Season 2020 - By the skin of my teeth

Grassy_Knollington

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Here's a recap and some pictures of the season that developed once we emerged from Lockdown in mid May.

May - :) Trouting About

The first couple of weeks the river fished pretty well, if nothing spectacular, from late May we enjoyed a nice sustained hatch of Mayfly, nothing spectacular, but steady and that seems to really bring the best fish out. The most memorable evening was during the last week of May when I put my impatience to one side, scrambled down the bank and got amongst my biggest WBT. The picture really doesn't look great, but it was still lively and weighted 4lbs 6oz - Picture posted previously on the Trout Thread.

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June - Searching for a Salmon

I was able to get some fishing done, but a couple of trips were cut short by the Covid restrictions and the weather. Decent water in the first week of June can bring the fish up into the North Tyne - but not on a day like this :).

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That said, it turned into a really decent day of Trout fishing once the clouds came out. Nothing spectacular, but 15 or 20 on the dry to 10 inches or so, I'm also certain I saw a Mayfly!!

In late June I was back, on the South Tyne this time to do 2 things.
Firstly, I lost a cracker of a Salmon that shredded my leader on a rock in this pool. Never saw it, but the reel was cranked up and the switch bent double as it ran me into the backing twice, before we parted.

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And then I spent a frustrating evening watching good ST porpoise into a pool and totally ignore my offerings, they were bow-waving away from a size 12 Butcher! The 3 takes I did get turned out to be Chub x 2 and a very small (for the Tyne) ST of about 1.5lbs. Here's the wee Chub:

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July - Targeting Error

I managed to get a few more days in July than I had originally planned, including a nice couple of days away with my brother. We had quite a few offers over the couple of days. We didn't even get a hint of a Salmon although my brother dropped 3 ST and I landed a couple by way of consolation, a nice one of 6.5lbs and a smaller one of 3.5 that hot-smoked brilliantly!

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I also think we showed some personal growth by preparing properly and not just thrashing away for 18 hours a day. Brother brought the beer and I packed the food. Now I'm not normally a fan of Supermarket meat, but those Aldi / Lidl aged steaks are just the ticket by the river.

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Both fish took small flies, one a size 10 Silver Doctor longtail and the other one a size 12 copper shrimp. I dropped a few more ST and, looking for better hooking I tied up some shrimp-style micro tubes for wee trebles in preparation for my next visit at the back end of July.

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Last week of July I headed back up to the Tyne, eagerly anticipating the run of Salmon that must surely have run the river by then??? Of course that didn't happen, I think it's fair to say Salmon were pretty thin on the ground for most of us throughout the summer on the Tynes. I did manage to hook into even more ST though.

This was a satisfying one, went in for my first cast and saw a run of ST running through past me. I wound in, headed one pool up and nailed this one in the resting lie. Lost another just after.

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Later that evening, I waited for somebody to fish through the pool on the opposite bank and nearly jumped up and shouted when he pulled up short of the best lie. Winner! I waded into the tail and lengthened the line, 2 casts later and the scraggy wee shrimp did the business with this cracker.

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he next morning I was out in front of the birds as usual. I saw a few fish coming through a run downstream. I headed to the tail of a likely pool and put the fly into a likely spot at the lip of the next pool. I felt a pluck but nothing stuck, so I put the fly back, let it drift then started a slightly faster Fo8, saw a bulge beneath the fly and then nothing...... I took a breather for what seemed like 5 minutes, but was probably about 20 seconds; then I put the fly back, let it drift and did the fastest Fo8 I could muster, the ST came after it with a great bow wave in about 8 inches of water, it was like catching Bass on a lure.

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The wee treble proved it wasn't a flawless hooker when I dropped a nice one later that evening. Bloody fish! I lost a bigger fish just before dark after 10mins, probably a Salmon, certainly fought like one, flipping hook just came out as I was getting the net ready. There I was still fishing, still failing to catch a Salmon!!

The following morning I swapped my preferred AFS 6/7 for my new Guideline Compact 24g and when I was talking to a friend on the bank, this one hit the fly. I'll still use the AFS, it's a great line on the rod, but I also now love the Compact, at 28ft I get another 8-10ft of retrieve and it works really well.

This fish was in the middle of a nice run, I got 4 ST during the morning from 0700 to about 1100. I don't think I've ever had so many so quickly during the day, every cast felt like a winner and none fell off!(y)

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August - The joy and the sorrow

In August we headed back home for a camping holiday and (hopefully)to see my gran. I had a couple of sessions on the Ness Assoc water - very enjoyable. Naturally I caught nothing, but really enjoyed the casting with the Gaelforce 55ft Spey line. I was struggling to hit the mark at first and called James Chalmers for some advice on the correct weight of line for my rod. He gave some great advice and also told me to stick a poly on. The next day it went like a dream, great lines, outstanding service!

As a bit of a surprise I took a ticket on the Blackwater for my dad, who was up in the caravan and staying next to our tent. We'd fished there together lots of times and he'd had some fish out of that river over the years. Obviously the forecast rain didn't turn up and the river was about as low as I have ever seen it. It was good to see a guy and his son fishing just like we did 30 years before. There wasn't much hope of a fish in the conditions but after much persistence I found the one stupid Salmon and hooked it on a Snaelda fished like a nymph. Never in the history of fishing has one man been so grateful for one small Grilse; apart from me last year too!

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During the last weekend of August I headed up for my last 2 days on the Tyne. It wasn't a make or break trip, but it nearly turned into one. Day one was a pretty straightforward waste of time. Even as the water dropped on the N Tyne there just wasn't any evidence of running fish and it felt pretty pointless...... This is the South Tyne on the same day:

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The next day started much better on the South, this one was another good ST about 6lbs, taken at 0600.

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After I landed that one, I walked back up to the known hot spot - where I'd never actually landed a fish. I started well with yet another ST, second cast and right in the taking spot.

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What followed next was a tale of woe that will stick with me forever. I checked my knots, checked the hooks and started to fish again, about 10 yards back up the pool. 3rd cast in and I had a strong, solid take. First of all it headed off down river, I cranked up the drag and used that great Control braking to stop it. I followed the fish 20 or 30 yards down until I was parallel, put some side strain on and stood still as the fish headed steadily upstream, taking line against the drag. The Control brake would stop it and as soon as I let up, it would go again. I got level, held the rod parallel to the ground and gave it as much welly as I dared. Well nothing happened and it kept on going, eventually as it headed into a fallen tree I decided to clamp tight and the 15.6lb Seagur Snapped. I was upset, but also slightly relieved that it happened when it did.

I changed the tippet, changed the fly and went straight back in. About the same place I got another take and a decent fish thrashed off downstream. This one felt much less powerful and I played it hard. All was well until it came to netting it, as I drew the fish (15lbs+) over the net I let it touch the rim and it went Banzai. During this period the Polyleader snapped!!!! My lovely big fish rolled over the net and that was that........ Later that day 2m came down the South Tyne and my season was over.

I've never known a sustained run of ST like it, never been broken 3 times in a season before and I have never hooked a fish as big as the first one I lost the last morning.

Can't wait till next year!

Tight lines everyone.
 
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keirstream

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Good stuff G.K. especially the aged steak lunch bit. Something special as were some of those big Sea Trout.(y)
I admit to having a wee smile about James C. advising you to fine tune your set up with a poly.
Much of the days spent at the quarry were spent trying different lines with different rods and it is interesting how different
rods with the same rating benefit from this treatment, whether it be a 6ft or 10 foot poly.
It sometimes feels like a completely different set up, I suppose it is, really.
The difference in feel and casting though, is palpable.
It went from something that didn't feel quite right to where you just knew it was bang on.:)
Every new rod and line was developed along the way by James using everyone's input.
Except, of course, the Tournament stuff.
That was his alone and you only have to look at the top 10 results at San Francisco Spey O Rama and see what gear they are nearly all using.
Great report.:cool:
 

Grassy_Knollington

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Thanks for the comments. I really enjoy reading reports from others, I’m glad that some of you enjoyed that.

Westie, I’ve not stopped replaying that fish since I lost it. I think I probably panicked a bit after losing a head last year when my running line was cut by some debris in the Ure. I should have kept calm and piled the pressure on, it would have been worth a Rage head ?.

Kierstream

Interesting stuff on the lines JC said the poly both helps the anchor and stabilises the cast in flight. He’s bang on (obviously).

I was using a MKS 7/8, it casts like a dream with a 35g Guideline Compact, or the 38g LTS heads. I tried the 9/10 55ft line and it felt too heavy, the 8/9 didn’t seem to load the rod. While I’m sure a fair bit of the problem was my casting, the poly fair transformed matters and I was soon hitting the stops on the reel again. Top man!
 

Hardyreels

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What could I say that hasn't been covered, that's as good accounting of the action as I could get in person. Some really fine trout taken and just one question .......... The Poly Leader, did it just pop in the center or where?
 

Grassy_Knollington

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What could I say that hasn't been covered, that's as good accounting of the action as I could get in person. Some really fine trout taken and just one question .......... The Poly Leader, did it just pop in the center or where?

Cheers Ard, it broke a couple of feet up from the end. Must have been weakened by the previous fight, there were no visible flaws when I started.

As a great man once said; ‘them’s the breaks’:)
 
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