On the 27th of December I should have been hauling monster Pollack from the wrecks littering the English Channel. Force 8 winds soon put a stop to that. Rather than waste another day lounging around eating turkey left overs and imbibing mulled wine we decided to go Fly Fishing.
The cold weather of winter is advantageous to those looking to scratch their fly fishing itch while waiting for the official season to begin in early spring. Most small still water trout fisheries remain open all year. They fish just as well as they do in the warmer months (if not better) and are nearly always void of those water whipping summer enthusiasts. Exe valley is one of the best small still water fisheries in the southwest. I am convinced the quality of fish to be experienced here is down to the high throughput of water.
We began fishing sunburst blobs (a killer fly here) on a slow retrieve and within a matter of minutes all three of us had landed a fish. The idea was to see if we could catch a fish using the most unconventional method possible. Lures had to be retrieved as slowly as possible while buzzers and nymphs were only allowed to be retrieved as fast as humanly possible. I managed to hook into a fish by ripping a gold head hares ear along the margins.
James turned his fishing up to ‘Eleven’ and tried a sunburst blob under a site indicator. As he very very (very) slowly retrieved the fly the water erupted and a fish tail walked 10ft across the surface of the water. “Woah woah woah” Mark yelped “that’s a good fish”. Jim managed to get the fish near the bank and at first it looked like a salmon. It was however the weirdest coloured brown trout, all 14lbs of it! A couple of minutes later Jim was in again, this time it was a ‘mere’ 9lb rainbow. While J. R. Hartley was rolling in his fictional grave we were rolling on the floor laughing.
It is extremely interesting (funny) to see how the trout are willing to take a fly fished in completely the opposite way you would traditionally work it. we wanted to try a team of blobs’n'boobies but as a previous experiment concluded they don’t cast too well.
Meanwhile during a double hook up I threw down the ’speed catch’ gauntlet and was mercifully whooped by the superior pulling power of an 8wt rod. My 5wt greys clicker-drag reel was making a noise like Donald Duck as I battled with my fish in an attempt to land it quicker than Mark. It is another interesting reminder of much pressure you can apply to a fish with a fly rod, all too often you see fly anglers with barely a bend in the rod allowing the trout to speed towards a weed bed at warp factor 10.
Is there a conclusion to this awesome display of fly fishing? Not really, but do get out fishing, do go with your friends, do try something outside the ‘traditional’ fly fishing box and most importantly make sure you have fun. It was a short session but between the three of us we had 15 fish (lost another 4 or 5) ranging from 2-14lb. Excellent.
Here are some of the photo’s – Nikon D90
p.s. Another angler managed to land a 15lb fish