Written by: Paul Procter
Soggy Start to New Year
Resident Orvis Ghillie John Slader’s hard work trying to organise a couple of winter grayling days on the Wylye ended up as a damp squib due to heavy rain and floods. In fact, several other chalkstreams were badly hit too, with the Avon taking the brunt of it. Apparently the main A338 road between Ringwood and Salisbury had to be closed at Fordingbridge for no less than two weeks. Who knows how this has affected fish stocks? The Test at Romsey reached dangerously high levels, too. Before the bog floods came, John noticed several salmon moving upstream to spawning beds. Sadly, coloured water made it difficult to determine whether the redds were occupied for long.
Opening Day dawns mild
The Scottish salmon season on the Tay dawned surprisingly mild, which meant the usual opening day ceremony went ahead without bystanders suffering from frostbite or snow drifts! As you’d expect, most rivers were running at peak levels, which thankfully encouraged quite a few springers into the system. As ever, trying to charm them into taking a fly proved a very different story. That said, Mat McHugh headed up on a pilgrim with a party from London and managed a couple fresh fish.
Midlands in the Mix
Floods may well have scuppered any hope of finding winter grayling, but the mild conditions kept stillwater temperatures at good levels for fish to remain active. Many of the Midlands fisheries have seen trout battering fry throughout this mild period. Pro Guide Steve Yeamons put his clients amongst fish by using a variety of fry imitations including minkies, muddlers, and perch fry. The best tactics have been to wander the margins, watching for any disturbance and quickly getting a fly into any area of activity. On days when the fry feeding failed to occur, Steve says that small buzzers and bloodworm patterns inched back on floating lines and long leaders worked well. Find Steve here.
Chew reached its maximum level in mid-January with Blagdon peaking a few days later, says Martin Cottis. Obviously, levels should hold until the start of the new season, so both reservoirs will be in tip-top condition. Following last year’s success on these two venues, bookings have increased significantly. And with the well-received new competition format introduced by Paul Davidson, Chew is as popular as ever. Given this upturn in interest, fishermen are advised to book early for any events they wish to hold on Chew in 2014.
With all this grim weather we've experienced of late, our trout season seems a long way off. That said, the weeks can easily slip by quickly as you keep reminding yourself of all those flies that need tying! One of the first upwings to appear are March Browns, which usually put on a good show through the latter half of March and well into April. Hatches of this iconic fly can be really dense once things get in the swing, so it’s vital to have a reasonable imitation if you plan an early-season outing. One of our Scottish guides, Peter McCallum, has just the pattern to get you started.
The Wild Trout Trust (WTT) are once more gearing up for their annual auction. Along with fly selections, tuition, guiding, art and literature this gives bidders a chance to bag themselves some exciting and exclusive trout fishing throughout the UK and as far a field as the southern hemisphere in some of the most untouched destinations. As ever, Orvis will be supporting the Trust with tackle goodies and members of the Pro guide team donating days around the country. Details of the auction will be available soon at wildtrout.org.
2014 Schools and Courses
Orvis has a great range of Schools and Courses lined up for 2014 which cover all aspects of fly fishing and this year look to include the Tenkara style of fishing. So whether you’re a beginner or more seasoned rod, chances are there’ll be something for you. Dates and venues for 2014 are online now. Click here for more information.