Browns and Buzzers…

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April 13, 2014

On a bright and warm day for April I decided to take young Tales out for a day’s fishing. At just after 8am we packed the car and headed South towards a favourite haunt if little T’s, Robin Wood Fishery which is nestled in the Surrey Hills. However upon arriving at this secluded fishery it looked more like the car park of a multiple retailer, cars double parked and every bank covered with fluff chuckers at 20 yard intervals. This was not an ideal situation so after a brief chat with one fly-fisher we decided to head back up the A3 to Vale End Fishery.

Within in few minutes young Tales managed to plant a buzzer opposite a reedbed clump near an alder and on the drop was taken by a plump rainbow. Unfortunately the skills of young Tales weren’t quite honed enough to tame this bar of silver, no sooner had he lifted into the fish and started to wind in the fish propelled itself out of the water then a swift dive resulted in a slack line.

It wasn’t long before he was into another fish, this time a trim wild brown that took the fly as it was taken with the current of the stream that runs into the middle lake. This time and lesson learned from earlier this fish was drawn to the bank and netted. The grin from ear to ear of this young 8 year old was a joy to see. His first brown that was large enough for the table.

A couple of hours passed by with a knock here and a knock there as the line momentarily tightened only to go slack as the hook was discarded.
We had decided to head home at 3pm in order to cook a leg of lamb that his lordship had requested so as the last cast was made this time casting a damsel under the shadow of a large tree after a minute or two on the drop a slow and steady retrieve resulted in an aggressive tug and a 2lb rainbow was being played in the dappled sunlight. After a good few minutes young Tales managed to place the landing net under the fish and pull it onto the lush green grass.

There is no better way to spend a Sunday watching the next generation take pleasure and have fun catching fish.

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Brewing the perfect cuppa….

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After a few hours fishing there is nothing like a cup of ‘victory gin’, a good old brew of the finest tea in an enamel mug on the edge of the water.

For many years a Stanley flask of stale tasting tea would be served, then there was the kettle and the vintage Primus before adopting for the iconic Kelly Kettle.

Recently on a journey to Brighton I found a great kitchen and home-wares store that reminded me of the old school hardware store where you could literally buy anything you could ever want. Stores such as Walsingham & Sons, Dockerills in Brighton and that mad store in Falmouth, Trago Mills have most things but few retail gems such as old Tilly Lanterns and decent Volcano camping kettles.

However recently I found more Ghillie Kettles being used, similar to the Kelly Kettle but come in an anodised black colour. Without seeing one first hand I don’t know if they are any better than the iconic Kelly Kettle but look identical except for a few details. Without question these do help make an ideal fresh brew, with a few dry sticks and last seasons undergrowth it takes a mere few minutes to get a litre of water to boil. So with some fresh boiled water what you need is some decent tea not the powder in a bag stuff. To get some decent leaves this will mean a visit to Orange Pekoe our local tea house.

With a day on the water planned over the weekend the old Kelly will be packed in the boot of the car so a fine mug can be cupped in hand whilst watching young Tales in pursuit of a trout or two.

Pieces of eight…

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A stiff breeze runs down the path of the tidal Thames where in just under 3 hours the annual Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge will take place, this year being the 160th event since its inception in 1829. Cambridge have won this race 81 times to Oxfords 77 with one race declared a draw. The race is set on the Championship Course, a 4 mile, 374 yard stretch of the Thames from Putney to Chswick Bridge. On a few occasions the race has be rowed the opposite way.

Living on the river between Hammersmith Bridge and Barnes Bridge our annual pilgrimage to the Surrey side to watch the sweat and sinew of the two crews as they pull hard and full strokes as they start to round the bend under Barnes Bridge past the Bulls Head and White Hart and onwards to finish line at Mortlake.

The previous year was marred by the intrusion of a protester in the water near Chiswick Quay, hopefully this year the race will be incident free, however incidents are par for the course with this event where a clashing of oars or a sinking boat is not unheard of.

At low tide yesterday I walked down onto the foreshore a took in the view both ways where later today a flotilla of vessels will proceed with pace behind the rowers. A couple of years ago I witnessed sea trout breaking the water in a bid to get out if the way of the mass of hulls in pursuit.

Which of these teams will lift the BY Mellon Trophy later, on previous form the light blues were favourite but having seen both team in action over the last week I think the dark blues may set the pace.

On the point of trophies, I found at a table sale yesterday a fishing trophy won by C.S.T. Smith 1953-1954 titled the B.A.S. K.O. Comp. it would be interesting to know who this person was and what B.A.S stood for.

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Two years on and it’s all starting again….

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Three little fish on a black damsel

Three little fish on a black damsel

One of artist by the name of Anon brown ceramic eggs found by Nicola White near Cliffe, Kent.

One of Anon’s brown ceramic egg found by Nicola White near Cliffe, Kent.

Today heralds in the start of the new trout fishing season so I wish all you fluff chuckers many tight lines and memorable outings. Late this afternoon after telephone calls, emails and meetings i took to the water to land these three fish. Having observed the water and the retrieves of fellow fishers it was a level of counting down before starting a swift retrieve.

Also in case you thought the ceramic egg saga was all over, I can inform you more have been found. So two years on from their release on the tidal Thames they seem to be being washed up again further down towards the estuary.

Yes, two years have passed since the start of the egg saga and yes they are still out there to be found.

On the shoreline of Cliffe in the County of Kent it has been reported that a brown glazed ceramic egg of 4 inches in size, unmarked but rattled was found by mudlarker, Nicola White.

Whilst scouring the foreshore for artifacts this egg was stumbled upon amongst the seaweed and usual high tide debris. What is more intriguing is the art made by the Nicola White the lady who found this egg. I can’t wait to find out more about the mudlarking finds and art she creates.

Buzzers ready…

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Early this morning a brown envelope landed on the mat, it contained a consignment of 18 buzzers in three patterns.

Each fly impeccably dressed, and should deceive the most discerning trout in order to entice a solid take.

At the start of this new trout season the warmer than average temperatures should see the pupae, nymphs and buzzers show in abundant numbers.

I wonder which of the patterns will get the most interest.

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It’s all in the anchor point….

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As an invited guest of Farlows of Pall Mall I attended a mornings spey casting lesson held on the foreshore in Putney.

At 10.30am on this sunny March morning twenty or so gentlemen descended on the bank of the River Thames to try out a range of Guideline salmon rods and shooting heads.

Under the watchful eye of Jan Erik Granbo, Guidelines Pro Instructor were entertained to an hours lesson on how to cast a salmon line and shooting head some considerable distance. Using a range of rods and lines he demonstrated how to cast effortlessly using the ‘anchor point’ method. With what seemed to be effortless action and little arm movement, Jan cast most of these lines out with precision and power.

In 18 years Guideline have become a brand to be reckoned with. Today we put the Power Taper, Compact RTG, Power Taper, Scandi and Power Taper, Skagit RTG through their paces. These proven shooting heads in varying tapers and densities developed in Scandinavia offer a diverse and workable system for the fly fisher to use and adapt quickly to changing conditions.

The mornings activity was hosted by Farlows of Pall Mall. With Sean Clarke,Tom Festing, and Richard Kingston on hand along with the Pro Team from Guideline there were plenty of tutors to help you through the task of casting these lines out behind Fulham’s Craven Cottage on the Thames near Putney. At low tide lines were being cast from a range of rods, my favourite was the LXI 13’9″ 9/10. This rod has a sweet action and fast tip but felt right in the hand.

What Jan taught us was that the rod and line do all the work, the only real input from the fisher was to ‘anchor’ the action in towards your belly button with the bottom hand. Your top hand on the Handel is simply resting the rod, the bottom hand pulls aggressively in towards the torso, this punches out the line towards the treetops. By aiming at the treetops my line would punch out a fast and tight loop.

The most versatile line was the Power Taper Compact RTG followed by the Power Taper Skagit RTG. The difference between these lines with pre looped ends. The Compact Line is suited to small to medium rivers, tracking well in the wind and turns over easily. The lines I tried today were the INT/S1/S2 and floating 550grains/35gr. Without question this took Spey Casting to a new level for me.

https://www.guidelineflyfishing.com and https://www.sportfish.co.uk

With thanks to Jan Erik, Richard, Sean and Lawrie for today.

On a buzzer hunt

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It’s that time of year again when buzzers are the staple diet of trout on still waters. Especially those still waters that run deep.

On a recent trip to the Albury Estate, Syon Park Fishery most of the catches last week were to buzzers, pheasant tail, damsels and other nymph, pupae and emerger patterns.

Last season I purchased some fabulous flies tied by a fly fisher from Leeds, the quality of the materials used and tying were sublime.

Again this season I will start with several patterns from this artisanal fly-tyer of what I think are the best buzzer patterns on the market.

I have decided to seek out flies from a group of UK and one Polish fly-fishers, where their skill and quality of work surpasses anything you can buy in your average tackle store.

Over the next few days I will feature some of these flies.

So buzzers at the ready…

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Out with the old and in with the new….


Today is the last Friday of the coarse fishing season being the 16th March, however we are now only days away from the start of the official trout season.

With lake fisheries offering all year fishing I am going to take a couple if hours out on the warm sunny March day to visit The near by Syon Park Fishery to try out some recently acquired black and green buzzers. These well tied flies have UV cheeks so I hope they will attract the eye of a passing fish. I’ll update my post later with a report on their ability to catch fish.

Wherever you are today enjoy this last day of the season and may I wish you tight lines.

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Last chance…

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It’s nearly the 16th of March! A day when the brotherhood of fishermen take to the water in a bid to catch that personal best before the rods and reels are laid to rest.

Go forth and fling your hook….

A gathering of the brotherhood….

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In a distant corner of the land there was a gathering of the brotherhood of fishermen and ladies in a hall in Romsey. There, knowledgable folk presented the wares of times past when tweeds were worn and hats adorned the grey matter.

This was a gathering of dealers, collectors and those that have the illness known to many women of piscatorialitis, where one rod, reel, float or fly is never enough.

On the outskirts of this Hampshire market town signs adorned the lamp posts to guide those with a passion for angling to see refuge in a school hall aided by cups of ‘victory gin’, builders tea and to exchange thoughts and knowledge on angling and all that is associated with it.

There were the familiar faces of John Andrews of Andrews of Arcadia, Jeff Della Mura, author of Hooked on Floats, Richard from Robins Wood Fishery, James Partridge of Jim’s Reel Shop, David Townsend of Fishing Tackle Antiques, Michael Fanner of The Reel Thing this list was extensive in the who’s who of vintage tackle or as my wife would term it stuff from those that have flung their last cast….now in fishing heaven.

Tables were full of vintage tackle, books, ephemera, cased fish, landing nets, flies, collectables and a fine assortment of ‘sticks’, fly and coarse fishing rods to those of the passion.

Fine leather boxed Hardy Perfects, Allcocks Aerial and Populars, Speedias, Trudex, Rapidex, Ambidex and many other classics filled tables along with cases of Classic Abu 6000 multipliers. There were classic rods that have graced the Test and Tay, those that have rested on the banks of the Avon and Frome, now the rest on the finest cotton velvet with prices ranging from under £50 – £850. The assortment of rods available covered every need and made from those bastions of the hay day of Redditch to the House of Hardy in Northumberland, custom built rods by Barder to one from that eccentric dealer Ben Maurice Jones who once traded from a shop in Portobello. Sadly like many of the classic fishing tackle shops that nestled in the streets of London and other metros is now nothing more than a memory.

For those of you that suffer from the incurable ailment of hoarding tackle there is another fair to be held in Redditch on Sunday the 11th May.

My only however was the purchase of a small brass and steel priest for Young Tales. On my journey home via Winchester I stopped off to pick up a pair of vintage Keenfisher studded waders I had purchased via that well known online auction site, they were a bargain and in nearly new condition. What I did do as promised was not to buy anymore ‘sticks’ for fear of being beaten by with them upon return to thee Tales household…..it was very difficult as I did see a fine roach rod not to forget the fine split cane fly rod by Ben Maurice Jones for £150.00 or the bargain of the day was a fine roach rod by W B Clarke of Redditch for a mere £38 made of two parts cane with a split cane top, it was in magnificent original condition and sold by Michael Fanner of The Reel Thing…oh how I could kick myself for not buying it.

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