Boiling water…

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Having missed a good three months of the official trout fishing season I do find myself missing the feeling of a  line tighten as a trout takes a fly.

With nearly a full moon in the night sky and the Thames tides showing more of the foreshore than I have seen for some time my thoughts turn to the excitement of a nights sea-trout fishing. For sure they run the Thames and I have seen them caught at Isleworth and Hampton Court on the fly. However, there is nothing quite like a night out on a river in the West Country or West Wales.

Usually I have fished light in the past using a 9ft #6 rod and JLH Hardy reel with floating line, light tackle can give heart stopping excitememt but most I know go for a slightly longer, stiffer rod using a weight 7/8 line on a Hardy Marquis or Princess Reel if being a traditionalist. One good vintage rod is a Bruce & Walker ‘ New Era’ Sea Trout rod that will handle a 8/9 line for double figure fish. Choice of flies are inportand and Dai Jones ties some good patterns, snake flies , tandems, needle flies and surface wake or bubblers flies proving successful.

When the opportunity has arisen I have purchased boxes of old sea-trout flies from the West County or Wales as I know local patterns work well, they have been tried a tested. In a recent article in Trout & Salmon on Sea-Trout fishing it covered the tackle required, techniques and flies to be tried, it’s was certainly worth the read. With the run of Sea-Trout now well underway I hope to get a long weekend in the West give me vintage tackle an airing and the chance for young Tales to once agin put me to shame, for the last couple of seasons he has out-fished me in both terms of number of fish caught and the size. His first ever Sea-Trout caught on the Itchen was a shade under 9lb.

With a couple of warm days and late low tides it may temp me to venture out on the Thames or to book day/night out on a river in the West.

Casting in the sun

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With the start of the new coarse fishing season underway only the fool hardy ventured out under the grey skies and pouring rain – clearly as I get older I have turned into a fair weather fisherman. Gone are the days when I would head out whatever the weather in pursuit of a trout from a chalkstream or a trace full of mackerel and a prized sea bream from the sea.

Any sort of fishing recently has been put on hold. The course rods and reels were put away back in March, there has been little time to venture to the Sussex Coast for any sea fishing and the collection of trusted Hardy fly rods and reels have remained in situ since the end of last season.

Having had my Father pass away recently it brings home how precious time is, how missed opportunities with young Tales by the river watching his face light up as he catches even the smallest of fish or purely the sheer enjoyment of  just being spending time out together, so the rod will be dusted off and packed into the car as we head off to the West. 

Fortuitously work this weekend takes me to one of the furthest points West, glorious St Ives, where this I will be working at the Gin Festival UK promoting Gin and Franklin & Sons tonics and mixers, a range of soft drinks produced since 1886 on the edge of the metropolis along the Metropolitan Line in Rickmansworth. As a child I remember finding the old Franklin branded glass bottles on the spoil heap of the local farm and occasionally I see one in the bottom of the River Chess and more often in hedgerows along the footpaths leading to the river, probably discarded by school boys on their way home. Occasionally when on the banks of the River Thames you can find the old black vulcanite stoppers, recently I found a Franklin ‘F’ branded bottle stopper and at a local table sale an old glass branded green bottle.

Hopefully if we get a good day on Sunday and with a little sun young Tales and I can get a couple of hours in hurling a Dexters out to sea. In recent years in-shore mackerel have been far and few between but the odd pollock has often broken cover in the rocky coves to take the odd lure when presented.

I’m certainly looking forward to a catch up with some old friends, the odd pint in The Sloop Inn or cocktail in the Rum & Crab Shack and without question a Gin and Tonic if Col has anything to do with what we’ll be drinking.

    

Casting in the dark…

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I tried to update an earlier post today but somehow managed to loose every word I wrote, it was about as frustrating as hooking a fish and loosing it on the edge of the landing net, something many of us have experienced in our lives.

The update was on my post of May Day. So I’ll try and cover it again.

Recently I had observed the flourish of grow of the plants along the Thames Path and couldn’t help wondering about how the chalk stream of Surrey, Hampshire and Wiltshire were shaping up. To date the ‘House of Tales’ have left the rods in their cotton sleeves, reels in boxes and flies in their muddled mess from last season.

With the recent warm weather I would hope that an abundance of fly life has emerged and within a week or so the first May Fly should start their merry dance drifting up and down the margins of rivers such as the Wye, Itchen, Test, Avon, Kennet and Frome.

It will soon be ‘duffers fortnight’ a time when trout pursue there large elegant flies with vigour. The May Fly had a brief life as a terrestrial. Dancing across he shimmering water can end in an explosion of water as an eager brown trout breaks its cover. Others will dance above the border vegetation and other momentarily rest on the green blades of irises and reeds.

These warm May days are now tempting me back to the river. I now sense that boxes need to be unpacked and fishing bags assembled I readiness for a day or evenings fishing where I’m sure I’ll end up casting towards darkness whilst looking for those silhouettes on the water and the sipping of trout in the surface film.

Fisherman’s Friend

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With a chilling North wind reminding us that summer is still not quite with us I ventured South and decided to view what fly life may be around on the Southern chalk streams. With intermittent showers it certainly wasn’t a day to be out trout fishing. 

The recent rainfall had increased the depth of water on the Hampshire Cress beds, green shoots on the Hawthorn were illuminated by the late afternoon sun and rain drops glistened like diamonds on the damp branches.

With the official start to the river trout fishing season underway few if anybody were out unfurling dry lines – the rivers ran fast and silent, not a click of a reel to be heard. I thought I would call into a small tackle shop near Swathing on the outskirts of Southampton. My reason for visiting was firstly to find a pack of braided leader loops and secondly to have a browse as usually I have young Tales in tow which makes for a speedy visit as he keen to be on the water than in a shop.

Having recently acquired an Intrepid Gear Fly reel, which came with line attached I realised I had no loops left to attach any leaders too. I’m not a great fan of needle knots so prefer to use the more modern braided leader loops. The only leader loops in the cabinet in the shop seemed to be too large, however a pack of ‘No Knot eyelets’ were found, made in the U.S.A by Skipper Enterprises. These fine wire No-Knot pins have barbs on them and are just inserted into the end of the fly line, you then just thread your leader material through the eyelet of the pin, hopefully the pin sets firm in the core of the line. I guess the most important thing is that these hold fast when playing a fish-well the proof will be when out on the river so look out for an update. 

    
 

The Intrepid Angler….

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During the late 70’s and early 80’s I recall a range of reels by Gladding and Sheakspere all denoting ‘ Made In England’, they were robust solid reels if not slightly too heavy against the more expensive a sought after Hardy and Orvis lightweight reels that I aspired too. It wasn’t until after I started my first job in a design studio in Covent Garden could I afford to part with the money for a Hardy LRH Lightweight reel, a reel which I still fish with to this day.

My reason for featuring the Intrepid Gear Fly is for the mere fact that I found a spare spool in a local charity shop the other week which then prompted me to think about finding a reel on that familiar online auction site, more to reminisce about those days in the early 80’s when I would fish the Queen Mother Resevoir near Datchet and Latimer Park Farm with a 10ft John Norris of Penrith rod paired to a Beaulite reel, which served me well for many years until I then decided to fish light on chalk streams in the South and smaller lakes. It was late summer last year that I decided to have my old John Norris rod refurbished by my dear friend – Richard the Fish. Not only did he rewhipp the rings but also upgraded some of the parts such as a keeper ring and nickel silver suround on the joint if the rod blank and cork handle.

These classic reels, although seen as an entry level offer were so solid in their construction that many survive in good condition today, much like this Intrepid Gear Fly featured. If you want to put together a more than adequate sea-trout package these reels paired with a good graphite or even fibatube rod and #7-#8 line means that you won’t be worried when scrambling about in the dark on the river bank rather than  risking damaging a reel that cost you several hundred pounds. To be honest I agree with Mrs Tales on her view that as long as it holds line and you can reel in why spend a fortune…

I need to dig out my old Shakespeare Beaulite and Gladding Rimfly reels which are still very usable – bit like an old classic English Sports Car, a TR2 or 3, solid old pieces of kit…’Made In England’

   
 

No April Fool…

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Slowly the blossom is starting to open up on the tree beyond the sitting room, to watch the seasons come and go as buds form, flowers unfurl, leaves flourish in the summer sun only to turn amber, red and then fall to the graphite grey pavement and that indicates the passing of another year. Now it is the time for the white blossom to form like clouds of shimmering light, the bees will soon swarm around on warm days so many of them that there is a constant hum during daylight hours.

The cold days of March are now behind us and as April heralds in the start of the river trout season it is time to plan a few days out with young Tales. Fishing so far this year has been put on hold because of the state of the rivers, running fast, high and heavily coloured it gave us little chance to fish. We’re not really into managed lakes preferring to chance our luck on meandering rivers however in February we did venture to a small fishery just off the A31 which proved to change our views on such places that when the weather warms up and the coarse season starts again we will return to watch the hot orange paint of the tip of a cork float dip beneath the indego coloured water.

With boxes of game fishing tackle stored in the loft it is now time to get them out, dust off them off and compile sets of tackle for fishing the rivers of Hampshire, Wiltshire and the trickling streams of the West Country. There are Wheatley boxes of nymphs, emergers,  drys, wets and the classic Mayfly. Hardy reels with double taper dry lines, sink tips and intermediates – every option is covered with an abundance of spare spools in order to change the presentation quickly. Light tackle to heavier rods and reels for Sea-Trout fishing later in the year…yes, there us a lot of ‘stuff’ as Mrs Tales would point out.

For me April is still too early to fish, the bankside vegetation is only just starting to grow, Robins still till the soil for earthworms and grubs and the temperature of the water still too cold for fish to start to feed properly. Those of you that head to the rivers will now doubt find it hard going. The lack of camouflage from the bankside vegitation means that fish are easily spooked with only juvenile fish eager to take the fly more out of their inquisitive nature to chase a moving object, the larger fish are no ‘April Fools’ being tempted by larger patterns they simply tuck themselves close to the bank occasionally moving into mid stream to check out the odd dislodged snail or displaced matter.

This month is about planning and preparation, putting the time in now will pay dividends in the months to come. Depending on the enthusiasm of young Tales to venture out fishing we could find ourselves out before the end of the month however I sense it will be May for that first trip to the river.

   
   

The Detectorists…

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My post have been far and few between in these early months of 2016. There have been few fishing forays as the weather and state of the rivers have dictated the opportunities to fish. Rivers running the colour of builders tea and water levels up to your nick-nacky – noos have meant the rods linger in there rests and the ratchets of reels don’t click.

With now only a couple of days away until the close season there will be no ‘classic coarse’ fishing until late June. For us we herald in the season for Trout, Sea-Trout and Salmon fishing and when time and weather permits lure fishing for Bass.

Having been feeling under the weather over the last couple of days I took to the river today under a clear blue sky and walked along the shoreline to see what the recent high Spring tides had scoured away and what it may reveal. In the distance I saw two camouflaged clad figures, for a moment I thought Members of TAC but soon it became apparent that they were ‘mudlarks’, Detectorists of the metal kind. 

Having struck up a conversation with these enthusiastic gentlemen they were open to sharing their knowledge of the river, their methods and finds. Whilst in mid-conversation one of them bent down, turning over the surface pea shingle and then between thumb and forefinger rubbing a small thin circular object, he stopped his patter and observed his find. ‘Can you see what it says’ as he passed the  20mm disc to me. I rubbed it in much the same way however I could feel the relief of the hammered token. With the warm air on this bright sunny March afternoon drying the token it revealed the wording The Olde Thomas Pearson on one side and In Westminster Pallace Yard on the reverse with His Half Penny in the centre. The condition of the token was simply breathtaking seeing that it was struck between 1648-1673 and had been covered by the river silt as its only protection.

Within a few feet another gleaming item appeared, this being a metal button made by Webb & Co London, again I was astonished as to its condition after the surface grime was rinsed off with water from the river.

I’m still amazed at what this river gives up or rather the things that have found their way into it. Each and every time I walk the shores of the River Thames  history unfolds beneath my feet, so much, so visible to the naked eye, yet thousands pass it by without a second thought.

It will be interesting to see what I may find next time out.

My thanks to the Detectorists who shared that special moment today. 

    
   

Half term…then we must go fishing!

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It wasn’t a school day but young Tales was up and about early, the school half term is already upon us and we are not heading to the slopes or for winter sun. Our focus is on keeping young Tales away from a certain communication tool that has robbed us of so much of his time and conversation, yes the iPad, that wonderful device that gives us so much information at a flick of the finger and helps a certain level of learning is also a destructive tool. I’ve witnessed so many times a whole family out for dinner where each individual is engrossed with reading the next text, Facebook notification, tweet and catching the latest result…surely this is meant to be family time where conversation and banter abound or am I just showing my age? What gives me something to smile about is that he wants to go fishing!

I can only take comfort that at bedtime young Tales was eager to know if fresh bait had been acquired, tackle assembled for a day on the water. Forecast as the coldest night of the winter and freezing conditions for tomorrow this hasn’t quashed his enthusiasm for a days fishing with an old school friend at Willinghurst Fisheries in the Surrey countryside. Lakes are not young Tales favoured haunt but it certainly will be easier than river fishing, well ‘easy ‘ may not be the most appropriate word as I’m sure it will be a challenging day. Hopefully for both boys their rods will bend, a few smiles and the adrenalin of catching a fish will bring warmth in the chill of the Surrey air in mid February.

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