Sunday, October 1st, 2017
After two trips to Ellerdine Lakes in a row since it re-opened, we opted for a bit of variety today, so took a short trip over to Westlow Mere in Cheshire. We started off in the corner nearest the path down to the lake and could see a few fish moving in the corner under the trees.
The wind was blowing into this corner, so presumably had taken the food with it, as the fish seemed to be stacked up in there feeding on something. I was testing out another new toy today - a Loop Evotec #4 rod so tied on a small black hopper and a small olive buzzer to see if I could tempt them. The wind made it too tricky to get the flies to the fish without catching the tree, though I did miss two fish in quick succession.
A move to the other side meant we could cast to them much more easily. The first fish was a couple of pounds and was a bit on the thin side, though the second, which also took the buzzer, was a bit stockier. Once I'd figured out how it was done, I passed the rod over to George so he could have a go. It only took a few attempts before the rod was bent double.
In a few hours we managed eight fish between us - five for me and three for George. Three or four of them (and several others we lost) took the buzzers fished washing line style, but the rest took the point fly - which changed between hopper or FAB depending on the conditions.
Given that we had to leave at lunchtime, eight fish in a morning session was pretty good going and they all fought like demons on the light gear, so it was excellent fun.
Final score: Matt 5, George 3.
Saturday, October 7th, 2017
Back at Ellerdine Lakes this morning for the start of a full weekend of fly fishing, in an attempt to keep George away from wet paint at home. The car park was busy today and there were 30 anglers fishing, so bank space was slightly tighter than usual. It was nice to meet a couple of the blog readers on the banks, too!
We started on the little lake today, as Ed had stocked it during the week with some fish for George to catch. Intent on trying to get a double hook up, he fished two blobs on the surface to see what would come up. Plenty of fish were hitting the flies - but they were all big roach, instead of trout!
Figuring that the trout might be deeper than the roach, George tied on a squirmy wormy instead and suspended it a few feet below an indicator. A few casts later and the first trout was on. It was a very hard fighting little thing, with a beautiful robust shape and a cracking set of fins.
On the bigger lakes, the fishing seemed a bit challenging. There were a few bent rods here and there, but nobody was pulling out loads of fish. We tried a few methods, from single lures pulled on a floating line, to buzzers and blobs, and snakes ripped across the top. I eventually hooked my first fish on Cranymoor, which again put up an excellent fight.
After breakfast, George managed to hook one on a snake fly but it came off, and we both had a few follows when retrieving quickly, but neither of us managed to get anything to stay attached. We, therefore, decided to have a sit down for a while and fish with indicators to see if any of the more sedate feeders could be tempted.
It only took ten minutes before George's indicated started to bob. The fish hooked itself and shot away with the line, doing its best to take the line through the weed bed to break itself free. Incredibly, it stayed attached and was in the net a couple of minutes later.
With no further interest, apart from nibbles from the little perch in the lake, we decided to wander around and do a spot of stalking. You can often catch fish at Ellerdine without casting, just by creeping up on them and wiggling a fly enticingly in front of them. We found a lovely brown - about five or six pounds in weight - patrolling beneath the trees at the top of Lakemoor.
There was no room to cast under the trees, so George just reeled in the spare line and suspended the fly in front of his route then started wiggling it as he approached. The first fly - a squirmy - got looked at, but ignored, so he chopped it off and tried a little buzzer he'd been given by Fred Bainbridge at the Troutmasters Finals.
I wasn't expecting it to work, given its lack of weight or bulk, but the trout did come over for a look and for a moment looked like he was going to suck it up, but then got a glimpse of George and I and turned away... We decided we'd let him win and headed home.
Final score: Matt 1, George 4.
Sunday, 8th October, 2017
We were ushered out of the house away from wet paint again today, so, obviously, decided to go fly fishing. We decided to pop over to Meadow Fishery in Mickle Trafford for a few hours, but were warned upon arrival that the fishing would be tough.
All of the people we spoke to hadn't had a bite, so we wandered around the middle and bottom lakes to see if we could winkle one out. A couple of anglers had found a pod of trout on the middle lake, and invited us to fish on the adjacent pegs.
They were a long way out and were being driven further out of casting range by the angling pressure, so reaching them was hard work. Eventually, I managed to get one of them to take a tiny olive cormorant twiddled back slowly, but it was George (again) who really got the method cracked.
Using a new blue flash damsel he'd picked up in the shop when we arrived, he was getting follow after follow. He'd chuck out a very long line, wait a second or two and then strip back quickly until the fish followed, creating big bow waves in the process. Most of them came off, but he eventually landed one.
While I was chatting to one of the other anglers, he managed to hook and lose another much bigger fish, then landed a second fish, before finally losing the new lucky fly in the trees behind. Apparently, while I'd been nattering, the fishing had been amazing and he was getting fish chasing the fly back after every cast. Given that most people blanked, a 2:1 victory was a worthy win!
Final score: Matt 1, George 2.
Sunday October 15th, 2017
George received an early Christmas present this week in the form of a Loop Evotec rod, funded by selling off some of his old gear. After spending the night cuddling the rod (I kid you not), he was keen to put it through its paces, so had picked his favourite Ellerdine Lakes for today's venue.
We arrived at Ellerdine before 8am this morning to find only a few regulars present and the lakes looking quite fishy. Seeing as the hotspot at the top of Meadow was free, we started there. George missed a fish first cast. So did I. We both had fish follow the flies to the bank, as well as a few little plucks, but nothing stuck.
Eventually, I managed one nice rainbow of about two or three pounds on an Ellerdine Enigma, and then decided to give the little lake a try. The fish were really on the feed in this lake. Within forty minutes George had landed six fish, all on an Ellerdine Enigma bought in the shop that morning. After a brief interlude, so I could have a try on one of the other lakes, we came back to see if George could get to double figures before breakfast.
It was literally a pull a cast. They were feeding ravenously on pretty much anything you threw at them. By sandwich o'clock, he'd hit 10 fish. After we'd been fortified by an excellent breakfast, we returned to see if he could hit 20. This time, he changed from a single fly to a team of two or three: an Enigma on the point and two blobs on the droppers.
The fishing got harder as the day wore on, but remained exciting, with several more fish netted. Number 15 caused quite a surprise. On the retrieve we could see it had taken the top dropper, but it shook the hook free. However, it had also taken the point fly in the corner of the mouth, so remained attached!
After a short spell of losing fish after fish, George eventually hooked up again, this time to something feeling rather heavier. However, it turned out to be not one, but two fish. I managed to net the top fish for him, but the bottom one managed to slip the hook as the line went slack.
Keen to hit a new personal best of 20 trout, he stuck at it, but getting past 19 was beginning to look very tough indeed. Every time the 20th was on the line it would somehow throw the hooks and break free. At long last, one final rainbow did make it to the net and George was over the moon. I'd been utterly thrashed 20:1, but it was almost as fun watching him catch as it would have been catching them myself.
Final score: Matt 1, George 20.
Sunday 22nd October, 2017
With Storm Brian still howling as the alarm clock went off at 6am, I thought it was probably worth having a little lie in to avoid the worst of the weather. By 7.30am the wind had dropped and we arrived at Ellerdine with only a strong breeze. It was hard to see what all the fuss was about...
Our trip to the Lakes today coincided with the England Youth team's training weekend, so we bumped into a few familiar faces in the lodge, including Ben Thompson from the Angling Trust, fly fishing legend Charles Jardine and several Junior Troutmasters finalists - Alex Jaffrey, James Mockridge and Jake Leake - who are now all on the England team.
We started on the side of Meadow, thrusting our flies into a powerful headwind. With no bites for 10 minutes, we wandered over to Marsh Lake. George and I both had follows from a brown that was cruising the surface waters, but who we couldn't persuade to take our flies. Eventually, I hooked a rainbow by the overhanging willow after enticing it to take by wiggling my fly a foot below the surface with a figure eight retrieve, but the fish weren't really feeding hard.
Over on Meadow, the wind was blowing hard and changing direction every few minutes, making the casting somewhat challenging. Near the reeds, we bumped into fellow Junior Troutmasters finalists Alexander Jaffrey and James Mockridge. James was fishing a black daddy long legs pattern into the choppy water by the reed beds and was getting some interest from a lovely brown, which he eventually hooked and George netted for him.
We had a few follows, but couldn't persuade anything to hit the flies, though we saw a few fish mouth them, without feeling the bite and we must have pulled the fly straight back out of their mouths as we struck.
A wander over to Cranymoor saw George hook and land a nice rainbow trout at distance on his tan apache. There seemed to be a few fish feeding on the far bank, including some browns, which were chasing the flies back but proving really tricky to hook.
A change of fly, from the tan apache to a pale pink FNF Jelly Ellerdine Enigma, resulted in a nice fish for me. A jerky retrieve towards the reedbed on Cranymoor led to what I thought was a brown trout slashing at the fly on the retrieve.
A quick pause and everything tightened up as the fish took the fly and shot off at about a hundred miles an hour! It wasn't a brown, but tiger trout number two. Funny that I've now caught two in the same spot and lost several others, all within metres of each other...
With another rainbow each on Cranymoor - George's on an Okey Dokey buzzer and mine on the Enigma - we headed over to the little lake to finish off for the day. The fish in there had never seen so much angling pressure, with about half of the England Youth team all trying their luck for the plentiful rudd and trout. After Jake caught one on the far side, George followed it up on the nearside bank to put us both on three fish each.
Final score: Matt 3, George 3.
Sunday 29th October, 2017
After three trips to Ellerdine in a row, we thought we'd try a trip to nearby Llandegla Trout Fishery in rural Wrexham instead today. Apart from one other fly fisher, we had the whole place to ourselves.
It was a chilly morning and, while the lower lake was flat calm, there was a nice ripple on the upper lake, with the wind blowing down the lake into the near corner. We figured the fish would have followed the food down that end, so we got started there - George with a tan apache, and me with... the same.
In my first six casts I managed to hook six fish and land two! It looked like the fishing was going to be epic, but the wind suddenly dropped and the bites dried up completely. It went completely dead and our killer fly was being ignored. George moved over to the bottom lake to try fishing the stream that flows into the top end.
Borrowing my Loop Evotec #5 rod with Sunray Marsden Hi Vis shooting head, he'd tied on a squirmy wormy and had suspended it beneath a bung. That clearly worked, as I saw him strike at several fish, before eventually hooking and landing one.
With the fishing now proving a bit challenging, I tried moving around on the upper lake, while George fished the lower one. For an hour or two, we both had virtually no action - bar the odd swirl or pull.
A switch to buzzers got me fish number three - a lovely rainbow - which took one of the quill buzzers Freddie Bainbridge gave to George, and which I'd nicked for the day!
After lunch, we tried fishing the corner again using one of Martin Cooper's excellent tungsten headed white apache flies. They're deadly. I had a pull on the first cast and hooked and landed a fish on the second.
George asked to have a go and also managed to hook up too! His fish put up a great scrap on the #5 rod, taking him very deep and then going left, then right, then across the lake. Eventually, he managed to get it near the net and scoop it up. It was only a few pounds, but you'd never have guessed that from the way it fought.
Final score: Matt 4, George 3.