Fishing has been a part of my life from an early age. My Dad introduced me to angling and I quickly developed a passion for not only being out on the water fishing, but being outdoors. I have a fascination for catching different species of fish on lures or flies, and I’m as happy exploring the tiniest of streams as I am being out on the open ocean. I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled to some spectacular destinations, both here in the UK and abroad, trying to catch as many species as possible. So far, I’ve caught 230 species.

I work for Farlows fishing, shooting and country clothing store in London, and I’m a Consultant for Fox Rage and Salmo lures. I’m also an Ambassador for the Angling Trust and have fished for England in two disciplines - the England Youth Fly Fishing Team and the Team England Lure Squad.

Through fishing I’ve met some great people and seen some amazing wildlife and scenery, and I’d like to share some of my experiences through my blog...

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Grafham and Rutland Trout Spring in to Action

This April, the flyfishing at Rutland and Grafham has been nothing short of awesome. Some locals I've spoken to are saying it's some of, if not THE best fishing they've experienced since both reservoirs opened, from boats and the bank - and after having fished the two venues a few times this past month, I couldn't agree more.

The methods that have worked for me have been a couple of boobies on a Di7 line, with a cormorant in the middle, or a team of buzzers on a midge tip, or fishing the bung on a floating line.

On our few trips to Grafham this month we've caught plenty of hard fighting fish, including a nice Brownie of 5lb 7oz. On one trip, fishing from the bank along the bowl of the dam, we landed 25 rainbows up to 4lb 3oz in just a few hours, caught on boobies and buzzers fished at long range, as it was a very bright day and the fish were deep.

Also, by accident, whilst practising for matches I've caught three Zander - one from Grafham and two from Rutland - one of which took a small buzzer!! My Dad also caught one on a damsel last week. I'm really looking forward to the predator flyfishing in the next few weeks there.

After fishing my first bank match of the year on Grafham about two weeks ago, the very next day I fished Rutland from a boat. I was practising for the following day's Lexus Individual Championships fish-off with Gary Owen, the captain of the 'Seighford Sharks', who was also practising, but for the Teams match, the day after the Individuals match.

Rutland has fished it's socks off since it re-opened three weeks ago and it didn't take long to catch my first fish - a 5lb'er! We both had another 7 each before returning to the harbour. I caught mine on buzzers fished on a midge tip. The important thing was that we'd located the areas where the fish were holding. Two days later, the Seighford Sharks won the Lexus Team fish off at the places we fished!

In the individual match I was fishing, things didn't go quite as I'd hoped. At the briefing, my boat partner, who had won matches at Rutland before, thought it would be a good idea to head to an area where he'd caught some very big fish in the past, but they weren't there in numbers. Rutland is a massive reservoir and I'd never fished that area before - it was a bit of a risk, but we both caught - I was unlucky though, as the 4 fish I had were all stockies, plus I lost a 5th fish at the last minute. My four were only enough to earn me 12th place out of 24. He, on the other hand, had 5 very good fish - one of them was the biggest of the match weighing 4lb 11oz and earned him a well deserved wildcard place through to the final at Chew in September.

A few days later, the England Youth Flyfishing Team held a training weekend, followed by a match on the Sunday, again at Rutland. I started the practice day fishing a midge tip and buzzers, which worked really well for most of the day, until it became incredibly gusty in the afternoon, so I switched to a Di3 and fished the washing line. Our team had found fish in a few different areas across the lake - I caught 10 whilst exploring the south arm and parts of the main basin. The first fish I hooked was huge, but unfortunately, came off which I think may have been over 6lbs! Not long after, I had one from the same area that was 5+! After a discussion of tactics and locations at The Chequers pub later on that day with my team, we were all very confident we knew where to go and how to fish on match day.

Before we knew it, it was Sunday morning and all the teams were preparing to head off out in to a very rough Rutland. My boat partner was Julian Hubbard, part of the Rio Masters team we were competing against, a top competition angler. One of their team mates couldn't turn up though as he was ill, so with just 20 minutes notice, my Dad was asked to join the Rio team! We split the tackle up between us, as he'd left most of his gear at home, and both ended up 5 minutes late heading out of the harbour after the hooter had blown. Julian and I headed off to Old Hall Flats, where we'd both found a lot of fish the day before.

On my third cast I had a double hookup on the hang! Although I lost one of them, on the same drift I also landed another two. The fish wanted the flies virtually static - the only retrieve seemed to be a slow figure-of-eight - the slower the better! Many of my fish came on the hang too.

I was joint fastest with Rob Edmunds in the Rio Team, to bag up. The match had started at 10am, and we'd finished by 11.15am. My fish were tiny though, compared to Rob's weighing 30lb 9oz with time bonus! My 8 with time bonus weighed only 25lb 1oz, but still a lovely bag of fish.

With my other team-mates, Kieran and Ashley both bagging up early too, I thought we might be in with a shout of winning. But Julian had bagged by 1.30pm and a lot of others in the Rio Team did too in the last hour, including my Dad - and it was his team, the Rio Masters, that won, which he will not stop trying to wind me up about! My team came 2nd.

A few months ago, Dominic Garnett, a top angling writer for numerous publications, asked if he could use a couple of my pictures in a book he was writing at the time, called 'Flyfishing for Coarse Fish'. A couple of days ago, I received the book and it looks fantastic. It's about the type of fishing both my Dad and I love - catching different species of fish on the fly, other than trout. It's something we've been doing for quite a while now, and my Dad has caught over 130 different species now on the fly, from tiny Bitterling to Sailfish, so the book is right up our street!

The front cover looks great too - I've only read parts so far, but I'm really looking forward to reading the rest. I would highly recommend it to any angler interested in catching species other than trout on the fly. It would make a great present to any angler, as I don't think many fishermen realise how effective the method can be, and what great fun can be had doing it. It's on sale from May 10th, so I've put a link to anyone interested here.

Hopefully, the weather conditions will begin to change soon as we've had a lot of windy weather, which has made fishing quite awkward at times, especially from a boat. I'm looking forward to fishing a few different places in the next month for trout and other predators on the fly, maybe even Carp if it warms up enough - so let's hope May's forecast will be a lot better!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Another Season Over!

Well, that's another season which has flown by and sadly come to an end. Looking back though, I had many great times and experiences, like fishing with Keith Arthur for Tightlines, plus also fishing for my country with the England Youth Flyfishing Team last July on the Lake of Menteith. I've also managed to catch some lovely fish, a couple of which were new PB's, so I can say I've been pretty lucky!

One of our aims before the end of the season was to try and catch a big Barbel. My Dad had lost a good one a few years back and we weren't sure if it was still around but wanted to give it a try anyway. We knew roughly where it hung out if it was still there, but because we'd been doing so many other types of fishing throughout the season we just hadn't got around to it. So on the eve of my Dad's 50th birthday, off we went for a late afternoon trip and to stay an hour into the dark.

After about three hours in the same swim without a bite, I decided to move to another spot before it got dark. As I wandered downstream I heard an almighty yell from my Dad further up the bank. It sounded like he'd hooked in to a very good fish. As I rushed back I could see it had rooted him in to some snags on the other side of the bank, but after keeping some steady side strain, he managed to steer it free. However, the fight wasn't over and it motored on a long run downstream. After a while of knocking knees, the fish tired and I finally scooped up his prize catch - all 14lb 9oz of it, which had fallen to a couple of lobworms! What a present for my Dad's 50th!

Another present that my mum and I had organised with Keith Arthur as a surprise for my Dad, was a trip to Sky Sports studios to watch the making of the 'Tightlines' TV show. It was a great experience, going to the new studio (on the same day Sky Sports F1 HD launched) and watching Keith and his guest, John Horsey, film that week's show just before it aired in the evening. We were even on Sky Sports News for a moment in the background, walking across to the Tightlines studio! It's like a spaceship in there with hundreds of TV screens, computers, lights and cameras - it's amazing what goes on behind the scenes of Tightlines with Mick (the producer) and his fantastic team. Keith, John and Mick are some of the friendliest people I've met in fishing, and it was great to meet them again. Thanks for a brilliant day Keith!

On the last couple of trips before the end of the season, we continued quivertipping different areas of the river, and although Dad's Barbel, previously mentioned, was the only one we caught, we did manage to bank a few more Chub on breadflake plus a couple of Carp to 14lb 2oz.

This isn't normally the sort of fishing we do towards the end of the season, as I love jigging and drop-shotting for Perch at this time of year, but we'd taken advantage of the conditions better suited for chub and barbel, although we did slip in one last outing before March 15th for Perch. They didn't really seem to want to play ball, but we were kept busy with plenty of small jack Pike instead, which are still fun on lures. It took me a good couple of hours before I hooked the first Perch, which unfortunately, I lost and was pretty sure it was a good one. My Dad and I both left the area for a little while, returning later where, on his first cast, Dad hooked, and this time landed, what we think may have been the same Perch that I'd lost earlier. It was a fish of 3lb 5oz which I hooked first on a drop shotted split tail shad, but this time took a jigged shad.

Unfortunately, that was the first and last Perch of the day as we packed up early, deciding to fish the last couple of hours for chub instead. We caught no chub but I did manage to catch a nice Common Carp of around 9lbs which was great fun on my quivertip rod.

That sort of rounds up our season - one I will look back on in the future as one of the most enjoyable I've had. I just hope next season will be just as memorable! Now I'm focusing on trout and practising for some matches, having already had a couple of good trips to Grafham - but that's for the next blog next month!