Categories
Fly Joe Chappell

Another Angle

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.

IMG 0282

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.

IMG 0284

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.

IMG 0286

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.

IMG 0288

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.

IMG 0292

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.

IMG 0306

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.

IMG 0305

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.

https://www.flyfishingwithfraser.co.uk/home/iain-fraser/

Categories
Bob Dellar Fly

Casting Like A Dead Man: My Feeble attempts At Fly Fishing, Plus A Near Death Experience.


An old college mate of mine called Tony asked me whilst we were wetting a line at the fantastic Bury Hill Fisheries in Dorking, Surrey if I fancied a bash at fly fishing. He was a bit of a dab hand already, he is in fact one of the best all-round fisherman I’ve ever known. “Sounds like a plan,” I said, where shall I cast my first fly? How about Lough Corrib in Ireland?” was his intriguing reply.

Being a great fan of the Emerald Isle I promptly agreed to the trip, scheduled for the following March. I had about five months to hone my fluff-chucking skills. 

As is typical of me, I waited until two weeks before the trip to purchase an entry level fly rod, reel and some little hooks with colourful, tufty bits attached and names like “orange booby,” as well as to book a casting lesson at my local trout fishery.

On the day of my one-hour lesson I was greeted by a Jack Hargreaves’s doppelgänger, the man was a ringer for my boyhood “Out Of Town” hero.

He even had a pipe clenched between his teeth and that patient, amiable delivery that Jack was famous for. I never mentioned this uncanny resemblance to the man, I suspected he was reminded of it all the time, I just enjoyed the moment as best I could in between my utterly fruitless attempts at casting a fly. The Jack lookalikey even chuckled “you’re casting like a dead man” when it became apparent to him that I was a no-hoper. At the end of the lesson he was even reluctant to take my twenty five quid as I’d made no progress whatsoever. And this, sadly, was to be the my fate. Despite several trout, sea trout and salmon fishing sorties in England, Scotland and Ireland, I never got the hang of casting, despite catching numerous trout and an 8.5lb salmon. It was made worse by the fact that I was accompanied on these trips by anglers, including my mate Tony, of enormous technical and entomological skill that could cast to the horizon, or to a tight spot no bigger than a dinner plate, and could “match the hatch” with enviable accuracy. But they were good friends and never once mocked my fly fishing inadequacies, not to my face anyway!

My first trip to Corrib, a vast glacial lake covering an area of sixty eight square miles, was a highly enjoyable, but fairly frustrating soirée into the deep and windswept end of wild lough fishing. We’d rented a lodge on the northern tip of Corrib in a hamlet called Cong and the king of Cong was the lodge owner Roy, as Celtic as a man can be. Roy was as big as a house with a shock of fiery red hair and a matching thicket of a beard that cascaded almost as far as his chest. He had piercing blue eyes that spoke a thousand words, which was just as well because he barely said a word. If he’d turned up to greet us naked to the waist, covered in wode, wearing a kilt and swinging a shillelagh around his head it wouldn’t have surprised me.

In stark contrast was his wife Sorcha, a diminutive, dark haired lady with a sweet nature, a sharp wit and renowned creator of some the best packed lunches I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. One night after a exemplary dinner enlivened by the odd glass of Black Bush, I called her Scorcher instead of Sorcha, a slip of the tongue she found most amusing. Roy, however, just stared at me from a dark corner of the dining room. That night I wedged my bedroom door shut with a chair, just in case.

Fishing Corrib is wild fishing at its wildest. The quarry was pristine brown trout pursued from a nineteen foot Irish fishing boat, allowed to drift with the wind to cover as much water as possible.

I’ve no recollection of the names of the flies we used to fish for the brownies, but I do know they strongly resembled the multitudinous hatches of flying insects emerging from the shallower water surrounding the Lough’s many islands.

I fished every day for four days from one of those boats, and I never caught a thing. My fellow ship mates, however, often caught fish into double figures. It was a bit humiliating, but then I couldn’t cast far enough to fish effectively. 

Despite my complete ineptitude, the trip was great fun, and on one occasion, dramatic. The anti-English sentiment still simmers amongst a very small Irish contingent, and a member of that contingent decided to drive his very fast motor boat through all of our lines one day, simply because we were English. He lived to regret it though, because when Roy found out what he’d done, he persuaded him in no uncertain terms to never do it again, so Scorcher said anyway. 

I’ve no idea if it was the same guy but during a visit to a tiny local pub alive with laughter, music and excellent Guinness, I was threatened, up at the bar in front of everyone, by an extremely scary Irishman who stood well over six feet, with a bushy black beard, a battered donkey jacket and a look in his eyes that screamed death to the English. It was like a Western, the music stopped and everyone looked our way, there was total silence. I could feel my bowels turn to water, (the four pints of Guinness didn’t help), but in a flash Tony was by my side and we fronted the guy out best we could. He was obviously pissed and, thankfully, unintelligible, but his guttural voice held real menace. The landlady, with a quiet word and a hand on his arm, diffused the situation and he slammed his pint down and left. Instantly, the laughter and music flared up again as if nothing had happened. Two pints of Guinness, on the house, were placed on the bar for us and not a word was said. As I say, it’s a wild spot, Corrib. 

Despite my near death experience, I had unfinished business with the place, so exactly a year later I returned to redeem myself. My casting skills were much the same but due to the concerted and kindly efforts of an excellent ghillie called Tom, I managed to catch twelve brown trout over the course of four days, which resulted in a congratulatory grunt from Roy, the most the man had said to me in two trips!

3781EE06 EE4A 4359 A7BC 0071AD0E0058
Heading out: Lough Corrib Brown Trout Fishing
41E5A337 4C27 4490 A6E2 49EFD620EC4D
First ever brown trout from Lough Corrib