Road trip and other stories
firstly apologies for the slight delay (actually a week and a bit late) on the blog post this was due to leaving my camera in conan the fly destroyers car and not getting it back till today .
So we had arranged to travel into the badlands of England to fish piketreks competition on the 20th and the reason we decided to fish it was there was the chance of a couple of species we don’t get in Scotland I.e. chub and zander and also it was for a very good cause and well any excuse for a fishing road trip.
the fine art of a simple maribou fly
we have lately been tying up with a lot of synthetics so it was nice to go down the natural materials route again especially after the success of the last trip with the my biggest fish of the year coming on a weighted maribou streamer of course teaching conan is a breeze once ive shown him a method he pretty much picks it up straight away and produces an almost perfect replica (unlike kenyans) I suspect next season there will be quite a lot of these in his box
the art of synthetic pt 1one thing conan really wanted to nail was tying with synthetics because everybody falls into the same trap with it and that is tying it too thick and even when it first appeared in this country I did the same , well to be honest at that time there was no step by steps out there to help pretty much all you had was a picture of a saltwater fly and a clump of you chosen colour in your hand and that’s it now get on with it and although after a few attempts I came up with some passable looking pike snacks but they were now looking back made with way too much material , so now we have reached the point where as you can see from my fly above pretty much translucent baitfish I mean you can see the hook shank through it which is really what you want , so conan had I think fallen into that same trap as most of us did when we first started with synthetics so it was great to be able to show him how to do it. So the first one I approached with him was ep fibre the very first synthetic I used for pike flies way back when it first appeared over here yes folks I have been doing it that long.
The boy did good
so after just one lesson and 1 fly here’s the result and I tell you you’d struggle to match the tier to the fly if you didn’t know , well I can tell you conans is the top fly id say he’s pretty much nailed that , you see how easy it is when somebody shows you there’s no such thing as stupid question if you don’t know the answer (of course that doesn’t apply to ken capsey who lets face it has asked some pretty dumb ones in the past but he is a redneck so I guess we can let him off) so if I can help people not to make the mistakes I did when synthetics hit these shores then that’s job done
conan was very keen on using gliss and glint plus from www.deercreek.co.uk as he had seen these patterns in action and what they look like in the water (unfortunately no camera has yet managed to capture that) and had seen me tying with it at last years British fly fair so he was keen to get that nailed as well the material itself sits nicely between ep fibre and sf fibre which you may have used before as gliss is not as soft as ep but not as stiff as sf so you can get some pretty fluid moving baitfish out of it and its also a lot bloody cheaper that the afore mentioned products but there’s a place for most materials just some are better than others , a good afternoons tying lesson was had and it was time to get stuff ready for the trip .
as there’s no boats involved on this trip I scaled stuff down a bit and only took around half my boxes taking only flies that I knew would do the business and let me tell you it took a few days to sort that one out as I needed to combine not only flies for pike but also for perch , chub ,and zander it took me a while but I got there other that in the picture above I took a couple of pikesabers (one to use and a spare) and a net and that was pretty much it so with Friday fast approaching it was time to hit the sack in preparation for the 5 and a half hour journey south
the long road
so the morning came and conan had arranged to pick me up at 10am as he had a doctors appointment and I needed to wait for the postman to get a prize from deercreek for the comp , as it happens conan didn’t pick me up till 11am as he had his appointment time wrong then had to wait ages to be seen but it was all good as this gave the postman time to arrive (10.30) and me a chance to make sure I had everything before we left .
Everything being in order and now sat in the hairy one car we headed south , now the picture above is heading down towards the border around an hour from Edinburgh and look at those lovely clear roads as soon as we got into England the road turned into pretty much a giant long car park maybe it just because England’s got some many more city’s crammed into it so there’s more need for people to travel to each others towns therefore creating the awful traffic situation we found ourselves in , oh well we wernt in a hurry so not a massive problem and besides gave us more time to eat the in car doughnuts
We planned to get to the hotel (in the middle of nowhere) a couple of hours before dark then head to the venue (about 5 miles away) and fish around an hour into dark then head off and get some food in melton mowbray (yes conan there is such a place its not made up to sell pork pies) but sometimes the best laid plans can go a bit to pot through no fault of your own
as we passed stoke on Trent on a duel carriageway a car passing us spat up a stone and cracked the window , one of those things and nobody’s fault so with little choice we carried on to the services at derby where we surveyed the damage and hell there was a kfc there as well (no we didn’t indulge we were still full of doughnuts) turns out that we were safe to carry on to the hotel as it was only around 60 odd miles from where we where so we carried on at a steady rate trying to avoid potholes and bumps in the road …
our original plan was to get checked into the travelodge a couple of hours before dark ,then go and show conan the venue , I used to have a membership here when I lived in derby many moons back so I knew the venue quite well and the plan was to give him a walk through and show him some spots and features then head into melton for some food then back to the hotel to have a beer and some fishing chat, but with the cracked window and some trouble finding the hotel meant we didn’t get there till after dark so those plans were also sunk but not really a problem .
I had a few things to finish of on some flies so I broke out the diamond hard uk and got on with it while we had a cup of coffee and a replan for the evening ,we decided just to head straight into melton and find some food ,so we headed of and took around 20 mins to get there and about another 2 hours to find somewhere to park , ridiculous that we had to drive round for hours to find a parking spot everywhere we looked there were no parking signs we eventually just parked outside a shop and hoped for the best luckily a few shops down there was a nice looking Indian restaurant and also very cheap and the guy said there was customer parking at the back of the building , that was enough for us .
I opted for a tandoori selection with popadoms and pickles and a selection of fine indian breads conan had something that I really could even pronounce let alone spell but it was made with lamb , what was funny was that being a friday night everybody was out dressed up in the finery with works nights out and people having romantic dates over candlelight meals then there was was me and conan dressed in our fishing gear not giving a single one we did get a few looks and shaking heads from the waiters but the food was great and hit the spot no doubt next time we go back there will be a “NO SCOTTISH FLY FISHERMAN” on the door cant think why though
after this we headed back to the hotel (worryingly in the middle of nowhere ) funnily enough it actually sits on the famous fosse way one of the oldest roads in Roman Britain road runs from Exeter (Devon) in the South to Lincoln (Lincolnshire) in the North, forming one of the main routes in Roman Britain. But I bet they found there hotels and inns a lot easier than we did on the way back we actually thought we were going to run out of fuel looking for it but that’s a whole other story . We eventually got back to the hotel in one piece and as we had booked a family room (saves money) so there was only one double bed and a sofa bed , so to keep things fair we flipped a coin and conan got the bed I got the couch so we both settled down and agreed on a movie that was showing (rocky 5) but I was so knackered I fell asleep pretty quick and before we knew it it was 6am time for coffee and out the door …
on to the competition
the competion has some fantastic prizes on offer and we even had a sponsor for the food after the event so awesome sausage rolls and bacon rolls for breakfast went down fantastic , I bought down a voucher for a days guided fishing on
private trout fishery with me from authanic wire at www.fastflies.co.uk there was some hook and fly packs donated by the lovley chaps at http://www.spanglefish.com/hookeyeandfly/index.asp and a fantastic selection of eyes and diamond hard uv from the ever generous nick at www.deercreek.co.uk and in this day and age its great that small company’s step forward and provide a few prizes so please go check them out …....and for those companies who didn’t donate prizes to the raffle for charity shame on you
my favorite spot of the whole day
(Conan just out of shot stuffing sausage rolls down his fizzog)
so suitably full of sausage rolls and bacon rolls and enough coffee to keep us going for a week and we finally set out , conditions were good on the lake although the river was blown out so a slight change of gameplay was called for and we had planned to hit a few spots that I knew of and had done ok on before, so I tied and a “gliss and glint fat boy buster baitfish” and we hit the 10 min walk to our starting point
we hit the spots and started casting around almost straight away I had a hit but failed to connect so I covered the area for a few casts and then moved on a few yards leapfrogging with conan as we went I had a further 2 hits in the space of around 10 mins one being right close to the bank and silver (zander maybe who knows) but again it didn’t connect this was getting a little frustrating
so I scaled down to a smaller fly this usually works for me if the fish are taking short so after about 30 mins absolutely nothing was happening for me or pretty much anybody else although id seen one chap land a pike of around 4lbs but obviously the underwater dinner bell hadn’t run yet then after another cast me fly felt a bit strange in the water and then I saw why I had hooked a watersnail , now the competition rules say that if it takes a fly is classed as a predator well this was caught fair and square so I duly recorded it and had it witnessed to much head shaking surley a fish would follow soon
ok so after another move further round the lake and to add insult to injury a large swan mussel decided to take a liking to my fly as you can see it is hooked fair and square so again this was duly photographed and witnessed as it had in fact taken my fly fair and square to much hilarity from the cream of British pike fly fishing on the pegs around me .
By this time id spoken too a few anglers who had passed andf stopped for an informal hello hows it going and it seems that very little was actually coming out although a 13lb fish had come out to a local fly fisher who fishes the venue all the time (knowledge is everything I guess) but nobody else was doing anything so there was still a chance
as I said the before the river was pretty much blown out by recant rains and was carrying a lot of colour although this didn’t stop some people from trying to get one out by any means possible even cheating by fishing off the bridge mentioning no names (Richard todd lol) the river had it had been its normal flow and colour would have produced quite a lot of fish so that was half the battle plan scuppered …..oh well
this venue has some great backwaters and cover spots but its a hell of a job trying to get a fly into them but hey who dares wins and I had no choice as thing were getting desperate and there was only an hour left to fish so I tried my damnedest to get one out and if it meant a 50% chance of getting stuck up a tree then id just have to try it real bloody commando type fishing this . But still to no avail and not even a touch of the fly I was seriously realising now that the fish were simply not having it today and ive had days like this before , in fact I remember fishing with Ernie firth on a midlands reservoir from a boat and sight casting to fish in shallow water in fact I was getting the fly right past there noses and they showed no interest at all it was like they were sleeping in fact at one point I had a big 20lb plus fish rise up from deeper water inches behind my fly ernie spotted it but what he didn’t spot was the fish underneath it that dwarfed the one following my fly at about 8 ft depth they both stopped and sank back down out of site , that is one vision that still haunts me to this day , im sure we have all had those moments before …..
so with the dying mins of the comp left we headed back to the sailing club and there met with the other competitors and it seems we wernt the only ones to struggle today I mean we had some of the best names in British pike fly fishing here today and everybody said it was tough but hey thats fishing for you , but it was great to take part make some money for a great cause and meet loads of new people and some old friends for some great banter .
My self and conan the fly destroyer decided to stay on till dark , as the comp finished at 3pm and there was an hour for the prize giving raffle and food so with the sunset hour upon us which we know can be a great time for predators we decided to throw a few around into dark but still we didnt do anything worth a try though.
so with heavy heart we called it a day and headed back north finally getting back to Scotland sometime just before dawn of course stopping at a motorway services for a burgerking im not quite sure what kind of voodo motorway burger magic makes you stop at 2am for an £8.00 burger but we did bloody tasty actually …...hey there’s always next year
I have to give a big shout out to the lads at www.pikeflyrod.com and especially uncle greg and scalsey who really looked after everybody fishing the event boys your stars , well done on a cracking event see ya next year
see ya next year frisby great venue not easy but great venue with some fantastic staff
oh and one last thing folks .
NEVER EVER LEAVE YOUR CAMERA IN YOUR MATES CAR
(this is the only one I could publish on a family friendly blog
the other pictures involved bananas and a face mask
next week me and the destroyer will be doing something completely different
take care and stay safe folks
(a cave in Scotland)