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….

Alistair 0 Pike 7

Well, if I had to look at success with my pike fishing today by the number of fish hooked – I would say it was an excellent day with around a half dozen caught. However if success was how many I actually landed then I would have to say – none. The Pike were in a playful mood playing with my fly and with very gentle takes – for some reason they just did not stay on.

One memorable moment came when I lost my biggest ever Pike on the fly – well when I say lost I mean it was on and off again in the space of around 10 seconds, I was casting towards some weeds and suddenly the dinosaur shot out and ambushed the fly – if I was to estimate its size I would say in the high teens. My rod was bent double – it ripped out line and then was gone.

I doubt anyone will be fishing the rivers today what with all the rain – all the streams I passed had burst their banks.

Dealing with Dodgy Cows

Ok – Let’s do it – let’s talk about cows!

Quite simply I don’t trust the buggers, they stand about chewing their cud occasionally giving you the evil eye as you walk past – they look at you as if they own the damn place and occasionally they all moo at one another as if they are “talking” or even quite possibly (and a lot more scary to think about) coordinating.

One of the things I enjoyed about fishing in an urban environment was the lack of livestock – oh yea sure, you get the odd glimpse of a deer bolting down the Kelvin corridor and dogs which are usually accompanied by talkative walkers but cattle was never something I had to worry about.

These days when I fish the Kelvin I get a reprieve as most of the other places which are just outside the city limits have some form of cattle that you must contend with (and for the love of God don’t get me started on horses).

The last few times I have been out fishing I have noticed the cows have got calf’s with them which make them especially jumpy and brave – often staring you out and then giving a few kicks as they walk away.

So, what I want to know is what are your tactics for dealing with cows (or other livestock) – I mean would you go in a field with a bull? Do you just walk slowly past? If you are by yourself do you avoid the situation all together?

Beautiful Views

You know, I don’t go North often enough – most of my fishing is South. North is beautiful…

Pike on the Sabbath

I am sitting here writing this between coats of paint. You see, I had scheduled in to do some painting and decorating over the weekend and this meant definitely no fishing. However, there had to be somewhere in the schedule that I could squeeze in a few hours – it turned out that if I drastically cut back on my sleep I could get up at 0500 and be fishing for Pike at dawn. It worked – I was fishing for just past 0600 and within a few casts had a rather nice Pike – unfortunately the bank was a bog so apologies for rather shady picture which does not do the beast any favours.

I got a few more follows and sharp pulls and rather impressive swirls however they did not come to anything other than getting my heart pounding…

I ended up catching several tiny jacks – they were being rather hopeful I thought as my fly was about half the size of the pike.

It was not just the Pike that got my heart racing – the spot on Loch Lomond I fish is guarded by a couple of dozen ninja cows – they are braver than your average cows and stand their ground just that little bit too long when you are walking by them.

Scratching a Pike itch!

Just to prove that the last pike I caught on Loch Lomond was not a fluke I just went and caught another one – well in fact two however the first one did not really count.

The evening was warm and rather pleasant – or at least it seemed that way after a tramp over a field filled with jumpy cows with their calfs – by the end of it I was sweating like a bull among them… soon started to pee down with rain (to be fair we do live in Scotland)- miserable springs to mind – the rain was beating off the water and every passing moment it just seemed to be getting heavier and heavier.

Before long however it had passed and it was time to get back to trying for Pike.

The first Pike I caught was strange, the conversation was thus:

AS –  ” That’s a Pike – ya beauty”

Fishing Buddy –  ” Nice one – well done”

AS –  “Oh no, wait a mo – is it weed?”

AS –  “Yes, it’s a Pike – no wait I think it s a stick”

AS – ” No it is a Pike however I have foul hooked it”

Fishing Buddy –  ” is that a duck in its mouth?”

AS – “Hang on is that a Salmon I have caught” (totally random comment – I thought it was a diseased salmon)

Fishing buddy then muttered something about how well pike fight after I compared it to a bit of weed – good point I thought.

However, the reason we were so confused is because there was something hanging out its mouth – I have no photo and let the Pike go pretty quickly (it flopped out my hands) however half its jaw had been ripped off and part of its gill was hanging out its mouth.  I think someone had tried to remove the hooks by pulling on the wire trace, thus pulling its guts out – lovely.

The first pike was not going to survive long – especially not after I seen a Pike of around 20lb roll under my line around 10 mins later. This happened several times – I think what was happening was that the Pike were lying stationary in the shallow water (it is only around 2 foot) and when my line passed over there backs it gave them a scare – certainly I would always recast where I last seen the Pike however the big girls were not for playing – the same must have happened to the first pike however as it was injured it could not get out the way in time.

I then heard a big splash behind me next to the shore – that has got to be a feeding Pike – I cast towards it – I then had the most exciting 10 mins of the season – every couple of casts the Pike would follow the fly – a big wake swirling behind my fly – I varied my retrieves – slow, stop, slow, fast , fast – BANG — the Pike tore across the pool. Now, I have heard it said that Pike don’t fight – they just put up a couple of runs and then give up – not this wee boy – he ripped out line and put a major bend in my nine weight. He ran maybe a half dozen times and doggedly did not want to be landed.

However , the toothy beast eventually relented (and this was after trying to play him hard) – landing it was a simple matter of chinning the pike (getting good at this now) and using the forceps to get the fly out its mouth.

I would like to say my Pike itch has been scratched however after seeing some of those big doubles I reckon I may develop a skin infection.

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