Saturday 17th March, 2018
We had an unusually slow start to the month, thanks to The Beast From The East bringing a shedload of snow to the region, followed by a weekend with a broken car. By mid-March, we were desperate to get back out on the bank, but The Beast From The East II brought even more snow...
Despite the lack of fishing, George did receive something fly fishing related in the post: his first Gold Troutmasters badge. Not only was it his first one, but it was also the first one awarded in the UK in 2018. He also made it through to the Finals of Junior Troutmasters for the third year in a row - which is not bad given that he's only ten.
If you've got children and want to get them into fly fishing, we can highly recommend Troutmasters. It's run by Trout Fisherman magazine and gives children (and grown ups) the opportunity to win badges for catching the largest fish.
Five badges from different fisheries gets you a gold, while winning a fish-off gives you the opportunity to meet other like-minded people, learn new skills and get through to the Grand Final, which takes place at Thrunton Long Crag for juniors and Draycote Water for seniors.
Saturday 24th March, 2018
After three weeks of no fishing - due to a combination of two snow storms and one broken car - it was a relief to finally get back out on the bank. Even better, Mrs Fly and Lure had granted us permission for an entire weekend of fishing (I think she must enjoy the peace and quiet). We opted for a trip to Llandegla, where we knew we'd stand a good chance of catching.
I started off fishing a couple of buzzers on my #6 Loop Evotec, while George was fishing a secret fly on his #5 Evotec with a floating line. The fish were feeding well, obviously enjoying the slightly warmer weather, and I'd taken two nice rainbows in the first ten minutes. George was quick to catch up, with his secret fly nailing two fish and getting him several short-lived hook-ups.
As he continued to get pulls to his secret lure, and my buzzers had gone off the boil, I pondered a change of fly and picked a recently-tied hothead damsel on a size 12 and with a short marabou tail and a dubbed marabou body. It quickly transpired, that George had borrowed (as in "to take and never get back") one of the very same flies, but he was still getting a lot more bites than me.
By lunchtime, he'd managed four rainbows and a lovely brown, while I was still on just three rainbows. He was fishing quite strategically. I generally fish in a fairly relaxed manner, chucking my fly here and there and using a variety of countdowns, but he was being much more methodical than I and had figured out the feeding depth long before I did.
After a spectacular (and free!) lunch, courtesy of Simon and Zoe, we got back over to House Pool to see if they were still biting. As is often the case after lunch, the fish had become a bit more fickle and were proving much harder to tempt. It really pays to have an early start on your fly fishing trips as the fish generally bite best at the beginning of the day.
On the first chuck, I caught a nice blue on the top lake, which took the hothead damsel as I fished it slowly along the margin, while George caught another blue on the lower lake using the same method. Mine gave a gentle tap on the fly during the retrieve, but didn't hit firmly. I hung the fly and let it drop back down under the rod tip, with the telltale movement of the line indicating that the fish had snaffled it. Lifting gently was all it took to hook the fish. Both fish were superb fighters and in really good shape. The cold weather has obviously not bothered them in the slightest, as Llandegla's probably had a lid of ice for quite a while, I guess.
Things got tougher as the afternoon progressed, but George was still slaying - his technique was working repeatedly. He was gently flicking a line along the reeds or the bank, counting down to about 20 and then doing short strips with pauses, so that the fly dropped and then rose. This proved too much for a tiger to resist, and he managed to get the grand slam he'd been after for a while - rainbow, brown, blue and tiger!
We ended up on 12 fish between us, which is a sneaky way of saying that he beat me 7:5! If you're near the Wrexham area, Llandegla is well worth a visit. The staff are always friendly, the food is excellent and we always have a great day of fishing there.
Final score: Matt 5, George 7.
Sunday 25th March, 2018
The clocks went forward today marking the start of British Summer Time and, surprisingly, the weather actually felt quite spring-like. About time, too. We arrived at Ellerdine at about 9.30, stocked-up on some supplies (some new hooks and a selection of new FNF fly tying materials) and got started on Lakemoor.
While it was a beautiful day, with the sun shining and the lambs bleating, it was a pretty challenging one for fly fishing. It was pretty much flat calm on every lake and it was a struggle to get a bite. George managed an early hook-up on the margins of Lakemoor using the same fly which brought him good luck yesterday, while I had a pull to my buzzers near the reed beds.
We spent the morning moving from lake to lake to see if we could find any feeding fish. Marsh Lake, which was practically overflowing today, was the most fishy looking and we timed our visit there with a nice bit of wind which brought some ripple into the biggest bay. We figured the fish would follow this wind so fish into the headwind to see what may come. It didn't take long for both of us to hook up - both within the space of minutes, and both to decent sized trout. However, they sadly managed to shake free.
After breakfast, we tried Meadow Lake where George has another fish attached for a short while. Clearly an above-average trout, it ploughed off down the lake creating a bow wave and then stopped dead and shook its head violently, throwing the hooks. Sensing a potential blank on the way, we headed to the little lake to see if anything would bite there.
The water has obviously warmed up a lot there, as the rudd and roach were topping on the surface, so George didn't need any persuading to tie on a dry fly. A few casts later and he was into a fish - though it was a trout, not the rudd he was targeting. At least it saved him from a blank, unlike me!
Final score: Matt 0, George 1.
Saturday March 31st, 2018
What a difference a day makes. We went out for a walk with the dog yesterday and the temperatures were in double figures, but it was just a few degrees when we arrived at Ellerdine Lakes for the Junior Troutmasters fish offs. And it was raining. I'd therefore picked the wrong day to leave my jacket at home.
As George is already through to the finals of Junior Troutmasters - his third year in a row - I don't think he was really taking things that seriously and I think he was just fishing for fun. He hadn't really gone into the competitive mode he usually enters when he fishes alongside me, anyway.
Fishing his trusty hot head damsel, he was getting pulls from the start. However, after the first couple of hours he still hadn't landed a fish, despite getting lots of pulls and a number of very short-lived hook-ups.
Young Harry Forrester had made an impressive start and had already weighed in his two fish, one of which was 8lb 15oz, so George and the other youngsters knew they needed a double to win the match, and I don't think that did much to spur them on and get them trying any harder. As the heaviest two fish win, George was playing a tactical game fishing the bigger lakes holding the larger trout, instead of catching two easier fish on the small lake early on.
Apart from Harry, who'd found the fish and was pulling out plenty, not many of the other juniors managed to catch on Ellerdine's larger lakes, and by lunchtime most of them were having fun on the little lake instead. George's friend James had caught several great nice little trout on his white lure, as had fellow junior Ben.
Later in the afternoon James hooked into something much bigger - a salmon. It's the third one he's caught from the lake and it gave him a great fight, taking around five minutes to get to the net. George slipped the net under it and we weighed it in at seven pounds. After a quick picture - in which James possibly couldn't have looked much more pleased - we watched it swim back off to be caught by another youngster.
George eventually landed his two fish and weighed in, achieving fourth spot, a few ounces behind James, whose salmon unfortunately didn't count in the match which was trout only. The juniors all had an excellent time and it will be great to see another Ellerdine regular at the finals in July!
Final score: George 2.