The article below was posted in our Spring Newsletter in 2000 by Pam who passed away earlier this month
A Treatyse on Ffyshynge with an Angle (in our Club Waters)
I think I will write this now, in case fishing becomes illegal or I am dead – I do not expect either to happen in the near future but I am “knocking on” a bit myself!
I joined the Crediton Fly Fishing Club in June 1999. I’d fished for coarse fish when young, both my brothers and the family I married into fished, but it all finished when a major pollution more or less wiped out the fish in our river (the Cam/Granta in Cambridge). Although the fish eventually returned gradually it was too late for me – other things had taken over by then like marriage, work, children, worry, etc.
So it was not until the late nineties (end of the 20th century I mean, not my own age!) that I handled a rod again. I was recovering from a severe back injury and had to do something active, if only with the aid of a walking stick, so I took out the only part of my fishing stuff I’d kept – the rod and tackle I’d used to fly-fish for dace and chub in the Granta – and had a try on the one bit of “free” trout river near me. I caught a trout the first day and was “hooked” again!
Luckily the Crediton Club had a vacancy. I hobbled through that season with some difficulty – all the nettles and brambles were fully grown by then (June). I didn’t know where were the places you could actually get into the river – it seemed like a Commando course to get even near it with the barbed wire and high banks too.
I am afraid in that first season I pestered Howard and David with telephone calls about what to do and where to find places to get into the water. Although I tried not to pester them too often I am sure I did really but I never got anything but help and encouragement from them! To spare their blushes, I will move on now and give new members the benefit of my wealth of experience from fishing on our waters in half of the 1999 season; all of the 2000 season and the bit of the 2001 season not spoilt by the foot and mouth disaster!
1) The first thing I found was that thigh waders are not enough – you need chest waders or a lot of water is inaccessible. Also with chest waders you don’t get stung so much by nettles and you can sit down or slide down a high bank without getting your trousers wet or, as happened to me, being too severely inconvenienced if you sit on or very near a nest of red ants!
2) I have a haversack when I fish, because I like to take a flask of tea and something to eat with me. But really I know a fishing waistcoat is better because you can wade deeper – at least a foot deeper – and that can sometimes get you through bits of water you couldn’t get through with a bag on your back.
3) There is a pocket in the front of my chest waders. It contains:
- a) Half a small towel – invaluable for protecting the hand as you try to get in and out of the water down or up steep banks and of course for wiping wet hands on.
- b) A pair of secateurs. Fortunately for us, our waters are not over-fished and by high summer most of the “entry points” to get to the water are a jungle – a few snips with the secateurs (particularly on the brambles) can save your waders from yet another repair job!
- c) A few tissues – to dry your dry fly and blot the inside of your reel if (when) it gets waterlogged.
4) I’d only fished for dace and chub before with fly when I was young and used the more usual coarse fishing methods for other coarse fish. My fly-fishing was in much more open water than ours is and I’d only ever used overhead or side casts. Fortunately when I “got the bug” again I decided to have a “refresher” course of fly-fishing for one weekend and was shown how to “roll cast”. This was the most valuable thing I could have learnt for our waters – if you cannot roll cast I should think more than 50% or our water would be unfishable, or at least plagued by far too many hang-ups on the back cast.
5) Following from 4) above it follows that a lot of our water is more easily fished with a wet fly or nymph. I like best to fish dry fly if fish are rising but if they are not or the foliage precludes “proper” casting then the nymph or wet fly must be the answer – a dry fly doesn’t stay dry for long when roll casting!
6) Particularly when you are new to our waters a wading staff is a good idea, especially if you are not still in the first flush of youth, or even in the first flush of middle age. I find it essential!
7) In my first season with the Club I had a proper landing net with me. A lot of my time was spent untangling it from thorns, bushes and barbed wire. Now I carry a very small but deep net fixed to the end of my wading staff. It gets used once or twice a year! If you are wading most fish can be unhooked in the water. A net doesn’t need to be wide, just deep. So long as it is wide enough to take the head and main weight of the fish it is big enough, if you are used to netting fish. I guess I could get a played-out five-pound fish in mine – much bigger than any I would expect to catch!
And now I lay down my quill and close the lid on my inkwell. Newcomers to the Club I wish you well and as much pleasure as I have had fishing the Club waters and meeting the Club’s members. I would like (presumptuously!) to sign myself off as “The Yeo Otter” – readers of fishing books will know how presumptuously this is – but I fear the editor will append my real name.