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

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

 

Gary with his prize

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

The salmon squad strikes again!!

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

The francis does the damage

Robson wasn’t far behind

Phil with the biggest of the 2 day’s

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

The Francis does the job

Letting the big man rest before his return

Another day another hen

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

Cap fishing England international Ryan with another salmon

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

Adam christens his rod

Adam and his Prize

The dream team Barry and the Green

Robson and a chunky hen fish

This sea trout couldn’t resist a Stokoe shrimp

Last day fish for the team

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

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

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

A male Arctic char in his full spawning colours

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

Paul with his first ever salmon

Ciaran got amongst the fish as well

The salmon squad hits 8 🎣!

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

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

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

The whole salmon squad

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

Five minutes of fishing and a fish landed straight away

Fish number 2 on a Stokoe

And the hat-trick was complete

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

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

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

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

Fish number 6 and a double hat-trick for me

Robson Green with a huge tartan warrior

Phil with his prize

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

Jason with a beautiful September salmon

Karl with his sea-liced beauty

Gibson eventually get’s her Tyne prize!

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

Gibson with her first Tyne salmon

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

Duncan fished to the death and gets his prize!

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

 

Duncan and his lucky prize

Duncan playing his big sea trout

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

My first double of the season

A sensational silver week at warden!

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

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

Martyn with his first ever sea trout

Tim with his second of the day

Tim with his first ever sea trout

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

This fish couldn’t resist a Stokoe fished fast

Another Atlantic Tyne salmon

The fantastic 4!

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

5 incredible fish for the boys

Brody with a fish after 5 minutes

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

My second Salmon of the day

Robson holding our first of the day

 

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

Michael works his magic!

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

Michael’s first sea trout

Amongst the fish at last!

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

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

 

First sea trout of the season

Sea trout number 2

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

Squad goals

Matt with his first ever sea trout

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

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

My first Salmon of the year

Andy and his fish

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

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…….

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.

Stokoe Shrimp

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.

Stokoe Shrimp

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….!

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Tight lines guys.