WE NEED YOUR HELP – KICKSTARTER

We have decided to launch a crowd funding project through Kickstarter to help us achieve the funds required to make this series happen, if you guys are unaware of how Kickstarter actually works heres a few basics to get you started and also a link to the live project.  Kickstarter is an online global funding platform that helps people raise funds for projects from films, music, artists to authors and product designers.   Since its launch, on April 28, 2009, 14 million people have backed a project, $3.6 billion has been pledged, and 141,025 projects have been successfully funded, hopefully ours can follow suit.  The great thing about Kickstarter is you actually select a package that we are offering for a certain amount and you receive goods or services for the value and more, for example – Pledge £350 and receive a pair of Costa sunglasses, cap, bag, t-shirt and untamed anglers T-shirt!  So even tho we are receiving funds we are also giving back and we actually have over 35 different options for you to choose, so if you can take the time to check out the link below and help us bring this series tom life we would be forever grateful.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/440462797/the-untamed-anglers-britains-iconic-fish?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=UNTAMED

THE UNTAMED ANGLERS

Myself and Ripon’s journey started back in 2015 when we somehow managed to become contestants on BBC’s fishing programme Earth’s Wildest Waters – The Big Fish.  The programme consisted of 8 amateur anglers battling it out against each other over 6 countries losing 1 contestant each week.  Despite being total strangers and in competition against each other, Ripon and I struck up a close friendship immediately to the point of shedding a tear on his exit in the quarter final.  I was fortunate enough to make the final and actually win (somehow! Two long years later I had an idea, a few phone calls and conversations over a beer later, we decided to join forces and thus The Untamed Anglers was born.  This time however the adventure would be closer to home and concentrating on the incredible fish we have on our doorstep.

THE CONCEPT – ICONIC FISH

As a lot of you know Britain has some truly incredible fish residing in its waters that do not get the credit or coverage they deserve.  We want to showcase these species on film like never before and celebrate their status as an ICONIC FISH.

Joining us on our Iconic Fish adventure is a very familiar face and well-respected angler Mr Hywel Morgan. Hywel is one of the biggest characters I’ve ever met and has become a great friend over the last 2 years, even if we do bicker like a married couple constantly. Along with Hywel’s wealth of experience and knowledge the humour and camaraderie is just another reason that guarantees this series has all the right ingredients to make great viewing.

So what is an ICONIC FISH?  It was always going to be hard to decide what species can claim the title and justify it. Realistically every single species in Britain deserves the chance but we have however narrowed it down to our Top 10. This was done through our own research and with help from hundreds of anglers across the country. Our Iconic Fish will cover all 3 categories: Game, sea and coarse over 6-8 action packed episodes. Each episode consists of 2 parts, These two parts including traveling to the new location and meeting some of the fishing world’s most familiar and famous characters. All of these anglers we’ve selected have had their lives shaped and influenced by these ICONIC FISH. Our aim is to tell you their stories and share their fishing secrets.

Our first part of each episode consists of our species expert giving all 3 of us a crash course on tactics and equipment to help us catch our chosen quarry.  We will also learn about the fish’s history, habitat and feeding, aiding our quest to catch the target species. Our guest will also have their say as to why they belive that species can be celebrated as one of Britain’s most iconic.  So our task is to not only target and catch these fish but also weigh up the pros and cons of why it’s a contender, the history and lifecycle of the species and techniques and methods used to target them.

Part 2 is the BIG competition that see’s Ripon and i paired off against eachother with either our expert or Hywel, once the teams are selected the battle for supremacy, and of course bragging rights can begin. With a multitude of different competition rules and species no week is the same, its critical we use everything we’ve learned from the previous day and all our fishing experience to help us succeed and dodge a possible forfeit.

This series is nothing without the right production team and we are lucky enough to be partnered with the extremely talented Jonathan M. McGee, Managing Director of Jonathan M. McGee Photography and Media. Jonathan already has a huge interest and understanding of angling and the outdoors sector which is a massive thing to us and the series not to mention his credentials and flawless camera work.

 

 

 

The first week in July couldn’t have started any better for my guests with 4 of them catching their first migratory fish ever in the space of 4 days, as always for me this is the closest you can get to catching one yourself and sometime’s i feel like i’m more excited than them when that silver is safely in the net.  After waiting and waiting for rain and experiencing the driest April, May and most of June in a long time we eventually got some long awaited rain which brought the Tyne back to life and the huge runs of eagerly awaited salmon and sea trout into the system. Here are a few short posts from a few of my guests in the first week of July.

The Italian job!

It’s amazing the characters you get to meet through fishing and this weekend was no exception. I had one hell of a laugh guiding Vittorio, Carlo and GiGi as they searched for their first migratory fish, even tho it was a first for them they fished like absolute troopers and managed to land 2 fish from 4 hook ups. I think you can all agree that their smiles say it all! Well done guys see you for round 2 soon..

Team Italy

Carlo with his first ever Salmon

When your prize is safely in the net

Vittorio with his first ever sea trout that was caught on the Tyne

The feeling of guiding someone to their first salmon doesn’t compare to anything else in the fishing world, and doing a double is just something else!

After being rained off the river yesterday i decided to take Matt and Bex to New Mills Trout Fishing Park to try smash a few trout PB’s which they did instantly, getting amongst some cracking fish and getting them geared up for a days salmon fishing once levels had dropped today.

Even tho levels were still high today it was never going to stop us chasing that ever allusive silver.  Both Matt and Bex had never fished for salmon before and they took to it like a duck to water and both fished their hearts out and managed a spectacular double. For both partners to land their first ever salmon on their first day of trying is something i am proud of and will never ever forget. Well done guys!!!!

Bex smashing her brown trout PB

PB 2 smashed with this cracking rainbow

Fishing couple goals

In the net and kept wet

Matt with his first ever salmon and what a belter it was

Back he goes

Bex with her First ever salmon

A quick pic before release

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…….

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……..!