Category Archives: Good Stuff

There and back again

Early Saturday saw us loaded and northbound to our first stop, the Wild Trout Trust bash in Derbyshire.  Some fascinating talks on stocking policies, gene pools and the Riverfly Project and a chance to catch up with some old friends was followed by a guided walk of the rivers Bradford and Lathkill.  I think everyone was eager to get out on the river and get out of the most uncomfortable chairs a behind has ever had to endure 🙂

The river walk was designed to explain the habitat improvements made in order to support the decision to stop stocking in 2005 [?]. Whilst this was educational, what everyone was spellbound by were the profusion of wild browns and rainbows lazily finning and confidently taking the profusion of aquatic flies drifting over them.  Simply mouth-watering.

After an overnight stay in the Peak District and an early morning northward dash, we set up camp about 10 yards from the River Braan.

Bongo and Awning - Braan


The rest of the day was spent in reconnaissance, taking in the breath taking scenery and being totally blown away by the amount of fish-able water within easy travelling distance from our base, the sheer size of some causing comments like the one from the passenger seat as we drove over the Tay bridge in Pitlochry, ‘Feck me!  It’s the English Channel!’

Having had our appetites well and truely whetted we were more than ready to fish on Monday.  At the reccommendation of the guy in the tackle shop in Pitlochry, we headed for the Tummel, just below Coronation Bridge.



For all other purposes the weather was magnificent.  Hot, cloudless blue skies, no wind.  Needless to say, this was somewhat less than ideal for fishing a strange river.  Very hard work but at least we caught fish and got rid of the yips.  I hear that the World Fly Fishing Championships will be held on the same stretch of water later this week –  I hope they have more joy than we did.

Fishing continued in the same vein under a mercilessly cloudless blue sky for the next few days.  Plenty of fly life in the air but very little on the water and no consistent ‘risers’.  Fishing into the darkness with very little success, frustration building, the decision was made to de-camp to the Upper Clyde.


We fared no better here, a few small fish caught, more lost, and the sight of a monsterous brownie hoovering up fry was our total return for a hard day fishing against the odds.  Neil claims to have had a huge pike brush by his leg in a pool at the tail of a riffle but, by then I think the sun had got to him [or me] 🙂

The following morning we were racing south, heading for home waters.  We stopped by the Annan for a couple of hours, just in case things were better there – they weren’t.

A bath, a decent meal and a very surprised wife set me up for the following day.  I met Neil at Waterloo Bridge on the Monnow where, apparently things had been tough too but, shortly after I arrived it started to rain.  Would this be what the river needed to freshen things up a bit?  Absolutely!

We both took fish.  Good, wild fish.  And last knockings found me in a long shallow stretch with a decent run under some low over-hanging branches.  There were rises so subtle as to be almost undetectable.  I swear the surface remained unbroken while the trout were sucking down flies from a few inches down.  Fly disappears, wait a few seconds and tighten – fish on!

I took four good fish out of that short section, the last being the fish of the day and possibly my fish of the season, a touch over 16 inches.

So we were back.  Older certainly, wiser maybe, more appreciative of just how good the Monnow is – absolutely.  Would I do it again?  Yes.  Would I do it with Neil again?  In a heartbeat.  I think it’s time for more beer & bullshit.

Heading North

It started out as a half-assed plan, hatched during a closed season beer & bullshit evening with Neil [he of the jammy bugger smile].  Far too much bullshit and way too much beer, in fact, so much beer that I had to be reminded that a plan had bee hatched at all!

This was a very long time ago – a couple of seasons at least.  Since then we have been holding regular Strategy Planning Meetings in the same pub where the hatching first happened, with the result that asolutely nothing has been planned.  More bullshit, more beer.

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Erewash Restoration Project

This is an unashamed plug for the folks over at the Erewash Restoration Project.

A little over a year ago I read a thread on the Fly Fishing Forum aimed at raising interest in a restoration project.

I remember thinking ‘Good luck mate’ as, having grown up along its banks, my memory is of a seriously abused water-course absorbing the detritus of the East Midlands industrial landscape. The only fish I remember seeing were dead roach floating among the half sunk barges and oil drums.

It seems that my pessimism was mis-placed. In a very short time a team of dedicated people have surveyed the river, identified the major problems and involved local and national bodies in habitat improvement. All of this culminated in the formation of the River Erewash Foundation in November last year.

A Grayling stocking program has started and there are reports of wild Brown Trout being caught in the upper reaches.

This is a perfect demonstration of what a team of dedicated individuals with vision and enthusiasm can achieve in a very short time – good luck fellas!

Caption Competition

Taken on the opening evening of the Monnow Social 2007 – Anyone want to hazard a guess at what this sagacious looking lot are saying?

Only a few days until we have to do it all over again 🙂


I received this picture from Bob this morning.  I’m amazed at how quickly this project is progressing.

New Boo!

There’s a little bit of alchemy going on in Michigan.  Bob is busy turning grass stalks into objects of beauty and soul.

The blank in the centre is a Cattenach 6632 taper that has a Trans-Atlantic journey ahead of it.  Mine.  Mine  Mine!!!

Queue jumping

This is what happens when a certain someone attempts to by-pass the selection process for the Monnow Social…

I presume that I can by-pass this unseemly scramble for places and that my honorary gold invitation is en route. The Royal Suite at Alltyrynys also needs to be reserved in case I do decide to bestow on you the privilege of my presence. The rest of you serfs can wallow in the mud of your pikey camp.

And the reply from Dave….

Well now, it so happens that I received the following letter from the manager of the Alltyrynys Hotel this very morning:

“Dear Mr Smith
Many thanks for your recent enquiry as to the availability of The Royal Suite for your friends proposed fishing trip in May. I am happy to confirm that the suite is indeed available for the full duration of the desired period and that it will be our complete pleasure to once again host your friend; his diverse tastes and unusual appetites provide a challenge that all our staff look forward to with relish.

My staff and I have given due consideration to the list of ‘little details’ that your friend wishes us to attend to, and whilst they are as diverse as ever, we will be doing our level best to meet them fully, legislation permitting. Whilst most can be met without fuss, there are one or two areas in which we need further guidance.

  1. We were all truly sorry to hear of your friend’s recent sight troubles, but this has given us considerably more scope in the task of selecting his ‘Special’ Chamberpot Maids. These girls make up with fitness and enthusiasm what they perhaps lack in physical appearance; although as you point out, he will not notice the difference in age and complexion.
  2. In a similar vein to the above, we have had limited success in meeting his requirements for – and I quote – “Well furred companion”. I am afraid that it is now the common practise amongst ladies of Eastern European extraction to shave themselves thoroughly, except of course for that little inch or three between the eyebrows – though I believe some Welshmen grow up finding this attractive on account of their mothers.
  3. With regard to the extra fittings and fixtures in the bedroom. The local carpenter has examined the sketches your friend kindly sent to us but informs me that such alterations would not only be unsuitable for an antique four poster bed, but would also contravene animal welfare legislation.
  4. On the plus side, on hearing of your friends visit, and his special needs, the well known company Stannah have offered the use of one of their portable applicances for the duration of his stay. There is no fee attached this service, merely a hopeful request that your friend’s golden countenance will grace the pages of their catalogue in future years.
  5. Finally, we at The Alltyrynys appreciate the need for discretion, and given the nature of your friend’s previous exploits during his stays in this area, we certainly appreciate the need for anonymity on his part. However we find this year’s choice of nom de guerre, Mr Ivor Fatcock to be neither amusing nor intelligent. Having spoken with Truda and Olga, whom your friend will remember well no doubt, they have suggested that he provides a “somewhat less ironic” pseudonym.

As ever we seek to cater for all needs, and if any of the above should cause anxiety or disappointment to your friend, then I can recommend a thoroughly good campsite at Longtown, where I understand a group of highly personable young men will be staying. Should you or your friend need furhter clarification of arrangements, then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best Regards
Sir James Tolerance-Stretcher
The Alltyrynnys Hotel

OMG! It’s beautiful!

Well, the rod is finished and will be shipped this week. Here’s a few photos that Bob posted on the Rod Building Forum – just to make the waiting even harder 🙂

Everything I dreamed of – and more!

Great Expectations

My 50th birthday is approaching fast and SWMBO asked if there was anything I wanted for a special present. That was her first mistake 🙂

I’ve had a hankering to fish cane & silk for a while now. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s because I have too much hi-tech paraphernalia cluttering up my life that a move towards more traditional tackle appeals. Anyway, I never thought I’d get the opportunity to pander to this little desire until I started working out whether a bamboo rod would be feasible on my budget.

I looked at several ‘off the shelf’ offerings within my budget and, to be honest, I wasn’t really inspired. Subsequently I found out that most of these are made in Chinese factories from sub standard cane and are unlikely last a lifetime, as a good cane rod should. Of course, there are the usual eBay lots, many of these are rebuilds using parts from older rods or vintage rods who’s provenance is unknown. The only other option to investigate was a custom made rod.

Here’s where things start to get scary. Internet research showed me that four figure sums are often the starting point for custom cane rods. Add higher quality reel seats, inserts, ferrules etc. and the figure climbs into the realms of the ridiculous. I was starting to lose hope. My original aim was to get rod, line and a suitable reel but this was clearly out of the question and there is no point in getting one without the other two.

At this point I was given the details of a guy in Michigan who might be able to build something for me at a reasonable cost. Enter Bob Farrand.

Having looked at pictures of his work I contacted him to enquire about his availability, lead time, costs etc. and I was delighted to find out that not only would he undertake the work but, at the end I would have enough funds for the reel and line too.

After a flurry of emails, here’s the specification for the build:

  • Hand built honey flamed Wayne Cattenach 6332 taper blank [6′ 3″ 2 piece] with 2 tip sections
  • Anodized Silver down-locking reel seat
  • Amboyna burl reel seat insert
  • Agate stripping ring
  • Mid brown wraps with dark brown trim
  • Super fine cork handle

Bob will start flaming & splitting the cane very soon and has promised to send updates of progress.

Well worth a visit

I have recently come across a couple of fishing related web sites that put this blog to shame. Witty, amusing, informative and thought provoking – set a little time aside to visit:

The Contemplative Angler which is the blog section of Over My Waders

Any blog with posts entitled ‘Shave the Whales’ and ‘You can lead a horticulture’ gets my vote.

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