Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Adventure fly fishing - defined.


Somebody asked me recently 'what is Adventure Fly Fishing?' I think at the time I waffled around a bit and kind of half answered him but it certainly got me thinking. That is until last week. Last week was a bit of a busman's holiday which I think captured exactly what I have in mind when I talk about adventure fly fishing.

First of all, the location, it has to be wild.
How's this location?

This is Snowdonia in Wales, not the bit with steam trains, mountain top cafes and inappropriately dressed tourists, this is the part that most people don't know exists (or for that matter know how to pronounce). Here you can expect to see nobody, sheep (of course), red kites and amazing scenery.

Secondly there has to be some water
Like this.

The whole area was criss-crossed with tiny mountain streams, crystal clear, cold, fast flowing and full of beautiful, wild brown trout.

Thirdly, the fishing has to be testing and interesting.
Fish under the rod tip in crystal clear water.

Finally although not strictly a necessity sometimes a little bit of adversity can be added to the mix. The whole week was plagued with gale force winds - again. That is a gale force wind at sea level. So a lake at 750m above sea level provided the perfect venue for a little bit of adversity.

Cameras don't always tell the truth, this lake was being blasted by a howling wind. In case that wasn't enough the rod in use here is my stream 8ft 2 weight - nice.

So Adventure Fly Fishing - Amazing locations, water preferably wild, testing fishing and the occasional twist. Simple really.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Always Learning.


The thing with fishing is that you can never, ever be completely on top of your game. There is always some cast that you haven't quite mastered, some tactic that you are not quite satisfied with or some species that you have never quite got to grips with. I will be honest with you there are loads of things I want to learn. If anybody says they have nothing left to learn about this subject they are either lying or not looking hard enough.

One of the things that has been bothering me for a while is lure fishing. From time to time I have people ask me if in addition to saltwater fly fishing I offer lure fishing in the salt. Now I have the marks sorted, I can find the fish, which is sometimes the hardest part of fishing in the sea and sure I have done plenty of lure fishing for bass with plugs, spoons and the like but I don't mind admitting that my approach is not particularly sophisticated. My tactics generally revolve around casting and retrieving various items of metalwork, covering the water methodically, whilst not unsuccessful it can become quite mechanical. I have felt for some time that there has to be a better way.

And so some time ago I began researching what else is out there. Wherever I looked the same phrases and names kept popping up HRF, LRF, and JBG. My research ultimately took me to Keith White and Jersey Bass Guides website (www.jerseybassguides.com). Photographs of big bass and wrasse caught over the roughest ground on light, sensitive tackle. Interesting...

And so this last weekend saw me on Jersey to meet up with Keith White for an intensive introduction to HRF - Heavy Rock Fishing. Firstly I must say what a beautiful place to visit, I elected to take the ferry from Weymouth and cycle the Island as a way to get a feel for the place and I certainly didn't regret it, the place is stunning. The coast is a mix of golden sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs and in the southeast an amazing jumble of rocky outcrops and crags, all surrounded by crystal clear water. The cycling is relatively easy with quite roads and tracks and not too many hills.

The two days fishing were a bit of a revelation to be honest with you. The conditions were extremely tough with high winds and a lot of swell but Keith worked extremely hard to overcome the conditions and meet my aims which were very much all about learning as much about these tactics as possible. Despite the weather we caught fish on light tackle, close in and more importantly I left the island with a whole host of new tactics and theories which I am just dying to try out here in North Devon. It was a real pleasure to learn from somebody who is obviously an expert in this form of fishing but also is extremely enthusiastic about passing on the knowledge and helping people to learn that there is another way to catch these fish without resorting to heavy gear. I couldn't recommend more highly Keith's website and his guiding services. I will certainly be heading out there again to fish with Keith and his brother Kevin.

I will of course keep you posted on how I get on with these tactics here, I am off now to the tackle shop to look at a new HRF rod!


Sunday, 8 May 2011

Fancy trying something different?


So when are these easterlies finally going to give up? Hot, bright, windy days can make for tough fishing, whether it is drying out rivers or windswept coasts the challenge for a fishing guide is to be able to put their finger on exciting fishing whatever the weather. Here in Devon we are blessed with a plethora of different fishing opportunities and can invariably track down some sport most days. But to find it you must first look and when I am not teaching or guiding I spend a great deal of time searching out new opportunities. And I have found a great one!

Remember that beautiful private lake on the edge of Exmoor I told you about? The one that we use for teaching on? The one stocked with hard fighting rainbow trout? Well we have another one right next to it! This one is small, about an acre I reckon, but beautifully positioned in a woodland clearing and full of cracking carp.

I had the opportunity to spend a few hours there the other evening and had a whale of a time! Sighting big carp cruising under the surface can certainly get the pulse racing. It's not easy though, I found you had to deliver the fly accurately, quickly and often at range to stand any hope of getting a response. I found it even harder to get a hook hold, I was watching the fly disappear into the mouth but when I set the hook - nothing. These fish haven't seen too many fishermen and certainly no fly fishers but they were really skittish. One fluffed chance would result in a huge boil as the fish bolts and every fish in the vicinity ghosts away. It took a little bit of time to realise that I wasn't actually puling the hook out of the mouth of the fish but actually out of the hole in the water that the carp's big old mouth makes as it sucks in the offering. So waiting even longer was the required fix - easier said than done...

But when you get it right, HOLD ON!

These fish gave the best scrap I have had for some time, I was taken to the backing on a couple of occasions, one fish even made it to the refuge under the roots on the opposite bank. My best fish was somewhere around 12lbs in weight, I saw bigger - much bigger.

Not everybody's idea of pretty, but I like them.

A fantastic bit of 'alternative' fly fishing. Adventure Fly Fishing UK offers guided carp fishing on this private lake, why not give it a try? This can be booked as a whole day, half day or incorporated in a day's fly fishing for other species. Just drop me a line to discuss options.