Sunday 7th April, 2019
Our fly fishing club, Corwen and District Angling Association, has put on free fly fishing coaching for juniors for many years. George has been going to these for the past four years and has learned loads from the club's coach and GAIA instructor Paul Ainsworth. With Paul retiring next year, the job is being handed over to me, so I've recently qualified as a coach and have got a year or so to learn under his expert guidance before taking the helm.
With me assisting Paul, and George assisting me, we managed to help five juniors aged 6-13 get started in fly fishing. Two of them were completely new to fly fishing, so there was a steep learning curve but we managed to make it fun and teach them the basics to get up and running. By lunchtime, they could all roll cast to the middle of the lake at Llandegla and all but one junior had caught.
George was enjoying the coaching so much that he didn't even fish himself, instead of teaching the youngsters how it was done. I think they took well to having a fellow junior doing the coaching. It was great to see the joy on their faces when they hooked up and while we lost a few fish, everybody caught something and went home happy. Hopefully, we'll have a good turn out on the sessions later in the year too. If you're interested in joining, contact Corwen and District Angling Club. It's free and there's an event every month between now and October.
Wednesday 10th April, 2019
George and I had a 5am start today and a two and a half hour drive back "home" to the Yorkshire Dales where older brother Henry is holidaying with granddad. While Henry and granddad were out walking the hills, George and I decided to pop over to Kilnsey Trout Fishery to enjoy the spring weather. It was only a degree or so when we arrived, so was on the chilly side, but the fish were rising freely.
We struggled for the first couple of hours, getting numerous follows but nothing hitting the fly with confidence. Eventually, George switched over to a Di3 and a hothead blue flash damsel and was quickly into the fish. He caught a number of nice rainbows and blues in the morning and lost plenty more, while I was sticking to the natural nymphs, buzzers and dries and had only managed one fish and a few lost near the net.
George caught consistently throughout the day with a fast retrieve on the Di3 getting loads of interest from the resident rainbows. I caught a couple on lures but had made the mistake of using an intermediate line that was on the colourful side and I think this may have been putting the fish off in Kilnsey's crystal clear water. I decided to switch tactics at lunch time and put on an 18-20' leader of very fine 5lb Stroft monofilament and scale my flies down.
I tried a few different dries but got nothing but refusals until I switched to a foam beetle pattern I'd tied up recently. This got instant results on the lower lake. Every single cast was getting a confident rise and I had several fish in a row. Seeing as George's fly seemed to have stopped working I let him have one of the beetles and he was quickly into the fish again.
We ended the day with 20 fish between us - eight for me and 12 for George! Not bad going really as the fishing had been relatively tough for Kilnsey and we'd caught more than most of the other anglers, too. The weather turned out really nice in the afternoon and we even bumped into a reader of the site who'd recognised us!
Thursday April 11th, 2019
With a few hours to spare in the morning before our journey back to Cheshire, George and I decided to head over to Fewston Reservoir, which is where we started fly fishing some six years ago. I think it's one of the most beautiful fisheries in the UK and is set in the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park. We had the place to ourselves - all 250 acres - so got to try all our old spots.
It was really chilly and we picked the wrong side to start on, so had a half mile walk back to the opposite bank. In the morning sun, this part of the lake was a bit warmer which was nicer for us and also seemed to be getting the buzzers hatching too. There were very few fish rising so assumed the fish were still holding in the deeper water.
Eventually, at the halfway point down the lake we spotted a couple of fish feeding so decided to target them. I was straight-lining a couple of olive buzzers with an orange blob on the point to act as an attractor, while George was fishing a tan apache fitted with a Stonfo Lure Lip. While we were busy chatting, the line on my buzzer rod shot off just after I'd handed it to George and he was into a nice rainbow. Unfortunately, it quickly slipped the hook...
The fishing was very hard and we only had a couple of hook-ups, but it was lovely to be back and it was a splendid way to spend the morning.
Saturday April 13th, 2019
We had another early start today and a two-hour drive in the new fishmobile from rural Cheshire to Stocks Reservoir in deepest Lancashire, where George was fishing with former England Youth Fly Fishing team member Ben Fox. The journey over was very scenic - we even spotted a couple of young deer on the drive through the Forest of Bowland, but the conditions weren't too favourable. It was sunny and very cold and windy.
While George was bobbing around getting some loch style tuition from Ben, I took the opportunity to walk up the bank towards the Northern Shallows and have a little solo fish. I found it very tough going. The wind was very strong and casting was a real challenge, particularly with the limited back casting space in many spots. I resorted to wading in the waves and casting into the headwind.
I fished for a couple of hours, freezing my face off in the process and developing a sore shoulder from the casting. I tried a range of techniques from lures to nymphs and even dries, but nothing worked and I didn't even see a fish move. I eventually gave up, ate my lunch and packed the gear away and went for a stroll instead.
When the boys arrived back at the dock they'd caught five between them - one for George and four for Ben - but they'd apparently found it tough going too. The fish were apparently right at the top of the reservoir in the Northern Shallows, where they'd found them on fast sinking lines and pulled lures. George had a great time and learned loads of new tips from Ben. If you want to improve your skills, you can book him for a very competitive price via his website Fly Guy.
Sunday April 14th, 2019
George and I recently joined a local private trout syndicate which is located, rather conveniently, just a few minutes from our home. We've generally had a 45-60 minute drive to get to most waters, so having somewhere to fish literally on our own doorstep is a dream come true. It means we'll be able to fish more often and fish evening rises. The lake itself is beautiful and set in some lovely countryside.
For our first trip to the lake we'd taken five weight rods, floating lines and scaled down line as we were expecting smaller fish. However, while the scaled-down gear seemed to get us plenty of bites, the trout were actually larger than expected. Within ten minutes, I'd taken three fish, the biggest of which was about three pounds.
George was getting loads of bites on his secret lure, but was struggling to keep them attached. The action was nothing short of spectacular. The fish were holding a couple of feet down and were taking pretty much everything I threw at them, though blue flash damsels did seem to be the preferred fly. They were hard fighters too, often going on quite long runs for trout and giving us great sport on the light gear.
In the space of two hours I'd landed 10 and lost twice as many. George managed three and eventually figured out why - he'd bent his hook straight and failed to check... We're looking forward to going back again over the spring and summer months!
Friday 19th April, 2019
After spending the day working on the new fishmobile, George and I popped down to the syndicate for an hour in the evening. The water was clear, there were a few larger rudd rising for flies and the odd trout was moving, but the very sunny bank holiday weekend weather seemed to have put them in the deeper water.
After trying dries for a while to see if we could get a fish to come up, we both eventually switched over to lures and were fishing damsels - George a lead-headed one - to get down a bit deeper. The fish were obviously a good few feet down as George was getting more bites than me and I'd only get a pull if I did a long countdown and a slower twiddle to keep my flies in the deeper water. An intermediate line might have been a good idea.
George was the first to catch, with a lovely rainbow falling victim to his damsel. The fish in the lake were fighting really well and this one was intent on taking him into the reeds. He eventually managed to net it and release unharmed.
The deep and slow approach was proving effective for me, with two nice fish following George's. We finished off with four for me and a couple for G, which wasn't bad work for an hour or two. Great to have this convenient fishing on the doorstep!
Monday 22nd April, 2019
George and I were back at the syndicate lake for a few hours fishing this morning before lunch. The weather was beautiful - very warm and sunny and, thankfully, a bit of a breeze to make the fishing a little less difficult. George had brought his little three weight rod as well as the usual five, but we couldn't find the rudd shoals today, so it got minimal use.
I was fishing klink and dink style, only with a blob replacing the usual nymph - let's call it klink and blob! Unorthodox it may be, but it was certainly effective. I was catching steadily all morning with a fish every ten or fifteen minutes, when George was struggling to catch at all.
The method seemed to work right across the lakes, though the two hot spots we'd found were between two large weed beds in the middle of the top lake and in the shade of a willow on the lower lake. Maybe the fish liked the shelter provided here, or perhaps there was lots of natural insect life in the water, but whatever it was, they also liked the blob!
We had a really great time and the lakes were looking stunning in the spring weather. We finished the morning with me on ten fish and George with one - though George's was a cracker at close to four pounds and it gave a tremendous fight on his bendy five weight.
Sunday 28th April, 2019
It was a relief to get back out on the bank again after a busy week at work and being battered yesterday by Storm Hannah. After doing some work on the Defender we popped down to the syndicate lake for a couple of hours before tea. It was looking lovely and there was a fresh breeze. Yesterday's torrential rain had topped the lake up nicely and the water was quite coloured.
I started off on a damsel again and was casting to the middle, counting down to 10 and then doing a very slow figure of eight retrieve back in. As usual, the bites were very delicate and a little hard to hit, so it took a while before fish number one was banked. It seems that every fish in the lake has been told about the weed beds and trees as the fish are all really dirty fighters, which makes the fishing quite exciting.
Eventually, I switched over to the blob and started catching a few more. They seemed to be a couple of feet down and wanted a near static fly, so I was letting it drop, giving a short pull and then letting it fall again. I decided to share the technique with George and he quickly caught up.
Pretty soon, we'd both got the method cracked and the fish were biting well. George hooked a superb fish of about four pounds which shot off to the other side of the lake and then into the trees, before eventually embedding itself in a reed bed immediately in front of us. Despite using barbless hooks, somehow he still managed to keep the fish attached and get it out of the weeds, but I did get wet legs trying to net it at range!
We both ended up with five fish each, which wasn't bad going for a quick two-hour session. We're absolutely loving having the fishing on our doorstep. A 10-minute drive there and back is so much better than the usual couple of hours. The fishing is excellent too!