Sunday 1st September 2019
We headed over to Staffordshire today to fish Blithfield from the boat for a bit of practice before George has the Youth Nationals on Grafham in a couple of weeks' time. When we arrived the weather was looking quite pleasant, but the wind soon picked up when we got out on the water.
We headed up to the causeway to drift along the wind lanes running diagonally across the lake. Although the drogue helped slow us down, we were really drifting fairly quickly and the water quickly got choppy the further we went from the shelter of the causeway wall. Both of us decided to fish dries to start off with. George was fishing a single claret hopper on a long leader, while I'd gone for an elk hair sighter and a smaller black dry on the point.
For the first hour or so I managed to get a hookup and had several fish swirl at the flies, but George was yet to get any interest. A move to the other side changed that and the fishing really seemed to pick up as the wind speed strengthened. The trick was to induce a take by tugging the dries and skimming them over the surface. The fish would slam them so hard they'd leap from the water in the process.
George's first fish took the flies as they were being lifted off and nearly pulled the rod out of his hands. While not huge fish they pulled extremely hard for their size. That was followed by another fish for me, and a second one for George to the same method. Unfortunately, the wind and waves got a bit too strong for comfortable fishing - with both of us starting to feel a bit green - so we decided to head back to dry land.
Sunday 8th September 2019
It was lovely and sunny when we arrived at Llandegla this morning. The air is starting to cool down a bit now and the fish in the lakes should be starting to feed a bit better than they were in the warmer months. As usual, we were both using two rods - one with a floating line and one with a sinking or intermediate.
The fish were biting quite freely from the off. However, the takes were incredibly subtle and they were proving rather tricky to hook. George, who was fishing a humungous on a Di3, seemed to be getting follow after follow, with fish just tugging at the tail of the fly, then gently plucking at it on the hang, but was struggling to catch.
By mid-morning, we'd had a few each. Mine had fallen to a mixture of buzzers and blobs, but it was the slow, sinuous movement of the humungous which proved the killer pattern today. A fantastic tiger took my fly on the lower lake, followed by a couple of nice rainbows on the top lake.
Just after lunch, things really picked up. We were getting loads of interest in the humungous, with George catching a stunning blue, several rainbows in quick succession and a beautiful brown trout. From being several fish behind me, he'd soon caught up.
He ended the session with yet another brown. A fantastically conditioned fish with perfect fins and incredible spots. All of them had taken the humungous twiddled back very slowly. Remarkably, at least half of them had been taken on the hang. It really proves that this isn't just a method for boats and can make a massive difference on the banks of stillwaters too.
Sunday September 15th, 2019
George was at Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire this weekend for the England Youth Nationals. Having never previously fished Grafham, or a reservoir on its scale, he was a bit nervous beforehand but had received some helpful pointers from competition angler Neil Cohen which we'd tested out on a practice session the previous day.
On practice day the conditions were flat calm and sunny, so the fishing was challenging for everyone. We got back to the dock with seven fish between us - four for me and three for George - but found this was well above the average, so he was feeling much less terrified than before. On the morning of the match, conditions looked to have improved, with a nice breeze adding some ripple.
George was delighted to be paired with England team member Oscar Hill who provided great company, moral support and helpful tips on flies and technique.
Oscar caught well in the morning, returning two fish and losing a couple of others, but unfortunately, George returned with no fish despite working through lines, flies and retrieves and eventually mirroring Oscar's successful methods.
He came back at the end of the day with two fish - which was a relief following the morning blank - but it did put him towards the bottom of the pack points-wise. There were some great performances by many of the juniors, with Harrison Douds winning for the second time, Isaac Slack defending his place after illness at the internationals, Albert Coales and Henry Smith earning a place on the team for the first time and Alexander Jaffrey returning on top form.
Amazingly, George did manage to get onto the team - as a travelling reserve - which was a big surprise. While obviously gutted with his sub-par performance in the morning session, with just one extra fish being enough to safely secure a spot on the team, it does mean he'll benefit from the training he needs to improve and which I'll struggle to provide, so it was a great result. There are some great kids on the team, who are both talented and great role models for the younger and less confident ones like George, so I'm sure he'll have a great time.
Sunday 22nd September, 2019
Ellerdine Lakes reopened after its annual summer shutdown recently, so we decided to pop over for the morning. The lakes are looking great and the team have done a really good job. The weed is pretty much non-existent, there's loads of extra bank space and there are several new fishable spots.
We struggled a bit today, unfortunately. After the usual humungous failed to get any attention, we turned to cormorants and blobs, which typically work quite well. I did get a hook-up on Meadow Lake using this method, but sadly missed lost the fish.
We tried a range of methods on all of the lakes but sadly failed to catch today. Some anglers had caught a few but the fishing seemed a bit tougher than usual, which is weird, as it fished quite well during the week. That said, it didn't stop us having a great time. The lakes are going to be brilliant this winter we reckon, with much more fishable space than last season.
Sunday 29th September 2019
We were over at Llandegla Fishery in North Wales today for the penultimate Corwen and District Angling Club junior coaching session of the season. Despite the inclement weather, six juniors had turned up, some of whom were very new to fly fishing.
Thankfully, there were plenty of helpful dads at today's session, so it was possible to spend a bit of time with each junior to try and teach them a few new things. A couple of them were taught to roll cast, a couple learned some new knots, while others learned about retrieves and techniques. George and James picked up their GAIA Gold badges too. It was great to see their skills improving so much in the space of a few hours.
Sadly, our accident report book got filled in today after James had a de-barbing accident involving a fingertip and a pink snake fly. It meant I got to test out my hook removal skills, which James survived largely unscathed and with all fingers still attached.
One of the new juniors, Felipe, proved he had the magic touch, hooking fish after fish. Unfortunately, he hadn't been striking quite hard enough to set the hook, but after a quick bit of guidance from one of the other juniors, he eventually landed one. He was ecstatic as was everyone else watching! Hopefully, we'll see some of them back again at future sessions.