It continues to amaze me the number of people who are being attracted to our sport. Last week alone, I have coached three adults who were casting a fly-line for the very first time – two gentlemen and a lady.
One guy was giving up golf to try fly-fishing. The other two were retiring and wanted a sport that got them out in the fresh air, that was fun yet a challenge and was not so physically demanding.
Casting a fly-line is not a strength thing, it’s all about timing and technique. Gordon really enjoyed his session at Hallington, although the conditions were far from ideal. He has already decided to buy his own tackle.
He was so impressed with the fishing, the lodge and friendly members, he wants to become a member.
I coached Wal at Chatton where there was a stiff cold, easterly breeze. Wal picked up casting well for his first session. We tried each lake and he eventually hooked, played and landed his first fly-caught trout using a pheasant-tail nymph.
Wal is now hooked and wants more lessons too. The third newcomer was Ann, who has recently moved into the area and thought she would enjoy fly-fishing. I met her at Whinney Loch where it was bright but still cool.
She watched me do a roll cast and copied it. The ten yards of line went straight out and the fly landed beyond the end of the fly-line.
I said let the buzzer fly sink a little before casting again. Before Ann could cast again the line went tight and the trout took line from the reel. Playing a trout for the first time is not easy, but after a few scary moments she managed to get the three-pound fish to the net.
Excellent, one very happy lady. We fished on and, at the end of the session, Ann had lost two other trout but landed another three. To say she was well and truly hooked was an understatement.
I did emphasise that every fishing day, and every venue, is different, but she was on cloud nine!
Apart from those sessions, I had one on the Coquet with Geoff who I started fly-fishing last year on still waters. He is now fishing rivers and enjoys the Federation beats on the Coquet. He wanted to learn how to cast when there were trees and high banks surrounding him. We had a lovely time on one of my beats and Geoff soon picked up how to cast in tight places. He also caught a nice brown trout on a silver march brown fly.
My last coaching session was at Chatton where Mike returned for another lesson with his own Hardy tackle which I helped him select from the Compleat Angler shop at Alnwick.
It was another cold day with an easterly wind. We tried Dunnydeer and Ross lakes with no success, but his casting was improving steadily. We decided to have a spot of lunch, but as we walked down to Chatton Lake I noticed a number of trout rising in the east arm.
Off came the buzzer and on went a dry-fly. I chose a CDC F fly and showed Mike how to keep low and close to the rising trout with a comparatively short line.
Mike said it was great to see the fish rise to take the fly. The first trout was lost as it snapped the tippet because he did not play the fish. There was a lot of panic when the fly-line went tight.
However, the same mistake was not repeated when the second trout took the dry-fly. The trout dived into the reeds, but Mike kept the line at the right tension and brought it to the net, terrific.
Lunch tasted a lot better with the trout weighed and in the bag ready for tea!
Other anglers at Chatton this week, that I saw, were catching into the teens of fish. Some were using diawl bachs, while others were very successful with small size-18 dry sedge patterns.
Lots of excellent bags have been recorded, particularly during the warmer days. Both the Federation beats on the Coquet in the Felton area and the River Aln have been stocked recently with brown trout. Permits for both rivers can be obtained from the Hardy Shop in Alnwick.
Thrunton Long Crag anglers are returning good numbers of trout, including double-figure fish. As the weather has changed throughout the week, then anglers have had to change their tactics. Sometimes, the fish are rising everywhere and dry-flies are successful, then during the colder spells, the trout have been deeper with buzzers, nymphs and heavier lures attracting them.
I had a good old chat with my friend Kenny Middlemiss this week. I called in to see him and heard all the details of his recent trip to Germany, where he was demonstrating his fly-tying skills. He has obviously had a tremendous time and the number of fly-fishermen who watched and asked questions was incredible. The interest in fly-fishing and the hospitality were outstanding.
I also got my new fliers back from the printers in the last few days. They have new photographs on the front and images of my new vouchers on the back. I think they look super as do the people who have already seen them.
This week sees me fishing on the Eden in Cumbria, the Coquet and two sessions on the local still waters.
Add to that a couple of evening meetings and the week will be gone before I know it. Busy days!!