Monday, 28 June 2010

Forum Get Together Report

I've just enjoyed a nice weekend in the company of some friends from the Sea Saltwater fly fishing forum. These boys have been having regular meetings or get togethers for some time now and we all agreed it was time for them to come over to the Island for one.
I must say what a nice bunch of chaps they are and how smashing it is that we can all get along so well due to sharing the common interest of Saltwater fly fishing, even though we are all very different people. I was their guide for the weekend and hoped to provide them with a memorable time. The weather was superb, the hottest days of the year so far, and almost mediterranean conditions for their visit, I managed to find a few fish for them here and there, but really the fishing was fairly difficult I feel due to the bright sunny conditions. A little cooler with some cloud would have been better probably to give them more of a chance of getting on some numbers of fish, but I think they enjoyed the experience regardless and were impressed by the Island's scenery and coastline. A full detailed report can be found on the Forum here , .

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Ups and Downs

It wouldn't be right for me to just document My successful sessions, without reporting the less fruitful or more difficult ones and of course, the Blanks. Firstly, I dont want to kid anyone, I am just as prone to getting it wrong as anyone else and secondly there is nothing to learn from just writing about the good times without balancing the books by logging the bad ones.

As Anglers We are always on the lookout for patterns or indicators that will enable us to be repeatedly successful in our efforts to catch fish. The problem with this is, there are a huge amount of variables to contend with, whatever your type of fishing. It is up to us to study these variables as much as possible, and try to make reasonably accurate assessments of a given situation and decide when and how to best approach it. The only way to do this is through spending as much time as We can being involved in the pursuit of catching fish. Nothing beats experience, and the more experience you can get, the better you can become at what you do, and therefore make better decisions based on the information that has been gathered over time.
How the information is recorded is down to the individual, many Anglers keep Diaries or Logs( Blogs! ) of their sessions so they can look back and use what they have written to try and spot the afore mentioned patterns or key factors that will enable them to be consistently prolific at putting fish on the bank, hopefully! But as I said at the beginning there are no hard and fast rules in fishing, only sets of circumstances where all we can do is give it our best guess, how right We get it is down to Fate, the Fish, and a huge amount of Luck! Getting it wrong can be frustrating, and soul destroying, especially if you seem to be on a consistent run of bad luck and enduring blank after blank. But there is always something to be learned, not just from the good sessions but the bad ones too, it gives us something to gauge how successful we really are when things seem to be going right. It also teaches us when to expect things to be difficult, because no matter what, personally I need to fish, even when things are likely to be adverse. If I didn't fish when things didn't look right then I would end up hardly fishing at all probably! This is even more of an issue where Sea Angling is concerned, and having the right conditions for Fly fishing in the Salt is even more crucial, and sometimes so that we can continue to fish in this manner we have to push the boundaries of what can be done with the tackle and conditions, which are hardly ever perfect, certainly not in this country anyway!

So it has been this week as far as fishing the Fly for Bass has been concerned, the Wind is playing havoc with the Sea conditions around the Island the early part of this week and despite our best efforts not a thing has been caught. We stayed positive and fished well, despite the niggling thought at the back of our minds that really chances were pretty slim given the conditions. As always though there was something to take home from the sessions, to chew over and to file away for use another time. It may not always be very evident at the time what it is you have learnt from the session, but believe me there is always something....

The pressure is on over the weekend! I am hosting a 'Get Together' for some of My friends from the Sea Forum, and I hope to provide them with an enjoyable two days and a few Fish! I just hope the Wind behaves itself and doesn't make things as difficult as they have been the first part of the week. The venue I have chosen for them is, normally, (!) a very prolific one, and whilst bigger fish are harder to come by here there are usually good numbers of Fish around, whatever the weather...
Hopefully we should have good time, chatting and swapping fishy stories and banter, and enjoying each others company, regardless of the fish catching side of things. It should be good to get together with like minded people and exchange ideas and experiences, again there is always something to be learned. So I look forward to seeing them and hopefully there will be a good report to put up both here and on the Forum!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

And now for something completely different....!

The forecast wasn't good. Brisk Easterly winds were set to make things difficult yet again...

Rather than sit indoors waiting for the winds to abate, and not fish, I formulated another plan.
Being the allrounder that I am, I had a hankering to do some Coarse fishing for Tench, which is almost as nice a way to while away a summer evening as Fly fishing for Bass. So snatching the opportunity I purchased a ticket for My local lake, which is only a few hundred yards away from My front door.
The Plan was to Float fish for the Tench on reasonably light balanced tackle, but with the chance of the odd bigger Carp putting in an appearance I couldn't go ultra light.
I settled on using a 13ft stepped-up Match Rod, 6lb mainline to a 5.2lb flourocarbon hooklink and size 12 hook. This would hopefully be a versatile enough set up to provide reasonable sport with smaller species but give me a fighting chance should something bigger come along!
I have fished this venue for many years and know it quite intimately, so locating where the target fish where was quite easy, but avoiding the Carp in the lake proved to be a bit more tricky!

I caught some very nice Tench to over 5lb, Roach to well over 1.5lb, and had 'nuisance' Carp to 24.14lb (a float- caught personal best),that really tested the tackle I can tell you!! But it just goes to show what can be done with carefully balanced tackle.
Whilst it has been an interesting and fruitful diversion, of course I really want to be out on the coast chasing Bass on the Fly, and save the best of the Coarse fishing for the Winter months, so as soon as possible I'll be back out there making the most of it and hopefully catching plenty of
Bass and other species.

A lovely Summer Tench (Above)

The 'Nuisance' 24.14lb Carp!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Flies of the moment and other observations.

From time to time, as the season progresses, I will take a look specifically at what Flies and methods are working at certain stages and see how things are progressing, and if there are any noticeable changes or patterns or preferences on the Fishes part, and try and make observations based on what is happening at that time. I'm sure there will be some interesting and notable changes as the season progresses, it may be that any trends will be time of year based, or venue based, or a combination of both. I already know that the Fish can show a preference for a certain Fly, or colour combination at different venues, particularly if they are not preoccupied with chasing whitebait, and are making use of whatever resident food sources there are at that particular venue. So i'm sure it will be fascinating actually documenting these observations over the season, not to mention useful for future seasons, as it will allow me, hopefully to spot any patterns and use them to full advantage in the coming years. Fish, like most other animals driven by their survival instincts, are creatures of habit, and will follow the same behaviour patterns year on year, which, for the observant Angler, can be very useful if you can spot these habits! For example the most obvious is Spawning behaviour, and Fish will turn up in their favoutite spot at the same time each year almost to the day and tide. This also extends beyond spawning time when fish can be found in certain spots for only short periods, probably capitalising on a matured food source, never to return again until the following year when that food source is again ripe for harvesting. So with careful observation it is possible to give yourself a pretty good idea of when fish are likely to turn up in any given spot, and what type of imitation or bait to present them with.
This of course, all takes time to learn, and whilst I have quite a few years of general Sea Angling experience to help me in My quest to catch Bass, Fishing for them on the Fly is a bit different to Fishing for them with bait, and it goes without saying the more you can learn the better, no matter how much you think you already know, they will still confound you at times and leave you scratching your head! So the more observations you can make, the more tiny pieces you can slot into the puzzle to help make the bigger picture...

On to what Flies have been doing the business so far then..

I think I am right in saying that the Clouser Minnow is probably the most widely used and abused fly pattern among Saltwater Fly Fishermen, why? because, in My view, it is actually an incredibly versatile pattern, one might not think so at first glance, but a deeper understanding of Fly materials can transform the way that this famous fly works. The standard model as tied by Mr Clouser himself revolves around the use of Bucktail, and rightly so, because Bucktail is an excellent material for tying Flies. As a product of nature it has certain inherent qualities that make it excel for use as a Fly material. It is hollow, durable, it sheds water very well, produces a very life like movement in the water, and is very easy to work with as a tying material. It is also very dense, despite being hollow, and this produces a fast sinking Fly when coupled with the Tungsten barrel eyes that help to make this pattern what it is, and great for fishing a bit deeper, but other materials can alter the way that the fly behaves in the water, and I am a great fan of synthetic materials as well as natural, because each has its own unique qualities that can be tailored to suit a variety of different presentations and Angling situations. These can be used individually or combined to achieve the desired results depending on how we want the Fly to behave in the water.
Having played around with a few different materials for the Clouser, and not wanting to fish the Fly too deep at the venues we have been targeting, I have found that SF flash blend suits my needs very well, it isn't as dense a material as Bucktail and fishes a little hgher in the water. More importantly as well as having flash blended in with the material already, it also posesses a lovely translucent quality even if tied on the bulky side, so it is hard to over do it. The translucensy of the material also very nicely replicates the nature of the baitfish that the Bass are preying on at this time of year. We have been tying on size six hooks, keeping the material fairly short and tight and the resulting pattern seems to work very well. I also think tying them a little on the 'bulky' side has helped pick up the odd better fish as it looks more of a meal than a sparse tied version. Colour combinations have been the usual White and Charteruese, though I think there is room for other Colour combinations, Pink has worked well in the Glass minnow patterns and I think it may well prove the same here.

Alternative Stripping techniques..

I have been playing around with different stripping techniques this year, and I would say it has definitely made a difference to My catch rate and has also contributed to My catching a few better fish as well. Firstly I have slowed the retrieval rate of the Fly down, whereas last year I would retrieve, more or less in a mechanical fashion, at a reasonable pace, believing the faster strip would make the Bass want to grab the fly for fear of losing a meal, however it became apparent that they could keep up even if I were to attach My line to a high speed drill and retrieve it! Also when retrieved like this I would get a lot of hits but no too many actual hook ups. After some clear water observations I noticed they were just nipping the 'tail' of the Fly and not actually engulfing it instantly resulting in the missed 'hits'. After some thought I deduced that what they were doing was trying to 'disable' the fly by nipping at the tail, something many predators do to prevent their prey from escaping. I also deduced that by keeping up the retrieval rate even after getting a hit, that I was causing the Fly to possibly behave in an unnatural manner, and that by stopping the retrieve after recieveing a hit, pausing the fly for a moment and then resuming the strip, I could make the Fly behave more like a wounded prey fish. Slowing the retrieve would also make the Fly act more like a wounded fish, and by adding an element of erraticness to the retrieve it would resemble an injured prey fish even more, making it an even more attractive potential meal for the Bass. Coincidentally there was a brief discussion about varying types of strip on the Forum I mentioned, which served to reinforce My conclusions, along with the results I have been getting lately. There is no doubt in My mind that I am getting more hook up's as a result of concentrating more on what is going on at the end of the line, and by conciously making an effort to ensure the Fly behaves as a bait fish would, rather than just mechanically stripping the fly back towards me without trying to impart some 'life' into it.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

A cracking Three Pounder

A window in the weather presented itself yesterday evening, after a couple of days of quite windy and showery conditions, things settled enough for us to get a few hours in on the Kayaks again. The evening was overcast, quite humid, and almost no wind at all. I suggested that We try a spot that We would normally fish by wadeing, but using the Yaks would allow us to remain in place during the whole flood Tide, instead of having to retreat like We normally would due to the deepening water. Choosing to anchor up around 100yds from shore and sitting sideways on the Kayaks with our feet hanging over the side, It wasn't long before We were into the first fish of the evening, What was immediately apparent was that there was a better average stamp of fish around this evening, most of the Bass were in the pound to pound and a half bracket and gave superb accounts of themselves on Fly tackle, in the clear water beneath the boats, a wonderful sight, I can tell you! About an hour into the session I struck into what was obviously a better fish, that fought really hard for a few minutes, and gave Me a thrilling few moments before revealing itself on the surface to be a fish of around Three pounds! After a few quick pictures the fish was returned and swam away strongly. I ended up with around a dozen fish for the evening, all over a pound and up to the three pound mark, and my friend also took several fish to around two pounds, so all in all a good evening and well worth launching the Kayaks for.

Monday, 7 June 2010

I'd like to say a big well done to My friends from the Sea Forum, who are all based around the Portsmouth, Hayling area, on having a Red Letter day this weekend just gone. Bassfly, Mulletfly, and Scierra experienced a fantastic days sport taking a large number of Bass and Mackerel on the Fly, whilst fishing from a boat. I know It's been a slow start to the season for these guys compared to over here so it's a well deserved result for a nice bunch of people, well done again guys!

Conversely things have gone a bit quiet over here at the moment, a couple of trips out have produced very little, probably due to the Ebb tides and Easterly winds we have yet again been getting the last few days, not the best combination. I was unfortunately unable to venture out on the day the lads had their Red Letter day, (which was a scorcher, and for once the winds weren't Easterly!), when obviously the fish were going nuts!

Tides later this week are coming good for some evening flood sessions though, so providing the Weather plays along and the wind is cooperative we should be able to get amongst the fish again and at one of My favourite venues, fingers crossed!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Faced with a period of Ebb Tides it was decided that We would launch the Kayaks for a midweek evening session. A bit of exploration was also in order, so rather than head for one of our usual spots, we paddled a bit further on from a known productive spot to investigate a little fished area, pretty much inaccessible from the shore. The winds that evening were North Westerly and pushing onshore, quite gentle and dropping as the evening wore on. It wasn't long before I spotted some Fish hitting the surface, so I quickly cast a Dexter Wedge into the area and sure enough within a couple of casts a nice Schoolie of around 3/4lb grabbed the lure. My companion for the evening also hooked up quite quickly landing a fiesty Mackerel. It was clear that there were a number of Fish around and so I settled down to drift fish a spot where the fish seemed to be breaking surface regularly. The bites were not really forthcoming on the Dexter so I switched to the Fly, ( a small Clouser Minnow on a size six hook ), for a slower retrieve, and of course some better sport on the softer rod. The switch worked a treat and I began catching Immediately. A mixture of Pollock and some nice hard fighting Schoolies up to around a pound provided me with some great sport in the ebbing Tide. All too soon the water slackened off with low water and so did the bites. With not much light left we paddled back to shore happy with the evenings sport.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The Month in Summary : May

May has been a mixed bag weather wise, Winds have been predominantly Easterly, and quite brisk at times, only changing direction briefly allowing comfortable casting with the Fly at the Venues we have been fishing. It's been a mostly dry month and We have seen the first 20 plus degree temperatures in the latter half of the month which has kick started the Bass fishing season, witnessing the first proper Blitz's of the year, and the first signs of huge shoals of tiny Baitfish and Fry. I wouldn't say the Fishing has been consistent, it's actually been quite patchy, but between us My friend and I have managed close to 100 fish, including, Bass, Pollock, and Mackerel, With a few better Bass in amongst that lot to 4lb. Not a bad start really, as I know that some of My Fellow Swffer's across the water in 'England' (!) have struggled to get amongst any numbers of Fish, so I count Myself very fortunate. The best results have been during the hottest brightest days, no surprise there really, with cooler duller days being more patchy numbers wise. The Fish seem to respond very quickly to the changes in the weather, at this time of year, or, more likely, the changes in air pressure, which proves nothing can be taken for granted, and that it isn't guaranteed that once they arrive they will be there every time we go Fishing. Of course you always hope they are! but it isn't the nature of the game, especially this early in the season. The Fishing should become more consistent, of course with time, and warmth penetrating the Ocean from the sun's rays, the warmer it gets the more the Fry will swell inshore and the Bass will be behind them, it's then just a matter of finding exactly where all this is happening at any given time! Some places last season the Fish were pretty much resident all summer long, providing very reliable sport, other spots were much more flash in the pan and timing was crucial to finding any numbers of Fish there and catching them, as well as a large slice of luck! Being able to read the conditions and having a pretty good idea where to head for at any given time is still a developing skill, but it isn't often that We don't present ourselves with a fair chance of some Fish.

This week We are presented with some quite unhelpful Tides, as We can only fish for a few hours on an evening We have to more or less take whatever is on offer if We want to go Fishing, and for the next few days We are faced with Ebb tides again, not a great start to June but some warmer, settled weather is forecast again so maybe we'll get lucky, if not it'll be fun trying!