The other month, I turned 18. It’s not every day that someone turns 18 and therefore, my Grandparents wanted to get me something special for my birthday. I wanted to get something that I’d always remember and something that I could take into later life. After many hours pondering over what to get, I decided that I would like a days fly fishing tuition. There’s a few different fly fishing tutors around Essex but I decided to go with Iain Fraser. He has nearly 50 years of fly fishing experience and seemed like a fantastic option. After exchanging a few emails, we decided on Wednesday the 2 of July. I couldn’t wait.
I had only ever been fly fishing once before and that was a couple of years ago. Iain recommended that our session take place at Chigborough fisheries as it’s perfect for anglers of all abilities. I’ve been carp fishing at Chigborough a couple of times and it’s absolutely stunning, the fishery is set in acres of beautiful woodland and on site there’s 3 trout lakes and 3 course lakes. There really is something to suit every anglers.
Wednesday morning arrived and I was so excited. The sky was blue and temperatures were set to reach the mid 20’s. My mum and I arrived about half an hour before we were meant to and spent the time watching the water. We saw many trout around and even an absolute monster fish which looked about 7lb. It was hugging the bottom and we couldn’t tell weather it was a trout or a tench. This made me even more excited and before long, Iain had arrived and my mum had left.
Iain started the day by explaining watercraft to me. We went through the different things the trout feed on and where and when they can be found. He explained how the trout feed and it was really fascinating. It amazed me just how different they were from the fish I usually catch.
We then went through all the different types of flies. There’s so many different types of flies for different situations it’s crazy. They can be so minimalistic or so majestic.
After a short break, we moved on to casting. I’ve done a little casting before but not much. It really is difficult but luckily I managed to pick it up quite quickly. Apparently my timing was great but I need to work on my technique. Iain said that I had the same problem that many coarse anglers do. I was putting too much effort into my cast. Casting a fly should be almost effortless, it’s all about technique and timing unlike casting a conventional fishing rod where distance is more about the amount of power you put into the cast.
Iain said that he thought my casting was ready. We stopped for lunch before heading out onto the water.
We went walking and looking for the fish. Glasses are a must when fly fishing to protect your eyes from the fly. Polarized glasses are even better as they cut the glair from the water. We spotted the odd fish rising and swimming but we kept walking. In the corner, we found a huge group of trout shoaled together.
Iain picked out a dry fly for me to try and I had my first cast. There was a hedgerow not too far behind us so I wasn’t able to cast too far. Fortunately, the trout were only about 20ft out. I missed one bite but it was quickly followed by a second, which I missed again and a third which I hooked into. The initial burst of power caught me off guard and I held onto the line too tightly. TWANG. The line had snapped.
We tied on another leader and fly before making another cast. It didn’t take long for a trout to gobble up my fly. The fight was fantastic and I’d finally caught my first trout. It was also another species in the Essex Anglers species hunt which was great. We humanely dispatched of my catch before drying off the fly by blowing on it hard and casting out again.
Within 5 minutes, my second fish of the day was on. This fish was a bit bigger and put up a great fight. The disturbance of catching those two fish had caused the rest of the shoal to push further out into the lake out of casting distance. Fortunately, because we were fishing he corner we were able to move round a little and reach the fish.
I spent a little while decorating trees before the fish moved further down the bank and I was able to cast from a position which was clear of trees. I missed a few more bites before finally connecting with a fish. Unfortunately it spat the hook. Iain had ran out of tea, and the fish had stopped feeding. We headed back to the fishing lodge for a break and a chat. We were watching the lake the whole time and it was devoid of showing fish. The heat had caused fly activity and the fish to slow down.
As I mentioned before, the complex has three trout lakes. Two of which we were yet to explore. We decided to take a walk over to the larger of the two lakes. There was a few fish showing and we spent around half an hour fishing. We weren’t feeling it and decided to head back to Home Water, the lake we were fishing originally.
We only had about 45 minutes before it was time to go and on our way to the swim where we had our previous success, we spotted a couple of fish rising and nebbing. I had a few casts towards them but being unsure of what was ahead, we decided to keep walking and to maybe return if we didn’t see anything. It was a good job that we did move on. Just around from where I’d caught my previous 2 fish, there was a large shoal of fish.
I cast out and missed the first couple of bites. When fly fishing, you don’t actually strike, you just pull back the line. I was really struggling with this technique. Finally, I hooked into another trout. It was the smallest of the day but still more than welcome.
After a couple more casts and about five minutes, I did an absolutely fantastic cast. The line straightened out perfectly and the fly landed right in the middle of the shoal. A trout came up and engulfed my fly. I resisted the urge to strike and I pulled back on the line to tighten it. I felt the resistance of the trout and raised the rod ready for the fight. It put up the best fight of the day and after a little while, it was in the net. I didn’t have time for another cast as it was time to go.
My grandparents were picking me up and they enjoyed a nice chat and cuppa with Iain. It was a fantastic day and I learnt so much thanks to Iain. It’s a skill that I will hopefully never forget (as long as I keep up practice) and I’m so grateful. Thanks to Iain for an enjoyable and informative day, and thanks nan and grandad for a fantastic present.
Iain’s Website is linked below if you’d like to check it out.