Since my involuntary, grayling-scaring Boxing Day dip in the Frome, brother Doug has been economical with his guest invitations. On Monday however, he invited me to share his rod for a two hour stint on the Lower Water. I soon discovered the reason for his keenness, in tough clear, low water conditions, he needed a spotter. The deal; I’m long-sighted and spot the fish, he’s short-sighted and sorts the tackle.
I was able to creep up behind the vegetation and despite the grey day, with the help of Polaroids, spot the odd trout, direct his cast and even call ‘Strike’ as the fish inhaled the nymph. A size 14, goldhead PTN with a bit of hare in the thorax was the fly of the day. Three trout fell pretty swiftly – all stock fish in the 14 inch bracket. Teamwork was definitely the key.
Eventually I got my turn which coincided with a slight rise in temperature. Trout and grayling began rising freely to a hatch of pale watery olives, so on went a Klinkhamer. I put it in the right spot and, fish on! A fish of nearly two pounds, the best fish of the day, was soon approaching the net and, fish off! I had made an amateur mistake – never trust your brother to tie on your fly…
What a beautiful bright day. I headed for the lower beat thinking there would be more water there. Strong winds got up early in the afternoon and lasted until about 6pm. No sign of hatches really, just a few small sedge. I met two very friendly members, one on his way back, the other and his guest who were headed to the (more sheltered) wood section. I had to work hard for a 9″ grayling on a CDC emerger, then lost a similar sized (but plump) brownie on bead-head PTN (all I could cast with the wind at this stage).
At dusk, after the wind had died down, I started wending my way back through the balsam of the woods, past the hut and following the meanders downstream, retracing my route. I had a few rest stops along the way, and was rewarded at one by the sight of a roe buck coming down to the river to drink – across the bank from me and oblivious until I startled him, crashing into the dense undergrowth.
At a last stab attempt, I had a small brown on a sedge tugged across the top. I had seen only three bigger fish during the day, but they were too inaccessible to reach without waders.
During my downstream return trip, I picked up a small black “fenwick” slot-foam fly box (with nothing more than 3 daddies in it – one for the tree, one for the bush, and one for the fish :O) from the long grass. If any member can lay claim to this, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org , and I shall post it out to you
Just got back – terrible homeward journey this evening.
Yesterday afternoon, I got a half-pounder on a hackled Red Quill (my own dressing – see below). Saw John Aplin by the river. He recommended a small sedge, twitching it now and then, as described in his recent blog article. I tried it and got a swirling rise from a good fish almost straight away, but when I tightened there was nothing there. I had to stop shortly afterwards in order to drive to Piddletrenthide, where I was staying, and get something to eat (and drink!).
Saw two members by the river yesterday. They’d fished the same stretch that morning, but saw no rises and caught nothing. At one point, I heard what I thought was probably a pike or very large trout slashing at a smaller fish in the margins. Whatever it was, it was definitely a fish, and it certainly wasn’t taking a fly!
Today was slightly better, although I ended up blank. When I arrived there were a few olives around. I didn’t bother to check, but assumed they were probably spinners left over from the previous evening. By 1030, though, there was precious little sign of fly life apart from the odd crane fly in the bankside vegetation. During the next couple of hours, I managed to find and cover three rising fish. The first showed no interest in anything at all. Same with the last one. I spent some time on the middle fish, though, resting him every now and then to make sure I hadn’t put him down. He ignored my Red Quill, but rose (short) to a size 14 Little Red Sedge. I tried him with a Hare’s Ear Nymph, but he wasn’t interested. An interesting couple of days. The river looked absolutely lovely in the September sunshine, and I didn’t really mind the slightly awkward cross breeze.
The Red Quill dressing is one I discovered nearly 40 years ago on the Derbyshire Wye, when it was the only pattern to succeed in September with the wild Rainbows on the stretch near Bakewell. Since then, it’s proved reliable at the back end of the season, particularly when the fish are rising short to other olive patterns. It’s meant to imitate an olive spinner.:-
Tying silk: orange (but not Hot Orange – it should turn a sort of mahogany colour when waxed and wettened)
Body: Undyed peacock quill from an eye feather
Hackle and whisks: Dark red or even dyed maroon cock.
Looking forward to next season.
We have two day tickets avaliable for the Dorchester Fishing Club water, from now until the end of the season (October 15th), so snap them up! Ring Ray Aplin on 01305 266500
You will be able to book next seasons DFC day tickets with John Aplin as from late January 2011, and you will need to send full payment with each booking. www.riverworks.co.uk
Frome Piddle & West Dorset Fisheries Association
Dorchester Fishing Club
The Frome Piddle & West Dorset Fisheries Association, and many thanks to the West Country Rivers Trust, is funding a habitat improvement project, the construction of two willow islands on the Dorchester Fishing Club water just upstream of Dorchester, by the Poundbury hill fort grid ref SY 6746 9222.
This area has seen several other enhancement projects take place all with great success.
Work was completed in the early autumn of 2010 when the water level was at its lowest, Salmonid movement at a minimum, and any breeding of mammals and birds finished, in fact there is no negative ecological impact on the area.
The above picture shows the two finished islands (September 2010) these will fill up with silt over the winter
The work was carried out by Casterbridge Fisheries Ltd staff and over seen by the FP&WDFA project manager.
To create two small islands to add a variation to the very uniform flow in this area, displacing some of the silt build up also adding natural woody debris encouraging various invertebrates, possibly native Crayfish and creating another suitable area to encourage spawning Salmon and importantly cover for 0+ Salmon and Trout Parr.
The posts for the frame of the two islands were driven in by hand, with 500mm centres and driven well into the bed of the river to a depth of at least 750mm to prevent any movement over the coming years.
All the willow needed to create the structures was harvested on site, woven around the outside stakes creating a solid framework before filling the whole island with willow mattress, and then the structure is wired in tightly to prevent any winter wash out.
The structures over the winter months gather and collect silt, providing nutrients and a firm base for the willow to grow come the following spring.
Other islands previously constructed on the fishery (Thanks to Environment Agency funding) have been outstanding, one island actually resulting in a large gravel shoal forming upstream of it creating some stunning Minnow spawning habitat, and to see well over a thousand of these little fish in their spawning colours gathering in an environment that we delivered was very rewarding.
We are seriously impressed with our design of these islands, they deliver a great enhancement at a sensible price, and we will be exploring many other sites for instillation.
The above picture of the islands, which were constructed in the autumn of 2009, about 500m downstream of the two new islands, clearly showing the change in the river bed and the early spring growth of the island, now full of silt after the winter.
This short reach was clearly over wide and during times of low flow full of dead weed (of various species namely Ranunculus) and the gravel bed covered in Algae, over this summer the bed stayed clean and there seemed to be a steady population of 0+ Salmon and Trout Parr, and an abundance of Minnows, Bullheads and Stoneloach.
This latest island enhancement took place not far up stream of these islands and we are extremely confident of similar results.