Monday, February 27
by Steven Cullen on Mon 27 Feb 2012 04:15 PM GMT
I headed up to the opening weekend at Stocks Reservoir recently, trust me it's a bit of a hike for me. My mate, a good one at that, John Emerson, picked me up bright and early on the Saturday morning.
He came in for a coffee and spouted his usual nonsense to my wife, boy can he talk - in a nice way obviously.
Eventually we were in the car and on our way, stopping only the once for a quick break, me for coffee him for a Benson & Hedges.
Arriving at the water two hours later, we tried to get in to the car park, fat chance, it was wall to wall carnage. The big hill near the fishery was nose to tail parked cars, the car park was pretty much non existent!
Soon enough we had abandon the car and headed into the comfortable lodge - with all it's finery, it's looking good by the way, lots new fly tying schizzle etc, very nice.
Anyway John and I got geared up and ended up walking quite a way to get away from the crowds. The fishing was literally shoulder to shoulder for at least three quarter of a mile, perhaps more!
It's just a bit busy!
Our first port of call was Newclose Bay, which is quite shallow but we had the option of moving around to the right to the deeper water of Beetle's Drop.
It was too shallow and the wind coming into us was restricting the casting somewhat, so we moved over to Beetle's and deeper water. John was set up with a floater and two lures, both with 4mm tungy beads on, spaced ten foot apart on a 20ft leader, a good set up for searching. I had went with a shooting head scary Di8, teamed with two Boobies!
Within a few casts at the deeper water, I had a take on the drop, shouting over to John who was ten yards further on, as I did. I thought the chance was gone, but the rod tip slammed around and I pulled the hook home into a fish.
It was on for all of three seconds!
No matter, perhaps in this quite little area we had found some fish?
Sadly, we hadn't. Fishing on for another 40-minutes without a touch, it became obvious we needed to move.
Casting and moving we leap frogged each other, and other anglers until we reached Ben's Beach, A nice steady bit of water where the depth was pretty consistent.
John, with his floating line set up soon was into a purple patch, picking up five fish fast, including a double hook up. I on the other hand, who was all of ten yards away couldn't get a sniff!
We swapped places, and I also changed my set up to match John's. I caught nowt in the next 30 minutes so gave him the place back, the bugger went in and caught another four from there in the next two hours. I stuck the Di8 set up on again and caught two. Location, location, location early season! If you're not in the exact bit, then you're going to struggle that's why you need to get to venues early, if you're going on the bank!
The Lucky Bugger!
By about three o'clock we'd had enough and started to make our way back to the lodge, even at this time there was no space to fish anywhere near the boat dock.
No matter, we went to the lodge to have a natter with Ben, Tom and Matt, oh and I had the best pie in the world, Mince and Onion, it was MAJESTIC!
Matt, Pie modeling!
And so to the carry on in the evening. We, a few friends and I, were all due to have our dinner at one of the local 'Hostelries", I shan't name it!
Chillie was on the menu, with the prefix 'HOT', that was it! Hywel Morgan had some as did I and also John, we were the only one's silly enough.
Hywel is bigger than me - weight wise obviously! and I'm 6ft 2inches and 14 stone, so we are fairly big, John on the other hand is not so tall and nowhere near as heavy.
The Chillie arrived with a flourish, with get this, a whole Chillie nestled on the top, oh and a smattering of chips!
I knew it was going to be tough, I dipped a chip in the chillie and had a taste. It was EPIC, very, very hot.
We'd had beer though and the whole manly thing cropped up.
To cut a long story short, Hywel had at most, two fork fulls, I took out half a bowl, only after ordering some water to help me along, John, with casual contempt polished the whole bowl off without uttering a word, apart from belittling words for Hywel and I.
Some people are built better than others and John, give him his due, was more than a match for the chillie.
The chillie, sadly, hadn't finished with me, the next day, as we traveled home, I had to ask John to stop at the Sandbach services. I disappeared into the men's toilets and never surfaced for half an hour.
Perhaps it's not just women that the 'beer goggles' work with, food it seems can often make you regret your decisions!
Saturday, February 11
by Steven Cullen on Sat 11 Feb 2012 01:25 PM GMT
Everyone that goes out with a fly rod from time to time knows that now and again, on those rare occasions, something pretty special can happen.
It can be anything out of the ordinary that makes your day.
One of my friends, Paul Davidson, an amazing fisherman whether on still or running water, called me recently to tell me of the remarkable day that he had experienced on the River Tweed, not only did he catch lots of grayling, 13 I think it was, he also managed a PB of 3lb 5oz, colossal indeed.
That wasn't the only reason he phoned though, the amazing part of the day was the mother otter which swam up past him, with her two young, as he sat on the bank having lunch.
How often does that happen in a lifetime?
I had a special day last week.
A friend and I had a day out on the famous big fish venue, Lechlade down in Gloucestershire.
To say I had a good day is an understatement, it was epic!
The majority of the water was frozen over, another victim of the cold spell we've been having, goodness knows how many waters are affected loads I'd imagine!
There was roughly around 30% of fishable water, with two other anglers there it meant that we had to share what water was available. The guys were wonderful, great company and easy going, so it was kind of like a lads day out.
At first the fishing was tough, the cold most likely, but as the day warmed up, a few takes were felt on the end of the line, and a few fish, up to 9lb taken.
We all went to the lodge for dinner, them; a proper packed lunch with a whole host of niceties, us; Lucazade and pork pies from the garage.
We chatted away like long lost pals, before they headed off home and we returned to the water.
I dispensed with the floating line which I had started with, and went instead with Di3 forty plus, eight foot of 10lb leader and a small black and green lure. It was nowt fancy, rabbit strip lashed to a hook with a bright green bead.
Casting out and whinging it back I had several follows but nothing was looking like taking the fly.
A change of tact was required.
The muddy bank was making a mess of my line, so stepped into one of the moored boats, I figured I'd be able to lay my line down and keep everything tidy by standing inside it.
I decided to cast as far as I could, towards a small bay, and just keep in touch with the fly as it dropped through the water.
After ten seconds of free fall I felt a touch on the line, a little rattle, like a Booby take. I did nothing. A second or two later the line locked up tight and I was in.
The thing never moved, whatever it was brown or rainbow it was big!
I pulled and eventually it started to pull back, before finally deciding that it was going to go mental!
It did several laps of the available water and also had one foray way under the ice to my right, before eventually coming into view. It was a rainbow at it was BLOODY massive!
Netted, I held it up for a photo, it weighed a ton, looked amazing and was fully-finned with a massive tail, perfection!
A monster rainbow, 16 to 17lb, taken on a small black and green lure fished deep on a Di3 line.
A few high fives and back slapping followed. What a fish! I was pretty much on cloud nine, and wasn't fussy for continuing I was content to watch my mate but he was adamant I should carry on straight away as things seemed to be hotting up.
I pulled the line back off the reel and this launched a cast towards an aerator which was working over time to keep the ice at bay.
Why change a winning formula I thought.
I left everything, just kept in touch as the fly sank through the water column.
20 seconds later… BANG!
No tiny takes this time, whatever it was that took the fly, it wanted it big style!
I lifted the rod and pulled on my line with the retrieving hand, just to make sure obviously. Big fish tend to have large, hard mouths!
The unseen fish started to doggedly pull line from my hand… Bump, Bump, Bump, it shook it's head out in the deep water. I could feel every movement transferred up the line, bucking the rod right through to the butt sections each time it pulled.
After a few minutes, and in complete contrast to to the first fish, this one did very little, instead it did a very good impression of lakebed!
I put even more strain on the rod and moved it from side to side as I did so. The trout had obviously managed to get embedded in the weeds. After what seemed an age but was probably no more than five minutes, I could feel movement again, there was life back on the end of the line.
I don't often play fish of the reel but I did with this one, tightening the drag the minute I managed to get out out of the weeds.
The rest of the fight wasn't very impressive, more a war of attrition really until I was finally able to net it, a brown trout, a beautiful, heavily-spotted, deep-bodied, fin-perfect whopper!
How big? Who knows. It was a double figure fish, in fact it was easily a double figure fish. I'll never know for sure how big as I slipped out the barbless hook and got it back into the water.
It's not the done thing on a catch and kill water and no doubt I'll end up in trouble over it but I figured it was too good a fish to be caught once!
Leaning over the boat, I held it there in the water as it worked it's gills, trying to get oxygen into it's system.
All of a sudden, it went form being loose in my hands, to tensing up, flexing it's massive frame and flicking it's spade like tail and shooting away from me descending to the depths as it did so.
Two doubles in two casts, one rainbow and one brown, will that ever happen again, I'd love to think so but I doubt it!
The immense brown trout, looking every inch a fair sized double, taken 20 seconds down in deep water! What a lucky bugger I am.
Friday, January 20
by Steven Cullen on Fri 20 Jan 2012 02:15 PM GMT
I have had a nightmare of a day, I was supposed to being doing a feature with my mate John Pearson up on the Derbyshire Wye.Checking the river levels this morning it had only risen an inch, great I'll drive up then.
The window wipers were on full pelt all the way up to Mansfield, and hour and half's worth!
We meet up with good old Dave Percival, a nicer chap would be harder to find, and he has access to some out of this world fishing.
Anywhy, after breakfast we get a phone call from the river keeper, "forget it, it's high and it's very coloured" Brilliant!
So it's postponed. BUT, I had a wee look at John's Tenkara patterns, a Japanese thing it is, a fly tied with a reverse hackle. The Japanese call this style "Sakasa kebari".
This reverse hackle thing, and indeed Tenkara was pretty much unheard of until 2009, now lots of anglers are talking about it.
You use long rods for dibbling flies in pocket water. The flies though can be tailored to what you want and John had tied some wet flies this way for use on the river. Sadly we never used them.
I came home and set about tying some, see what you think, I like them and I can see them catching fish, they need to be fished dead drift with the occasional tweak to make the hackle pulse.
Black And Red
Partridge N Orange
They are very nice flies to tie and the world's your oyster for variants, try them.
Wednesday, January 18
by Steven Cullen on Wed 18 Jan 2012 03:23 PM GMT
Well it is soon going to be coming to and end, perhaps one more weekend? I'm talking about the Booby season at Farmoor II in Oxfordshire.
I like to start fishing on this place around the beginning of November, this is when you can expect to contact some real grown-on beauties, albeit a little higher in the water than is normal. Sadly, this year, last year, 2011/2012 there's not been any of these fish.
I think one good one came out about 8lb and I have had one decent brownie and my mate Gareth Jones had a cracker around 7lb but as for rainbows, forget it.
Goodness know what is going on, I'm told it is something to do with the water treatment process somewhere along the lines, but who knows, the fish just haven't fed properly and as a result the big fish haven't put in an appearance. However, the numbers, wow! The fishing over the last few weeks has been nothing short of staggering!
A 'proper' fish, a small one.
The best bet was to fish the Boobies well apart 10ft apart, one at 10ft from the line and so on. Most of the trout were to be caught at the Souths Side of the venue with some coming from the east, the causeway which is normally amazing never really fished.
During this fishing I had one stand out pattern, silly given the amount of fish I was catching but one did shine through here it is…
I call it …Dave!
Monday, January 9
by Steven Cullen on Mon 09 Jan 2012 03:40 PM GMT
Recently, I have been out on the river. How the hell can you do that then, I hear you cry, everything's bloody flooded!
Okay, okay a few weeks ago I was out. I went up to have a look at my stretch of The Derwent and to see if I could get a mate of mine his first grayling on the BUGS!
Arriving there, we were greeted by biblical rain and a rising river, the worst possible conditions for river fishing, a rising river.
I showed him how to get set up and how to position the flies on the leader, so that they would all be in the taking zone - the bottom two feet.
It was the flies that I chose for him that are worth a mention, as the water was starting to rise I went for a hefty splash of colour, in the team of three, in the form of a Red Tag. No not the old fashioned jobby your grandfather used to use, the new, straight from the continent Red Tag!
Tied on a Jig Hook and featuring modern synthetics and brightly dyed Glo Brite this things has been the downfall of so many grayling, I'm tempted to say that if it really catches on it may be as effective as then Pink Shrimp, allegedly devised by Welsh River boy, now carp angler, sad sad sad, why go to carp!! Tim Hughes.
There is something about this little Red Tag that grayling and very often trout just can't resist!
Anyway the fishing was super tough, BUT he managed to catch his first grayling, and his second, third and fourth as well as a very impressive chub of around 3lb, each of them had taken the Red Tag, fished on the middle dropper.
Pretty little flees with plenty of movement...
Another river I visited was a very swollen, sitting at 1073 on the gauge Welsh Dee. I was there to shoot a feature with new River Champion Terry Phillips, on how he fishes certain flies using braid - nothing new there? Want a bet?
Anyway, he went down one particular run with his not so weighty flies and caught about eight fish, some grayling some out of season trout - does that give the game away on the flies he was using? Doubt it. Anyway I followed him down with his method and only managed one take. Now this could be because he'd just fished through or that I was just rubbish, it certainly wasn't the latter, or was it, you decide? : )
Anyway, the water we were fishing was quite slack in the edges, where Terry had fished, but I was convinced there would be fish further out in the dangerously powerful current which was about waist deep.
I went back to my own method, three bugs on braided leader, fished with a short leader, but how could I fish the water effectively, it was fast and deep, getting a fly down was going to be tricky. Luckily I knew that the water was to be big and had tied up some heavy stuff just in case!
Well, with the help of my massive Bombs, some of which feature three, 5mm Tungsten beads lashed to them, I was able to catch three grayling including the biggest one!
Sacrificial flies are a must, buy these ones actually catch. I had two on the Olive Bomb and one on the scary, heavy, devil may care monstrosity!
First, put on your crash helmet...
Make sure you tie some up!
Tuesday, January 3
by Steven Cullen on Tue 03 Jan 2012 12:29 PM GMT
I'd decided that I had done more than enough bank fishing at Farmoor II in Oxfordshire and as the boats are on all year thought I'd try my hand on one!
Now, at this time of the year, this is a Booby water, fish whatever else you want but I assure you nothing, NOTHING is as effective as Boobies fished deep on a sinking line!
I'd set up with the usual, super fast sinking shooting head, eight feet to the first fly, a dropper which held my favourite Olive Barred Booby and on the point a further 10 feet away, a washed out pink and white one. My leader is usually around 8 to 10lb pound, nowt to fancy!
My first port of call was the Lin, Lym, Limn - not sure how it's spelt- tower. Second cast with the shooting head, I was using a steady figure-of eight retrieve to bring the flies back - bare in mind it takes about five minutes to retrieve these flies properly - I took a rainbow on the point fly.
The fish were high up. It wasn't big, none really have been this year, strange that, most years you can catch them over 4lb consistently. It was around the 2 to two and a half pound mark.
I kept catching here with some regularity, basically, every cast or at times every other cast! none of the fish were the big one that I was after, so I decided to move off toward the cages.
The problem here is that it's hard to get close, there are Buoys around the cages and you can't go past these, so you need a pretty spectacular cast to get your flies near the cages - where the big fish lurk waiting for free pellets and dead fish, they eat the flesh of dead fish on the bottom.
Luckily, the gusty wind helped me to get my flies close to the cages, close enough for me to get a a few fish that was for sure.
I was only catching the same old fish though, nothing special, although I did have a nice brown of around 4lb, these are few and far between in Farmoor.
Stopping for a leisurely lunch, it was about 1pm by now and the day was mostly over, I decided that I'd change over to the little Black Booby, a fly the that fishing legend Micky Bewick assured me always sorts out the better trout on this venue.
I put two on, hardly hedging my bets I know but hey ho!
I'd managed a few nice rainbows after lunch but still a big one eluded me!
I then positioned the boat a little further out into open water, just covering some fresh fish hopefully, and cast out a long line, 50 yards plus!
I gave the whole thing a minute to get down and to anchor the head of my line onto the lakebed, before starting my 'Rod Flick' retrieve. This is basically a slow figure of eight with a 'one foot' flick of the rod tip thrown in to create some movement down below with the flies.
Half way into the retrieve and after a flick of the rod tip, something pulled back and it pulled back in such a way that the rod tip was heaved under the water's surface! What The .... !!!
My rod bounced and bucked as my unseen adversity steadily took some line. This was a big fish!
I more or less hung on as it ploughed about deep down below me. Each time I put pressure on it, and I did put pressure on it, with heavy 10ft 8-wt rod, it just pulled back all the harder.
This small tug of war went on for about five minutes before I started to make any head way. I was able to get some line through the rings and start to gain some semblance of control.
After around 10 minutes I even managed to get the head of my line in, the fish wasn't far away now.
I was shaking like a leaf and willing the thing to stay on as I pulled into it putting a very scary bend in my rod.
I had a quick glimpse of something very big, and very silvery about 20 foot down.... it was coming and it was bloody big!!
A few more yards to go and I'd have him. Soon enough the dropper was visible, he's mine I thought!
With another bright flash of silver, and a healthy tug on the line and the fish was off! I'd blown it.
Swinging the flies in I looked at my point fly Booby.... the hook was missing!
I'd lost a monster trout and it was all down to my own stupidity. The last time I'd used that particular Booby, I had put it back in the box - still wet - something somewhere had rusted under the dressing and as a result, it had snapped and I'd lost that fish of a lifetime from Farmoor!
Silly, silly boy!
If you fancy a day on Farmoor, ping me an email....