Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

Fishy Business

Some of you may have noticed that there is not a lot of actual fishing going on here, lot’s of  ‘how to get your fly out there’ but not a lot of what to do once the fish has taken the fly.

 I went on my first serious fishing trip thirty eight years ago, on my honeymoon, with some very cheap gear I bought from an ad in the local paper. Solid glass rod, very cheap and nasty fixed spool reel and a line that lay coiled on top of the water. Don’t ask me what turned fishing into an obsession, I honestly don’t know. I do know I enjoyed the solitude (not on my honeymoon, obviously) and the vast magority of my early fishing was on my own, it was never a social thing. This may explain why I was never a brilliant angler, but I caught enough to keep me happy. I also started sea fishing in the winter, mostly from the shore. I don’t know why I took up fly fishing, it was probobly something to do in the course fishing close season, and why I continued to do it is even more of a mystery when you concider I first started on Darwell reserviour. In those days a one pound fish was a good one and a lot were in the 12 to 14oz bracket (and I didn’t catch many of them either). This was the good old pre cormorant days when fisheries could get away with stocking fish under two pounds. I blanked so many times. The flies we used back then still retain their magic for me, and evoke a lot of happy memories. Invicta, Peter Ross, Dunkeld, Grey Duster, Mallard and Claret. One fly was supposed to be the one to tie on when things got tough, the Black and Peackock Spider, everyone’s ‘get out of jail’ fly. I have never, in 38 years, caught one fish on that bloody fly!. As I have stated in a previous post, every cast was an adventure, I never knew quite where it was going or what I would snag the fly on next.

 Luckily for me Bewl Bridge ( as Bewl Water was then known)  opened  and I had my first taste of decent trout fishing, my God those fish could fight and they were often over 2lbs, a revelation to me at the time. I fished Bewl most weeks for a couple of years, I must have caught hundreds of trout, I had a problem even giving them away. It was the norm back then to catch your limit (six fish) and go and buy another ticket, if there was time. I just don’t want to do that these days. I am happy to kill the occassional fish for the table, or a friend, but the thought of having to kill every fish I catch just doesn’t appeal anymore. That is why I switched to smaller fisheries that allowed c&r although I have got a bit tired of these as well. Part of my problem is that I just don’t enjoy driving for two or three of hours just to fish. I now enjoy two or three special trips a year, Hungary for Asp on Lake Balaton, the Test for Grayling, and this year I am determined to fish the Don, instead of standing in a field casting, at the Sexyloops get together in Scotland in May. I may even get a morning in on Mike Barrios Haddo fishery before I have to catch my plane.

 I keep meaning to have a go at Swaffing, I live quite close to the coast. I just haven’t got round to it… yet

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April 28, 2009 Posted by | Fly Fishing | , | Leave a comment

Wild?, I’m F****** Furious!

I am starting this post without a title yet, when I do give it one it may turn out to be an expletive.

 I’m a pretty laid back sort of bloke, a sort of live and let live sort of person, you do your thing and I’ll do mine and provided we don’t interfere with each other’s pleasure we can co-exist very nicely, thank you.

 Currently there is a debate going on somewhere else that has polarised attitudes to fishing for wild or stocked trout. That ‘somewhere else’ is someone else’s camp fire and I am not going to piss on it. This is my campfire and I can say what I damn well like.

 On the one hand there are (the majority, I think) who are more than happy to have somewhere to fish for trout that have been stocked. Pretty well all reservoirs that cater for fly fishing fall into this category. These can be huge waters and the majority of fish in them are over wintered and have become naturalised to the point of being ‘wild’ to all intents and purposes. Their food is not supplemented, they feed naturally. I don’t have a clue what the stocking density is on reservoirs but lets take a look at what it might be like at somewhere like Bewl Water. Bewl is 770 acres, say we stock at 100 fish per acre, that’s 77,000 fish. Say 25% are lost from predation, illness and poaching (19,250)  and 35,000 are caught and taken, that leaves 22,750 to overwinter and grow on, and who knows how many of these last several seasons before they get caught? Can these fish now be deemed ‘wild’?, I think so. Sure, there are those who will fish areas that stock fish have recently been introduced and fill their boots with easy pickings, not my scene, but it takes all sorts. In fact I don’t fish these places very often because they are catch and kill and I have had my share of catching and killing, I much prefer to catch and release, with the option to take the odd fish to eat if I want to. This does leave us C&R types open to the argument that we now treat fish as a play thing rather than food but Course (bait) anglers have always done it so I don’t see a problem really.

 There are situations where stocking is, at best, questionable. Famous chalk streams like the Test or Itchen are stocked quite heavily so that some rich bugger, out on a corporate day, gets to land a 3lb brownie. OK, they pay a fortune for the privilege (?) but it has ruined the reputation of both rivers, on some stretches. I have fished the Upper Itchen for trout, they weren’t very big, they were quite spooky and, in a lot of places, the challenge was to get the fly on the water in the first place. I have fished the Test as well but only in the winter, for Grayling.

 Now we come to the bit that has made my blood boil.

 There are those that look down their noses at us poor sods who have the audacity to claim that the majority of us that have to fish for stocked fish are really not fly fisher’s at all. No, we are ‘Stockie Bashers’, ‘Fish Mongers’, scum of the earth, basically not fit to lick the boots of a genuine wild fish fly fisher. Well, some of us just aren’t located in a geographically wild trouty sort of place. I would be very surprised if there was a genuine wild trout within 200 miles of me at this moment; so what would be the environmental cost of me jumping into my car and driving those 200 miles to search this poor little fish out?, and, when I caught all 6” of it, driving 200 miles home?. OK, I could now class myself as a genuine fly fisher, but at what cost?.  What if I went the whole hog and jumped on a plane and crossed the World to catch a wild fish. Well, for one thing, in the majority of places, that trout wouldn’t be there in the first place if someone hadn’t put it’s great, great, great, great grand mother there first. Wild?, natural?, yeah, right.

 If I was fortunate enough to live in an area where there was an opportunity to catch wild trout I would jump at it but I would hope that it didn’t make me feel superior to other fly fishers, just luckier.

 To look down your bloody nose at us poor saps who fish stocked waters is to denigrate the likes of Richard Walker, Bob Church, Tom Ivens, Brian Harris, Steve Parton, etc, etc who have contributed so much to fly fishing over the last thirty years or so.

 I think I have done bloody well to get though this rant without one obscene expletive, I can assure you it wasn’t easy. Now, what to call it?.

April 17, 2009 Posted by | Fly Fishing, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments