Truly Madly deeply – The Art of Dredging with Saltwater Flies or at least trying too
Jul21

Truly Madly deeply – The Art of Dredging with Saltwater Flies or at least trying too

Fly fishing in deep water is not easy . It requires patience and heaps of practice but the rewards are out there if you can master this discipline . I have a few techniques and observations I can share within this blog . I hope it all makes sense and gets you motivated to get down on it !  Fly fishing in 50 to 60 foot of water with 1.5 knots of tide , wind over tide is an art form and something that I have been trying to perfect for some time now . Its requires a great deal of patience , intuition and a sixth sense to figure just where your fly may be  in the water column at any given time  . I still have a long way to go to be able to say that I have nailed it . The problem with being the skipper all the time is its hard for me to spend a great deal of time with a fly rod in my hand. I can fish a lure rod quite effectively while controlling the boat around the rocks , the fly rod is long and time consuming and the fly line catches every conceivable snag around the consul. .Sometimes if I don’t actually get on the bow and have a cast and watch the way that the wind and tide are working and the angle and decent of the fly line . I just don’t know what I need to do with the boat and how best to set up the drifts for a client. Lure fishing transformed my catches   7 years ago and even more so the mighty Fiiish Minnow .The ability to hold a lure down in the tide and control its depth via a mixture of density , tide , wind and retrieve opened my fishery and my results bloomed , at last I was catching those bigger Bass that I had only ever bumped into once or twice a year at best when I fished the fly rod  . It was an piffany so to speak  A Paddle tail shad catches big fish with almost zero input from the angler at times , when my clients over work the lures despite my advice I have been known to use shock tactics to get the message to’ mellow it out’ by proclaiming that’ if i put a rod in the rod holder and let the lure flutter away out there  it will catch more fish than everyone else on the boat combined ‘ That tends to get the message across . The ability of these minnows to scour the depths and cover so much new water also brought...

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Fiiish Crazy eel
Jul19

Fiiish Crazy eel

There are plenty of signs that Im getting older , my beard is grey , my eyesight is diminishing , a couple of rouge hairs have even sprouted in my ears . Perhaps more worrying is the fact that I am becoming somewhat set in my ways . The crazy eel might be another example of this.  Its been around for a couple of years now ,my ever kind sponsors Fiiish  UK sent me a batch to play around with and if I am honest I didn’t really take to the lure which did leave me feeling slightly awkward . Everything I read or saw on the internet suggested that I needed impart massive movements into the rod and fish the lure way faster than my normal super slow approach . The result being that when I did use the lure I only ever landed small Bass . I don’t think this big ones like to burn more fuel than is absolutely necessary .Well this year after a chance encounter on the water I have finally got to grips with the crazy eel and actually I think that it is now sitting level with Fiiish Minnows when it comes to my catches .   So whats changed ? We have some really cool new colours out there .I personally love the gold bodies , it just looks like the real thing . I am also becoming increasingly confident with the pure white bodies . Bass love white lures and wrasse don’t , I love a big wrasse but they do chew through so many of my soft lures over the course of a fishing season . If people want to catch them thats fine with me but personally I would not set my alarm for 3 am to pursue them . I want Bass and big ones preferably !  At this stage I have been almost exclusively fishing the 150 mm version . Thats big enough to tempt momma but small enough to entertain and 2 lb bass . Its the way I fish the eel that I think has made all the difference , rather than sweep the rod or impatiently crank the lure I have taken to slow Fiiish minnow style retrieves with the occasional mellow sweep , or at times even dead sticking the lure and letting it flutter about on the tide ,  a light wind against tide is perfect for this as it allows you to fish the lure downstream of the boat”  on the hang ” .You can retrieve the lure 50 feet then open the bail arm and let it drift away from the boat on the tide . One...

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5 Nautilus years on Zen2
Jul10

5 Nautilus years on Zen2

Over the years I have had plenty of clients ask me about how well my fly reels have performed and it seems that over the last few trips everyone has been asking me . So I decided it certainly deserves a mention on my blog . Over the last 12 years I have used and abused so many reels in the saltwater . Vosslers are dead and drags seized , greys rotted out , Abels are solid workhorses but rather heavy and too expensive  . The original Nautilus CCF reels had drag issues , I have trashed my hatch reels with salt build ups and sticky drags . I have a Tibor Pacific that sounds like a tractor . I dread to think how much money I have blown away over the years through a mixture of hard fishing and periods of neglect ?   The Nautilus FWX reels are by no means at the top of the range . Actually the drags were never designed to stop a GT but they do us fine here in the Uk , well thats mostly true , a big Pollock has astonishing power when it takes a dive back down and if and when I hook into double figure Pollock on the fly I do have to palm the FWX , that said I actually quite enjoy that feeling of loss of control , it adds to the excitement in a way . The maintenance schedule on my nautilus reels has been non existent , they will often get a hose over when I get home but thats it . I cringe when I think of how many rods and reels I have worn through , broken ,even lost overboard ( That leads into a good story to tell later ) So 5 years later I find myself considering an upgrade to the latest equivalent , the X frame , but if I am honest it would just be a flight of fancy all the while my reels are working 100 % and my bank balance remains somewhat sticky . So that concludes my 5 year review of the Nautilus reels on Zen2 10 out 0f 10 . I wish I could say the same for so many other bits of kit that just could not take the constant abuse .   Fly rod overboard  One day a few  years ago I shared the boat with a client , we were both fly fishing . I decided to give the fly rod a rest . so I wound all the line and some of the leader into the rings . I just had 3 foot of leader dangling outside the rod tip ....

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Homelands , hopes and fears
Jun06

Homelands , hopes and fears

After the disappointing Eddystone campaign I really needed a good days fishing so yesterday I went out with fingers crossed  . The tides are dropping out into weak neaps . I have found that the evening flood tides best suit this situation so I decided to fish 1 pm to 9 pm .  My first suggestion was we try surface lures in around 35 foot of water and the first cast of the first drift pulled a big bass straight to the top . The take was huge . This was a much needed big bass with a Patchinko in its mouth. Over the years I have learned that big fish are so often lost due to over tight drags , if you hook a bass cleanly in the top lip you can easily rip a big enough hole in the mouth that a good headshake will throw the hook, my screw up but my drag was set too tight , as I fumbled for the drag the fish pulled hard and she was gone ! GUTTED ! My diary is down this year and a big bass with a surface lure in its mouth is always good for business . The next cast produced a big boil at the side of the boat , despite the lack of fish on the fish finder there were obviously a few Bass around . An hour or two trying various spots had produced nothing more than Pollock . So it was time to move on to an old favourite of mine , the ebb tide was pretty much done and we drifted at only 0.5 knots over the ground . When we  drift large open areas I try to cover as much water as possible by long range casting in opposite directions with one guy either end of the boat . Steve was on the bow casting out into open water and Mac was at the blunt end casting towards the shore . I call this a ‘searching drift’ .  Steve soon  hooked and landed a lovely Bass on the Fiiish 150 Blue rigged with the 30 g jig head . After my tight drag screw up earlier in the day I could not have been more concerned that Steve did not suffer the same fate and I loosened  his drag twice during the fight . When you hook a fish at long range theres only so much pressure you can exert on a fishes mouth , as the fish gets closer I loosen off , I would rather spend a couple of extra minutes with a loose drag than haul hard and pop the hook. I know I am  labouring...

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Bass fishing Eddystone May 2017
May31

Bass fishing Eddystone May 2017

May 2017 signalled my 5 th visit to Plymouth , well 6 actually as in 2015 I fished May and September. Every year is slightly different and I always have a few hard days but enough great days to keep me returning year after year. The Stone is a unique place it has an atmosphere of its own . It can be crowded when the bite is on and it can be tedious when the bite is off , one thing that has remained consistent has been the vast volume of fish out there , if these fish were there to feed we would land hundreds of fish in a day. Finding the fish is the easy part , catching them can be a whole different ball game . I can only ponder as to why these fish are there in such numbers , the volume of sand eel  out there can be equally staggering but the weird thing is that the Launce live at one end of the reef and the Bass live at the other  , its rare to find the bass attacking these shoals or at least I have never seen it . I will never forget my last day of my 2016 campain, we were struggling and after several fruitless hours we decided it was time to move off and try and make the best of a bad situation and fish for Pollock or anything that might put a bend in our rods . I moved off the reef and fished about 6 miles away . Things were equally torturous and my 6 mile diversion resulted in one cuckoo wrasse on the boat , things were going from bad to worse .I felt frustrated and embarrassed . As we fished the deep water my eye kept glancing towards the lighthouse and despite the additional cost of the fuel I decided to head back . It was boiling hot , flat calm and slack water . The vast shoal of bass had decided to sunbathe and soak up a few rays of sun and even better we had the place to ourselves . I’ve seen this elsewhere and its always an amazing spectacle when it happens . They started chasing tiny baitfish on the surface , it was awesome to see so many bass shooting past the bow of the boat . We landed plenty and the day had turned into a success .You have to play the long game on the Stone and wait for the bite .   So I have just returned from what I must say has been a very tough 10 day campaign, 4...

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2017 Mission Statement
Mar21

2017 Mission Statement

Zen2 , always on a mission . I cant believe its actually spring at last ! Obviously 2016 was somewhat of a disaster for me from July onwards thanks to that wipe out at the skatepark This has been the longest winter ever for me . I just cant wait to get out there again under the cliffs , out on the reefs and most importantly having a good giggle with you guys ! Every year I need new challenges and goals to keep it fresh . This year I will be spending a great deal more time out on the North Coast of Cornwall fishing out of Hayle and pointing Zen2 West towards to Lands end . The scenery and potential on that stretch of coast is truly epic . In a way it represents the last un turned stone of West Cornwall for me . This approach of never sitting still keeps me excited and hopefully that excitement is felt by you guys .If I am not learning I go stale , thats the way I am wired . By booking Zen2 you can never be 100 % sure what we will be doing until its time to launch . Heaven forbid the day I am stuck in Falmouth with limited options flogging the manacles . I love the reef but there is so much more out there and the wind swings around 360 degrees . Rendering falmouth bay un fishable for days and sometimes weeks at a time . Tackle wise I will continue with Fiiish lures , The Majorcraft Syroads have done us proud . I have brand new Certate Heavy duty reels all ready to go . Fly Rods from Hardy and Sage , Nautilus reels , Flies homegrown as always .We have the amazing Garmin Panoptix system on the boat . This has proved itself invaluable already and it would be a tough day were I to go back to traditional historical data fish finder systems . I get a live feed under my boat . I want to see more fly guys tussling big fish on Zen2 . Its hard to believe I was 100 % fly only a few years ago . If I had the same number of fly guys I used to have on the boat we would see so many more big Bass and Pollock bending fly rods double . Its down to me to get those fly guys motivated. Its a shame that I pulled out from the St Mawes Fly fishing festival but once I was forced to share the room with fools I was left...

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A new  horizon for bass ?
Mar01

A new horizon for bass ?

I confess that I wrote this blog on December 16 th . So I am rather late publishing but it still seems relevant or perhaps more so ?   Today Im just back from the Cornwall IFCA meeting and I have a big grin on my face , at last after God knows how many years of campaigning I was there to witness the show of hands from committee members supporting the netting ban inside our estuaries. This is just one more huge stepping stone on the way to a well managed bass fishery capable of supporting a large number of low impact high yield stakeholders . Hook and line commercial fishermen will be just as encouraged by this as the most hardened shore anglers who catch and release all Bass. Its been the week of weeks in Bass management and campaigning and I can honestly say I feel quite emotional about whats happening. I remember perhaps 8 years ago things were looking so grim. I honestly did wonder if my son would ever have a bass fishery out there in his adulthood. The implications of the new legislation from Brussels this week is collosal . It wasn’t so long ago that we had the increase in minimum landing size , introduction of  bag limits , close seasons , monthly catch allowances for commercial harvesting . Things are heading in the right direction after decades of neglectful management. Plus we have had the added bonus of mild winters enhancing Juvenile mortality figures , talking of which the man , the legend Derek Goodwin was there to witness the meeting . He is one of the countless hidden heroes in the story of Bass conservation and a true gentleman who has been taking samples of  Year 0 class bass for decades.   At that meeting today I realised that I knew at least a third of the committee members , most  of the IFCA staff and likewise most of the anglers there to witness the meeting. This is the result of years of dogged harassment on my part. I tend to have far more enthusiasm than base knowledge but I made it a personal mission to pester everyone I could about bass years ago . I remember then CIFCA chief officer  Eddy Derryman and his next in command  invited me to a private meeting following years of endless emails and phone calls from me . I focused on the MLS if i remember correctly . I was confronted  with the reality that I faced a wall of bureaucracy and numerous departments , MMO , DEFRA , CIFCA . My head was spinning !! I was certainly...

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2017 tides
Dec07

2017 tides

Ok here we have the 2017 tidal curves.These are always popular .  I always seek those up curves from neaps to spring tides first when booking charters on Zen2  then fill in the gaps therafter . Lets hope for a  great year. Lets hope I don’t break any arms or dislocate any shoulders in 2017 ! I will remember 2016 for the wrong reasons, a few of those big bass we landed helped with the memories ....

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A call to ” Arms ” !!
Sep30

A call to ” Arms ” !!

The day started so well on the 30 th july , a dawn patrol out of mylor and plenty of good quality bass landed on surface lures, big bass hitting a Patchinko has to be regarded as the ultimate start to a day  . Later in the day I had my traditional bass Fishermans afternoon kip and decided to go to the skatepark for a session in the bowl , at 7 pm I pushed it too hard , the back wheels skidded out and I slammed side on into the face of the bowl , my humerus bone snapped clean in two .   I actually called Matt jones and Mac while I awaited the ambulance to tell him the bad news, zen 2 would not be launching on Sunday morning . That was 10 weeks ago now , my arms healing well . It has been as painful mentally as it has physically . I have an x ray next Wednesday . My gut feeling is that the doctors will tell me that its time to start physiotherapy . My greatest challenge now will be to rebuild the muscles and get the mobility back in my arm . I  am desperate to get back out there and  have been rescheduling bookings into November. Its the prime month for catching bass on the south coast and I have no intention of missing it but given that I can not lift the weight of my arm its going to be a fight .     I have pretty much disappeared from the radar for for 10 weeks now but I need to reach out and ask for help . We have seen so many changes in commercial and recreational bass fishing legislation recently , mostly for the better and I believe we are starting to see the positive benefits on the water , there remains one stone that has not been overturned and now at last the one thing that has always and depressed me the most in the fishery is under the spotlight . I have always made this my personal mission and I (amongst other people )  have been harassing Cornwall Ifca to sort this out for years . This is the big opportunity to end the disgusting practice of netting inside our estuaries , the small community of fishermen and poachers out there know this has been coming and I imagine most of them have realised that their days are numbered , we have a new MLS , closed seasons , shut the pair trawling down , bag limits , commercial catch limits . You cant expect to make the...

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The moon pulled up an acre of Bass
Jun06

The moon pulled up an acre of Bass

Happy weather , Happy fish . Thats always been the way with Bass but regardless I can say hand on heart that I have never seen Bass in such huge concentrations. Add to that I have also never seen so many 38 – 40 cm fish out there mixing it up with the big girls. In the last 2 weeks I have witnessed a huge shoals in locations  where I normally mark dozens. Likewise the Eddystone was rammed with fish and yesterday I spent 4 hours in the company of the largest shoal of Bass I have ever seen. The surface layer was solid with tiny Bass chasing Micro fry . I made my first cast and let my Fiiish Minnow Blue 25 g flutter down to around 20 foot . This produced a very hard fighting 3 kilo fish . I landed 14 fish in all shapes and sizes , with 5 solid fish in that mix . No clients to enjoy the spectacle , my diary  has flatlined after 5 busy years , just me doing what I love to do regardless of the ”Bass apathy” out there with recreational anglers. So whats happening out there ? A successful Bass fisherman needs to be an eternal optimist , its the optimism that gets you out of bed at 2 Am to get to the water in time for sunrise. I think that the 5 mild winters we have just experienced   have given juvenile Bass the best chance of surviving that first critical year of life. The closure of the pelagic fleet for the last 2 years must be starting to pay dividends. Perhaps Im just a Bass fishing Guide in Cornwall kidding himself  , but I do know that I have not seen these volumes of Bass since 2009.   Give the skipper some ! Its rare for me to be able to get away from the consul , get onto the bow and pick up a fly rod these days . But I managed to sneak a few casts on the Eddystone and land a couple of Bass . I still find new challenges and milestones without a flight or trip to Heathrow  . My  first Bass on fly from the Eddystone felt good !        ...

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