English National Final

Last weekend saw myself taking part in the English National Final that was held at Rutland Water having qualified for the match earlier in the year. The competition would determine who would be the 2017 National Champion and also select next years England Team with the top 28 qualifying.

Practice days had been tricky with the weather conditions being different each day which also made the trout indifferent to feeding. A plan had  been formed but would it come together.

Briefing on day one.

Oh dear,,,,, flat calm and boiling hot! Just waiting for the off,,,,,,,,,

Myself and my boat partner John Hancock agreed we should head over to R buoy as we had both caught there the day before. Upon arrival it was flat calm then we had eight hours of trying to figure out how to catch a few fish. 

After a bit of trial and error I settled on a Di3 and twiddled back claret hoppers and a blob as an attractor, it worked, I took 6 fish but cursed the fish I lost. That put me in 31st spot and in with a chance.

Day two was totally different weather, overcast with a strong Easterly wind, surely the fish would pull today. So off we headed back to R buoy, first drift and two strong pulls on the hoppers again, but nothing. A few more drifts saw me hooking into six fish but failing to land any of them. Frustrating to say the least and realising it wasn’t to be my day,,,, I needed eight fish,,,, we headed over to the Normanton bank.

First drift I took a fish and landed it, first of the day and also a massive tangle, more frustration. New leader and swooped the lines a few times before settling on a floater and hoppers with a blob on the top dropper. More dropped fish and more frustration. By end time I had taken 5 fish, I knew it wasn’t enough and blamed myself for all the lost fish. Compounded by a few boats already in I knew it wasn’t enough.

Weighing in, this could take some time.

Oh well, placed 41st out of 122 of England’s top anglers, there’s always next year.

Top blob over the two days, FNF Fire Coral UV and Blushing Sunburst. Worked really well in the coloured water to draw the fish in šŸŽ£

Last but not least congratulations to local angler Tom Davies who won the match and is the 2017 English National Champion.

Few Hours on Rutland

Back out on Rutland last Friday for a few hours. It seemed like the only place to be on the lake was the dam area. Have to say I’ve not seen fish in these concentrations for many years. It literally was a fish a chuck despit the bright sun and wind gusting to 30mph.

Here is my boat partner with the pick of the bunch, what a beaut, must have been nudging 5lb. 

Best tactics was just stroking back Jelly fritz blobs on a slow glass or the Rio hover line. Must have been the only day when we were pleased to go back in because our arms were aching so much. Can’t see it lasting so get it while you can! 

This is a picture of the blob and hook I was using. The FNF Jelly fritz 10mm Atomic Yellow / Safety Orange on the Fulling Mill barbless heavy weight competition #12. Have to say I didn’t lose a single fish once hooked on this new hook from Fulling Mill despite not having a barb.

Spring International – Chew Valley LakeĀ 

Friday the 19th of May saw Team England competing in the annual Spring International Match against Scotland, Wales and Ireland. I was very honoured this year to be selected to be part of the England Team. 

As the preparations got under way with three practice days match day fishing was going to be tough with the trout having seen numerous flies in the previous days.

Team England

Over the three practice days we found several ‘hot spots’ which could be relied on to produce fish whilst other areas of the lake seemed to be totally devoid of fish. The conditions didn’t help too with bright sunshine and wind to suffering a months rainfall in 48 hours. Keeping careful records of our practice day catches helped us narrow down our fly patterns with a ‘shaggy’ hares ear being in number one position. Very much a change from the ‘skinny’ diawl backs that the locals use.

Trout hard on the buzzers

Come match day I drew top Scottish angler Kevin McCabe and we decided to head off towards Herons where a lot of fish had been showing in the practice days and we had both previously caught there. Bright sunshine and wind greeted us, it wasn’t going to be easy! I opted for a floating line set up with two damsel boobies and muskins either side as the fish all week had been high in the water. After an hour my line tightened up into a 3lb rainbow that had taken the pointed booby. Safely netted, thank you, the dreaded ‘doughnut’ had been avoided. A short time later Kevin’s rod arched over and a rainbow had taken his damsel booby too. One a piece.

Then nothing. Boats were moving about the lake a sure sign that no one is catching. We decided to give the front of the island a look and thankfully I took another on the first drift in. Then nothing again. A change of drift to the seat on the north shore produced one fish for Kevin. Then nothing, we swung by the rear of the island to see how the boats there were doing. It was evident that England were on four and fives, a great score compared to others. We took a couple of drifts in, but nothing we had missed our chance in this location. So with an hour left we drifted down the Woodford bank, unbelievably nothing between us, not a single pull. So we ended the day with two fish each, not a bad score considering the conditions. 

Final Results

Well done England, a rod average of 3 on a very tricky day but it was enough to win gold. Commiserations to the Irish who seemed to have it cracked on practice day with a lot of fish taken but it just didn’t happen on match day. Just goes to show in fishing no two days are ever the same.

Gold Medal

So it was a gold medal for me, a massive a honour to represent your country and to win gold too. This was down to total team work from top to bottom. The guys working behind the scenes to make sure we wanted for nothing and the lads on practice days sticking to flies and lines they thought probably wouldn’t catch but helped to build a picture of the lake up. Brilliant Captain in Nik Long who was always there to answer a million questions.

A totally awesome experience, I would recommend this to everyone. Better to look back on life and say ‘I did that’ rather than to say ‘I wish I’d had a go at that’.

A Few Hours on Rutland Water

Today I grabbed a couple of hours on the Bank Holiday to out on Rutland Water. The place is on fire at the moment with the trout feeding hard on buzzers. So with all the boats booked it was time to avoid everyone else and the stockies and try and target the better fish.

Bottom of the South Arm here we come.

The wind was being a right pain with blowing about 10mph but gusting up to 20mph so a better of shelter was needed so the line could be controlled. Not much available but it wasn’t too long before I was into some action.

Rainbow about 4.8lb 

Not the greatest of pictures but unhooked in the net with little handling for it to be returned for another day.

Then hit a bit of a purple patch taking quite a few fish in short succession all on the buzzers.

Brownie this time about 4lb.

Then with an hour to go it was time to find a few stockies around ‘yellowstone’ to try out my some new flies that I have tied up.

This is the ‘new’ 2017 jelly Fritz supplied by Frozen North Fishing. As you can see the material helps you make a great looking fly and the trout are rather partial to them too! I have a few spares on EBay under ‘dashlejog924’ for sale.

Next week it’s Eyebrook and then back to Rutland.

Team England Weekender

Last weekend saw me spending two days with Team England Fly Fishing. Saturday was to be spent with the team at Grafham before we moved to Draycote for the Sunday fundraiser with the England Youth Team.

Saturday was a get together for the Spring International team, after a meet and greet and sorting admin issues it was out on the water for a few hours. A strong North Easterley wind saw all the boats heading for the North Shore as the fish were reported to be tight into the bank. So off we went towards Hedge End armed with a DI7 and pulling gear. It was not too long before we were into the fish. I was giving the Fly Box Neon fritz a run out for the first time. I have to say it’s certainly the brightest fritz I have ever used. A self tied tequila combination did the damage.

Neon Fritz

After a couple of hours we switched over to a nymphing set up, myself with a four foot fast tip and a team of buzzers. This proved to be an instant success taking fish down at the willows before we ended the day at deep water point which was holding a good head of fish. 

Before we knew it the day was gone and it was time to head back to the lodge. After talk of the ‘one that got away’ it was time to drive over to the hotel at Draycote.

Day two

Today was all about raising some funds for our team and the England Youth team. The plan for the day was for the seniors to fish with the youth. I was fortunate enough to be drawn with Ben Fox, an outstanding young talent for the future. No doubt I would have to keep my wits about me today.

We headed off to the dam walls where Ben had fished the previous day armed once again with a DI7 with a black booby and my neon fritz blob which had caught the previous day.

Not before too long the rods were arching over into fish of an outstanding quality. Again it was a windy day so it was quite tricky trying to keep the boat drifting parallel to the dam wall whilst juggling takes.

Seniors and Juniors – Team England FF

After a couple of hours we headed for the calmer water of Biggin Bay. So once again it was time to change rigs with myself opting to nymph on the bung whilst Ben straight lined. Once again we were straight into hard fishing fish and a bit more pleasurable conditions. 

Before we knew it it was time to head back to the lodge as all of us had long journeys ahead of us.

What a great weekend, lots of banter, fly patterns swapped and funds raised for the teams. Roll on the International in seven weeks time at Chew Valley.

Rutland Water Opening Day

The closed season seems to be getting shorter and shorter with Rutland closing on January 31st and re opening again yesterday. No complaints though. 

What a difference a week makes, forecast for a dry start as opposed to the torrential rain we had last week at Grafham prospects were looking good. The Rutland boats are all kitted out now with landing nets and drogues which helps transferring everything from car to boat. So having the sorted the fishing tickets out and chatted to the other regulars off we went, first port of call call Yellowstone.

Rutland is looking like its full to capacity as we left the fishing lodge.

We were the only boat in sight as others opted for Sykes Lane and Church Bay. My buddy Mark set up on a slow sink sink I opted for the DI7 of last week at Grafham. After a quiet start, we soon got into the trout as we approached the shore line. A re run of Grafham really, stock fish tight in to the bank.

Not wanting to spend all day in one place we opted to move along the peninsular and before too long we were drifting along the front of Barnhill Creek which is out of bounds to bank anglers until 1st April. Here we got into some better fish again very close to the bank.

Myself with a Barnhill Creek trout.

Then it was off to the steep bank and once again the fish were close in, by now Mark had changed to a Di3 and a jelly pellet fry and myself on a FNF jelly tequila. Once again we were in the stock trout but last years slabs were proving a bit elusive.

FNF Jelly Tequila.

Back of the net! 

With the prospect of rain looming it was off to the picnic area in front of whitwell and it was business as usual. This time the trout seemed to be a bit further out and the sinking lines getting the fly in the right zone very quickly it was busy sport.

Mark not quite finding the ‘slabs’ we were looking for.

So with dark clouds gathering and rain looking imminent we both agreed we had, had a great days sport so maybe it was time to scoot back to the fishing lodge and call it a day. So this is the 2017 fishing season well and truly open until January 2018. 

With warm weather forecast next week the trout should be feeding on the buzzers in next to no time.

Grafham Water Opening Day

Well myself and my fishing buddy Mark met up at Grafham Water this morning for the start of the 2017 season. Full of expectations and wondering where everyone else was, did we have the right day? Maybe a sign of the times with the water only being closed for around six weeks.

Off to the lodge and after the customary breakfast in the cafe it was down stairs to purchase our tickets. Weather wise it was looking grim, borne out by a number of the 15 opening day boats being cancelled. By the time we had our tickets in our hands the heavens had opened with a steady downpour of rain.

Grafham Water looking moody on opening day.
So off we went heading in the direction of G buoy only to find that G buoy is not where it should have been but pushed down in storm Doris towards Marlow Point. 

I set up on DI7 and a black snake and Mark on slow intermediate and blobs. Within short time my rod arched over into the first rainbow of the day and season which swiftly found its self in the net and quickly released for another day. As soon as he went back Mark was into his first fish of the day, this time on the new FNF Jelly Pellet fly, a sign of things to come? 

Mark with his first trout of the 2017 Grafham season.
Ok, we have fish, so time for a move. Moving further up the North Shore in search of over wintered fish we came across pockets of trout wanting to play but nothing more than 3lb. A few pulls at Hedge End but no lock ups then as we turned the corner we were both into fish again, again snakes and blobs.

By now it’s early afternoon so it’s a move once again to the sailing club and lodge frontage. Here we were straight into fish of a general better quality than we had found so far. After an hour we both agreed that it was getting cold, the waterproofs were starting to leak and had both had a good run out for the start of the season. At least it had temporarily stopped raining.

Next week it’s opening day at Rutland Water.

Storm Doris

Thursday 23rd February 2017 and storm Doris hits Rutland Water. 

A pretty rough day out on the water thankfully it’s the close season so no opportunity to go fishing at all. Not complaining, just trying to avoid all the fallen trees blocking the local roads.

So today my time has been taken adding to my box of Jelly Fritz blobs, pretty amazing stuff from Frozen North Fishing. Can’t wait to give them a try in a couple of weeks time once the season gets under way.

I’m currently tying all my blobs on Kamasan B160 #8 hooks or on Dohiku barbless for catch and release days.