I always think of January and February as the most dour months of the year. This is in part due to the post-Christmas blues, as well as the cold, often grey weather that seems to arrive about now. As a result, I am taking the opportunity to get lots of images processed and up on the website. I have just added a new gallery of images from my trip into the jungle of southern Thailand chasing mahseer and I am processing more with the aim of uploading them in the next couple of weeks.
To accompany the images from my mahseer trip, I have uploaded a jpeg version of the article that was published in The Field on the trip, in the Articles page on the website. Be sure to check it out if you want to find out more about the fishing that I experienced!
As well as sorting out the backlog of images that I shot over 2014, I am also preparing for a pretty special trip. The details are still under wraps, however I will update the blog once things get under way.
I am pleased to say that I have a piece in the current issue of The Field magazine, which is also the Christmas issue. The published article is on flyfishing for Thai mahseer, a species that until recently I didn’t even know existed. I had never even realised how wide the geographical spread of mahseer species is, until I started looking at flyfishing opportunities in Thailand. In reality, there are not that many of them but as I found out, those that do exist are pretty interesting. The mahseer fishing involves stalking up small, clear jungle streams and casting nymphs and dry flies into suitable pockets and runs. The fish hit the flies hard and given how large they can get, makes for exciting fishing. Have a look at the article if this sounds of interest!
Since the last blog post, I have been away fishing in Spain again, with good friend Luis Meana targetting barbel in the reservoirs of Spain. It has been a couple of years since I last did this and if I am honest, I had forgotten quite how much fun it is! We fished a couple of different reservoirs, as well as a stretch of river and caught plenty of fish.
The stand out experience, however, was the reservoir we fished on the last day. Situated in an area called ‘Extremedura’, the barbel in the lake are a mixture of Luciobarbus comizo and Luciobarbus microcephalus (note to those interested – the genus Luciobarbus is still disputed and may well be included in the genus Barbus as our knowledge increases on these species). We stalked the shore of the lake, NZ fashion, with one angler spotting and the other angler casting at cruising and laid-up fish.
The fishing was technical, rewarding and highly enjoyable. We had fish spook at the flyline in the air, others that dashed up to the fly only to stop and then swim away at the last moment and some fish that rushed the fly and inhaled it all in one movement. In the glassed-off conditions we were fishing in, casts often had to be long (in excess of 60ft), precise and the fish definitely couldn’t see you before it saw the fly, otherwise it would simply melt off into deep water. If you haven’t been out to Spain yet to experience this fishing, I highly recommend it!
So the trout season has come to an end for the year, at least on the Devon rivers. I always feel a twinge of sadness at the end of September. The end of the trout season also signifies that the long, cold days of winter are just around the corner; a time of year that I do not particularly cherish.
That said, the summer has lingered on this year with warm weather and (very) low rivers right up to the final day of the season. Fishing buddy Howard Colmer and I headed out for a final day last weekend and managed to get into a few fish in weather that felt more like high summer than the start of autumn. With the river very low and clear, there were enough fish up on top to keep us entertained for a few hours.
The pick of the day, however, was the cracking brownie that Howard sight-cast to and that we were able to watch saunter over to the fly, rise up underneath it and calmly sip it from the surface. In the tannin-tinged and often shaded waters of Devon, this was a rare treat and a fitting end to the season.
One of the surprises in Sweden was the quarter of an hour or so which we spent playing with some pike which we found laid up in a small bay on a trout stream. While fishing one of the guide’s favourite trout pools, one of our party spotted the group of small pike in the shallows. They were apparently completely unperturbed by our presence and I managed to shoot some exciting footage of a couple of the fish inhaling a small fly which we bounced past their nose.
Given that I was only around two or three feet from the fish when they ate the fly, the resulting film is pretty interesting. When I reviewed the footage back at home, one of the things that struck me was the phenomenal speed with which the fish accelerate. The last fish in particular eats the fly before shooting out of the frame so fast it almost looks like a magic trick: there one minute, gone the next. Have a look at the video for yourself to see what I mean: Pike Video
Well the trip to Sweden has been and gone and it was a real eye-opener. We saw several different areas of the country and fished a real mixture of waters in the week we spent there. The remote trout fishing we did was very interesting and there is certainly a lot of potential there for anyone who wants to really get off the beaten track. You only have to look at a map of northern Sweden to see that there is a huge amount of wilderness up there.
The surprise for me, however, was the other fishing that we sampled while there. Guide Klass-Jan showed us rivers where grayling abound, a lake full of monstrous char that took dries from the surface and a salmon river that has an average catch record of one or two salmon per angler per day, with approximately 20% of the fish being over 20lb in weight.
Salmon fishing is something that previously has never particularly appealed to me, partly due to the irregularity with which it seems one can expect to catch fish. However, catch statistics like those above saw even me stumbling around the river while waving a spey rod. I didn’t manage to land one myself in the day we spent trying, but our group of three rods managed two fish in a day. The following two days, however, Klass-Jan and friend Bran landed eight between them!
A few sample images from the trip are below and there is an article scheduled for publication in The Field, which will include some more images of the stunning scenery and fish we caught.
I’ve been a bit slack updating the blog of late, mainly as there has been a lot going on. I’ve processed plenty more of the videos and images from the trip to Norway. This included editing some pretty exciting video footage of a halibut nailing a lure. The circumstances under which we shot the footage were unusual and very lucky. There is a full explanation under the video, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4BumGfCQzo
Away from the computer, I’ve got out fishing a few times. This has included a days out searching for bass and wrasse on lures, as well as a day up on the River Test, chasing chalkstream salmon for an upcoming feature in The Field magazine. A few pictures from some of these recent trips are below.
I’m making may way north again very shortly, up to Sweden with good friend Howard Day. We’re heading off to a couple of areas renowned for their excellent trout fishing. Given that trout up to 4 kg are apparently fairly common, I’m really excited about this trip. From the videos I have seen of trout fishing in Norway and Sweden, it seems that there is a lot of good fishing up there that we don’t hear that much about in the UK. Watch this space to see if I’m right…
With the current spell of great weather in the UK, I’ve been out and about chasing bass and trout and had some great days, including a good day on the bass fishing from my dinghy. It always amazes me that you don’t see more people zipping about on little 8 – 12 ft dinghies chasing inshore fish, as I explained last year in an article in The Field. I have a 12ft dinghy, together with an 8hp outboard that all packs down into the back of my car (a hatchback) and allows me to access masses of great inshore fishing with ease.
The last few days, however, were spent overseas up in the fjords of Norway. I headed up there with a few guys, fishing north of the Arctic circle. While there we had some great fishing for cod, coalfish, wolf-fish and halibut amongst spectacular scenery:
For the moment I’ll leave you with these few pics, plus a video I have quickly put together of coalfish blitzing on the surface. Huge shoals of small coalfish were up in the surface in the hours of the ‘midnight sun’ hammering shoals of small herring fry, making for some spectacular viewing. Some of the video footage I shot is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-J7txAoTOY&feature=youtu.be Plenty more to come, however, including some pretty special video footage…
With the summer now well and truly here and the weather currently perfect, I thought it was time to go and try something a little different off my home shores. With this in mind, I headed out yesterday with a couple of friends and colleagues to try and latch into some blue sharks off the Devon coast.
Motoring offshore about 30 miles, chum bags were deployed and we set up our drift. It was all a little quiet for the first couple of hours until suddenly one of the balloons pinged off the line and a reel started whirring. Striking the fish, I felt a solid weight on the end. However, this wasn’t too last for long as the fish scooted swam over the other line we had deployed and managed to shed the hook. Frustrating as it was, we were still elated that we had even had a run!
The fishing only improved from then on however as we had several runs throughout the course of the day. We managed to land four fish in the day, up to about 80lb, a couple of which made really long, searing runs. We were like school kids in a candy shop! Having thought about doing this for a while, I was delighted that our vague plan actually yielded some results. This is definitely going to be something I head out to try again soon!
When fishing up on the River Annan a few weeks back, the hatch of grannom was prodigious and the fish gorged themselves on them. The result was some fantastic, if frustrating fishing. I’ve managed to find some time to put together a few short clips of the hatch in full swing, and uploaded it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7wiu7M3ywg&feature=youtu.be