Ninja Cow


Woke up – 8am – already things are not going well as I have slept in. I get my shit together and head out – the day is not looking good – pretty wild weather with a smattering of light rain. Still, I have been looking forward to this all week. It does not matter it is only for a few hours I am determined to be there are the right time at the right place and finally manage to land my first pike on the fly.

I forgo my usual place on the canal and decide on an alternative another mile up the road. It has good parking next to a pub and good access. I string up my rod and then have a decision to make regarding the wire trace. I usually use little snap links so that changing flies is a breeze however I have noticed some people keep a wire trace permanently attached to individual flies. This might make storing them difficult (and is the very reason I don’t do it) but I think that little extra weight might affect casting so decide to try it out. I use pretty easy wire to work with that only needs a little crimp to secure it and I am up and running in no time.

I walk along to a little platform for the boats to moor on – this little spot is ideal as it seems to be devoid of wind – everywhere else it seems to be blowing a gale. I cast a few times, getting used to the extra weight – it always takes me a few casts to get into the swing of things. There are lots of bait fish on the surface – I think they might be roach – the whole place reeks of nervous water. Could those Roach be panicking as a hungry Pike is chasing them or in the vicinity.

Suddenly I get a take – like a green torpedo a pike slams into my fly, it misses and sits motionless, I recast but it is gone. Still – a good sign that my ridiculously flashy fly is working. I spend maybe another half an hour working my fly, trying to cover every nook and cranny – a wide fan of casts – you know what I mean!

I see a likely looking spot on the far bank, there are leafs on the water and some reeds – it looks like a likely place for a Pike – I cast……

Bang! First cast, after just a few jerky retrieves – it is small – laughable to people who catch pike regularly I suppose but still – my first Pike on the fly.

The fly is a mess….

But after a few more casts it is swimming and looking just fine.  Eventually the wind gets up and I head home.

Pike Flies..

I was starting to think my recent unsuccessful attempts at Pike were to do with pure technique and possibly choice of flies. I was glad then to hear other people have been struggling down on the Forth n Clyde as well – a recent commenter (Scott) has been struggling as well.

Still the tide (as they say) must turn at some point and maybe this weekend is just the time for massive toothy critters. You see that is the thing with Pike fishing – and the thing that makes it the opposite of trout fishing – size does in fact matter with Pike, and the bigger the better for that matter. A trout of 3lb is a monster of a trout – a trout you would remember, a pike of 3lb is a “jack” a nice fish but you know it is lunch to some of those massive lady beasts cruising around.

Anyway, because I missed my fly tying evening tonight (I am writing an essay) I decided to tie up some Pike flies for the coming weekend (I am cramming in a few hours on Saturday morning for Pike). The good thing about Pike flies is that you can be as creative as you like – well, I think you can anyway – I have certainly seen a huge variety of Pike flies and mine do not seem far off the mark.

You start with a bare hook…..

bare hook
Add a bit of body, sometimes tinsel, sometimes some chenille, a hackle at the front (or back) if you like and then something long and flashy to give it a bit of bulk so it looks like a fish.


Now, you know I am no tying expert but that my friends is around twenty quids worth of fly in that picture – I could go into business with that lot. I mean have you actually seen the cost of shop bought Pike flies? The ones I have seen cost around a fiver. I reckon with the materials I have bought I can make up a couple of dozen flies – all for around a ten spot.

Bloody hands here I come!


Pike – not playing ball with the fly…

Well, two sessions after Pike the last two weekends – result – nil points!

I took peoples advice and on the deeper sections (the canal basins) I used a fast sinking leader – it got the fly down deeper but did not manage to raise a Pike from the depths. After a couple of hours I drove to the Glasgow Angling Centre for some materials to tie up some more horrors (when you are used to tying klinkhammes anything that looks like a Christmas tree is a horror) and spoke to Nicolas one of the employees of the shop. He mentioned he often caught Pike on the fly at another stretch of the canal so I decided to head there.

It is quite strange actually as this stretch is not as urban as the stretch just next to my house. It is also not as weedy – on reflection I think this may be something to do with the extra boat traffic and possibly just a little extra flow. I have caught Pike here in the past on plugs and I know Alex has had them on the fly here so I was feeling optimistic. Strangely, I was still feeling optimistic as I collapsed my rod at the end of another couple of hour’s stint.

Last Sunday was pretty much more of the same except I stayed at my home stretch as I did not have the car. We were expecting visitors in the afternoon so I was up at 8am and hitting the canal at 0815. I met James on the canal side (you may see him in the comments section from time to time) and we had a chat about Pike and other places we had fished that year. I learned later he had the same luck as me.

I am doing a fair bit of reading at the moment about Pike behaviour and have found out that:

  • Pike like a few days of consistent weather before they begin to feed.
  • They do not like heavy rain as it messes with there brains (I am sure there is a fancy word I could use there.
  • They usually take there prey in their mouths before moving off and turning it to swallow it head first.

Interesting about the turning the prey head first part – The first Pike that took my fly did move off a few yards with the fly – what I should have done was strike but I think I was in a state of shock (never mind hand numbingly cold) to actually do anything.

You live and learn – more action on Saturday with Alan possibly!

A Little Something For Your Ka Sir ?

How much would you pay for a seasons fishing?

I contributed to a thread (you may have to register) recently on a forum about what the maximum would be you would pay for a day’s trout fishing. I thought if it was a one off special occasion on a special river I may pay up to around £50 (Even though we paid £30 on the Don and it was terrible) As long as it was not a ditch with fish I think that would be a reasonable amount. Opinion on the thread was split with some people insisting they would not pay more than a fiver and other people taking other considerations into account like myself.

It got me thinking about how much I would pay for a season. Trout Rivers in Scotland are mostly all reasonably priced. The Kelvin is £15 for the year (not that many people pay it) and the Clyde is £28 for some amazing trout fishing. We also have the Cart, the Avon and many more all with cheap day tickets and season permits. I think this year I spent just around £100 for all my permits – a bargain even if I do say so myself.

However, I know that in England the cost of fishing can be huge. This is because of the lack of trout streams as well as the high demand for what there is. My pal Emmanuelle, after moving to England, is hunting for a reasonably priced trout river near Hull. He needs somewhere to visit close by his new home for a couple of hour’s soul soothing (not a couple of hours drive and then a quick cast). – he thinks he has found one in the Foston Beck – the only problem is he does not know how much it costs to join, how to join or whether there is a massive waiting list of hospital consultants.

We have heard horror stories of these little streams costing around £1000 for a years fishing- not really in the realms of a mere mortals pockets. However, how much is reasonable? I think for a years fishing – you are desperate mind – all other rivers are around one and a half hours a way and your beloved will not put up with that a couple of times a week …..I think I would pay around £500 …..I might stretch to £600. I would pay that kind of money if I was desperate – I mean it is almost like medicine isn’t it? Medicine for your head, your soul – something to soothe your Ka in the hum drum of work life – they have got you nine to five, Monday to Friday, you need something to look forward to at the end of the day….don’t you?

How much would you pay for a season if it was a desperate situation?

Nothing worse than the cold…

I stood outside today and noticed how cold it was – a cold lazy wind that goes right through you rather than around you. Brrrr
It reminds me (or rather not actually) of the other kind of cold you can get – during summer when at one point you have been roasting hot and then become freezing cold because something happens. Not explaining this very well – let me elaborate…

You might remember I took part in the Highland Wild Trout Challenge on loch Shin. The final day of the competition was warm with few clouds in the sky. By late afternoon it had got even warmer and the sun was fair old blazing down but by this point the competitors were weighing the fish so it did not really matter. Anyway, once all that was out the way Alex and I decided to go out on the loch again for an evening session – it was roasting hot by this point and I can distinctly remember making the decision not to take my rain jacket – I looked at the sky – looked at my jacket and then promptly put it in the bag of the car. This was precisely the point where I made the first mistake.

Rule: Always be prepared

About half an hour later travelling down the loch we noticed the clouds coming over the hills – cant be rain clouds we thought. I was wearing a particularly un waterproof “Hoodie” from Gap which I just knew was not going to give me much protection against moisture but by gawd we were there to fish an evening session and that is what we were going to do. To cut a long story short we caught lots of fish, and I became freezing cold as my top became saturated with water – cold water at that. My teeth were actually chattering. Chilled to the bone took on a whole new meaning. Iron man Alex meanwhile is made of sturdier stuff (plus he was wearing a fleece) and rather gallantly offered to head back or even give me his top but I decided that seeing as how I had made the mistake I should pay for it. We fished on and had a cracking night. I managed to moan as little as possible as we fished – a trait that I am unashamed of admitting…

Anyway, back at the car on the way home I made mistake number two. The heaters were on full in the car as it was so cold and I held my hands against them to heat up – this caused my hands to swell up the next day meaning I could not wear my wedding ring…. Good job there was no attractive ladies around as my ring acts as a shield against them (I seemed to have an invisible one when I was single as well funnily enough).

I slept most of the journey home, although kept trying to keep the conversation going with my eyes closed – “I am not sleeping” I promised between snores.

Back in Alex’s parents house (bugger camping two nights) I have never felt more comfy curled up in a cosy bed – the chill gradually edging away.

There is a lesson in there somewhere – something to do with jackets probably !

First proper attempt at Pike on the fly..

My wife was on nightshift – the plan was as soon as she got home I was going to have a morning Piking down at the Forth n Clyde canal. Unfortunately I had not factored in the neighbours BBQ, copious amounts of alcohol and a young chap from Bosnia who encouraged me to sample his moonshine – it was made out of fruit (mostly)

As it was I got to the canal at round noon with a splitting headache and only stayed for a couple of hours. This was my first proper assault with a fly rod for Pike so it took me half an hour to get used to casting some six inch horrors I tied up yesterday. I was using a 9 foot 8/9 rod with a 9 weight floating line – I had spent time yesterday making up wire traces and they worked a treat – not interfering with casting at all.

No pike landed however I did come in contact with one – on a retrieve the line started moving away from me, I lifted into it and felt a thump (felt good) and then the fish was gone.

Not long after I decided on heading home to lay on the sofa and groan a lot. Just where I am going now!

Winter – it is on its way…

So the season is ended and now thoughts have turned to other matters – fly tying, grayling and Pike, although not necessarily in that order.

Usually by the end of the season most people are quite glad for the rest but somehow this year I remain restless. The plans made last year only seem half completed although thinking back on the year many boxes were ticked. Sure, when I think about it I caught bigger trout than in any other year but for some reason I remained unfulfilled. I think I can only count a few times when I got to the river and witnessed a really good hatch of flies – I can count in my head half a dozen times when I purposely cast to rising trout – maybe it is just my memory playing tricks on me but I kept on waiting for something to start, you know?

Is the lack of fishing the Kelvin that has done this to me? Made me feel as if something has been missing? I kept on waiting for reasonable weather for evening sessions which never arrived, when there was some reasonable weather I was far too busy writing essays to even consider venturing to the river for a stolen few hours. Next year my work is intending for me to do a 6 month course which I have been told is pretty intense involving lots of evening and weekend work. Sounds reasonable for some maybe but these people don’t have a hard core trout fishing addiction. It is bad enough work has me Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm without it eating away on my spare time – yikes juggling that as well as husband duties it makes my blood run cold to think about the possibilities.

Anyway, to keep me occupied over the winter my little fly tying evening has once more resumed – led by the master caster Albert Laidlaw who now has his own website I see. The whole concept of guiding (rather than ghillieing ) has not really taken off in the UK – I am not sure why that is but I reckon over the next few years it will get bigger as the notion takes off. I reckon anyone coming from far away to fish one of our Scottish rivers and wants someone to guide them could not do better than enlisting the services of Alberto – that goes for casting instruction as well.

Grayling fishing has not really got into full swing for me yet, for some reason my thoughts have been centred on Pike. I have bought myself a new 8/9 weight to go after the toothy critters but at the moment I am attacking them with rattling plugs and a spinning rod (shock horror). There is something satisfying when at the end of a trout season when you have been casting dainty dries to fussy trout you pick up a 4 inch rattling pike plug and launch it in the general direction of where you think the pike may be holding – the key is to actually cause a disturbance rather than not create one.

Click, swoooooosh, SPLASH ! Ahhh – satisfying!

Orvis Customer Service

Let’s talk about Orvis shall we. I bought my Orvis boots at the start of the season, a pair of Henrys Fork II Premium Wading Boot – I was pretty annoyed as the last boots I bought from another company fell apart pretty quick so decided it was time I bought a top of the range pair. Naturally I turned to Orvis as they are known as being a good reputable company with good customer service. The customer service part was one of the deciding factors – I had read on various forums about their policy particularly to do with waders. We all know the problems of waders leaking after just a season and sometimes even less for that matter – when other companies expect you to jump though hoops too get them fixed Orvis simply send you a new pair. I do expect this to be within reason though – I mean if it was like ten years later than I reckon natural wear and tear is not permissible as a fault. A rule of thumb I think for breathable waders would be 5 years normal fishing – normal fishing being a few times a week with good care being taken of them between sessions. For boots I reckon 3 years – considering they are in water and spend most of the season wet I think they should start looking tatty after a year and a half and probably giving up the ghost during the third year.

Anyway, I bought my new boots from Orvis and then wore them for the season – I put my initial impressions in my review section and got used to my new boots.

Boy – they were good. The only drawback was the outer layer seemed to be peeling off causing them to not look as good but still functioning just fine. I was a wee bit concerned about the rubber toe section as after the skin came away it looked like it might follow suit as well – I knew it would take a while for that to happen though so was not overly concerned – there was fish to be caught…

All well and good until one fateful day during the first season when the felt sole fell of…I knew it had fallen off as I put my foot down on a boulder and slid around a half metre into a deep hole. It would have been a pure comedy moment if someone had been around with a camera but as it was I just flapped around a bit – got myself to shore and inspected the damage – the whole felt sole had come away.

I went home and wrote up my report for the day – thinking about what I was going to do about it – I paid good money for those boots. I was considering buying more felt and sticking them on myself but I would have to buy studs, I was then thinking of contacting Orvis to see what they could do but because of bad experiences with companies in the past I reckoned all in all it was going to be a pain in the ass trying to sort it out.

Well, within a few hours of that post going live James Hathaway from Orvis US got in contact offering to replace the boots. We exchanged a few emails; the boots got diverted to Canada by accident but eventually ended up on my doorstep.

Now, a cynic might say Mr. Hathaway was just worried about a bit of negative press on the net however I now know otherwise. Yea fair enough, he contacted me first but you know, I reckon if I had contacted Orvis the exact same thing would have happened – new boots. I have now heard similar stories from other people about Orvis, not just about boots but waders, rods and reels as well. In this day and age tackle manufacturers have got to take that little extra step to get the punters to buy the products – it does not have to be the fastest this or a techno gizmo that will help you catch more fish,, good old fashioned customer service will win the day every time. So has Mr Hathaway done here? Well he sure as heck has got himself a new customer for the future that’s what – waders, boots – I am looking for a new 4 weight, my first choice will probably now be an Orvis!

Now you know how much I moan about tackle manufacturers, but I hope you think of my words the next time you are in the market for a bit of new kit as well – that kind of customer service deserves business.

[tags]orvis customer services, james hathaway, orvis, Henrys Fork II Premium Wading Boot [/tags]

Record Salmon caught on the Ness ?

The British record salmon of 64lbs was caught on the Tay by Miss Georgina Ballantine in 1922…

tay record salmon

…however the British angling world is buzzing with the news of a potential record catch on the Ness system.

Reports suggest the cock salmon caught on the Dochfour beat of the River Ness measured 56 inches long and 50 inches around the girth. Seemingly it measures 2 inches longer than Miss Ballantine’s record.

The Salmon was returned unharmed without it actually being weighed. This has caused a bit of controversy on various forums with people stating that the fish although is very large does not look anywhere near the record – some people are even suggesting the size has been inflated to drum up a bit of business as the takings are down up north – the cynical cads 😉

I will let you decide – go and look at the chat !

Fly Forums Thread (the cynical one)

Salmosalar Thread (the optimistic one)

The Scotsman Newspaper (reports on the ultimate fishy tail)



‘Monster’ fish record bid refused

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