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.

2016-10-02-kia-ora-worm-fly-896

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…

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Rudd and Carp at Kia Ora

Last time I fished Exeter & District’s, Kia Ora lakes with Rhianna, she had 60 rudd from the smaller pond in not that many more minutes. This time we started off on the smaller pond again targeting the hoards of rudd before moving onto the larger pond to try our luck for the carp.

We pole fished using maggots which on the smaller pond, without exception were hit on the drop by ravenous rudd. Even cubes of luncheon meat were savaged mercilessly. Not a chance of getting a bait near the bottom. This is the perfect kind of fishing for my daughters but after a while I managed to persuade her that it would be better if she watched me catch carp from the bigger pond just behind us.

We moved to a nice looking swim opposite a wooded island that I’d be able to reach with a long pole. A few decent sized carp were cruising around basking in the sunshine, but on this venue, surface fishing is banned so we plumbed the depth tight up against the island opposite. The water in front of us was fairly consistently shallow at only about 2 – 3 foot deep, so as there was no obvious deeper spots we decided to fish tight against the overhanging vegetation agains the island opposite. With my pole at nearly full reach, this was going to be a little more challenging.

I loose fed maggot and luncheon meat before going straight for the meat bait on the hook. Bites were easy to come by but connecting with anything was a very different proposition. It wasn’t long before Rhianna’s interest was waining and I knew me time was fast running out unless I could hook something..

The first two fish I hooked felt a good size but were off across the lake and into snags quicker than I could say “oooh, I’ve got one..”. Putting on the pressure only resulted in the hooks pulling out. I stepped up the rig and went for a beefier hook length in the hope of being able to stop any other fish I hooked a bit easier, and also increased hook size in an effort to hopefully get a better hook hold. This seemed to work and we swiftly landed 2 nice fish, the bigger of which went to nearly 7lb. I’m sure we could of caught more but with a small child moaning about being bored it seemed a good time to call it a day. We did chat to another angler leaving at the same time as ourselves to learn that he’d caught around a dozen carp up to 12lb. Nice to be sat by the water in the sunshine.

 

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.

Rudd stalking with a new #4 rod

Whiling away time until the start of the new coarse fishing season was always one of the greatest frustrations in years gone past. When I was growing up in Somerset, pretty much all local waters observed the traditional closed season. Nowadays, especially since moving to Devon there seem to be opportunities aplenty for fishing all year round, be it ponds, or the local canals or the ubiquitous commercial carp lakes – and what better way to see out the last week before the start of the new season than by testing a new rod on one of the local canals?

I’d recently purchased a new #4 set up and desperately needed to christen it. Not being able to justify vast expense on another rod and reel, I settled on a Leeda Voltaire IV rod & Vision Keeper #2/4 Reel, coupled with an airlo floating line. Cheap, yet no doubt perfectly capable of catching fish – if only my ability can do it justice.

New rod in hand, I popped to the Grand Western Canal near Tiverton to try my luck for some of the big rudd that inhabit the canal. I took a stroll down the Greenway section of the the canal near Halberton but was disappointed to see it looking slightly more coloured than I’d expected. There weren’t the numerous and highly visible shoals of rudd apparent that I’ve seen in previous times, but there were several swims where tench were rolling on the surface. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few casts for the tench but in the end it was the trusty rudd that christened the new rod. There were none of the big rudd that I know inhabit the canal to be seen, and only their little 3″ – 6″ brethern present, but still they all count. I couldn’t tempt anything to rise to a dry fly no matter which fly I tried or how carefully it was presented and in the end it was the a slowly sinking spider that proved effective fished on a long leader and fine tippet.

The new rod and reel proved a delight to fish with, well balanced and feather-weight. I think this may well become my rod of choice when fly fishing for coarse fish on my local canals and small rivers.

2015-06-03 Rudd on spider

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