Monday, 9 May 2016

A dry Grannom Emerger

A selection of deadly nymphs

David casting on the Lyd

The river wearing her springtime cloak of wild flowers

The romantically named Factory Pool, always full of trout 

A brownie falls for the nymph

...and one on the dry fly

A perfect salmon smolt, unnaturally late in leaving the river - a product of the late cold spring?

A 10 inch trout on the Grannom Emerger

Best trout of the morning - hence the smug grin

A few days of warmth and sunshine have lifted spirits, but so far struggled to raise water temperatures to where they should be. Fly hatches are still sparse, although the black gnats are starting to swarm over the stickles. Unbelievably, a mayfly spinner was seen today on the Lyd, and we have great hopes for the next few weeks,which should see the peak trout season. Salmon and sea trout are also expected soon.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Meteorological Spring

The weather men (and ladies) reckon that Spring begins on March the first. I wish someone had told the weather. For the last two or three weeks it has been getting colder and colder, with bitter winds and frost burning the fragile edges of leaves and plants which had had the temerity to start sprouting. For weeks during December, January and early February, hazel catkins and pussy willow have been showing, and the birds have been singing joyfully in the dawn. We are now getting a payback for this early optimism, just at a time when we really should be seeing Spring proper.
At least there has been just slightly less rain, and Storm Jake with his 100mph winds at Portreath in Cornwall did not flood us out like some of his predecessors. At last it has been possible to do some river work, and even have a cast for grayling. 

Alex Jones trimming some long trailing sycamore limbs which had completely prevented a cast in this nice little pool on the Ottery. Once cut, the sap literally poured from the ends of the limbs, showing that the trees are starting to become active again

David Pilkington keeping warm twice, by making a fire and working!

The sappy wood took a while to get going

A healthy blaze, to gladden the heart of the latent pyromaniac lurking within all of us

A stunning Periwinkle on the Lyd, blooming in defiance of the cold winds

The monster flood following Storm Imogen last month has completely reshaped the gravels in Big Round Pool on Beat 3 ( and many other pools on the Lyd). How any salmon ova can survive is definitely a miracle.

Nymph fishing made easy. Note the little flash of orange on the water, top left of picture level with David's ear - an 'indicator' of floating yarn, which dips when a fish takes, prompting a very quick strike.

Success! A grayling in the net

The protruding upper jaw shows how the grayling has adapted as a bottom feeder

The 'lady of the stream', showing her superb dorsal fin.

Eleven inches of pure silver from the Lyd

Monday, 8 February 2016

Storm Imogen, and her pals

From the tranquil fastness of the Home Counties, it may be difficult to comprehend quite what this winter has been like here in Devon. Last week a couple of dry days ( about the only two dry days together!) gave some hope that the endless storms, Atlantic fronts, gales etc., were actually tempering slightly. How wrong we were! Even before storm Imogen gave us today's 80 mph winds and 15 metre waves at sea, last Saturday flooded the village.Trench Foot has now become endemic in Devon, and there are rumours of folks developing webbed feet and gills.

Saturday February 6th saw a day of relentless rain, one Radio Devon weather watcher reporting the highest 24 hour rainfall he had ever recorded in 50 years. The River Lyd peaked at over 11 feet, and was out in the road at Lifton Bridge. The flattened daffodils and scoured banks, exposing stems of flower yet to bloom, say it all.
The water came about a foot up the telegraph pole.
Flood debris in the blackthorn bush on the top of the bank at Silver Doctor pool

The high water mark, shown like the tide mark on a beach by a line of woody debris, right out in the field beside Hairy Mary pool on Bottom beat.

Note the semi-automatic shotgun. Cormorants still fish the river in high and dirty water, and we have yet to account for this winter's quota.

The water level at Tinhay Lake has risen greatly in the past few days. The water beside the willow bush is at welly-top height. However, all is not doom and gloom - whilst trying (unsuccessfully) for a grayling last week,  David caught several little salmon parr and a few trout, along with a bright shining silver sea trout smolt. It is seriously early to find the trout smolting up, but this one had obviously already booked his ticket to the English Channel, and we hope to see him again as a school peal in July. All this rain and wind has kept temperatures well above average, and the blush of hawthorn leaves in the hedges is a joy to see. It would all look just a little better if the sun was shining

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Storm Frank

Storm Frank passed over Devon yesterday, to give us the biggest spate of the winter. We have (so far!) missed the devastating floods which have been hitting the north of the country, but the Tamar burst her banks for the first time this winter and inundated the flood plain - which is what flood plains are designed for by nature.

A howling gale and incessant rain made it a tricky day for shooting some of the Westcountry's best pheasants down at Pentillie Castle, at least it was not too cold.

We hardly dare to look at what havoc has been wreaked on the river banks, there were already several tree fallen, some of which will have been relocated we know not where.

Please do not call to book a day's grayling fishing for a little while!

Click on the video below to see the river in action.

The river Lyd at Lifton Bridge, with the spate pretty well at its peak.

The Tamar at Polson Bridge. 

The view upstream from Polson

The Lyd in Lifton. One very big and dirty river, almost filling the bridge arches.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

T'was the week before Christmas...

While Scotland now has snow, and Cumbria is struggling to dry out, the South West has endured the mildest autumn ever. Some of the night temperatures would have been acceptable for July. Along the hedge bottoms and grass verges the new growth of grasses and weeds is reminiscent of April. And all through the past couple of months it has rained, and rained, and rained. We have forgotten what the sun looks like, and are in danger of succumbing to S. A. D. Grayling fishing remains a distant dream, as millions of gallons of dirty water roll down the rivers, and river maintenance work is restricted to the upper levels of the bank. Most telling of all the signs of Nature, for the past two mornings a cock blackbird has been singing his heart out in the hotel garden, and getting a response from his rival in the next garden.

Campions add colour to the winter riverbank

The tiny, dainty Cranesbill is out of place for late Decmber

The hazel catkins look ready to burst.
Click the arrow on the video below, to see a hen salmon (mid-screen) completely immobile, lying hard on her redd in a strong clear flow on the upper Lyd. The cock fish, who was hovering nearby drifts past, showing a spot of fungus on his nose. Their eggs will be the grilse of 2019, or the salmon of 2020, and we wish them well.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The camera cannot lie?

These photos show Quarry Pool, one of our best and easiest fished salmon pools, in before and after mode. We have trimmed the encroaching bramble patch, which was catching the back-cast of those who favour overhead casting, and also tidied up various limbs and bushes around the neck of the pool, including some on the opposite bank, which required passports, visas, inocculations etc., to allow us to cross into Cornwall. The panoramic layout of the photo gives the impression that the Tamar curves smoothly to the right, those who know the pool can rest assured that we have not actually moved the river.

Quarry pool 'Au naturel'.

After some fettling.
On a wider note, a foray onto the higher reaches of the Lyd last week failed to reveal any spawning salmon, but I am now happy to report that yesterday on beat 3 we saw the first redds. The weather has been extremely mild, night temperatures well above the seasonal average for the daytime, along with wet, dull and generally miserable conditions. A sharp drop in water temperatures would now really get the fish spawning, and everybody could by now benefit from seeing some sunshine.