As August appears on the horizon I guess the words on every anglers lips (not to mention fishery owners) is “When is it going to rain?” Don’t get me wrong, I love the sun but the rivers are low, low, low!
Even so, as usual I have been crossing the borders of Devon & Somerset with clients for some West Country fly fishing. And when the going gets tough it just means a few new flies have to come out of the box, along with gossamer leader, a little patience and a good dollop of determination which usually yields results. So here are just some of the best memories from July ….
Heading out for some river action at the beginning of the month were a couple of regular guests, Stuart & Bill. It is always great to see these guys back who live busy lives, with even busier businesses and therefore find fly fishing the perfect way to switch off and unwind.
Best of all they don’t look at their mobiles while they are fishing (something that I see all too regularly these days), instead they just get stuck in, absorbing themselves in their surroundings and the pure enjoyment of trying to winkle a wild River Lyn Brown Trout from its lair. Both did just that with jigged nymphs producing some particularly decent fish for Stuart. Queue the Cheshire cat grin, followed by a celebratory cuppa!
The middle of the month was taken up with casting courses and then it was away to the coast for the Bass. What a disappointment. So far it just doesn’t seem to be firing on the estuary mark that I guide regularly and despite many miles of trudging and casting nothing was caught of substantial size. There doesn’t seem to be too much bait right now either, the gulls are quiet and there have hardly been any boats in the area. That is other than those throwing nets! It’s not often that I have much to say that is negative on my blog but over the last 15 years there has been a distinct decline in the amount of Bass in the Taw & Torridge estuary which has become a favourite with salt water fly anglers during that time. I have noticed that there seems to be less of them to.
Anyway, back to the month. I did something that I have never done before during the season and took a week off to go fishing, although it didn’t actually turn out to be a week to myself as there was work to be done. What was I saying a couple of paragraphs ago?!!! Tales of rod bending action I do not have, but the miles of walking in baking heat did help me to shed over half a stone of weight in conjunction with the new Paleo style diet my wife and I have been trying. So I got back to the season slightly unfulfilled in terms of the amount of fish I had landed, however fishing on my own is something I have not done for a long time and it made a change. Oh and I got myself booked on a Redfish trip to celebrate my 40th birthday in November, so all round, a pretty damn decent week but I was ready to get back out there!
What better way than with Nigel Tranter & his mate Gary Brewster. A couple of top blokes, eager to learn and willing to try whatever fishing was available in the tough weather conditions. Both managed to hook Bass, but fish of the saltwater session was Gary’s mini Mullet, it might only just be over a pound but it pulled like a train and reminded me that I really must get back out there and target this fish that I have described in the past as the English Bonefish. Check out my very, very old Mullet article here.
The guys liked the salt, but they loved the Rivers! More about that soon as I have a top “one that got away story”, but as I write this at 8.30pm having got back from guiding and some lake weed clearing, I will leave that for another post as it was an event that I will never forget … and I don’t think Nigel will either! Three days of fun, fresh air and fish were concluded with some dry fly action and stalking on the lakes, before reminiscing about it all down at our brilliant local pub, the Bridge Inn, Dulverton. If I have one complaint about fishing it is that it passes time too quickly!
Marc Slack, a regular client for the last few years filled the remaining three days of the month and also made the best of the conditions. We chose to target rivers heading to the Mole for day one, followed by the Exe on day two and finally I found myself back where I had started at the beginning of the month, guiding on the River Lyn. In the low flows, there is no better river. Super oxygenated with deep pools and noticeably cooler than the other local rivers, my only wish is that it was 30 miles long, if that was the case I think I may head there every day. It is truly brilliant.
This fish of Marks refused a dry after around 5 minutes of fishing for it, a CDC Sedge which it literally nosed, but without opening its mouth. So the leader was lengthened, we waited and the fish began to feed again. I reckon it took another 20 minutes but finally it was completely fooled, engulfing one of those “new” flies, a #16 Quill Emerger. A small fish but totally worth it, not only stunning to look at but a satisfying catch using skills that who knows maybe one day directed at a Montana Brown Trout that could pick this Lyn fish from its teeth. That is the other wonderful thing about fishing … its good to dream because so often they come true. Bring on the Louisiana Redfish!
Hopefully next month I will have some better Bass news, but for the moment look out for my one that got away story coming soon and enjoy your month of fishing, whatever you may be fishing for. Oh and perhaps try a little rain dance … because we REALLY need it!!!