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……..!

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

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

A male Arctic char in his full spawning colours

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

Paul with his first ever salmon

Ciaran got amongst the fish as well

The salmon squad hits 8 🎣!

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

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

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

The whole salmon squad

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

Five minutes of fishing and a fish landed straight away

Fish number 2 on a Stokoe

And the hat-trick was complete

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

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

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

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

Fish number 6 and a double hat-trick for me

Robson Green with a huge tartan warrior

Phil with his prize

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

Jason with a beautiful September salmon

Karl with his sea-liced beauty

Gibson eventually get’s her Tyne prize!

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

Gibson with her first Tyne salmon

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

Duncan fished to the death and gets his prize!

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

 

Duncan and his lucky prize

Duncan playing his big sea trout

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

My first double of the season

A sensational silver week at warden!

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

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

Martyn with his first ever sea trout

Tim with his second of the day

Tim with his first ever sea trout

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

This fish couldn’t resist a Stokoe fished fast

Another Atlantic Tyne salmon

The fantastic 4!

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

5 incredible fish for the boys

Brody with a fish after 5 minutes

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

My second Salmon of the day

Robson holding our first of the day

 

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

Michael works his magic!

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

Michael’s first sea trout

Amongst the fish at last!

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

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

 

First sea trout of the season

Sea trout number 2

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

Squad goals

Matt with his first ever sea trout

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

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

My first Salmon of the year

Andy and his fish

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

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

Not a rainbow over the Tyne but in it!!

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

An escape rainbow trout from the Tyne

Luck of the Irish!

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

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

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

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

 

Stan with his biggest salmon yet

The Dream team

World fishing day smashed!

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

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

Live Tv with Michelle

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

With the relentless heat and weather conditions my salmon fishing and guiding has been effected horrendously, to the point of only fishing a couple of days and guests cancelling due to un-fishable  conditions.  Now when I mention un-fishable condition I refer to water temperatures of up to 23 degrees and really low dissolved oxygen levels in the water and air temperatures of nearly 30 degrees.  Selecting specific times of the day like first light and last light have given anglers a best chance of getting any interest from fish!

It’s not all been fishing doom and gloom though as myself, ripon and mr Hywel Morgan have been filming our current Untamed Anglers – Iconic Fish series!  To give you guys the low do on our project it’s consists of us 3 travelling the length and breadth of Britain in search of some of The most incredible species in inhabit our rivers, lakes and seas.  The great thing about our series is that it doesn’t just concentrate on the fish, we also meet some very familiar faces that have spent a lifetime chasing these fish.  Our special guest each week gives us a crash course on how to understand and hopefully catch these incredible species, but it doesn’t just end there, myself and ripon go head to head against each other matched with either Hywel or our guest in a big competition to battle it out for supremacy.  

Our first episode saw us head to Winchester in February and to the world renowned chalk streams of the test and Itchen in search of the lady of the stream.  We Would not be alone tho and our Chief helper was the one and only Charles Jardine who’s knowledge of these rivers would help us bag our prize, the spectacular grayling!  Tactics over the 2 days fishing would be something new to me and a style of fly fishing that I’d really only read about through social media and books – French nymphing!  The style of casting consists of more of a raise and flick rather than your standard airborn false casts, along with the casting using heavy weighted fly’s on a jig head style hook with both the eye and bend of the hook being upright so that when fished it minimises snags due to how low in the water the fly’s are fished.  The final piece of the puzzle consists of is a multi coloured French leader that is used as in indicator and positioned in the surface layer of the water, I can happily say it’s a really productive, addictive and exciting way of targeting Grayling and won’t be the last time I use it.

Episode 2 had to wait for warmer weather and the months of May when our next target species would be on the well on the feed and hopefully gorging on a specific and famous species of fly.  Yes you guessed it Trout and with the chance of some mayfly action.  Even tho Hywel is probably one of the best trout anglers I’m lucky enough to know and fish with we still needed another legend, this time it would be the incredible Peter Cockwil and again we would be Hampshire bound but this time to the chalk streams of the river Kennet and the lambourn and the added bonus of a trip to one of the original “big fish” fisheries – Dever Springs.  During our 2 days fishing we got to fish and see some of the most pristine water I’ve ever seen that held some incredible brown trout, which is credit to the river keepers that work tirelessly to keep them in check.  Dever Springs was at the other end of the fish scale as we used our stalking skills gained from the previous day to stalk monster rainbows, browns and tigers at this historic fishery.

Episode 3 was something i literally couldn’t wait to try, being totally different to my usual target species and something that had been on my bucket list forever.  So this time the whole squad headed north to the only lake in Scotland in search of one of the fiercest fish in Britons water – The notorious pike.  As always we would need help to catch and understand our prize, this time we were fortunate enough to have predator pro and fish fanatic Dan Esox, as you’ve probably guessed by dans surname this week was the incredible pike.  Over the 2 days fishing we would be targeting these top predators from boats using a mixture of both lures and fly’s with the hope of getting some surface action and tail walking croc’s for camera, obviously due to not wanting to spoil the programme im not going to say anything apart from it being absolute carnage at times.

Unfortunately for now you will have to wait to see how our iconic adventure has panned out but I can guarantee its full of what fishing is all about – Being outdoors experiencing something you love, making new memories and friends with a few incredible fish thrown in.

For now Tight lines……!

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.

 

 

 

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!

One of the hardest things in life to find is a job you actually enjoy, something that makes you spring out of bed in the morning and puts a smile on your face, luckily for me i found it last year in the form of being a salmon fishing guide.  Guiding had always been something id thought of and dreamed of doing but never had the balls to do it mainly down it being seasonal and also the thought of your job taking away the enjoyment of what you love doing as a hobby, this year i took the step and tested the water with my first season as a guide and it turned out to be the greatest and most satisfying job I’ve ever had the pleasure of being involved with.

Vittorio with a good July salmon

One thing i didn’t prepare myself for was how mentally challenging it can be, all anglers know how frustrating fishing can be for yourself when the fish aren’t playing game but as a guide the pressure is even greater as the reliance is on your toes to put guests on the fish, pick the right fly, line and retrieve.  I always keep cool externally when things are quiet but my mind is always going 100 miles an hour trying to keep 2 steps ahead of these fish, at the end of the day this is why salmon are the king of fish and at the top of most anglers lists to catch due to them being so hard to.  Each and every day is totally different wether it being temperature, water colour, water height, air pressure and not to mention that each and ever fish is different from the next, this for me is the exciting part as it creates a new challenge each day, where 1 day a certain fly is a killer the next you wont touch a thing, this is where a good guide comes into his own.

The dream team and an incredible day at countess park

The greatest satisfaction of any guiding is getting someone their prize, for me its as close as you can get to landing one yourself being present and experiencing the joys, emotion, screaming and sometimes crying, its crazy how these fish can make someone feel, even to the point of reducing grown men into a teary messes.  This season i experienced the ups and downs of being a guide thankfully more up’s than downs but at one point i thought the bad luck was never going to end as guests had somehow lost 7 out of 8 fish in a row, this was heart breaking and crazy but new it had to change at some point, it did in dramatic fashion with a run of first time salmon anglers landing their first silver and bronze prizes.

Ryan with the biggest guests fish of the season a salmon around 22lb

In total my guests caught a mix of 31 salmon and sea trout in 53 days fishing, including an incredible 14 Firsts on their first day ever fishing for migratory fish, in total this averaged out at a fish every 1.70 days fishing, in my eyes that is bloody good going especially targeting a fish which doesn’t actually feed and something people spend a lifetime fishing for.  My personal numbers for the season were unfortunately down on the previous year mainly due to days taken up by guiding, but i still managed a good 19 fish to the net including 2 20lb plus fish on the fly and my first ever Tyne treble. As always the fly of the year for me was my good old Stokoe shrimp in red and orange, with the orange fished most the season on full floaters and intermediate tips and switching to the red in September fished on fast tips and always a figure of eight retrieve, these fly’s are just collective bits of material tied to a hook, you’ve got to bring them to life somehow and movement is always the key.

One of the 20lb plus salmon landed

Due to this years guiding success i am now taking bookings for 2018 and with more water available now than ever its looking like a huge one, guiding fee’s are priced at £120 per day with the price of fishing varying from £30 – £75 depending on location and time of year.  Any enquiries can be made through james@jamesstokoefishing.com and i look forward to seeing you guys next year!