General Musings

Not sure whether I’m just keeping up appearances but ………..

Posted by Craig Gannon on April 30, 2014
General Musings / Comments Off on Not sure whether I’m just keeping up appearances but ………..

Weird really – since I opened up the blog again I feel obliged to post on it, the problem is that I’ve nothing really to say. Since I started it up again there’s been nothing really of any import to share with you, other than I’ve had the right elbow operation and although it’s pretty sore it’s working well.
I supposes that in itself that’s newsworthy, not that I’ve had an op, but the side effects from it.

You see if I use my arm (stop snikkering back there) it hurts. So basically I try to keep my right elbow still and don’t bend it. Of course that has it’s effects, shaving, brushing the teeth, other bathroom activities etc (and quite ominously holding a pint or getting my wallet out – again NO SNIKKERING!). But it’s had a great after effect …casting.

My friend and local river keeper Mark suggested to me some weeks ago that it would be ok – I doubted him – but he was spot on! Now my casting has no elbow-bending leverage and as a result is far cleaner and concise. The D loops are better formed, the ‘twist’ that I’ve been imparting has almost gone and the timing has improved. End result: better presentation, no arm ache and more variation in styles (I’ve not done as many Snap-T and Roll casts in my life). I have a far better understanding of the importance of the anchor point which I now know is so fundamental that I can’t believe that I put so much effort in before to compensate for piss-poor technique.

Of course my mate Jim would say ‘well done mate’ but I know that I can do far better – so that’s me this season now. Forget the fish and concentrate on the casting. This is helped (I think) by my regular use of a 10-weight 10-foot shooting head salmon kit which I’ve also been using quite a lot. For the first time I’m actually starting to break my cast down and think about what I want to do, and based upon the wind and conditions vary the mechanics.

I openly admit that I’m a pretty bad caster of a fly line. However this time next season that may have changed.

All because of a pretty painful elbow operation.

Every cloud ……………

Keeping At Arms Length

Posted by Craig Gannon on August 13, 2013
General Musings, Trout / Comments Off on Keeping At Arms Length

You may have noticed that I’ve not posted for weeks – there is a reason!
Since returning from Cuba it’s been a mixed bag of days and weeks. For a start I once again realised that my casting was less that great, so I invested in an essential casting lesson which didn’t just identify the errors, but also provided solutions. However the solutions can only be applied by practice practice practice, and my problem is that I get embroiled in my fishing and forget to apply what I should be doing. However there was some good news, Jim (probably the best casting tutor in the world) quickly ironed out my double handed casting – which means that its all great for the salmon fishing, but I only do it a couple of times a year.

Anyway I digress.

Since returning from Cuba we have experienced the most amazing summer weather that we have had for many years. Fortunately I managed to get some decent sessions in, but they were getting more painful every day. You see I have been suffering from Tennis Elbow in both elbows, and believe me it is NOT what a fly fisherman wants. So, a few weeks ago I had surgery on my left elbow. This has meant that I have been unable to fish for weeks and have been waiting for the green light from the consultant. I was given that green light 2 weeks ago, so since then I have been out twice. In fact as I sit here typing this in on my iPad, it’s after 3 hours fishing in one of my favourite spots. Tonight I tried a new technique and a different set of flies, and I absolutely hammered the fish, catching 10 trout, 4 between 2 and 3 pounds, but now I can tell you that I am suffering – little Miss ibuprofen will be with me tonight as I go to bed.

That’s not all however. The previous week I took the opportunity to walk some of the lengths that I have never fished – and I learnt a hell of a lot, in fact it was probably the most useful 3 hours I have spent as I now am aware of some cracking runs and beats which I have never even seen before. I also saw some great sights, one of which was was an otter which was totally oblivious of me.

It’s been a bit of a turning point for me. I am far more comfortable with my fishing, and have been able to determine which clubs I will continue with next season and which I will ditch. I’ve also recognised that I need to improve my casting technique, and will take on more lessons until I get it all ironed out. I’m comfortable knowing that everybody casts with a different style, but also recognise that irrespective of that the basics have to be correct – and that means that I must improve.

Finally, I’ve also reached a point that has made me realise that walking and researching the river may seem like a waste of a possible fishing trip, but actually makes the rest of the trips more effective.

I suppose that I’m growing up a bit.

I will leave you with some stats as I may not be making many more tips down the river for some time as I let my elbow repair – so far this year 22 trips down the river, with a total of 90 fish which means an average of 4 per trip. I can live with that.

Poons Everywhere

Posted by Craig Gannon on June 06, 2013
Cuba, General Musings / Comments Off on Poons Everywhere

The 2013 Cuba trip for the mighty Tarpon came and went in the blink of an eye. I’m not going to dwell on it other than to say, over the 6 days we hooked into 30, boated 5, lost 3 over 100 lbs, biggest on the boat 80 lb.
Here’s my wee 70-pounder caught minutes after losing a fish that ran at at least 120 lbs.

20130606-170514.jpg

A month on and………..

Posted by Craig Gannon on May 07, 2013
Czech Nymphs News, General Musings, Trout / Comments Off on A month on and………..

A month into the season and……. what a month it’s been. Without doubt the worst start to the trout season on my local rivers for some years.
Last year the start was glorious, fine sunny weather, the heat of the sun warming the water and encouraging the fly life to become active, and the trout.
This year it cannot have been more opposite, cold westerly and easterly winds, cold water, hardly any sunshine at all and the result has been virtually no fly life and virtually no rising fish. Only yesterday did the temperature rise for the first time and the sun come out. The end result of that was activity for the first real time this year. Many anglers were out taking advantage of the change, and as a result many fish were probably caught in return. For myself the 2 and a half hours yesterday morning were rewarded with some fine fish, but more importantly some actual activity, with fish starting to rise (still no fly life on the surface, but plenty ‘in’ the surface). A last it gave some sign that the slow start to this season may actually be catching up.

Up until yesterday it has been pretty soul destroying, many times wearing gloves to ward off the biting cold winds, and not a single rising fish to cast to. All of the aquatic life has been doggo, lying near the bottom and hardly moving in the cold, cold April and May water. Admittedly it has been possible to tempt out some fish on heavy weighted nymphs, but it hasn’t been exactly an enjoyable experience – wearing clothing in May more akin to that of the Arctic Circle.

This week has seen a fine start with temperatures yesterday reaching a heady 20 degrees, with today being the same. However the week will then plunge back to 12 degrees and rain, which can only mean a bit of a knock back to the local anglers.

The cycle may have already started however with the sunshine bringing in the warming of the water that is desperately needed. At last the trees and bushes have started to bud or even open up with fledgling leaves, so finally the aquatic fly life may now have something to live on, and the fish may start to show some activity higher up in the water. But it’s been late this season. A good test of what’s going on is the ritual stone turning. Very few nymphs crawling about at the bottom of the river, and some of the fish that I have caught are obviously over wintered and haven’t yet had the chance to replace their body weight. I only hope that there’s a dramatic change to this starting from now.

Looking forwards and being positive, the season really started yesterday. The warmer weather is hopefully now with us, and the heavy rain forecast later this week may help to clear out some of the sludge that has gathered since the winter (apart from the snow it’s actually been by dry and the rivers need a good clear out).
The forecast for the week is a heady 20 degrees today, light rain and 15 degrees tomorrow and heavy rain and 11 degrees on Thursday. I may venture out tonight.

At Least the Snow Has Gone (nearly)

Posted by Craig Gannon on April 13, 2013
Czech Nymphs News, General Musings, Trout / Comments Off on At Least the Snow Has Gone (nearly)

And so it’s trip 2 of the season and off to Barden Bridge. I have been planning to wet a line again but it’s been too bloody cold with a strong East wind – and I may be mad – but not that mad – so I’ve stayed at home and done a bit of gear maintenance instead.
But now we’ve had a shift of wind for 2 days and its reached the heady heights of 7 degrees, almost sweltering for 2013. I’ve stocked up on a few key flies and managed to do the jobs that needed doing, so (after the burglar alarm man had finished) I changed into my smart fishing gear with lots of layers and set off to the river.

It was so cold still I couldn’t believe it. Not a fly in sight and not a fish visible either. Nevertheless I won’t be beaten so I set up a Waterhen Bloa and fished the swim below Barden Bridge. 10 minutes later a fine Brownie in the net.

An Overwintered Brownie.jpg

Then I moved upstream to find another intrepid angler freezing to death working downstream nymphs. He had seen 1 fish and raised a couple. A hour later he was gone. I persevered and fished for another 2 hours, raising 3 and losing 1, but I didn’t see a single rise or see a fly come off the water.

To be honest I was so cold (and the rain came on) I stopped enjoying it. Nothing to see and really the only thing of any use was me trying to work the Snap-T, which I succeeded in doing to a reasonable degree, so not a complete waste of time. It was so cold though that I just had to surrender and retreat to the car and get the heaters on.

So here we are, mid April and just managed 2 trips to the river. No more in sight either unless the weather makes a significant change and warms up. What should I care anyway? Off to Vegas in a few days and it should be a damned sight warmer there. I may pay a visit to the Bass Pro shop (huge fishing megastore that sells the most amazing range of gear) and I’ve already got some gear being delivered to the hotel in advance. Also in 6 weeks time I am off Cuba, so I think that I will just accept the fickle fate of the local conditions and start the real trout season in June.

And So We Are Off Again

Posted by Craig Gannon on March 29, 2013
Czech Nymphs News, General Musings, Trout / 2 Comments

Good Friday and minus 1 at 6 am. Last year at his time…… well we all know about that one as its been done to death on the news.
So it’s gear on as if I am off to Northern Russia, thermal tops and bottoms, thermal shirt, thick fleece, jacket, two pairs of woollen socks, thermal hat and gloves. Not ideal gear to be fishing a small river with a Sage 2 weight at the end of March.

This season I’ve been very lazy and not prepared the tackle since it was used last season. Big big mistake. I tackled up and gave the leader a good pull and off popped the braided loop. After a bit of first aid however all sorted with a temporary fix and off into the river.
By 11 o’clock it was almost tropical, a balmy 2 degrees and a freezing breeze, still nothing ventured…. and so commenced a weird 2 and a half hours of fly fishing tramping through snow drifts and sodden fields as I moved between the beats.

As time went on a good number of Large Dark Olives started to appear on the surface, but not a fish in sight. The flies must have thought that it was their birthday as they floated off safely down the river with even the birds giving them a miss. A downstream Waterhen Bloa brought no result, nor did that other early season standard the Partridge and Orange, so after fishing half a mile of water I switched over to a weighted Pheasant Tail Nymph and started popping it upstream. I reckon that the fish weren’t just sitting at the bottom doing nothing, after all we all have to eat and trout are no exception.

I’ve not just been lazy with the tackle but I’ve also been lazy with the flies. Only one weighted nymph in the box, and all of the other gold heads are light, so I only had one chance with the fly.
After 10 minutes I was beginning to feel that it was a complete waste of time, until the fly stopped in the water under the far bank. I tightened up and off it went. 5 minutes later and a fine 2 and a half pound Brownie in the net. I flicked the fly out of its mouth and off it went back up the river to hopefully grow into a 4 pound Brownie.

Nothing else came to the fly, but it just shows that patience and perseverance pay dividends. It was bloody cold, not a fish in sight and seemed largely pointless. However as there were Large Dark Olives on the water it seemed weird that the fish wouldn’t be eating something at least, and they were, just not with much gusto.

So what have I learnt today?
Preparation is everything, I will have to check out all of my rods, reels and lines (Easter Monday task);
Flies – stock up with decent flies of the right kind. There’s a lot of crap on the Internet, so it will have to be a hands-on visit;
Chill out and concentrate on the casting. This season I want to iron out all of my bad habits and start to throw a proper line.
Wait until its warmer.

So the next trip will probably be in August!

2013 Season Looms

Posted by Craig Gannon on February 21, 2013
Cuba, Czech Nymphs News, General Musings, Trout / Comments Off on 2013 Season Looms

Only a few weeks of the official start of the 2013 season and I cannot put off the feeling that something has to change.
Even though the opening day last year was a great success with fantastic weather and hungry fish, the rest of the season degenerated into weeks of washout followed by general fishy indifference.
Perhaps it was me but as the ‘season’ progressed I became less enthused and more disappointed.
Unfortunately the local rivers are suffering from lack of investment, too much poaching and too many cormorants. The whole river ecosystem has changed over the last few years due to environmental changes, the mass influx of the North American crayfish, increased illegal fishing and lack of investment.
My local rivers have not changed for years, banks have been left to collapse, build ups of gravel have remained in place, bank-side vegetation has not been maintained and yet the clubs are expecting us to still cough up our annual membership.
One club in particular has not invested a bean in the river. Aquaculture seems to be a dirty word and even recommendations from the Environment Agency have been ignored. Fish stocking policies are in disarray as club investment seems to be directing itself to stocking the local reservoir instead.
Unfortunately much of this is exacerbated by an influx of some of the European desires to poach and take whatever comes to the swim-feeder.

This season for very first time I considered not rejoining my local clubs instead toying with going further afield. Like previous years I acquiesced and rejoined hoping that it will be different this year. I sincerely hope that it is. However as one of my clubs for the first time in years has a shortfall in membership, whilst the other has been in declining numbers for the last three years, it would seem that others are also voting with their feet.
A crying shame, but unless there is a change I may be joining them.

Lets see how it goes.

A Little Bit More Analysis

Posted by Craig Gannon on October 18, 2012
General Musings, Salmon / Comments Off on A Little Bit More Analysis

As we are Tweed bound next week I thought that I’d do some more stats gathering. Granted its only over 2 weeks but nevertheless here are the outcomes.

20121018-192217.jpg

The red is the graph of the number of fish caught, which can be shown against the river height at 6am (dark grey) and the atmospheric pressure (blue).

What can be clearly seen is the pressure (low for more rain) coincides with the river height (rain), but more clearly the number of fish caught is comparable to the river height.

Alternatively you could read something else into it – and there other aspects such as the ability of the anglers, flies used etc. However it’s an interesting view.

Roll on Sunday.

Seems like an Eternity

Posted by Craig Gannon on October 15, 2012
General Musings, Salmon, Trout / Comments Off on Seems like an Eternity

I cannot believe that the trout season is over – and that it has been such a very poor year. From such a superb opening day where the river and weather were perfect the season has degenerated into floods, floods and more floods. I have nearly expected to see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse come riding down the river bank as it has been so bad. In fact since I took up the sport again in earnest some years ago it has been the worst year’s fishing that I can ever remember.
I am sure that this has been the case not just here in the North West of England but also all over the country. Back in June I fished the Beauly in Scotland for 3 days. The river was devoid of water – only being saved by the feed from the dam, then as we drove back to England, over the rest of the great Scottish salmon rivers, the same was reflected there – bear river beds. As we drove south it started to rain. It’s not stopped since.
The jubilee celebrations went off with a damp bang, cold (in June!!) and wet. Luckily the Olympics had more luck, the rain kept away for most of them, as soon as they finished the Arks came out again.
So here we are in October. My fishing returns for the season total a grand total of 24 trips to the river. Normally there would at least a ‘1’ in front of that.
I am now looking out of e window at the rain outside, wondering if next week’s trip to the Tweed will be washed off or not. We have only 3 days, and if it rains hard (last week the river was up by 4 feet) we may as well stay in the hotel and drink Scotch.

Hopefully this has just been at atmospheric glitch and next year will be glorious (or at least fishable) – we can only wait and see. For me the season starts again today. Salmon, some Grayling fishing perhaps, and a summer Cuba trip. Between now and then a lo can happen, so I intend to make the most of it – if it would only stop raining!!!!

Tweed daily blog to follow a week today. Bars of silver would be nice to report!

The Weather Has Killed The River

Posted by Craig Gannon on July 22, 2012
General Musings, Trout / Comments Off on The Weather Has Killed The River

I’ve been out of action for a few weeks, – small Op and all that, plus we’ve had the Jubilee celebrations. But then we’ve had what I can only describe as the worst weather for summer in my memory and the worst fishing conditions that I can remember.

The last time I went down the river was the end of May, so this weekend, as the river wasn’t actually running at 10 feet above height, and it wasn’t hosing down again, I decided to give it a chuck.

So, here we are, July 22nd 2012. Normally we would have a hatch or two, lots of rising fish, and generally a nice old day.

Instead it’s been cold, with no rising fish at all. Talking to a brave chap who’s been ‘most days for the last few weeks’ he has managed to get some fish on deep heavy Czech Nymphs.

Now call me old fashioned, but I will keep that for the winter months and the Grayling, not for the run of the mill summers day. So as far as I’m concerned I was pleased for him but he should really forget that method for now.

So what was I met with today and yesterday? I’ll tell you – bloody cold, no flies coming off the river, no rising fish, and quite simply unenjoyable.

Question of the weeks then, has the completely crappy weather actually killed the river? I think so, no nymphs, no hatching fly life, cold water and therefore miserable fish.

Miserable fishermen too!