Autumn Perch from the River Brue

Our fishing on the River Brue, to date has always taken place during the summer months, where we can rover around fishing various stretches of the river and often stalking chub in the clear waters. This latest trip was to be a bit of a departure from the norm, slightly later in the year than usual with autumn seeming to have well and truly settled in. The leaves are falling, the temperature has dropped, and the weed growth begun dying back. On top of it all the river itself wasn’t quite as clear as usual, but slightly coloured. The weather forecast wasn’t ideal either, with heavy rain showers forecast – but we decided to brave it anyway with waterproofs and fishing umbrellas on hand just in case we needed them.

We didn’t have a particularly encouraging start with the fish just not seeming to be feeding and struggled to get a bite for an unnervingly long time until a move of location and a bit of patience, paid off. We both began catching small chub and roach after building up a swim with a steady flow of bait.

The promised rain eventually came, and we spent the next hour under umbrellas. At this point I thanked my lucky stars that I’d had the foresight to come prepared..

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I mainly fished single red maggot on the float rod and started to consistently pull in chub of around 8oz or so. A switch to the ledger rod however brought instant results with a cracking perch of around 2lb, followed by another slightly smaller one which I promptly lost in a raft of reeds under the rod whilst I was being a bit blasé about things and chatting to Jason rather than concentrating on netting the fish.. That’ll serve me right!

After that I missed a few more perch before landing another, whilst Jason also had  lovely perch on ledgered worm. The fading light brought an end to proceedings and the end a what turned into a good days fishing.

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Kia Ora Lakes and the Squirmy Worm

The weather today has been amazing for October! Amazing full stop in fact. Hot and sunny and not a breath of wind. Isobel and myself headed to Kia Ora lakes near Cullompton this afternoon for a chilled out session.

We set up on the smaller of the two lakes to fish for the ‘Silver fish’ and proceeded to pull out a steady stream of quality roach, rudd, skimmers and small tench along with a few hybrids and gudgeon. All were on a short pole and double maggot. Isobel really got into the swing of things and amazed me not only with her patience (not a quality 9 year olds usually have), but her enthusiasm for pole fishing. I would have to admit that she definitely takes after me when it comes to striking bites though… not exactly lightening reflexes shall we say. In fact she made me look positively on the ball… Still – loads of fun and she enjoyed herself.

The ‘Gold’ lake containing the carp was just a couple of yards away from where we were fishing, so I popped over there to stalk a few carp with the fly rod, whilst Izzy was making a dent in the food supplies.

Floating baits aren’t permitted at Kia Ora and as I didn’t want to fall foul of the bailiff should he visit, I fished a sinking fly – my squirmy worm fly.

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There wasn’t that many carp to be seen, but I did spot and get to cast to a few that were sunbathing or just cruising around. I probably managed to cast to half a dozen, and hooked 3 of those. It was really satisfying to cast to a stationary sunbathing carp and land a fly a foot in front of his nose then watch him suddenly swim purposefully forward to take the slowly sinking ‘worm’. All close range stuff and pretty arm wrenching.

I had 3 carp in total, the biggest 8lb and the others around 6lb.

Izzy did’ take that long to demolish the sandwiches and before I knew it I was called back to catch more of the ever obliging roach and rudd. Will have to bring more food next time to buy myself a little more time to myself…

Family Fishing at Luccombes

Sunday morning and after an early morning bike ride we headed out to Luccombes Fishery on the outskirts of Exeter. Today was family time, so a picnic and more stuff than anyone could possibly need for a fishing trip, accompanied me to the lakes. How I managed to make space to fit any fishing gear in the car is beyond me!

The weather was sunny and breezy, but it was still quite nice to sit around on the grass watching other people catching fish… We did have a few fish ourselves but it was hard going. We fished with Rhianna’s little 4m whip, pole float and maggot / luncheon meat and in hindsight this may not have been the best tactic. The lakes were pretty packed with fishermen so moving to another swim was pretty much out of the question so we had to make the best of where we were.

We had a few nice sized roach and skimmers, along with a smattering of small rudd and perch. Rhianna was quickly bored, and I couldn’t blame her considering how much slower bites were to come by when compared to last weekend’s fish-fest.. Isobel however did really persevere when she had a turn with the pole, and was happy with a little rudd. Along the way she insisted on holding and then returning most of the fish caught proving she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty.

The highlight of my day was watching a chap on the next lake catching carp on the fly rod. He was fishing with a pellet fly on the surface and feeding dog biscuits and pellets out into a patch of reeds. He had a couple of fish including one particularly large carp, despite losing a few fish along the way.

This is far from the first time I’ve fished here and every time except for the first visit several years ago, I’ve struggled for fish. There’s obviously fish here, but I’m doing something wrong. Think I’m going to rename this place ‘no-luckumbes’.

Hoards of Rudd at Kia Ora Pond

I’d promised to take Rhianna fishing on Sunday, so we decided to explore new waters, or new to us at least, so we headed up to Kia Ora ponds near Cullompton, just a short drive up the M5 from Exeter. The Kia Ora fishery consists of two ponds on the Exeter & District Angling Association’s ticket, so being members the trip wouldn’t cost us anything. The ponds are by all accounts heavily stocked with the ‘Silver Pond’ being mainly silver fish and the larger ‘Gold Pond’ featuring the bigger carp.

With neither of us being particularly patient anglers we hit the silver pond and started off on pole with maggots. Rhianna’s short 4m whip meant we were only fishing in 2 foot of water, just out past the reeds, but the bites were instantaneous. We swiftly settled into a routine of me bait up, her swing the rig out and within seconds swing a small rudd back in to me, for me to unhook. After an hour of this she’d clocked up 60 or so rudd, roach and perch, without me managing to really get in on the action. Most of the fish were small but with the occasional slightly larger specimen in amongst them. The rumoured crucians, tench and skimmers didn’t make an appearance.

In addition to double maggot, we tried luncheon meat which usually sorts out a few carp on most waters. Today however it just didn’t happen, although the spam did bring a better stamp of roach.

Eventually with a short window of opportunity to wet a line myself, I rigged up the #4 fly rod with a floating line and a bead headed worm type fly. The worm fly was simply made by threading a bead followed by a length of the Veniards ‘Squirmy Worm Body’ onto a barbless size 14 hook. The resulting fly sank slowly and seemed pretty irresistible to the rudd (although to be fair I think they would of attacked pretty much anything!’. With the hordes of ravenous rudd around I didn’t seem to be able to get through the tiddlers to get to anything bigger. Still – fun all the same.

Next time I try this ‘fly’ I think I’ll make the worm body considerably longer to really get it wiggling.

 

Flyfishing for Coarse Fish – Weekend Bash 2015

Last weekend saw the ‘Flyfishing for Coarse Fish” group weekend meet in Somerset. Fine weather for the weekend boded well and the Saturday morning saw us meeting bright and early on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal at Upper Maunsell Lock. Day tickets are available online from the Taunton Angling Association’s website for £7.50 giving access to a large stretch of the canal and also the River Tone. Given the heavy rain of the two previous days, we were pleasantly surprised to find the canal spectacularly clear. The Bridgwater & Taunton Canal is generally quite shallow and with quite wide margins of reeds, making fishing tricky in places.  Our host & organiser for the event, fishing guide and writer, Dominic Garnett certainly knew what to expect and advised #3 – #4 rods for general coarse fish with the longer rods useful for being able to reach over the nearside reeds. He was right!

Fly Fishing Taunton Canal

The plan was to rove the canal for the day and cover as much ground as possible. The canal was crystal clear and allowed sight fishing to any fish spotted. The only issue being that we had to spot and cast to our quarry before we were ourselves spotted by the fish.

Finding fish in the clear, shallow waters wasn’t difficult and we were able to target the larger fish (Dominic certainly seemed to be able to at any rate…). Wandering the bank, Roach, rudd, bream and hybrids were numerous and easy to spot in the clear water, along with some cracking tench and a good few large perch. Pike (mainly small jacks) were also prevalent. To me some of the most impressive fish, alongside the tench, were the quality rudd and it was these that were the main target for the day.

Dominic lead the way in showing us how it’s done by promptly catching a couple of very nice rudd illustrating that he really does know what he’s talking and writing about.

Fly Fishing Taunton Canal Rudd

The rest of us did our best to try to keep up, whilst David concentrated on the large perch which are very much a favourite of his. Everyone caught fish, including myself. I managed half a dozen rudd and some roach but nothing quite in the league of Dom’s fish. David hit the mark with a splendid 2lb 1oz perch that was one amongst 3 or 4 that chased down his fly.

Fly Fishing Big Perch

Fly Fishing Rudd Taunton Canal

We ended the day between us with a variety of species including rudd, roach, silver bream, hybrids & perch but surprisingly considering how many were around, no pike. A post session pub meal and drink followed in the sunshine – bringing a thoroughly enjoyable day to a great end. Sadly due to having a pre-arranged boat fishing trip on the Sunday I wasn’t able to join the group for the sunday session but you can read about how the chaps got on in Dominic’s blog. Hopefully There’ll be a follow up day or weekend session arranged in the imminent future – maybe a 2016 rematch?! Looking forward to it already.

Start of the Season on the River Brue

The river Brue near Glastonbury has always been one of my favourite rivers and in recent years, location of my annual start of the fishing season pilgrimage. I was born in Glastonbury and my first ever memories of river fishing, or fishing at all, were of catching feisty little perch and gudgeon from the Brue. The Brue varies along it’s length (or at least the section controlled by Glaston Manor Angling) from very shallow and weedy areas to deep and mysterious lily-pad lined places all of which just scream “chub”. In fact it is chub that usually figure in my mind when I imagine the float dipping below the surface or a fly being devoured.

My fishing buddy, Jason and myself usually start the traditional coarse fishing season with a trip to the Brue where we travel light and rove around trying various spots anywhere between Street and Lydford. Favourite spots include Wallyers Bridge, Flights Hole & West Lydford which whilst maybe not the most productive stretches as I’m sure any local would tell you, still manage to tick all the boxes from our point of view of being picturesque, peaceful venues with very fishy looking sections of water that usually turn up fish or at least have the promise of doing so.

This year we’ve purchased annual licenses so will be looking to visit this venue far more often, rather than the usual once yearly trip. I’m looking forward to getting more familiar with my favourite spots but also foresee it being a good excuse to try some of the other waters on the license such as the North or South Drain or the river Sheppey.

This particular trip saw myself focusing on trying to get some new species on my #4 fly rod whilst Jason adopted the float rod and bait approach.

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The first stop near Wallyers Bridge saw Jason straight into a steady stream of small chub, roach, dace and gudgeon whilst I struggled with the fly rod. My only defence for my failure to catch being the blustery wind hampering my usual amateurish efforts with the fly. The wind combined with the weedy swim and rather bushy bankside vegetation didn’t help, but not to be deterred we decided to explore further downstream which lead to us discovering deeper water and some great looking sections that without the wind would certainly have seen us diverting more time too. We stopped at one deep and reasonably clear bend where once again Jason proved that float fished maggot is far more effective than my fly fished offerings by again catching numerous chub and roach. Through my polarised glasses I could see several fairly hefty bream cruising around which boded well. They hung around the section we were fishing but weren’t fooled by anything that we presented.

Moving on I stopped at a section that had a lot of chub basking in the sunshine – some of which would easily have broken my personal best to date by quite a long way (not difficult as it’s only about 2.5lb). The banks here were steep and very overgrown making a stealthy approach to the water without spooking the fish near on impossible. As I couldn’t get as close to the water as I’d have liked and considering the lack of interest the fish had shown in my flies up until this point I decided to try a flicker spinner. These tiny spinners I was told in the tackle shop are intended to be cast with a fly rod. It may have the traditionalist fly fishers shaking their heads in disappointment but having fished for quite a while with no joy, I decided it was time to swallow my pride and try anything. The spinner surprisingly cast quite well on my #4 rod and when the spinner hit the water it immediately resulted in mayhem as dozens of fish launched themselves at the spinner. Miraculously nothing succeed in taking it. The largest of chub made themselves scarce at this point and my second cast again resulting in numerous chub launching themselves at the lure. I connected with one of the shoal that put up a very spirited fight that I seemed destined to lose from my awkward vantage point. It shot into the nearside lily pads which were never the less still out of reach of the landing net, so I had to carefully slide down the bank nearer to the water to net the fish. It probably weighed just over a pound but was exceedingly welcome after the efforts put in so far without success. I forgot to photograph the fish and anyway, felt like I’d cheated somehow having used the spinner rather than a fly. Never mind, a fish is a fish.

After this disturbance, the fish had all disappeared, so given that our trip was all about exploring and fishing as many different places as possible, we moved on to West Lydford. The stretch at West Lydford is quite wide and deep by the Brue’s standards although on arrival it looked particularly coloured. We fished various swims, without a great deal of success other than Jason winkled out a few fish again. Again I saw shoals of chub, some of which were a very decent size, but still they proved impossible to catch. To rub salt in the wound, I had several takes on the dry fly from fish none of which frustratingly I connected with.

With time running out, we moved on to try over near Baltonsborough, where we’ve had good fishing in the past. I was disappointed with the water clarity again. The wind here added to my woes with quite a ripple on the water in places making fish spotting impossible. This was a far cry from the previous years trip where I was able to sight cast to shoals of chub making for a fantastic days fun. We decided to persevere and it wasn’t long before Jason landed a lovely perch tempted on float fished maggot. this was followed in quick succession by 2 more cracking perch on worm as well as one that snapped him up.

2015-06-20 Jason Perch

I managed to hook a roach of about 7″ on a gold bead headed hare’s ear nymph. Just as I was about to lift it out of the water, a large perch attacked it right under my feet. Heart in mouth moments for me and the roach I suspect.

2015-06-20 Brue Flights Hole

2015-06-20 Brue Roach

After this I switched to a 3″ long mini pike fly and it wasn’t long before the perch followed and engulfed the fly right under my rod tip. I struck, certain that I was about to experience a pretty lively fight only to see the perch lazily turn and swim off! Somehow the hook didn’t get a hold. Absolutely gutted!!! Try as I might, nothing after this brought the perch back up.

With the light fading, a switch back to the gold head nymph produced a lovely little gudgeon which was my first ever gudgeon on a fly. Finishing the day with the perch activity and the gudgeon seemed particularly apt considering my early childhood memories on this river with these fish. Can’t wait to return and won’t be leaving it until next year to do so this time!

2015-06-20 Brue Gudgeon

Fly fishing – so, where to start?

I’ve been sea and coarse fishing my whole life. I go out boat fishing around the south west coastline every month as well as exploring the rivers, canals and lakes that are on offer in Devon & Somerset whenever I have the opportunity. Now in my 40s I’d consider myself sufficiently skilled with a fishing rod to not embarrass myself in front of onlookers and fellow anglers – unless I’m trying to fly fish that is….

I recently bought myself a couple of fly rods and have been enthusiastically waving them round for the last few months. Enthusiastically is probably the most flattering thing I can say about my efforts as well. Alright, with a couple of young kids I can only sneak away every now and again, and haven’t been able to devote that much time to fly fishing, but still – I’ve come to realise I’ve got a long way to go to get to the level of accomplishment I’d like to attain. I won’t be concentrating solely on fly fishing either – I’m still out on the boats sea fishing every month, along with the odd bit of coarse fishing, and can’t see that changing in the near future. The fly fishing will have to fit in around everything else. Not ideal I know, but there’s just not enough hours in the day!

Having just starting out in fly fishing and not wanting to break the bank, I’ve got myself an Airflo Delta #5-6 rod for coarse fish and trout along with a Greys GS2 #8 rod for pike and saltwater. A couple of ‘economical’ reels loaded with weight forward line completes the selection. We’ll see how it goes and upgrade if & as necessary.

To date my fly fishing has mainly consisted of targeting coarse fish on ponds and canals to varying degrees of success, along with the occasional trip after stocked trout.. Again with limited success. I’ve had chub up to just under 3lb and carp around 9lb on the fly rod, along with a smattering of rudd, roach & perch so to my mind I’ve have been doing ok. Granted, as with all fishing, there’s the occasional blank but I have managed to catch fish every now and again!

One area I have completely and utterly failed at, is catching a pike on the fly. It’s not through lack of trying either sadly. I’ve caught plenty of pike over the years on dead baits, live baits, plugs and any manner of lures, but just cannot seem to do the business with a fly rod. In fact my Greys GS2 #8 fly rod I’ve been using on the local canals for pike has yet to be christened with any fish whatsoever! shocking really considering the number of times it’s been aired.

As for tackling the salt water with a fly – I’ve just not even tried yet but it is definitely on my ‘to do list’ for 2015 – although I’ll look to invest in a pair of waders before then.

Looking critically at my efforts to date, it’s easy to see a pattern – most my fishing is on small ponds and canals where there is no need to cast too far. Being self taught, I’ve no doubt picked up lots of bad habits that need ironing out at some stage. I can just about get by on these small venues where poor casting technique can get me by, but can definitely see the need for proper lessons in the very near future.

We all need something to aim for right? So, the immediate target – Get some casting lessons ASAP!

Target for end of 2014?  – Christen the #8 rod, preferably with a pike.

Target for 2015? –  get off the mark with some saltwater species. Bass, Pollack, Mackerel & Wrasse.

Coarse Fish on Fly