Non-stop coaching as beginners try their hand

The summer holidays are well underway and the hot weather has come to the party too, writes Bob Smith.

I have been co-ching non stop from Tweeddale Millennium Fishery, near Gifford and almost in sight of Edinburgh, down to our own River Coquet.

Seven sessions at five different venues, busy, busy, busy. It is a long time since I last visited Tweeddale, too long.

Unfortunately my old mate and owner of the fishery, Bill Taylor wasn’t there that day. Neither was Scott, another good mate who looks after the place when Bill is busy. However, it was red hot and I knew the session would be a good challenge.

Surprisingly there were not a lot of anglers fishing, but numbers have been down at most small still waters with the weather being so ‘good’. The session was about dry fly-fishing, so we tried a variety of dries, without success. When I tied on a daddy longlegs, everything changed. It was as though somebody suddenly turned the trout on.

There were swirls at the fly, some half-hearted takes and some solid arm wrenching takes too. The client had a lot of fun, trying to hook fish, playing and loosing some, and bringing some to the net. I shall have to return to Tweeddale soon.

The first youngsters’ taster day at Chatton had two keen lads booked in, William and Patrick, who were both from Newcastle.

They had a super time learning to cast and fish a dry fly. They asked what seemed to be thousands of questions, from ‘why do it like that?’ to ‘what are those lovely bright-blue, long flies?’

We covered all sorts of subjects which not only included fishing, but nature, conservation, geography and farming.

Back to the fishing, both lads had strong pulls, and William hooked and played a blue trout. The fish was more out the water than in, but after three or four minutes, the trout got into some weed just before it was to be netted and it came off.

Real excitement for the youngsters who did well considering the conditions. I am looking forward to meeting more youngsters over the holiday period.

Should any other youngsters be interested, ensure you book your place in advance by contacting Chatton fishery, all details are on their website.

Rebecca and Craig were a young couple holidaying here, and they wanted to try fly-fishing so they booked me for a session at Whinney Loch.

They had never had a fly rod in their hand before, which was ideal so they had no bad habits to undo. Both roll casted and overhead casted well considering the time we had together.

When we started to try and catch fish, we tried buzzers, but unsuccessfully. It was a brown-bodied F Fly that produced the goods. Both Rebecca and Craig had tremendous fun playing the trout and releasing them.

Rebecca ended the session with four fish and Craig returned two.

Both of them could not stop talking about how exciting it was, how strong the trout were, how relaxed and completely switched off they were, and how they could continue to fly fish once they returned home.

I was coaching Gareth during the late session at Chatton because he wanted to see an evening rise.

It was a lovely evening, the view of the Cheviot was outstanding and the breeze disappeared completely.

We had an interesting session with Gareth landing and returning one and missing several other good pulls.

As he gains more experience, Gareth will convert those pulls into landed trout. It was pleasing to see how many other anglers were fishing right to the end at 10pm.

I also spent two sessions on the River Coquet, one with a guy returning to angling after a gap of 30 years and the other who was a newcomer to river fishing.

The river was still low but both guys had a good time learning how not to catch the trees and loose flies.

One of the sessions was later in the day and when the bright sunshine left the water, the temperature dropped a little and two fish, one about 5lbs and the other about 8-9lbs jumped out of the water. Both fish were bars of silver and great to see.

A date for the diary. The British Fly Casting Club are holding an event at Alnwick Rugby Club on August 11, starting at 9.30am. Further details can be found on

Sounds like good fun and worth a visit. I wish them every success with their day.

Finally, Scott Nellins, a past pupil, and one of the first youngsters to join my Hirst Park Trout Ticklers fishing club some 13 years ago, is off to Norway representing England in the World Rivers Competition.

He is a great lad and has come a long way since I first helped him as a very keen and enthusiastic nine-year-old.

I wish Scott and the rest of the England team, which also includes Howard Croston and Simon Robinson from the North East, the very best of luck in what will be the most challenging of competitions.