Well it finally came, my long awaited trip to meet up with my friends for a fishing weekend. An Englishman an Irishman a Scotsman and well another Englishman, sounds like a joke, actually its 3 Englishmen and me a Scotsman except 1 lives in Ireland and the other up here in Scotland. Anyway, once a year we meet up to fish, eat well and consume a vast amount of whiskey. Last year we fished in Kerry (see my blog 20th June……. Lough Acoose ) the year before it was in the Scottish borders, this year it was Englands turn. Fenton lives in a lovely village called Littlington ( his garden featured on timeteam once), a fair drive from a lot of famous waters. Last time down we fished Rutland and Pitisford this time it was to be Grafham and Ravensthorpe. Neither of these great waters have a website, so these links will have to do.
After a great train journey down, first class, courtesy of East Coast trains, (might as well give them a plug too as the were miles better than the train from London to Axminster, also first class where I got no food or anything to drink so thank you East Coast trains http://www.eastcoast.co.uk great service). Jez and I arrived in Stevenage having consumed a fair amount of wine with our meal on board. We were taken to the Pig and Abbot pub by Fens friend Shane for great steak and chips, where we met up with Tom who had flown into Stanstead from Dublin and had been picked up by Fenton. OK thats the background now we could all start to talk fishing and laughing at great tales, whisky and wine, bed about 3.00am
Friday 28th 7.30am June
Woke to a wet morning with a bit of a wind and also a serious hangover for Tom, oh dear. A long drive to the first water. Grafham is huge, a wee bit smaller I would say than Loch Leven but nonetheless daunting, where does one start to fish. They have a serious problem in Grafham with killer shrimpsand we all had to sign forms to say we understood the danger of transmiting them to other waters. You are not allowed to use your own nets or drogues and there is a disinfectant sysyem in place. A great shop where you can buy anything and a bit sound advice and we were off , into the wind and rain across the reservoir, its huge, did I say that. Tom and I in one boat and Fenton and Jez in the other. Tom was bearing up surprisingly well, I wasn’t feeling too chipper myself as the boat was tossed about. I still have terrible trouble with my elbow 9 months now and really can’t fish right armed without a lot of pain. So casting left handedley in a bucking bronco boat we started our fishing adventure in the pouring rain and rain it did for a good few hours. I had opted to have only a 2 fly cast but because of the wind and my terrible casting action I got in one tangle after another, this was not what I had hoped for.
The first hour I probably only managed a half dozen casts, so it was going to be a one fly cast from now on in. And it worked fine, a single orange CDC Shipmans buzzer, no tangles, brought the first fish to the boat a lovely rainbow about 2-3 lbs caught right on the surface, lovely. Jez we could see was into fish too followed by me and then Tom, So it went on, Tom had us anchored up in a wind lane where we would stay near the rest of the day as there were fish moving, in fact one angler in a boat down wind from us was hauling them in, local knowledge I presume. After 4 or 5 hours I had 4 or 5 fish Jez about 4 I think, Tom just the one but hitting lots of fish and Fenton hadnt got any. Tom and I talked about asking the local boat what they were catching on so we could impart that knowledge to Fenton. We needn’t have bothered there was no stopping him once he got the right fly, fish after fish came to the boat for him and in the end we had 17 fish for the day between us. What Fenton caught on will remain a mystery as there was not much left of it by the end, a bit of orangey, browny, bit of pearly stuff, who knows what it was. Jezs fish were caught on olive daddy longlegs muddler. Cracking day all in all, although a tad sore with all the tossing about in the boat but really happy. Fenton had made his brilliant special lunch, a bread stuffed with sun ripe tomatoes whole eggs parma ham etc smashing, which lasted the 4 of us 2 days it was huge, more like a life belt.
A long drive back to the Pig and Abbot for a few pints ( we had a bet that the first to catch bought the first round I was more than happy to get them in) then back to Fens about 11.30 for his cracking Thai green curry, copius amounts of red wine and whiskey and bed about 2.00 to get up at 7.45 for the next day at Ravensthorpe.
A sunny Saturday 29th June
And a 90 mile drive to Ravensthorpe ( thanks Fen for all the driving) queues of traffic going to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix held us up a bit. Ravensthorpe is a beautiful wee water in comparison, it reminded Tom and I of Gladhouse Reservoir near Edinburgh, surrounded by trees, unlike the more barren shores of Grafham. So hopefully there would be more terrestrial insect life blown on to the water. Fenton and I in one boat Tom and Jez in the other. Beautiful day, hot sun a very light wind, so different from the day before and the water looked very fishy. 20 mins in and Fenton was first to hook a cracking fish which he played for ages before it got off. That was a counter as far as I was concerned, he was on the first round at the pub later. He was using a washing line technique and the fish were hitting a suspended green buzzer time after time. As the day wore on the fish offers became less and less, surely they must be in there somewhere. Fenton and I motored across to the far trees hoping for some action but the weed in the water made it almost impossible to fish without the flies getting stuck up even just under the surface. We moved down beyond the very wee island on which a few coromorants were sitting in the only tree. After a wee sleep in the bottom of the boat ( great stuff, the gentle rocking of the boat, the sun in my face, sheltered from the wind, it can’t be beaten, I finally hit a belter of a fish on a Daddy ( I was hoping to bring the fish to the surface ). Once in the boat we reckonded 5lb plus, glad to say it was the biggest fish of the weekend. Not a hugely long fish but thick and deep.
We always use Toms walkie talkies when we are fishing 2 boats so that we can keep in touch with each other as regard to fish and rises etc. A few minutes after my fish it crackled to life Jez was into a fish and then another and then another landing a couple and losing a couple. After Fens mandatory snorey sleep in the bottom of the boat, we headed right up to the far end where Tom had told us there were fishing moving. We must have fished there for about an hour over seemingly a fishless area when all hell broke loose. In all my fishing years (43) I have never seen a rise quite like it, the water was boiling, the fish had been there all the time, waiting for the hatch, sneaky. The hatch of what? Caenis the ‘Anglers Curse’ so called because when fish get feeding on them they do tend to ignore everything else. But with so many fish moving we were bound to hook up soon and we did. Fenton got his first ever fish on a dry fly a small Grey Duster and I started hooking on a Wickhams Fancy one of my favourite dries. Jez on an Silver Invicta and Tom were also into fish. We all hooked and lost many more than our fair share of fish for some reason, I can’t quite put my finger on why, Tom more than the rest but in the end we all got fish. Not as much as we had hoped 8 between us and loads hooked and lost and turned but not hooked. What cracking sport it was though. I nearly buggered up my right arm in the excitement using it instinctively to cast to regularly rising fish instead of transferring the rod to my left, I couldn’t help it.
A 90 mile drive back stopping off for a pint then Fens for meatballs and pasta more wine and a really good laugh. Exhausted to bed about 2.30.
What a brilliant few days Fenton set up for us. There is nothing quite like it, good company, good food, good wine and great fishing. We had it all in abundance thank you Fenton.
I had been really looking forward to it and now its over but wait ,….Jez has already come up with the Scottish venue for next years fishing extravaganza as we call it, the lovely Isle of Skye, where we will rent a cottage and fish for wee brownies. Tell you what I can’t wait.
More pics of Jez fishing to come from Tom