Clocking the miles on fishing ventures

Bob Smith's angling column (
Bob Smith's angling column (

I have clocked some miles on the car this week coaching at various venues across the county on rivers and still-waters, writes Bob Smith.

I have been on the rivers Till and Coquet as well as visiting Chatton and Langley Dam.

The weather has had a distinct, cooler feel to it with some strong winds making some banks of the still-waters more popular than others. Autumn, I feel, is on its way and hopefully the trout will be aware of it too and begin to feed up for the forthcoming winter.

The rivers were completely different; the Till was up and coloured while the Coquet was back to summer level.

Stephen and his wife were visiting from Ellesmere Port and staying in a lovely cottage by the Till.

When we arrived early in the week, the river was flowing fast and carrying a lot of colour.

Stephen wanted to fly fish and improve his casting technique so we found a fairly sheltered spot from a fresh breeze and put his rod up. Stephen usually overhead casted, but there were so many trees about it was very difficult.

He was amazed at how little effort was required and how the fly line landed so perfectly on the water.

Stephen said that he had lessons before, but so many things had never been explained to him. Now it was all making sense and he thought his wife would enjoy having a lesson too.

We went back to the cottage where he was full of what he had learnt and we arranged a two-hour session for his wife at the local Chatton fishery a couple of days later.

A few weeks ago I had a session with Mary, who had a voucher from her husband Ian, and she really enjoyed the experience.

Hearing so much about it, Ian thought he would like to give it a try. Ian brought the son-in-law along too and we had a good short session which seemed to last only seconds.

That is one thing I must mention, probably the biggest disadvantage of going fly fishing is, somebody always turns the clock faster. No sooner have you started than you are finishing and the hours have gone, but it is always good fun and challenging.

Wednesday saw another super day where I spent time coaching the youngsters at Chatton fishery.

They are always keen to learn and enjoy the sessions without catching fish sometimes.

When they do get a take and they feel the pull on the fly line, then it is real excitement all round. If one catches, it heightens the motivation of everyone else.

When all the youngsters return to the lodge then they all want to see who has the heaviest trout and the weigh-in is exciting too.

After the two youngsters’ sessions, I had a lesson with Stephen’s wife, with Stephen coming along too to try my Hardy tackle so that he could compare it with his own.

Northumberland attracts so many visitors throughout the year, but especially in the summer months.

This couple from Cheshire, another family later in the week from Hampshire and other clients this year have visited from Germany, USA, Italy.

The numbers of British people in Northumberland on holiday must be very high and the percentage of those who come here to fish does boost the local economy considerably.

The amount of money that anglers spend fishing the Tweed alone will bring millions to the region as they have to have accommodation and they must eat.

Rob and his family are on holiday here from their home in Hampshire. They have stayed at the same place at Craster for the last 10 years.

The acid test is people come back only if they enjoy the area and there is plenty to do and see.

I spent a day with Rob and his dad, who travelled up from Richmond to fish, on the Caistron beat west of Rothbury on the Coquet.

The river had been up earlier in the week and a salmon had been caught in the Post Office pool. However, the river was running very low again and chances of catching a fish were slim.

We did manage to catch some small brown trout which were fun.

The main memory I shall retain of the day was the rain. It started steadily, but the intensity grew and it was continuous stair rods for the entire time I was there. It probably resulted in a rise of water and improved fishing chances for the next two days, which we would miss out on, but that, I am afraid, is salmon fishing as they say.

The other days saw me coaching at Chatton with clients enjoying various degrees of success.

Some anglers were using fast sinking lines and catching regularly. Others were using singing Daddy Longlegs near one of the inlet pipes and bringing large numbers of trout to the net.

One regular angler walks around all the lakes looking for trout in the margins, stalking the fish. He uses a team of two flies and he does rather well with the small flies he prefers to fish.

I called in at Langley Dam, near Haydon Bridge, to arrange tuition with a chap from Nenthead. It is a while since I was there and impressive changes were obvious. Hot sandwiches are available and more cooking facilities in the lodge are helpful for anglers. Display cabinets with tackle for sale and further cabinets will be arriving soon for rods to go on display.

Membership is now available and this reduces the cost of each visit for members as well as competitions for members only with good cash prizes.

It is heartening to see Langley prospering after the trials of losing Fred around six months ago. I think Fred will be watching and smiling as he surveys the fishery and admires what a terrific effort his son and family are making with what he passed on to them.