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.

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!

A Beautiful Day

Posted by Craig Gannon on March 26, 2012
Czech Nymphs News, General Musings, Trout / Comments Off on A Beautiful Day

What more could a person ask for. This balmy Spring has brought with it the finest opening day of the trout season that I can remember for many years. Facebook is going potty with the reviews of this opening day. The sun had his hat on, and it was without doubt a Hip HipHip Hoorah day!

No pictures to show, but as the clocks went forwards on Sunday morning it meant that the opening morning was chilly and foggy as I set up at Barden Car Park ready to head upstream to the ABBAC beats ( remembered that I would avoid Bolton Abbey this season if I could ). Thankfully most of the rest of the world had avoided changing their clocks so it was very quiet, in fact I was the only person on the river as I set up a small black ribbed spider on my 2-weight, remembering how to set up the rod (I’ve not cast a line for trout since September).

The mind can play strange tricks so I had the first few casts on a run that’s traditionally devoid of fish, just so that I wouldn’t lash the water to a foam on my first casts. Yep! The roll was working (no back casting here) – so I sneaked upstream to only snag a fish second run through.

Now I’m not a champion angler by any means, but it was almost perfect, fly fished well, slight mist over the water and still a bit of a chill to the morning air, and not a soul in sight. It was a nettable fish too, so as I snook him back (a fully finned well overwintered wild brownie) I just wondered if it could not get any better.

Well it did, because as the morning went on (I was back home by 1:30), the sun came up, the temperature rose quickly and the fish started coming up for the dry fly. First day of the season and fishing a dry Greenwells catching wild brownies. Can the world get any better?

By 11 the usual suspects started to appear, lots of walkers with their dogs (kept them under control thank heavens) and as the sun rose the other anglers started to appear; more than I’ve seen on the river for a long time. So as usual I snook off to fish the runs that are more secluded, and 10 fish layer decided to call it a day.

It doesn’t matter how many I caught (it helps of course), but what does matter is that it was the finest opening day of the season that I can remember. The week is billed to continue in the same vein, so for those that are retired or having a week off then there’s really no option but to get back out their. As for me? Well I may sneak a couple of days off – time to reorganise the work diary I think!

The End but also The Beginning

Posted by Craig Gannon on September 28, 2011
General Musings, Salmon, Trout / Comments Off on The End but also The Beginning

Well there’s only 2 days left until the end of the trout season in our local rivers, and it gives me a chance to reflect on what has been another strange angling year.

Just to prove that fly fishing is not too easy, all of the flies that caught really well last year were average this year (the black-arsed fly may as well have stayed in the box) whilst some old classics (such as the Greenwells Glory) caught steadily all year! It’s just been a really, really strange season, the only thing that’s been constant is that the weather has been variable to crap, and that there’s been no consistency to how the river has fished.

Every year I look back and think ‘what could I have done differently‘ and ‘what should I have remembered‘.

I should have remembered that the old maxim of ‘if the fish are taking then they’ll take anything‘ is (to be frank) complete bollocks. There was a particular time towards the latter end of the summer when John and I threw the contents of the box at a great number of rising fish – to absolutely no avail (if I recollect I caught one of them by giving a fly a mighty twitch as it went over the fish’s snout), whereas another time I caught a bagful on a newly tied concoction whilst John couldn’t get a sniff. So, whoever penned that phrase – get back in your box!

Another point of reference has been presentation. Small fish are fairly easy to snag if you have the right fly on, but the wary old grand-pappy won’t touch anything out of the ordinary. Line drag – forget it! Leader visible on the surface – forget it! Fly landing with a splash – go home now! So I have made a point this season of trying to present the fly in as favourable a way as possible. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s made an improvement on otherwise blank days.

Movement. Not me – the fly. How many times this season have I induced a take by twitching the fly as it’s moved over the danger area? A hell of a lot, that’s how many. In fact I would say that nearly 50% of my fish this season have been as a result of imparting some movement into the fly (probably an exaggeration, but it seems that way). Whether the fly has been dry or under water, the aggressive nature of the trout has been proven time and time again.

Size isn’t everything, but it sure makes a huge difference. The best Grayling that I have caught so far came this season to a size 18 GRHE tin-head nymph, in some very fast and turbulent water. Also, on the other hand, 2 weeks ago I caught a nice trout on a size 18 dry fly, and extricated from it’s scissors a size 12 Klinkhammer which looked the size of a small submarine. As the season has progressed though, it has generally been the case that the large flies have been useless and the smaller flies have worked. I suppose that’s only to be expected as the trout have become more fly-savvy.

What else?
Variety is the spice of life. This season I have fished spots that I have never fished before, and it’s been a very worthwhile experience (no haven’t been down to the Dart or the Test) – I have fished runs and swims that I’ve previously ignored, usually to some quite good results. Also the regularly fished areas have been more ignored and left alone. Ok – I have travelled a little further, climbed about a little more, but generally had a far better time of it.

Patience really is a virtue. My pal John usually after a few hours has a good rest and gets his head down for a half hour. Whereas me – I stick at it and ring the changes, and sometimes it’s had some quite satisfying results. I reckon that I’m probably up on John with fish per trip, and that’s not that I’m a better fisherman (John will do me on the dry fly every time) but that I stick at it and change flies and tactics more often.

What’s been my most memorable moments this season (river only)?

Undoubtedly the best bit of fishing I’ve done was a moment in the middle of July (in fact I think that I wrote about it here). One chance at a nice trout, a difficult cast with a large dry mayfly, landed perfectly, sipped down like it was the tastiest mayfly on the river, and a fine trout on the bank.

Also (and this has happened a few times) my eyes adjusting to the conditions so well that I have seen the trout rise through the water to have a look at the fly before taking it as naturally as you like (also a few that have had a look and thought ‘nah – I don’t like that flavour‘).

Worst moment? Easy – and eyes again! Not too long ago when John and I went down the river in the evening. The light was poor and (as I seem to be getting worse) I couldn’t see the fly, the fish, or in some cases it seemed even the river. This particular evening was a bit of a watershed for me, as for the first time I actually wondered how long I would be able to fish for before I become as blind as a bat!

All in all, once again it’s been an enjoyable and different season. Once again I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my fishing (most of the time), enjoyed John’s company (all of the time) and been as competitive as the next man (again all of the time). I see each fishing trip as a challenge, not against John, but against the conditions and the fish. More often than not the fish have risen to the challenge whereas I have not – there has been the odd occasion where I have won.

And so the trout season is coming to an end. The nights have drawn in (19:14 and dark outside), the days have become colder (although a balmy 24 today – yes 24 – at the end of September!!) and I have been unable to wet a line for weeks.

The Grayling season is kicking in (I have made myself a personal challenge to get into some more Grayling this winter) and (he says with mounting excitement) it’s nearly SALMON TIME! Yes folks, my annual trip to the Tweed is only a couple of weeks off (in fact I nearly sneaked in an extra couple of days next week, before I realised she-who-must-be-obeyed would probably do her nut), so I will have to make do with my fantastic 3 days and 4 nights of salmon fishing fun at the end of October.

And so it has started, the anticipation of the winter fishing, the lure of the salmon in Scotland, and the planning and booking of next year’s trips.

I just love this sport, in fact strike sport, I just love fishing. Until next time…..

Festival Time – Famine or Feast

Posted by Craig Gannon on July 01, 2011
General Musings, Trout / Comments Off on Festival Time – Famine or Feast

This week is the world-renowned Grassington Festival which draws in acts from all parts of the entertainment industry. Last night my friends and I sat through a thoroughly enjoyable 2 hours plus of recording of the BBC Radio 4 show ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue’ which was just cracking. It was made better by finding out that the bar stocks Thatchers Cider so on Saturday I will be returning via Taxi for the grand finale, and I may just fill my boots with some Thatchers Gold!
That’s come at the end of a week where we have also been bouncing around the country on the annual Bon Jovi pilgrimage which culminated in a fantastic sunny day at Hyde Park in London. Just to complete the week my better half and my daughter spent Monday down at the Tennis watching Williams, Federer and co in the baking heat!
Feast – what a week!

On the fishy side I’ve been out a couple of times too this week, and it’s been a trout famine. In fact I’ve caught just a couple of trout this week in what should have been ideal conditions, but they have been hiding, possibly in the beer tent up at Grassington.

However what a festival of fun I have had with the Lady of the River this week as I don’t seem to be able to stop catching Grayling! On Monday I pulled in a pig of a fish, which I didn’t take a picture of (as I wanted to get the lady back in the water) but I reckon that it was at least 2 and a half pounds, possibly knocking 3 – and thats a huge fish, the biggest Grayling I’ve seen never mind caught! Then the other evening when JB was wrangling with the trout I again snagged 4 Grayling on the bounce!

Now I’ve a theory about this. The Wharfe runs through Grassington, and I think that the trout may have been all drawn up the river to listen to the festivities up the Dale, whereas the more refined ladies have been hanging around and milking the chance of having some peace and quiet whilst the rabble trout are all partying!

Of course it may be something else, but the Grassington Festival influence extends everywhere and I really do reckon that the trout have heard about it too.

This weekend is the end of the festival. I wonder it the river will return to normal next week? I shall have to see.

Warming Up To The Rain

Posted by Craig Gannon on June 20, 2011
General Musings, Trout / Comments Off on Warming Up To The Rain

Yesterday morning it poured down – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as there’s been scant water the last 3 months, indeed if I didn’t know better I would think that there’s a global warming issue, or perhaps it’s just getting ready to hose down for the summer. However today (Monday) it’s been a cracking day and after some research it seemed that the river was in fine fettle.
So I made plans to get away from work at 4:30 and meet my buddy so that we could get some hours in. Of course I didn’t get away until 5:30 which meant that we didn’t get to the river until 7pm. We parked at the nearest possible place and off we went for a good 2-3 hours.

On Saturday I had a couple of spare hours so I tied up a few flies. I didn’t really have any specific patterns in mind but I wanted to set up some light (white or yellow) wet flies as they seemed to have been what had been coming off the water recently. With Tups Indispensible in mind I knocked up a few, along with some white and partridge and partridge and yellow. I have to say that the ‘Tups-like’ fly looked the sheeps danglies (fly tyers joke – look up the pattern for the Tups) and I reckoned that I should give them a go next time.

So tonight on went the ‘Tups’ wet fly and bang bang bang, the fish loved it. Its one of the best feelings in the world to ‘knock up’ your own fly and kill the fish with it, and thats what happened tonight. I tied 3 up, lost 2 on crappy knots and caught 8 fish, 6 on the new fly, before it started to rain, and rain, and rain.

Fishing is off for the next week as I’ve a few things on, but the signs show that it may at last start to pick up. It was warm but wet tonight, if only the nights would stay light and long! It’s nearly bye bye June,, it’s getting warmer and a little wetter, perhaps the season is starting now. Somebody please tell the fish!

Until next Monday.