Just over a year ago James and I were grayling fishing on a frosty river, after an hour I looked across the field at our tracks in the frost - footprints everywhere - how far had we walked back and forth?
I told TC and she got me a Fitbit watch last Christmas, I’ve worn it every day for a year - not just fishing but obviously chasing fish is a big part of my routine - is fishing a lazy hobby?
The results are in: Over 4.6 million steps or 2,235 miles - that’s the same as 85 marathons or walking from London to Cairo! In fact a friend of mine who also wears a Fitbit is a keen jogger and she didn't travel as far - lazy hobby? Nope!
The second annual Christmas fish off and Dyl, Steve & myself ventured into deep dark Wales in search of rainbow trout. They are stocked fish but it’s catch and release so they’ve seen it all before and in a spring fed, gin-clear pond it’s not easy fishing.
Dyl was first to bump a trout before I nailed one on a twitched Purple Headed Womb Ferret. Next I switched to a fast paced Blue Vained Flute bagging a second fish. And after a few follows I landed a third on a Bucket-Head Bruce Banner from under a bush.
A three fish lead against the fly guys, perhaps it was going to be my year. Steve swapped to a deep diving Tinky-Winky Spam Javelin, bagging his first trout and a One-Eyed Custard Flinger accounted for two more. Tea break; 3-3-0.
Last year’s top catcher, Dylan, struggled after losing a fish early on - and post tea break fishing was tough going. So it was great when one hit his slow sinking Mushroom Headed Meat Weasel while I was there to get a few action shots.
When the sun dipped behind the hill it started to get really cold, and the trout were happy to follow but not hit a fly. Steve bumped a couple before landing one on a Bubblehead Bangstick, I answered with one on a static Slippery Bishop. Four-four.
But Steve had saved the best until last. A big rainbow hit his bottom hugging Bald-Headed Buzzer. Hell of a fight and I remembered I had scales in the car, best of the day 5lb 12oz rainbow to end on. 5-4-1. The day was Steve’s but a great day was had by all.
Cheers guys, same again next Christmas? Oh, by the way, I have no idea what the names of the flies were. (All trout returned alive).
The last Total Flyfisher hits the newsagents this month, gone the way of so many other fantastic angling publications over the years. I'm really going to miss it having written & drawn the comic strip Fluff Chuckers for over 5 years.
Great while the magazine lasted and best of luck to the editor Andy Taylor, the writers & team who produced it. And thanks to the readers who took time to email me, glad you enjoyed the cartoon - perhaps it's time for a new comic strip...
Edit: I've left it a while before adding the comic below. Above is before I saw the movie, I had high hopes after The Force Awakens. Below is what I drew after seeing the film; it opened with a prank phone call, then was a film about slowly running out of petrol, a pointless side plot and space-penguins! Proper franchise killer!!
I had been looking forward to this trip for a couple of weeks. Up at 4:30am, a near 6 hour round trip, 4 pints of maggots and 2 packs of roach deadbaits - we were on the bank to watch the sunrise...
When we had light we could see the normally gin-clear chalk stream was high and carrying a lot of colour - cr*p! Stick 'n' pin was swapped for feeder fishing and float fished roach for ledgered sprats...
I had a grayling first cast about 1¼lb and bumped two more in the next two casts - hopes remained high. The next bite was midday, the 1lb 10oz grayling above - and that was to be my last all day.
Not enough grayling to feed Des Taylor (if you're keeping up with fishing news). But a pike would save the day - nope, just one dropped run, they really weren't on it in the dirty water.
James did suggest a move to The Stour early on and in hindsight that would have been a far better plan, but when you've been planning a trip and with such high hopes it's hard to drag yourself away.
December fishing has been tough going so far, the plans have been great - but the weather and the fish don't follow plans. I really hope The Wye is on fine form over the Christmas break...
A new river in search of perch and the plan was to leap-frog down the stretch lure fishing and when we had a hit or follow to concentrate on that area with lob worms and minnow livebaits. With three of us fishing this was a great way to cover a lot of water.
I opted for natural pattern small hard body plugs, not great for hooking up to perch but they love tapping and following them - I hoped they'd give up their hiding spots.
First follows were from a very rare Lea zander, in true zander fashion it was more than happy to follow my lure but didn't want to hit it - at one stage I was making it follow a figure of eight pattern off the rod tip before it got bored and skulked back to the depths.
It had been an early start and fishing in the rain, I really hoped we'd be rewarded with a perch or two but we didn't even spot one all day - really not having a lot of luck with them yet this season.
I did however manage a couple of jacks on the plugs - really nice to get pike from a new river, and somewhere I'd like to return for a double later in the season - and hopefully a few elusive perch.