Couple of days to do battle with fish

Bob Smith and his blue trout.
Bob Smith and his blue trout.

I have had two days to myself this week which is unusual at this time of the year, writes Bob Smith.

One day I used my club ticket to fish for trout on the Tweed with my friend Jimmy who is also a club member.

Jimmy knows the club water much better than me as he has been a member for some time. I always leave it up to him to choose where we fish as there are miles of river to explore.

The beat Jimmy took me to was one that I had salmon fished a few years ago and I knew the ghillie who we met as we arrived. He said the beat was having a reasonable season so far and they had landed nine salmon for the week.

As we walked down to the river, there were no salmon anglers on the beat, but they did arrive as we were leaving around five. Jimmy and I just fished from the bank in places and waded (thigh waders only for club members) some stretches.

This beat has lovely fly-water and the Tweed was running only a couple of inches above summer level.

We both enjoyed the few hours we had and landed a couple of dozen brown trout, mostly around eight to ten inches, no monsters but they bent our four-weight rods.

Included in my catches were three grayling, the best about three-quarters-of-a-pound. Lovely coloured fish the grayling with that remarkable dorsal fin. I must make more time to increase the number of days I fish with Jimmy on the Tweed.

Fishing for grayling during the winter months when the salmon anglers have put their rods away will make a pleasant change.

Having a cancellation at Chatton resulted in another day for experimentation, so I travelled up to the fishery trying to work out how I could use the time beneficially. Alan Young was there before I arrived and was netting trout regularly using a variety of flies on his floating line. I saw a big blue trout cruising the margins of Dunnydeer Lake where Alan was fishing. I decide to try to catch the fish by stalking it.

I followed it for some time, casting a number of buzzers, dry-flies and nymphs trying to intercept the trout, but it was not interested in any of my offerings.

I tied on my own size 14 pheasant tail nymph which has a copper bead and cast that. First cast was not that accurate but the second cast looked good. The fish did not deviate from its path, nor speed up, but my line went tight and it was hooked.

I shouted to Alan who came along and photographed the battle. The fish went speeding off across the lake and took almost all my floating fly-line from the reel.

It came slowly back, thrashing around a great deal on the surface before I got it into the net. That took some doing because of the length and depth of the fish.

Alan quickly took some photographs before I held it in the water so that it could regain some strength to swim off.

It was obvious that the battle had sapped a lot of energy from the trout and it took almost 10 minutes before it gave a strong flap of its tail and off it went into the deep water. Great I thought, but because the lake is so clear at the moment, the trout turned upside down, belly up, immediately.

This usually means the fish dies and I was worried.

The water was so deep we could not reach it with the landing net or our ten-foot rods. I stood there helpless, watching for minutes, hoping the trout would revive.

After what seemed to be a long time, I saw it begin to move its tail and within seconds it had got itself the right way up and swam away along the margin.

I was so pleased, it was like catching another double-figure trout. I asked Alan what weight he thought the trout was and he said 14 pounds, which seemed about right to me. But it did not matter, it was by far the biggest blue trout I have ever landed. I have posted photographs of it on the gallery page of my website,

Another day was spent with the new trout-fishing club from Longframlington who met and fished at their local water, Thrunton Long Crag. Everyone was happy and excited as some members had never cast a line on water before.

I spent some time with Carole who was trying to fish with a borrowed old fly-rod and a heavy intermediate line. She was doing quite well, but once she felt the difference using a modern fly-rod and floating line, her technique improved immediately. I changed the fly, a trout rose to the surface, we cast and the fish took the fly as soon as it hit the water.

Carole had never played a trout before, but she listened carefully and played it, keeping a steady pressure on it.

After a few minutes, Carole brought the trout over the net and I lifted it from the water for her. A beaming smile said it all, Carole was one very happy angler! The whole club enjoyed their first fishing outing and more are being planned. I do hope this is the start of a long-lasting, thriving club, with happy successful members.

I had three other coaching sessions at Chatton this week, all of which went well.

I don’t know what it is, but there seems to be a lot of people retiring at the moment.

I seem to be coaching a good number of both men and women who have recently retired and want to try fly-fishing.

They all, without exception, want a challenge and a new hobby which is not too strenuous but gets them out into the fresh air where they can have fun and meet new people.

The venues, rivers and still-waters in and around our region are some of the best anywhere and they have beautiful views. The Tweed, Tyne , Coquet and Wear valleys are stunning, while the views from Chatton, of the Cheviots, Thrunton, of Long Crag and the woods, Caistron, of the Simonsides, the list is endless. We are so very lucky to have such a wealth of fishing in such beautiful surroundings on our doorstep. Tight lines.