How much pomp and circumstance do we give a fishery?

Elgar

Pic courtesy of Chris Glover

In this touching piece on Sir Edward Elgar and a fishing centenary (prompting me to bring the composer’s Cello Concerto up on Spotify as I type) I was taken with the writer’s thoughts on trout water hierarchy…

“In 1918 there was only one lake at Little Bognor, to call it a pond is an injustice. A pond is something found in a suburban garden, it conjures up visions of gnomes and goldfish. Curiously, Little Bognor has two ancient stone gnomes, hidden memorials to Sir Edward and his wife. Moreover, Little Bognor was built to provide a constant flow of water to the Upper Mill. It was therefore a millpond. Nevertheless, I prefer to call it a lake.”

It’s a subjective thing, so I don’t look to second guess this opinion, but personally, I can live with ‘pond’ as a fishing label for anything up to an acre or two, and not just because an angling writer needs all the synonyms he can get to stop his copy growing stale. ‘Pond’ can lend a certain charm, I think, and not merely diminish. It carries overtones of glades, grottos, secrets and undiscovered magic.

‘Lake’, I reserve for the big stuff, and I inwardly groan whenever I have to speak of a ‘reservoir’, which has a functional, charmless ring to it. ‘Pool’ serves me well for anything in between.

And I am thankful all the while that on this side of the Atlantic, we are spared the popular, yet numbingly literal American moniker of ‘hole’. Had they called it On Golden Hole, something tells me Henry Fonda would have died still awaiting his Oscar.

Trout, pike and the search for balance

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Pic courtesy of ReflectedSerendipity

It’s a common misperception among those on the outside of the magazine industry – “How do you fill all those pages every month?”

On the inside, the question is routinely turned on its head, with “What the hell do we leave out?” being easily the more common question as press day approaches.

The dilemma tormented us once more last month, as my investigation of the hottest potato in Irish angling at present had to be shoe-horned into some 900 words in TF issue 503, out today.

Anyone who’s been asked to précis War & Peace will understand my frustration. Doing justice to an increasingly rancorous dispute over the balance of power within Ireland’s western loughs is likely to call for much more newsprint in the months ahead.

At its heart is a dispute over the viability of trout co-existing alongside pike in these showcase waters. To quote from our article:

“In one corner, trout anglers insist that unchecked pike populations will lead to the demise of brown trout in the loughs. In the other, pike anglers insist that Mother Nature has managed this balancing act for centuries and should be left to get on with it.”

For a summary of the pros and cons, you’ll have to read the article, but I received further input on the debate from two other sources for which there was simply no room on the printed page without diluting what was already there. Taunted By Waters, therefore, steps into the breach.

Firstly, I heard from Conservation Section of Oughterard Anglers [OACS], based on Corrib’s southern shore. They reject any claim that pike are indigenous, explaining that, “Officially under the EU Water Framework Directive pike are still classed as being non-native/non-benign to Irish waters by the IFI [Inland Fisheries Ireland]. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) still class pike as being invasive to Ireland.

“If pike were native to Ireland they would be found in every watercourse in the country just like brown trout but this is not the case.”

They also reject the notion that pike, however they got there, have acquired any kind of ‘squatters’ rights’ in Irish waters.

“We know from extracts from the book, The angler in Ireland: or An Englishman’s ramble through Connaught and Munster, during the summer of 1833 by S. Belton, that Lough Corrib was ‘infested’ with pike and that trout fishing was extremely poor,” they told me, citing the following extract from the book in support:

“Salmon are taken in Lough Corrib, as also some very large trout; but the Lake, being infested with pike, no great sport can be expected; and few are caught, except by cross-fishing.”

The OACS point out that the Corrib Fisheries Association (CFA) was set up in 1898, with the aim of restoring Lough Corrib as a trout fishery, a project based on pike control and  stream enhancement.

“Within a few years of the CFA establishment, trout fishing dramatically improved,” they said. “Ever since, pike have been culled on the Corrib and trout stocks have flourished in spite of other pressures such as the roach introduction, zebra mussel introduction, lagarosiphon introduction, loss of spawning habitat, climate change etc.

“No scientific evidence has ever been either produced domestically or internationally, which shows that pike have a benign or positive effect on salmonids.”

Instead, they argue, biologist Dr Ron Greer, in his 1995 book Ferox Trout & Arctic Charr, described as “…part of the mythology of the pike anglers’ sub-culture that pike are some kind of ecological balancing act. This is simply not the case in small, shallow charr and trout lakes.”

Greer’s book touched upon another issue that resonates among Irish trout anglers, 22 years on: the unlawful introduction of pike into waters where they previously weren’t.  OACS claim that Ireland’s  Owenriff system, a Corrib tributary and a major salmonid nursery, was “destroyed” when pike were illegally introduced there approximately 10 years ago. This theme also arose in Scotland in the early 2000s.

One man who has gradually come round to the idea of active control of pike numbers is Larry McCarthy, who runs Corrib View Lodge & Angling Services with his wife Michelle.

By-laws introduced in 2007 cut the number of pike to be retained by anglers in Ireland to just one a day, provided it was  less than 50cm in length, and McCarthy believes this led to a key shift in the ecological equilibrium.

“Foreign tourists were taking many pike up until 2007 and many of them just stopped coming over after that,” he explains. “That was a big controlling factor gone and so, while I was all for leaving Nature alone at one point, I believe things have now tilted too much in the pike’s favour.

“I don’t want to see pike eradicated and the argument that trout anglers kill too many fish is valid, but the loughs should be afforded care as a true wild trout fishery. Any way we can protect it, we should follow it.”

The outcome of a review of existing pike control measures by Inland Fisheries Ireland is expected next year. Never have the words ‘watch this space’ been more pertinent…

Trout Fisherman Troutmasters Reports

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While we’re waiting for the magazine’s new website to go live, these reports will be posted on the TF blog here at Taunted By Waters.

The following relate to w/e September 9:

Avington Trout Fishery, Hampshire

Although the hot August weather meant some difficult fishing at times, the rewards have certainly been there for those who kept plugging away. An immaculate 15lb brown was caught from lake one by Shane Davis on a Black Stalking Bug. Shane found this fish very late in the day lurking in the shade under the tree right at the top of the lake. Mark Williamson braved the wet and windy conditions and was rewarded with brown of just over 12lb from lake two. He caught it using a Goldhead Blue-flash Damsel. A brown just shy of 11lb was taken from lake three by Ian Davidson, who stalked it from under the trees using a heavy stalking bug. Regular angler Richard Francis managed a lovely rainbow at just over 10lb from lake three. Adam Pagan caught a pristine 11lb 8oz rainbow from lake 2 using a small Black Buzzer. Regular angler Kevin Macey also managed to get in on the action with a lovely 10lb 8oz rainbow from lake two caught on a small Damsel. Fly choice this month has been difficult to determine with one day being completely different to the next. Lures have been most consistent in the morning period, especially the Damsel patterns, in the afternoon the smaller flies such as Buzzers and nymphs have produced a lot fish and the colour black seems to be the most popular. The fish are very reluctant to chase, so dropping the fly on their nose or slowly retrieving it past them seems to be the best method. The fishery will be closed for corporate events on September 7, 29 & 30; and October 7.

 

Chatton Trout Fishery, Northumberland

Early morning and evening have produced great dry fly sport, fish have been deeper through the day. Lovely brown trout have been coming to the net, also fish in the 4lb to 8lb bracket. Fly box this week has been CdCs, Buzzers, nymphs, Daddies, Bloodworms and small lures. Ben McDonald from Bedlington caught his first fish on a fly using a Green CdC. Jack Rowley (age five) from Longhoughton caught a fish from Ross Lake using a Yellow Dancer. The fishery is closing at 8pm.

 

Elan Valley, Powys

Some nice browns came from the Elan Valley reservoirs.

Mr Pritchard from Shrewsbury landed one of 2lb, and Mr Fordyce from Winforton caught one of 1lb 8oz. The reservoirs are filling fast, so fishing should be good for September. Hoppers and Daddy Longlegs should do well, and also Zulu and Montana. Elan Valley fishing season ends on October 17.

 

Eyebrook Trout Fishery, Leicestershire

Season ticket holder Lindsay Bates of Gretton recently enjoyed a morning boat session and caught 12 decent rainbows on a combination of Pearly Wickhams and Invictas fished on a floating line. Ken Haken and John Smith of Bulwell went afloat and caught eight hard-fighting rainbows on Silver Invicta Muddlers. Graham Ramsay and party, from north of the border, all enjoyed frenetic boat fishing with most anglers recording limit bag catches and many other trout caught and released. The lads fished with a combination of Blobs, Daddies and Buzzers. Other flies that have been catching fish are Bibios, Snatchers, Crunchers and dry fly patterns including Bob’s Bits, small Daddies and CdC emergers including the Yellow Owl.

 

Glen of Rothes Trout Fishery, Grampian

A good week for the dry fly with conditions for most of the time perfect for sport. Fish active and feeding hard on the surface, or just below, so Buzzers and nymphs also doing well. A Greenwells Glory, an old traditional pattern, was the pick of the bunch, along with the Kate McLaren. Ian Morrison had eight fish on Buzzers, George Black had eight, Pete Green had 10, again on Buzzers, Stephen Barrie had a beauty of 6lb on a dry fly, Jim Eddie had nine. Other anglers averaged three and four fish per session and there was quite a few returned around 5 to 6lb. Blues are starting to feature well and it won’t be long before the Zonkers and fry patterns will be doing well.

 

Grafham Water, Cambridgeshire
The best fish of the week was a lovely rainbow of 5lb 4oz taken by Pat Patel. This cracking fish was taken from the dam on a Black Buzzer. Mr Whitmore took a 4lb 4oz rainbow. Ryan Campbell landed 29 fish in a single session for the best bag of the week. The recent change in weather conditions has meant fish are reluctant to feed. Fish are right up in the water with anglers reporting that going beyond three feet is too deep. Remember though, that fish are more likely to spook when feeding in the surface layers.

Anglers are reporting mixed results with some taking bags over the 20 fish mark and others are struggling to get a pull. The best techniques are to fish floating lines with fast glass tips, Diawl Bachs and Crunchers strung between Boobies on the point and Hare’s Ears on the dropper. There are still plenty of snails about and these are abundant in stomach contents of the trout.

Areas fishing well include Savages Creek, between the two boils (drifting), the middle (drifting), the dam and Sanctuary Bay. Other areas worth a try are between G Buoy and the Willows. Rainbow Point has also been fishing well. The dam has been fishing very well with most fish coming early or late in the day.

We are doing some bank work around the Seat, cutting back overgrown grass and vegetation, to allow for easier access for anglers. It’s currently very shallow off the Seat, although wading out 20-30 yards to the deeper water is likely to produce fish, particularly on Shrimp patterns.

The start of the lure fishing season has been fantastic with plenty of fish landed. Perch up to 4lb have been caught with hauls of up to 200 perch per boat in a single session. A number of pike have also come out this week including two 20-pounders. Zander have also been on show with some fantastic doubles landed. Ash Bradley banked a trio of double-figure zander to 11lb and reported a total of 12 zander on the day.

 

Lllyngwyn, Powys

Heaviest fish of 6lb was taken by T. Eldridge, from Warwick, on a Buzzer. Best bag of three rainbows for 12lb fell to Harry Edwards, from Llandrindod. Rob Davies of Llandinam landed 14 fish but returned 13 – all on a Sparkler lure. Best flies are Buzzers, Montana, and small Damsels. The Llyngwyn Winter Competitions take place on Sunday November 6 (Rhayader Open) and Sunday December 18 (Fur and Feather).

 

Millbuies Trout Fishery, Grampian

The lochs have had great weather for fishing this week and fish have been rising well all over. Dries have done very well. Best areas are always around the margins and drawing fish out from under the tree lines as it’s a lot slower in the deeper water areas. Good returns of browns, blues and rainbows have been recorded and nymphs, Buzzers and wets have done very well. Lures are not as prolific on the lochs as it is a natural water and suited more to traditional methods. Best fish this week was 6lb 6oz.

 

Pitsford Water, Northamptonshire

The rod average this week is a healthy 3.6 with both boat and bank anglers enjoying decent sport. Fish are in the top couple of feet and willing to chase.

The main basin continues to fish really well with drifts across the open water proving successful. There are also reports of fish now beginning to appear in numbers in the Narrows. Bank anglers have had some success with the best areas being the Gravels and Northfield Shore. The fish in these areas are now clearly feeding on shrimp and anglers using imitation patterns fished in the margins have had most success.

The EFFA match on September 1 was fished against an Army team when 24 anglers caught 119 fish for a rod average of 5. EFFA anglers caught 59 fish with the Army going one fish better at 60. However, EFFA won with a 3lb margin. Top individual was Ian Peberdy with seven fish for 15lb 13oz. Sean Hanlon was second with six fish for 14lb 10oz. Third place went to John Gammon with six fish for 14lb 2oz. The best fish was caught by David Froggatt with a rainbow of 3lb 15oz. The anglers observed a minute’s silence in memory of EFFA member Michael Stevens who sadly passed away on August 10.

 

Ravensthorpe Reservoir, Northamptonshire
A week of mixed sport and on some days trout have been difficult to tempt with fly. Season ticket holder Grant Gibson enjoyed some good sport on Thursday, taking eight fish on a Claret Hopper. His boat partner also took three fish on dries. Frazer Duffy Junior had a good day on Thursday taking five fish on Bob’s Bits. The fish are up in the water and small dries fished on top have been the best method. Claret Hoppers, small Daddies, Bob’s Bits, and CdCs are all worth trying, drifting across the main bowl. Bank anglers have been catching one or two fish from the dam or Platform 5. Small dries, Diawl Bachs or nymphs on a floating line are the best method.

The GWFFA Dry Fly Day and BBQ on Sunday August 21 saw 16 members fish with dry flies only. The bright and very windy conditions proved challenging from drifting boats. Most fish were caught in the calmer water near The Clump, The Domes and The Tall Willows. All the fish caught were released. Top angler on the day was Brian Calvert using a size 16 green CdC to tempt 10 fish. Other anglers caught on orange and fiery brown Bob’s Bits. Martin Brocklebank caught seven fish and Harley Smith had six. Best fish at 2lb 8oz was taken by Paul Miley.

 

Rutland Water, Rutland

The best fish of the week fell to Phil Welbourne of Market Deeping, who caught a lovely 5lb ¾oz rainbow. Boat fishing was good in the main basin, especially around the aerators, with some boats recording 16 fish within 3-4 hours with lures on sinking lines. Rudder anglers drifting through the main basin capitalised on this as well, trailing tube flies/snakes behind the boat. Anglers venturing down the arms were rewarded as well with Keith Jones, Toff Crowther and Graham Hayward all reporting numbers of good fish of 3lb-plus around the weed beds of the north and south arms.

Bank anglers are taking a few fish up to 4lb around the shoreline. Try and cover as much bank as you can, particularly the weed beds.

Prospects look very good if the weather remains settled. Fish are feeding on sticklebacks, fry (roach and perch), corixa, snails and shrimp.

Predator fishing started well for both zander and pike anglers. Numerous zander to 8lb have been taken and pike to 27lb with reports of three other pike over the 20lb mark.

Due to stock taking in the tackle shop, please note that items of tackle etc will not be available to purchase from 11am on September 14 and 15. The Lodge will remain open for boat hire and permit sales.

 

Swanswater Fishery, Stirlingshire

A good week’s fishing with lots of fish showing on the surface, but unfortunately not much dry fly action to be had. Most fish are taking subsurface and down to a depth of around three feet, occasionally going deeper during the breezy spells. The healthy stocking of golds continue to provide an attractive target for anglers and figure highly in the returns. The bigger fish are also on the move and several cracking specimens of 6lb and over have been caught, with many of them being returned. The areas around the dam, the big tree and the island continue to be the most productive but the far bay is providing good catches too. The best flies varied from day to day with wet flies including Kate McLaren, Bibio and Black Spider proving the most successful. Other anglers caught on lures such as Hothead Damsel, Cat, Cormorant and Ally McCoist, while others had success with nymphs including Hare’s Ear and Diawl Bach.

Alan Burke, from Falkirk, caught two fish for 12lb 8oz including a 10lb 4oz rainbow; Davy Quinn, Dunfermline, three for 15lb including a 9lb 12oz rainbow; Robert Boyes, Linwood, five for 12lb 4oz plus five caught and released; Keith Lewis, South Queensferry, five for 13lb; Danny Doherty, Denny, five for 12lb including a gold; Tam Baillie, Kincardine, four for 14lb including a 7lb 8oz rainbow; John Moyes, Grangemouth, two for 9lb including a 7lb 8oz rainbow; George Dobbie, Glasgow, two for 6lb; Brian Kerr, Stirling, three for 7lb; Brian McNeish, Stirling, four for 9lb 8oz; George Gemmell, Falkirk, three for 15lb including an 8lb rainbow; John Smith, Renfrew, 5lb 8oz rainbow; Brian Eadie, Stirling, 14 caught and released; Henry Fulton, Greenock, two for 11lb including an 8lb rainbow; Willie Keevan, Cowdenbeath, four for 11lb including a 5lb 4oz rainbow; Alan Brand, Edinburgh, two for 10lb 6oz including an 8lb rainbow.

 

Thornwood Springs Essex

Lake one continues a good run of youngsters catching their first fish when guided by a parent. Newcomers all going home with a few fish from here. Montanas with marabou tails, Cat’s Whiskers, Damsels and Blobs under a bung are working on still, bright days. If there is a good ripple try Daddies on top. The far end of this lake is now producing browns again and is now clear of weed. Lake two has been great on dry fly and lures, but also on Bloodworms and Blobs 10 feet down. Stalking pool opening soon and autumn fresh stocking arrives shortly.

 

Ynys y fro Reservoirs, Gwent

Following the restocking of the bottom pond there has been a marked improvement in fish returns from both boat and bank anglers, with the bonus of some evening activity on the top pond. Dry fly specialist Graham Ingram Evans landed two good fish including a specimen of 2lb 10oz from the top pond. On the bottom pond boat anglers have concentrated on the areas off the dam and Farmhouse Bay. Lee Carroll and Keith Higgins both returned limits, while Shaun Cotterell caught his eight fish over two session. Mike Price and Andrew Taylor shared a boat to catch seven and five trout respectively. A brace of fish was recorded by Ken Pascoe and Hugh Davies, with the former adding a further limit from another boat session. Bank fishermen have found Farmhouse Bay providing most sport, with Keith Higgins moving from boat to bank to land an eight fish limit using Orange Blobs. Further limits were landed by Ken Bowring and James Francis, with the latter having a particularly good week having landed five fish from an earlier visit to the dam, using Diawl Bachs and Pheasant Tail patterns, followed by a further four fish from Farmhouse Bay. Roger Martin and Ken Bowring also fished in Pipe Bay to take 12 and eight fish respectively from three visits. Colin Jones fished three evening sessions to land a total of nine fish. Terry O’Connor also fished an evening session for his three fish. Two afternoon visits gave Cardiff member Ivor Thomas a total of five trout, and Alan Rees three fish. .Another evening visit provided Martin Rees with two trout when he fished Farmhouse Bay. Following a successful boat day earlier in the week, Craig Bowles added a further three fish to his season’s total from the bank while D. Bowles caught a brace of trout, including an excellent specimen of 4lb 2oz. Fellow Cowbridge member Dave Smith also landed two fish. Successful patterns have included Diawl Bach, Shipman’s Buzzers, Hoppers and Damsels, while fast-stripped Orange Blobs and fritz patterns have been effective, especially for boat anglers.

The weekend saw the dam on the bottom pond provide some excellent fishing, particularly during late afternoon/evening. Cardiff member Jeff Wilson used emergers to take a catch and release limit while Ken Bowring landed seven fish on a Damsel pattern. Roger Martin used the same fly for his five fish with fishery treasurer Colin Jones catching four rainbows on a Shipman’s Buzzer. A Shipman’s combined with a Diawl Bach nymph provided James Francis with three trout. Day ticket visitor Steve Docherty also fished the dam for his five rainbows, while a boat session realised a brace of fish for Les Murphy. On Saturday morning James Francis added another six fish to his weekend total, landing five in Farmhouse Bay and one fish from the boat bank. A Claret Shipman’s Buzzer and Diawl Bachs proved the successful method. Saturday also saw head bailiff John Mcindo land five fish using a Yellow Blob, while Ken Pascoe fished from a boat to land four fish, a number matched from the bank by Alan Rees.

The monthly returns for August record that despite some difficult weather conditions, over 400 fish were caught, with the vast majority coming from the bottom pond. The 500 members and day ticket holders gave a rod average of 0.8.

Frandy uncovered

Issue 487 of Trout Fisherman, out on August 17, will include a feature on Frandy Trout Fishery in Scotland. As promised in that article, I have set out below some pictures of the southern shore at the time of my visit, which we didn’t have space for in the magazine.

With water levels being low when I was there, you will note that they provide an idea of the terrain over which you are casting when normal levels  apply. Without always knowing why, I’m intrigued by this kind of revelation, although that may just be me…

Top-left and bottom-right pics are of the bay to the west of the lodge (ie on the left as you walk out of the building) just before you reach the neck, where the fishery turns and narrows. The remaining pictures show the shore as you walk towards the dam at the eastern end.

Kilnsey in all its glory

Shortly before Christmas, Fred Bainbridge and I visited the delightful Kilnsey Park fishery in Yorkshire.

Good fishing, an abundant farm shop and cafe for the peckish and one of the best settings of any fishery I’ve visited.  I was pleased enough with the panoramic photo I got in the resulting feature (TF 440) but it wasn’t a patch on this superb effort by Yorkshire Sam, whose Flickr homepage suggests that he is no stranger to work of this calibre.

Fishing in Bosnia

There used to be a war going on here, right?

How long ago those troubled times seem, as you watch the kind of footage that, for me,  is what the Internet is all about.

I have no idea who these men are, the format is disjointed and the clip ambivalent as to its purpose, yet it provides a slice-of-life glimpse into a country about which I would otherwise know very little. Call it thinly-veiled voyeurism or a renewed fascination with the global village in which we all now live but I just love stuff like this. Although I may need confirmation that the staff is exclusively non-smoking before I ever sit down in a Bosnian restaurant…