Saturday, 7 February 2015

Slow start to 2015.

After the disasterous trip to Okinawa, it took me a while to work up the motivation to get out again.  Actually it was about 5 weeks, I had been using the weather as an excuse, but really my head just wasn't there.. I firmly believe that fishing is at least 90% mental and if you can't get motivated, you're not going to perform.  Around the third weekend in January I convinced myself I'd have a good day if I went out to the river.  The Monday was the third successively warmer day in a row with non of the nights falling below freezing, if you can get this kind of pattern falling on your winter day off, it's usually a sign you'll have a good day.

So I set of for the river around 9.30 after giving the sun a chance to get up.. What I found when I arrived at the river ten minutes later was not a pretty sight.. the river bank had been totally shorn of all the trees and under growth for a good mile of the best stretch..

This used to be covered in 4ft high grass, mulberry bushes and shrubbery

It's a bit of a double edged sword having a clean bank, the fish are easier to spot and there are no hidden plants and twigs to trip you or give you away as you snap them... BUT, and it's a big but, there's nowhere for you to hide, it makes creeping up to fish siting in a foot or less of clear water incredibly tough.  The tall grasses and knot weed will be back strongly in a few months , but losing the mulberry bushes is a bit of a blow.  However, you can only fish the river in front of you and I walked on up to the weir that marks the end of the fish holding water. The weir pool was, as it often is, a bit dirtier than downstream.  I quickly rigged up a bright blob  under an indicator and let it run through the deep water on the near bank in front of a couple of nice fish, but didn't get a take.
As I didn't wan't to kill the swim I let it rest for a few minutes and just watched.  It's always worth sitting still and watching a feature that you know regularly produces fish... After about 5 or 10 minutes I watched 3 nice fish from around 5-10lb coming up onto a gravel bar in the middle of the stream, they were clearly on the feed as they worked their way across, it was the work of seconds to shallow up the indicator and flick a short cast well upstream of the fish and moments later I was connected to the smallest fish of the three...first fish of 2015!

carp on a soft blob under an indicator

It fought quite well for the time of year and spooked all the other fish in the pool so it was time to leave. I started creeping my way down stream as I came into the clear shallow water I took off the indicator and, after a couple of rejections on the blob, swapped to a little brown tailed hybrid. The hybrid is usually a reliable pattern, but it was steadfastly rejected by a string of fish I was sure would eat it.  It wasn't going to be as easy as the start of the session suggested.

John Montana's Hybrid.  Usually a banker.

I decided to push on downstream below the area that had been cut.  This brought  me to a deeper dirtier section, and out came the blob and indicator again. I could see fish cruising around actively searching in the current including the white koi that is always cutting about this stretch..I've never caught that fish but I always have a go when I see it.  The first cast and three fish charged my fly but the current meant I couldn't hold it in the zone long enough for them to reach it before I was swept away from them.  Another cast  at a different angle with a high rod tip to hold the line of the water had the blob drifting beautifully towards Moby Dick, and for the first time ever it was moving to take the fly...GREAT!  I was anticipating the take, really chuffed to eventually be catch this rogue that's been taunting me for the last few seasons.. and another ordinary fish charged up from below it in the most un-carp like way imaginable.  I don't know if I'd say I was disappointed to catch the little fatty, but I wasn't as pleased as usual!

Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory...the least pleasing fin perfect carp on the planet.

Moving on I the river widens and shallows up and the bottom becomes quite silty, off came the indicator and time for a fly swap.  The light was starting to make things a bit more difficult so I want for something dark that the fish and I would be able to pick out easily against the bottom..Time for Martyn's Midnight Magic.

 Here's a video of how to tie it!

As I worked my way along the bank, I felt much more comfortable with all the brush and trees to creep around. I quickly stuck a little fish right under the rod tip and then another a couple of minutes later.  They weren't big, but  were in great condition and had clearly been feeding well.

I blew a couple of shots  as I carried on, but managed another 3 fish by the time I came to the bridge where I originally joined the river.  I thought about heading further down and taking the long way home, but after catching the last fish I was on 7 from what had felt like a pretty slow day, and I was losing the light.Even though there were no big fish among them, it was a nice start. Time for a nice beer to celebrate getting back in the game!

Fat and fin perfect with a big tail.. that's how I like my carp, just need them to get bigger.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The failed GT quest of 2014

Last year I made several plans to go and fish an island in southern Japan, with the hope of getting my first Giant Trevally on the fly as well as ticking a few other species off the list.   It started when I was looking around on Google earth at some holiday destinations and spotted Kuroshima island  at the extreme Southern end of the Okinawan archipelago.

Kuroshima Island

It looked great and had good reports of quality GTs, bluefin trevally and both titan and yellow margin triggerfish.  I had to go, the first plan was for August, but that had to be put off because all 14 rooms on the island were fully booked by SCUBA divers.  No problem, I thought and took some leave at the end of September, being only a 4 hour flight from Tokyo makes it possible to go for a long weekend. So I got a box of GT flies and a collection of flats flies tied up and got ready to go.

GT brush flies

NYAPs and poppers

GT profile fly

And some triggerfish crabs and shrimps among others...

The 8 and 12 weights were ready, reels cleaned and checked , lines loaded with backups for the 12 weight just in case they got spooled.  Everything was good to go, but September is typhoon season amd a massive typhoon hit the day I was supposed to fly down... at least I didn't get stuck.  So I rescheduled for December (even in winter the average temps are in the mid 20s with water in the high 20s) I had to wait, but it meant I could have a bit longer exploring the flats.

 Flying over Fuji

Things were looking good and Hide from Tokyo Fly Fishing and Country Club was able to join me although his trip was starting and finishing a day before mine.  We arrived to great weather, 22 degrees and sunny with light winds.. things were looking good as I waited for the ferry from Ishigaki.

I managed to get out for a couple of hours on the day of arrival  and stuck a mid sized Blue fin trevally that came unstuck  somehow and I fluffed a shot at a tailing trigger on the South West side of the island. Really, my hopes were  high, the water was warm, I had seen a couple of fish and connected with one of the target species and had a shot at another.. I couldn't wait for the next day.

 Unfortunately, things didn't work out as planned and there was a steady temperature drop over the week, we still managed to fish most of the days and did get a couple of shots at GTs along with picking up some small reef fish, but the final straw was on the second to last day when the mercury plunged to 6 degrees C-according to the locals it was the coldest they'd seen for years- and there was a fish kill on the flats as a result.  It basically put paid to any hopes of catching anything else.

I'd definitely go back, but not in winter...I do have to say even though some of the biggest GEETs in the World are caught in southern Japan, my next GT trip is going to be  the Maldives or somewhere like that.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015