All habitat work on fisheries has come to a full stop. Thankfully anglers have shown great responsibility by staying away from the rivers and streams. Most walkers have stayed off the public footpaths and away from the fields. It's surprising what the prospect of a 5000 pound fine will do! Sadly many irresponsible dog owners thought they were beyond the law. One farmer took a beating from two dog walkers when he asked them to leave his property in the East Riding of Yorkshire. We must remember we can go fishing when the problem is over, many farmers and others will have lost their livelihoods, this includes many in the tourism industry. The tackle trade is doing nothing. I was in one shop for some three hours and only one fly line was purchased. If you're planning to get some new tackle, perhaps a rod or reel, why not go and buy it now.
Some stillwater fisheries are open where you can go and chuck a fly for a rainbow or in some cases a stillwater brown trout. Personally I don't feel trout fisheries surrounded by farming land should be open. Anglers are travellers and I know of some anglers who have travelled from infected areas into non affected areas. We anglers who were looking forward to casting a fly or nymph for a river brown trout have had to find other things to do. I have been visiting the golf driving ranges, patrolling my local fisheries from the road with binoculars making sure no one attempts to visit the river bank. It's surprising how people don't see the notices saying NO FISHING.
Along with other anglers, I have also visited several car parking areas to clear away the rubbish left by the general public and the odd angler. One Sunday lunchtime while driving along Heslaker lane near Skipton I spotted a group of happy walkers having lunch. Sadly when I went back an hour or so later they had put all the sandwich wrappers in a carrier bag then dumped it on the grass along with five Coca cola cans. We had made the place clean and tidy earlier in the day. Why do they do it?
Before putting away my coarse fishing gear until June 16th I made sure it had all been cleaned. Lines were taken off reels and shredded into small lengths so the birds won't get caught up in the stuff when it goes to the local rubbish tip. I have also been down to my local sports ground to practice my fly casting.
Why not try fly fishing for pike ?
Many of you it seems are fed up with small still water trout fishing for stocky rainbows and with so-called fly fishers who fly fish sitting on chairs under umbrellas! You can't get on your favourite river or stream to cast a fly for salmon, trout and sea trout due to foot and mouth restrictions. Some of you are just fed up with catching small stocked rainbows that probably weigh between one and two pounds with half a tail and looking rather pathetic from a hole in the ground fishery. Often when hooked it seems you're playing a fish-shaped plastic bag. Then, should you have the urge to eat them they probably taste like a giant trout pellet! In fact I imagine bream would taste better. Well, there is another fish that inhabit many of the still waters which are open for fishing. That's the pike.
Imagine the sun beating down from an azure blue sky, piercing deep into the gin clear water. No breeze ruffles the glass smooth surface. Shoals of bait-size fish have sought sanctuary in a dense weed bed. Nothing moves except you as you shuffle ever so slowly through the bank side vegetation. The only shade is from your long peaked cap, polarised sunglasses help your eyes to seek and search deep into the dazzling shimmering water.
You blink, then squint, can it be, or is it a shadow? You squint again. Yes, there it is, you spot a fin movement. Then a tail moves slightly. Your squinting blinking eyes move slowly up the length of a fish. It must be forty five inches long. You gasp! The heart beats a little faster. It's the big one you have been seeking all summer. Perspiration rolls off your forehead into your eyes stinging as it does so. The hands shake a little as you start to feel nervous.
Your brain goes into overdrive. It's like a computer as you work out the angle of the cast, the distance to target. You arielise ten yards of line, you need another five. You pull this off the reel quickly, all the time keeping your eyes on that fish. You're the hunter. The hunted is a fish that goes back a few million years. It probably weighs twenty five pounds. It's there for catching, if you don't make a mistake.
The fish is moving ever so slowly away, you only have this one chance. You shoot the line to land the fly at the interception point which is two feet to the left and a foot in front of your quarry. Your cast is spot on. The fly lands with a plop hardly breaking the water surface. The fish moves its head slightly then slowly turns. This is the moment you have been waiting for as you twitch the line to impart life into the fly. A fly that was created in Northern Canada. It's tied up on a 3/0 Partridge hook using Polar bear hair and a few strands of crystal flash. It's some six inches long and comes alive in the water when retrieved.
Slowly you take in six inches of line. The pike's off the starting blocks, moving fast towards your fly; it's creating a bow wave. You give a quick pull of some three inches. The fly has really come alive, the big one can't resist it and hurls itself at the fly. You see a huge head appear - the fly has gone - there's a rocking of water, a big swirl and the fish turns for the deep water. You strike sideways as hard as you dare. His speed and momentum carry him skywards like a Polaris missile, head shaking, gills flared. For a second, perhaps two, you stand spellbound watching 25lbs of fighting fury crash back into the water, it's like an explosion as the water erupts and the ever increasing circles go out over the lake. A moorhen screams in disgust at having been interrupted from its peaceful slumbers.
The rod tip is savagely pulled down to the water. The reel screams likes a scalded cat or demented demon. Fly line disappears in a blur, suddenly your backing is going the same way. Your knees tremble, the hands shake as a powerful adversary plunges down into the gin clear water, head shaking, powering away at a fast rate of knots. After many yards of line have been taken the fish starts to slow up a bit. The fish stops no doubt sulking on the bottom working out his next move. You're taken by surprise as the fish suddenly powers towards you. You wind quickly taking in the loose line hoping it won't throw the hook and take you into a snag.
Suddenly it's moving away again, you have to give line. The fish is moving towards the shallows, there is nothing you can do about it
Out of the water it comes once more in a shower of spray. Head shaking, gills flared, then crashes back once more. For several minutes it's a battle of give and take. You ask questions of yourself. Has the Albright knot you tied when joining the wire tippet to leader been tied correctly? Will the leader stand the wear and tear of this fight with a big one? Is the nail knot that joins leader to the line okay? Slowly you gain a few feet of line, then a bit more, then you see the leader. It's probably ten minutes since the beast grabbed your fly. You are slowly winning the fight. Then the cause of all the excitement is engulfed in the landing net. You punch the air with delight.
This is fishing at its best. It's called fly fishing for pike. It's a fast growing branch of angling today and I suppose it can be likened to fishing for redfish, snook or tarpon except it's done in freshwater. Rivers, lakes, canals, reservoirs, even small streams can offer exciting sport to the fly fishermen in search of pike which costs a lot less than trout fishing - in many cases less than a pound a day.
Catch a 6lb pike in winter that has picked up a half mackerel bait at about sixty yards when fishing with a three and a half pound test curve rod with fifteen pound breaking strain line and four ounces of lead - then you will think its a plastic bag you have hooked. It's a different story if you catch that same fish on a fly rod. It will be a 'bend the stick, pull your string and its a singing reel' all the way. Don't take my word for it, go and give it a try.
Llangorse Lake Brecon Powys
There are many waters in the UK where you can fly fish for pike with a realistic chance of catching a good fish. From that magnificent Rutland Water to the smaller waters such as Llangorse lake. By 'good' I mean fish over ten pounds. On a visit last year to Llangorse lake, a delightful pike fishing water of some 400 acres, situated in some of the most delightful countryside of Wales. You have the Black Mountains on one side and the well known Brecon Beacons on the other which goes to make this a delightful picturesque venue. At other times you could travel a bit further west to the wonderful Usk valley. At Crickhowell you will find some excellent brown trout fishing in countryside to match any other places in the world for its beauty but sadly, with foot and mouth, it's out of bounds. On my first visit to Llangorse lake I had a super days fishing taking 14 pike all on surface fished lures - or flies, call them what you like. I used a nine weight outfit and floating line and imitation frog or popper patterns. All fishing is from boats. Make sure you take an anchor. You are also allowed to take your own outboard motor. It's a great place to be in the summer.
Getting Started On Pike - The Tackle
In my book, the fly line is the top item of equipment. You can get away with a less costly rod and reel but not line. In my book this item must be the best money can buy. Do not skimp on this item. Let's take a look at lines. Over the years I have used many different manufactured lines, Scientific Anglers, Teeny, Airflo and Monic. I am not saying these lines are not suitable, they are. I have used them all, on and off. These days I stick to just one, manufactured by Cortland, these have done everything I have asked of them.
Today we have far better lines than a few years ago. Today I use three types of lines from Cortland. For floating line work, the 444 SL pike/musky floating line in a nine weight is my choice. I have been told by other pike and musky anglers that the XRL floating green line is also very good. I have no experience of this one and cannot comment. Recently most of my fishing has been been using the new 444 SL Ghost tip line which has a clear fifteen foot sink tip. I use this line when fishing big poppers and some of my more, very big, buoyant flies. It has proved excellent.
A friend of mine in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, Bill Sherer who hunts the muskys with a fly rod recommended this line to me. Bill feels it's the best line he has ever used. This recommendation from a man who has caught hundreds of pike and muskys. For getting down deep (which these days is not very often) then my advice is use the 444 SL XRL sinking type 6 in a nine weight It doesn't have a lot of stretch which makes it easy to set the hook. You will also need some backing, there are several brands of braided lines on the market to choose from. I attach my line to a hundred yards of twenty pound backing using either a nail knot or the Bimini Twist. Both work very well.
To hold the line and backing we need a good size reel with an excellent drag. If your planning to fish in saltwater then my advice is go out and purchase a saltwater corrosion proof reel. We are very fortunate in being able to buy a range of good English made reels from JW Young's of Redditch. If your plans are only to fish in freshwater then you will find a suitable reel in the Jubilee range. These are beautifully made reels from quality aluminium bar stock and combine lightness with strength. The Jubilee range of reels come in sizes from three and half inches to four and a quarter inches with a quality disc drag. These reels are fitted with easy grip handles, quick release spool and a stainless steel spindle. If you're planning to fish in saltwater then my advice is purchase a saltwater model reel. I cannot do better than tell you to buy the JW Young's Sea Venture saltwater model with its stainless steel components. These reels come in colours red, blue, gold and black They are excellent value for money and if looked after they will give many years of service. My Sea Venture reels have been used all over the world for the past three years without any problems. I have even used them for catching big blue sharks weighing over a hundred pounds. Certainly a good test for any reel. (In fact my Tibor reels these days never get used).
There are several manufacturers of rods in nine and ten weights from various companies. Masterline, Fly-Logic, St. Croix, Abel and Sage. The rod has to perform the task of casting very big flies some fifty or more feet, often in strong winds. A useful tip for you when casting in strong windy conditions is to shoot the line on the back cast. The rod must also have some power in the butt for stopping a big fish. For 60% of my pike fly fishing I use a nine weight rods, but when fishing big flies and poppers and having to contend with a strong wind I will switch to a ten weight rod.
Fishing big heavy poppers or big wind resistant flies and when using weighted lines, a slower action rod will perform a lot better as you will need to make bigger casting loops, not such tight loops. When using the general run of pike flies such as deceiver patterns up to 3/0 hooks, the faster action rods throwing tight loops are of course a better option especially in windy conditions. No one rod will cover all the demands of fly fishing.
Your rod should have two good stripping guides the first with a minimum size of 20 mm better still 25 mm the next size stripping guide should be 4 or 5 mm less. All other guides should be oversize - remember you're shooting nine and ten weight lines. I have seen some cheaper nine weight rods fitted with small guides as used on a five or six weight trout rod. They are useless. When choosing a rod for pike fly fishing make sure your chosen rod comes fitted with a good quality reel seat with double locking nuts. When you hook a big fish you might have a scrap on your hand for up to twenty minutes or more. You don't want the reel working loose. A good all-round rod which won't break the bank has to be the Toothy Critter from Masterline International. Remember, tackle used for pike can also be used in the ocean for bass pollock, mackerel and flounders - though the flies and leaders might need changing.
So far I have discussed rods, reels and lines. The next important bits of equipment are the leaders and tippets. They might only cost a couple of pounds but leaders and tippets are critical in ensuring a good presentation and ensuring the fish are landed. At one time I felt there wasn't a need to use tapered leaders when chucking big flies. I just used some eight or nine feet of 20lb leader material to which I attached a foot of 20lb wire tippet with a small swivel or ring. Today it's different. Experience tells me tapered leaders help greatly with presentation and by using the Albright knot for joining my wire tippet to the tapered leader, I get a better cast and have no problems with weed getting caught in the swivel or ring, and it's a smoother connection. When joining leader to fly line I try to ensure that the butt end of the leader is between 30 and 40lb breaking strain. The heavier butt certainly helps with casting and presentation.
I use tapered leaders down to 20 lb breaking strain, then by the use of an Albright knot, I attach a foot of 20lb wire. At one time I twisted the wire to the fly with a twiddling stick or haywire twist, Some anglers told me about using snap swivels links, Having now done a lot experimenting with the use of a snap link swivels for attaching wire to fly, I must they don't work! I have lost too many flies in casting. I have been trying some new wire from Masterline International. It goes under the name of TCF0517 Fly wire 17lb.
You can spend hundreds of pounds on fly rod, reel and line. You ensure the leader and wire tippet are made up correctly with knots that are perfect, but if the fly or lure isn't correctly tied to work properly in the water, you won't catch many fish. When writing of flies I use for pike fishing, I am not discussing the small streamers that anglers use when fishing a reservoir for trout. Pike flies are often very big beasts some of them up to ten inches in length, tied up on hook sizes from 2/0 to 5/0 (sometimes 6/0) Partridge hooks and that's one of the reasons for using nine and ten weight rods.
Pike flies have changed a lot since I first started using them back in the late 1950's. In those far off days I used bits of bird feather, rabbit fur and silver paper wrapped around a hook. No wonder I struggled to catch! It was all about learning in those days. Today we pike hunters are spoilt for choice. With Poppers, Sliders, Chuggers, Clousers Deceivers, Imitation Mice and Frogs the list goes on. I am very fortunate in having several friends who are not only exceptionally good anglers but excellent fly tiers. Kent Sherington of Burnley, Alan Bithell of Oldham, Stu Thompson of Winnipeg Canada and Bill Sherer of Boulder Junction, Wisconsin USA.
Stu Thompson gave me one of the best pike fly patterns I have ever used, known simply as the Polar fly. The Polar bear hair makes the fly look so life-like in the water. You do not get the same action when the Polar fly is made from imitation Polar hair. Kent has tied up some exciting patterns too, I feel non better than the yellow frog which outfished everything my friends have used on our trips to Sweden. It's been used with great success on lakes and rivers, accounting for some big fish. Bill Sherer has come up with a range of flies that are fitted with a diving lip. Some of Bill's winning patterns are the Big Eye Streamer, Miami Minnow, Edgewater Diver, Edgewater Chugger Frog, Wiggle Minnow and the BP Musky. I have been privileged to use some of these models which have proved good fish catchers. You can contact Bill Sherer at: We Tie It, PO Box 516/10378 Main Street, Boulder Junction, Wisconsin 54512-0516 USA FAX 001-715-385-2552 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
JW Young's Stay In The UK
Great news for all you JW Young reel fans - they are staying in the UK having been purchased by Masterline International Ltd. The Redditch based company have for many years manufactured some of the best fly fishing and centre pin reels in the world at a price we can afford. The Sea Venture is without doubt an excellent model for all who seek hard fighting fish in the saltwater environment. All Masterline stockists should have the JW Young selection of reels.
Swedish Lapland Host World Fly Fishing Championships in 2001
The 21st Jeep FIPS-Mouche World Flyfishing Championship will be held in Swedish Lapland from Wednesday 15th until Monday 20th August 2001 This years World Flyfishing Championship are being sponsored by Chrysler and Thomas & Thomas the American rod builders. The organisers are the Swedish National Sportfishing Federation.
Lycksele in Swedish Lapland has been chosen as the headquarters for this very prestigious event. It's a delightful town for all the family. It can best be described as clean, green and beautiful. Without doubt it's a fine meeting point for the world's elite. Among championship fly fishers from some 15 nations, teams of five anglers will compete for the title 'world champion flyfishers' also the individual world flyfishing crown.
The fishing will take place in the beautiful countryside of Swedish Lapland where competitors will try all kinds of different waters. From the vast, wild and untamed river Vindelälven, long since declared as a national river of beauty. It's well known as a great river for both fishing and river rafting. Other venues will the smaller rivers and lakes, often buried deep in the forests, where anglers can expect to catch grayling, brown trout and arctic char. The competition will be held in an environmental friendly way. All fishing is catch and release with barbless hooks. All fish will be measured then released.
During the event there will be a symposium regarding fishery-biology and how the aquatic life is managed in this part Sweden. You will get the chance to meet some of the world's greatest competition flyfishers. Even though the competition is for the national teams, you can come along and study these great flyfishers in action. After each days event you can put into practise what you have learnt from these international anglers and do some fishing.
It will be a great opportunity to learn some new tricks and chat with these world championship anglers in the local pub. Even though it's a World Championship, you will find the competitors are helpful and friendly, with no problems in letting you know their style of fishing.
If you need more information how to be a part of this great event and if you wish to combine a trip to the world championships with some flyfishing in the heart of Lapland, please contact the international organiser Greger Jonsson. He knows the area well and will be happy to give you information regarding the competition and the fishing in the area. E- mail: email@example.com Fax 0046-950-378 30 Phone 0046-90-166 36 or E-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org