Pond life

A rather grey and rainy day found me exploring a small pond at Rib Valley for the first time. I took a waggler rod and maggots to test the small fish potential, plus a heavier outfit in case of carp.

The pond has a fringe of reeds along the far side:

Rib Valley pond

Also some beds of lilies:

Lily pads

The maggot rod close to the lilies got off to a flying start with a constant stream of fairly small but brightly coloured rudd:

Rudd

I catapulted a few bits of bread out to float on the surface, hoping that this might attract the larger rudd. Some landed amongst the reeds, where after twenty minutes or so, gentle movements at the surface indicated that something was taking an interest. Watching more carefully, I could see a carp bumping and sucking at the bread. Occasionally it would gently take a piece, but it was cautious – never venturing out from the reeds – and it seemed reluctant to break the surface.

On my heavier rod I rigged up another float rig which would allow me to present bread either floating at the surface or sinking slowly. After a few attempts I landed it right amongst the reeds, with my bait floating in a small gap. The surface rocked gently as the carp approached, then there was a subtle swirl as it took the bait, the rod already bending as I picked it up. Only about 3 pounds, but I was glad of it:

Common carp

After that I went back to the maggot rod, throwing in some maggots and a few grains of sweetcorn with each cast to try and attract some larger fish. This seemed to work as the rudd were getting bigger, especially when I used a piece of corn as bait:

Large rudd

Sweetcorn also produced a couple more small carp:

Small carp
Head of common carp

It had been an enjoyable and interesting few hours.

First time fishing

Charlie came along with his dad Derek to try fishing for the first time. He had seen people fishing on his local canal and thought it looked like fun.

One of the first things he learned was how to bait the hook with a maggot. Not as easy as it looks and requires patience:

Baiting the hook

Once that was accomplished, the fish proved obliging. Here is Charlie with his first ever fish, a roach:

Charlie's roach

(I like the digital watch and Space Invaders tee shirt – that technology was brand new when I was his age!)

While Charlie fished, Derek was more interested in the FT:

Father and son fishing
Whip fishing

The roach is a fish that keeps your grey matter ticking over. We were getting plenty of bites but only connecting with a small proportion of them. To keep on catching, Charlie had to experiment with his fishing depth and the timing of his strike:

Roach on the whip

Next job was learning to use rod and reel:

Learning to use rod and reel

Then it was time to try the waggler rig. As usual, this proved tricky at first, with many stray casts, missed bites and lost fish. When Charlie eventually brought in a roach, it was evidence that his fishing skills were improving:

Roach on waggler

Taking up trout fishing

Over the last few weeks, the Rib Valley trout have been feeding on various different flies close to or on the surface. This photo shows the stomach contents of one fish – midge pupa, mayfly, honey bee, a small black fly I can’t identify and a couple of buzzer shucks:

Trout stomach contents

At times it has been difficult to know what fly to use. I have had a few trout on this floating pattern which resembles a number of different natural insects:

Dry sedge

The suspender buzzer, representing a midge pupa hanging at the surface, has also been effective:

Suspender buzzer

Even when the trout seem to be preoccupied with natural prey, they will still sometimes take non-imitative lures like the black and green:

Black and green lure

Dan and James had signed up for my fly fishing course because they wanted to try something a bit different after years of coarse fishing. When it came to their fishing session, conditions were ideal with an overcast sky and a decent breeze:

Fly casting

Using the black and green lure, it didn’t take long for James to connect with his first ever trout, which he duly landed:

James's first trout

After 20 minutes, nothing had shown any interest in Dan’s damsel nymph, so with fish moving in front of us it was clearly time for a change. I rigged him up with a suspender buzzer on the point and a normal sinking buzzer on a dropper. This is the ‘washing line’ rig which keeps the dropper fly fishing close to the surface. It was soon proven to be the right choice, with this nicely marked rainbow taking the sunk buzzer:

Dan's first trout

Dan could probably have had a couple more fish; he missed one due to slack line, and I saw another take his point fly, but he didn’t realise.


The next day Louis came for the second part of his fly fishing course, having done the initial casting lesson a few weeks back. The morning was a brief escape from work for him, as he was due back in the office later on.

Conditions were a bit different now – bright and warm with virtually no breeze – so I thought we might struggle.

We rigged up the washing line and started fishing in stealth mode, staying back from the water’s edge in case the fish were close in:

Close range fly fishing

Trout were indeed rising occasionally just a short distance out, sometimes very close to the flies:

Close range fly fishing

After about ten minutes there was a heavy boil where I thought Louis’s point fly was. He did not react at first so I shouted out “it’s you”, prompting him to strike. It is very easy to miss these surface feeding fish, but luckily he connected:

Louis's first trout

Louis had no more action after that, but he was happy to have caught his first trout and would no doubt be daydreaming about it later on, back at his desk!

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