Saturday, July 6th, 2019
With the Junior Troutmasters Final only a few weeks away, George and I were granted an extra fishing trip this weekend to give him the chance to get some extra practice. We'd planned to visit Treetops Fly Fishery but got stuck in traffic for so long that it made more sense to pop over to Llandegla for a few hours instead.
The weather was a bit sultry and the water was like tepid bathwater, so the fish weren't looking at their best. However, lots of them were still feeding hard, especially around the inlet from the upper lake where the water must have been better oxygenated.
I'd opted to fish a floating line, but George had carried two rods - one with a floater and one with a Di3. He was hooking fish left, right and centre on the Di3 - though not landing very many at range. He was fishing deeper than me and was able to strip faster than I was and that did seem to give him the edge.
Within the space of a couple of hours, we'd both had three fish. However, George could easily have had three times that number had they all stayed attached. He blamed not being able to set the hook well enough as they were taking when he was retrieving so quickly...
Saturday 13th July 2019
We were up at 6 am this morning for a trip over to Llyn Brenig in North Wales. When we left Cheshire it was warm, balmy and sunny but when we arrived at Brenig it was cold, wet and windy - and we'd left the waders and waterproof trousers at home...
We tried a few spots in the first couple of hours but really struggled to find the fish. After stopping for a coffee to dry out and warm ourselves up in the cafe, we decided to try a drift up towards the dam wall. That proved to be an excellent decision, as there were clearly loads of fish feeding ravenously.
I was fishing three flies on an 18' leader on a Di7 line, while George was fishing a natural coloured zonker on a Di3. He was hooking loads more than me but was struggling to set the hook. However, after a while, we soon got the knack of it and were catching a fish or two every drift.
A slow retrieve seemed to be most effective, but some of the fish were also taking the flies straight off the top or swirling at them on the hang. On one drift, both George and I also both managed to get double hook-ups! The power of one Brenig trout is pretty impressive, but two at once is really something else.
The fishing was so good that we skipped lunch and kept fishing for as long as we could. By the time we had to head home for dinner at 2.30pm we'd lost count of the number we'd landed - easily well over a dozen each.
It just shows what you get from keeping mobile. By mid-morning, we thought we were heading for a blank but it turned out to be a spectacular day on the water.
Sunday, July 14th, 2019
The weather today was warmer than yesterday so we popped over to Llandegla for a few hours over lunch. There were quite a few other anglers fishing the lakes but the action was slow and the fish fairly hard to tempt, due to the thundery weather.
I managed to hook a good fish of around four pounds on the top pool after just a few casts, which did its very best to take me into the weed beds. After a nail-biting scrap, George finally slid the net under it for me. The lucky fly, a black lure with UV straggle fritz is an old pattern I'd had a lot of success with a few years ago.
Meanwhile, on the little lake, George was getting some practice for next week's Troutmasters Finals by seeing how many fish he could land in fifteen minutes. Before long, he had it nailed and was averaging a fish every 50 seconds!
Back on the top lake, I fished the far side of the top bay and had another decent fish on the first cast. Again, it put up an excellent fight and ran right to the far side, presumably to try and snag itself in the weeds again. Clever things these Llandegla rainbows!
After a spot of lunch, we had a final try on the lower pool again. We were both getting lots of follows to our black lures, but as usual, George was getting much more interest than me. I don't know what his trick is! He ended the day with a really stunning brown, giving him around 10 or 12 nice fish for the day, compared to my three!
Saturday 20th July 2019
We were six hours north of rural Cheshire today for the Junior Troutmasters Finals at the stunning Thrunton Long Crag Fishery, not far from Alnwick in Northumberland. This was George's fourth year in a row in the finals and he was fishing against 30 other mad keen junior fly fishers, including his friends Matthew Davies and fellow CADAC member James Penwright.
He got off to a quick start, hooking and landing the first fish of the match in under a minute. That's a useful thing in the Troutmasters Finals because it gives you a time bonus on other anglers which in the event of a draw on fish numbers. If you end up on the same number of fish, the fastest fish wins.
The conditions weren't easy during the match, with most of the juniors finding the fishing hard going. You wouldn't think it, but for the parents, watching competitive junior fly fishing is not the most relaxing of experiences and most of us were running out of fingernails to bite by the time the match was nearing its end.
A few of the youngsters had caught one or two, but George did seem to be ahead. By the end of the match I'd seen him with six at the net, but apparently, he managed to bump three off (the competition is entirely barbless and is done on a catch and release basis) so he only ended up with three.
That was enough to put him in the lead. Fellow junior Charlie Southworth had been causing George to quake in his boots near the end, catching three fish in a short period of time. However, George's time bonus meant he took the first place spot. Sadly, young James didn't catch in the final so got knocked out, which was a shame as he's really talented and tried exceptionally hard.
In the afternoon match, friend Matthew Davies was fishing as hard as he could but conditions had worsened and the match ended with 10 anglers catching just two fish between them. It was really disappointing for them as they'd really all tried very hard, but the fish just weren't having it.
Sunday 21st July, 2019
For the Grand Final conditions had worsened somewhat. The weather was changing from hot sunshine to cold and overcast and the wind had really picked up. By the start of the match there was a really strong wind battering the bottom side of the lake.
George's tactic for the match was to try something different. The Di3 line he'd had success with was replaced with a Di7 to get down deeper and the dries were switched for an indicator set up with a long leader and a longer depth. Unfortunately, the peg drawn meant George was straight into the headwind for several pegs and was fishing over a big weed bed, so the choice of line turned out to be the wrong one.
A couple of pegs on and the Di7 was swapped over to the Di3 and we could see George going through various flies, leaders and line changes trying to find out what would work. None of the anglers on George's side of the lake was catching at all, but the anglers on the back bank were starting to pull out a few fish.
By the time George reached the area with the feeding fish, half a dozen anglers had thrashed the water and pulled out a few. He managed to hook and lose a fish on a dry and then hooked and landed another. As soon as he vacated his spot, a shoal moved through and the next angler pulled out two fish in five minutes...
As the match neared the end, it looked like four anglers had taken a couple of fish. In the last peg of the match, George eventually found a method that worked. An orange apps bloodworm on the Di3 twitched back. One fish followed, with two others lost at range. He finished the match with a single fish, as the first turned out to be foul-hooked, sadly.
Tough going, but all of the juniors fished really well in difficult conditions and often strong winds. Results-wise each angler in the first, second, third and fourth places had caught two fish, with placing coming down to the timings of their fish!
George managed to win the prize for Most Consistent and still had a great time, despite the stresses of the match. As usual, the staff at Thrunton, the stewards and coaches from GAIA who support the event and Sam and Ian from Trout Fisherman did a spectacular job on the event and everyone had a great time.
Sunday 28th July 2019
George and I were coaching with Corwen and District Angling Club at Llandega in North Wales today. Despite the heavy rain that had been falling for two days, we still had four juniors turn up for some free fly fishing tuition.
The fishing wasn't the easiest today but George managed to help a couple of them get into their first fish and they all went away with smiles on their faces, which was good going given the weather!