I'm starting to think I should be sponsored by Taylors of Harrogate! There's a smell of very strong coffee in the air here at Foxons again this morning, as Shaun and myself headed out on another seatrout mission until the early hours. It's been a strange start to the season with incredibly low water levels, yet good sized fish being seen (not necessarily caught) from mid-June onwards on some of the beats with deeper holding pools as far up as Bodfari.
After many, many fruitless sessions on the Clwyd and only one 1.5lb fish coming off the Elwy for yours truly it was time to break out the big guns and drag Shaun off the golf course (Yes, really!)
Weeks of my persistent blanking throughout July on one particular Rhyl & St. Asaph Angling Association beat and then Shaun casually turns up for his first session of the season and effortlessly pulls out 4 fish! Awesome fishing!
He really is like "The Stig" - our tame seatrout angler! Some say, he only runs under a full moon and has an unhealthy fascination with squirrel tail... etc etc
I sat watching the expert as best I could in the darkness, we were fishing similar set ups with similar flies yet I only had the occasional snatch. The only difference I could note were the sounds - the absolute silence of Shaun's casts and the gentle "flick" as his tube hit the leaves of the tree on the far bank before landing. Oh, and the thrashing of several hooked seatrout!
All lovely conditioned fish in the 2-3lb bracket. He really is different class.
After my sound beating it was back to the drawing board for a rethink. My casting technique wasn't allowing me to cast a 3/4" tube and dropper far enough or accurately under the bankside vegetation on my #6 set up. With another session planned lower down the river, it was time to beef up my tackle and try a #7 rod. I tried a Winston and found the action really fluid with the rod doing all the work but I was concerned that late at night trying to get more distance I would try too hard and get in more tangles (my fault, not the rod!) This would be the perfect rod for somewhere overgrown where you can't have a lot of line out to load the rod, ideal for roll casting.
I've loved my #6 Sage Accel and luckily there was a pair of Accels in our second-hand section in #7 so I took one out the back of the shop for a throw... And it did everything I wanted! When I punched more, it went further.
New line was needed to match the rod, and having noted Shaun's silent casting he recommended the Cortland 444. Super smooth, this added more distance and ease of casting too.
New tube flies and matching droppers were tied, with black and peacock being the theme to match the silvers, oranges and pinks.
So, in to the darkness... A very late August night on the lower Clwyd.
After losing a few flies in the trees in front due to my newly acquired distance, things settled down to a nice rhythm. Everything went where I wanted with extra power in reserve when the beat opened out. I could comfortably hit the far bank accurately and let the tube swing round under the overhanging branches.
A hit! Then another! And another!
Rob eight (EIGHT!) Shaun two. Unbelievable! "Other Rob" who used to work here at Foxons also had seven, so a great little session with most fish coming up to midnight then a lull and another manic spell around 2:30am. All of my fish came to my new black and peacock dropper. The biggest was around 2.5lbs and had been skewered by a cormorant at some point...
What a way to break my run of blanks!
I was back out on the R&StAA water a few days later unfortunately losing a nice fish to an underwater snag and also getting good numbers of pulls so despite another blank the new set up and flies were certainly having a positive effect.
With Shaun back on the golf course the following week I was flying solo for a late night session on the lower Clwyd. I think a large shoal of fresh fish must have moved in as all night I was getting hits and snatches, I lost one very large fish that must have been around 5lb and another about 3lb. I managed to land 6 bright silver fish with the biggest about 1.5lb, most took the tube this time (although with them being fresher, perhaps the treble was the reason these ones were caught?)
Our most recent session was one to forget for me! One of those sessions where everything tangles, you catch trees every cast or the thistles halfway along the bank behind you. Then to top it all off I went to cast, pulled my line off the water and CRACK! My tube fly smacked straight against the lens of my clear safety glasses! One of those nights!
In spite of this I managed to land a couple and even more surprisingly, given I'd been like a one-man Blackpool illuminations all evening, Shaun had six seatrout too! Sadly he'd forgotten his camera so I had to light up the beat even more!
So although we haven't had any notable rain or a spate on either of the rivers locally, there are good numbers of fish pushing in to the system. We've heard of some nice salmon up to 14lb getting caught, and there's been reports of 6lb seatrout being landed and of double-figure fish being lost too!
It's well worth the late nights and bleary eyes as there's some great sport to be had!
I spent yet another late night session on the Clwyd over the Bank Holiday weekend, where there were no fish jumping and everything was deathly silent... Until.. WALLOP!!! I got hit by this magnificent beast...
Perseverance pays off! Approx 6.5lb caught (and released) on my tube fly.
...and Shaun has got in to some lovely fish this week too, catching this 5lber and another of 4lb in a session last night that saw 12 fish between us.