied myself, when a little voice piped up and said, “but I tied that one daddy!”….
This time last year I was kicking off my quest for a fly caught pike, which coincided quite nicely with a fishing trip on my birthday. On that particular trip back in 2014, I didn’t manage to catch one and it was in-fact quite some time until I did eventually hook and land a pike on the fly rod. Fast forward 12 months and I find myself wistfully remembering last years disappointment as I slip the net under a small but welcome jack pike. Not just any old pike, but a birthday pike!
I’d booked a day off work and managed to get out in the morning for a quick couple of hours on the Grand Western Canal near Tiverton. I started on the Greenway stretch of the canal just after daybreak and wasn’t filled with great hope considering the weather of late. The last few days had seen gales and plenty of rain, although the water itself looked clear enough to fish, if a little murky. I used my #5 rod and #8 floating line along with a fast sinking tapered leader and wire trace. This combination worked really well a week or so ago so there seemed to be no reason to change things. I started off with a selection of large pike flies, all of which were pretty testing to cast with the light rod. A little jack nipped at the tail of one of the flies right under the rod tip without connecting with the hook, so I switched over to a smaller fly more in keeping with my quarry’s size. I did try a couple of the smaller type flies but after no success I tried out one of the ‘mackerel’ type flies I’d tied for saltwater fishing. I’d caught a pollack on this fly over in the Isles of Scilly this summer but fancied it might fit the bill in this case too – being both the right kind of size as well as nicely visible in the coloured water.
10 minutes later and an enthusiastic little pike devoured my fly whole heartedly, leading to a short but fun scrap. Very gratifying to have success with one of my own flies! What a difference a year makes.
After this bit of fun, and with time running out, I headed along the canal a short distance to the ‘Minnows Caravan’ section, which is shallower and usually clearer. Not this time however.. One cast into the chocolate coloured water was enough to convince me that I would be wasting my time here so I called it a day and headed home feeling content with my efforts.
Following on from yesterday’s fun with the lure rod chasing the small jack pike on the Grand Western Canal near Tiverton, I decided to return but armed with the fly rod this time. I’d seen a few nice looking perch on my travels the previous day so decided to see if I could tempt any on the fly.
I took along my Airflow #5-6 rod and matched this with an #8 floating line. This seems quite a mismatch and I was dubious about the wisdom, so had a back up reel in case I needed to switch. The results however were fantastic! Given that the canal is pretty narrow and I was hardly ever casting much line, the overweighted line choice allowed the rod to load and cast properly with such short lengths of line out. The whole set up felt perfect!
The section of canal I’d fished yesterday near Minnow’s Caravan Park is very shallow and crystal clear with a good deal of weed growth so the floating line seemed logical. A sinking leader was more than ample to sink the fly to the required 2 foot depth. I used 3 foot of 20lb fluorocarbon tippet to attached a small fry type fly. Whilst I didn’t want to be using a wire trace for the perch, I wanted something reasonably substantial in case any of the little jack pike intercepted the fly. Judging by the hordes of small pike yesterday on this same section of water this seemed more than likely and I felt confident the Fluorocarbon would be sufficient if this happened given the size of the pike I’d seen yesterday.
I walked and cast my way along the canal, but didn’t see many perch today and those I did were small. Similar to the previous day, the little jack pike were out in numbers and more than happy to have a go. I had a few takes from small jacks as well as a larger 3 – 4lb pike follow the fly in without taking. Whilst no perch wanted to play ball, I did catch 3 small pike on the fly. All small but pretty fish – good fun and quite lively on the #5-6 rod. Strange how a day’s fishing often takes an unexpected twist.