Man on a quest!

I had the pleasure of meeting Tony Mair today, an amiable fellow and inspiring explorative type; a man who exudes enthusiasm as soon as you meet him … unfortunately I couldn’t fish with him today but the river is best tackled on your own, so this was not such a bad thing.

Tony had made a most generous winning bid for a day on the Little River Avon in the Wild Trout Trust’s annual auction several months ago and was due to visit earlier in the year but unfortunately had to postpone due to bad weather and high water.

The need to reorganise his visit had niggled away at the back of my mind for some time; I was a little concerned as he was running out of trout season and I hadn’t heard from him for a while, so when he e-mailed me a short while ago to arrange a late season slot I was pleased he had made contact and eager to ensure he had a good visit.   We managed to get the paperwork and permissions in order (to cover club records and insurances etc.) and arranged to meet for a quick chat over breakfast in Tortworth Estate Farm Shop Cafe; it didn’t take long to cover parking, access and safety issues whilst prodding at an OS map and then we were out on the road.

I  pointed him at a few likely spots in a very hasty two car convoy tour, waving my arm out of the car window in a random way … this was probably just about enough to get orientated but as Tony is an experienced fellow now, with all his travelling, the impromptu disorganised dash around, following a man who was simply winging it, didn’t really matter.  I left him near the access to Cascades on the old A38 road bridge with a glint in his eye and the freedom to roam our lovely local river with none of the hindrances that usually apply with guest tickets.  The management group and Berkeley Estate had agreed to make him a full member for the day to allow him more scope and assist with this part of his challenge.   Tony is working his way around every county, aiming to catch a trout in each one and hasn’t got many left to do, so I was keen to see him do well (his blog can be seen here: ).

Our little river can be fickle at times, some days it just doesn’t play ball, I do hope it worked out OK? … I await to hear how it went and wish Tony the best of luck for this visit and for the completion of his quest!

Tight Lines, Splash

PS – please see update comments below.


Simple Flies for Fishing: Parachute Adams

A quick slap together fly with just a little more time taken over producing the image.

This post doesn’t do the original full hackled dry-fly type justice at all really … but it is in the spirit of the modern variant and definitely one of the most productive flies for fishing with: the Monnow crew swear by it.   I will return and do the original fly pattern at some point and take some time over it.  This variant is the staple ‘knock a few up quick’ pattern IMO, although to make it even quicker to tie you can abandon the two hackle technique required by the original Adams pattern and just use one; then pick a complementary dubbing material and perhaps use a high vis’ post to help you see it and it becomes a simple ‘paradun’ which you can tie with any combination of colours and materials to suit your circumstances.

The Ford Focus of river fly tying:

Tight Lines, Splash

Suitable for Vegetarians.

I’ve gone through a bit of a melancholic phase recently, it feels like the spring has dragged its heels this year and my grumpy mood has done nothing to counteract it.  The local river somehow appears to be a little lack lustre.  I’ve checked the  water regularly when passing but it’s felt like I’ve been short-changed by the frequency of rise forms.  I’m sure there were more signs of life at this time of year in the past?  Perhaps I’m being too eager and my memory is playing tricks on me, or maybe I’ve hit a plateau; the embryonic enthusiasm of the first 6 years or so of river fishing might have worn a little thin by now and it’s tainting my vision?

My fishing equipment is also niggling at me … the rigmarole of buying new kit and packaging yourself into wading gear was fun at first but getting all dressed up for fishing sometimes feels like too much trouble … I’ve obviously been far too busy sulking under the grey blanket of cloud that’s holding back a struggling spring this month, whilst  letting the gloom and doom of recessions and all the dark stories from the media get the better of me?  I’m not usually one to give in to negativity but this year my revolve has weakened … shame on me.

However, there’s a cycle to these things and just when one person’s mood dips, another’s can lift things back up again … my son Jack has shown more interest in the river lately, which has already lead us into fun new territory with the fly sampling;  I’ve aimed to avoid imposing my hobbies on my offspring but it is encouraging when your lad shows an interest in something you’re into.  Fishing is something I’ve considered a solitary pursuit for a several years but more recently it has become something of a social thing at times, the fishing focus suffers a though but the company adds to the pursuit.   In my mind, the premise is not one of pre-conceived ideas but one of entering into the outdoors with an open mind, ready to engage with nature, living for the now and reacting in the moment … perhaps you don’t need anyone making that overly complicated but sometimes it’s nice to have some company; fishing can be great when done alone, it’s often described as the contemplative man’s sport but people can also enjoy it in all sorts of ways.   It’s not wholly clear why we fish but perhaps it appeals to parts of the brain that the modern world neglects and getting out there allows us to find a more natural balance with our surroundings?  Concentrating on the moment and letting the concerns of the past and future drift out of focus is something that is healthy on occasions, these things matter less in a wild environment … if this experience can be under taken with a kindred spirit, then all the better, these days I judge a person as a true friend if I can imagine going fishing with them … my lad has been an inspiration on this front lately, it’s encouraging when someone drags you waterside with a simple enthusiasm … once you’re out there, you wonder what was holding you back in the first place.

On this occasion the water was up and the weather was blustery with squally showers, so we were going to try trotting for trout, something we’d never done anywhere, let alone on the local river.  Our club doesn’t allow juniors to fish at all and it wouldn’t be safe for a 9-year-old to wade anyway, so trotting with dad is a perfect introduction to fishing … traditional trotting is arguably not strictly coarse fishing and is allowed under the lease of our syndicate.   The ‘bait and line’ thing is a bit different for anyone who fishes with the fly but it’s not dissimilar to French nymphing; holding a float back against the current comes naturally, anyone who is used to raising a sunk nymph at the end of a drift will know the principle.  As a method, it’s not quite as mobile as fly fishing (assuming you’re not wading) but you can move about on the bank-side as much as topography permits; this wasn’t an overly serious expedition though and we didn’t spend all that long at it but we did have a few bites quite quickly and one particularly nice fish that we probably wouldn’t have caught via the fly.   The other plus is that Jack got to eat more vegetables than he usually would, he’s a bit of a carnivore at home but there’s something about tinned sweetcorn scooped out the tin on the river bank that is difficult to resist.   It was a successful day out and something different.  My only regret is that I’ve neglected trotting for Grayling over the winter.  I might spoil myself with a new centre-pin and focus on big Grayling during the cold months next winter.  In the meantime, come coarse season, I might have a go for some of the big Chub using the method.

Some might turn their nose up at his type of fishing and whilst I can respect their view, I would suggest that it’s always good to keep an open mind.  Fly casting with the dry is portrayed as a pure and elegant exercise but equally, it might also be deemed a little two-dimensional.  I like to keep a broad perspective;  I won’t be giving up fly fishing any time soon but traditional trotting is a relaxed alternative and makes sense in certain circumstances, particularly when water conditions are difficult … it’s definitely worth giving it a go on occasions.

Tight Lines, Splash (& Son)