Rods at the ready for salmon season

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Saturday, February 1, brings the start of the 2014 salmon season on our region’s rivers, writes Bob Smith.

My Coquet dropped through the letterbox this week. Lots of rods will be expected to fish on the Tweed and Tyne in particular. Anglers will be out too on the Coquet trying to catch the first spring fish of the season so they can claim the Coquet Trophy and three years’ free fishing. Permits for three years would cost more than £350, so that is a good motivator in itself.

Obviously, the first fish has to be verified and anyone catching what they think is the first springer must contact a bailiff, take a photograph and scales must be taken.

It was 2010 and then 2007 when the first fresh salmon was caught on the first day. Will it happen in 2014? Watch this space.

I gave Steve his first fly-fishing lesson before Christmas when he used my tackle.

Catching three fish, he was hooked and really enjoyed the experience. Steve phoned me and asked if I could help him select the basics for a reasonable price.

Off we went to Hardy and Greys in Alnwick and I showed him around before we started looking at the wide selection of rods.

We selected three that felt ok, but the only way to select a rod is to cast it. So we took the rods outside to the casting pool at the front of the shop. This pool is a terrific facility because customers can actually take their time and cast each rod selection to see if it suits their casting style. Steve selected a Hardy rod, which is now discontinued, and saved a heap of money.

We then selected a matching reel and line. Alan, the shop manager, was most helpful and loaded the reel with backing and the new fly line. This is a service which this shop has provided for many years and is greatly appreciated by all customers.

Steve went on to purchase a fly vest and a number of accessories. Steve now wants other lessons to try out the new tackle.

I have also spent some time this week designing my new flyers as I only have a few left. The design is now at the printers and the proofs should be emailed to me today or tomorrow. I am quite excited about the design and hope the final proof is impressive.

I fished at Whinney Loch after another visit to Berwick this week. The weather was exceptional for January, overcast, short showers, very mild and a slight ripple on the loch.

The trout were high in the water and the two of us caught a lot of trout. The fish were fighting hard and they took all small flies.

Successful patterns were dries, on the surface, buzzers, mainly black or brown, and hackled wet flies retrieved very slowly.

Tim had his third lesson with me at Chatton this week. It was only a couple of hours and just as well as the weather was foul.

Tim was keen just to assemble his new outfit that Christmas had delivered.

He too had been into Hardy and Greys and had bought a lovely, well-balanced rod, reel and line. I got Tim to assemble everything, reminded him to put a limitless candlewax on the rod joints, and off we went.

Considering the conditions, Tim did really well with the casting and is booking another session soon, hopefully when the weather has improved.

Before Tim arrived I had an hour to myself. I tried Dunnydeer Lake first and after 20 minutes I landed a lovely, well-finned, two-pound trout.

The wind was increasing so I went down to Chatton Lake which was carrying a little more colour. I tied on a black pheasant tail and after half-a-dozen casts I hooked a lovely trout. It put a good bend in my rod before it came to the net. It was not 10lbs, but would have easily sent the scales to eight. The fish was not that long, but it was very deep. I returned it after taking a photograph; anglers need the evidence.

The competition held at Chatton on Sunday was for the very hardy, as the weather deteriorated again. However, more than 20 very keen anglers fished, and everyone who caught a fish shared in the cash prizes.

The winner was Colin Harris, who landed five trout. Congratulations to him and all the other brave souls who participated.

This coming week has me on a fishing assessment course and looking at a potential new river beat. Always something to keep me busy – stops me thinking too much, methinks!