After losing all of April and May due to covid, it was incredible to be back on the water, although, back to incredibly low conditions due to a scorching spring, but our fishing lockdown was eventually over. Due to losing 2 solid months of fishing/guiding, I decided to ram as much in as possible to make up for what we lost, it was going to be a hectic couple of months, including an unheard-of wet July, but an absolute fish-filled month.

June’s weather seemed to follow suit from the spring and was boiling hot with consistent low water, but as always we adjusted to the conditions and had some great sport.

A quick mission over the border to the river tweed was the first port of call for the month, the water level was at summer low, warm, and clear, but my good old tyne summer tactics went down a treat with the fish. A team consisting of a micro Francis tube on the point and size 14 crathie on the dropper fished on a really long leader with a fast figure of eight accounted for 2 lovely tweed fish, one around 11lb and the other about 7lb, my luck with Scottish salmon this season was a welcome change, but later that day normality was resumed as I lost another 2 fish, but still a day to remember.

My first tweed salmon
Salmon number 2

Here are some of my lucky guests that managed to strike silver during June and July

A decade without silver

Here’s guest @phil_pallister with his first salmon in 10 years, I think the smile as always says it all 👊🏻🎣! That’s 2 fish in a week of guiding from 7 hooked, hopefully the start of some good luck… 

Phil with my second guided fish of the season

Here’s guest Steve with his first-ever fly caught sea trout, he put in an incredible shift to land his silver prize in low water and bright sunshine. Fish fell to a size 14 @fulling_mill Arndilly fancy fished on the dropper 

Tyne sea trout

Single handed salmon.

Here’s today’s guest and great friend Jason with his well earned prize. This fish gave him an incredible battle on single handed trout rod, making numerous runs and explosive leaps across the pool, but as always he played the fish hard, and we eventually got him safe in the net. This is Jason and Carl’s 4th year in a row with me and their 8th fish and 100 percent record.

Jason keeping his 100 percent record intact

Here’s guest and salmon slayer Mark with his first Tyne salmon on the fly. It took him all of 15 minutes of fishing to connect with this fish this morning, and after others had been fishing the same water since 4 am

Mark with his silver prize

My good buddy and guest @djnickwarren is maybe best know for creating world renowned music, but nothing compared to the sound of his reel when he hooked this stunning salmon. Nick also completed his Tyne treble with a beautiful brown trout and this chrome sea trout.

5 minutes of fishing and nick was into this salmon
A stunning Tyne sea trout

The dream team hits 6 🎉🔥.

Today I had the pleasure of welcoming back last seasons guests Ian and Michael as they looked to continue their 100 percent record with me.

After putting in some substantial time themselves this season so far and not having the luck they deserved, it was only a matter of time that something special was going to happen. The boys put in one hell of a shift today, and as a team, we managed to land a mix of 6 stunning fly caught sea trout and salmon, as always the smiles say it all, I couldn’t be prouder of the lads today, and can’t wait to have them back on the water. As always size 14 @fulling_mill patterns doing the damage

Sea trout number 1 for michael
Nice Tyne salmon for Ian
Michaels biggest sea trout to date
Ians biggest sea trout

Here’s my great friend Matt with his first 2 Tyne fish, not quite the PB sea trout he was after, but incredible sport on a single-handed rod. He even twisted my arm to try a little night time fishing, not my usual cup of tea, but we had some epic fun, and I even managed my first sea trout in the dark.

Matt with his prize sea trout
My first night time sea trout

Sea trout on size 14’s.

Here’s guest Keith with another monster fly caught daytime Tyne sea trout, 1 of 2 fish we landed today and a new PB for him. Size 14 @fulling_mill RS cascade doing the damage again.

Keith with a massive day time fly caught sea trout

Well Beni eventually got his prize, his first ever migratory fish, and an absolute stunner at that. What a perfect way to end 2 really tough but enjoyable days fishing, you were a pleasure to guide mate. Killer fly was a size 14 @fulling_mill crathie.

Beni with his first ever migratory fish

First salmon alert 🚨🚨.

Here’s today’s super star Alfie with his first ever salmon, something I’m sure he’ll never forget, as not only did he manage this absolute stunner, 30 minutes later he landed an absolute beast of a fish. I literally couldn’t be prouder of this lads achievement and how well he’s fished over the last 2 days, and it was a pleasure to guide you young man.

Alfie with his first ever salmon

Sea trout of a lifetime for the Green…

I’ve just literally just had the pleasure of putting Robson on the money and netting this incredible fish for him. We literally decided last minute to have a quick few hours on the water with his partner Zoila, actually, the first time since lockdown since we had fished together, and what a result! This is by far one of the biggest sea trout I had ever seen, such a beast of a fish, and another Tyne double-figure beauty. Huge thank you to @andy_rollins_fishing for the flies that literally arrived the day before

Robson with the biggest sea trout of the season

Personally, I didn’t get to fish many days in either months, but when I did I had some incredible sport with the sea trout on tiny size 14’s and 16’s, here are just a few of the silver beauties I managed.

Day time south Tyne sea trout
One of 5 sea trout

After a slow July with a few fish landed for guests the rain couldn’t come soon enough to bring the river back to life with some water and most importantly, some fish.

Jack with a fresh run sea trout
Keith with the biggest of 2 sea trout caught on size 14’s
My only salmon in July

Eventually, our prayers were answered, and it turned out to be one of the greatest Augusts for guests, here are a few of the lucky anglers I had on the water last month.

August 3rd

Here’s today’s guest Barry Ward with one of two sea trout he landed today, keeping his 100 percent migratory fish intact on his third visit! I also have to congratulate his partner Alexis for putting in one hell of a session considering we walked over 10km in search of silver today!

A nice Tyne sea trout

August 7th

Tyne Salmon can’t resist a Stokoe

After finally getting a day off myself and having major fishing withdrawal symptoms, I decided to have a couple of hours away from the hustle and bustle and busy beats where there might be a fish or two that hadn’t seen a fly yet.

Literally 10 minutes of fishing this stunning bronze Beast absolutely nailed my Stokoe shrimp tube and gave me the greatest fight I’ve had this season (a very well rested fish), as always a quick pick and back he went to finish his journey.

A stunning tyne salmon around 14lb

August 15th

Double salmon hook up’s and a record days guiding (14 fish hooked)!

Today will personally go down in history as one of the greatest days guiding I’ve been involved in.

Good friends and guests Barry Ward and his wife Alexis came back over the border to try and keep there 100 percent Tyne record going with me for the 4th time, to keep things simple, they absolutely cleaned up.

Out of a total of 14 hookups, including a double one, the dream team managed to finish on an incredible 8 migratory fish, how the hell we’re going to top this one, I’ll never know 🙌🏻🎣🔥!

Barry’s first fish of the day during a double hook up
Alexis wasnt far behind with this sea trout
Barry with a cracking sea trout
Barry with his 6th fish of the day
Alexis with another Tyne sea trout

August 17th

A special fish he will remember for the rest of his life.

Today I experienced one of the highlights of my fishing career to date and something myself and my salmon fishing partner in crime will never forget. My good friend and 11 year old junior England international travelled up north to try his luck with the mighty salmon.

Unfortunately due to relentless rain, we had horrendous water conditions from the start and were constantly on the move battling against a rising river, but as always we persevered and at 4pm he got his salmon, his first but I’m sure it won’t be his last! The best part about this incredible catch was that he couldn’t wait to return the fish to finish off its journey.

August 21st

Swimming with salmon.

It’s amazing how many people want to give up at the end of the day, but those who battle to the end often find success. My good buddy and today’s guest Josh headed up to the Tyne from Brighton to achieve a boyhood dream of catching the king of fish, an Atlantic salmon.

After a hard 12 hour shift yesterday with no silver, and a good 8 hours today, he wasn’t going to give in and was determined to battle on for his prize. At 5pm tonight his dream came true, he managed to land this stunning fish, and what better way to celebrate, than going for a swim 🙈💦

Josh with his first salmon
Josh celebrating his catch

August 22nd

First salmon smiles of the season for today’s guest Bret. What an effort this guy put in today in rising river conditions, he not only managed to land his first salmon of the season, he managed a stunning sea trout. Unfortunately his brother was a bit worse for wear after some birthday celebrations so slept in the car most the day 😂🙌🏻

Bret with his first salmon of the season
A stunning Tyne sea trout

Double migratory firsts 👊🏻💥.

A huge congratulations to my good mates and today’s guests Craig and David on both landing their first ever migratory fish. Here’s both the lads with their stunning Tyne prizes, in which Craig managed to land in only 10 minutes of fishing. David also chipped in with his first-ever sea trout caught later in the day that gave him one hell of a battle.

The smile says it all

August 24th

A silver birthday present on his first-ever days salmon fishing.

When Aaron and James headed up for their first-ever days salmon fishing with me, I bet they never expected a birthday present like this.

Here’s birthday boy Aaron with both his fish, including his first-ever salmon which turned out to be an absolute beast of a fish, topping the scales at 16lb. He also managed to chip in with a cracking sea tout, thank you again, boys, for putting in such a phenomenal shift.

How about this for a first salmon
Another fiesty Tyne sea trout

August 28th

A huge congratulations to guests and good friends David and John for putting in a monumental 2 days graft! Their resulting hard work gifted David this stunning fly caught hen Fish weighing around 14lb (his first English salmon), unfortunately for John the 2 he hooked managed to do a Houdini and slip the hook, but what a team effort.

Davids first English salmon

Again, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone that came and fished their hearts out with me, you guys should be proud of what you’ve achieved. No doubt il be seeing some of these faces again next year…..

When my fishing addiction started as a young lad the thought of traveling to foreign shores in search of all manners of incredible species used to send me into a constant daydream, 20 years later it still does.  The problem is social media literally puts a new destination or fish in front of your face every day and personally, I now have a bucket list the size of a medieval scroll. I suppose it’s not really a bad problem to have but the options seem endless. As a fly angler, there has always been one location at the top of the list, the ultimate fly fishing destination – Alaska!  The runs of salmon are truly mind-blowing and consist of 5 separate Pacific species that all run in a relatively short period of time in their millions, along with them the rivers are full of wild rainbows, grayling, and char that give anglers another option to target and the chance of a great mixed bag.

ATA lodge

There was only ever going to be one option for Alaska, especially after hearing all about it from my good friend Wayne Mcgee who just so happens to co-own the Alaska Trophy Adventures Lodge (ATA lodge) situated on the banks of the pristine Alagnak river within the Katmai national park, every time he speaks about the place the emotions and love truly shine through, but also the millions of photo’s he has, always give’s me pure fish envy which is always is winner.  There was no way I was going to go alone tho, a big thing for me is experiencing such an incredible journey with friends, there’s something about being in the presence of others enjoying themselves, reaching their goals and catching a dream fish, this is no doubt why I love guiding people back home so much.  We eventually decided on our group and had literally put together the ultimate dream team, consisting of a great bunch of fishing fanatics from different angling backgrounds, abilities and walks of life, this is what I love about fishing so much is the people that you get to cross paths with that you would never meet in other sports and industries.

The journey

So after months of waiting September eventually arrived, and the day of our flight was upon us but unfortunately due to locality and times booked we were all on different flights, I did, however, have one of my good friends and Untamed Anglers co-presenter Ripon as company, one thing you can always rely on with Rip is entertainment, well when he’s not snoring his head off.  A few flight’s and thousands of miles later we arrived at anchorage to join up with Jonny, Marina, Russell, and Lee, we were instantly met by some of Alaska’s most iconic animals within the airport including a bear the size of King Kong, yes they were stuffed but it was the first time we’d ever seen anything of that size in person.  One short flight later and we arrived in the appropriately named King Salmon where we would wait for one final flight to the fishery, this is the closest airport to the lodge which is only accessible via a very exciting 4 seater bush plane which lands on the private airstrip.  If the flight in had anything to go by it was going to be one hell of a week and it got the old imagination running riot, all it required was some dramatic music and it would of been like entrance scene from a major blockbuster movie.

Once we were all settled in and had calmed down from the excitement of the flight, Wayne gathered all the new guest’s together for a pep talk on what to expect from the fishing but also safety, due to how remote the area is and how rich the resources of fish are there is a huge head of brown bears that absolute gorge on salmon, this is, however, is nothing to worry about as they are far more interested in the fish and if anything makes the whole experience even better, I mean who wouldn’t who wouldn’t want to see a bear?

After what seemed like a long night, mainly due to Rip snoring we woke to an incredible sunrise and our first morning of fishing, again my head was absolutely racing at the thought of what awaited us.  Due to it being early September we were predominately in prime silver salmon time but with the chance of connecting with pink’s and coho’s never to mention Arctic char, rainbows and Arctic grayling. Due to the multitude of species, this gave us an incredible chance of smashing in 2 totally separate Alaskan grand-slams, one salmon and one multi-species.  After what I can only describe as a breakfast of champions myself and a great friend/Iconic fish producer Jonny Mcgee headed upstream with camera in hand ready to get some fishy action, we were also joined by Ripon and Marina Gibson in another boat to add a little bit competitiveness and entertainment to the day.

Wayne, marina and myself ready to hit the water

Arctic Char

The first species to target was something both myself and Gibson had at the top of our list – an Arctic char, especially one of the males in his full spawning colour’s, these fish are so bright and stunning they don’t look real.  The method would be bead fishing using a standard fly rod and reel setup but with a plastic bead (replica salmon egg) placed just above the hook instead of a fly, this ensures that the hook doesn’t get taken deeply and is nearly always hooked on the outside of the mouth. This method of fishing was new to us and the only thing I can slightly compare it to is a form of Czech nymphing, the reason for using this method is the incredible volume of fish spawning at this time of the year means all the residential fish swap diet’s from feeding on invertebrates to salmon eggs and flesh.  Once we had arrived at some incredible looking water, full of seam lines dotted with deeper pockets and most importantly spawning fish I was instantly into a char, now these fish don’t half pullback due to the nature of the fast flowing water they live in and that fact they are pristine fully finned wild fish, after a few minutes of ragging me around the water I had my first ever Arctic char, not the male I was after but still a first and special fish.

Once that first fish hit the net it turned into absolute carnage for the rest of the morning with both Rip and Gibson getting amongst the action landing numerous Char, that trophy male fish was still alluding us all, so the decision was made to split up and drift fish from the boats allowing us to cover a huge amount of water, this would also allow us target grayling and rainbows at the same time.  As the day went on the action never stopped, picking fish up on every single drift, it got to the point that you were expecting a take every single cast, with both rainbows and grayling showing a constant face giving me my first but not last Alaskan grand-slam, this, however, wouldn’t be the highlight of the day, as late into the afternoon I hooked the biggest fish of the day that not only fought differently but resembled something like Jason’s technicolor dream coat, Yes you guessed it, id finally hooked the bucket list fish I’d traveled thousands of miles for and it was an absolute belter, being overly careful I played it like an absolute fanny, probably taking far to long to land it, but I eventually drew it over the net for Jacob my guide to net it.  Id literally never seen a fish like it in person, he didn’t look real, the colour’s were so bright, bold and elaborate – He was an absolute stunner and dressed to impress the ladies in his spawning colour’s.

1 of 2 male Arctic char caught all week

Marina with a stunning char

Pacific salmon

The next day we decided to switch thing up in both the boats and on the species front, this time I was partnered with one of my salmon fishing buddies Gibson and it was time to do what we do best – Chase some silver.  The jet boat’s the guys use on the river are incredibly agile, fast and the minimal depth of water they can run over is insane, let’s just say it didn’t take long to get to the fish.  When it comes to down to the tackle, the preferred choice of rod for silver’s (Coho’s) is an 8/9 weight single hander, being a hardcore salmon fishing fanatic I couldn’t resist using my switch rod matched with a short head scandi line, my thought’s were id possibly be able to target fish the others couldn’t.  At the business end stripping back streamers and intruders were the preferred choices, with pink, orange and black being the most popular colour, nothing like we target Atlantic salmon with back home.  Like the previous day we literally hooked up in seconds, this time it was insane with me, Gibson and Rip all hooking up at the same time, it was absolute madness with fish running in all directions followed by us chasing them.  Unfortunately one of us had to slip up, and guess who – yes, it was me, the fish literally threw the hook leaving me to put on a brave face and watch the others both land fish.  I wouldn’t have to worry about missing out, as over the next week’s fishing we would have numerous double hook up of silver’s, including some absolutely stunning chrome fresh fish not to mention the fish in their bright scarlet spawning colour’s, it was crazy to think that between us we could land 20 silver’s in a morning, and this was normal – absolutely mind-blowing.

Ripon and Marina with a brace of silver’s

One thing I was determined to try out was my Stokoe shrimp, it’s accounted for hundred’s of Atlantic salmon back in the Uk so surely the pacific’s could be tempted at some point, I wouldn’t have to wait long, the perfect day actually came about when it was a little bit slow, and when the normal streamers and intruders weren’t doing their job – it was time for the Stokoe show!  To my amazement and only a few casts after putting the fly on, I was straight into a silver, now these fish fight well, but due to the slack water they’re hooked in they can’t use the strong current to their advantage, but the sight of seeing a scarlet red rocket charging around the backwaters is incredible, and on light tackle doesn’t half get your heart racing.  On a day when others struggled I managed a handful of fish to my fly, now i don’t believe it was personally just the pattern but think the profile/size of the fly had a massive part to play, due to the fact the fly was on a size 8 and only about an inch long, it was at least a third of the size of the normal streamers used.  Along with the silver’s the river had good numbers of pink’s and chum’s throughout the system, although not a prime time to target them they readily hit the fly resulting in a couple sought-after salmon grand-salams for myself and other anglers.

Double hook up for myself and Ripon

Ripon with a chunky silver salmon

Rainbow’s and Arctic Grayling

Due to the salmon fishing being absolutely off the scale, you’d be wrong to think this was the main reason that people flock to the Alagnak.  The river is absolutely rammed with absolutely pristine, fin perfect, and super hard fighting rainbows, we had also had the bonus of having timed it perfect for the egg feeding bonanza, this is a time when all the residential feeding fish change their diets from everything to salmon egg’s – it is absolute carnage.  Again the most effective way of targetting both rainbows and grayling was to use bead fly’s, in other words, replica salmon egg’s, we would again be drift fishing from the boat allowing us to cover a massive expanse of water and fishing Czech nymph style.  It won’t surprise you that the action was absolutely insane, no matter where we fished we were constantly smashing into fish resulting in endless amounts of double hookup’s of both super hard fighting bow’s to 24 inches, and stunningly marked grayling bigger than I’ve ever seen.  Another interesting method was fishing flesh fly’s, now this consisted of a fly that was tied with rabbit strips that when wet resembled decaying and rotting bit of salmon flesh, this time instead of a chuck and duck style cast, we would be swinging the fly into deeper pockets and slack spots where hopefully the bigger fish would be lying in wait.  One of the highlights of the trip was on the last day’s fishing when both myself and Gibson smashed a double hook up of grayling that were literally like to peas in a pod, the strange thing was actually caught mine on a flesh fly, just incredible.

A fat rainbow caught with a flesh fly

Another double of rainbow’s

A brace of grayling to end an incredible week

On a whole, the trip was probably my favorite fishing holiday to date, a great combination of the untouched land, stunning crystal clear water, incredible fish, the best hosts and last but not least the company Iwas there with.  I will be going back to ATA in September 2020, for anyone interested in joining me please drop me an email for further details.

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……..!

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……!

Looking back over last year i cant help but smile, even tho my personal life away from the fishing hasn’t been the easiest, all the fish caught by guests, successful events and shows, how much i’ve learned, sponsorships, ambassadorships and most of all the people i got to meet and become good friends with made it a year to remember.

2018 literally couldn’t of started any better with the official announcement of my partnership with Sportfish, to have been asked to be an ambassador for this incredible company was an honour and something i was never going to pass up.  What i love about the Sportfish is not only the brands and equipment i already use and have for years but that it isn’t just a bunch of random people put together at a company, the staff all bring something different to the table regarding fishing knowledge and character and is more like a close family.  It also brings back great memories to where i had my last and final audition for the Big Fish before i got selected for the show which changed my life and put me on the path to where i am today. @sportfishuk

The official handshake with Robin from Sportfish

As you may know last year myself and Ripon joined forces to become the Untamed Anglers to carry on from where we left off on our world wide big fish adventure, this time to concentrate on incredible and diversity of species on our doorstep in this country .  This month we start filming our series with Jonny from Shooting photography, our good friend Hywel Morgan and a host of other very familiar fishing faces as we go in search of Britain’s Iconic Fish.  Its still hard to belive that an idea we had all nearly a year ago has materialised into us actually going into production, it hasn’t been easy but a lot of hard work and time has eventually paid off and we cant wait to show you guys the finished product.

The untamed Anglers are go!

A new year also means new events and shows to look forward to, i absolutely love being part of these, mainly to meet all the other anglers and people with the same interest and passion as myself and its always a great excuse to have a catch up with old buddies.  Hopefully you guys will be able to make some of the Shows and events listed below =

Scottish fly fair 10/11 March

London Fly Fishing Fair 23/24 March

Sportfish Reading show 12/13 May

The Game Fair 27/28/29 July

The Game Fair team Alaska including myself, Wayne and Marina

With a really successful years guiding last year i cant wait to get started again, it may sound stupid to some but i really feel like i’ve finally found what i was meant to do.  After selling cars since leaving school it was like a breath of fresh air being able to turn my passion into a job, don’t get me wrong it can be mentally draining at times when those pesky fish wont play game but the satisfaction of using your knowledge and craft to successfully get a guest a fish is an incredible feeling and is close as you can get to catching one yourself.  Due to really high demand this year not only do i have access to the phenomenal warden beats I’ve fished all my life near Hexham, i will also be guiding  guests on the stunning lambely beat on the south tyne, which in August, September and October is absolutely rammed with fish due to its location high up on the south Tyne.  Anyone looking to for guided fishing full details of locations and pricing can be found on my Tyne salmon guiding link on my home page and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Robson getting amongst the fish with Phil at Lambley

Along with the guiding i will also be hosting a joint trip of a lifetime to Alaska with the amazing Marina Gibson in September!  Alaska has to be the ultimate bucket list location for any fly fishing addicts around the world. Here is a great opportunity to join both Marina Gibson and James Stokoe as they host a trip in September for an incredible price to the phenomenal Alaska Trophy Adventures Lodge, Alagnak River, Bristol Bay, Alaska, set on the remote banks of the wild and scenic Alagnak River.  This river Hosts a world-famous run of all five species of pacific salmon, the Alagnak is also home to a host of resident fish, such as leopard rainbow trout, arctic char and grayling. The only access to the Lodge is via bush plane, landing on a private airstrip located on the property.  The location has stunning wooden cabins that are equipped with running water, heating and power, that will guarantee you a comfortable stay.

With limited space due to this great price package, please use my contact link on my home page for full details, availability and pricing.

A stunning char from the Alagnak

1 of the five Pacific salmon species to be caught

Id just like to wish you all tightlines for 2018 and i really hope to see you soon!

Cancer is something that will affect us all in some way in our lifetime so having the opportunity to be part of 2 separate events in the same week at both ends of the country was something I wasn’t going to miss out on!

The first week in October started with one of the highlights of my fishing career after I was announced as an ambassador for the Angling Trust, which is a huge honour as they are a representing body for all anglers around the country. Their aim is to get more people into fishing along with securing the future of angling and fish stocks so the kids of today can experience what we have done.  As an angling nation we need to come together and become one and help fight for the future of fishing.

The first charity event couldn’t have been any closer, literally it was on my doorstep and my local stretches of the north and south tyne where we would welcome anglers from all over Europe to fish our local water and experience the phenomenal fishing we have whilst raising money for some amazing charities, including The Pink Linda Fund which was set up for a Cancer Treatment centre in Thurso that provides aftercare and family support to those affected and touched by cancer and also a project called “The Next Generation”, which is a charity that provides fishing tuition and equipment to 2 X centres for children: The Grove centre in Tweedmouth, Northumberland, for children with significant physical and mental impairments, and Wilton Centre in Hawick for children requiring significant support to ensure they have the ability to thrive and grow both personally and socially due to various issues they have encountered in their lives.  The Eoin Fairgrieve of LOOP and Spey Cast Media organised this great cause and is beginning to grow the project to compliment the already successful charity called Tweedstart, aimed and securing the “next generation” to become part of our fishing community.

The 3rd charity selected by Mr Philip Straker to benefit from this event was the Great North Air Ambulance and the money raised will be a great bonus to this excellent self funding service that has saved the lives of many people.  Philip had a huge part to play in this 2 day event as he kindly donated 4 stretches from www.wardenfishing.co.uk, so it was only right that he was to choose a third charity.

The first day started with all anglers and guides meeting at the Boatside Inn where groups would be separated to fish different beats, but due to prior arrangements to film with BBC for Country File (which funnily enough is about our amazing river and the life cycle of the atlantic salmon, airing end of October) I would miss the excitement and introductions with everyone and also the first 2 fish caught! One was by my buddy Ed Ford, a great trout angler and fly tyer who fishing with a double handed salmon rod for the first time caught the first fish of the day, a 4lb Sea Trout, which was a fantastic achievement and something I’m sure he will never forget. The next fish caught just after Ed was by my good friend Jim Wennmark all the way from Sweden who landed his first Tyne salmon, a fish around 8/9lb which after a dogged fight was finally netted, photoed and released.

Ed with his first sea trout on a double handed rod

Ed with his first sea trout on a double handed rod

Jim Wennmark with his first Tyne salmon

Jim Wennmark with his first Tyne salmon

As I fish the warden stretches and know them like the back of my hand I would be guiding the guests over the 2 days, which to my joy included Emma Jackson and Jo Stephenson from my Big Fish adventure last year.  I’ve always harped on to them how good this river is and now it was time to show them.  Along with Emma and Jo on the first day I’d also have the pleasure of guiding two legends Erik Nielsen and Bjarne Laursen from Denmark, who were fantastic fun and came close on 2 occasions getting both snapped by 2 separate fish on rocks, which would turn out to be the only action we would see all day but we could all agree we had a great laugh and enjoyed every second!

A beautiful day on the Tyne with Jo and Emma

A beautiful day on the Tyne with Jo and Emma

It was day 2 and the pressure was really on to get into some fish due to the bad luck the day before, again I had 2 great salmon anglers in the form of Emma again and world famous DJ and music producer Nick Warren, who had already caught the joint biggest fish of the event the day before an absolute spanking 15.2lb bar of silver which he returned.  The day started with the bad luck from the day before as Nick hooked a huge fish, possibly 18-20lb, which hammered his tube fly and took off across the river using its sheer weight to sit in the current then decided to head back to sea, unfortunately with his fly as the leader gave way due to the power of the fish! (No not again!).  It was up to Emma to save the day, which she did in style 15 minutes later as she hooked a lively grilse which decided to throw itself around the pool trying every trick in the book to throw the hook, but this time the luck was on our side as I managed to slip the net safely under the fish. This was met with screams of joy as we had eventually done it and Emma had her first fly caught Tyne salmon, which fell to a size 14 cascade. As always a few quick pictures and the silver beauty was returned.  The rest of the day didn’t produce any more fish for us but the others fishing managed to take our over all total of 15 salmon and sea trout which were all caught on the fly, but the most important figure was the money raised which totalled over £1600. None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the hard work and organising from Ali Hutchens and Les Routledge.

Emma with her Tyne grilse caught on a cascasde

Emma with her Tyne grilse caught on a cascade

Nick into a big Tyne salmon

Nick into a big Tyne salmon

The second charity event wasn’t quite on my door step, well to be precise it was around 350 miles and all the way down in Southampton to the famous Avington trout fishery, but that’s me I’d travel to the ends of the earth to go fishing.  The event was in aid of The Princess Alexandra Hospital Charitable Trust – Breast Trials Unit who’s work and trials not only benefit the local community but people worldwide.  It was an early start to get to the fishery to help Dave Holley and his wife Sian who are part of the organisation set things up as they were the brains behind the event.  One thing I was really looking forward to was fishing with some new faces and seeing them catching their first fish, which is always a special moment, but also fishing with my old buddies (not as in age…!) Hywel Morgan, Keith Arthur and Peter Cockwill for the first time, which is something I thought I’d never get the chance to do.  It started with me and Hywel scanning lake one for any possible takers and within seconds we spotted a big rainbow about 12lb which we both raced to cast for, and it was the Welsh wonder who hooked up instantly but unfortunately for him it was only the tree behind him – I’d love to be professional and say I didn’t laugh but I couldn’t help it, so with Hywel stuck in the tree I managed to sneak a cast in and hooked a fish which came out the blue and gave me a great scrap. Then just as it approached the net, the hook pulled and I felt like I just had a helping of instant karma for laughing minutes before!

Hywel pulling a grayling out the feeder stream

Hywel Morgan with a grayling from the feeder stream

The morning produced some great sport as a lot of the fish hadn’t seen a fly or angler yet and those who managed to find spots out the way faired best, but as always it wasn’t just about catching fish it was about enjoying the day and a lot of help and advice were given to the guys who had never fished before, which was great to see.  It was lunchtime and one of my favourite times of the day, as if you know me I never stop eating, so walking into lunch and seeing a buffet fit for a king was like heaven and something I’d never experienced at a fishery before.  At lunch Dave and Sian held an auction,  with lots including fishing on the river Itchen to a holiday to the Bahamas, from which all winning bids would go to the charity.

Big smiles at lunchtime

Big smiles at lunchtime

Recharged after a late lunch we had a couple of hours left on the lake and I was determined to add to my 3 previously caught fish, all about 4-5lb, which had fell to a mixture of olive and amber blood worms but by now the fish seemed to be bored and sick of everything that was chucked at them. The last resort was to strip a lure as fast as possible to switch their natural aggression back on and it worked as I quickly picked up a fish and lost another one, then as before it just seemed to die as it sometimes does but we carried on having a great laugh until it was time to stop for the presentation of the days prizes. This started with the biggest fish of the day that went to Harry Bristow who managed 2 double figure fish with the biggest being 13lb. Next was the most anticipated award that was for cast of the day, which was just for fun and was presented to Hywel for his first tree bound cast, which he was over the moon with as you can see below!

Hywel with his award for cast of the day

Hywel with his award for cast of the day

Harry with his winning fish

Harry with his winning fish

Overall the day was a huge success, everybody enjoyed it and 34 fish were caught in total with over £4000 raised for for the charity. What’s more, the day is set to become a yearly event and I’m already really looking forward to next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…….

It’s always hard to justify fishing another river when you have in my eyes the best and most prolific river literally on your door step (well 300 yards away to be precise), but when there’s the chance of a Big Fish reunion with the smiling assassin Emma, the coarse king Ripon and a weeks salmon fishing the river Lochy there was only ever going to be one answer…….Road Trip!

As Ripon has never cast a line for salmon before we though it would be wise to get him on the Tyne a day before our Lochy adventure just to give him a taster and a good bit of practice, as using a double handed fly rod was totally alien to him. Along with Rip coming up my fishing partner in crime Phil decided to come up for the weekend to try his luck with us. The next day didn’t quite start as planned after a very heavy night in Newcastle, I was woken up by Phil at 7.30 am coming in the front door at my surprise, I had left the keys in the front door after crawling out the taxi!  So after a few more hours sleep myself and Rip managed to pull ourselves together and go down to the South Tyne to meet Phil, it was all going fine until I had a relapse and the hangover got hold of me harder than an angler grasping his prize catch, so a few hours sleep on the bench at the Bend pool was in order.  Going home for a few hours made me feel half human again so back down the river it was to see the lads who unfortunately hadn’t had a touch but was good a good bit of practice for Rip.  I decided it was a good time for a move further down river which when we arrived was totally empty and not another angler in sight, things were looking up.

Phil kindly let Rip fish the pool through first as we were determined for him to get his first salmon, we headed to the boat and baddox stretch where there’s always a good chance of a fish when the waters up. The weapon of choice was my 7’6 Rovex Ceratec FLX light spinning rod as always with a blue and silver flat rap at the business end, which after only 3 casts got nailed by a strong fish which sent Ripon into hysterics – the fish went ballistic dancing across the water surface and trying to throw the hook, I still don’t know who was more nervous me with the net or him playing the fish but thankfully a few minutes later we had the fish in the net, his first ever sea trout a cracker around 6lb. We all went crazy! Luckily know one was there to notice.  Once we had calmed down the fish was unhooked in the water then photographed then returned, which I was proud of him for doing.  After pulling himself together he went back in to finish of fishing the pool through and only 5 minutes later we heard those magical words FISH ONNN, the jammy sod was in again! This time the fight and fish was totally different, the fish kept deep making some fantastic runs and some huge head shakes, this had to be a salmon… but we were never to find out as the hook pulled and the fish disappeared, which was absolutely devastating! Ripon didn’t seem as gutted as we were but as salmon anglers we know that chances don’t come that often!

Ripons first sea trout from the South Tyne

Ripon’s first sea trout from the South Tyne

As I was watching the guys fish the pool through Rip gave me the rod and told me to have a few cast’s while he had a stretch, he would totally regret this seconds later as on my forth cast I connected with a fish which had power I hadn’t felt for a long time – I instantly knew I was into a huge fish that would give me a fight to remember.  Part of me was absolutely gutted for Rip but the other half was full of adrenaline playing this huge beast thinking I may have ended my 20 year search for a 20lb plus salmon. With Phil at the net I guided the enormous fish deeper than anything I’ve seen with my own eyes towards him and with his first and only attempt lifted the net perfectly with the fish safe inside, it looked colossal and is by far the biggest salmon I’ve ever caught! I had finally done it, this fish was over 20lb easily but we didn’t have any scales to get a genuine weight but we all decided it was over 20.  After calming down and getting the fish to some well oxygenated water I got my trophy which are always photos then watched him swim alongside Phil like a well trained dog as he slipped off into the depths, what a sight and what a fish…..!

My first ever 20lb plus Tyne Salmon

My first ever 20lb plus Tyne Salmon

The next morning was the day of the journey but I wanted to give Rip a few more casting lessons which he picked up no bother at all, so good that he some how managed to hook a salmon which put up one hell of a fight and that he played like a pro but devastatingly came off just at the net, not again, he was gutted but a quick reminder of the week ahead pulled him round and made us come back to the house to get ready for our road trip.

The car was packed and we were ready to roll.  A quick goodbye to my girlfriend Vic and so long to Phil who was heading home and we were on our way with heads full of fishy thoughts and hearts full of hope and after what felt like a lifetime constantly stopping for food (if you know me and Rip we don’t stop eating) and to admire the amazing views and also getting lost (we blamed the Sat Nav) we eventually arrived to Ivy Cottage where Emma (from the Big Fish) and Harry her son welcomed us with open arms.  The cottage actually overlooks the river and what a river, absolutely spectacular and even tho it was 3 foot up it was as clear as a fortune teller’s crystal ball, everything was looking great and falling into place and the morning couldn’t come soon enough.

Our home base Ivy cottage on the river Lochy

Our home base Ivy cottage on the river Lochy

Day one we woke to clear skies and a forecast of bright sunshine and high temperatures but this didn’t phase us one bit as we were as excited as kids at christmas, theres something about the build up to fishing new and unchartered waters the mystery and expectations run riot in your head especially when the river produced 25 fish the week before.  It was time to head down to the water to our first beat, now the way the river Lochy beat system works is that due the the length of the river being just 10 miles long it is split into 4 beats which have 4 available rods to fish per beat and they rotate as each day passes which is great as you get the opportunity to fish each beat during the week.  We were to start on beat 4 which is closest to the tidal stretch so we decided to split up so myself and Ripon on the bottom half and Emma and Harry on the top and with the height of water would give us a great chance but after a few hours fishing for some reason it all seemed void of fish and with no fish showing and us being new to the water it all seemed rather intimidating so we decided to do a little exploring and it didn’t take us long to find so amazing pools and runs with truly spectacular scenery but yet again we had no luck, hopefully Emma would have some news she did but unfortunately it was bad in the sense she lost a fish at the bank it was coloured and around 12-14lb but Emma had managed a small sea trout around 2lb on a black and orange tube fly which was great news and a good start to our trip.  We finished the first day overlooking one of the pools with the sun setting in the background and sausages sizzling away on the barbecue thoughts moved to tomorrow a new day and chance of our prize.

Beat 4 on the river Lochy with Ben Nevis in the background

Beat 4 on the river Lochy with Ben Nevis in the background

Day Two saw us move to beat 1 which is the top beat and luckily about 100 yards from the cottage and an endless supply of food, the conditions were again against us with bright sunshine and temperatures of around 24 degrees which after a mornings fishing saw the others retreat back to the cottage i was determined to stick it out and resorted to trout reservoir tactics using my cortland 7 weight with a di 5 line and sunray shadow which was allowed to sink right to the depths which some of the pools can be over 20 feet deep then stripped back at a hefty old pace to try and get a reaction out of a fish as nothing again was showing at all, it didn’t take long to work but unfortunately the wild brownies of the river took a liking to it but i did however get a reaction off something more substantial as the line got ripped from my hands but unfortunately didn’t hook up this would turn out to be the closest i would get to a salmon or sea trout the whole trip.

Day Three Couldn’t of started any better with a phone call from Jason who had just arrived the day before with his son Will saying he had just landed and returned a coloured fish of around 8lb (early bird gets the worm) from beat 2 which was fantastic and gave us all hope but again the conditions were against us with scorching temperatures and constantly dropping water we decided to stick to early morning fishing from 5 to around 11 then 6 until dark when the sun and temperatures drop.  We literally tried all manner of fly’s, lines and retrieves but nothing wanted to play game and Jason’s fish turned out to be the only of the day.

Day Four had us on probably the most spectacular beat being beat Three which has pools and falls that look like something you’d see on a painting or a blockbuster movie.  Again we fished the morning waiting and dreaming of the solid take as the fly swings across the pool, it never came not for any of us which was mind blowing as the pool’s looked and fished perfect but again the weather conditions were against us so morning then turned to afternoon so a plan of scoping the pools out while the sun was at its highest planning the attack the evening.  Myself and Rip decided to fish totally different tactics id fish deep with a mix of tube patterns and he would fish closer to the surface with cascades and bright patterns to try an entice some grilse that surprisingly hadn’t been spotted yet, the bites were instant but from the insect type those horrendous like cretins midges that were unbearable and persistent but we battled through them and managed a few sizeable brownies to half a pound but our silver friends were being illusive as always. Tomorrow would be our last chance and things would have to change or we would be traveling back empty handed.

Ripon casting into a spectacular pool on beat 3 of the river Lochy

Ripon casting into a spectacular pool on beat 3 of the river Lochy

Our last day began with an early start and clear focused heads ready and armed to take on beat Four with the advantage of already fishing the beat and its spectacular pools on the first day with the added bonus of clouds and rain forecast at some point was going to be our best chance.  Between 4 of us we went through every option fishing the pools through quickly and thoroughly so that we covered the whole beat and didn’t miss any fish but again the river was unwilling to give up its secrets and was very quiet and stayed that way until an hour before we had to leave from home.  The conditions seemed to change in an instant with solid cloud cover and heavy rain, the fish obviously sensed this and just like someone turning a tap on started running harder than Usain bolt.  I would say we saw more fish in that last hour than we did the whole week but thats fishing for you and even tho its frustrating thats a reason why we love it so much as a blank day or in this case week spurs you on harder for the next time and it makes that next catch so much more rewarding.  It was time to leave and say bye to Emma and Harry, it was so nice seeing her again she is an amazing women and so very kind to invite us to such an amazing and spectacular river which on its day can be phenomenal but it just wasn’t our week but we will meet again!

 

After getting back to Hexham late on Friday night we decided to have a well deserved lie in well until 9am as i was determined to get Rip his first salmon on the fly so it would be back to my local stretches on the South Tyne where i new there would be fish but it would be hard in summer low conditions and clearing waters but the sight of your home river is hard to beat.  I gave Rip the choice of picking what fly he wanted to use which he opted for one of my Stokoe shrimps which i thought was probably a bit on the large side but he was adamant that he wanted to use it which i eventually gave into which 10 minutes later turned out to be the right decision as those words id waited to hear all week came shrieking from his mouth Fishhhh Onnnnn,  I couldn’t believe it he’d done it he was into a fish and again the runs and head shakes it had to be a salmon it had only taken a week and a 600 mile round trip but the fight was on.  The fish was really going for it and giving head shakes even a punk rocker would be proud of  which is a horrible but great feeling, the minutes were passing and the thoughts of the fish coming off were increasing by the second and as the fish kept coming close but not revealing its flank ready for the net, Rip starting pleading me to hurry up and net it but stabbing at a fish that isn’t ready with a treble in the corner of its jaw is a disaster waiting to happen but in an instant the fish turned within reaching distance and bang it was in the net, Rip went crazy dancing and singing like lunatic which i cant deny that i joined in with as for me seeing someone catch their first salmon (around 10-12lb) is as close to catching one myself.  Again Rip played the fish like an absolute pro and the only time it left the water was for a few quick photos before being released.

Ripon with his First ever South Tyne Atlantic Salmon on the fly

Ripon with his First ever South Tyne Atlantic Salmon on the fly

Even tho 3 of us had a fish-less week on the Lochy it truly is a spectacular place with pool’s and runs that miranda through the most breath taking countryside in the shadow of the one and only Ben Nevis and i can promise that i will be back to fish its waters in the future if i’m lucky enough……..!

There’s that telephone call we all love getting, you know the one from your fishing buddy to organise a trip – in my case it’s my partner in crime and salmon fishing fanatic Phil Plant, who I was fortunate to meet on my Big Fish adventure last year and become very close friends with. He is literally is one of the best fisherman I know and has a great wealth of knowledge which I’m slowly trying to prize from him (its working so far).

2 weeks later the first of our 3 day fishing marathon chasing silver had finally arrived. When I say ‘chasing silver’ I refer to fishing for what is in my eyes the greatest fish on the planet, the Atlantic Salmon. What this fish actually goes through in it’s life cycle is phenomenal – swimming thousands of miles back and forth to its river and even stream of birth, sometimes on numerous occasions, they fight like nothing else and have a heart of steel. I have so much respect for these fish, which is the main reason for my choice of catch and release.

No sooner had Phil walked through the door we were back out in the car heading to the South Tyne with our rods at the ready and heads brimming full of hope – especially as he had timed his visit to perfection with the Tyne seeing its biggest runs of fish for this time of year in a long while. Two days in June recorded a crazy 1351 and 1498 fish through the fish pass at Riding Mill, and a total of 7113 were recorded for the month, which has smashed a June records as pictured below. Also with the river falling from a recent flood to a foot above Summer level, all we needed now were the fish to play game.

We decided the best place to start would be the South Tyne around the Warden area and we knew with conditions being nearly perfect there would be a good chance of the banks being busy with other anglers. Although we are very lucky with the choice of waters throughout the Tyne system, within our club if your not on the banks by sunrise your often not the first to have fished it. Well it turned out to be one of those days where everyone and their dog were out trying their luck, which was a first for me for this season as I’d never seen a soul due to all the low water, which had been great so far. The plan was to fly fish the pools through then, if need be, lure fishing with a rapala to hopefully stir them up then back through with the fly. Due to the pools and runs being small (some around 50 yards long) this is something that can be done in a short space of time and is something that has been really effective for me so far this season. My weapons of choice would be my Grey’s 13ft matched with Cortland precision fly line with a Stokoe shrimp (pattern to follow), and the back up as always my 7’6 Rovex Ceratec FLX drop shot/light spinning rod and Revenge reel fitted with 10lb braid and a selection of small rapalas. After a good few hours of hard fishing through some perfect looking runs, pools and secret stretches, seeing no fish and having no interest it’s important to know when to leave so it was time for a change of scenery and further up the south Tyne where there would be less fish, less water but also less people. We unfortunately ended up being right especially about the lack of fish! The water looked perfect and it was nice not having a a pair of eyes giving you the death stare for being through the pools before them, but it was back to the car and back down river to our original plan. It was no surprise that it was like a cattle mart with cars and people everywhere but no one had even had a hook up yet which was crazy, were we going to be the lucky ones and could we really tempt a fish from water that had been hammered all day? This is where local knowledge of the water is priceless, as I noticed a small stretch where people hadn’t fished which holds fish and knew this would be our best chance. Being a gentleman for once in my life I let Phil fish the stretch first, and with no luck it was time for me to resort to the back up plan and put a 9cm blue/silver flat rap on my drop shot rod – this would literally be our last chance of the day, and low and behold second cast a fish nailed it and that amazing sensation of the initial take ran right through me. As that adrenaline which fills your body kicked in I screamed to Phil “fish onnnnnnnn!” (our code word for when we hook up) and the fight began! With glimpses of silver flanks and not willing to show itself it had salmon written all over it, but after 5 minutes and a great fight on ultra light gear Phil netted the fish perfectly and to our surprise it was a sea trout and what a corker around 6lb! It may not have been the salmon we were after but these fish are just as special and are a pleasure to catch. So after a few quick snaps with the sun setting in the distance, I placed him back into the water to finish off his journey and we finished our day on a high.

A south tyne Sea Trout caught as the sun sets

A south tyne Sea Trout caught on our last run through the pool

Day 2 and a 5am start had us down by first light to Warden on the South Tyne to one of my all time favourite pools. To our surprise there was not another soul in sight, and with the river at 6 inches above summer level it would hopefully give us a great chance of a silver tourist. Phil had the pleasure of fishing through first and quickly connected with a good fish which turned out to be a large wild brownie, around 2lb, which was a welcome catch but not what we wanted. It was now my turn to follow him down using my newly created Stokoe shrimp – the flow was great and the fly was working fantastic as it got hit so hard even Mike Tyson would be jealous, yes “fish onnnnnn” the fish instantly showed itself to be a salmon & a cracking double at around 12-15lb! The fish had phenomenal power which for around 5 minutes it used to stay out in the current, taking line yard by yard until that dreaded moment when the line goes slack – it’s enough to make a grown man cry!

Into a good Tyne Salmon at the bend pool which unfortunately didn't stick

Into a good Tyne Salmon at the bend pool which unfortunately didn’t stick

It was time to move again and within 10 minutes we were at our next stretch further down stream where the thoughts of the lost fish were starting to feel less painful, especially as the fly was coming onto the dangle and a quick figure of eight resulted in another hook up – yesssss round 2, but it was only to be a quick hello and goodbye (or as some would say ‘handshake’) and the fish was off followed by a few choice words which I’d better not repeat! The skies turned black and the heavens opened so a trek back to My favourite pool was suggested by Phil, which brought back thoughts of the one that got away but again they were quickly forgotten as the I managed to connect with another fish in the tail end of the pool. This was it third time lucky it surely couldn’t happen again… and it didn’t as Phil slipped the net under a small but perfectly formed sea trout around 2-3lb! With fly perfectly wedged in the scissors, a few photos as always then the fish was safely returned and on that note it was time to head home.

A small but perfectly formed South Tyne Sea Trout on the fly

A small but perfectly formed South Tyne Sea Trout on the fly

After a lot of rain throughout the day and evening we decided to wait until the morning to plan our third day as if it was too high Phil would head home, but to our amazement after we checked our phones for river levels it had only came up what I thought was 3 inches – turned out I had totally misread the height and it had actually risen 2 foot, which isn’t unfishable but would put even the best of anglers off! We however decided to to have a few casts, due to the conditions it would all be lures and spinners on light gear. No sooner had I set up Phil was screaming “fish onnnnnn!” – I honestly thought he was pulling my leg the joker he is but by the bend in his rod I could see it was definitely a fish! After a short struggle I netted it and we had a crazy moment celebrating, he had done it we had our salmon! What a stunning little fish it was, around 5lb an absolute bar of silver – with Phil’s red clown rapala quickly removed the fish was returned and shot off back to the depths to sulk!

Phil and his Salmon caught on his 5th cast in high water

Phil and his Salmon caught on his 5th cast in high water

What a way to start a morning which looked as if it was going to be a disaster, it just shows that when there’s a hook in the water you have a chance. Due to the height of the water we had limited areas to fish so headed on to the main Tyne to Corbridge, where we knew would still fish even up to 2’6, it is a totally different landscape and water being very open and flat, but with being lower down stream you have a good chance of both the North and South Tyne fish. No sooner had we set up we spotted fish but they had more interest in moving upstream than looking at anything we had to offer, which is often the case when there’s a good water running. We went right through our lure boxes and between us tried everything from Flying c’s, yo zuris, Toby’s to rapalas, Devons and A T lures from my good friend Giles Alcock, but still couldn’t get any interest. We soon realised that the South Tyne had dropped nearly a foot from first light so it was back on the road again and off to our most productive stretch, but not until stopping off at a few tasty looking spots first where Phil would lose one of his favourite rapalas which he had owned for years. I tried to console him by saying he’d had his money’s worth from it but if looks could kill I’d be 6 foot under! We eventually arrived at our last stretch and by this time it was 9.30pm, we were tired and hungry but still hopeful for one more fish and as always having a last few casts right at the tail end of the pool my countdown rapala was smashed by a fish! I couldn’t believe it “fish onnnnn!”, I’d just about given up hope but here I was playing a very lively fish which was a fantastic fight on light gear, I turned to see Phil sprinting quicker than Ussain Bolt with the net and he was just in time with the line snapping just as he went to net it! It was a bit of luck we needed after the lost fish the day before. Keeping the fish in the water, we got our photos, returned the fish which was around 4lb and decided that was enough.

Sea Trout Caught on one of my last casts form the bend pool

Sea Trout Caught on one of my last casts form the bend pool

After 3 days of solid fishing which totalled 3 Sea Trout, 1 salmon, 2 good fish lost and numerous takes, on the whole we’d had a great experience and success, and it has me itching for our next fishing adventure together! Phil hurry up and come back…