The first day was spent at the waters edge clearing away rubbish. It wasn't anglers rubbish. It belonged to the building trade, farmers and the general public. Having said that, it had to be cleared away by anglers as we are the only ones who care about the waterways and the countryside.
During my time at the waterside this week I have seen a pair of redstarts and bullfinches, which is nice as these birds are not often seen today. On the river Ribble I have been able to watch several dippers and two kingfishers. Hawthorn flies have been about in profusion and the trout love them. A lot of yellow may dun have been hatching on the Ribble but I didn't see a single trout rise to them. When the wind drops and the sun shines there have been lots of large dark olives and buzzers.
Fishing this week on the river Ribble I was defeated by one good brown trout; it was gorging itself on what I reckon were micro buzzer nymphs. The fish was about a foot downstream of a bush, making it difficult to get a good drift with either a dry fly or nymph. I tried buzzer nymphs in several colours down to size 18's but no takes. Still, that's what makes fishing so exciting and interesting. I just love to be able to see fish and then try to catch them - when they are difficult it's even more interesting. I quickly tire of catching one fish after another and find it quite boring.
When we try to catch a difficult trout, it makes us cast with more accuracy and delicacy; we have to make sure our dry flies land like thistle down. If the river or stream we are fishing is gin clear and the fish are only a short distance away from the nearside bank then we have to keep a low profile, we must also approach the water slowly and quietly. If you're new to the river trouting having only fished stillwaters then my advice is, forget your seven weight reservoir outfit with its weight forward line. On most rivers the heaviest rod you need is a five weight with a double taper floating line. For small river and stream fishing, you can fish a two or three weight outfit.
The beauty of river and stream trout fishing is that the fish usually stay in one place so you can sit and watch your chosen trout as you work out the best approach, the type of fly to match and what they are feeding on.
Win a Gas Fired Barbecue!
The river Ribble when I fished it on Wednesday was in excellent condition with a few inches of fresh and some colour. The sky was overcast with a light upstream wind.
It was about ten o'clock in the morning when I arrived with Julian Bickford of CADAC and GoGas in the UK. We were going to field test some of the products including a gas barbecue which listeners to BBC Radio Lancashire At The Waters Edge programme could win in a free and simple competition.
If you don't live in the BBC Radio Lancashire transmission area you can click on to my programme At The Waters Edge via the Internet. The site address is http://www.bbc.co.uk/lancashire/sport/fishing/05002/03/river_aire.shtml - A page will always have the latest show, also all the previous programmes - which means the show will always have the same address - making it much easier for listeners. The great thing about putting the audio on the site is that you, the listener, can log onto the page and download each programme at any time - You will be able to download the programme today, the middle of the night or next year. You can also click on to my web site www.martinjamesfishing.co.uk
One item from CADAC/GoGas I was very impressed with was the Summit stove with wind shield. From the field tests I have conducted it will be an ideal gas stove for angling, wildfowling, bird watching and rambling. It fits into a small pouch which can be worn on a belt. The Summit stove is such a small and compact item that many mountaineers choose to use this particular model. It's an all weather stove that gives constant high performance - you simply swivel the gas cartridge from vapour to liquid power for use in extreme cold weather conditions. I will be taking this stove on my dog sledding next winter, knowing I can quickly make a fresh brew. These stoves are available from many sources such as Leslie's of Luton, Onward and Outward and Varey's in Clitheroe, no doubt there is an outlet near you.
After bacon sandwiches and fresh tea it was time to go fishing. I tackled up a nine foot four weight Thomas and Thomas rod, double taper floating line with a ten foot knotless tapered leader. On fly lines from two to seven weights. I tie in using a simple needle knot two feet of 30lb breaking strain line to the fly line, I then attach the leader. This gives a better presentation and better turn over.
During the day several types of flies could be seen, large dark olives, hawthorns, yellow may duns and various buzzers most of these were what we call micro buzzers. I caught fish on Paythorn olives, Grey dusters, and Black gnat's. In all I probably had ten nice size trout, the best was probably eighteen inches. I packed up about seven PM having had a most enjoyable day.
Within thirty minutes of packing up the river had risen some fifteen to eighteen inches and a dirty brown colour with lots of floating rubbish. No doubt the extra water would encourage a few seatrout to move up river. At this time of the year all the extra water is most welcome. It might upset the fishing for a day or so but don't complain. All that extra water helps to keep the river or streambed free of clodorpha weed, it dilutes any chemicals that might enter our rivers and streams from motorways, countryside lanes and riverside fields or factories.
You can get a day permit for Edisford Hall Estates fisheries for twenty pounds a day, which is good value for money. If this fishery was in the south of England you could well be paying a hundred pound a day. Telephone river keeper Ivan Duxbury on 07973 268131
Thursday was spent at Barnsfold Water near Chipping in Lancashire. It's a two lake fishery of about twenty two acres, well known for its buzzer hatches. The weather was good; we had warm sunshine and a light wind, ideal conditions for buzzers and hawthorn flies at this time of the year.
I was joined on this trip by Mike Osborne of Cumbria. Mike is new to fly fishing and before subjecting him to river trouting. I thought the best idea was to take him on a stillwater rainbow fishery. Last week Mike had been at the fishery with owner Frank Casson for some fly casting lessons and to learn something about stillwater fishing for rainbows.
I was most disappointed to find no hawthorn flies or buzzers, and with just a light breeze fishing wasn't going to be easy. There was just the occasional fish rising. I asked Richard Casson "What flies do you recommend?" He answered "Dynamite!" then "Hopefully later this evening there will be some buzzers coming off".
I chose to use my Thomas and Thomas five weight which I considered ideal under the prevailing weather conditions, I matched the rod with a double taper floating line to which I attached a 12 foot leader with a 3lb point. After sorting out two anchors and loading the gear along with food and drink into the boat, we moved offshore. I anchored in an area where the breeze was at its strongest. With no insects on the water, I tied on a big black bushy fly on a size 12 for Mike which I thoroughly greased up. Within ten minutes of Mike casting out, a fish ate his fly, it was missed on the strike.
Having got Mike fishing, I tied on a black bushy fly greased up to ensure it would float high in the water. I cast some forty feet across the wind then sat watching the fly drifting along on the surface flow. Within minutes I had a rise and my first fish of the session was hooked, a nice rainbow of about three pounds. After a brief struggle the fish was alongside the boat; bending down it was quickly unhooked without being touched by hand.
I have always felt that if no fish are rising, then it's best to fish a big fly on the surface. I made another cast across the wind watching the fly float across the surface. Again, another fish wanted to eat, fish number two was quickly unhooked alongside the boat. You will be surprised how many fish will come and eat your offering when you have a big bushy fly floating along on the surface!
Meanwhile Mike had been getting several good takes but sadly all were missed, mainly through striking too quickly - he was too excited! On take number six Mike waited a second longer then hooked his first trout. After a good scrap it was bought alongside the boat. I leaned over, quickly unhooked the fish and we then watched it swim off strongly. Again untouched by hand as all the other fish had been.
This is what we must do if the fish are being returned to the water. Do not do what so many anglers do and hold the fish in a dry piece of towelling or cloth, then poke a pair of forceps down its throat. Most of them will no doubt die or get fungus covered. Remember, fish are quite fragile. We ended the session with a nice catch of rainbows, all on the black bushy fly. So, next time you're on a stillwater and there are no flies hatching or land-based flies falling on the water, give a big black bushy fly a try. You might have a big surprise on the end of your line.
Friday I was joined by Stephen Ainsworth of Ramsbottom and we decided to fish the river Aire. This was a big mistake, we had a strong cold blustery wind, no flies hatching and of course no fish rising. They didn't have anything to rise for! On some of the exposed stretches of the river the wind was strong enough to create white horses. As anglers do, we tried hard but nothing. With no insects we didn't stand a chance, it really was a lucky dip. Stephen thought a fish might rise to a big fly, but they didn't. After several hours we decided enough is enough; we collected up some rubbish left by the last flood and returned home.
Having not been on the river Aire for sometime it was certainly nice to be back. The river looked good with, Marsh marigold, Wild garlic and Red campion were about in profusion adding colour and beauty to the riverside. There were swallows, martins, curlews, oyster catchers, blackbirds, thrushes and wagtails. So despite the strong wind and no fish rising, it was still a great day at the waterside.
Saturday was spent in the studio from early morning five am through until one PM. On the way home I called in to see river keeper Ivan Duxbury for a chat and a mug of tea and I then visited the Prince Albert AS water to check on permits and take away any litter. Only two anglers were on the water, one had caught a nice seatrout of about three pounds from Hodder Foot. Arriving home I had a late lunch then sorted out some gear for my forthcoming trip to the United States. In no time at all it was time for dinner.
If you plan a trout fishing this trip this coming week why not take the barb off your hook? It makes unhooking fish that much easier - and if your casting isn't as good as you like, why not take a casting lesson, don't think that buying a new rod will help as this isn't usually the answer.