Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Hope and Inspiration.

I've just returned from a holiday in my old stamping grounds in Norfolk. Apart from once again getting a decent pint of beer, three events gave me great hope for the future for the wonderful, yet hidden chalk streams on the North Sea Coast.

Firstly, I visited a reach of river I helped to restore between 2006-8. The estate in question supported by a team of willing volunteers and the Wild Trout Trust provided advice, funding and many hours of labour to support a programme of narrowing, spawning gravel creation, riparian fencing and placement of large woody debris (LWD). The overall aim was two-fold, to improve the conditions for both resident browns and those that may choose to go on salty excursions. Myself and Tim Jacklin of the Wild Trout Trust were lucky enough to be invited to fish the reach and we were delighted to see what must have been a ten fold increase in brown trout numbers. I was also reliably informed by the keeper that returning sea trout have been observed spawning on newly introduced riffles...The Best News!

Despite a tricky wind I went on to catch what I term a 'Restoration Brownie' of about a 1lb when the wind eventually dropped at dusk. I have caught fish three times as big this season but to me this was my most memorable moment with a rod in 2011. Surely it must be one of the ultimate prizes in fly fishing to catch a fish on a dry fly from a reach that was once on its knees. Many had totally written off this small stream. However, thanks to a small but passionate band of hairy arsed fishers, supported by the Wild Trout Trust, we once again have a viable fishery that can support a thriving population of trout. Most importantly, the river has a much higher profile and others may now think twice before causing damage to this most beautiful and intimate of chalk streams.

That evening we shared a bottle or two with Mark Watson the Manager of the new Norfolk Rivers Trust. This is a very exciting and much needed development in the battle to conserve Norfolk's very special chalk rivers. Mark is a very capable guy and passionate about wild trout and rivers. Having helped to win a few hard fought battles against the authorities in Norfolk I am thrilled to see a new and independent force for good emerging on the scene. Exciting times indeed!

Lastly, I attended a meeting with my old mates at the River Glaven Conservation Group. This bunch of volunteers from the local community have been busy delivering a very exciting and innovative programme of river restoration projects in the sleepy Glaven Valley. I am a huge admirer of the spirit, tenacity and drive of this bunch of 'Good Old Boys' who care so passionately about 'their river'. They remind me of a similar group I am a huge fan of in the North West - The Lune Rivers Trust. The Glaven Group have now completed two major restoration projects involving re-connection of the floodplain, re meandering, LWD and creation of riffles, etc. Amazingly they are now taking on a new challenge to bypass and restore a very old and silted on-line lake plus restoring the relict channel. All this is being led by volunteers with support from experts (like Wild Trout Trust) and various Govt bodies. As an original committee member it was so satisfying to see the group had come of age and now being accepted as a serious conservation partner by The Environment Agency and Natural England.

I cane away feeling re-invigorated and inspired to continue take on the challenges that working on a catchment of 2500 sq km present!

All of this happened on what was supposed to be a family holiday...but once afflicted, this incurable river conservation bug tends to flow through your veins for the rest of your life!

Friday, 19 August 2011

ERT Has Moved

After five very happy years at Skirsgill Business Park we are relocating to a suite offices at the Newton Rigg College Campus, Near Penrith.

We are tremendously excited about the move both in terms of the increased size of our accommodation and the opportunities to develop educational and training partnerships with new owners Askham Bryan College.

The move will take place between 18th August – 21st August.

As of w/b 22nd of August our new address will be:

Eden Rivers Trust

Dunmail Building

Newton Rigg College


CA11 0HA

View Eden Rivers Trust offices in a Google map

We are expecting that there will be some unavoidable but short-term disruption to our telephone and internet / email capabilities.

We hope that our existing office number (01768 866788) will be still be in use, however it may be redirected to an alternative number, again for a short period. We have also set-up a temporary mobile number which will remain in the new office (07864 644943). This phone will be checked regularly and will be able to accept voice mail messages.

Staff mobile telephone numbers and email addresses will remain as normal.

I hope the move and subsequent settling in period will be as smooth as possible but I apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused

Monday, 8 August 2011

Charity Casting Challenge

Eden Rivers Trust will be organising a charity casting challenge at this year’s inaugural Lowther Game and Country Fair at Lowther Park on 13th and 14th August. Proceeds from the challenge will be split equally between Eden Rivers Trust and armed forces charity Combat Stress.

The challenge, known as the Casting Game will see adults and children alike cast ‘against the clock’ on a course designed to test their accuracy and skills with a fly rod. Children and adults, beginners and experts are all welcome to have a go.

Entries are just £1 and there will be prizes for the top 5 times (adult and junior) each day. The competition has been generously sponsored by Orvis who are donating the use of fishing rods during the challenge and prizes each day.

The aim of the challenge is to both inject a little more fun into the world of fly fishing and to raise much needed funds for two worthy, but vastly differing charities.

I have been particularly inspired by the work of Combat Stress, having had the honour of meeting several service personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of these heroes have returned with severe and life changing physical wounds such as triple amputations. However, many of the guys and girls also have to cope with the often concealed and less publicised physiological scares that can be associated with active service. These can involve Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety disorders.

I hope that the exhibitors and good country folk visiting the fair will come along and support this fund-raising initiative and have a lot of fun at the same time!

Aside from the Casting Challenge ERT will have its normal displays and be on hand to answer queries about our conservation work (and the great fishing!) on the River Eden.

So, if you are coming up to the Fair pop over to our stand and say hello and test your skills - it is for a good cause.

After trying the game on my lawn the other evening - I marked myself down as needing some professional help...turns out I'm not the hot shot I thought I was!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Weekender Report

I am relieved to report that the Weekender was a fantastic success. We had over 70 guests on the Friday night to listen to our guest speakers Paul Procter and Jeremy Lucas. The food at the Tufton was excellent as was the ale and the company.

Despite the weather forecast and a wet start the fishing on Saturday was very good indeed. I have received reports from many of the anglers saying what a wonderful time they had in truly stunning surroundings. Two of my friends had very good days indeed. The funniest moment for me was trying to light my Kelly Kettle with virtually no breeze to get a draw. At one point I think we filled the whole of the Eden Valley with our emissions and it was only sheer bloody mindedness that eventually resulted in cups of rather smokey tea (a new Cumbrian delicacy).

Sunday arrived and the river was slowly rising. Despite this, again many fish were caught and one of the rods guided by Glynn Freeman landed a fresh grilse of about 6lbs.

Will we be running this event again?..You Bet!

Our good friends at Wild Trout Trust are planning to hold their Annual Get-together in Appleby, on or around the second weekend in June. If you could not make this years event make sure you come along in will not be disappointed.

I would like to thank all of the owners, fishing clubs, guides and speakers that made this weekend possible. I would also like to thank the Wild Trout Trust for their help in promoting and organising the event.

Lastly 'without the trout' none of this would have been possible!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Last chance......we'd hate you miss this one!

Just a final reminder regarding the Wild Trout Evening at the Tufton Arms in Appleby, tomorrow evening (see earlier blogs). The 60+ guests that have booked thus far are in for what promises to be a great evening of fishing talks, supper and fly tying demos....not to mention much beer induced fishing talk!

Tickets are priced at a very reasonable £19.50 per person. If you would like to come please contact the ERT Office (01768 866788) and book in. We will be able to take payment on the door but we'd like to know your coming to keep the chef sane!

Rainfall over the next 24hrs could raise levels in the river on Saturday and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the worst of it drops outside the catchment. However this is Cumbria!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Excuse me. Are you the Judean People's Front?

I managed to bring an evening meeting forward on Monday to enable me to squeeze in a much needed fix of Eden wild trout.

On arrival at the beat the river looked in superb order. Unlike many other rivers in England the Eden has been blessed with rain, much to the delight of local anglers and gardeners alike!

Although sunny the early evening temperatures were low enough to have me rummaging around in the boot of my car for my trusty Help For Heroes Hoodie - this top has not only been with me when I've raised a few thousand quid for this worthy charity but it has started become a sort of lucky fishing talisman for me to the point where I really don't like to be wetting a line without it.

There were good numbers of upwings airborne including my favourite fly of all time the Yellow May Dun. Spinners were also starting to fall. If the temperature stayed up I thought I may just be in for a good evenings sport.

I quickly took two small trout on an emerger pattern so all was looking good. They both put up spirited fights that reminded me of puppies that will not let go a of a sock...feisty little devils!

At that point, I was joined on banks of the pool by a visiting salmon angler. It transpired that he had come (several hundred miles) for the Salmon but unfortunately for him he should have been on the river a couple of weeks earlier when we had the last push of water. He went on to tell me that he had seen a really good and prolonged hatch of upwinged flies for most of the afternoon and trout had been going crazy. "Ironic really" he said "as I actually do a lot of trout fishing back home". My response almost seemed rude, but I just had to ask...."but why didn't you pack a trout rod too?" He agreed, "Good question, I really don't know why?"

We then discussed why it is that as fisherman we have the tendency to want to ignore the many differing angling opportunities that a quality game river provides. From my point of view I cannot see the logic in flogging a bit of salmon water to death knowing that it's a waste of time, especially when the trout (inc sea trout) are on!

I think as fishermen we tend to ally our selves to a particular clan or tribe - river trout, stillwater trout, sea trout, salmon, etc. Its fine to have a specialism, but I cannot help but feel that this somewhat regimented approach facilitates many a blank day because of some sort of irrational fear of the consequences piscatorial free thinking or perhaps being disloyal to their particular tribe.

We both agreed that Free Spirits in fishing world are rare beasts! At this point the following scene from Monty Pythons 'The Life of Brian' sprang to mind.

Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves! You're all individuals!

Crowd: [in unison] Yes! We're all individuals!

Brian: You're all different!

Crowd: [in unison] Yes, we are all different!

Man in crowd: I'm not...

Crowd: Shhh

Some owners, ghilles and keepers can also enforce a restrictive and dictatorial approach to fishing. It may be unspoken but anglers are often left in no doubt as to what is the expected 'form' on a beat. On some Scottish Rivers getting a trout rod out would be considered an act of high treason...but why? It should be remembered that its only fairly recently that some of the interests controlling major Scottish Salmon rivers have begun to slowly accept that trout are not actually vermin. There still remains a job of work to do here as some normally intelligent and rational people still pedal this outdated and somewhat Victorian viewpoint. I have actually had these conversations. One proprietor on a famous Northern Scottish river actually told me that I could come and fish for trout if I killed everything I caught as they "eat all of our salmon eggs"......I declined!

On a mixed game fishery like the Eden (where we love our trout) I advise my salmon fishing friends to always bring a trout rod. Some do and some don't...however those that do never regret it and in some cases have had real red letter days that in their words "saved the trip".

So my advice when coming to fish the Eden is to be totally flexible in your approach and your choice of quarry and I guarantee you will 'max' your chances of having a great trip.

To illustrate my point. My fellow (and very nice) salmon angler had a blank and retired to the pub at 9.30pm. Whilst he was standing at the bar, perhaps drowning his sorrows, I had a further eight wild trout to nearly 2lbs, with some bigger fish bumped off too. I was also still catching trout after the landlord announced "time gentlemen please".

Although you should be wary of judging a good day in terms of numbers of fish, (The Flyfishers Club motto springs to mind here PISCATOR NON SOLUM PISCATUR - It is not all of fishing to fish) I will leave you to judge for yourself regarding who you think had the more enjoyable day.

And to finish, I couldn't resist this last quote, again from the Life of Brian. I think this neatly captures some of the self imposed divides that I have witnessed in approach, species elitism and attitude between differing factions of fisherman...I think we would do well to remember that we are actually all one in the same. Brothers of the Angle!

Brian: Excuse me. Are you the Judean People's Front?

Reg: F**k off! We're the People's Front of Judea.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

We still have a number of rod days available on the Wild Trout Weekender. The good news is that on Eden we have good rainfall over the last few weeks and the fishing has been excellent. I have had several reports of fish over the magical 3lb mark. So if youre free over the weekend of 18th and 19th June why not come along and experience some very fine and affordable wild trout fishing in quite stunning surroundings. See

Monday, 16 May 2011

A sad week

In the last few days I have been saddened by the news that two friends from the world of fishing have passed away.

The first is Micheal Edwards CEO of Orvis UK. Throughout my years at Wild Trout Trust, Michael was very supportive of our conservation work is so many different ways. He always listened with a generous ear to my cunning plans and differing ways of getting support from Orvis (and there were many!). I don’t actually ever think I heard him say no. Since my departure from WTT I kept in fairly regular contact with Michael and he was always interested how I was getting on at ERT in what he described as the Frozen North! Indeed in my last mail to him I threatened him that I would visit to the Orvis stand at this year’s CLA!

I have really good memories of Michael both at events such as the WTT Awards the CLA and once or twice in the shooting field.

The second loss has been that of Fred French MBE. Fred really was one of anglings grandees with involvement in many, if not of all of the bodies that have represented fishermen over the last few decades. I first met Fred through his NAFAC days when he used to 'ride shotgun' with his great pal, Terry Mansbridge. Both of these guys approached all of the issues facing fisheries with an infectious mix of professionalism, enthusiasm, pragmatism and good humor.

On my arrival at ERT Fred was one of the first to phone me and wish me all the best from his HQ in Ambleside. Like me Fred was a 'blow-in' from the South. Many of you reading this may have been on Freds 'distribution list' for what has been termed the 'World Wide French Web'. This can best be described as a sort of information service of emails and announcements of relevance to the fisheries world. Sometimes you could get several of these mails a day! However, on at least two recent occasions mails from Fred alerted me to very important issues and initiatives I knew nothing about. I used to also love Freds'commentary' that accompanied some of the mails - there wasn't much that he hadn't seen or heard of before and he did have a habit of telling it like it was!

I last mailed Fred about 10 days ago and he said things weren't great. Soon after the mails stopped appearing and towards the back end of last week I started to worry. A email on arrival at my desk this morning confirmed my worst fears.

At sad times like this,cliches tend to get overused. However, I can put my hand on heart and say both the passing of Micheal and Fred will leave a large gap in the world of fisheries and angling. However, I feel the richer for having the honor of their company over many years. The next time I catch a wild trout on the Eden I will raise my cap (and later a glass) to the honour of two great men.

But most importantly at this sad time, our thoughts must go to their families.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Something for the Weekend?

We still have good availability left on many beats for the Wild Trout Weekender on the 18th /19th June and the Wild Trout evening on the 17th June.

We have some fantastic beats on offer and two great speakers on the Friday evening. Unlike the rest of the country we actually have some water coming down the river and it’s even raining as I write this.

Trout fishing this season has been on the whole quite good but the bright weather and cold wind over the last week or two has made things a little tricky. Hatches have been all over the place. However those anglers that are prepared to work for their fish and ring in the changes have been rewarded, in some cases with some very big browns, reported in excess of 3lbs......roll-on June!

We owe it to the Eden to put on a good show and raise a few quid!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

I know you got Sole....

Question it felt free?!

See below from Vermont - I look forward to seeing similar announcements in the UK from our own 'angling and fisheries officials'.

As an aside, I had an interesting conversation the other day with an angler who is very switched on to this issue. He fishes with different sets of waders when abroad and thoroughly cleans them before returning home. Despite this and two weeks after his return he found that some leeches had hitch-hiked on his boots all the way from the Southern Hemisphere.......

Vermonts Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Patrick Berry today took an extra step to prepare for the upcoming season: He took the Clean Angling Pledge. He also urged anglers to look at the extensive information on VT Fish and Wildlife’s website designed to help anglers modify their existing footgear.

Administered by the Montana-based Invasive Species Action Network, the Clean Angling Pledge is a simple, yet effective way to remind anglers of the important role they play in the fight against the spread of aquatic nuisance species. An angler who takes the pledge promises to inspect, clean and dry their equipment after each use.

Berry’s pledge comes the same week that Vermont is poised to become the second U.S. state to ban the use of felt-soled wading boots and waders in all waters. Vermont’s ban, established last year by the Vermont Legislature, begins April 1, 2011. Maryland’s ban began March 22.

“It’s important to note that simply making the switch from felt to a rubber-soled boots does not absolve an angler, hunter or trapper from still having to clean their gear,” Berry said. “Rubber-soled boots are easier to clean than felt, but we have to remain vigilant to protect our resources.”

Taking the pledge, said Berry, takes only a few minutes, and he’s urging all Vermont anglers to log on to and join him. A link to the pledge can also be found on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s Website.

“Vermont Fish & Wildlife takes this issue very seriously,” Berry said. “We have a strict cleaning protocol in place for our employees that mandates a very through and complete cleaning of their gear after each use. This pledge helps remind anglers to develop their own cleaning routine for all of their gear, too.”

The three key components of the pledge are:

• INSPECT: Take a close look at your equipment (including boots, waders, boats and trailers) for any rocks, mud, plants, moss or other materials. Physically remove it.

• CLEAN: Thoroughly clean your equipment with water and a brush to remove any attached materials.

• DRY: Completely dry your equipment in the sun.

Bob Wiltshire, executive director of the Invasive Species Action Network, said he’s happy Berry is helping get out the message of the Clean Angling Pledge.

“We’re pleased that Commissioner Berry recognizes the importance of taking personal responsibility for protecting our waters. By simply cleaning our gear to after every use each one of us helps to prevent spreading invaders. None of us wants to be the person responsible for introducing a new invader and following the Clean Angling Pledge helps protect our waters.”

Source: Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Wild Trout Weekender 18th & 19th June

The link below will take you to our website and the .pdf brochure of the Wild Trout Weekender. We have over 50 rods available on each day, with options to hire guides if required. We have received some tremendous support from clubs, associations, owners and guides on the river.

All the proceeds will support wild trout habitat conservation work. On this we are partnering the event with the Wild Trout Trust who we plan to (and already are) collaborate with on several projects over the coming years on the river.

The Friday (17th) 'Wild Trout Evening' at the Tufton Arms looks set to be a cracker with both Paul Procter and Jeremy Lucas providing talks as well as a number of guest fly tyers giving away hints and tips on those all important killer patterns. If that wasn't enough....Mrs Ewbanks legendary bangers will be on offer at the supper!!

If you find wild trout groovy...then you will dig this event!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Honky Tonk Trout

The picture is one of a group of 26 trout as coloured in by Year 1 and 2 pupils at a school in the catchment I visited yesterday. The kids were great and we also visited a local beck where, despite flood conditions I managed to get the whole range of invertebrate species, sticklebacks, stone loach and a white clawed crayfish. It never ever fails to surprise me at just how enthusiastic kids get when the see a tray of bugs. We even had a small olive hatch in the tray. This was the icing on the cake as I had just played a short video of mayflies hatching (and trout eating them!) back in the classroom.

My hope with these type of visits is that we may just inspire one or two future 'Chris Packhams' to get involved in freshwater conservation (and boy do we need them). If nothing else I am convinced that they will remember their trip to the beck and view it as something that is living, fragile and worthy of protection.

One thing for sure is that I really appreciate just how much hard work our Education Officer puts in day in and day out through our Rivers in the Classroom initiative. Half a day left me completely drained...what an amateur!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Eden Archive

Last year I rather rashly decided that I would start to compile an archive on the River Eden and its rich angling heritage, with the view of writing a book on the history of the fishery.

I have received information from a number of sources including a huge collection of newspaper reports from 1967 - 1980. I am also in receipt of the minute books of the then Eden Fishery Board from the period 1930 to 1951. A number of individuals and clubs have also provided some very interesting information, books and articles.

It's been an interesting read....and one thing for sure is there aren't that many new problems affecting the fishery. As far back as 1930 there were widespread concerns (and action) about the effects of cormorants roosting in the Solway Estuary! Pollution reared its ugly head all too often and the river board and fishermen seemed to have a real love hate relationship with coarse fish....from being classed as vermin in the 1930's to being promoted a worthy quarry in the 1960's. However only as far back as 1969 fishing clubs were still removing large numbers of dace 'at invitation' from various beats along the river.

I am still a long way short of enough material to start to compile the content of the book.

I am particularly interested in any catch records, photographs and stories of great fish hooked...lost or landed! The other gap I have surrounds some of the great characters and stories that must be associated with the Eden.

One chap I'm particularly interested in was a trout fisher called Ronald Mckillop who fished the river circa 1935-. In Carlisle AA's 150th Anniversary book there is a wonderful picture of young Ronald tying a fly by hand next to his beloved river....sadly Ronald was killed in a Spitfire in 1943. I plan to dedicate the book to the memory of this WW2 hero who made the ultimate sacrifice so that future generations of Eden fishers would continue to enjoy this wonderful fishery in freedom.

If you have any information on the Eden, including old photographs, etc...please do contact me at the Trust.

All proceeds from the book will be donated to both ERT and Combat Stress (an armed forces charity that looks after veterans with post traumatic stress disorder).

I only hope Ronald would approve?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Swift Trout.....

Well, after what seems like a very long, dark, wet, cold and grey winter...the 2011 trout season has arrived on Eden!

I took half a days leave today and fished my favourite beat on the middle river. Running at about '1ft on' the water looked trouty enough. However there was still a fair old push of flow through many of the pools and runs.

I opted for a trio approach. Tungsten bead Turkey Biot nymph on the point, Partridge and Orange on the middle dropper and Waterhen Bloa on the top dropper. After what seemed like an age I did connect with a 'Swift Trout' of about 1/2 pound (pictured above). Early season trout are not known for being shy and this wild little devil gave an account of itself that stockies of three times that size could only dream of!

At about 1pm a steady stream of LDO's started to drift downstream which did prompt some surface feeding. I switched to dry fly (snowshoe hare emerger) and rose two fish both of which I bumped off (too keen!).

Did I care? Not a bit!..... I was out on the river. It might have been raining, it might have been grey, but I found myself starting to look forward to the season ahead and all of the fly fishing possibilities that a spate river offers.

But its not just about the fishing. My best seasons are measured in terms of catching-up with old fishing friends, gallons of Kelly Kettle tea drunk , contented wet labradors , lazy lunchtime bankside BBQ's enjoyed and sinking more than a few pints of beer to celebrate red letter days!

I can hardly wait.........and I feel very lucky to be able to fish such a wonderful river.

Best of luck - wherever you fish - just as long as it's wild!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Wild Trout Weekender

17th, 18th & 19th June 2011....dates for your trouty diaries!

You are cordially invited to attend the inaugural River Eden ‘Wild Trout Weekender’.

In a bid to support important fisheries conservation and habitat restoration work on the river, Eden Rivers Trust and the Wild Trout Trust have joined forces to present a ‘Wild Trout Weekender’ fundraising event on 18th-19th June 2011.

In a nutshell, a range of beats will be offered throughout the entire system (competitive bidding basis) to be taken on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th June. Prices range for £10 – 50 per rod per day. Some beats will also ‘rent out’ the services of guides, again with proceeds going to ERT / WTT.

The quality of the wild trout fishing on the Eden is truly excellent and it is hoped that the event will also raise the profile of the affordable and easily accessible association and private beats along the entire 80 mile length of the river. The event has been planned for June when the river is at its peak and the crème of the fishing is on offer......Cumbrian weather permitting!

On the Friday evening (17th) there will also be a themed Eden Fishing Evening event taking place at the Tufton Arms, Appleby. Tickets priced at £19.50 include a two course supper, guest speakers, and fly tying demos. There will also charitable auction of ‘Affordable Promises’ with items such as signed books, flies, fishing tackle and other sporting ephemera!

Guest speakers on the evening include:
Paul Procter on fishing the Eden, flies and entomology
Jeremy Lucas – Modern River Trout Fishing Techniques

The Tufton Arms Hotel will also be offering a preferential rate for fisherman and guests attending the weekend.

Further information on the event and the availability of beats / guides will be available on the ERT & WTT’s websites as of 1st April see;

Friday, 25 February 2011

Put The 'Fly' back into your Fly Fishing

I'm excited........I've just booked a place on what I hear is a very good course run by the Freshwater Biological Association - 'Entomology For Anglers'.

The two tutors running the course Stuart Crofts and Andrew Dixon have few equals when it comes to this subject.

The purpose of this course is to increase fly fishers’ understanding of entomology, which could
make a big difference to their catch. Understanding the life cycle of the flies that are being imitated helps better decisions to be made on what a fish is feeding on, when and where that
type of food will be available, and how best to represent that food form. The course will describe certain aspects of the natural fly which can be incorporated into imitations, explain why some flies are more significant than others and why some important flies are often neglected by anglers. It will also involve a field visit to a river site to collect some of the species the fly-fisher

This will be followed by practical advice on how to identify them under the microscope. Anglers Stuart Crofts and Andrew Dixon, have both fished for England at national and international level and have studied entomology for many years.

Three courses are being run at;

Saturday 9th April at Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment (SCENE), University of Glasgow, Loch Lomond

Saturday 21st May at the FBA River Laboratory, Dorset

Saturday 28th May at FBA Windermere, Cumbria.

I've been lucky enough to fish with Stuart quiet a few times over the years and his enthusiasm and knowledge of entomology changed my whole approach and understanding of fly fishing.

I can't wait!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Get A Grip?

Interest is building in the Clean Angler Pledge and thanks to the World Wide Fred French Web my mutterings have gone out to a much wider audience!

It was nice to see the Angling Trust make reference to ERT's call to ban felt wading boots. I hope this organisation with its significant resources and contacts will pick-up the baton from herein. I will make contact with them in the near future.

I have had a few questions regarding the tendency of non felt soles to slip and slide on the river bed. This is an interesting issue. I have been using Simms Aquatstealth Soles for about five years and have never felt 'slippage' to be a problem. I spend an awful lot of time in waders and fish and work on some pretty spatey rivers.

Having just received a new pair of Orvis Eco-Trax boots I took the opportunity to test them out yesterday on the main Eden and they performed very well indeed. The boots are studded which I think helps.

Dare I say it, but I think sometimes slippage can be exacerbated by poor wading technique. If you try to 'walk' a river I think there is a higher risk of skidding! On spate rivers I find that you are best off 'feeling' the bed of the river and that slower measured progress is the best approach (it doesn't scare the fish either). Obviously it goes without saying that you should never attempt to go against the flow (in all but the shallowest of water) but use it to your advantage. Wading staffs can be a real aid...but I've yet to find a good one that isn't stupidly expensive.

Inspect - Clean - Dry - Spread The Word....... Not The Problem!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Best Foot Forward

Since my last blog. Our good friends at Orvis have subsidised the purchase of our new 'felt free' Ecotrax wading boots. Contained within each box was an information card from Orvis President, Perk Perkins, highlighting the rising problem of invasive species. This is a great example of a company with a sense of it's environmental responsibilities and they are to be commended!

Spread the word - not the problem!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Clean Angling - Take The Pledge!

Phase out the Felt - ERT Takes the Lead

I note with interest that in the States, Trout Unlimited has issued a challenge to the fishing industry to stop using felt on the soles of wading boots. Felt is a major contributor to the spread of all manner of freshwater invasive species which could include ‘aquatic hitchers’ such crayfish plague and gyrodactylus salaris. Companies like Orvis, Simms and Patagonia have responded with new ‘felt free’ technologies. One would hope that the UK tackle industry (including retailers) will also be rising to this challenge to protect and conserve the very resources that sustain their businesses and our precious angling heritage.

So my plea to the UK tackle industry is please...Phase out the Felt!

Anglers can also ‘play their part’ by taking the ‘Clean Angler Pledge’

INSPECT - carefully examine all of your equipment at the end of your trip to see if there are any visible signs of unwanted material attached. This includes any type of plant or mud. Remove anything visible.
CLEAN - use water to wash your equipment clean. High pressure water works great to remove anything that may be attached to your equipment. It's ok to clean with water from the river or lake where you have been fishing or boating from because you will leave behind invasive species that you may have picked up. However, never clean your equipment at your put-in spot since you can easily be cleaning off hitchhikers that have been with you since your last trip. If you cannot clean before you leave a site, then make sure to clean at home where there is no chance that an invader can reach the water.
DRY - a thorough drying of your equipment will kill any live invaders you may have picked up. Make sure that every bit of hidden moisture is gone.
The above is of particular importance if your are fisherman that moves between fisheries both here in the UK and abroad.
As anglers (and that includes the tackle industry) we must all take these simple actions to stop the spread of destructive invasive species.

I realise I have written about this subject before and I make no apologies for raising again! This is simply because it is such an important issue that could affect the quality of all of our fishing.

At ERT we have now banned the use of felt soled waders in our work. Although this may cost us money in the short term - we feel it is a small yet worthwhile investment to help protect our special river.
Now pass me the matches!