In the middle of the high street in the town of Stockbridge a small stream runs in front of the shops to one side, in fact at varying points between the houses you will find small channels of water, some gin clear with bright green weed and other clear but with a tope coloured sediment. Disguised through the rippling water are wonderful specimens of brown trout, hard to spot but the size of some will take your breath away.
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.
Having promise young Tales a trip to the Lower Itchen Fishery in order to catch a Grayling, today was the day. We headed South down the M3 at just after 7am.
There had been a fair amount of preparation, a weather watch, fresh bait and all the tackle assembled the night before in the drawing room.
Having arrived at the Lower Itchen Fishery at just after 9am a quick call was put into Clayton the Fishery Bailiff and River Keeper, later in the day he was also to be our saviour.
As it’s now late on Sunday evening I’ll write up a full account of our exploits tomorrow as both young Tales and I are exhausted but I will leave you a few pictures of today’s fishing foray.
It’s now time to raise a dram to Burns on Burns Night, a wee flight of Mortlach Rare Old for its fruit and spice notes and a more heady Glenrothes as I settle in for the evening to reflect on a memorable and wonderful days fishing.
We bid you a good evening.
On the whole May has been a beautiful month, bright blue sky, warm days, lush green vegetation, spring flowers and great early season trout fishing.
I’m still kicking myself for not purchasing from Andrews of Arcadia two small vintage tins of May Flies that were displayed on his table at Spitalfields Market the other week. The two tins made do distinctive grey metal, one with a cork liner to the lid was full of beautifully tied flies.
Having already a good supply of vintage flies I thought that purchasing more was more of an indulgence but now regrettably I wish I had as they would have been a great collection of flies for young Tales.
Tomorrow will be another opportunity for young Tales to do a bit of fluff chucking, so we’ll try the same May Fly as last time and hopefully another bag full of brown trout.
Late in the afternoon on Saturday we were invited to join my old fishing companion Shaun Madle on the River Wey, a short stretch of river between Farnham and Bentley. This syndicated water meanders through pasture and meadows of the Surrey foothills not far from the Hogs Back.
We have had the opportunity to fish this river before, however not during a time when the May Fly are hatching. Saturday saw an increase in temperature and this clearly impacted on the ability for these insects to hatch in numbers. With their graceful flight some seem to bounce across the water, others caught the breeze yet some end their short airborne life at the mercy of the spider, we found one caught in web with other insects.
The water ran clear and still with pace after the winter rain. Bright green vegetation lined the water’s edge, the ground still soft beneath the sun scorched surface within a couple of yards of the river.
Small chub sipped the dancing flies from the surface and every now and again a larger swirl cut the mirrored surface of the river as a trout took advantage of a May Fly momentarily dropping to the surface at its peril.
It wasn’t long before young Tales was into a fish, his short 7ft rod bending into a fish and line spooling off the reel at an alarming rate. A good sized brown trout had snatched his May Fly imitation the second it hit the water. With only a short cast along the reeded bank it took young Tales by surprise. Within a few minutes he was into another fish this time one slightly larger than the first. Young Tales has not witnessed the excitement of brown trout on a feeding frenzy before so for him it was a jaw dropping moment to have a brace of browns in such a brief foray.
It was for young Tales a memorable afternoon which will be permanently etched on that tablet of fishing adventures, he just simply couldn’t stop grinning….
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.
After a swift drive down the A31 we arrived the other side of Farnham to spend a late Saturday afternoon fishing the Syndicated water of the Hampshire Wey as a guest of my good friend and life long fishing companion Shaun Madle. We tackled up with a small Farlow’s cane rod and my dependable Hardy Deluxe Smuggler #5 and for our young enthusiast a 7ft #4 paired to a Hardy Viscount 130 reel.
Young ‘Tales‘ was on a quest to catch a fish and in the late afternoon sun. We walked the lush green banks of the small Hampshire river. It wasn’t long before a fish was spotted taking duns from the water under the shadow of a willow. A line or two were cast with a small dry-fly but met will little interest. After about 20 mins of stalking this fish there was one half-hearted take and then a dark shape of a reasonable sized fish took flight downstream and into the weed.
Several hours had passed when Shaun hooked a fish on a Mayfly nymph only to find that the fish spat the hook out moments later only then to take the fly again. Once landed, a quick observation from young Tales alerted us to the fact that this small brown trout was packed with perch fry, to the extent that its mouth was so full they were falling out on the ground. Not only had Shaun caught the only trout of the afternoon but also four perch.
There were a few Mayfly on the water but most of the action seemed to be sub-surface. Young Tales enjoyed his afternoon even though he spent most of it in terror from a field full of inquisitive horse that took a keen interest in him.
We will return another day to try to tempt one of these wily Wey trout into the net. Our thanks to our host who showed us how to do it.
It was late morning before we decided to head south to the Surrey Hills and fish a small trout fishery called Robinswood.
This venue I have fished with my good friend and fishing companion Shaun Madle for over two decades, each time it has proved to be challenging and yesterday was no exception.
The bright sun managed to put this fish down into deeper pockets of water. Occasionally a fish would break the surface chasing hatching buzzers to the surface. There was a good hatch of olives and dark sedge flies but these wily trout were taking the smallest of flies in the surface film. It had taken me a good three hours to work out what was going on. Both my son Little Tales and me looked at each small lake trying to read the water and the hatching rise, opting to use small nymphs fished 18 inches or so below the surface but to no avail. Having changed the fly several times from a trusted pheasant tail to a small red-cheeked buzzer we finally tied on a small Cul De Canard olive hatching buzzer.
Having dropped down to the bottom lake where there was dappled sunlight we cast our lines towards the back of an outflow pipe from the top lake, the water still full of colour we let the fly drop and pull round with the current and towards some slack water. In a swirl of water we had hooked a small but perfect wild brown trout, its glimmering smoke silver under-body and distinctive dots on its flanks iridescent in the late afternoon sun.
We may not have caught the trout for supper that we had hoped for but this small but perfect wild brown trout was a better prize.
Maybe your stature as a fly fisherman isn’t determined by how big a trout you can catch, but by how small a trout you can catch without being disappointed. — John Gierach
Black Gnat, Box, Brown Trout, Butcher, Cadair Idris, Ceramic Eggs, Double Taper Floating Line, Farnham, Fly Fishing, Fly Rod, Hardy LRH Reel, Mallard & Claret, Olive Bumble, Olive buzzer, Peter Ross, pheasant tail, Purple Snipe, River Dysynni, salmon, sea-trout, Snowdonia, tal-y-Llyn Lake, thames, Traditional Wet Flies, Tyncornel Hotel, Whisky
Clearly the mystery of the eggs in the Thames is causing a bit of a storm. With neap tides the eggs seem to be washed back with the incoming tide and some are now reported on the shore in Battersea, in the water as far as Lambeth and one or two on the Southbank near Southwark.
No one really knows where they have come from but one report of a man loading them into the Thames has been made. There must be a studio or kiln that fired these ceramic eggs. One I found early this morning was numbered 4796 and in a dark bronze glaze. These eggs seem to have been hand-made and not cast in a mould, each as different as a Zebra’s stripes, all different glazes, sizes and numbered. The average one found is about 70mm, 4, I’ve found are 100mm of which one rattles and the largest 130mm is decorated and rattles.
A report from Brighton on the 5th National Squid Competition could only praise the committed souls who braved the conditions of both the weather and the lack of our friends from the deep. Clearly a slug of Kraken was needed after a drenching from the swell of the sea. The focus of the day switched to who could catch a bass or anything else for that matter. A real contrast to last years event where many were caught and most fished in shirt sleeves.
With rain forecast now till the end of the week the rivers may fill up with a little water. I hope to be able to fish a small stream on the outskirts of Farnham next week with my old fly fishing partner Mr Madle. We have been fishing together for many years and vowed to take our sons to fish a lake in Wales that is close to our hearts for many a memorable day was had on Talyllyn Lake and a dram or two consumed in the Tynycornel Hotel http://www.tynycornel.co.uk. This is wonderful natural 220 acre lake and where salmon, sea-trout and brown trout and be caught and the occasional bat on the back cast. The largest Salmon caught is 12lb and a brown to 8lb.The River Dysynni runs out of the bottom of the lake which is at the base of Cadair Idris. This lake is a photographer’s paradise come winter or summer. This Hotel has been hosting fishing parties since the 1800’s.
The method of fishing the lake is either a team of traditional wets or an olive buzzer just in the surface film. If the wind is up a bubble dapped on the surface gives good sport especially is fished in the wind lanes.