More youngsters on board

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

Last week was very varied for me, fishing and coaching on still waters and rivers, writes Bob Smith.

One of the highlights of the last seven days was seeing a group of students from King Edward VI High School in Morpeth being introduced to fly-fishing at various still waters across our region.

I saw them fishing at Chatton while I was coaching there early in the week.

I understand they went on to fish at Thrunton Long Crag and New Mills Fishery near Brampton as part of their Activities Week programme. All the students seem to enjoy the fly-fishing experience and managed to catch fish too.

With the Trout Ticklers Fly Fishing Club starting to get established in Chantry Middle School and Newminster Middle, wouldn’t it be brilliant if all the interested staff got together and got the Trout Ticklers to cover all the schools in Morpeth?

This way, the students could fish with qualified coaches on a regular basis rather than just have a one-off experience during their annual Activities Week.

Let us hope that fly-fishing develops in the Morpeth schools, especially when some of the staff have their level two fly-fishing coaching award.

It is four years since Eddie Brown passed away and so many anglers have benefited from his labours in the construction of Chatton Trout Fishery. Sunday saw his fishery host the Memorial Trophy Competition, held annually in his memory.

Both Chatton and Dunnydeer Lakes were surrounded with anglers enjoying a friendly competition. The winner was Rob Frame with 11 trout. Rob was presented with the trophy and £300, second was Robbie Dodd, who received £200, and third was John Pringle, who received £100.

Thrunton Long Crag Fishery held its second charity competition in two weeks, which raised £1,115 for a cancer charity and was well organised. The junior winner was Jonathan Lister, who was presented with a lovely trophy. Well done to all those who organised and supported this worthwhile cause.

I coached at Chatton for two days, but had to cancel another day because of those very strong winds. The two days I did manage were really enjoyable.

Charles wanted to improve his casting and understanding of how to select flies. I soon sorted out his casting faults and Charles was casting much better with far less effort.

Trout were rising, so we selected a small, black, dry F Fly to tempt the fish. It was a good choice of fly because we had six trout to the net in an hour-and-a-half. Obviously, Charles was delighted with his bag, the majority of which were returned to the water, and his casting was far more efficient.

Andrew is a sea fisherman, but was keen to learn how to fly-fish in lakes, rivers and the sea.

There was a good breeze blowing but Andrew was soon able to get a decent line out with a good presentation – that means the fly-line was landing on the water without making a splash.

We tried dry-flies but they did not tempt anything so I changed the fly to a small Diawl Bach.

Andrew cast the fly out across the wind and let the wind move the line and fly.

Third cast, fish on, and a real battle began. Andrew had never played a fish before, he had just reeled them in as they tried to swim away, pulling a heavy sinker behind them. No sinkers on a fly-line, and light, easily-snapped nylon means if the trout run, the angler must allow them to take line or risk it being snapped. It was fun and Andrew got the fish to my waiting net.

I had a day off so went to fish the Tweed for trout with Jimmy. The river had been up after recent rain, but had fallen back to a nice height and had a little bit if colour.

We fished two beats around Coldstream and saw a number of salmon anglers fishing from boats and bank.

As we fished the first beat, there were fish rising to heavy hatches of alder flies. I tried dries but got no takers, so I changed and put on a copper-beaded bug.

Approaching the tail of the pool, before the water increased speed into the next pool, a beautiful bar of silver sea trout or salmon, about 5lbs, jumped clear of the water. It would be some scrap if I caught that on my lightweight trout rod.

Two casts later, my line suddenly started to scream off the reel and I thought here we go.

The fish jumped and I saw immediately that I was attached to a good brown trout. This fish was much darker and had that lovely buttery colour, so distinctive to wild brown trout.

Eventually, I led the trout to my wooden-framed Hardy scoop net and was delighted to have a close look at my catch. The size was over 2lbs, but the colours and the spots were remarkable.

Quick photographs and off the trout went back to its own stretch of the river. Jimmy and I had a super day, but that trout made it, without a doubt.

The second stocking of the Coquet by the Federation was carried out last week. I gather that the quality of the brown trout that went in was superb. Trout above 2lbs have been put into the Coquet this time.

As one person said: “If anglers catch one of them, they will think they have a sea trout on their line.”

Migratory fish are now well into the system with salmon being caught in the Rothbury area.

Anglers are reporting catching salmon all the way from Rothbury downstream to the tidal beat at Warkworth. However, anglers also report that some salmon are entering the river with disease, unfortunately. Such fish have been seen regularly as far upstream as Felton and beyond.

Any such fish should be reported by anglers to the head bailiff, Willie Farndale, as soon as possible please.

Next week will have me fishing on the River Eden, the Coquet and four sessions on our local still waters. Happy and busy times but I shall tell you all about it in next week’s report.