Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Wind, rain, and flood.

The South West of France has seen all the above recently, with loss of life and much damage to property! Where we live we missed the worst of it, thank heaven. We did get some minor damage in the garden, but nothing compared to just a 100 miles south of us! On the plus side, it has brought huge amounts of welcome water to our rivers.
I know I have gone on a lot about rain recently but with the recent pollution, its helped flush the river through.
During the summer we often have long periods of drought, and if the river's are full at the start of the season, it takes some of the pressure off.

Throughout the summer season, farmers take water for crops such as corn. The have a system were the farmers pay very little for the water (in fact its almost free) and are even paid by the E.U. for watered crops. As you can imagine this system encourages farmers to water, even if the crops dont need it, I have even seen water being taken during a rain strorm?

Several of the smaller 1st catagorie rivers, run completely dry during the summer months, I see this as a crazy situation that must change. You can understand now why I go on about water so much now?

I took a picture of the trout cascade at Viville today. This a one of the little river's the trout run up to spawn. Many lay their eggs in the main river Touvre, but some run up this cascade when the water is high enough, like now! My friend the Heron has taken pictures of the trout "running" the cascade in years past. Its a revelation to see such wonderful fish, doing just what nature intended.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Review Of The Clermont Ferrand Fishing Fare.

The long trip involved to reach Clermont Ferrand meant an early morning wake up call at 4.30am. We were catching the bus at Limoges, and meeting many friends, who were joining us for the journey and day out.
The snow that had disappeared, a week ago in our area, was still thick on the ground as we neared Clermont. A clear statement that this area suffers badly during the winter months!

After a short wait in the long queue outside, we were finally in the warmth of the Fishing show stadium, a large indoor area some two football pitches in size.

At the last show I attended (in Paris) the show was dominated by spinning tackle, and this show was much the same.With mini pools full of water, that the staff of companies like Rapalla and Smith, show off the action of there amazing lures.
Plastic baits seem to have taken over in popularity, from the traditional wood baits. Maybe its partly the cost, but the action on some of the soft plastics are just so realistic, to be believed.

The Fly Fishing stalls were headed up by the French brand JMC. I personally don't like the clothing range from this company, as its expensive, and not that well made. However some of the rods in the upper range, are very nice indeed, and match anything the high end American companies can produce! I tried several 5# both in 9' and 10' and found several I could fish with without reservation.

There was also a few small French rod makers that also took my eye, and if I were to move away from a lifetime of loyalty to Sage, its here I would spend my money. I tried a wonderful 9' 5# for under 400 euro, that cast a dream, with a super fast tip recovery (my preferred action) but was soft enough, to use light tippets on.

A large area was put aside for lunch time eating (the French national past time) but many like myself took a picnic.

The French fishing magazine Peche Mouche had a stand, but I managed not to succumb to a subscription, despite the gorgeous girls on the stand doing there best to persuade me. I still cannot read French good enough to warrent a monthly magazine!

The other stands in abundance were fishing holiday comapnies. They had video evidence of all the fish you could catch if only you signed up with them? I feel there is still so much fishing in France to discover, without having to travel by air!

All in all the show was well worth the long day out. It was full of people from early morning to when left at 5pm. So the stall holders must have been pleased with the turnout.

We caught the bus back home tired, but having had a great day out in good company. The only fly in the ointment was a parking ticket on my car, on return to it at 8pm?

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Pollution and Rain!

We have had a pollution on my local trout river the Touvre. I mentioned in an earlier post the problems this river has to contend with, but the pollution is by far the worst!
We are having more of the much welcome winter rain right now. This wet front has been with us since the snow departed, around a week ago, and should be the push the trout need to run up the small river to spawn.
Many fish spawn in the river itself, and make their reds were anglers would be walking in a few weeks time, if the Touvre didn't have a wading ban until mid May. It makes for a very short fishing season, but we feel it worth it. If only we could convince some of the French fishers now, to return spawning fish caught from the banks, during the opening weeks of March!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The Fly Box.

I love fly tying, and fortunately the trout love my flies too. Most winters I sit down and tie the flies I will need for the coming season.
My flies are dominated by weighted nymphs, in sizes 18s up to 12s. The Touvre is populated with shrimp (Gammarus) in biblical proportions.
There are in fact two species of this freshwater shrimp Gammarus pulex and Gammurus lacustris, I don't know what the Touvre species is, but a shrimp patten in sizes 16s to 12s in a pale watery olive colour covers all sizes. I tie them in light-medium and heavy, with grey partridge hackle as legs.

The next common insects are caddis. Caddis fall into three sizes 14s 16s and during August, a larger beast on a size 12s. Caddis are found all along the Touvre, but in some places the evening hatches are much bigger. In these areas it worth fishing a weighted caddis patten, such as Lafontaine deep sparkle pupa, at any time during the day, prior to a hatch.
In the late evening the same fly but in an emerger, sorts out the better fish. In fact two of my biggest fish a 58cm and a 56 cm fell to this fly.

Next come the small, medium and large mayflies. Sadly in just the few years I have fished the river, mayflies have become less common, its down to abstraction, and pollution, but I have covered that in a previous post!
On most days a few Blue winged olive (Ephemerella ignita) come off, but never in the huge numbers you see on the river Dordogne when grayling fishing. However a bead head b.w.o. nymph in a size 16s will catch fish, fished blind, or to sighted trout.

A few other medium mayflies come off over the summer months, such as PMDs and Pale waterys, and sometimes with the odd Danica putting in an appearance, but never in any numbers. These small mayfly hatches rarely bring any decent trout to the surface, the numbers are just not sufficient.

Below the fish farms, huge hatches of midge (Chironomids) are now common, and some big fish are caught here, but I just don't have the heart for it. To see this wonderful river so heavily silted that the only fly life it can support are midge populations sadden me. But I do carry a few midge pupa pattens to trail of the end of a dry fly, if the situation suggests trout may be taking tiny insects?

Finally at some time in July we get a fall of ants. These ants are large 12s and have a red arse!! After being caught out during my first season, and having to make do with a small black Klinkhamer, during a spectacular rise to this terrestrial insect, my box always has a few red arsed ants in a corner somewhere.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Fly tying a winter's past time.

Whilst I tie flies the whole year through, most of my flies get tied during the winter months. Not only is fly tying an enjoyable pastime, its also a necessity!
After speaking to many fly fishers it seems they fall into two categories. Those who tie the flies they really need, and those who tie all the flies they could possibly need. I fall into the latter group of tiers.
In truth I could fish an entire season with just one fly box, and for the past few seasons, I have tried to get down to just that. However there are always spill overs, flies you could need if there were a specific hatch.
Take for example the Pale Morning Dun. Last season in early May, for just a few days these beautiful mayflies came off in abundance, and the fish were on them. I did have specific copies, and am glad I did, but had I have had just the one box!
I have managed to get my everyday fishing down to two boxes. One is a large C&F waterproof. In this are all my weighted, and unweighted nymphs. Mostly shrimp and small bead head mayfly and caddis patterns. The other box is an eight compartment clear plastic danica box. This takes all my emergers, dries and ant's, and a few wets.
In my fishing bag, are several other boxes that will cover almost everything