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Archive for November, 2012

Silver Squirrel

This weekend a combination of Christmas shopping, household responsibilities and poor conditions mean that I’m not going fishing. But that doesn’t mean the weekend has to be spent in a blue funk, moping and sulking from one end of the living room to the other, far from it. This weekend is the perfect time to tie some of the flies I’ve been meaning to cobble together. In particular, some Sea Trout flies. I have, for absolutely no good reason (and probably a lot of bad ones), sworn to only fish for Sea Trout with flies I’ve tied myself. Why make a task that is already difficult even harder? Because it’s there. Or something.

I should make it clear at this point that I’m even less of an expert on fly tying than I am on fly fishing. If you’ve come here hoping to learn something useful then I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place. Now that’s out of the way, let’s wrap some thread.

The first fly on the menu is the Silver Stoat, a variant of the Stoat’s Tail Salmon fly that is particularly good for Sea Trout. It begins, as do so many things, with black.

The reason it’s called a Silver Stoat is because the wing is constructed from the hair on  a Stoat’s tail. But first we must tie in the silver, and the Golden Pheasant.

The finished Silver Stoat. Well, as it happens I’ve used Squirrel tail instead. Stoats have very small tails and, perhaps as a reflection on the vicious character of the animal, they’re hard to come by and expensive. So Squirrel it is, which I suppose makes this fly the Silver Squirrel. As I’ll be fishing at night let’s hope the Sea Trout won’t notice the difference.

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All the best experiments happen by accident. Except maybe in science, and other things. All my best experiments happen by accident.

Last month I had a good day float fishing on the River Culm. I had wanted to catch some Roach, and catch them I did, using a tip I’d picked up from an old friend, the Internet. Apparently Roach like Coriander, so much so that mixing it with a bread crumb groundbait will lure them in like… And not just Roach either, there were also Dace and Gudgeon drawn to my swim.

It wasn’t Roach I was setting out to catch today. I was after Chub, in particular I wanted to catch a Chub on a lure. Unfortunately it’s November already, though I’m not sure how that’s happened, and it’s cold. Ever the realist I mixed up some coriander and breadcrumb, filled my bait box with maggots, and set off for the river. Halfway there I realised I’d left the mashed bread groundbait at home, and so the experiment was born.

I was going to find out how much of a difference groundbait, and coriander, makes.

The answer, as you may have guessed, is quite a lot. I found myself a good looking spot, where the river’s current was a little slacker and some overhanging trees provided shelter. I rigged up my Allcock’s Lucky Strike and Aerial centrepin, and started fishing.

There is something about fishing with a float that is deeply pleasing. I’m a fly fisherman most of the year but I try to keep alive, in part, some of the spirit of the all rounder. I enjoy the challenge of stalking trout in gin clear streams, but if I did nothing else I fear I’d appreciate it less. There are some who consider fishing with a float to be a lesser thing (is there much difference fishing beneath a float and fishing a nymph beneath a dry fly?). Not for me. A float is borderline magical. It exists partly above, mostly below, the water’s surface. For someone who is fascinated by the underwater world it provides something of a bridge.

When the normal drifting of the float is interrupted and it bobs, twitches, or quivers with the attentions of a fish, hands tighten their grip on the rod. The anticipation builds as you wait to see if the float will dip, slide or disappear. Waiting for the fish to make up its mind. To either take the bait or let it go. And who knows what sort of fish it might be? What species or size? The promise is infinite. That is a moment I could live in.

Today the promise delivered Minnows, and one Dace. I actually like the humble Minnow. They might not grow to any great size but they were the first fish I met close up. None of these fish came close to my personal best. A monster at least 4 inches long, caught on free lined bread and a garden cane.

The bites stopped coming. The Minnows were either full of the free offerings that go alongside the hookbait or something else was at work. The good thing about being an all rounder is that you often come with more than one approach in mind. I switched the centrepin to a fixed spool reel and flicked out a small copper spinner. A Mepps Aglia. I had barely turned the handle of the reel when a Jack Pike grabbed it. I let him recover in the net and think about what he’d done.

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