Sunday 4th November, 2018
With the weather conditions looking ideal for trout fishing, we set off to Ellerdine Lakes bright and early to make the most of it. It was already fairly busy when we arrived with a good dozen anglers on the bank by the 8am opening time. We managed to bag what looked like a good spot at the bottom of Lakemoor, with me starting off with a tan apache on the Triangle Taper clear intermediate and George with a brown mini snake on his Sixth Sense Di3.
Oddly, not much was moving at this end of the lake and after changing flies and lines a couple of times, we decided to wander over to Meadow. The bottom end of this lake always fishes very well when the wind is blowing into it, but as you'd imagine, all of the best spots were occupied, so we fished the side and cast across instead. George had a fish swirl at his fly on the first cast, with me stupidly missing a follow by lifting off too quickly at the end of the cast. Eventually, something snaffled the tan apache as I slowly twiddled it back. It was a good fish of about two and a half pounds and it pulled like a train!
After stopping for a quite spectacular breakfast, we moved up to the top of Meadow to fish the spit. There's still a big weed bed up here, despite Ed's effort to get rid of it, but at least it's making the water clear and giving the fish plenty to feed upon. There were certainly a few fish hanging around it and we saw another angler pull a few out, though couldn't persuade any to take our flies, so headed over to Marsh. A change of tactics to the indicator method and a sit down did the trick, with a fish pulling at the fly first cast - which I missed. It came back moments later when I was a bit more alert, helping reach a two fish lead on George.
A few other fish took an interest in the fly but wouldn't stay attached. Eventually, I managed to time the strike right and set the hooks properly and a third fish was on. It decided that it was going to try and take me into one of the trees - I don't think it cared which - so I had to use side strain and give it a bit of pressure to prevent being broken off. Thankfully I did manage to overpower it and George slipped the net under it for me.
We finished the day on the little lake. It wasn't as easy on here as it sometimes is, so George had to work quite hard for the bites. He tried several methods, from lures on intermediate and sinking lines to various things dangled beneath an indicator, but it was pulling that finally helped him catch his first fish. The fish was also bigger than usual for this lake, so gave a great account of itself on George's lighter tackle.
Sunday 10th November, 2018
George won a couple of Troutmasters badges recently and is now on nine for the year. With just one more badge required to get his second Gold Troutmasters badge of 2018, we figured we may as well visit one of the fisheries from which he hadn't yet qualified to see if he could do it. However, we've run out of local Troutmasters venues, so had to take a two-hour journey back to our former home in the Yorkshire Dales to visit Kilnsey Park.
It was foggy when we arrived around 8am and looked pretty good fishing wise, with several fish moving on the top. We'd both opted to fish lures to start with and were each using a 15-17' leader of Wychwood Lure Mode fluorocarbon and something big and fluffy on the end - George one of his own white apaches, and me with one of my favourite tan ones. The first few casts either side of the pier led to a few hook-ups. I managed to lose a brown, then a rainbow on consecutive casts, but George actually managed to land the first fish he hooked!
After a while, we decided to move around the lake to the rear bank which lies beneath the spectacular backdrop of Kilnsey Crag. There appeared to be a good shoal of fish in front of us and they did seem quite keen on chasing lures. Hooking them wasn't so easy, as they were slamming the flies fast on the way in and swimming towards you as you struck, making it very hard to set the hooks. After several misses, I caught a couple nice rainbows on the apache and then switched over to a white humongous - a move which George copied, when he saw the reaction it triggered.
The humungous moved differently in the water to the apache and the trout seemed to love it. On the second cast, my line locked up on a very big fish whose weight made it clear it was no average stockie. Keeping up with it proved very tricky and it ran towards me, causing me to need to run backwards up a slippery bank to remain in contact. As it turned, its full weight pulled down on the hook and it went ping. An inspection of the hook revealed why - it had been almost straightened!
A few casts later and I followed this up with a couple of other fish, and then George hooked something truly massive. It was putting up an impressive scrap and moving fairly quickly for what was obviously a pretty hefty fish. It did several big runs and headed into the weeds a couple of times in an effort to free the hook. Mid-fight I told George it was at least five pounds, but as it tired and came nearer the net it became apparent that it was a fraction larger than that!
Thankfully, we were using my big salmon net today, as I think it would probably not have fitted into the regular net and would surely have bent its handle. We were both shocked by the size of the fish once netted. The girth was massive, the fins were as big as George's hands and my hand comfortably fit into its capacious gob when unhooking it!
Our weigh net scales, which don't seem the most reliable now the net is a few years' old, put the fish's weight between 11 and 12 pounds, but it definitely looked and felt a lot bigger than that - we reckoned closer to 15. George was seriously chuffed with it and it went back safe and well after a long rest in the margins getting its breath back.
As the morning went on the fishing got a lot harder and the fish stopped chasing and turned their fancy to static baits fished beneath indicators instead. We managed one more each, but were intentionally trying to avoid the temptation to watch an indicator all day, so stuck at it with lures, buzzers and nymphs instead. The fish were still biting for us, but had become much harder to hook, so the afternoon was a lot less frenetic than the morning.
We had a great day at Kilnsey and even bumped into a few fly fishers we know from Instagram, including Gary and Lucinda Ewin, who'd travelled down from near Durham to bring their children for a fly fishing lesson; former England Youth Team member Ben Fox, and much to George's delight - none other than Marina Gibson, who we even managed to persuade to have a quick snap to go on George's bedroom wall. Mission accomplished!
Saturday 24th November, 2018
After a rare weekend without fishing due to me being on an Angling Trust coaching course and then someone driving into the back of Mrs Fly&Lure's Land Rover, it was a relief to finally get back on the bank. Seeing as it's winter, we opted for a trip to Ellerdine Lakes in Shropshire, which is one of our favourite venues.
We were both on floating lines today. George was using a Barrio GT90 on his Loop Evotec #5, while I'd gone for a Wychwood Rocket Distance line on my #6 Loop Cross SX. He'd gone for a white humongous on the point and I'd picked the usual tan apache. We bumped into regular Paul Law in the car park who gave us one of his brown leggy cormorants, so these got tied to the droppers!
We started at the top end of Meadow Lake, where one angler was already catching on the point. There seemed to be a big pod of fish immediately in front of him but they were out of reach of everyone else. Our longest 80-90 foot casts resulted in a couple of very short-lived hook-ups, but it was too hard to keep the flies in the zone and set the hooks properly at distance, so we opted to move on rather than encroach on his spot.
Over on the little lake George was quickly into the fish, hooking and losing several good trout and eventually landing a nice 2-3 pound one. By now, he'd switched to a size 8 white humongous which really seemed to take their fancy. The trick was to cast it along the margin and let it drop, then pull it back with a jerky retrieve, followed by fishing the hang at the end of the cast. Number one was quickly followed by a second fish.
After spending an hour on the little lake we headed over to Cranymoor where George almost immediately found the fish in the bottom corner furthest from the lodge. Again, the white humongous proved deadly. In several casts he connected to a couple of fish, landing one of them after a tremendous scrap.
His third fish was followed by another, also on the huey. I wasn't getting any interest to my flies, despite changing patterns and methods repeatedly. I put on the closest patterns I could find to George's humongous, but the best I had was a follow or two. Annoyingly for me, he then caught another one!
Eventually, on the top side of Cranymoor I did eventually catch a fish. Mine took a black humongous, snapping at the fly a couple of times during the retrieve and then eventually grabbing it on the hang. It was nice to have avoided a blank, but my chances of catching up with George were looking slim.
More fish followed to George's fly on the little lake, Lakemoor and Cranymoor, with a final fish coming on Meadow, leaving him on eight fish and me on just one. While I was certainly near the bottom of the catch returns for the day, George was very near the top and he was chuffed to have thrashed me by such a massive margin!