Thursday, 2 October 2014

Summer Is Never Long Enough

In this post, I’ll be talking about how well my season went. I use the term ‘season’ loosely, because to be perfectly honest, I fish all year. Even now that I am back at uni I’m still chasing saltwater fish on the fly. I’m hardly a purist, far from it. The stereotype of fly fisherman spending all day in a small stream casting dries at wild brownies drives me mad, I’m not saying I dislike this style of fishing, I love it just as much as any other style of fishing. What I’m trying to get at, is the fact that if it swims, ill pitch a fly to it, and I enjoy catching carp on the surface just as much as fingerling brownies on tiny CDC’s.

Opinions aside, lets talk fishing. Early in the summer I took a trip to Exe Valley Fishery, nestled just outside of Exmoor National Park, this beautiful complex is stuffed with cracking brownies and rainbows. A compulsory visit to Hart Fly Shop (the tackle shop on the complex) meant that I bumped into Nick Hart - the fishery owner. One thing led to another and by the end of the day I left with two cracking Rainbows and a Job! Excited was an understatement, and I eagerly awaited my first day. Over the summer I spent many hours working for Nick. I was responsible for managing the lakes and looking after the shop whilst Nick was out guiding. I quickly realised I was the luckiest teenager in the world, and over the summer I got to know Nick well. He’s a fantastic angler and has an even better personality. I’m counting down the days for when I return to Exe Valley in the Christmas Holidays.

I managed to get a lot of fishing done this summer; I’ve learnt a hell of a lot from Nick - One of the many benefits of working for a skilled and knowledgeable guide. I’ll start by talking Carp. One of my fishing buddies Ellis has access to a private lake (location X for the purpose of this article). Location X is a coarse fishery, which has been closed for over 30 years; it’s rammed with big carp. The fish are spooky, the fishing is hard, but the rewards are massive. We fished it with a classic old school carping technique – The ever-faithful floating crust. But remember, we’re fly anglers, so Deer hair bread flies were the order of the day. We’ve had some cracking days there, fishing by day and beers round the fire by night. Camping out by the water ready to do it all again at first light – nothing better!

One of the lakes smaller residents, but a six weight and 6lb
 leader made the fight more sporting.

This year I set myself a challenge, to fish many more wild waters and test my angling ability. The West Country Angling Passport - - Provided the perfect kick-start into wild fishing and one water in particular took my fancy. The Upper Culm, reaching a meter wide at most, and never more that half a meter deep, but holding 14 inch wild brown trout?! It was only ten minutes from my door, and I had to give it a crack. On my first session I fished late into the evening, when the summer months allowed for you to just see your flies until around 10:30pm. Using a classic technique, a big, large profile dry fly in low light conditions. Two takes, two misses, I was gutted, but it kept me going back. I fished the Upper Culm many more times that summer. I’m ashamed to say I never hooked up there, but it sure is an amazing piece of water.

Beautiful, the Upper Culm.

Continuing on the subject of wild fishing, I was very lucky to have a session after work with my boss, Nick. We were fishing a private stretch of the Exe. The beat had only really been fished for Salmon, but it was packed with beautiful, good sized wild Brownies. It was an evening session, and the go-to fly was a retirer sedge, one of my favorite dries for rivers. We landed some stunning fish that evening and saw some monsters, I will have to return next season to try and knock into some of those hogs.

I also took up the challenge of fly fishing for Pike this summer, but I want to spend a lot more time on this so I’ll save it for another day. All in all, I’d say I got well and truly humbled this season. I learnt a hell of a lot, but I made so many mistakes on the water, which really did cost me. Hey-ho! Its how us anglers learn, and to me a day of fresh air by the water is perfect anyway, its always great to land fish, but I’m always thankful for time spent by the water just watching the world go by. I’ll be sharing my mistakes and lessons learnt in a new series of blog posts to come. The whole idea of this blog was for it to be a learning curve, to document my progression into the fly fishing world and for my readers to learn with me.

I’ll sign off with the classic phrase ‘tight lines’. Feel free to leave comments, ask questions or raise discussion points!

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