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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


06/07/2019 - Surprise Sea Trout when Hunting Big Browns

Selection of flies for big browns but also sea trout

 Having returned home after a great week on the River Beult, I turned my attention to my local River Ribble, my first choice of species on this river are chub, but as they are the last species to return to good condition after spawning I choose not to target these fish until later in the season. Having discussed the fishing with several syndicate members, I was told that several big trout had been seen also a good salmon had been caught and another lost. I decided to direct my attention to the trout at night in the low water conditions, during the evening session on Thursday evening, some iron blue’s and midges or buzzers were coming off, in a quiet area shielded by a wood from a cold strong wind. I had a 9 foot 5 weight rod, floating line with a 12 foot tapered leader with a 3lb tippet.

Having watched the water for about thirty minutes I marked down a fish, feeding on the Iron blue dun’s between the big rock and the bank, a gap of no more than three feet. The overhanging willow bush no more than two feet from the water surface, should I get hooked up in the willow, the fish would be spooked. Making a cast upstream, the fly dropped six feet above the feeding fish then drifted slowly downstream towards me, retrieving line as the fly drifted towards the rock, it was taken, feeling the hook the fish went upstream then out towards the centre of the river busting the cast off against the rough surface of the rock, I was left with a limp line.

Moving to a spot some thirty yards downstream where midges were coming off, with an occasional fish taking emerges. Having watched the area for several minutes I chose a size 20 suspended midge pupa cutting back the leader from 12 feet to 9 feet then tying in some extra fine 2.5lb tippet de-greasing a foot of line close to the midge pupa. I had no worries with rocks or other snags, though the fish were feeding under the far bank trees, they shouldn’t cause me a problem. In a two hour session, I had six takes missing the first two, then connecting with four fish averaging about 1.5lbs I was more than happy with the result. I then made my way upstream for a late supper and some rest before trying for a big trout.Fun in the Darkness Having had an hours sleep, I made a brew with some cheese on toast, tackle was a 7 weight T&T matched with a floating line to which I attached a ten pound tapered leader on the advice of Dave Riding who advised me to use a leader of around 3 feet in length when fishing a waking lure as often the fish will take it quite gently, using a longer leader you wouldn’t notice the take, Dave who ties my flies is one of the best in the business, when he ties my Richard Walker mayfly nymphs he uses the exact colour and make of silk as Richard Walker used, I doubt if I could have a better fly tier.

I take his advice whenever its given, looking through my fly box I made sure I had some waking lures, I use these patterns on dark nights in the faster water, on the beat I plan to fish I had several areas where the waking lure might work. Even better the forecast was for a warm dark night with a thick cloud base, when seeking big trout at night, I never attempt to start fishing until an hour after sunset, start too soon and its usually the kiss of death. One of my successful wake lures is one by Hugh Falkus, its also accounted for some big chub. It’s surprising how many good chub with hit these lures, but I do find I miss a lot of takes or snatches from trout and chub. I enjoy fishing waking lures on a pitch black night, fishing under any other conditions I find these lures are a waste of time, Waking lures are for pitch black nights. Another good lure is a mouse pattern, which can often be successful on dull days fished close to a bank with over hanging trees. Another successful pattern is snake fly.

It was around 2300 hrs when I made my way downstream until I reached the area where I plan to start, slowly waded out into the river trying my best not to create waves which can spook the trout, reaching some fast water I stood for some fifteen minutes letting everything quiet down and taking in my surrounding, just upstream a good trout slashed a moth. I made my first cast across and downstream then allowed several yards of line to follow the lure just upstream of the shallows then could faintly make out the lure travelling downstream, I felt it swing across the water then settle directly below me. Its surprising how you can feel it throbbing in the current through the line. After several minutes I will draw the lure upstream in a series of short and long pulls. Hits can often be savage other times you just feel tiny take, you must concentrate a 100% at all time.

Tonight was so silent, no foxes or owls calling, there wasn’t even a quack from a duck, the only sound was the odd fish swirling on the surface, or the gurgle of the water around my chest high waders.Fish OnI’d been fishing about two hours during which I had three savage takes, but no hook ups, I moved downstream several yards to fish the fast shallows, half an hour later I had a confident pull then set the hook into my first fish, twice I was forced to give line as the fish went off fast downstream, then a tussle getting the fish back upstream, it then went off on another fast run but eventually after some heart stopping moments the fish was netted a surprise sea trout. I quickly unhooked the fish then released it, I estimated it around 4lb. Slowly I made my way back to the bank saying to myself “Good job I’ve got a wading staff” which can a life saver, never wade at night without one, it doesn’t matter how well you know the river.Tail of the WeirMy next stop was to fish the tail of a small weir pool, with a snake pattern tied by Dave Riding who tied flies for Hugh Falkus, it resemble an eel and is extremely good, for big browns and chub. I had a fish within fifteen minutes estimated around 3lbs plus with big red spots which was returned, then nothing in the next thirty forty minutes, feeling the strain of being on the water I decided to call it a night, fifteen minutes later I’m lying on the camp bed feeling shattered but happy with my results, especially catching those browns on the pupae. Picture a selection of flies, note the mouse pattern which has accounted for several big browns in daytime.

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Martin James Fishing
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