Saturday, 14 June 2014

Fishing Trip - An Introduction to Fly Fishing and Trout




I first went fishing (as my daughter Holly has done), with a jar and a small net attached to the end of a bamboo pole for sticklebacks and other fry.

It wasn’t until I was about nine years old that I actually got a small fishing rod with a fixed spool reel for casting the baited hook a little bit further away.  At about the same time my father got a fly rod from “Durham Anglers” when it was situated on Claypath in the city.  The proprietor ran casting classes for those who wanted them to go with their new fly rod, so I went along with my Dad and was shown the ropes.  At home I decided to practise casting on the large Rectory lawns aiming for targets with a feather ties to the end of the line.

I did get quite good at casting, but when it was time to go to the river, I ended up back with my five feet long rod and fixed spool reel.  I didn’t get to fish with the fly rod.  My other friends seem to enjoy ledgering, spinning and floating fishing for coarse fish, and every now and then a trout would take the bait.  I carried on an amassed a selection of tackle and rods and represented Newcastle Polytechnic in the National Colleges match fishing competition on the Grand Union Canal near Warwick University in 1984.  I did manage to borrow the rod on a few occasions to fly-fish in the River Wear at “The Sands” in Durham City, but always ended up catching chub, dace and roach; never a trout on the fly.

It was only while working at the Royal Infirmary in Sunderland that I inherited some fly making equipment from my grandfather that I started making flies for Mr. R Warne (the Senior Chief at the time in the Histopathology Department) and getting my father’s old fly rod, that I was able to go with my father and his new rod to practice fly-fishing for trout  in actuality at Witton Park.  It was their that I caught my first trout on an artificial fly.  It was exciting to think that a fish would take a piece of material wrapped around a hook that looked nothing like anything in its natural diet.

It wasn’t just the fish that was hooked that day but me, although it wasn’t until I met Bob Smith from Morpeth (while teaching in Ashington), that I really started to become obsessed as well as proficient at catching trout and making flies.  I had previously been thinking always about the cast and hadn’t actually understood what the fishing books had been describing for the process of retrieval of the line and hooking the fish.

I picked up the tips quickly and since then have generally managed to return home with a couple of trout from every trip.  The average is that I never return empty handed, and one July day in 2005, even managed to get a TroutMasters award for a 14lb 6oz Rainbow Trout at Jubilee Lakes in County Durham.

I have to say also, that I am not actually interested in pulling out every fish in the river or lake.  I like to catch  a fish that I will eat with my family.  I don’t wish to have a fish suffer the trauma of being caught and released either.  When I have what I need, I pack up and go home.  I like to tailor my flies to hooks that will fulfil this purpose.  When working in Qatar, I would fly fish in the shallow waters around the pier in the bay at Simaisima.  The fishing was good for four years, until net fishermen removed all the fish in about one month during the fifth year.  So much for my Friday morning relaxation!

Fly fishing is a skill; an art if you like.  Each cast I like to be as smooth a roll as possible.  I get embarrassed when the fly makes a splash on the water. In Qatar I remember being filmed casting by people from the pier.  I must have been an unusual sight, waist deep and casting across the waves in the baking sun.

Regretfully, I didn’t do my research into Mongolia particularly well before arriving for a three month teaching stint, though in my defence, I only had four days to get ready!  I left my rod at home and only last week discovered that the country has the world’s largest trout species about 700km from where I was in Ulaanbaatar.  However, given that the Taimen can be up to two metres long and 90kg, my light tackle might have been hard pushed to cope with something more deserving of heavy salmon equipment.

Many fisheries are importing trout species from around the globe, so it may be useful to anglers young and experienced, to see the many varied forms and colours of fish we call “trout” included in the guide.

The e-book got into amazon.co.uk's top ten for fly fishing books according to Angler's Net website in April 2013.

Now at the end of July 2014, the action in the book is about to become reality as Holly and I head to Chatton Trout Fishery  in Northumberland to meet up with Bob Smith who has indicated he will be able to assist in the fly fishing tuition of Holly. I have no doubt that she will do well with his expert tutelage. 

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