For some fly fishermen and women October marks the end of the fishing season for another year. However, for those who just don't want to stop there is still lots of fun to be had with a fly rod. Here's a quick review of the options:
Season Over? Far from it!
• Trout - most of the big reservoirs are still open for some time yet - and with the weird weather we seem to get these days - many people believe that the best of the season is yet to come. Stocking has either slowed right down or stopped, any pressure on the water from competitions is much reduced and the fish are normally in great condition, feeding hard! Don't think that it's all fishing with big lures either (although Minkies and Snakes DO have their day) - my standard set up (the 'each way bet') for the Grafham bank in November is a floating or midge tip line with a Mini Minkie or Snakelet on the point and maybe a Red Cheeked Diawl Bach and a Killer Shrimp on the droppers. Retrieve is just a steady figure of eight. Most of the small stillwaters remain open throughout the winter months and the fishing is often excellent, with the fish much happier and in better condition than in the over warm dog days of summer. As always local knowledge is hugely important but - in the absence of that I would probably start with something smallish and subtle like the Baby Black Beadhead, perhaps then trying an Apps Bloodworm before moving up in size if there is no reaction to that, maybe to a Black Eyed Pea or a Voodoo Cat.
• Several salmon rivers are still open for business for another week or two, in some cases - such as the legendary Tweed - until the end of November. Now is the time for a step up in fly size, probably on a fastish sinking tip. Colours for the last few weeks tend to focus on reds, oranges and purples, with flies like the Calvin's Shrimp, the Flamethrower and Ally's Shrimp accounting for many fish.
• Grayling - they're wild, they live in beautiful rivers, they provide fly fishing opportunities throughout the winter months - what's not to like about 'the lady of the stream'? We're selling lots of grayling flies right now so it seems like many of you agree. The Barbless KJ Pink Collar Hare's Ear is very popular at the moment along with the Duracell Jig and the Hot Collar Hare's Ear. If you want the ease of ordering a super selection of our top selling grayling patterns click HERE - and save money too! And don't forget that all the Original Range Czech nymphs have recently been completely upgraded - great quality and great prices!
The Grayling Selection. A dozen specialist patterns for just £14.50
• Pike - why not tempt a toothy predator over the next month or two ? As well as the tried and tested conventional patterns such as the Dougie's Yellow Perch and the Black Sparkler, have a look at the articulated Gamechanger - you can see how it moves in the water HERE! Matt Harris has almost cleaned us out of these for his trip to South America chasing Golden Dorado and ginormous Arapaima but more are on their way.
• UK Saltwater - the bass are still around, with October and November now considered to be prime months and Colin Macleod had 5 thin lipped mullet on Sunday! N.B. for fans of Colin's mullet flies the new red (wool) tagged versions of several of his favourites will be on the website soon. Many of you will have read about the outstanding success he has been having with these flies recently.
• And for those of you with holiday time left, if money allows why not head off somewhere exotic to chase Bonefish, Permit, Peacock Bass etc - or maybe Rainbows and Brownies in New Zealand. We can help with flies (and advice if it's needed) for pretty much anywhere on the planet. That's one of the reasons we have the Pro Team - they do fish irritatingly often but as a result they really do know their stuff! Even as I write Marina is in Belize whilst Matt is in Brazil.
Out and About recentlyThe third UK Saltwater Fly Fishing Festival was held in St Mawes three weeks ago and once again it was a very successful and enjoyable weekend. Pro Team members Colin Macleod and Marina Gibson, plus myself, all gave talks to participants as well as doing some fishing. This year I was struck by two things: firstly the number of fish that were caught, especially bass. I don't know what the overall total was for the weekend but I do know that I personally caught more than 30 - not big fish but a great sign for the future if recently introduced conservation measures work and these fish are allowed to grow. The second thing was the success of a 'small and subtle' approach, fishing small Diawl Bach type patterns quite slowly in sheltered parts of the harbour to catch a good range of species. These were the tactics largely employed by this year's winner Neville Broad. Well done Neville!
Marina (helped by her dog Sedge!) with a nice bass
The TyneThe Tyne has been producing some solid 20lb+ fish recently. Here's one of them - about to be released by Josh Ystenes - which fell to the charms of a Red Ally's Shrimp from the Original Range.
One of several fish tempted by the Red Ally's Shrimp
A recent visit to Grafham found the fish at least semi co-operative, if not yet fully in the late season mood we have seen in recent years. The two best fish my partner on the bank and I kept both weighed exactly 3lbs 8ozs and curiously his fish was stuffed with killer shrimps whilst mine was equally full of small snails - caught 40 yards apart! The best fly that day was the ever faithful Red Cheeked Diawl Bach although the Pearly Dabbler also did rather well.
This is the snail feeder. Look at the silver in that tail!
Come and see us at iFishThis year's iFish show, always well organised by the Sussex branch of the Fly Dressers' Guild, will be held at the South of England Showground, Ardingly on Sunday 19th November. Admission is only a fiver so click here to find out more, including who will be there and everything that's going on. Jessica and I will be there and we'd love to see you!
Congratulations and a big thank you on behalf of fly-fishers everywhere if you managed to complete the consultations from the Environment Agency and Welsh Government that I flagged up in last month's email. I thought that they were horrendously difficult and time consuming to complete - almost designed to exclude 'normal' busy people from the process. I spent nearly four hours on these two (which was rushing it) and I know several other people, highly motivated to do their bit, who just gave up after an hour or so. I did manage to speak, very briefly, with Mark Lloyd - the Chief Executive of the Angling Trust - to express my concerns.
By the time you read this I (Martin) will hopefully be in the air somewhere between Heathrow and our destination - Kiritimati in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Amazingly, after Cuban prices leapt in anticipation of the arrival of the Americans (which it now appears may not happen in such a big way), this remote atoll is now a less expensive option! We will be hoping to catch bonefish, triggerfish and Giant Trevally on the flats plus milkfish and some pelagics including tuna and wahoo etc offshore. I will report on how we get on next month!14 weight fly rod, XXL budgie fly, tandem 6/0 hooks - it's fly-fishing Jim.... but not as we know it!
Get on the water soon and Tight Lines from us both when you do!
Martin and Jessica
To sign up for our regular Newsletter, please click here: firstname.lastname@example.org