After getting off the phone from Martin, at Guide fly fishing, he mentioned that he was coming down to Devon to visit a few accounts and wondered if I was around for a bit of fishing. Always eager to get a few more rod hours in, we spoke about going up to Chew for the pike, and stay local for a few trout. It's always good to catch up with Mart. I had recently spent a few days with him at the CLA and mentioned he wanted to try a bit of fishing down here. So when he was talking about coming down for work, I said he could crash over, have a catch up, and get out for a fish.
He mentioned that he would be arriving on the Thursday sometime, but wasn't sure what time. I decided to take the day off, and thought that I hadn't given the new TCX much of a workout! Well, not much of one anyway. The weather had been nice all day, and I needed to get out for a few hours. I was getting in the swing of things . I was trying a few different fly lines on it to see which profile I preferred. I had tried the Rio gold on it before and it was impressive. I like the gold for its stability and loop holding performance. I also spent a bit of time with the Grand, which the rod loved. Talk about fast line speed! But in my humble opinion, I still like the Windcutter on it, just as with my XP.
I hadn't been out for more than a couple of hours when Mart rang saying he was nearly here. So winding in I made my way back and put the kettle on. After a day on the road I'm sure he would of wanted a brew. Withing twenty minuets of him arriving, he had drunk a brew and were on our way down to the river. Mart is used to fishing the rivers and streams up in Yorkshire, and he was looking forward to trying his methods down here. A lot of the time, I often opt to fish the small streams, up-stream with either dry flies or nymphs. A lot of the Northern lads like to use spiders and nymphs and fish them downstream, so I was interested in seeing what result would be. Even though we have had quite a lot of rain, the river was relatively low. The West Okment is a stunning moorland stream that holds plenty of wild trout. Small trout, but pretty all the same.
The stunning West Okment small and pretty!
This part of the river is held back by Meldon Dam. The water is usually gin clear and is very stony. The fish are fast and spooky, and hit flies hard when they're on, and picky and even more spooky when they're not. Either way it is vital that you use as much cover a possible and make stealth the name of the game. We walked upstream for about 3/4 a mile, and dropped into one of the deeper pools. There were plenty of takes, but the fish in the faster water were on and off in the blink of an eye. We tried fishing all the likely areas. There were fish in the areas but seemed a bit spooky. This is usual for these fish. Low water and sun makes them shy. Moving back down towards the castle, the fish were well on the feed and they were fighting over the flies. There was a good hatch of midge, stone fly and odd olives coming off, so we flicked a couple of small dries out, and swung a few spiders down the run. First cast in the new area and Mart was into his first Devon trout.
Mart's first wild Devon trout.
As soon as the action started to hot up we lost the light, and had to make our way back. So talking about going to Chew in the morning, we made the short walk back and crashed out earlish! I still had to get the kit sorted and tried to find a few of the new patterns that I had been working on during the week. I had been sent a few new packets of Funky Products fly materials. They are some of the best that I have come across for tying all my pike and saltwater flies. I especially like the Funky Fibre and Funky Flash, and use a lot of them in my "Chewed Up" range of flies. They have been doing well on a lot of the waters where they have been used, and we have had good numbers of pike and bass on them this year. 'I just hoped that they worked in the morning'.
A few "Chewed Up"- Thunder Creek style bass and small pike flies.
It was an early start to get up to Chew. Well a ten o'clock start anyway. It was Mart's day off and I didn't want to pile the pressure on too much! The weather forecast was looking a bit grim again. Strong winds and rain all day. Great! When we arrived at Chew they weren't far wrong. The waves were rolling and the rain started to fall. I don't mind the bad weather, but the wind can become hard work, especially trying to fire big cumbersome flies through it. During conditions like this I often opt for using smaller patterns that can be cast to where you want them. There isn't much point struggling to the point that it effects the fishing. At least if you can get you fly in the zone, there is every chance that you will get a take.
I was dying to christen my new toy. Mart had left left me a new McLean landing net. I use them anyway, but only have the smaller sizes for trout and sea-trout/small pike. But this one is the BIG un. I just hoped that we could fill it! The water looked in good condition. Well, apart form the mass of weed that was present over certain areas of the lake. This would be ideal for the pike, but at times it can be hard to fish around. The day was pretty much a day of, cast, strip, cast, strip, cast, strip, change fly, cast, strip, cast, strip, change fly! You get the image. It was tough going , but hard to see why. Over the last 5 trips on Chew we have caught over 90 pike. But today, it didn't quite seem the same. The boat was been rocked and blown around, every cast was met with a snag of weed, and then the line would get blown inside the boat. Sometimes the conditions can knock you off a bit. But I would of still expected more action. I don't think it was anything that we were doing wrong. The pike just weren't in the mood.
Mart taking it easy on Chew.
After a couple of hours of flogging the water to a foam, Mart had a couple of takes in quick succession. Things were looking up! Unfortunately they didn't hold. The pike were running straight for the weed and coming off. At the same time, I was into a bit of action. I had a couple of follows and a few quick snatches, but same again they came off! You can tell when things are tough by the growing mound of wet, untouched pike flies that gather in the boat. The pile was getting bigger and the weather was getting worse. But this is pike fishing. It can be a hard game at times. It wasn't until lunch time that I had the first solid take. This fish was mine! I had worked too hard to loose it. So after a battle of trying to pull the fish out of the weed, the new net got the taste of victory. (Not that we needed the net).
At Last!!! Not big, but worked hard for.
We continued to fish for a good few hours after the first fish, but again we were only met with the few odd takes that were short coming. But that's the beauty of fishing. "They had us over". But next time they will be ours. It's fair to say that we certainly put the overtime in, when things were slow. If we didn't we might not have even had a take. I would just like to say thanks to Mart for the company and the net! I'm sure it will get a good hammering over the next few months.