Sportfish ambassador, James Stokoe, brings us up to date with his early season adventures.
Unfortunately, it was a long, cold and ultimately silver-less spring for myself – and indeed many other anglers – on the salmon rivers this year but it certainly wasn’t for the lack of trying.
For the first time in many years myself and my two salmon fishing buddies, Phil and Robson, decided to look further afield due to how slow the spring fishing had been on our local River Tyne in recent years. Our adventures took us to a couple of Scotland’s most iconic rivers, the Tay and the Spey, but the fishing was equally slow there too and we didn’t manage to hook a single fish. However, fly fishing is not always about catching fish, we still managed to have a great laugh and we learned a lot from fishing many different beats, information that we will be able to put to good use at another time.
Along with chasing the elusive salmon, filming for our new Untamed Anglers ‘Iconic Fish’ series got underway this spring, and I’m delighted to say that it has well and truly started with a bang.
The show features myself, Hywel Morgan and my buddy from the BBC show ‘Big Fish’, Ripon Khalique. So far, we’ve filmed four action-packed episodes focussing on grayling, trout, pike and bass, with each episode featuring some familiar faces from the world of fly fishing.
The concept of show revolves around the three of us travelling the length and breadth of Britain in search of our most ‘iconic’ fish species, meeting the characters that have spent a lifetime fishing for them along the way. We have four episodes left to film this year, including what promises to be the most challenging film of all – yes, that’s right, that will be the salmon fishing episode!
Back on the Tyne
Back on the River Tyne, my guiding has finally kicked off and I’m happy to report that my clients are landing a few fish, despite difficult fishing conditions.
The water level has been consistently low for most of the season, so we’ve had to wheel out a few unusual tactics to try and tempt the fish. The usual summer tactics of full floating fly lines, 12-14ft 8-10lb leaders and size 14-16 salmon flies are always my starting point when faced with conditions like this. When fishing in low water with small flies, I like to use either a single-handed or switch rod, the reason being that the shorter head on the line makes it far easier to work the fly across the pool. I’m an absolute sucker for moving the fly and in low and often slower water, imparting some life into the fly is essential.
If this first approach doesn’t work, I like to go back to the top of the pool and try something totally different. The second tactic that I use with clients if we’ve had no reaction to the small dressed fly, is to get deeper down to the fish using sink tips and quite big tubes to try and get a reaction from any resident fish that might not be in the mood to come up for a fly. Getting right down to the fish’s level gives them two choices, either move out of the way or grab hold! Hopefully the fish chooses the latter option.
On a positive note, we’re now experiencing larger runs of fish in the river, and with more rain due, we’re all hoping that the Tyne will soon be flying!
Until next time, tight lines!