After the way February finished I was determined to hit March hard and carry on my silver success. The only problem we have to deal with mid-system on the Tyne, is that being situated where we are is the volume of fish we have to target, for example, this Feb, a total of 26 fish passed through the fish pass at Riding mill, so trying to find one of these fish in a 12 mile stretch above is near enough impossible, but it can be done as I found out on the last day of the previous month. Not only do we have to deal with the lack of fish, but we also have to deal with winter conditions that include a lot of rain and snow and a constantly changing river.
March started with unsettled weather and a lot of rain that meant we couldn’t actually get onto the river to cast a line, but also it would stop any fish trying to run the fish pass further downstream due to the temperature and height, all was not lost tho. After what felt like a lifetime but was actually only a week, I got a call and offered some fishing from a good friend of mine Eugene, who is very well traveled and absolute fly fishing fanatic, incredibly he had only gone and booked 3 days fishing on the river Tyne’s prime spring beat – Bywell estate. This was an offer myself and Robson couldn’t refuse, but we would have task to decide between ourselves who would fish what day, unfortunately, this wouldn’t even matter, as again the rain gods decided to play foul and the river rose to an unfishable colour and height, Eugene being the absolute gentleman he is offered up his rod for the day so myself and the Green can both fish together. We arrived to conditions that we wouldn’t usually think about even wetting a fly in, with the river running at 3 foot and a good amount of colour, this wasn’t going to stop us trying our luck tho especially having the chance to fish the famous fish pass pool. We both fished the morning really hard, covering some incredible looking water with different flies and density tips, to no avail, but that element of hope was always there, especially the fact of where we were fishing. After Lunch, we changed locations with another group of anglers to cover some new water, this always gives me a new sense of optimism and if anything puts me back into proper fishing mode. Again we fished some great water, and fished it well, both covering the pools differently to give us the best chance, a few hours passed and Gary the ghillie decided to take us to the last chance saloon – The fish pass pool. Now the fish pass pool is a phenomenal place to fish, due to its placement below the actual fish pass, it creates a great holding area while fish decide to run, for a rest and also a temperature barrier, this was definitely going to give us the best chance of a fish. As always, I let the Green fish the pool first, mainly due to the fact he’s always away galavanting around the world, once he had worked his way through it, I hopped in the water behind him and started fishing, I was just working my way down to a likely looking lie off the current, with some huge boils from some serious structure when my line went tight, it was such a gentle take, almost as if it was a small trout or parr, I gave it a couple of seconds then lifted into it slowly, instantly I knew this was no small trout and the battle began. As soon as the fish realised it was hooked he woke up and went ballistic, headbanging like it was at a rock concert, but never moving too far into the fast current, the fist came to the surface on a couple of occasions to show us his stunning mirrored chrome flanks before heading back to the depths to try all manner of tricks to try and throw my hook, after a good 10 minutes of fighting I could feel we were winning, one last show of his silver side and Gary slipped the net under him, we went absolutely crazy, screaming like kids, I was shaking like never before, I knew we had something special in the net. Once lifted from the net I couldn’t believe the size of the fish, but not just his size, how perfect he was, like an absolute slab of silver perfection, covered in sea lice and smelling of the sea, this was by far my greatest salmon of all time. After a few quick photos and some time to recover I sent him on his way, along with thanking him for giving me a feeling that only a salmon of his stature can give.
Unfortunately, the rest of March was an absolute washout, we managed to get out on the water a couple of times but conditions were far from good, this matched with the fact only 18 salmon had ran through the fish pass at Riding mill in March meant that we would have more luck playing the lottery. Let’s all hope that April brings some more settled weather and plenty silver – Tight lines guys…
Sometimes in fishing we come across a fly or a lure which totally changes our season and the way we fish, or even think. It may be by mistake or even by our own hard work, but either way when it happens it’s life changing.
Personally I’m the type of angler who tries to make things happen and I’m always on the hunt for new fly patterns, materials and ideas to test but it’s not always just the future we need to look at, it also pays to look back. So one evening sitting at the vice and looking for inspiration I decided to look through some old knackered fly boxes that were laying about under the stairs, where the lasting remains of previously used flies live, and while I unfortunately found nothing but bare hooks it got me thinking about a monstrosity of a fly I used to tie when I first started my life sentence of salmon fishing, and some how it used to catch fish.
The idea behind the fly is in some eyes pretty simple and revolves around the different materials used, and more specifically the colour change between them which, when in the water, looks mesmerising. Well to me it does but you might say I’m easily pleased!
It all starts with using hot orange thread down to the bend of the treble, then you’re ready to tie in the tail section which, and to some people this may sound strange, is the centre section of an orange buck tail. This centre section isn’t orange due to it naturally being the dark part of the tail but when dyed it actually goes a really dark brown/maroon colour. Now the reason for using buck tail is that it’s really rigid and holds it’s shape, and that allows it to replicate a shrimp/prawn’s feelers or antenna and I actually like the colour, it works really well with the others on the finished product.
I then tie in a strip of holographic copper tinsel with a strand of silver wire – I always varnish the hook before laying the copper tinsel just to give that extra bit of security. Then once tied off I rib the body with the silver wire (from AMC Fly Tying), then secure at the eye.
The third part is to get a section of ginger shadow fox tail (from Foxy Tails), that I measure so that it matches the length of the tip of the tail, and tie in just behind the eye. Now this material acts totally different in and out the water compared to the buck tail, as it actually pulsates and moves freely in the water and has a mind of it’s own which works really well when you move and work the fly.
The last section and the finishing touch is to use the tip of a feather from an orange cock cape, to use as a hackle which after about 3 turns should be enough obviously depending on the size of the fly. I personally like to make them stand out and be prominent, so tie it off then slightly brush it back and hold with a few turns of thread just to allow more movement when worked through the water, so it pulsates. Building the head up with more turns of hot orange thread gives the front of the fly a bit more bulk, which seems to balance the fly out well.
I am by far no where near the best at tying flies and can happily say I’m still at a novice level, but sometimes the fly catches the fisherman and not the fish and I feel like what I’ve put together – the materials which individually work differently but also as one, and the merging colours that are subtle and also bright – is doing me proud! It’s catching me more fish than ever before, even when following people through a run or pool using all manner of flies it still seems to come out top, and I’m happy to share it with you as the next best thing for me is seeing others catch fish….!