Variety is the spice of life

Three days’ coaching on three different Coquet beats, two further days on different still waters and the rest of the week reviewing the draft of my new website, quite a week, writes Bob Smith.

Jim asked me to accompany him on his day on his Coquet beat to see how he fishes it. He wanted me to look at his casting and advise how to fish the beat. It is years since I visited this area of the river which offers pure tranquility. It flows through some very deep, dark pools, but also offers a number of beautiful streams and glides.

I watched how Jim approached fishing the beat and looked at the cast he was using. I suggested some different casts which he tried and he was surprised at how much line he could cast using less effort. As we progressed down one pool and, after a very good cast, Jim got a take. The line went tight and a small sea trout, around two to three pounds, jumped clear of the water.

Unfortunately, the fish came off, but Jim was still upbeat. He said it was great to get a take, especially when using one of his own home-tied flies. As we moved down the beat we saw a silver salmon of around 10 pounds jump from one of the very deep pools. We also saw two sea trout about three feet below the surface swimming slowly upstream in one of the pools.

The next day, I was coaching Tom on the Caistron beat near Thropton. The river was still low and clear, but that did not matter as Tom was keen to learn to cast a double-handed rod. I took my 12-foot Hardy Sintrix double-hander for Tom to try.

We fished both banks, and Tom got a very good idea of how to cast a single and double Spey cast. He could not believe how little effort it took to cast a decent length of line and present it properly on the water. We had a good laugh, saw a sea trout rise close to us, but did not catch anything.

The swim at Hepple bridge was low and clear, which was a pity as this is an excellent pool for salmon. Tom owns butchers’ shops and brought lunch. I have got to say I really enjoyed his deep, fully-filled pies, especially his mince and mushy peas pie, delicious. Tom left to practise his casting with his 15-foot rod on the South Tyne and promised to contact me in the future to progress his casting further.

I was at Whinney Loch fishing with my chum Alan and meeting my friend Paul from Glasgow. Whinney is approximately halfway, although I am sure Paul travels more than me. It was a bright day, but surprisingly only a few trout were rising.

I still put a foam daddy on to try to get a fish to come up. Second cast, a two-pound trout took the daddy, which I played, netted and returned.

I replaced the daddy with a buzzer and after a while I got my second fish. The black buzzer with red cheeks was taken confidently and the trout was strong, taking yards of line off the reel.It was a good fight and the trout deserved to be returned to the loch. After lunch, the fish were deeper and I caught my third on a pheasant tail nymph. It was a fly I tied myself using a tungsten bead for the thorax. It was the first fish I had caught using this heavy but small bead, so I was well pleased.

Paul has just started his own fly-tying business and is in the process of gaining top qualifications. He already ties a good fly, tying my selections for still waters and rivers which I sell to my clients.

I had arranged to coach Jean at Langley Dam which proved to be a good day.

It was a nice day weather wise, but spoilt a little with the easterly air. Jean was a complete beginner, who had always wanted to learn to fly-fish. We covered everything from setting up a rod, why a balanced outfit is important, safety aspects and simple casting. The session went very quickly and Jean wants to spend more time casting when her university work quietens down.

My last session on the Coquet was with a regular client who is casting a single-handed rod rather well. We tried to catch a salmon in some of the deeper runs on the beat, but the low, clear water did not help. There was a kingfisher flying continually up and down the stretch.

It landed once on a low branch about two feet above the river. Although it did not dive, it was super to watch.

Visiting the firm which is building my new website was interesting. The new site is coming along and I am looking forward to being able to update photographs and text whenever I wish. My present site has done well, but I am sure that everyone will enjoy the new site with regular updates even more.

Caistron fishery, like all other fisheries, is producing more fish as autumn approaches. Cooler conditions are bringing trout back on the feed. Dry flies and buzzers are the successful patterns.

Chatton fishery too is yielding more trout and bag numbers are increasing with all sorts of flies catching fish. Geoff, who I have coached for two sessions recently, went to Chatton by himself and landed two fish. He caught both his trout using dry-flies, a daddy and a CDC F fly. I was very pleased for Geoff and delighted that he had the confidence to go out himself and, using the tactics we used, be successful.Coaching is worthwhile me thinks!

I chatted to Jill Blythe who, with Chris, is developing Thrunton Long Crag fishery, which lies between the A697 and Thrunton Woods. Everything is progressing well and they are working hard to do as much as possible before the weather changes. The lodge shell is up and all the sown grass around the lake is colouring up nicely. Diggers began to dig the second lake this week and everything is working towards the fishery opening in the spring of next year.