fly fishing sport fishing freshwater fishing
Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


The Magic of Fly Fishing

It was about eight o'clock on Good Friday morning when I got up, after a shower and breakfast I was ready to go litter clearing. With Pendle Hill shrouded in thick cloud and a heavy drizzle falling I headed off along the A59 to the River Ribble to clear away a huge amount of litter dumped by morons who think they are anglers. Three hours later I couldn't get any more in the trailer. Back home I packed some sandwiches then headed back to the River Ribble near Clitheroe to have a couple of hours fly fishing for a brown trout. It was noon time when I pulled into the syndicate car park. After dumping most of my gear in the club hut I then changed the soles of my Korkers to studded felt soles before pulling on my chest high waders I was soon ready for the river. With the dull wet weather I didn't expect to find any rising fish and decided to put up a 5 weight Thomas and Thomas Helix with a nine foot leader tapered to a three pound tippet to which I attached a size 12 beaded Pheasant tail nymph. Walking across the meadow towards the Long Pool in the drizzle the leaden grey sky looked as if it was touching the roof tops of the same colour. Pendle Hill was still wreathed in thick cloud. Curlews and Oyster catchers were flighting up and down the river, their haunting calls far more exciting and interesting than modern music to this old wrinkly one. Approaching the waters edge I spotted a nice fish rise in mid river, in the scum line close to the far bank another good fish rose then engulfed a trapped Olive. I was most surprised to see rising fish. I made the decision to go back to the fishing hut and change over to a 4 weight Thomas and Thomas LPS with a 12 foot leader.
Back at the waters edge Oyster catchers and Curlews were still flighting up and down the river. I heard a shrill whistle then caught the sight of a Kingfisher flying low to the water. Choosing to fish from the opposite bank I waded across the river some fifty yards upstream of where I had earlier seen rising fish. A word of warning, if your planning a trip to your local river over the next week or so please take care. The river bed has changed quite dramatically with the winter floods. Where once there was two feet of water, I found a depth of six feet. One deep pool is now only three feet deep. As stated some shallow areas are now several feet deeper. Make sure you have a wading stick and wear a buoyancy aide. Having crossed the river I kept well back from the waters edge. knowing that several fish could be lying close to the bank in just a foot of water.
I chose to fish an area of water over hung by the spreading branches of an oak tree. Sitting well back from the water I counted fifteen Olives and several rising fish in about fifteen minutes. It was time to fish. I tied on a size 16 Adams to a 2lb tippet then waded out into the stream so I could make a long cast upstream under the oak tree. First cast and I was quickly hooked up to a hard fighting brown trout. It was a text book drift and take. Line was pulled from the reel as the fish powered across the river into the fast flowing water. For some minutes it was give and take between me and the fish. Slowly I pulled the fish across the river into the quieter water where I soon had the head of the fish out of the water and coming to the net. Then it was mine. I marvelled at the beautiful colours, the tiny Adams was in scissors, it was no trouble to take out the small barbless fly. I lowered the net in the water then watched the fish swim off strongly. My next cast was to a rising fish in mid-river, On my next cast to another rising fish I had a take within minutes another nice brown trout was being unhooked and released.
I sat on the bank for about five minutes waiting for another fish to show. Olives were still coming off in one's and two's. Within a rod length a fish sucked down an olive I made a roll cast as the fly landed on the water it was immediately sucked down. It was amazing fishing catching good brown trout in March. I've often had the odd fish but never fishing like this to dry flies at this time of the year.

It Was Tough Today
After a 3-30 am start in the studio today, I had got most of my work finished by about 10-0 am. I should have stayed on to edit some more recorded material and work on a script for a countryside series. The lure of the waterside and a few hours fishing with Alan Roe of Blackpool was to good an offer to miss. We chose to fish well upstream on the River Ribble in the County of Yorkshire. I called Kate to ask her to make some sandwiches. I suppose it was about 11-30 am when we arrived on the river. Primroses were everywhere, curlews and oyster catchers were calling to one another. It was great being out in this huge wilderness of streams, moorland, fields, woods and the River Ribble. An icy wind from the north east blew straight down the river. I said to Alan "I reckon its going to be a nymphing day today what do you think"? Alan agreed. With the strong wind we both chose to use 5 weight rods, Alan an old Greys model, me a Thomas and Thomas Helix. I headed off upstream for about half a mile where in the past I have been able to catch some nice wild brown trout. Alan chose to fish a big weir pool. We agreed to meet up at one o'clock for lunch. Though I was well wrapped up against the icy wind I still occasionally shivered.
For about thirty minutes I fished a beaded Pheasant tail nymph on a size ten barbless hook Casting upstream then fishing the cast out, before taking another step upstream. I felt one gentle take and missed it. Something in the icy cold water wanted to eat. I persevered but no more hits. I sat on the bank with my back to the wind, my hood pulled tight around my ears.
After about fifteen minutes I spotted a slight dimple. Grayling I though. There out of season. I called Alan to say I had seen a fish rise in the hope it would give him some confidence. In the next twenty minutes I spotted a trout rise twice. I tied on a large Klinkhammer Special On the second drift a fish had a look. A dozen casts later I switched over to a size 18 barbless Olive. Second drift I had the perfect rise. Tightening into a nice fish which actually took some line off the reel as it moved upstream.
After a spirited scrap I was able to net a nice brown trout about 14 inches. Unhooking the fish without touching it by hand I watched it swim off upstream. I called Alan with the news. I was over the moon to take a trout in these tough conditions on a dry fly. It was most pleasing to have caught. I sat watching for another rise, then with lunch looming I walked off downstream. I was a happy angler. We pushed ourselves deep into a reed bed which offered some relief from the wind. A mug of tea was the order of the day. Lunch over, Alan and me recorded a programme for my At The Waters Edge series on BBC Radio Lancashire. Then it was back on the river for another hour without any success. We called it a day and headed off for the car and home.

Martin James Fishing