Friday, 19 December 2014

The "Off" Season

Uni work has beaten me up the last few weeks, the lecturers put so much heat on this term it’s been really hard to strike the balance. But anyway, its Christmas and there’s no work to do, so its time to catch up my blog, my fishing, get back to the wonderful Exe Valley and also have some family time. There is no off season for me, why would I want to take months off of my fishing calendar? There’s always a willing species.

There’s something special I’ve noticed about winter this year. Yes its bloody cold, dark and miserable at times, but the days seem slower and longer. You must embrace it, and take on each day as any other and use your off season wisely. As anglers we are outdoorsmen, and are in tune with nature and its changes (mainly concerning the fish!). We are observant, and lovers of the natural world. Lately I’ve been doing more learning and reading than anything else, so lets get into to todays subject. Keeping busy in the ‘off’ season.

I understand that there are a lot of purists out there who will only chase trout, particularly wild trout. As we all know, the season is closed until next year and until then lots of anglers will be grumbling away inside twiddling their thumbs.. Stop right there! There are still plenty of options.

Grayling come into their prime during the winter months and you cant go far wrong with a 9ft number 4/5 and a hand full of nymphs. Do some reading on Czech Nymphing and other styles of fishing for these beautiful, under rated fish. They are in good numbers across many UK rivers and streams, so look for the fast runs and deep holes if you want to knock into Thymallus thymallus this winter.

For the more adventurous amongst you, go in search of the fearsome, aggressive and ancient Northern Pike. In my eyes, the Pike is Britain’s only ‘Big Game’ species. You can throw poppers, mice, streamers, divers and articulated flies at this leviathan. The takes are explosive and ferocious, and you’ll need some solid gear to due battle with such beasts. No other fish in the UK match this! It’s a whole new game (as I’m learning  - the hard way!) But it is so much fun to try something new, and to diversify your fishing. Local canals, drains, lakes and lowland rivers will all hold Pike. Be prepared, injuries are not un-common due to their powerful jaws lined with teeth, so have some solid tools. Get some strong cutters incase hook removal becomes difficult and consequently inhumane, along with these get some long forceps to keep your hands away from that toothy grin. Use a wire trace as well; be a responsible angler, we don’t need our Pike population covered in piercings! Finally, these apex predators do have a delicate side, so be mindful when handling them and recover them well before release.

Other coarse fish can be targeted throughout the winter too. Chub, Dace and Perch are all popular targets. Do some research, plan a trip and swap the slippers for waders. But if you are completely un-moved by my attempts to get people chucking fluff throughout the winter then here’s some more options.

Ever considered tying your own flies? I know you have, everyone thinks about it, but shrugs it off because it’s too ‘hard’ or they can’t afford it. Admittedly, it can be expensive, especially when you learn by trial and error. I started tying completely on my own, buying everything and anything I thought was useful and wasted most of it – Thank god I’m now in the hands of my mentor, boss and good friend Nick! Tying flies is immensely rewarding. As you all know I tie a lot when I’m at Uni as sometimes it’s hard to get out on the water. My best advice for tying? Chose patterns you want to tie and buy the corresponding materials, not just the materials you fancy using. This will save you £££’s and also be a lot less frustrating. Get yourself a book, too, as they’re always helpful.

So there you go, don’t sit there in a mood this winter. Keep busy and prepare for next year, keep your casting in check and stay connected with your sport!

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