The pike quest……continues!

Where is this obsession going to end – it started out with a hankering for some Summer Pike around a month ago (that was when I last went after trout if you remember). Then after catching a couple of nice Pike I wanted to get a double figure fish…now I feel my old cheapo rod is not up the job and want a new sexy one and with a bit of luck it may be here for the weekend – mucho thanks to Loop.

Well my dear readers I finally got my wish. I caught a double figure fish on my own tied silver EP fibre fly – will put a picture up at some point – the fly that is. The take was quick and the pike put up a fair scrap..

My rod was bent almost double – I still feel it is too soft and am looking forward to testing out and reviewing the loop rod…

Something that I have read about and have now come to understand is the difficulty in estimating the size of pike in the water – also I suppose the difference in their fighting abilities. When you see a pike in the water and you are trying to land it, the beast may not actually look that big however when you are putting your hands near its jaws suddenly it gets a whole lot bigger – when you get it on the bank (rarely as you should unhook the creatures in the water) you can then fully appreciate the size of the fish – enormous sleek camouflaged dinosaurs that they are – they did not last a couple of million years for nothing I suppose. Ironically a bit of bad handling and they go belly up pretty quick so a bit of time is always needed to make sure they are fully recovered before they go away and sulk for a bit.

Of course my fishing buddy Campbell then blew my one out the water and only caught an even bigger one – this one was weighed by some very nice chaps who were dead baiting nearby – they gave it a good 14lbs.

It is funny catching these big Pike. There seems to be a whole lot of nervous giggling involved – like yes – you have caught an enormous fish but soon you will have to get the forceps out and get your fly out of its teeth. Campbell only caught this one due to getting his lucky hat from the car…

Talking of enormous teeth – check these babies out…

That was on a Pike skeleton we found – now tell me you don’t need a wire trace for these beasts?

Ironically I also caught my smallest pike on the fly – this cheeky wee monkey..

Some of the guys deabaiting were using bigger baits than that – hmmmm could I cast it? Now there is a thought – casting a deadbait with a fly rod – I suppose it defeats the purpose – probably the start of a rocky rod that ends with weekends camped out with bivy tents and little remote controlled boats – Yegads it even sounds appealing when I think about it…..control, control control….must use control before total obsession takes hold…

Of course – now I have caught a doubler (just) my quest is becoming more intense – now I want to catch one in the teens – a high teen at that. Oh yea baby – there will be blood involved I am sure!

Just starting out in fly fishing? 6 steps to success!

This post was prompted by a thread in the forum.

Every now and again people get in contact with me about what rod they should buy for the Kelvin or about tactics they should use. Well from now on I will direct them to this post as I say the same thing pretty much every time.

A typical river rod should be about 8 feet long rated for a 4/5 weight Line…that might seem confusing and it is kind of. Essentially a lighter line is for smaller fish and smaller flies and a high number is for big flies and big fish. 4/5 is nice and in the middle. I use a true 8 foot 4 weight – an orvis superfine troutbum. 

You will hear people and reviewers talking about fast and slow actioned rods. Essentially if the rod is more whippy then we say that has a slow action – if it is stiff we say that has a fast action. Generally speaking slow action rods cover casting faults (which is why I like them) as well as feeling absolutley lovely in the hand when fishing small streams. 

If you want to take your fly fishing seriously (and if you do you will never look at a smelly worm again) you will have to spend a little money on some half decent gear other wise you will wander along wondering why your casting is poor and really not enjoying the whole experience of fishing with a fly rod. 

 Without further ado here is my plan for your eternal happiness..

  1. Put away your spinning rod and never touch it again unless you surely “must” spin for Salmon – it will only be a distraction on your journey!
  2. You need a new rod and general overall outfit..   Sportfish do a cracking deal on an orvis outfit that comes with rod, reel, fly line backing leader and tippet – you cant go wrong with an orvis…go and buy it from sportfish now. Make sure you select the first rod – the 8 foot six for a 5 weight. 
  3. For flies – I use the same flies I use everywhere FLies 1 Flies 2 . Essentially, some cdc&elks, some comparaduns, some klinkhammers and some pheasant tail nymphs will do the job. You van buy them from the GAC or through Flying Hooks.
  4. After getting all that stuff you need to do some reading because if you dont you will never catch anything or learn how to fish the fly properly…I recommend this book. You could even watch a dvd about it as seeing is believeing – try this one. You should try and suck up as much information as you can – The Orvis Podcasts are another good place to get info on techniques,
  5. While you are reading as much info as you can, invest in some casting lessons - contact this guy and book an hour or two. It is not as expensive as you might think. Alternatively various fisheries do casting instruction although it may just be a bloke that can cast that shows you – if you go with a proper instructer then all your faults will be ironed out quickly.
  6. You could also read a little about insect life

And that my friend is how you will become a fantastic fly fisherman!

If you do all that you will thank me in a couple of years, as it will be a couple of seasons before you really “get it” – I promise you when you do “get it” you will be amazed!

Milngavie Fly Dressers Autumn 2008 Program

Milngavie Fly Dressers are starting their Autumn and Winter classes once more. The classes start on the 2nd October and a detailed program is available (if you contact me I can forward you it) Alternatively you can go ahead and contact Alberto himself.

The class is a mix of experienced and novice tyers so don’t be shy nip along and say hello. 

You will learn how to tie:

  • Lake Dry Flies Daddy Long Legs / hoppers
  • Hair wing salmon flies / rat series
  • Grayling bugs
  • Eumer tube system
  • Pike Flies
  • and much much more :-)
The venue is Milngavie library Thursdays 7pm – 10pm

Can it be two years already?

A day of remembrance on Urban Fly Fisher.

Stephen Robert Irwin (February 22, 1962 – September 4, 2006)

Lets hope the fish don’t keep fighting back!

That thing would take your hand off given half a chance….

No trout again this week I am afraid – I have a mission you see – an obsession if you will- I want to catch a double figure Pike on the fly rod….today alas it was not me, however I am getting close – oh yes, so close….

It is always worrying when you take someone to a spot and you think you (and he) might blank – it is the first time fisher curse. However on this occasion the toothy beasts were on, then off, then on, then off again – sometimes I wondered if the monsters were going to play ball at all.

I was with Campbell (a reader) who I have been meaning to fish with for a while now for no other reason than he shares my surname and he has caught far more fish on the fly than I have. It was nice meeting someone who is equally as tackle tarty as I am – oh yea -  he knew his stuff!

We hit the spot at dawn – or rather just before it as it was still dark when we parked the car (a bit of dodgy timing on my part!)- after an hour of fishing we still did not have a beast from the depths…hey wait a mo – at last I had one on – I had cast towards some fry and my fly was intercepted by an angry pike which took line and was fairly acrobatic.

I am getting to be a dab hand at chinning these Pike now – there is hardly any blood involved anymore…

We plugged on with the pike being very odd – they were in a strange mood – we were not getting as many chases and follows as usual however Campbell spotted a nice Pike in some weeds and decided to try a popper – a popper is a surface lure which is worked on top of the surface – it causes a wake and the pike attack it out of aggression (probably think it is a frog – or even more exciting a duck) – no sooner had he cast a couple of times when KERSPLOOSH – he later told me he would have nightmares about those jaws engulfing the popper – anyway here is a video of the “fight” – more a tug of war with an unstoppable force.

Apologies in advance for dodgy camera work…

As he was playing the beast another Pike was spooked…you may hear us talking about it.

The end result..

And of course the creature was set free so that I can catch him/her next week..

Oh, go on then – here is another…

Anyway, the beast was soon away and I was flailing away with a fly that caused a hell of a lot more disturbance – apart from some interesting movements a few times under the water nothing actually went for it until I moved along the shore ten yards and then a wake of water behind my fly told me something was up – the pike pounced and the game was on – good grief these Pike pull hard – mine was a toddler compared to the last one however it was still great fun…

Something strange was going on with the Pike – they all had some kind of skin condition – parasites maybe? Have a look at the pictures and you will see what I mean.

So – I am a step closer to catching a double figure Pike – in my arsenal for next time I shall be adding some of those poppers (I am sure I have an old trout popper kicking around) also I learned that it is not all hopeless to cast in amongst the weeds – sure you will drag back weed however sometimes, just sometimes it could possibly be a mighty beast.

Project Healing Waters

Is there such a project in the UK?

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active duty military personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings.

As usual, Orvis leads the way!

Project Healing Waters

Topsy Turvy: River Kelvin Seasonal Photos

The first hint of Autumn is on the way, here are some photos I took when the first hint of spring was in the air….

Sleep Deprivation for Salmon and Sea Trout

My pal has been asking me when I am going to write up the trip report for our mammoth Salmon and Sea Trout session.

Mid July we went to a river up North – a nice private beat which usually fishes very well. It was craziness – we stayed awake for a ridiculous amount of time. Essentially getting up at 0600 on Friday morning and then trying to stay awake until Saturday night at 2400 (no fishing on the Sabbath) does funny things to ones mind. It bends it – in funny ways.

Oh sure, some people can handle that kind of punishment no problem – I unfortunetly cannot. I need a good sleep at night – if I am getting up early I go to bed early- If I am woken up early and have not gone to bed I have a sleep debt that must be made up – If I dont I just dont function well.

To add insult to serious sleep debt I blanked – although ironically I did catch some nice trout in a loch on the Saturday afternoon. Other wise it was freaky, everything was surreal.

I fished a pool hard early Saturday morning and then found out that my two fishing buddies had both caught salmon in a pool a mile downstream – seemingly there was lots of fish showing and they were in a taking mood – I bolted down a rough track beside a field. My thoughts were crazy, I wanted to get there as quick as possible lest the magical taking time was past – I walked at a slow jog – my mind weary from sleep- strange thoughts going through my head “is this actually happening?” and “is this actually a dream?” and” where the hell am I?”  – I felt I was having a day dream, you know the kind when you are sitting at your desk at work and are suddenly trasported by your imagination to a river somewhere – it was like that – it was around this point I fell down a ditch which was about 2 metres wide and a metre deep – it was filled with giant hog weed. “Aaaaaaaagrh” – I said – or something like that – all I could think of was what I had read about the stuff causing blisters for the rest of your life and more scarily making you go blind if the sap gets in your eyes – I was fairly rolling around in the stuff – bits of it stuck in my hair and down my waders. Unfortunately, getting out the ditch was not as easy as getting in – suffice to say – well, it was hell.

I ended up not catching anything. My two fishing buddies caught salmon….

Look at em’ with their big dead fish – this river is one of the most prolific salmon rivers in Scotland – a reasonable harvest of fish is allowed.

Meanwhile Tamanawis was fast asleep back at the lodge…dreaming of dry flies and trout no doubt…

We went for breakfast at a local café – “were you playing a gig last night?” we must have looked like a rock group we were so ruff. Memories became confused – something that happened a couple of hours ago felt like it happened a day ago….like I say – instead of sleeping in the afteroon we fished a loch…

As the day wore on we all took turns at blacking out due to sleep deprivation – in the evening we all fell asleep waiting for the sun to fall behind some trees – the only reason we woke up was because my arms fell asleep (they were behind my head and were totally numb) – if that had not happened we would probably have woken up at around 1000 the next day wondering what the hell had happened.

I took photos of my buddies sleeping – I was not sure if there are laws against that…

When I tried to wake the guys up – Alan sat bolt upright picked up his rod and walked away – he later said he came to standing in the middle of the river wondering how the hell he had got there. I had been wondering that for several hours. I walked past Alan on the river – I took his picture as he looked like a zombie……

We fished for Sea Trout when it got dark – Alex caught a Salmon at 1145 and at 2400 I was in my sleeping bag  in a deep sleep – I vaguely remember cursing the sheep at dawn with all their noise (at least it was not cows)

Great Expectations with Pike on the Fly

Isn’t it great when a fishing session you have planned turns out as expected – I mean, there has been times in the past when on the run up to a fishing trip (even a short one – the excitement usually starts on a Tuesday) my pals regale each other with tales of how many fish we could possibly catch – “it will be awesome” we say. Usually on the way home we end up discussing where we went wrong and why the fish just did not play ball.

Well, today was one of those other sessions where on the way home we had a deep sense of satisfaction due to a good mornings fishing.

Alex picked me up at 0445 to be at our place of attack at dawn – the whole journey was beautiful – the dips in the glens were bathed in mist – it felt like a true Autumn morning – in fact it probably was!

We were pleased to see only one boat moored, although it was right where we wanted to fish – we decided to just cast randomly where we thought Pike might be holding……he tried the deep water, I tried near the margins next to weeds.

First to get into a Pike was Alex – a nice Jack that took line and fought well above its weight.

We were using white EP Fibre flies with a little tinsel on size 4 hooks….I had tied up a dozen – not all in white though – I had added some extra tinsel to some of them – I had even tied up some green ones to imitate juvenile pike…

As you can see our flies gradually deteriorated after each Pike – sometimes even a pike having a bash at it was enough for the fly to look a bit bedraggled – I am thinking of adding varnish to the bodies to make them more durable.

Alex was fishing in deeper water and was getting a fair few follows and hits – landing another one while I was struggling with only a few follows -we eventually worked out the pike must have been waiting in the deeper water – waiting for the water to warm before moving into the shallows. Still, it was exciting when I took my fly out the water at the end of a retrieve and a huge swirl told me a toothy critter had been on the follow.

The action rose to what felt like a feeding frenzy….

It seemed that every few casts we were getting tugs and pulls – lots of action on the water with bait fish jumping out the water in terror as obviously a large hungry Pike was nearby – we cast near the bait fish – sometimes we would turn the Pikes head towards our giant flys….a crazy tussle would then ensue and then the Pike was back in the water safely to grow bigger – or possibly to get eaten by its BIG MOMMA

The chap in the boat (dead baiting) was looking forlornly over at us as we were hauling in Pike left right and centre – still he was happy as he got one on his dead bait eventually – a nice Pike at 17lbs.

“We would have had that if he was not there” my fishing buddy and I told each other.

The first Jack I caught did not fight hard however the second went like a steam engine…

We caught no real monsters although we did turn the heads of some bigger Pike…it is only a matter of time before one of us lands a doubler..

Look at those teeth – you can see why you need to use proper wire trace.

I was wondering whether to post this video or not as it makes us both sound like heathens – My pal with his swearing – well – lets just say he was feeling emotional shall we…

..and that was with my pal playing the fish hard with a nine weight sage. The sheer power of these fish are incredible……Every piece of your tackle must be up to the job – from your rod to your line, leader, wire trace and fly.

You must wear drab clothes as well to fit in with your surroundings – for example…

You may not see me in the above photo due to my cunning camo back pack….I know, I blend in like the trees…

Talking of tackle I reckon a new 9 weight is on the cards – I just felt that my nine weight (it is really an 8/9) is just not up to the job – it feels a little too soft to throw those big pike flies out there – I need something a little stiffer – a little more powerful to go with these dinosaurs – after feeling the raw power of the bigger beast that got away last week a strong nine weight does not feel too over the top (Hells Bells the experts recommend you use a 10 weight at a minimum)

I love it when a plan comes together!

Happy (belated) 5th Birthday to Me…

I was looking over at Tamanawis and noticed he was having a wee birthday. I then decided to have a look at my own stats and noticed that I have just past my own 5th birthday of blogging about fishing.

Way back in the beginning I remember emailing Marshall Cutchin at Midcurrent who was one of the major players in news sites about fishing (it still is) and Marshall asked how many visitors I recieved – around 10 a day I enthused – he never emailed me back – I just imagine him giving a wry smile at my enthusiasm.

So I suppose this is where all the other bloggers to do with fishing cock an ear as secretly we all love knowing how many visitors we all get – well I am not going to make it easy for you.  From the beginning of “Urban Fly Fishing on the Kelvin” to now – “The Urban Fly Fisher” has received around 800000 unique visitors – to be fair around 500000 is probably me !

I have met some great people in those 5 years and made some firm friends – I have been on the telly and been in newspaper articles which has really been a lot of fun! I have also been threatened with physical violence which has not been as nice……but that’s fishing for you ….hey no wait a mo….

So I suppose to everyone I have got to say thanks very much for reading and please do stick around – I intend to be going for at least another 5 years all going well – although something tells me that my fishing exploits may be curtailed come January due to an imminent new arrival….

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