I don't know what it is when the clocks go back in the autumn, but it seems to take me ages to get used to it. Everything seems to change quickly, and you have to get everything crammed in before it goes dark. We have still been busy at aff-UK with the fishing and casting as usual. But with the closed season here, it has been nice to put something back. We met up with a group of volunteers from the Okment Trust to help with a bit of bank work and to help tidy up the river. It amazes me, that even in the most stunning areas, how mindless some people are to throw crap into our rivers. It is the kind of thing that we would often come across in our inner city canals, not two miles up on the moors! I hate to admit that the EA weren't all that helpful in our quest to get it removed. They more or less told us we would have to clean it out ourselves. Mmmmm. I'll remember that when it's time to buy my next EA rod licence!
Its surprising what you find. We were missing the shopping trolley though.
When we were done it was really rewarding to see the difference that was made, and I certainly felt it the next day. Not bad for a morning's work. One sofa, a dingy, half a bath and two trees were pulled out from one of the pools. The Okment Trust have been working hard for a number of years to make sure that the rivers in the area are well maintained and it is something that I hope to get involved with more and more. It was nice to see a few sea-trout and odd salmon holding at West bridge in the centre of town. I have spoken to people who say that the salmon sometimes run right up as far as the dam if the water allows it. But this is the highest that I have seen them since living here.
Speaking to Tim at the Arundel and the winter casting sessions will be starting up again after the British fly fair. These are always a good do, and it's always nice to meet up with the guys and see what they have been getting up to throughout the season. It was brilliant news to hear that Derek has passed his AAPGAI assessment. He has worked hard for months to hit the level that was required, and on effort alone would be worth the badge. I'm sure Dek will be coming along on a few of those casting days. Even if it's only for one of Tim's winter brews.
DJ still grinning like a Cheshire cat after passing his AAPGAI assessment.
It was nice of him to phone and thank me for the bit of help I gave him. Even nicer was the offer of a days fishing at Chew Valley. Like usual I didn't take much persuading and I was soon sitting behind the vice tying a few more patterns to take. We originally opted to go on Thursday whilst the weather was settled, mild and would of made a good fishing day. But due to prior engagements we couldn't go until the following Sunday. Typically by Sunday the weather had deteriorated and it was blowing a gale, lashing down with rain and it looked like a tough day was on the cards. But that's pike fishing. It can be a tough game at times. But it's all about taking the rough with the smooth, and rough was the word!
Nevertheless we met up and made the drive up the M5 and arrived at Chew in time for tea and toast. Looking out of the lodge window we could see the waves washing over the landing stages and the boats had been pulled up onto the bank. Not a good sign! So it was no real surprise when the guy in the office told us that we couldn't go out and have a do for them. We were gutted. I was well up for it, but could only watch as the waves rolled down the lake and the gale force wind was bending the trees in half. For safety reasons he was right, but as fly fishers we thought if we can still make a cast into the wind, we could still catch a fish. But he was having non of it.
Come in boat number 46, your about to sink!
There was no way we were coming home empty handed. Well, not if we could help it anyway. So we changed plans and headed off to a water that was new to us. Not far from Chew Valley is Cheddar Reservoir. Not a particular nice looking water, but what the hell pike swim in it. So we tackled up and made our way up the embankment to the valve tower. As soon as my head popped over the brow, I was nearly blown off my feet. Things were just a breezy on here, but unlike Chew there was no shelter from it. The wind just kept coming and coming, and getting stronger throughout the day. It was a case of head down and digging your heels in- and that was just getting to the waters edge!
Trying not to get blown back over the wall.
Talk about hard casting. It doesn't matter how much you fish or practice your casting, there are some days that still have you over. It was more of a case of making sure the flies didn't get blow back and hit us. I didn't fancy the prospect of a 4/0 pike hook been blow back at thirty miles an hour and hitting me in the face. It was easy to get the line to pop through the wind, but as soon as it hit the fly, it stopped it dead in its tracks. There are few ways to make it a bit more easier to get the fly out. Shorten your leader to as short as you can get it, downsize the size of fly, and then figure out the best type of cast to fire it through the wind. Each cast was usually different due to the constant squalling wind that blew around us. Sometimes it was a side cast, others times angles of trajectory were altered. Fly lines were also changed to help it cut through the wind, and sometimes the fly was simply crashed at the waters surface. Not pretty, but it was what was needed to do the job. We tried to take advantage of the wind as much as possible, allowing the wind to carry out as much line as possible, and hopefully carry the fly out with it. But sometimes it's just too windy to make efficiant fishing possible.
Derek down sizing leader and fly, ready for another go.
All in all, the end result was pretty predictable. We didn't manage to hook into anything, or see anything moving. But as long as the fly was somewhere in the water, then there was a chance. As the day went, it was well worth the effort by having a look at a new water. I'm sure we will have another run up to Cheddar for another go at the concrete bowl. There are big pike present, and I'm sure if the conditions were a bit more kind then we would of seen or hooked into something. Next time, they are ours!