Trout weigh in at double figures

Tom and his River Till trout.
Tom and his River Till trout.

Still enjoying coaching and helping people seven days a week. This last seven days have had me coaching on the rivers Till and Eden as well as visiting Hallington Reservoir, Chatton and Thrunton Long Crag, writes Bob Smith.

A very bright, hot, sunny day saw me meeting Tom from Cambridge on the Tip Toe beat of the River Till. The river was very low and running gin-clear. Tom had only been fly-fishing for about a year and only on still waters.

He had a little bit to learn about casting a line with trees and vegetation around him. So the first part of the session concentrated on learning how to improve his casting style. Once the cast was reasonable, we moved to a lovely pool where the water ran in fairly fast at the head of the pool. Giving tuition on the river is great because there is so much happening all the time. As Tom progressed down the pool, we saw a pair of buzzards circling on the thermals, two roe deer, woodpeckers, dippers, but none of my favourite birds, the kingfisher.

As the fly line began to near the tail of the pool, the line suddenly went tight and a good fish made a huge wave that crossed the pool. The fish leapt out of the river and I knew it was not a brown trout that I was expecting.

The fish was a bar of silver and it disappeared into the pool and led Tom a merry dance for some minutes. Tom said still-water trout that he had caught never fought like that! I reminded him that this was a wild fish and it knew how to use the current of the river to its advantage.

Eventually Tom got his beautiful two-and-three-quarter-pound, fresh-run sea trout to my net. It was a lovely fish, and to catch it at that time of the day in those weather conditions was surprising to say the least.

Later in the session, Tom caught a number of brown trout, beautifully marked with red spots, the best of which probably weighed three-quarters-of-a-pound. A terrific session considering it was the first time Tom had fished on any river. He said he would like to return and book me to coach him more about different casts and techniques he could use.

My other river experience this past week was on the River Eden, near Carlisle. I went across to fish with Neil, a friend from my college days. A day ticket on the Carlisle Angling Association water was £7.50, good value for trout and grayling fishing. There are 27 named pools or stretches on the beat to explore if you are not familiar with this section of the Eden. Another really hot, bright day with low, clear water which made it a bit of a challenge. I managed to catch five grayling, none bigger than 10 inches, but Neil only caught one trout, but it was a superb two-and-a-half-pound wild brown. The spots on his trout were almost the size of pennies, terrific.

I had an evening session with my mate Allan and his brother-in-law John at Thrunton Long Crag. There was a cool easterly breeze that evening and only a handful of trout were rising. I put on a beaded black buzzer with red cheeks. This fly catches me a lot of trout and Allan put on the same fly, but without a bead. Third cast I hooked and played a heavy rainbow which was about six pounds. Not a bad start I thought, so I changed the fly. No matter what I tried, no more offers in the two hours.

Allan lost his first fish just before the net, but his second trout pulled the fly lone and backing line from his reel. I walked along and eventually netted it for him. I knew it was well into double figures, probably 12 to 14 pounds. A couple of photographs and off it went swiftly back to the depths of Long Crag. John also got a couple of trout on a gold-ribbed hare’s ear.

Thrunton has fished well this week with the trout moving at different levels depending on the weather. Anglers have had bags recorded to include 16 fish which also featured two 15-pounders, a 12 and a 10-pound trout. The fishery has played host to three club competitions this week, all of which enjoyed their day and caught good numbers of trout.

I also coached three guys at Hallington reservoir the home of Westwater Angling Club. It was a perfect day for fishing, overcast, warm and only the slightest of breezes which created a beautiful ripple. Trout were rising freely and the guys were soon into hooking fish.

Keeping them on was a problem because of the barbless hooks. Unless the line was kept tight and the rod bent, the trout soon threw the hook. However, practice makes perfect and eight trout were brought to my net. Most were in the two-pound bracket, apart from one which would tip the scales past six pounds. All the fish were caught using dry flies which was lovely as the guys could see the trout rising and taking their fly.

I had four coaching sessions at Chatton fishery this week. Two evening sessions where Peter and Michael wanted to improve their dry-fly fishing technique. Both evenings were ideal because they were warm with only a little ripple on the lakes. Both guys fished Dunnydeer lake were there were more fish rising. A small CDC F fly floating on the surface attracted a lot of attention.Once both Peter and Michael learnt to wait after the ‘take’, they got their rewards.

Gwen lives near Chatton and she had her first coaching session using a fly rod with me. The casting improved steadily as the lesson progressed and Gwen got a ferocious take before we finished. I do not know who got the biggest shock, Gwen or the trout on being hooked. A steady hand and the trout was played to the net. Although it was Gwen’s first trout, she wanted it to be returned to the lake, so it was.

Finally, young Daniel had a fly-fishing lesson with me at Chatton and he caught his first fly-caught trout, a fish which weighed two ounces over four pounds. The fish pulled all the fly line from the reel and 20 yards of backing line on the first run. What a fight and it made him concentrate hard so that the trout was not lost.

Finally, just a reminder that Chatton is holding an all-night session this Saturday evening. Anglers just turn up and buy a ticket as usual and can fish throughout the night to welcome the longest day.

Sounds good, I shall be there, but can I stand the pace without nodding off? Plenty of coffee me thinks! Enjoy your week.