Archive for July, 2015

Harry and I headed out on Rutland again today to do battle with the trout. It was a quiet day for everyone and the fishing people back at base told us that very few fish had been taken. Harry and I had one fish apiece.

Rutland is, very crudely, a V shaped body of water with one arm north of the other and so they are called the north and south arms respectively. On the far side of where they meet, again very crudely, is the club house where boats can be hired (there are 65 of them) and you can buy a ticket to fish it. The boats float (an important design feature in my view) and have an engine at the back. You need an engine here as it is a big water – 3100 acres. Continue reading

I have just spent a day on Rutland Reservoir boat fishing with Harry Abbott. Harry used to be a mate of mine but today he caught loads of fish whereas and I caught nearly none and so now I hate him. If he were writing this blog he would be speaking about fish landed, others lost and a big lump of a trout that swam off and emptied his reel of fly line in a matter of a few seconds before the line parted. He has just headed off to bed and I bet he will be tossing and turning now and will have trouble sleeping as he relives the drama of those moments.

We never saw that fish but Harry reckons it was significantly heavier than his four pounder which was the first and best fish of the day. Continue reading

The Royal Wulff

I must confess that I knew nothing of the Royal Wulff before going to live in New Zealand and discovering for myself what a versatile fly it is. It seems that in New Zealand fly patterns are strongly influenced by successful patterns from the States and among the best known are the “Wulff” variants originating from Lee Wullf. Strangely enough the Royal Wulff itself is not one of his own flies and the credit for its creation goes instead to a guy called QL Quackenbush (what a great name!) and it was he who made a hair wing version of the Royal Coachman and this was originally given the name of Quack Coachman (another great name!)

This fly was first given a swim in New York by members of the Beaverkill Trout Club and it has since travelled the world and become very famous.


For my money the Royal Wulff is a great choice when you are scratching your head and wondering what the hell to use. If there is no rise in evidence it will often draw a fish up to the surface and I must admit to having used it in New Zealand when the trout were taking mayflies because my mayfly pattern was hard to see in the dying light of the evening. I´m sure a purist would have been appalled but the trout seemed perfectly happy with it. Continue reading

It has been a very hot summer here so far. It can seem sometimes as though opening the front door is like opening the door of a blast furnace. Outside, our dog Brutus is panting away. He lies in the shade but it is not  cool even there. Brutus is a campo dog and he has never been in the habit of being indoors but even he will sneak in just a little and lie just inside the front door where the tiles on the floor are a little cooler.

The heat has also put the brakes on fishing to a large extent. The river is warm and the fish are in the same kind of torpid mood as Brutus, the other dogs and the rest of us. Where it is deep enough on the reservoirs the bass will leave the shallows for much of the day and early morning and late evening are likely to be the optimum times to catch them. Continue reading

Yesterday I received a short message by email and a single attached photograph. It came all the way from British Columbia and showed the irrepressible John Langridge holding onto the tail of a fish he had just landed.  This fish, a white sturgeon, was about the weight of me, my wife Catriona and our two teenage kids put together!

I have only a few details about the capture of the fish. It was taken in the Fraser River which is the longest river in British Columbia and took 45 minutes to subdue. It towed the boat along as if it were a dog being taken for a walk and was eventually landed a full mile from where it was hooked. Continue reading

A few years ago an unusual thing happened on the Guadalhorce, my local river. The river dried up completely over nearly its entire length and there was, as a result, a great loss of fish. I visited the river regularly during this period and saw the river shrink down to some isolated pools which were alive with struggling fish. Later even these pools dried out and the fish they held died in their hundreds.

The river thins each summer (it is thinning now) but it usually continues to flow, albeit with reduced volume, until the autumn rains arrive and breathe new life into it. Continue reading

There are not a whole lot of perks in my line of work but occasionally I get to hang out with attractive and intelligent young ladies. Before this can happen, of course, I need to be tidied up a bit myself. I am routinely fumigated, showered and put into a suit. Once a year they even parade me around in an academic gown ask me to pretend that lofty thoughts floating are around in my head.

As if! Continue reading

Fly fishing and Fly Tying monthly is running a fly tying league and entrants can submit flies into either the “open” or the “novice” category. This month published pictures of some of the winning entries.

I have been tying flies on and off for more than 20 years and I have to admit that my flies look absolutely crap compared to those produced even the “novice” category. The judges are looking for evidence of tying skill, a sense of proportion, a neat head, a tidy hackle and that kind of thing. If they ever saw anything that came from my vice they would probably laugh. Or maybe cry. Continue reading

John Langridge has been catching some barracuda in the Indian Ocean these last few days. They are creatures of such menace that they have carved a certain reputation for themselves.

I have never caught barracuda myself but I did have the chance to see one firsthand, in its own element, back in the days when I did a lot of scuba diving. We were in the Red Sea and I was partnered with the divemaster guy on a “livaboard” dive boat. We had spent some time suspended just off a vertical rock face that plummeted into the abyss when the divemaster fella beckoned for me to join him in the open water. Continue reading

We have family here at the moment and I have been unable to slip quietly away to the river for a bit of “psychological readjustment.” The result of this is that I have been unusually grumpy for the last couple of days. The weather hash´t helped. It has been punishingly hot and so we “retreated” indoors for much of the day watching Wimbledon on the telly.

While we have all been competing for the most comfortable spot on the sofa to watch Andy Murray, or arguing about whose turn it is to do the washing up, others have been “living the dream” and headed out to sea to do battle with giant fish. Last week Steven Lawler reported on a great big tuna a neighbour of his caught out on a charter from Sotogrande. He tells me that it took three of them an hour and a half to finally land it and they estimated its weight at 200kg. Continue reading