Northern Fly Fishing by Percy

You simply will not find a better film about fly fishing than this it tells more than a story about catching fish it shows you the journey, captures the sense of adventure. This is what fishing is all about.

Fly Fishing for everyone – Rothiemurchus Fly Fishery

Aviemore is an outdoorsman paradise, it straddles the mighty River Spey perhaps one of the most famous salmon rivers in the world. Its the main hub in the Cairngorms for mountain bikers, hikers, fishers and shooters. Whilst the prize fishing around Aviemore is obviously the Spey, I would be focussing my attentions upon the lovely Rothiemurchus Fishery.

As a family man myself my first impressions of the fishery were excellent, the fishery is in a very touristy location and the owners have obviously made efforts to cater for the whole family. There are 2 main ponds, there is an any method pond for kids to experience fishing for trout and a larger pond for the big boys in big boy pants, who want to catch big trout. This larger pond also has a small any method section, during my visit one of the guys from the fishery was teaching a family how to cast a fly. I think this is great seeing young kids introduced to the sport in such a manner.

The horseshoe shaped big pond was really well established and a real mix of open water combined with lots of knooks and crannies to try and stalk out some fish. One of my favourite features of this fishery is the amount of fresh water flowing through it, in places it feels as though you are fishing a small stream it really aids in your presentation of small nymphs and dries.

I was fishing with Jamie on the day and we arrived at midday and fished to around 4pm also known as the worst part of the day for fishing. We spent the first couple of hours blind casting the open water using a combination of lures and nymphs, it must be said we were not overly successful throughout this spell. I eventually decided to have a bit more of a stalk around, with my main target being a secondary inlet on the opposite side of the lake from where I had spent much of the day watching trout rising and taking flies just below the cover of an overhanging tree.

I slipped on a little black buzzer and a Diawl Bach and snuck up to the inlet keeping low so I wouldn’t spook the fish in the shallow clear water. Crouched a yard or two from the waters edge, I threw a few false casts and managed to land my flies right at the mouth of the inlet, the flies sunk quickly as the line drifted a foot or so downstream. Almost immediately, the line pulled tight and I knew a fish was on. I struck into the offending fish and after a perilous fight I managed to pull the fish over the lip of the net. It was a tidy fish of around 2lb, in case your wondering the black buzzer was the fly the fish succumbed to. It was the first fish of the day to come out of the lake. Victoriously, I let the swim rest for 10 minutes before smugly recasting into the flow of water. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to coax another fish out of the little inlet so I decided to go for a wander.

As I walked around the lake I came across an angry Yorkshireman whipping the main inlet to a froth. Jamie was casting to a pack of 4 ‘bows in a few feet of crystal clear water. He was fishing a pheasant tailed nymph and receiving lots of interest from the submerged trout one of which was an absolute clonker. Despite a few good takes Jamie didn’t manage to land anything, so reluctantly I strolled “downstream” to see if I could find any chunky fish cruising around. I decided to leave the net with Jamie, this proved to be a significant decision.

I didn’t have to walk far until I found a lump of a fish cruising about 6 yards out, just under the surface. I eagerly prepared my rod and cast out, unusually, my flies gently landed about 10 inches in front of the fish. The fish turned and there was a flash of white as the trout gulped down my only just submerged pheasant tailed nymph. A long fight ensued with the fish making constant dashes for the margins, the battle was made all the more difficult by my aforementioned lack of net combined with a thick barrier of reeds about 4 foot deep. I tired the fish out as much as possible before hauling him through the reed where I managed to tickle him out with my hands.

As I laid the trout on the ground and caught my breath, I quickly realised this was my P.B. rainbow trout, a fish which on any other day, I would put back but I decided to keep him as me and Jamie were wild camping and a big fat trout like this would fill up our big fat bellies nicely.

 

Garnffwyd Fly Fishery

Fly fishing could be described as sometimes elegant, often enjoyable but nearly always frustrating. So many subtle movements combine to make the perfect cast, a sharp tug on the line, a quick burst of arm sometimes combined with deft flick of the wrist. A mismatch of these elements can cause airborne tangles or piles of line to plummet into the water or perhaps a tree line peppered with lost flies, which have been lovingly crafted on the vice at home.

I would probably describe myself as an intermittently brilliant fly fisher. When running in normal mode I would say that most casts are terrible and the trout remain comfortably safe in their watery home,  however, there are flashes of genius.  Periods when flies are turning over beautifully, presentation is perfect and the trout are in trouble. Unfortunately, these moments are rare, especially, when a stiff breeze and a rustiness gathered after a long closed season are thrown into the mix; this was exactly the case on my latest trip with Jamie to fish at Garnffywd Fly Fishery.

It must be said that on Friday at the fishery, bar the wind, conditions were perfect. Absolutely perfect, in fact, when me and Jamie were tackling up at the waters edge, we both acknowledged that if we didn’t catch the weather could not be held at fault. It was the first time we had fished this water and it blew us both away, the water is crystal clear and it is surrounded by lovely Welsh countryside. Sometimes, when I have fished small still waters in the past I felt that I am just going through the motions fan casting out in a featureless pond. This isn’t the case at Garnffwyd, the water is riddled with little nooks and crannies and absolutely packed full of chunky little trout.

Throughout the day we switched up flies and to be honest we both had little interest on a range of naturals. It wasn’t until a few hours had past that I finally hooked into a hard fighting rainbow. I was fishing a black buzzer almost static just retrieving line fast enough to stay in touch with the fly when the line locked up and a quick fight ensued which ended with a trout of around a pound and a quarter being scooped over the rim of my net. What made this especially satisfying was that it was the first fish that had been duped into taking a fly which I myself had tied. After dispatching the trout, I took a quick break mainly to gloat to Jamie and then to proclaim that I was the “pro of Garnffwyd”. Fully recharged, I returned to my fishing peg and starting working the margins with the same small buzzer when a beautiful brown trout took my fly. Once landed, it was clear this little pound and a half’er was my new PB brown trout, I was well chuffed. So after another quick comfort break/ gloating session I gave Jamie one of the black buzzers I had tied. He was soon into a beautiful little brown trout which had the most vivid patterning I had ever seen. After this fish, he soon hooked into a rainbow which we decided to kill for the pan as well. This was significant as it was, as far as I can recall, the first time we had caught our limit of fish.

I will remember this trip for a long time firstly because of the beautiful brown trout and secondly because we caught these fish on flies which I had tied myself. FYI – I tied these buzzers using the following TAFishing Video, not the first time Graeme Pullen and his son have helped me catch fish and probably not the last.

Canada Lake Lodge

I have always said that instead of getting married I would rather spend my 15 thousand pound wedding savings, on a nice shiny BMW. I honestly think this is a sentiment shared by most red blooded exectuive men. However, I recently visited somewhere that rocked my staunch anti wedding beliefs. The place in question is Canada Lodge Lake, a seriously picturesque fly fishery tucked away in the valleys a few miles North of Cardiff.

The fishery also functions as a wedding venue, I can see why. It really is a lovely setting, almost of out of place, tucked between farms in typical welsh countryside. My old fishing buddy Ben came along for the day, his second ever fly fishing outing for rainbow trout. As we sat on the love swing overlooking the lake we held gently held hands and discussed tactics. We were only interupted by the showing fish from all corners of the lake and the wedding party which was in full swing next to us.

The weather on the day was warm but it was overcast. I decided to try and stalk some fish out of the margins due to the waters clarity and lack of sun. I fished one fly, just a small black buzzer. After creeping around the bushes for a few minutes I managed to hook into a 2lbish trout hiding under some overhanging branches. The fight was short but sweet and the trout was quickly skating towards my awaiting net. Not many pictures from the day but there will be more from this fishery in the future.

 

Simple Trout Recipe

Here’s a simple trout recipe that relies on the freshness of the ingredients rather than being bombarded with rich flavours.

Admittedly I think a smoked fish would lend itself better to a simple dish such as this.

Ingredients

  • Freshly caught trout preferably in the 1/2 lb to 1 & 1/2 lb range
  • Parsley
  • Butter
  • Lemon
  • Freshly Baked Bread

Method

Cooking a trout in this fashion takes probably 3 mins to prepare. First clean the fish by cutting along from the trout’s anus up to the v on its gill plates underneath its head. Reach inside the cavity and pull out the entrails in one piece. The quicker this is done after killing the fish the better as the guts will spoil a fish. Then use the back of the knife to scale the fish rubbing against the grain until all the shiny scales are gone.

Whilst the grill is warming up stuff the cavity with butter, parsley and lemon. I tend to cook the trout under a medium high heat on the grill. Be sure to give the outside of the trout a good smothering with butter so it colours up nicely.

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Once the grill is hot whack the trout underneath and give it about 5 or 6 minutes on each size depending on the effectiveness of your grill and the size of the trout. I am far from being king of trout cooking but this is just a rough guide to how I do a simple meal with the catch from my day out.

Please ping back links to any trout recipes that you have.

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Fishing in the Black Mountains

There is an absolute plethora of coarse and game fishing in Wales. Fishing in the Brecon Beacons has to be some of the best in the country with mighty rivers and their tributaries both flowing through its borders including of course the mighty River Usk, the Taff and the Towy, as well as some of the finest reservoirs around; for the game and the coarse angler a like. With premier waters like Llangorse Lake for big pike or the 240 acre Usk ressie for big wild brownies to the tiny secret streams tickling down through the peaks it can truly be regarded as one of the top areas of the country for fishing.

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I’ve had one of these beautiful wild reservoirs set firmly in my sights for a few months now. Its the beautiful Grwyne Fawr Reservoir set in the harsh landscapes of the Black Mountains. Click below for a brief history of the dam itself and some beautiful vintage photos for sale from Andrew Dally.

Gwryne Fawr Dam History

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The reservoir itself is extremely secluded, with more than an hours walk from the nearest road, the visiting fly fisherman will have little more than his thoughts and the odd fish for company (or in my case a pregnant girlfriend). As you would expect this is a wild brown trout water untouched, certainly not supplemented with immigrant rainbow trout. Unlike a few high altitude reservoirs I’ve frequented this water looks as though it really lends itself to supporting a healthy population of fish, with vegetation lined banks full of trout goodies. Surprisingly for a high lake wind exposed lake there was plenty of fly life around with clouds of little black midges coming off the water.

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I didn’t really fancy my chances on the typical lures and boobies that I chuck around so I decided to stick to the subtle side of the fly box. I had a few casts about with the pheasant tail nymph job above but I didn’t really feel confident in the fly selection because of the clarity of the water I really wanted to go for something subtle that would imitate a terrestrial blown into the water. I selected a green spider kindly tied and sent in to me by Stephen Blood. Infinitely better presented and successful fly fisherman’s blog here.

Stephen Bloods Spider

As the first fly touched down on the surface I reached into my pocket to have a little toot on my e cigarette and I felt a not so gentle tug on my arm. Lifting into the fish, I felt the always reassuring pull back. I was employing my trusty ol’ Airflo 10 foot #7/#8 weight rod this dulled the fishes ferocious fight; a #4 weight would have been a far finer battle. After a gallant fight against such stout tackle, the fish succumbed. My far more attractive than usual ghillie (sorry Jamjam) slipped the net purposefully under, perhaps, the prettiest trout I have ever seen. My first wild brown trout caught on the fly. A fish I had pursued for months was finally enveloped within the folds of my net.

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As the day turned to night us weary travellers made way to the nights humble accommodation, Gwryne Fawr Bothy, maintained by the Mountain bothy Association. Whilst certainly not the most luxurious accommodation I have ever stayed in certainly the most welcome after hiking up into the mountains. Best of all trout was on the menu.

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