Monday, 20 February 2012

Snow melt and kick sample

A rising and colouring River Alyn didn't look too promising for Sunday's piscatorial jaunt. Parked the car at Cook's Bridge and opted for the pool that yielded half a dozen Grayling last week.

Rising and colouring Alyn from Cook's Bridge

#10 Ryac and #14 pink tag to start

I flogged the lower of the two pools below the bridge with the above setup without tempting too much, in fact nothing. Upon working into the upper pool I lifted a small rock at my feet to enable an entymology inspection. Some small caseless caddis were found, pretty typical here.

Caseless caddis and similar sized imitation

A change to the top dropper with a small #14 Ryac imitation and bingo

Dividends of matching the food supply

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A more superior fisherman

Reports from the R&G members forum suggest that their stretches of the Alyn are not fishing too well this season. Persistently low levels seemed to be most agreeable reason. Until lately...
Indications of  more proficient fisherman have been filtering through. On Saturday my intention was to do a spot of Grayling fishing on the lower Alyn, but whilst driving I was thinking about this new fisherman so much that I found myself turning right and heading to the R&G stretch. Rather than turn around I continued and arrived at the Sewage field at about 07.30. Setup the 'T' with a couple of nymphs and stealthily fished the riffles, runs and pools. Stealth had to be the order of the day in the form of crawling, hiding behind trees and bushes. Early morning sun casts a long shadow over the water here if your not careful. Anyway, two finger sized Grayling from the first run I tried, then nothing, not noticeable anyway. I worked my way through the deeper run of the Kingfisher pool, then spotted the first rise of the morning. I crept (on kness and elbows again) upstream and nearly put my hand in this...

Plenty of fish bones and the like here

Now these pictures were taken after I had prodded and poked to reveal the fish bone and other mush...however is this more proof of our ultimate fishing visitors? Can this be the spraint of an otter?

As for covering the rise I had seen, no takes so I kept creeping upstream and eventually into the Sewage pool.
All I connected with were two salmon parr and two fingerling Grayling. A really disappointing early morning session. However with approx 90mins fishing time left, I exited upstream of the sewage works, jumped into the Landrover, still wearing my waders, and headed for the lower Alyn at Ithells Bridge.
What a stark contrast...
I climbed over the style below the farm and tentatively peered over the high bank into the water. Around 20 Grayling up 11/2 lbs could be seen in the clear water. So creeping into the river just downstream and carefully flicking a small pink tinged nymph into the shoal, I caught 8 in succession until one particular splashy specimen disturbed the lot.
I then quickly worked the water upstream past the farm and around the two bends until, in a shallow straight section, another Grayling shoal were spotted enjoying the sunshine. Some sight fishing and inducment again picked out another 8-10 fish.

So, mornings result stats
River Alyn Sewage Field: 2 small Gralyling, 2 Salmon parr in 2 1/2 hours
River Alyn Ithells Bridge: 18 Grayling up to 1 1/2lbs, numerous parr!?? in a little under an hour.

Possible conclusions: There have been reports of Otter in Worm's Wood where there have been a much higher ratio of Grayling to trout caught lately. This is the first I have heard of a potential Otter as low as the Sewage field, where fishing has also been rather slow of late. Reports of trout catches lower down at Llay road and in to the much lower Alyn are more stable. Do we therefore, have welcome fishing adversaries working their way down river. If so, will it be a year or two before the river again sustains a 'reasonable' head of trout and predator?

Monday, 14 March 2011

Underwater snag conspiracy

A Sunday morning grueller on the Alyn from Llay Road bridge...covered a section and half of our river before sight or sound of anything fishy. In the meantime, I've never lost so may nymphs on underwater snags. Off the record of course, but stealthily placed traps by the dry fly only brigade?
Any way, still raining when I arrived with the overnight drizzle adding a tinge of colour. Olives were coming off sporadically all morning and thankfully after a noticed increase in activity a rise was spotted adjacent to the stile between the corn and sewage fields. Mental note of position, as it looked 30 or so metres away. Tenkara'd (new verb there) the spot with a beaded nymph and a Partridge and Orange (well waxed amber actually), a twitch and miss first flick, then second flick the same again on the drop and a lively 6" brown succumbed to the spider. It was now 11.30ish and I had been on the river 3hrs.
An hour and many more lost flies later my second and last fish, an 8" brown, savagely took an olive biot nymph from the fast water running into the '...good place for Kingfisher's' pool.
This was a tough morning's fishing. Conditions were Ok although cold. I was of the impression that I had fished too early, family commitment dictated this. Also confirmed by the arrivall of Simon and Sonia confidently strolling in the sunshine over the Sewage Field. Not sure whether their confidence was justified; Sonia's forum entry implied lost flies and little activity...Simon did you fare any better?

So from the Grayling bonanza last week to the realities of early season brownie's. That's fishin'...

Monday, 7 March 2011

2011 begins

It's been a while since my last post. The main reason is not due to a lack of fishing but lack of a decent camera (drowned the last one). I feel you do need to grace a blog with relevant pictures. The last third of 2010 passed in a fishing flash; I seemed to be a magnet for browns on Meadow Fisheries' Meadow lake; autumn produced a couple of 40+ grayling sessions with the Iwana on the Alyn and inevitably the Tenkara became my goto river tool...

Anyway, lets get back into the swing of things for the year ahead. Christmas was a 'white' off and even the fastest sections of the lower Alyn were frozen over. Incredible...
Managed only one productive January outing with a couple of hours on the lower Alyn predictably with the Tenkara. Two fish from one pool, a fingerling Grayling then a couple of flicks later one going over 35cms. Both fish admiring a small beaded GRHE.
February was then written off as my Cricket club enrolled me on a level two coaching course which took up four consecutive and quite intense Sundays. A practical coaching assessment due in April...

The season can now 'kick off proper like' as Rossett and Gresford's waters on the Alyn opened on Thursday 3rd March. Desperate as I was to get on the R & G waters I would have to wait till Sunday. I got the feeling from the R&G forum that Sunday may be quite popular, especially for the few hours either side of midday where the LDO hatches were occurring. So, an early start at Worm's Wood and plan to dip my toes in for 08.00.
So anxious was I to get onto the water that I forgot the T. My StreamFlex though had been wedged in the back of the car for the last few months, so at least a trip back home could be avoided. Or can it, do I have reel? I quickly fumbled in the reel pocket of my waistcoat only to pull out a spool full of #5 floating, but no reel. Further fumblings into my tackle box and some luck, the reel body was found with the added bonus of #4 DT line to match the Streamflex. As my indicator leader was at home on the T, I just tied a parallel leader on the end of the line with a Tungy pink bug on the point and a small conventional GRHE on a dropper. I was hoping I would be able to spot takes on the line tip...
I fished the first pool above Griffin bridge and it became obvious that relying on the line tip for bite indication may be tricky. I therefore droppered a #14 parachute with a pink post onto the leader. As covered in previous posts, shortlining with a dry droppered this way enable you to tighten up the dropper hinge in order to induce a little movement on the nymphs without overly dragging the dry. Having the dry on the line like this does not act as the indicator totally but enables you to find and focus on the hinge and spot the some quite minute takes
I moved up to the style at the entrance to the Wood where two fingerling Grayling showed their admiration of the GRHE. OK, no pink. I replaced the pink bug with a small #16 emerging caddis pattern tied on some new jig hooks. This did the trick, next fick and an 8oz Grayling obliged. After one more bumped fish I moved up to the next pool and run. This run hadn't changed much since last year and is one of my favorites being around 10 yards long. I now paternoster my dry so it can slide up the leader if you need to adjust the depth of the nymphs, so I added 12ins between dry and nymphs and on a short line flicked up, let drift down with the current to a point directly across and then tighten to the 'hinge' to enliven the nymphs a little and finally dangle out... thump thump. Another 8oz fish had taken the caddis on the dangle. A couple more followed.
Moving upstream again, I took no fish from where the industrial legacy of Gresford remains. Further up and around the bend a couple more 8oz Grayling and then from the next pool up again around half a dozen fish from 8oz to 1lb for a total of 13. A relative good return I'd say...

Sunday's profitable team. Not in order, the beaded caddis was on the point

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Sat 7th August: ASGA

Another of Steve James' opportunities arose in that we joined Louis Noble's Advanced School of Game Angling (ASGA) for a day on the Dee at Maelor. Steve secured four rods with Louis in what turned out to be a most informative trip.
The session covered quite a broad spectrum of methods from Czech Nymphing through Duo and dry fly to Spey casting with wets.

From L-R: John, Yours Truely, Keith, Simon and Louis

Our initial kick sampling proved  a little disappointing in its yield. A small selection of stonefly nymphs with one or two 3 tailed upwings nymphs, cassed caddis and caddis pupa were analysed. It never ceases to amaze me how bright some pupating caddis are; 'eat me' in neon green. Naturally [pun intended] the kick sampling evolved into imitations and setup for Czech Nymphing with Louis demonstrating his tactical wading approach.

L-R: Steve, YT and Louis pre kick sample

A move to setups and how to fish the duo was followed by lunch. During which Simon demonstrated his Tenkara setup for nymphing. John, as open minded as ever and always one to attract fish, willingly took the rod from Simon and into the river he went. After half a dozen or so casts, he is a magnet, an 8oz Grayling obliged (another coup for Tenkara Promotions Ltd.). It was quite funny watching him wrestle the fish with 12' of T and 16' of leader/tippet. If you are experiencing T for the first time without instruction this can be quite tricky.

CZN demo

Post lunch and Louis' spider fishing session. His own goto spider setup consists of four spider patters on an 11.5' cast. The make up of the leader has become quite critical to enable good tangle free turnover and is effectively a weight forward leader where the first third tapers up in diameter before tapering down the point. The secret recipe is in my pocket;). The cast is fished across and down which, although some of us may question, Louis assures catches a very large volume of good fish. If the rod is held high and tracked with the current a series of dead drifts across the river can be acheived. When one drift has drifted out do not be afraid to raise the rod up again, even if the team pulls from the water and then drift down again. Keep this until on the dangle below. The leader setup alone does not prevent tangles, but a double spey cast is absolutely necessary especially with the Dee's prevailing downwinder. So when on the dangle the spey cast (which just changes direction to across again) keeps the cast straight and tangle free.
The setup is best coupled with a double taper line matching the weight of a minimum 10' rod. A 3 or 4 weight. This is incredibly simple and pleasurable one handed fishing.

YT completing the cast. Error here is in not driving the tip down low enough to prevent downstream bows and extra line mending

Another subtlty that becomes apparent is to hold the rod butt low and tip high when getting towards dangling out, this does give that extra few feet of drag free drift.
A good example of holding rod butt low. You can also see the shallow streamy water that best suits this method

From the diagram above, it can be seen how with several drag free drifts then a mend upstream the amount of water that can be covered. After dangling out, take a step downstream

This method of wet fly fishing covers a lot of water and is so simple. The most complex part is leader make up, but this should be done at home and wound onto a cast carrier.
Top tip from Louis regarding tangle free droppers was to essentially paternoster the droppers. Create the dropper length by creating a 3/4" to 1" loop at the end of the dropper and then passing the dropper loop over and above leader knot and back through itself. The result is a sliding dropper that stops on a knot in the leader make up. The loop in the dropper holds the dropper away from the leader. I know a two turn water knot is favoured by many, but although these may not tangle around the leader they do twist around the leader. Give this some consideration.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Simple and Heavy; well relatively

You can get so pre occupied with what worked last time out and over analysis on your favorite river, but how often does simplicity pay off in the end.
A stretch of the Alyn I usually avoid due to the magnetic attraction of coarse anglers is adjacent to Cook's Bridge. There is, empathatically, some nice deep glides here to attract them. Assuming I had first 'dibs' this morning [there were no cars] I dropped into the river upstream of the bridge, actually in amongst many dropped grains of sweetcorn that the previous occupant must have discarded. Gosh! are there tench here?
Anyway, the T was with me today and the trusted duo rig attached to enable 2 dimensional prospecting. Careful negotiation of the next 30yrds upstream bought responses from only a couple of parr and two refused aproaches to the dry from stamp Grayling. MMmmm maybe the fish around here are conditioned to the Jolly Green Giant's produce. Upon hearing a car door slam a 15cm Grayling gorged itself on the dry. So much so that I couldn't retrieve the hook and had to cut the line. I had to support this fish for a good five minutes before it held itself upright. I left the small fella to recover and rounding a slight bend I came face to face with a big black labrador and its owner[car door owner also] settling down to a little swimfeeder session. A quick exchange of courtesies and a careful paddle past their chosen swim led me to the next convenient pool upstream where the droppered dry was removed and re-positioned on the point. The #14 olive emerger resulted in a few small Grayling, but things just didn't feel right. I quickly tried a few small midge patterns in case size, or lack of, mattered but results were still pretty scant. The real fishy looking areas looked quite deep and were generally protected by a low canopy so I initially removed the 10' level leader and reloaced with one of Simon's custom 7' tip indicator furle with the intention to flick a #12 shrimp pattern in to the holes. Whilst changing setup a few fish were rising in a far bank run upstream, so I quickly adapted the setup by doubling the 7' furle with a stepped nylon leader, 5lb, 3lb, 2lb of simliar lengths. A size #20 midge was half blooded onto the end. This cast beautifully, the leader make up flicking effortlesly and the light 7' furle and section of 5lb mono was easliy lifted off the water to leave a small 3' pile of tippet and the fly to act naturally in the flow. Rewards were initially instant with several Grayling and a couple of small trout obliging. However, sport once again slowed with sporadic interest.
I reached another deepish spot and now decided to put the shrimpish pattern on. The pattern is tied classic Czech Nymph style with all body hair brushed out over the entire length. First cast and a trout darted out from its Willow tree refuge and took on the drop. Second cast, the same. Third cast, the shrimp finally cut through the water and on tracking through, the yellow indicator section of the furle paused. A quick lift and the thump thump of a decent Grayling; 30cm. A few paces upstream and another of 15cms.
For the next hour or so I stuck to the single shrimp, losing one or two on submerged traps, and concentrated hard on water over 18" deep. I really felt in the groove here, flicking and tracking the shrimp, carefully negotiating the narrow river as the main flow changed from left bank to right, the tip indicator appearring to detect everything, a succession of Grayling obliging...
Simple and I suppose winter like in setup, but although we love to bring them up to a well presented dry you do get days when you can flog the proverbal. The upwing population is not prolific on the Alyn and much of the summer daytime surface activity appear to be from terrestrials, but there is an abundance of small shrimp. So lets give it to them on occassion.
Btw, in the short stretch of river covered I've never ducked under so many Kingfishers before. I'm assuming most are this seasons young and are usually un disturbed. Once you cover the first 50yrds upstream, access to the coarse fishers becomes a little trickier so I doubt much of the river here has been fished this year.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Grayling Grayling everywhere...

Three sessions over two weekends at Ithells proved very productive. The Grayling are spread right along this stretch presently and fish can be caught in all areas. Dries are accounting for most fish, and they appear to take absolutely anything provided presentation is good. I suspect that most fish have been very opportunistic, as I have have seen many terrestrials on the water taken freely. This even included bees falling from the balsam.
The most enjoyable sections have been where pods of 6 or more Grayling have been seen spotted over the shallow gravel runs, typically directly under the bridge and on the short run between the two big bends. Here there is a reluctance to take the dry, but small ptn's and grhe's have given good sport. It's fasinating to watch the reaction of the fish as the nymph's pass through the pods. Unless you induce some movement at the crucial point, the fish reamin on station so a dead drifted nymph has to pass within an inch or two to be taken. Whereas an unweighted nymph lifted just before it reaches a fish causes the fish to turn and chase. The dead drifted takes are very, very subtle. A funny moment was in bumping a good Grayling, then watching the fish zoom upstream flanking and rubbing its sore lips in the gravel.
Interestingly, all Grayling seem to be of either 15cm or 30cm, very little of any other size. I'd like to know the thoughts of the Grayling experts about whether this is typically of fish of certain ages. IE 3yr olds are generally this and 4 yr old are generally that. If you have an answer, then please comment.

You have to walk downstream to reach this point. Take breather for 5 whilst it settles...but worth it

Sunday 25th and I trapped my biggest brown from this part of the lower Alyn on the T. I flicked a duo setup into the head of the pool, where the dry landed in the main flow and the nymph landed into the back eddy (see below). As soon as the nymph hit the water, the brown darted out from the bank took and leaped in one movement, obviously feeling the resistance of the tight line post cast. Several leaps later and a drag through the fast water, and I reckon 11/2 lbs of Brownie were netted. I fumbled for my camera from my top pocket but lifting the fish from the net it kicked and I dropped it [the fish]. Gone...The smooth tender flesh of a Brown is a lot more slippery than a Grayling:(

Back eddy under the far bank

It is possible the brown was taking damsel nymphs from the grass, as there were a lot freshly emerged around this pool.

Working the water around the farm and you should have a target of at least 20 fish at a ratio of 10:1 Grayling...