Sunday, 16 December 2012

Back to the basics

Getting there!
My daughter wants to know what it was like to make proper photographs!
This should do it!

All old tech. My daughter's 'new' darkroom. (XMAS PRESENT)
Ta Glen Pointon for the 6x6. I have added an OM 1 which I got cheap and replaced the seals with closed cell foam.
Superb Durst Mod 70 enlarger with top lenses, picking up the rest off ebay next week. Happy days to come!!!!

Friday, 2 November 2012


Bullhead. Not Bonehead!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Half term!

I might have to update this tomorrow, but I have had a great couple of days with good friends.

Yesterday we nipped off down to a local river to try to find some difficult bug.gers.

I knew where they lived ( 20 minutes from where I live) and Bone managed a good one. Unfortunately I caught another out of season trout which was rather large! Out of season so no photo!

Today we were mostly going a piking. 
Different fish...same bloody leaf!

Monday, 29 October 2012

out of season trout

This afternoon, me and Bone nipped down to one of our club venues to trot a river for grayling. We are allowed to do so at this time of the year. In  a short session, I had over 30 trout and grayling from the same peg. The fish, some large, were ravenous and in tip top condition. It is the close season for trout but they are an unavoidable capture.
It is recommended  that you should move pegs if catching trout. I didn't as it would not have mattered. (Bone proved it, catching trout from several areas).
It was suprising to see how many fish there were in such a short run, and there is no way I caught them all!
Things are looking good on this river!
No Pictures sorry!


Ok, so it's blurred but I was determined to get a shot of one of the bats that fly around my back garden. Taken a few weeks ago. I guessed the distance, put my camera on manual focus and shot away in the darkness at barely visible silhouettes.

Anyone know the species? Bet RR does!

Monday, 15 October 2012


We went a piking.

We went with an expert (Phil) to a small lake not 4 miles from where we live. We went with Phil, 'cos we had no idea of how to unhook them. I've put my fingers into some strange things in the past; but sorry, unhooking a pike was something I was seriously worried about.!
Cheers to Phil for making it look so easy. Bone and me unhooked our pike and they went on their way, without damage. Good instructions, unhooking mat, barbless hooks, and some seriously long pliers.

A tiddler
Bone has a bigger one than me
Bone went the next day and caught the SAME fish. Shows how well we looked after them.

The point of this latest post is: Don't go fishing for pike if you are not confident or do not know how to unhook them. They are beautiful fish, give a good account of themselves and deserve the same care as you would with any fish you are releasing.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

More carp 'on the fly'

I don't want this to become the most boring blog  ever by showing more pictures of carp caught off the top  but I think it would be a good idea to share some interesting observations. Some would say 'secrets' but that word has no place in my philosophy as for fishing techniques.
 Lots of folk put a great deal of effort into trying out new methods or even honing older ideas, adapting them to modern advances in tackle and our ever changing venues. Some decide to keep it secret but I think it is good to share techniques that you have had good success with.

My carp floater box. Some are better than others.

Wine cork with the hook at the correct angle ( i think )

This one was 12lb 11oz
There are some fellow bloggers who must agree with me like Glen Pointon, RR (dryfly expert) and Mick Martin(Derbyshire on the fly) who all share their experiences in incredible detail.

I have been on a mission.
Carp on the fly is not new by any  means. But it can be the best fun ever if you do it right.
So here we go. My secrets for anyone interested.....
My previous posts show how much I had to learn. I was even tempted to remove them, but no it is progression.

First of all we found that cork had to be the the correct shape and size. Sounds obvious but it is a silhouette the carp see, not colour or even smell.
Just glueing the cork to the hook was not good enough. We missed so many 'takes' you would not believe.
We have now got close to perfect. I t is all down to the angle you glue the hook.
Looks obvious now but it took some working out.

Last weekend I set up the fly rod ( bought some excellent three piece #8 Shakespeare three piece jobbies for £20) and shared them with my mates.
We visited a lake advertised in the Angling Times. Everyone fishing on the bottom. Carp on the top. Bone had two on bread, I had 3 on cork. No one else caught. Enough said!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

My turn

Here are my results from today's venture.

A lovely mirror with a strange glow!

This one gave me a right run around!

 A pig of a fish

Mick broke his rod yesterday playing one of these brutes. I have to say I was more than a little worried when this one decided it was not giving up. My rod was locked solid several times.

I use an 8 weight Airflo 40 plus with a floating cheapo line, 9ft 2x tapered leader, cut back to about 6 ft ( i reckon it's about 15lb at this point) and 5 ft of 10lb flouro. Cork shaped from last night's wine epoxied to a #12 extra strong Kamasan buzzer hook.

We are really off the regular anglers who sit all day with their Strawberry boilies sitting on the bottom, alarms, trollies, wheel barrows etc while the carp are feeding on the top! We turn up for a couple of hours and have some great sport with free 'bait' and a bag of el cheapo dog biscuits. Cost: £1 for at least 4 sessions!

Happy Days

Monday, 6 August 2012

Bone's back on fire

Ok, it's been a long time since I blogged but lots of personal probs for all of us and I'm sure Mick (Bone) won't mind me mentioning the sad passing away of his lovely wife, Angela, a couple of weeks ago.
As you can imagine, since our super mayfly days on the Dove we have not really been in a position to do much. And when there was a window of opportunity, we were often defeated by the weather.

My new bivvy. Impossible to see.

This is how the fish see me. I would imagine

But we have been busy in other ways: A 24 hour fishing match for Douglas McMillan cancer charity with 15 of our good friends, some days struggling on trout lakes and an all nighter on a lake trying for some elusive large carp.

We failed with the elusive large carp but have recently got it sorted with some nice carp on fly tackle at a lake less than 5 minutes from where we live!

It all started after I put a 'bog brush' thing on a fly rod in the 24 hour match. I promptly hooked and lost a large carp.
The next week, Bone and me had another go, throwing out dog biscuits and putting our deer hair balls amongst them. Lots of takes but no hook ups.

So we got our heads together. It would be so easy to glue a hook to a dog biscuit but we didn't want to do that so we got some wine corks and I cut them, shaped them and balanced them with hidden shot so that a nice size 10 Viper circle hook would sit on the top.

Well that did it. On Thursday, I nipped down for an hour and had four!
Today we had an even improved version! I lost a fish of about 15lb after playing it out and waiting for Bone to net it. In fairness to Bone, it was my fault because: 1, I had forgot my net and 2, I had to wait while he landed his!

Bone with a well deserved carp on the fly rod.
We had a great couple of hours.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Fair weather fishermen?

It really is about 'fair weather fishermen' but please stick with me, this is all relevent!

Our club has over 600 members, some of the best fishing in the midlands. Ok it is not cheap but for £235 you get so many venues you are spoiled for choice. The club is well run, you get a mix of top class trout streams, stocked lakes and lot's of prime coarse fishing spots.
We have rods on various reserviors. Blithfield is the one we go to; only because it is close to us.
Some folk reckon the club is expensive. Yes it is if you don't bother to fish!
I have made some mistakes in the past by joining a 'one water' club. The problem with this is that distance might be a problem. You feel pressurised into going to get your money's worth, your mates might not be members and you end up not bothering to go as much as you should to justify the cost.
This is what happened to me. Some folk like to fish on their own, which is fair enough. I do sometimes but I do like the banter with friends.

So, I'd like to give you a breakdown of the economics of joining our club so far this season:

9 great visits to Blithfield. That would have cost £22 a throw. I make that £198 and plenty of eating for friends and family.
The Manifold:
A lovely river. One visit this year. Can't put a price on a freestone river.
The river Dove, Wolfscote:
Almost two miles of superb fishing and scenery in the peak district. Ths is the beat next to Charles Cotton and Issac Walton's. Now if you want to fish the Cotton/ Walton beat it will cost you dear. I think you have to book an overnight stay, be royalty, know someone or something. Out of my league; yet our stretch is better!
I can't put a price on this but you can't possibly fish nearly two miles of pristine limestone stream, brimming with wild trout and grayling for less than £40 per day, can you? Unless poaching!
I have visited this stretch five times so far since March, the start of club membership.I have had some amazing days!  Again, there are other beats of the Dove we can fish but I am only mentioning the places I have fished so far in this club year.

Therfore I reckon I have had easily had my money's worth and it is only Mid June!

OK..Fair weather fishermen?...TODAY!

Today's weather forcast was bad: Heavy showers. I checked the EA website and it looked like the Dove was fining down after Thursday's rainfall. It is the tail end of the Mayfly. Worth a try!

Bone and me decided to give it a go. We set off rather late as Mick had to work. He had left home at 5.00am to finish a job at Telford; a 80 mile round trip! That is dedication to fishing...He managed to pick me up at 11.00. As we drove we talked about an alternative venue, should the maximum rods be on the river.
Arriving at noon we were amazed that the car park was empty!
Saturday 16th June, and mayfly season! Happy days...

The river was a bit high but far from unfishable. Where were the other members? Fair weather fishermen?

We had the river to ourselves and caught...

Lots like these...


Some little greedy ones...'

All on these roughly tied jobbies. Yes, the tail is too long... and yes, Mayflies are not that colour  but I like it and so do the trout and I don't have an expensive Pantone pen selection.  I put some green spots on the body and wings with a green permanent marker from the pound shop. To be honest I don't think it was necessary as I think it is more about the profile.  I had a few refusals but I put that down to the leader floating now and again.  Oh and this is not a freshly tied fly. It is one I used today and has caught many a fish. Very robust, just a wipe and re-gink the elk hair!

 Thank you fair weather fishermen.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Wet through but well worth it!

Have you ever thought that sometimes you take fishing and where you fish for granted?

Today was one of those days. I have a friend who wanted to try river fishing.
It had never occurred that it was 'Duffer's Fortnight'. I had fished the river dove at Wolfscote dale last week and struggled with only 9 fish! I had also fished the Manifold this week and that was not great either. On both occassions there were no mayfly to be seen! So you might understand that I was not quite prepared for what happened today.

Daz picked me up at 7.00 for his very first time fly fishing a river.
He had bought a nice little second hand outfit and wanted to try it out.
We nipped over to Wolfscote dale. It was cold and wet. 7th June. Cold and wet. One car already on the car park, he had checked in at 6.15! I filled in the guest ticket and checked the reports. Someone yesterday had managed 16 brownies.
What to fish with? What tactics? How to keep dry? No chance!
We walked down the river and I began to show Daz where the fish might be lying. Could not resist a quick cast and was rewarded with a grayling, much to Daz's amazement (and mine!).
We passed the chap who had boooked in earlier, he had had a few trout to the mayfly but was going to pack up as he was soaked to the skin.
We walked to the bottom of our stretch, the intention was to slowly work our way back up, sticking together and be away for 1.00.
I had some small mayflies and we tied them on even though there was little in the way of fly life or rising fish.

Daz with his first fly caught river trout.

It was a good call. We nailed it good and proper! I have never seen so many fish in all my life. Where do they normally live? As the morning turned into afternoon, it just got better and better. I was not even bothered when Daz made a pigs ear of landing a fish of mine at least 2lb and sent it on it's way. "Sorry mate."

A happy chappie

We were hammering it but I've never been so wet in all my life, even with the help of my neoprene jacket. However, the rain did give us a few advantages. Firstly, the lack of walkers although I nearly caught a cyclist early on. Secondly, the mayfly duns were finding it tricky to leave the water, this was driving the trout crazy. We also had the river to ourselves! The best bit was the way the rain disguised our leaders.

I look like some trout pervert type person

So fine chance for a 1.00 finish. We came away at 3.00.
I lost count of what we caught. I lost many fish, some suprisingly large although none snapped me. I missed so many due to inexperience. It is the first time I've been on a river during a serious mayfly hatch. I can't say it was difficult because it wasn't. Only the appalling conditions testing our endurance.
I had to report my catch in the checking station. Someone today managed many more than 16 brownies!
I write this, with a beer at my side and a smug grin on my face. I love the fact that this river, having seen many a polution problem is now back to it's best. The mayfly are obviously doing well.
Yes we could have stayed longer but that would have been pure greed.
I just hope Daz (well into double figures), doesn't think it is like this everyday up Wolfscote, because it most definitely isn't! Derby County Angling Society. I love it!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

More friends, more flies

You have to think how this fly fishing thing becomes a passion.
I began about 5 years ago, on my own, knowing nothing.
I now have at least 7 converts! They all pay thier dues. We need more to keep our rivers in tip top condition!
Tomorrow I am taking a mate to the river to convert him too. Just call me 'John the 'B'.

We are not allowed to use a dropper on our stretch.
Sometimes I wonder if the idea is to stop you from catching fish. But we can use a small indicator. So when I need to, I hang a nymph under one of these large winged sedges with the sharp end snapped off. .Mind you...It  don't half p you off when something takes it.  Trouble is, the indicator has to be a max of 1/4 inch...So I have to trim this well down or get banned if anyone dares to check my tackle.

In a 'Moser' stylie: A big winged sedge. Sharp end to be cut off.

Monday, 4 June 2012

A couple of hours on the Manifold

Was a bit cold. Lots of rain last night. I had a shoulder strain (real bad. a legacy from the old martial arts days). I nearly rang Bone to call it off but hey! I am a Lion Tamer and let no one down unless I don't value them.
So we arrived at our venue at about 8.00.
River: High.chocolate runny chocolate The stuff u squeeze on a 69. Sorry, 99.
We could have gone home but we didn't....
I  then remembered  John Tyzack saying to me that the fish don't go home, they just find the comfortable places to see it out.
We walked and waded. Lots of barbed wire down this stretch.
Nowt rising so dropped in me nymph.
And again.
A few times I dropped in me nymph.
I had a small troot on the nymph!

Mick against the wind in chocolate

It was hard.

I saw a mayfly. I watched it and saw it taken.
First and only rise of the day!
  I Told Bone where it was. There was no way with my 9' so in went Mick with his new 6'. rod and the rubber jonny mayfly I showed him to tie yesterday.

Bang on!

Nice one Bone, a wild brownie!  Good angling

Sunday, 27 May 2012

A lovely day for discovery

Here's my little pond. No fish! Plenty of tadpoles and other things.

Today the Lion Tamers and the Bivvy Boys enjoyed a day out frying under the sun at Ellerdine. We flung some fluff and caught a few but to be honest the conditions were against us. The water was very warm and I don't think the trout were very comfortable.

So after a swift pint I came home to do my ironing.
I decided to spend a few minutes looking at my little pond and spotted something that looked like a fly I tied. Yes a large midge type thing. Nipped in the house to grab my camera. The original one I had spotted had gone but saw another!  Sorry about the poor quality but I need to sort the best macro mode.

Saw this. No wonder a Shipman's catches!

But a Shipman's don't wriggle! You can see a midge that did not make it out of the water to the left

Wriggling to get out

Nearly there!

It's out!

Off she goes. 30 seconds at the most!

My pond is full of them. They are quite red. I felt privilaged to watch this. And I learned quite a bit!

From the depths!

Yes folks it's a dog eat dog world out there or should I say frog eat frog!
Spotted this tadpole eating his brethren. Mind you there was a lot of this going on. I just never looked so close before!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Got to show you this...

Our mate and occassional fly fisher has, this evening, caught an incredible crucian from a pond not 10 minutes from where I live. It weighed 4lb 8oz. This is only 1 oz short of the British record!
It was safely returned.

Even if it was a hybrid it was still a great catch! Pictures by Bone. I should have gone but had work to do....

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Is it worth getting a lesson?

Year four.
I would probably have jacked in by now but although I can't speak for my fellow 'tamers' I think we would probably have ditched the fly and would now be looking forward to nights camped out in 'designer bivvies' if it were not for a few fortunate events. I'm going to do this as a list.

Looking back, we were eager but lacked essential knowledge.
There was just Mick and me.
We could tie knots.
We liked a pint after fishing.
We liked a laugh.
We didn't catch much but enjoyed the odd good day on Blithfield.
We dicided to try river fishing.
I joined Leek and District.
I bought a vice.
I fished a few times (on my own on various streams) with very limited success.
Jon showed interest.
We joined DCAS. Now that's a commitment!
We went to Wolfscotedale. We blanked, we were clueless.
I decided it was a waste of money unless I got some sort of advice.
Glen Pointon recommended John Tyzack.
I had a day with him. An unbelievable amount of knowledge was gained. He showed me his flies. A revalation!
I tied and tied and tied...
I was still a poor fly fisherman but at least I now had an idea about how to get better.
I had a day with Glen and friends on the Derbyshire Wye. Top man and free advice.
Had a day or two with Trugg, and Woody. Again I would not have met these guys without paying for that initial lesson with JT.
Went on a cracking weekend on the Upper Tees in poor conditions with JT and others. Learn't a lot more. Met more friends.
We decided that we would enjoy having the pee taken out of us and called ourselves. 'The Lion Tamers'.
We had some super days out on the Manifold and Church Mayfield.
Mick has treatment for prostate cancer.
Fishing is now limited to the odd day out.
DCAS allow us to pospone our membership while Mick goes through his treatment. (Top club).
I join The Peacock because I could do.(The Derbyshire Wye fantastic) but could not fish it enough and realised I like the craic with me mates who didn't join.
Not much fishing last year and bivvies were actually puchased!
We re-join DCAS.
We enjoy the best start ever on Blithfield.
We have more friends wanting to join us.
I have the best day ever on the Dove.
We have recruited 5 coarse anglers to join us this Saturday to fly fish Blithfield in a cancer charity competition. So 8 of us in 4 boats. We don't have a chance of course, we have to give some some casting lessons before hand. 'Tis blind leading the blind you might think but I have tied their flies....

Monday, 7 May 2012

No pics you'll just have to believe me

The Tamers went on our first river outing today. A very nice place with few walkers.
We got there at 8.00. No one else...Good. We hung our tabs in the checking station and read the reports.
'what the F', exclamed Jon when he read the last report (yesterday) to us.
'This bloke has had 14 grayling and a couple of trout!'
Just then a guy turned up in a land rover and introduced himself to us as the 'river keeper' or something like that. I now discover he is Andy Heath of the Trent Rivers Trust and manages the river.  He was very friendly and helpful and confirmed the previous day's catch, adding, 'He had a trout 16" and a grayling 15".
He then asked to see my nymph box and pointed out the nymphs that should do the business. We chatted tactics and he wished us well.
Interestingly, he told me that the guy from yesterday had used an orange coloured nymph with a black tail. From what little knowledge I have, I thought that was a grayling fly and I decided on something more dour.
We spent ages tackling up and after a cup of Bovril, off we went.
I wanted to walk all the way to the bottom of the beat but Bone couldn't resist having a cast in the first field.
So me and Jon had a look and we also had a dabble, much against my instincts.
Jon was soon into a little grayling and lost one while I was re- rigging after a horrible tangle on my first cast.
I then had a nice sized grayling that, looking at it, had obviously not longed finished spawning, Then another smaller one, too imature to breed.
To be honest, I know grayling are out of season but it was difficult to avoid them.
I went downstream on my own. I wanted to do it properly.
Result was, my best 3 hours on a river ever; even if most of the fish were out of season grayling
I lost count but had over 20 grayling and 3 trout.
Very few rises.
I'll take a tape measure in future because I am convinced I caught at least 1 about 18 inches and definitley half a dozen 15 inches. I was glad I took my extendable coarse net.
Ok. No photos but I put them back quickly as you would expect, being out of season.
Jon and Bone should have followed me!

Some reading this would probably have done much better, but I'm happy.

Best part of it is:
The river was perfect, carrying a little of a grey colour
It was very windy but I coped.
Only my 4th visit
The first time I went I blanked...Lesson with an expert.
Weekend with an expert.

Thursday, 3 May 2012


New reel.
Past posts have indicated that I have not been happy with some expensive reels.
For the last two years I have been very happy with my Caimore Eternal reels. I have 3 of the prototypes and they are great. They are bullet proof, machined aluminium, nice drag etc. I have a previous version in a #4 for the rivers. I also have a flextek #3/4 which I have raved about in a previous post.
These reels will last me for years. They are very well engineered and are at least as good as the fancy named ones costing treble the price.
Now I needed a couple of #7/8 reels to hold different lines for 'special' occassions like a slow sinking, midge tip and the like.
Unfortunately I could not get spare spools as my models had been discontinued. A bit gutted as the Caimores I have are faultless. A lesson here: Buy a spare spool! The flextec came with one but it is a #4.
I  looked at a reel advertised on the 'fishing mad' site where I got my excellent waders from.
A Banax Crest.
It looked good and for £45 including post, I ordered.

Comes from a top factory apparently......

I like good engineering, I dribble at sexy machining. For £45 this is a right bargain!

How to paint a picture Sid Kirkham style

I thought I would like to give you a little demonstration on how to paint something simple in watercolour with lots of effect. I am a big fan of a local artist, Sid Kirkham, and love the way he uses not so old world images and light. Here we go.....

 Choose a picture.

I'm sort of changing one of Sid Kirkham's paintings. This is called 'How's it going up the Vale youth?'

As you can see I have a picture to use as a reference. I have selected my main colour, as Sid likes monotone in this style. I use Russian paints and sable brushes but anything decent will do. Aldi and Lidl sell great kits occasionally.

Sketch it out. (take your time)
Use a good quality paper (ask at your local art shop) and mask it to a bit of hardboard.
Select your main colour. This is a dark brown but anything dark will have the effect. Paynes grey with a touch of red is a nice alternative. You could even go wierd and choose a strong blue, red or green!
Paint it, leaving areas white where you want the amazing light effect that Sid produces.

I like to paint left to right but it's up to you.

Put in the yellow for the light, here and there.

It's coming together!

Red and white scarf for the Stoke supporter. Colour depends on your team or University. Don't bother with the other guy at the far end. (Vale supporter in this case)

Double mount it with good card (Ha Ha I have the kit!) and stick it in a tasty frame from Wilko.

The lens distorts the uprights

Sell the painting and risk prosecution or do give it to your mum, which is what I did!

So there you go. No excuses. Get them paints out while waiting for your buzzers to dry