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View Article  Stocks, Stockies and a chillie which made it's presence felt days later!
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!
View Article  BIG FISH BONANZA!
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.