Well September was always going to be a hard one to follow, mainly due to the fact of water temperatures dropping, unsettled weather patterns and the fish having tendencies to switch off later in the month due to spawning time getting closer, but as always changing your tactics to suit the water will always give you a greater chance of silver.

The month started with a great lift of water which was perfect for my first guests, absolute fishing fanatical couple Gay and Lucinda as they went in search of Gary’s first fly caught salmon.  The days location of choice was Lambley, situated way up the south Tyne, I knew we had one hell of a chance connecting with a fish I just didn’t realise it would happen so quickly, 10 minutes to be precise.  After putting Gary in the lower section of the pool I walked Lucinda up to the head of it to get her in place and spent a few minutes changing poly tips and making sure she was happy with her casting (which was epic), we literally hadn’t got going and we heard a cry of “Fish on”, he’d only gone and hooked straight into fish that went ballistic, charging round the pool like a fish possessed.  After running down to him like a mad man, a good 8 minute battle I slipped the net under his prize, his first ever fly caught salmon on belive it or not a Red Stokoe shrimp. Lucinda also managed to connect with a nice grilse but unfortunately lost it at the rim of the net, she did however catch an incredible wild brown in the best condition I’ve seen on our river.  

 

Gary with his prize

Lucina with the nicest Wild Tyne brown trout i’ve ever seen

The salmon squad strikes again!!

It was Great to finally get out for a cast with the Boys (Phil and Robson) after a busy start to the month for us all, as always we decided to fish slightly different tactics, density tip’s and fly’s to maximise our chances of striking silver.  I let the lads go through first seeing that I fish the river way more than them, or in my words let them stir the pools up first.  It just so happened my tactics paid off and i scored first, connecting with a nice hen fish that fell to a quarter inch cone head francis fished on and intermediate tip and small paused short strip retrieves.  After putting up a great fight Phil netted her for me, she was not only a beautiful hen fish but an important one for me – my 20th fish of the season.  I knew for a fact that the lads wouldn’t be far behind me with the conditions looking right, it was the Green machine that hit the jackpot next again fishing down behind phil, i actually joked on when he hooked the fish and started playing it that was it just a trout due to the lack of fight it was giving, Id eat my words seconds later as the fish woke up charging around the pool being a proper head banger shaking its head as if it was at a rock concert, minutes later after playing the fish perfect I safely netted it and the green went into meltdown mode as he does dancing around like and excited kid at Christmas.  There was only the master left to connect with a fish, but he’d have to wait until the next day to strike silver, and what a fish it was another cracking hen fish and the biggest of the 2 days weighing 15.5lb.

The francis does the damage

Robson wasn’t far behind

Phil with the biggest of the 2 day’s

After the great 2 day’s me and the boys had i decided to stick it out and try and add to my tally for the season as condition were pretty banging, after having good success days earlier with a small francis, the pool was absolutely rammed with fish, probably the most id seen this year, but for love nor money i could not get a reaction from them to save my life.  The decision was made to change tactic’s, I decided to put a fast tip on and literally dredge the bottom with the biggest francis in my box.  The francis is always a good reaction fly to use especially when all else fails but especially fished with a draw and stop (5 seconds pause), the salmon will often take on the pause, again it was the right decision to change tactics but the fish actually took on my last cast and while i was winding in, to my amazement the fish cart wheeling around the pool like a lunatic wasn’t a salmon but turned out to be a big sea trout.  After a short but very active battle i had a bruit of a cock fish nestled safely by my side, a couple of quick photos and back he went to finish of his journey, i did also manage to hit a hat-trick for the week a day later with another hen salmon around 8lb in horrendous weather conditions that Robson kindly netted for me.

The Francis does the job

Letting the big man rest before his return

Another day another hen

One thing I really love is introducing people from different areas of angling to salmon fishing and I think I may have turned carp fishing England international Ryan from the dark side as i had him back for another 2 days in search of silver.  It was always going to be hard to top his previous visit last season,  due to the fact he landed the biggest guest fish of the year, weighing in at a staggering 22.5lb on his first day ever salmon fishing.  It literally took him 5 minutes to start spey casting again even after a year, to the point of casting off his left shoulder – what a bloke!  It was getting late in the day and I was gutted for him that he hadn’t connected yet as he was fishing his socks off, I shouldn’t of worried however, as minutes later that high pitched scream of fish on and a rod bent was the sight and sound i was waiting for, although the fish wasn’t a shade of last years capture it was still an absolute stunner and kept his 100 percent record in tact.

Cap fishing England international Ryan with another salmon

The season seemed to come to an end faster than I’ve ever experienced but collectively we still managed a cracking last week, landing 6 fish including 2 fish for Phil, 2 for my guests one being a first uk sea trout for Barry.  One of my guest’s Adams landed his second ever salmon, christening his rod he had received 17 years ago as a birthday present that he had promised to take the plastic off once he had caught a salmon on it.  Both myself Robson and Gibson had a hectic last 2 day’s hooking 5 fish but only managing to land 2 between us but it was still an epic team effort and I managed my 25th fish of the season on the 31st on the that killer fly again – The Stokoe shrimp.

Adam christens his rod

Adam and his Prize

The dream team Barry and the Green

Robson and a chunky hen fish

This sea trout couldn’t resist a Stokoe shrimp

Last day fish for the team

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone that has helped and supported me but also to all guests and friends who have fished with me, I couldn’t do this without you all!  Bring on 2019……..!

If I could sum up September in a few words it would be “life changing”!

There are a few reasons why September will go down as the most incredible month of my life, firstly because i had the opportunity to go on the greatest fishing trip in history to Alaska with the company to match, it was the perfect combination, unfortunately you guys will have to wait a while to see how we faired in my next blog, along with a very special Untamed Anglers video.  Once back home after our mind blowing adventure the fishing ended up being off the scale with some mind blowing numbers of fish caught, heres a few of the most memorable days.

A male Arctic char in his full spawning colours

The weekend back after Alaska I had the pleasure of 2 days guiding a great bunch of Irish boys, John who had previously fished a lot for salmon and first timers, Ciaran, Paul and Tom. The lads collectively smashed it over the 2 days considering only 1 had ever fly fished before, we tactically used day 1 as a cross of learning while chasing silver, which unfortunately ended fruitless. Day 2 however was absolute mayhem with the lads using everything they had learned in the first day, hooking 6 fish and landing 3, this included 3 first salmon for the boys and 1 ecstatic and happy guide.

Paul with his first ever salmon

Ciaran got amongst the fish as well

The salmon squad hits 8 🎣!

After the success of the Irish boys I didn’t think things could get any better, I would however have no idea what was in store for myself and Robson’s fishing party over the next few days!  We woke up on day 1 to perfect conditions, including a cracking height and good water temperature, i just had this feeling that we would have an absolute ball, the plan was to have only 3 rods fishing at a time between 6 people and myself helping the gillie with guiding and ready with the net.  It started at 100 miles an hour with fish being landed instantly including Robson and his Partner Zoila landing fish of 14 and 19lb, followed quickly by James Murray his brother Ted and friend Roddy landed 3 colossal fish probably averaging about 16l, all falling to the deadly Stokoe shrimp.  My salmon fishing P.I.C Phil managed to also get on the score sheet with a nice salmon, followed by another 2 fish for the guys totalling an exceptional 8 with all anglers catching. 

Ted with his biggest salmon to date that took a red Stokoe shrimp

Roddy with his carcking hen fish that fell to a Red stokoe shrimp

The whole salmon squad

The next time I got to join the guys it was my turn to fish and see if I could help keep the run and numbers up for the week, as always the fly of choice to start with was a red Stokoe shrimp, red is by far the most popular colour choice in the back end, this is due to the fact fish seem to react better to it, either from aggression and annoyance.  The day again started 100 miles an hour as I landed a fish around 8lb in minutes, Robson wasn’t far behind doing the same minutes later.  As the day went on I managed to connect and land another 2 salmon also on a red Stokoe with both Robson and Phil landing one a piece to bring the total to 6 for the day and my first hat-trick of the season.  Again the Stokoe shrimp came out on top taking 4 fish in total.

Five minutes of fishing and a fish landed straight away

Fish number 2 on a Stokoe

And the hat-trick was complete

Lucky for some – the salmon squad hits a tremendous 13 in 1 day 👊! (30 for week)

Well our weeks chasing silver had to come to an end at some point, but we could never of imagined it would have ended the way it did.  Having already landed 17 fish in 2.5 days fishing we had the big 20 in sight for our last day, we woke to amazing water and weather conditions so new that 3 more fish was more than doable and we were ready for everything thrown at us.

The day started with myself landing the first salmon on my 4th cast weighing in at a steady 16lb which actually took the fly before I’d even got the shooting head out the tip, I sensed and had a feeling that this was going to be our day.  The great thing about the day is everyone fished as a team catching and netting each other’s fish, at the end of play we totalled an insane 13 fish on the fly. For me it was an extra special day, landing 6 fish all on a Stokoe shrimp, including my best of the week, a fish around 18lb, on what was going to be my last cast of the day.

To some it up, the week was something il never forget, not just because of the insane fishing but the new friends I got to make and fish with, we need to remember that it’s not always about the fish, it’s about the experience.

Fish number 6 and a double hat-trick for me

Robson Green with a huge tartan warrior

Phil with his prize

As the end of the month got closer I had the pleasure of guiding 2 good buddies and last years guests Jason and Karl back on my water i usually guide on.   Even with it being cooler and the back end of September I decided to stick to fishing with droppers and full floating lines, this worked instantly with Jason hooking a very lively fish on a size 12 mirage stoat, 10 minutes later we had his prize safely in the net, a beautiful 10lb hen fish, as always a few quick pics we returned her to finish off her journey.  Karl wasn’t however going to be outdone, a couple of hours later he landed a stunning sea-liced sea trout which was also his first ever.  The boys absolutely smashed it landing a stunning fish a piece and keeping their 100 percent tyne record up over the last 2 seasons.

Jason with a beautiful September salmon

Karl with his sea-liced beauty

Gibson eventually get’s her Tyne prize!

The last fish of September could not of gone to a more deserving person, my good buddy Marina Gibson is in my eyes the number 1 female angler in the country and someone that is not only is at the top of her game but someone that does so much good for this incredible sport.  After having nothing but bad luck on her previous 2 visits to the Tyne and loosing fish at the net it was time to change this and get her that most sought after prize, Gibson put one hell of a shift in fishing hard all morning and when she least expected it connected with a turbo charged salmon, the fish not only smashed a red Stokoe shrimp but gave both her and myself the run around.  Once we got our heads screwed on a I stopped chasing the fish around the river, she expertly drew the fish over the net and I lifted our prize to safety, eventually the bad run was over and we could marvel over this incredible fish!

Gibson with her first Tyne salmon

Well the water eventually arrived in August along with a colossal run of both sea trout and salmon, this was only going to mean one thing – Absolute carnage!

Duncan fished to the death and gets his prize!

Early August I had the pleasure of guiding my good friend Duncan that came back for revenge after an unfortunate 2 days last year loosing an incredible 3 fish, 2 being right at the net.  He literally fished his heart out solid all day through horrendous winds and rain, his hard work however paid off with this belter of a sea trout, but it could of ended so differently – After fighting the fish on the dropper for a good 5 minutes that horrendous sensation of a slack line happened, we were absolutely devastated, it was so close and the end of the day, however it wasn’t over yet, as 10 seconds later we noticed the line moving through the water, we literally couldn’t work out what was going on.  To cut a long story short, the fish had taken the dropper and the fly pulled from it mouth as it came to the net, as the dropper pulled the point fly caught the fish in the side of the head and hooked itself, unbelievably we still had the same fish on and a minute later we had his prize in the net – Crazy!

 

Duncan and his lucky prize

Duncan playing his big sea trout

Well after the recent drought during June and July and worst run of loosing fish I’ve ever experienced (landing 5 from 15 hook up’s), i was starting to loose faith but i new eventually luck had to change and I eventually struck and landed some substantial silver, well maybe bronze!  As always the killer fly was a Fulling Mill Stokoe shrimp fished on a fast figure of eight!

My first double of the season

A sensational silver week at warden!

After the ridiculous months of hot and dry weather it was great to see a substantial lift of water throughout the Tyne system.  Any water that came was always going to get the fish excited and finally get them started on their final stage of their incredible adventure up to the same spawning grounds they were born in.

We had one memorable week at Warden in August totalling 30 fish, including a great number of grilse being caught that haven’t been present for quite a few years but are starting to make an appearance.  Here’s a few photos from an incredible day my guests Martyn and Tim on their first day’s salmon fishing during that crazy week, they only went and smashed in a Hat trick of sea trout in an actioned packed day.

Martyn with his first ever sea trout

Tim with his second of the day

Tim with his first ever sea trout

The Stokoe shrimp is always my first port of call when ever i fish the Tyne, the fly is actually a pattern I first tied about 17 years ago but now an improved pattern tied in both red and orange and also in tube form to accommodate all types of water conditions, it has had an incredible success rate for not only me but for anglers around the country.  Here’s one of the fish that literally couldn’t resist an original Stokoe, fished with a fast figure of eight on an intermediate line.

This fish couldn’t resist a Stokoe fished fast

Another Atlantic Tyne salmon

The fantastic 4!

It’s not often these days you get a real red letter day, but these 3 legends absolutely smashed one out the park.  Not knowing he was going salmon fishing, David was told last minute as a birthday present he’d be joining myself along with brother Tom and friend Brody for a days guided fishing. Even tho all 3 had never fished for salmon or sea trout at all, they absolutely cleaned up, each landing fish totalling 5 for the day.  This wouldn’t however turn out to be the most action packed day of the season…… 

5 incredible fish for the boys

Brody with a fish after 5 minutes

It was nice to eventually get some fishing done with the boy’s or as i like to call us – the salmon squad , due to us all having different jobs and life styles we don’t get to fish as much together as we would like, we did however manage to squeeze a few days in at the end of the month.  Fishing down behind the guys on 3 separate occasions one day I managed to hook 3 fish, 1 unfortunately slipped the hook that was the biggest of the day but the others thankfully stuck giving us a nice duo of grilse.  Even tho i caught the fish I always look at it s team effort, as everyone fished their hearts out using different flies and lines, it was my choice of fly and fast paced retrieve that the fish decided to take a liking to but we still caught them as a collective.

My second Salmon of the day

Robson holding our first of the day

 

Well June’s heat wave unfortunately continued bringing high water temperatures and record low water levels, especially on the south Tyne that highly relies on rain fall.  However the rain did eventually come and so did the fish in good numbers.

Michael works his magic!

With record low water levels and relentless sun and heat the fishing and catches have been suffering all around the country. Choosing the right times of the day and tactics and been working for few lucky anglers mainly size 14/16 fly’s and 12-14 foot leaders along with early morning and late evening.  After being rained off numerous times last year It was eventually my good buddy Michaels turn to get out on the water and amongst the fish.  It might not be the biggest of sea trout, it was his first ever one and I think his smile says it all.

Michael’s first sea trout

Amongst the fish at last!

Looking back over July I had 1 crazy day, well a crazy 3 hours that were just insane, I’ve never experienced sea trout fishing like it! Due to low water conditions still I’ve decided to stick to my guns, using a team of small sea trout fly’s including a Fulling Mill size 16 crathie fly on the dropper and a size 14 RS cascade on the point with the hopes of at least connecting with 1 sea trout.

Fishing a really fast figure of eight on a full floater I  managed to connect with 5/6  fish in, but somehow only managed 2 to the net, sea trout seem to have a special gift and as you all know they are the masters of escape and can do a Houdini in an instant.

 

First sea trout of the season

Sea trout number 2

As July was coming to an end I had a great couple of days guiding 2 great friends Matt and Marina Gibson!  I always love having friends on my water and that feeling of them getting a fish is probably better in my eyes than catching myself. Massive congratulations has to go out to Matt on his first ever sea trout caught on his first time using a double hander, we managed to hook 4 fish in total but as always the masters of escape did their thing and vanished!

Squad goals

Matt with his first ever sea trout

Well I eventually broke my salmon duck for the season after hooking and loosing countless fish.

Not the biggest of fish but the most important of the season to me and even tho he gave a great scrap and has been in the wars big style he went off like a fish on a mission.  the great thing about this day was that I wasn’t the only one that got lucky tho as Andy managed to chip in with a lovely fish on his second cast, what a bloke.

My first Salmon of the year

Andy and his fish

Surely it cant be long before we start seeing the bigger boys entering the river, tight lines guys……!

Over the last few seasons June has always been a ridiculously hot month with water temperatures reaching up to 23 degrees, when the water reaches these temperatures both the salmon and sea trout start to struggle due to low dissolved oxygen levels often causing multiple fatalities of fish.  We do however have one god send on our river system, kielder reservoir at the top of the north tyne, built in 1982 and spans a colossal 2000 acres making it northern Europe’s largest man made lake and dam that holds a huge volume of water.  They are very fish orientated and strategically release throughout the hotter months to help keep the fish alive and get them throughout the system as recent June’s have seen the second highest runs of fish during the year, up to a crazy 7500!

Not a rainbow over the Tyne but in it!!

Another great day guiding Simon on the south Tyne in search of silver and bronze, we caught a couple of corking brownies but the shock of the day turned out to be silver but not the right type. Fishing with sea trout tactics we hooked into a good fish on light gear and thought we’d done it, it was going to be the first sea trout from the south Tyne this season. After a good scrap and a flash of pink we couldn’t believe it, another escapee, but a bonny rainbow to say the least.

An escape rainbow trout from the Tyne

Luck of the Irish!

I’m lucky enough in my career to come across some great guests and this occasion was no exception, Andy and Stanley have travelled across the water from Belfast to fish the mighty Tyne and be guided by myself. With water conditions and weather against us it was always going to be a little harder, but as I always say low water only condenses the fish into certain areas, you just need to know where to look 😉!

After the birthday boy Andy thought he’d struck silver straight away, which unfortunately turned out to be a good chub we thought it was going to be one of those days.

The Boys fished their hearts out for the next 4 hours in bright/hot conditions and we covered at least another 6 pools up and down the beats, it was Stan the man that struck silver, and what a fish it was. After creeping to one of the deep runs and putting out a short cast a fish took literally a yard from the bank and gave him a run around he’ll never forget. 10 minutes later our prize was in the net, 15.5lb of her and an absolute stunning fish, it was not only Stanleys first salmon from the Tyne, his first in 5 years but his biggest yet.

With a combination of apocalyptic wind, sunshine and low water conditions it was always going to be a tough second day on the water for my Irish duo! But as the previous days nothing was going to stop Andy and Stanley getting on the water! Again the lads fished like troopers in horrendous conditions and eventually Andy got his long awaited prize , his first ever salmon (8lb) and I know for sure I won’t be his last. It’s been an absolute pleasure guiding these 2 lads and I’m going to be gutted when they leave on the plane tomorrow

 

Stan with his biggest salmon yet

The Dream team

World fishing day smashed!

Well this was a monumental day for not only myself but fishing in general! It was the official first live 24 hour World Fishing day which saw Anglers and celebrities from around the world participating in this incredible day live on Fishing TV! I was lucky enough to present live in the studio in the prime time slot of 7-9 with the amazing Michelle Orpe and Damon Valentine AKA the London Flyfisher, it was a surreal feeling knowing that thousands of people around the world were watching us live and taking part in this special day!

A huge congratulations to everyone involved for making it such a successful event and the next one can’t come soon enough!

Live Tv with Michelle

Bring on the silver and water next month………!

After a great July with both myself and guests getting into some incredible fish August/September had a lot to live up to, with the runs of fish and talented anglers on the banks there was only going to be 1 answer.  August started with a familiar face in the form of BT sports presenter and England carp fishing team manager rob Hughes as he went in search of his first salmon, not only did he get his prize he ended up with a brace of fly caught fish including the smallest grilse ive ever seen, you never know we may have turned him from the dark side.

A soaking wet rob with his first ever salmon

The smallest grilse I’ve ever seen

 

Getting anyone their first salmon is always a great feeling but on their first ever day chasing silver and using a double hander is on another level.  Here’s my guest Craig with his prize that he worked so hard for, especially after loosing a fish earlier in the day, not a bad effort for his day at all and another angler hooked on salmon for life.

 

Craig and his first ever salmon from the Tyne

Its amazing the friends you get to make within fishing, even half way across the other side of the world, one of them Dave like a lot of anglers has always had his heart set on catching a salmon, so after booking 3 days with me months ago his time to chase silver finally arrived and he absolutely smashed it. Not only did his dream come true he finished the trip an absolute hero, a hat-trick hero, coming from a coarse fishing back ground i just hope he doesn’t expect this every time.

Dave’s first salmon from the Tyne

Salmon number 2

The man completes his salmon hat-trick

England International Carp angler Ryan managed to scrape in a last minute booking with me at the end of august, he took to salmon fishing like a duck to water considering his angling background. Not only did this man mountain land his first salmon on his first ever day salmon fishing, but he managed to land the biggest my guests had the whole season, something that took me 20 years to achieve, a fish weighing in at a staggering 21.5lb!  I don’t think this is the last we’ve seen of that man.

The biggest Tyne salmon caught by my guests

September started at 100 MPH with colossal runs of fish still entering the system and my first guest Larysa literally getting thrown in at the deep end being her first time.  Everyone knows salmon fishing isn’t easy and these fish can drive you to the edge of insanity but Larysa literally smashed it, even tho it was her first day ever fishing for salmon on an unknown river using new equipment she got her prize, a stunning 9.5lb hen fish which as always was quickly returned after her trophy photo.

Larysa with her prize, her first Tyne salmon

One of the biggest characters i’ve had on the river has to be Phil, he literally had me in stitches constantly through the few days a guided him.  Again things started at lightning speed hooking into 2 salmon for them both to throw the fly feet from the net, it was going to have to be third time lucky, which it was as he managed a nice double figure fly caught fish from the north tyne.  This as a lot of the fish this season was a first salmon for him which only makes the moment even better.

Phil and his prize, a lovely fly caught salmon

One of the highlights of the season was 20 year old Liam who only took up fishing 2 years ago, and this was his first ever day salmon fishing, he not only managed his first sea trout but at the end of play managed his first salmon. What made the day extra special was out of about 20 anglers he was the only one to catch anything, and looking though fish pal catches he’s stayed the only one that managed anything to the net.

Liam with his sea trout

Double trouble and Liam gets his salmon

Its always great having 2 guests fishing at a time as not only does it obviously double your chance but the banter is always great and the competitiveness even better.  Near the end of September i had 2 absolute legends Jason and Karl come in search of their first tyne fish! As i mentioned above its always great to catch fish but it’s everything that comes with it, the banter, the learning and of course a ballistic lunch time spread with the lads brought with them, ive never seen anything like it. In the end the boys finished with 2 fish lost and a stunning sea trout.

Jason with a fresh sea trout

One day that will go down in history in my fishing career for a number of reasons was a day i spent at countess park with Robson Green, not only did I manage 3 salmon on my Atomsix fly rod with one of them being a 20, all 3 were caught on a red Stokoe shrimp. Along with my incredible hat-trick I witnessed Robson catch not only his first but second ever fly caught Tyne salmon. To top it off Robson’s uncle Matheson got amongst the fish making it 6 for the day.  A day i thought would never happen and now im lucky enough to call Robson a great friend.

The dream team

Salmon number 1 after 10 minutes

A heavy hen! Salmon number 2

The salmon hat-trick complete

At the end of the month waters levels seemed to drop which put a lot of local anglers off, for me the low water only means one thing, the fish get condensed in certain areas.  My guest Dean had no trouble at all finding the fish as he managed his first Tyne salmon on a day others that were fishing struggled, he stuck at it hard and got his not so silver prize, still a stunning fish.

Dean and his bronze prize

Last but certainly not least Myself and the salmon master Phil caught some incredible Salmon and sea trout on the fly throughout August and september, to many to mention but here are a few to wet the appetite.

Phil with a 20lb beast of a salmon

A Bronze beauty i caught from the south tyne

The fly’s doing the damage were as always a red Stokoe shrimp and small cascades…….

After a fantastic start to July things just kept getting better and better including a record run of migratory fish for the month, a staggering 10,995 fish.  This would obviously go on to have a knock on effect of catches as every man and their dog would be on the river, unfortunately for me a busy month of shows, events and filming wouldn’t see me guiding or fishing much, but when the chance arose i was on the river quicker than you could say Fish-on!

 

 

Filming the Untamed Anglers

The Game Fair crew

I literally fished 3 or 4 times the whole of July but still managed to land 2 stunning sea liced fish which actually came 20 minutes apart from each other on you guessed it, a Stokoe shrimp.  As always both fish were returned after a few quick snaps to carry on their journey upstream.

My first fish of the season covered in sea lice

2 fish in 20 minutes

July also saw me guiding a familiar face, a good friend and renowned world famous DJ Nick Warren for the second year running as he went in search of more Tyne silver! Even in hard conditions he managed to hook and land an absolute stunning 15lb cock fish with the bonus of it falling to a Stokoe shrimp variant I literally tied the night before.

Nick returning his fish

As the month came to an end guests were doing us proud by getting amongst some good numbers of fish but unfortunately loosing a lot, entirely down to the fish and not the way the fish were being played, iv’e actually never known a year like it for loosing fish its been ridiculous.  Three guests i had Scott, Archie and John experienced this first hand on their first days fishing loosing 3 fish in the space of an hour, as always i never know who’s more upset myself of the angler ha ha, but as always things can change in an instant and a couple of days later they managed 3 fish in a crazy 30 minutes, obviously the fish gods were on our side that day!

John finally breaking his bad luck

Archie with the third fish in 30 minutes

Fly’s of the month up and down the river were = Calvin shrimps (especially hot head tubes) Cascades and Stokoe shrimp tubes!

As with any type of fishing the most important factor is understanding your quarry, and due to the salmon’s life cycle being very complex there is a lot to learn about these magnificent fish. In the last issue I gave a brief description of what these fish actually go through, and this time I’ll explain it in a bit more detail which will then help us to choose the correct and suitable equipment and locations to catch these silver tourists.

Once hatched from an egg high up the river system in the spawning grounds the salmon go through numerous stages of change before heading back to sea. Initially hatching as an alevin they gradually turn to a fry, then after a year into a salmon parr which resembles a small brown trout but can be identified by what looks like 4 finger prints on the side of them. After another 2-3 years of aggressively feeding a dramatic change of colour occurs turning them bright silver and into a salmon smolt, still very small fish of around 6 inches long. Something tells these smolt to go back to sea and a phenomenal migration towards the oceans and the rich feeding grounds of the Atlantic waters near Greenland begins.

After being at sea for between 1-3 years gorging on prawns, shrimps and small fish, instinct and an incredibly strong urge to return to their spawning grounds take hold and the incredible journey starts again – not only do the fish return to the same country and river of birth, but the same stream they were actually born in. It’s as if they have a built in sat nav, that allows them to actually smell their way back to water that they came from.

After migrating thousands of miles back to their river of birth they start a treacherous journey upstream avoiding seals, otters, cormorants and other threats whilst battling strong currents, rapids and weirs. During this time the salmon enter a fasted state by not feeding at all once in fresh water. The run of fish on most rivers is greater in the months ranging from June – October, and these months also see the greatest increase of anglers targeting these fish. The salmon fishing season varies thought different rivers within the UK, with some opening in January and finishing in November but the majority staring February 1st running until the October 31st. Once the season ends, the break over the winter is very important as it allows the fish to spawn in peace high up the river system, before heading back out to sea for the cycle to start all over again.

Now that we understand these fish, their lifestyle and their habits a little bit more it will hopefully help us towards our prize trophy, a stunning Atlantic salmon.

Before jumping in with two feet and buying any equipment it’s always important to do your homework and decide where you’re going to be fishing, particularly on which river as they differ so much in the size, colour and the runs of fish they see. Local knowledge is key to any river fishing and even after 20 years of salmon angling I still learn something new every time by reading the river as the water conditions and fish are never the same twice.

The equipment needed for salmon fishing can just about be covered by 2 set ups, first (and my favourite) a double handed salmon rod ranging from 13’-15’ depending on the river you’re looking to fish. A 14’ foot would cover most situations and my preference for this would be Grey’s, any of the GR models because you get fantastic build quality with a great action for reasonable money anywhere from £250 – £400 for a good quality rod. Second, you may think the reel is the most important part of the set up but it’s actually the line, and this is a mistake made by many as Spey casting involves no weights or heavy lures just the weight of the head of the fly line, so matching the weight of the line (#8,#9,#10 etc) is critical. For lines I personally use either a Cortland Spey or Rio outbound which vary between £50-£100, and for Spring time and back end fishing I also add a Rio sinking poly tip to help me get down to the fish, and this also saves on buying a whole new line. As for reels, as long as they have a good smooth drag and enough room for a few hundred yards of backing line you’re sorted and you definitely won’t break the bank with one. Lure fishing is also a very popular way of targeting these fish, especially when the water is high or fishing deep slow-running water, and for that I personally use a Rovex lure pro with a 22-50g casting rating matched with a medium sized fixed spool reel and 30lb braid. Again you don’t need to break the bank with spinning gear, I think mine totals £100 for the lot, light or medium pike rods would suffice.

One of the biggest decisions a salmon angler has to make by the river is what to put on at the business end, and the biggest problem we face is the characteristics of these fish, as they don’t feed in fresh water we have to get a reaction from them in some other way. I personally think there are a few reasons why the fish take a fly or lure, the first being that when you’re using an imitation shrimp/prawn fly or fish lure it reminds them of what they were feeding on at sea, and as their instinct takes over for a split second and they grab it. Another is annoyance and agitation – imagine travelling all those thousands of miles then finding a nice lye (resting spot) and all of a sudden your personal space is being invaded, they may even see it as competition and their natural aggression is triggered and in a instant they snatch at the fly. Last is that they are just inquisitive and being that they don’t have hands they use their mouth, which happens a lot of the time. Sometimes the slightest of tweaks, literally the lightest of pulls on a fly is salmon just mouthing it, how they don’t get hooked I will never know.

My preference for flies are always shrimp imitations, it’s advisable to have a good range of patterns and colours as like trout fishing one day it could be orange the next red and so on. Certain colours do fish better at different times of the year with greens and yellows working in Spring, oranges throughout most the year and red is a must in the back end as studies suggest that salmon can actually see red easier when it’s close to their spawning time. As for lures I love to use Rapalas, mainly floating ones ranging from 7cm – 11cm in bright colours as it’s only when the waters high and coloured, and age old favourites like Flying C’s and Toby’s still have their place and can be deadly.

Now that we are ready and set to target these fish we need to find them, and to do so it’s important to search out and find characteristics in the river like rapids, obstructions, rocks, pools and water seems. Fish will always have their favourite lies, holding pools and runs and in different heights of water these will change – in the Summer when oxygen and water is low they will sit high up in pools near the white water, and in higher water they will sit just off the fast water looking for the easiest route possible up stream. Always remember that local knowledge is key, you could spend hours and even days trying to find these fish so always get as much info as possible when fishing new water and always take advantage of a guide, it’s these guys’ jobs to know the water like the back of their hands and put you on silver.

Lastly. be patient and enjoy your fishing, it will happen and when it does you will never look back.

Tight lines.

After an incredible 2015 being part of and winning The Big Fish this year had a lot to live up to, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Over the years the Tyne has changed as a lot of rivers do, most noticeably after the record floods last year which left devastation all along the Tyne river system, with people’s houses being flooded along with cars, businesses and livestock lost.  No one knew what effect this would have on our fish species and due to the complex cycle of our salmon and sea trout we won’t have a true answer for another 4 or 5 years, although I did manage to catch an awful lot of fat salmon parr and smolts this year while fishing for wild brownies, which themselves didn’t seem to be there in great numbers. As well as this there has been bad reports from course anglers that this was one of the worst years on record.

So after going down to the river on the opening day of the season and being asked the raise a toast to the river, whilst asking it to be forgiving and generous to all anglers in 2016, it would be a few months before I ventured out myself in search of the incredible Atlantic salmon. I have an absolute fascination with this fish and the upmost respect for it and for what it goes through in it’s life cycle, which is the reason I return all my catches (my trophy is a picture and a memory rather than a dead fish on the bank) – but this is my personal choice and I do not hold it against anyone for keeping fish to eat.

It was apparent early on in the season that the floods had totally changed a large percentage of the pools and runs, mainly by shifting gravel, which isn’t always a bad thing. Yes we lost some good pools but with time and experimenting I managed to find some amazing productive spots away from the most popular areas, which I happily shared with others.  Due to the fact I only really fish further up the Tyne system it wouldn’t be until April that I started fishing for salmon properly, and I would actually have to wait until the second last day in May before I connected with what was both my first of the year and also the first salmon caught on the South Tyne, which I would have never caught if it wasn’t for my neighbour Jim telling me where the fish was!  So a last minute change from chasing brownies to silver resulted in an absolutely beautiful fresh fish of around 12lb, which was quickly returned amidst the shouting and jumping about like a lunatic – I’m sure any angler can relate to this as once your off the mark for the season the pressure seems to ease and you can hopefully relax and enjoy it all.

My first fish of the season

After getting off the mark things just got better and better, including a memorable catch on the the 1st June where not only did I catch the first sea trout on the South Tyne, but it was caught on an 8 foot 5 weight, 4lb leader and size 14 gold head hares ear whilst fishing for brownies, which 10 minutes and 2 pools later with no net I managed to lift from the water and marvel at it’s bright silver flanks.

A shock sea trout on my 5 weight

As the months passed we were blessed with good rises of water throughout the summer which is something we missed in 2015. Not only does this motivate the salmon and sea trout to enter the river system and keep them moving up stream, it also keeps the water well oxygenated and more likely to take the fly or lure. I managed some incredible sport through out June to August, personally landing a good mix of salmon and sea trout and finally breaking the what seemed impossible 20lb mark, which after 20 years of searching was starting to feel like it was never going to happen! It’s amazing how things can change in an instant – while guiding my good friend Ripon for the day, who was needing a break after catching his first ever sea trout (especially after the late night boozing the night before), he was worn out and made the mistake of telling me to have a few casts, and 4 casts later there I was attached to a brute of a salmon! After a hectic battle it was ours and what a fish it was (sorry Rip).

My first ever 20lb plus Tyne Salmon

Guiding people on the Tyne is something I turned my hand to this year and I absolutely love it. There’s something very special about introducing new anglers to the joys of salmon fishing and for me guiding them to their first Tyne salmon is the closest feeling you can get to landing one yourself. One of my favourite occasions was having 2 young Angling Trust ambassadors and avid film makers Carl and Alex, who are carp fishing fanatics, come in search of their first Atlantic salmon with the added pressure of everything being filmed. The lads were absolutely fantastic and took to it like a duck to water, having an unbelievable first 3 hours both landing one each, including a belter of a cock fish around 15lb which gave Carl an epic fight, and a beautiful grilse for Alex. The day seemed to fly by as it always does and just before we called it a day the lads incredibly managed another salmon each to finish on an absolute high and give them and myself a day to remember (the video can be viewed at the bottom of the page).

My guest Mark with his first salmon! He then went on to complete a hat-trick of fish in the same day

One thing I always look forward to is my Big Fish buddy Phil coming up to fish, as there’s always a little bit friendly competition between us but most importantly we have great laugh along the way, which is how it should be. This season we had some incredible days down the river with Phil landing a total of 10 fish in only 13 days, which is a phenomenal catch ratio and included a beast of a 22lb fish that he hooked when I was fighting with a bush on the far side trying to get my fly back! (Typical of Phil’s luck!).

Phil with his 22lb salmon

I’m sure you’ve all heard stories about the one that got away, I personally have a few but while fishing with Phil this year I experienced something that wipes the floor with the rest. Fishing the same pool that Phil had caught his monster cock fish in the day before I got a take that felt different to any other salmon I’d hooked before, with it’s weight and power feeling something similar to the sturgeon we were catching in British Columbia last year.  In all my years fishing for these magnificent fish I’ve never had a salmon bully me up and down the river so much, using short powerful runs while unfortunately taking me into 2 different snags which I somehow managed to free the line from.  By now the rain was torrential and I was stood 250 yards down stream from Phil up to my chest in water, wearing leaking waders feeling like I’d been fighting the fish for hours, and it turned out I had been – it was well over an hour and there was still no sight of the leviathan on the end of my line but I knew eventually that something had to give, and eventually I started gaining ground inch by inch, slowly walking the fish 100 yards back towards Phil and the net but still not managing to get it’s head up to the surface.  Another 30 minutes passed and the fish was about 5 yards away from both of us, and most importantly the net, when disaster struck – the heartbreaking moment when the line goes slack and the rod pings up. The leader (25lb) had snapped, not at the knot or lure but right in the middle where at some point must have rubbed against one of the snags. The most soul destroying feeling wasn’t just the fact that after 90 minutes the fish came off, but that I never got to see the fish and will never know it’s true size.

Before I knew it the season was drawing to an end but unlike a few weeks before and the one that got away it finished on a massive high, as after guiding a couple of guests to their separate unbelievable hat-tricks of fish, I landed my biggest fly caught salmon to date – an absolute beast of around 22-23lb, which as always after a few quick photos was released to carry on his journey.  The last few days literally went by as if they were hours and it was time to say an emotional goodbye and thank this amazing river for such a sensational season, which personally totalled 28 fish. With the next season just around the corner who knows what 2017 and the mighty Tyne holds for us.

An October monster

With a load of rain forecast before the weekend I had a telepathic feeling that my partner in crime & fishing buddy Phil would be on the phone soon to organise a few days fishing on the Tyne, and low an behold when my phone rang later that day it was him. I don’t get to fish much with Phil due to the fact we live at different ends of the country but he is one of the most enjoyable people to fish with and such a great laugh, and we always seem to have it off when he visits!  So after a short call and no persuading needed at all it was sorted, a solid 4 days fishing from first light until dark which is always our plan of attack – no rest,  just fishing.

After a day of horrendous weather further up the river system as forecast on Friday the river was on the rise and peaked at just over 2 foot, which by Saturday morning and Phil’s arrival would drop to around 1’8, which is still a little high but keeps the fish entering the river and moving upstream to where we would hopefully intercept them.  So after standing at the window like a lost puppy waiting for Phil’s car to turn up he eventually gets here and as normal the conversation diverts straight to fishing and the plan of attack for our first day. We ended up deciding just to take the day as it comes as the water can be very busy this time of the year, which is sometimes the best option.  To our surprise there wasn’t another soul in sight on the lower south Tyne around the Warden area, we couldn’t believe our luck but all became apparent when we got down to the water as it was very dark and full of silt, whereas usually it would be a deep tea colour even up to 2 foot. What had happened was that repair work had been carried out further upstream after the floods from last year and had loosened a lot of silt, which not only colours the water but the fish hate it, but as long as you have a hook in the water you always have a chance.

Northumberland Sunrise

Northumberland Sunrise

Our first weapons of choice would be a range of Rapala’s, flying c’s and other lures as due to river and weather conditions it would be hard work with the fly. We hadn’t even been fishing an hour when I connected with a huge fish in slacker water in the tail end of one of the pools, which instantly went airborne showing her dark red flanks with a countdown right in the scissors.  She was a good 15lb but unfortunately seconds later the line went slack and she was away, it was gutting but still always good to have some form of interest rather than none!  After a couple more runs through the pool we decided to change location and have a walk half a mile further upstream to a few high water holding spots.  We fished for a good few hours but unfortunately didn’t connect with any fish, but as we were walking back to the car Phil the hawk eye he is spotted a fish moving and quickly had a cast – bang he caught the bottom! I shouldn’t of laughed but I did… only to regret it seconds later as no quicker had he freed his lure from the bottom had he hooked the very fish he spotted, it was crazy but again after a few minutes and a few short runs the fish came off! It just wasn’t our day, but thats fishing you – win some you loose some and tomorrow is always a new day.

The second day started with Phil going down the river early doors and myself heading to my second love – Sunday league football, which was a hard choice to make as the river had dropped to 8 inches which is an amazing height to fish most pools on the South Tyne, just enough to keep fresh fish creeping through but also hold them up in certain areas! However, I’m a team player so stuck to my guns and went to play, I’m not going to lie I did think about how Phil was doing on numerous occasions but I knew it wouldn’t be long before we would be reunited and he could hopefully fill me in with some good news.  So after a successful win in football I was off to meet Phil quicker than a Bone fish hooked on the flats and on my arrival was met with both good and bad news, he had landed a small bar of silver sea trout at around a pound which was returned, but he had unfortunately also lost another double figure fish which only added to the hurt from the day before.  It was time for a move but a more substantial one, heading another 10 miles upstream towards Haltwhistle, where there would be less chance of a silver fish but as I return everything I catch I just as much enjoy catching a salmon in their full mating colours as I do a bar of silver.  As soon as we got to the water we spotted fish moving straight away, but the only thing they had on their mind was to head upstream and wouldn’t even flinch at the fly. It’s always great seeing fish move but you can spend too much time chasing the visual fish rather than fishing the pools as you normally would, which I’m guilty of myself on many occasions.  Hours pass without any interest so we decided to walk some of the water not fished very often due to the over grown and high banks, but with really fishy looking pools, so as always I told Phil to fish the water through first as there wasn’t enough room to swing a cat.  After fighting his way through the undergrowth he positioned himself in the only place possible, cast and no sooner had his Rapala hit the water and the line tight I seriously thought he hooked the gravel shelf in front of us but no it was a fish, and it would turn out to be an absolute nightmare to net as a steep 4 foot drop in front of us, coloured water and a fish determined to go back to sea was a recipe for disaster! Unlike every other fish we had hooked so far this one stuck all the way to the net which was met by euphoric screams by both myself and Phil, eventually we had landed one (well Phil had!), it wasn’t the biggest or freshest of fish possibly around 7lb but we were off the mark woohoo!

Phil with the first Tyne Salmon of our weekend

Phil with the first Tyne Salmon of our weekend

It was day 3 and a 6am start to try and get to one of our favourite pools before anyone else but just as we arrived a good friend of mine Dave was already tackling up, and even tho we were ready to roll with rods set up we decided to revert to plan B and head slightly down river just to above Hexham. It would turn out to be the best thing that could of happened as within 5 minutes I was straight into a fish that smashed the fly (Stokoe shrimp) just as it came onto the dangle at the head of the run. It was a fresh fish that went ballistic charging around like a bull in a china shop, which ended up taking me with it down stream but luckily to a more suitable landing spot with slacker deeper water, where Phil as always netted the fish like a pro!  After a few quick snaps the fish, which was around 8lb was safely returned to fight another day.

An early morning Tyne Salmon

An early morning Tyne Salmon

Since the fish had taken me down the pool and probably stirred everything up in it we decided to move down to the next run where Phil would fish the pool through first and again no sooner had he started his Stokoe shrimp was taken by a fish almost instantly (“fish on!”).  His fish acted totally different to the one I had just landed and decided to park itself behind a huge rock, and was adamant it wasn’t going to move! However with a little persuasion and slight change of angle it made the fatal mistake of moving into the current and quickly tired itself out, minutes later it was nestling in the bottom of my net, another small coloured salmon around 6lb which was returned.  What a morning we were having and it wasn’t even 8.30am, and to think this was our plan B! We couldn’t do anything but laugh as we would never of fished that water if the other stretch had been empty. It was time for another move further up the south Tyne back to where we had success the day before and on arrival we were shocked to find no one around, this day was getting better by the hour.  As Phil caught the last fish it was me to fish through first and without sounding too repetitive I hooked a fish on my third cast, but this time something was different this fish felt like a ton weight and literally wouldn’t move! Then all of a sudden, realising it was hooked, the fish went crazy giving phenomenal head shakes and runs as if it thought it was a marlin gliding across the ocean, it was away down stream with me and Phil close behind.  This was a big fish, and a well rested one with incredible power which tested my Grey’s 13′ to the max.  I literally couldn’t control where he wanted to go but knew with time he would start to tire, and after a few attempts of trying to get his head up 20 minutes later Phil spotted an opportunity and some how netted the fish first time, I don’t know who was more relieved me that I’d landed it or Phil since it would put an end to my moaning that I couldn’t do anything with it! Either way we had him, and he was an absolute monster in his full tartan colours with a huge kype big enough to put your hand through. Weighing 17lb on the scales this was the third fish of the day falling to my Stokoe shrimp fly, which has been a phenomenal fly this year.  Even tho I wanted to sit and marvel at this magnificent creature all day it was time for him to go back and finish off his journey up stream and it was also time to let Phil get some fishing done after standing with the net for 20 minutes or so.

Phil with a Tyne Salmon caught on a Stokoe Shrimp

Phil with a Tyne Salmon caught on a Stokoe Shrimp

My 17lb Salmon that gave me a fight to remember also on the Stokoe shrimp

My 17lb Salmon that gave me a fight to remember, also on the Stokoe shrimp

The morning turned to afternoon then to evening with no interest to show so it was time for another move but this time down river to the main tyne at Corbridge, where on our arrival it was absolutely boiling with fish all over.  I can’t remember the last time I saw so many fish in such a short space of time, up to 70-80 salmon and sea trout putting on a show in the space of an hour with one of them being the biggest fish I’ve ever seen, possibly in the 40’s it resembled a seal – it was mind blowing!  It was Phil’s time to fish first and with the way the day had gone so far expectations were high for a quick hook up, especially with the volume of fish, but this time it would be a longer wait and just before the sun was setting Phil managed a small clean grilse on a Rapala at about 3lb, which put up a respectable fight for its size but was in the net within minutes and safely returned.  We decided to call it a day, but what a day, especially after the disappointment of getting to the river first thing and being beaten to where we had planned to go then reverting to plan B.  We joked that maybe it was meant to be and all things happen for a reason, but as we all know in fishing sometimes we just need a bit of luck.

Phil with a small but beautiful Grilse

Phil with a small but beautiful Grilse

It was our last day fishing together which is always full of mixed emotions as I get on with Phil so well, even though we are generations apart we have an absolute blast and I feel like I’ve known him all my life, and with the bonus that there’s always fish caught.  The day turned out to be one of the hottest days recorded for September and a day that any sun worshiper would die for, but the fishing was terrible and the fish were only interested in dancing around the water as if to let us know that they were there but were never going to fall for our lures and flies!  We persevered moving from pool to pool, and eventually from the south to the main Tyne to where Phil had a small grilse the day before.  Again the fish were going crazy jumping, splashing and moving all over the river, one of them surely had to make a mistake sooner or later – well we wouldn’t have to wait long as I hooked a fish that had the power and strength of an olympic sprinter, which tore up to 100 yards of line off in seconds! I somehow managed to eventually stop it and gradually draw back towards us and after a dogged 10 minute fight with the fish, which Phil estimated being a good 20.  Then the line literally went slack… and both myself and the fish slipped away to sulk.  I was just contemplating packing up and watching Phil fish when he hooked a fish which followed suit to the one I’d just lost and immediately headed down stream in the current, but this time stayed there right in amongst snags and some colossal boulders and it would be just a matter of time before the line went absolutely solid and the inevitable happened – the fish managed to wedge itself behind one of the rocks and wasn’t coming out, so it was up to me to go in & free it up.  Luckily the water level was back down to 0 on the gauge and would only come up to my stomach, and as I got down to the fish I could see it just sitting there. It did cross my mind to try and net it but with it being in amongst loads of weed I didn’t want to risk it, so I went for it’s tail and it suddenly woke up and shot off, but not for long as Phil managed to get the fishes head up and just as I netted it in a split second his leader broke, but it didn’t matter we had the fish (phew)!!  A careful walk back up stream to where he could see his prize, a lovely silver hen fish around 9-10lb which as always was returned, and like her initial run shot off upstream. After that fish we decided to wrap things up and call it a day.

The last Salmon of the trip

The last Salmon of the trip

What an amazing four days we had experienced, totalling 7 fish landed and 6 lost, all caught on a mixture of fly and Rapala with the Stokoe shrimp doing the most damage, and all fish being returned which to me is the most important thing.  The highlight for both of us had to be the day we landed 4 fish between us, most importantly 2 a piece especially after we had to resort to plan B, but that’s the thing with fishing you just never know what lies ahead!  Except that I do know Phil will be on the phone soon. Hurry up Phil I’m waiting…….