Fishing puts a smile on my face

When I coach on the still waters and rivers in Northumberland and the Borders, I often get a giggle. Twice recently I have had to smile quietly at events.

The first was when a client telephoned me because of the weather situation.

It was raining and two hours before our arranged coaching session and I was asked, “Do the trout still bite when it rains?” We went fishing and caught trout. Question answered.

The second amusing event happened when a client arranged a coaching session on a river to learn how to fly fish with a double handed rod that he had bought for a knock-down price.

I turned up as arranged, and he had the rod already set up with a lovely Hardy Demon fly reel and line. The trouble was the rod was a spinning rod, and not a fly rod.

Smiling, I explained the difference between the two types of rods and we both had a good laugh.

I set my double handed rod up and the client managed to cast a line reasonably well before the session ended.

This week I was fishing on the Tweed, coached at Hallington, twice, and Chatton three times. I have also set up a Facebook page with the help of my website designers. Posting vouchers off for birthdays and anniversaries has also kept me busy.

The evening on the Tweed was lovely, the weather was warm with a gentle breeze blowing. I fished with my double handed rod for salmon but never got a take. A big fish jumped upstream from me but I did not actually see it.

The tidal wave that swept across the river was testament to a heavy fish. I actually saw two more salmon, one around 9-10lbs, and another smaller 7-8lbs.

An otter was playing in the shallows near the far bank downstream from where I was fishing. I thought I would do well to catch anything with that animal around.

On my return to Morpeth I checked the Fishpal website, which indicated that only four salmon had been caught by the many beats which use the website for that day, which made me feel a little better.

Christian came from Australia to have a coaching session with me at Hallington Reservoir. What brings you to the UK, I asked? Apparently his partner was walking from John O’ Groats to Land’s End, and that particular day she was walking from Bellingham to Haltwhistle. Consequently Christian always wanted to try fly fishing so this was a good chance.

Christian picked up the basics well, lost the first trout he hooked but netted the next two. Quite impressive in a short session.

The following day I was back at Hallington with a regular client. I coached for a while, fished and observed from a distance the time they fished.

Observing from a distance is good because as a coach you can see so much more of the various aspects of the cast.

After the coaching was concluded we both fished near each other so I could pass on any observations or suggested fly patterns to use.

While fishing I caught what is one of my all time best fish. Not the biggest or heaviest, but just a really beautiful trout.

It took one of my own home-tied black buzzers with red cheeks. The battle lasted several minutes and it was only in the last few moments that I could see it was an impressive brown trout.

The markings, the size of the tail, and the huge head with numerous spots on it just makes you realise how lucky you are to be able to catch trout of this quality in Northumberland.

Weight – I estimated it to be between 6-7lbs.

It was a super day all round as my client had four fish to the net and had several others on.

Their best trout was caught after I had taught them how to cast in to the wind. Watching, I saw the line being cast into the wind, being retrieved, the line going tight and the trout being played to the net, excellent.

The remainder of the week’s coaching, three days and four sessions at Chatton, were all pleasant with warm weather, sometimes bright sunshine and at worst a light drizzle.

The fish were at various depths and anglers who changed their tactics regularly had good sport.

Lots of rods that I saw had bags into the high teens with numerous trout being taken in the 6-8lb bracket.

Stuart caught two on small nymphs. Ray and Heather caught three in a two-hour session but only managed to get one to the net, which was then returned anyway.

Stephen caught two on Pheasant Tails, and then there was Jennifer. She is in her early 20s and had been keen to try fly fishing.

In a two-hour session she was shooting line out on a roll and overhead cast off both shoulders. She really impressed me at how quickly the techniques were picked up considering she had never cast a fly line before. She also hooked a trout in Riss Lake using a small red buzzer.

Caistron Fishery reports a good week for fishing. Buzzers and Diawl Bachs have accounted for good numbers of trout.

Heaviest trout this week was an 8lb fish taken on a Cats Whisker fly.

The river Coquet beat remains low and prayers are for rain to help the migratory fish to reach the beats higher up the system.

Thrunton Long Crag has had a busy week too. With trout on, or near the surface, sport has been good since the cold north and easterly wind have disappeared.

Many dry flies have caught trout and heavy bags have been reported regularly.

Beetles, Klinkhammers, Shuttlecocks have been the patterns to use on the top, while Zonkers, Nymphs and Buzzers have attracted fish at various depths.

Three clubs/organisations and Thrunton Long Crag Juniors all enjoyed successful visits to the fishery too.

Next week, one gentleman from Switzerland has me booked for four days, six hours a day, and another four hours at Chatton with someone using their voucher completes the coaching. Several venues to be decided but I shall report all. Enjoy your week, especially if you are off on holiday.