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Legislation regarding Crayfish in England and Wales: Save a species and stay legal! UK Fisherman are constantly being asked about the legalities surrounding Crayfish and trapping them. We hope the following, courtesy of the South West Crayfish Project helps.

White Clawed Crayfish White-clawed Crayfish

It is illegal to take white-clawed crayfish from the wild or offer for sale without a licence.  EU Habitats Directive and UK Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 (as amended) legislation

It is illegal to handle native crayfish in England without a licence from Natural England.

It is illegal to trap any species of crayfish without licensing from the Environment Agency.


Non-native Crayfish

North American Signal CrayfishIt is illegal to release, or allow to escape, any non-native species into the wild in the UK except under licence.  Wildife and Countryside Act 1981, (as amended)

It is illegal to keep any crayfish in England and Wales, except under licence (with specific exemption areas for signal crayfish, refer to DEFRA - Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs).  The Prohibition of Keeping of Live Fish (Crayfish) Order 1996 (as amended), made under the Import of Live Fish (England and Wales) Act 1980,

It is illegal to trap any species of crayfish without licensing from the Environment Agency.

It is illegal to release crayfish without a licence, or allowing them to escape

It is illegal to trap, trade or farm any species of crayfish commercially without licence. The Prohibition of Keeping of Live Fish (Crayfish) Order 1996

Any person farming crayfish must register their business with The Fish Health Inspectorate, CEFAS - Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science.
Recent cases of otters drowning in illegal crayfish traps have been recorded. Traps with an entrance greater than 95mm internal diameter must be fitted with an otter guard. National Crayfish Byelaw 2005.

Fish Stocking

The movement of fish within all inland waters in England and Wales is regulated by the Environment Agency.  Section 30 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975

Regulation is important as crayfish plague can be transported on fish scales and damp equipment during fish stocking.  The introduction of large fish into river systems can also disturb the balance of freshwater communities and result in an increased predation of juvenile white-clawed crayfish.

Suppliers

The Crayfish CodeNorth American signal crayfish are the only species that can be trapped and traded commercially.  All persons farming or holding non-native crayfish must have a licence and be registered with The Fish Health Inspectorate, CEFAS.  The Prohibition of Keeping of Live Fish (Crayfish) Order 1996 (as amended)

Some areas may not require licences to keep North American signal crayfish.  Please refer to: www.defra.gov.uk/fish/freshwater/pdf/licreq.pdf

It is illegal to trap any species of crayfish without licensing from the Environment Agency.

Restaurants and Markets

Hotels, restaurants and fish markets do not require a licence to hold crayfish if all crayfish held is for direct human consumption only.

It is illegal to release crayfish without a licence, or allowing them to escape

Waterside Management

In areas where angling clubs manage waterways, such as river banks, it may be possible to manage and enhance the habitat to benefit both native crayfish and target fish species, such as brown trout.

Contact the Environment Agency for consent to any in-channel or bank side work.  To check whether the site is subject to any special designations, contact Natural England.



References and sourcing

Search for crayfish legislation:

www.environment-agency.gov.uk/
www.defra.gov.uk/
www.cefas.co.uk/

Document: Crayfish and River Users: The Wildlife Trusts and Environment Agency.
www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/crayfish_and_river_users_pdf.pdf

Further information wildlife and fish species (including crayfish):
www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/recreation/fishing/31491.aspx

For further information on the South West Crayfish Project:
www.bristolzoo.org.uk/resources/documents/Conservation%20pages/projects/Foundation_Crayfish_insert.pdf

Source: South West Crayfish Project

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A major, new research programme focusing on the social benefits of angling in the England and Scotland is underway. The project, ‘The Social and Community Benefits of Angling’ is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and runs from January 2009 - January 2012.

The research is investigating the positive roles angling can play for (i) those who participate in it; (ii) young people; and (iii) communities where angling takes place.

Substance, a not-for-profit social research company, is managing the research programme. The research will work closely with angling bodies, policymakers and community groups, including the Angling Trust, the Environment Agency and a range of other angling organisations in the UK.

A questionnaire survey on angling participation kicked off in July 2009. We are strongly encouraging ALL anglers – whether they are coarse, game or sea anglers; match, pleasure or specimen anglers – to take part. By clicking here you can access the internet version of the questionnaire; alternatively, you can visit the project website at www.anglingresearch.org.uk and follow the designated link to the questionnaire.

By completing the questionnaire you will be providing vital information for the research, which will inform both angling stakeholders and policymakers.

All information collected by the questionnaire will be anonymised and no individual personal data will be disclosed.
For more information please visit: www.anglingresearch.org.uk


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Thursday, 14 February 2008 00:00

Priory Farm Lakes, Surrey

Priory Farm Fishing Lakes, Surrey

Fishing Diary February 2008A quick jaunt down the M25 and I was soon driving down quiet country lanes just outside Reigate in Surrey, on my way to sample the excellent fishing at Priory Farm Fishing Lakes. The sun shone through the window and I was full of the joys of spring and looking forward to some well earned time away from work.

Priory Farm Fishing Lakes offer superb coarse and carp fishing on four lakes, all well stocked with crucian carp, roach, perch, tench, rudd, bream, and of course, stunning carp to 30lb. A mere 20 miles from Central London, Priory Farm Lakes are within easy reach and members only fishing means the lakes remain under fished and the quality of the fish is always second to none.

Priory LakeI met up with Ian Ford, the Fisheries Manager at Priory Farm who drove me up to the car park. He suggested I try out Priory lake, as despite the recent cold weather, it had been fishing reasonably well.

The fishing on Priory Lake offers great year round sport and according to Ian, the carp, which are close to the original wild carp, will definitely give you a good fight !!

Most baits had been working well Ian remarked and taking his advise I set up two rods, one with a method feeder and single boilie cast as near to the island as I dared and one with a waggler fished hard on the bottom with pellets for hook baits. I offered only a few morsels of loose feed as I expected that bites might be hard to come by after a cold night.

Bites were indeed hard to come by, in fact they were pretty much non existent. I was also troubled by the resident swans who were certainly in feeding mood, even if the fish weren't. After a couple of hours on Priory Lake with no action whatsoever, I decided enough was enough and moved the short distance to Hogtrough Lake where I hoped for better luck.

Hogtrough lake is the youngster at Priory Farm although the lake is maturing nicely with the island and bank side vegetation growing rapidly. Apparently the fishing can sometimes be a little harder than the other lakes although the rewards are well worth putting in the extra effort, especially if targeting the resident hard fighting carp which go to 30lb.

As I neared Hogtrough Lake, I noticed there was one other angler trying his luck so I decided to pick his brains about what methods and baits worked well on Hogtrough. The angler in question turned out to be George, a regular at Priory Farm Lakes for many years. George was fishing the pole at 4m and because of the cold weather, with water temperatures not much above 0 deg c, he was using extremely fine tackle and tiny baits.

George, a regular at Priory LakesHe explained that he always fished a different swim at Priory Lakes, still keen to learn as much about the fishery as he was when he first fished the lakes over 16 years ago.

Although he was keen to pass some of his knowledge onto a newbie like myself, he certainly wasn't going to reveal all his secrets that he had amassed over many years of studying and fishing and the lakes at Priory Farm.

He was keen to retain a certain edge over everyone else ... and who can blame him.

George estimated that a crowded day at Priory Lakes would see a maximum of around 10 anglers on each lake. Compare this to a day ticket commercial fishery and you can see why this members only fishery is so attractive.

I could have stayed talking with George all afternoon but I had come to sample the fishing, so decided I had better get back to it. Using the same two methods I had started with on Priory Lakes, I recast my rods and hoped that as temperatures had risen slightly from the morning session, I could tempt a few fish to have a quick meal.

Unfortunately, this was not the case and the net stayed dry all day. George did manage one perch of around an ounce but I'm sorry to say that was all. Strangely though I was not too disappointed. For a townie like me, being in such stunning countryside with only the sound of the trees rustling in the wind and the odd bird singing was pleasure enough. Of course I would have liked to catch some fish, but that can wait until next time.

So what are my first impressions:

  • Stunning location
  • superbly maintained lakes and pegs
  • un crowded and under fished
  • easy to find and get to (even for me in West London, the drive was only around 45mins)
  • really friendly and helpful fisheries manager (Ian Ford)

I can't wait to get back to Priory Farm and try my luck once more.

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Published in Diary
Sunday, 21 October 2007 00:00

2007 World Carp Classic

by Ralph Dennett

Lac de Orient – France – 9th to 15th September

Sponsors – Carl (The Baitmaster) Edwards - Carple Baits & Lewington Homes Berkshire Ltd

I don’t normally fish matches but this event is something else. The whole atmosphere is charged with excited anticipation as anglers from 14 different counties come together to face the challenges of this fantastic water, all 5000+ acres of it.

Looking up towards the Dam

It all started back in January when my fishing partner Steve booked our place for this year’s event and from there the build up started. Every article we could find was read several times to glean as much info as we could and before we knew it the event was nearly upon us. Boats, engines & fish finders all needed checking, batteries charging and tackle checking. Nothing can be left to chance as the mighty Orient will punish any careless mistakes.

After a long chat with Carl (The Baitmaster) Edwards he kindly agreed to sponsor us with our bait requirements, Red Lobster Seaweed being the bait of choice, a cracking bait which we have full confidence in. This was supplemented with Carl’s excellent prepared particles namely the Maize and Hemp plus I already had some 30k of Carl’s mixed pellet - some 80+kilos to hopefully see us through the week. As promised everything arrived on the Wednesday and went straight into the freezer so that it would be in prime condition when the match started.

Everything ready, checked and double checked, Steve was picking me up around 5.00am on Friday as we were booked on the 10.00am ferry from Dover and another team from Reading Paul and Darren who were to be our travelling companions on the journey had to collect their bait on the way down. Friday arrived and I’m standing by a mountain of bait and tackle when Steve pulls into the close, with everything loaded and roped down we are on the road, meeting Paul and Darren as arranged and then heading down the motorway to Dover. After a long uneventful trip we are nearing our destination, we pass by Troyes and turn onto the N19. Shortly the Dam Wall appears and it seems to go on for ever, then as we turn off the N19 towards Mesnil-St-Pere the lake appears. Did I say lake! - inland sea is more apt, an immense daunting piece of water ... let me at it. As we pulled into the Headquarters area we realise we are the first competitors to arrive so we pick our spot and park up the motors right opposite the little Bar & Café ... well sorted. The next couple of days were to be a chill out and social before the serious fishing started on the Monday so up with the Bivvies and everything sorted, home from home.

Mesnil-St-Pere

Now that we are sorted its over to the Bar for some food and liquid refreshments where we meet up with Ross Honey and his Team. Ross is the organiser of the event, also there is Andy Chambers who is Head Marshall for this years event, a man with immense knowledge of the lake.“Buy you a drink Andy ?”, gotta pick this mans brains.

It’s now dark so suitably fed and watered we make our way back to the Bivvies, break out the kettle and sit around chatting and drinking, by about 1.30 in the morning we have been joined by a couple of lads fishing for Scotland and the beer is flowing. About an hour later about 8 Italian lads turn up and quickly join us with Salami and wine, shall we just say that a good evening was had by all.

The format for the event is to be as follows, competitors arrive over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, register at the HQ and get all boats and equipment safety checked. Sunday evening we have the welcome dinner with local dignitaries and the draw for swims. The competition starts at 3.00pm on Monday with no broken water before that time and ends at 8.00am on Saturday. This gives us a reasonable time on Monday to find our swims and get the gear to them as some are only accessible by boat. In the meantime we can have a look around get any last bits of shopping from the Intermarche and generally talk Carp. All the research we had done indicated that it normally takes a few days for the fish to get on the bait and the proven tactics are to get a good bed of bait built up and wait for the fish to move in, we also needed rough weather and big winds to get the fish moving. Several chats with Andy Chambers have confirmed our thoughts so we are feeling reasonably confident.

The Formalities Begin

Sunday evening arrives and we spruce ourselves up and put on our Carple shirts and head for the welcome meal and draw, as we enter the sports hall the clammer of 186 Carp anglers is deafening as the excitement and anticipation grows.

With the meal over the formalities begin with speeches from various people including the local Mayor followed by the local children parading all the participating countries flags.

The Draw

Then comes the draw. Paul and Darren are first up, Section 7, peg 10 not a bad draw its facing the dam.

Steve and I are next up Steve draws Section 4, peg 7, Italie Point about halfway along, not a bad draw if the weather breaks in our favour.

 

Time to get our heads down

Now the formalities are over it’s back to the bivvies to get our heads down as we want to get an early start in the morning to give ourselves time to get sorted before the off, as soon as the start is signaled it’s into the boat to do a serious reccy of our swim.

We are up and packed away by about 9am, later than we wanted, but never mind. As the boats are already inflated we take Paul and Darren’s on our motor and drop it off for them and then go on to find our swim some where along here.

Italie point - 1.5k long

It took a couple of hours to carry all the gear to our swim and with clear blue skies it was a hot sweaty job, by about 2.00pm we are all sorted rods up and baited and buckets of bait ready to go once we have found our spots. Before we know it the rocket signals we are off and a myriad of boats launch into the lake all looking for those tell tale signs on the fish finder that show up a potential feeding spot. Steve’s out in the boat thoroughly scouring our swim for features. After about 2hrs he has found what we wanted, distinct features going out to the left of our swim. The peg next to us is vacant so we ask the marshals if we are OK to fish into the vacant peg which they confirm we are. By 7.30pm our spots are baited and the rigs are out. Now we can sit back with a cold beer and relax, it’s been a very busy day, come on you fish.

Set and ready for action

Nothing showed during the first night and in the morning we learnt 2 fish had been lost, 1 about 6 pegs along from us and 1 by the dam. By the end of Tuesday 4 fish had now been lost in weed or snags, the good news is that they are all from different areas of the lake. We continue to stick to our plan and steadily build up our swim. We have seen fish on the finder and we are getting line bites so we know we have fish in the swim, but we don’t know what. It has been another warm clear day, we need the weather to break and the wind to get up, unfortunately the promised weather isn’t materialising and it continues hot.

It’s now Wednesday and it’s 8 – 0 to the Carp, so it’s still all to play for.

Early Thursday morning the first fish is landed by John Lilley’s partner, George Csonka, at 11.5kg it is a nice fish but not big by Orient standards. Still, first fish so well done guys.

Thursday night sees more action with a 22.1kg fish to Jean Pierre Becker of France, a 15.4kg fish to our travelling companions Paul and Darren, putting them in second place and a 9.3kg fish to Rob Tough and partner places them third, so things are starting to happen.

With the final day and night ahead of us there is still everything to fish for, we have fished hard for 4 nights although the results don’t show it, but that’s Carp fishing especially on waters like the Orient. The weather is showing signs of a change so hopes are high for the final night, with everything ready we sit back to wait events and talk over the week. Whatever the outcome we’ve had a great week and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

Last night

As we sit chatting and watching the water everything feels right, we have done everything we can it is now in the lap of the Carp gods. Everything is still, the only sounds come from the Wild Boar searching for food in the woods behind. We turn in about 12.30, but I lay there unable to sleep.

I must have drifted off as the next thing I remember is flying out of the bivvy. The barometer has dropped and monster Carp are crashing everywhere in front of us, Steve is standing some 50 yds down the bank. When I get to his side he says that Steve Howard and his partner in the swim to our right have a big fish on, minutes later it snaps the 35lb braid like a piece of cotton, the Orient tree stumps win again. They are understandably gutted.

Tree Stumps are everywhere under the water, hiding in the weed

As fast as it had started it’s over, about 15 minutes in all, the fish just disappeared again back into the depths, the weather had changed again and so had the fishing, it looks like our chance has passed us by. In the morning we learn that the same phenomenon had occurred in several areas around the lake, although no fish were caught. One final fish was caught on the Sat morning which had Paul and Darren on edge as it was 15kg+. Eventually it was confirmed at 15.1kg so they have retained second place.

Final result, 83 pairs (166 anglers) fished their hearts out for 6 days and 5 nights and the score was Carp 25 anglers 5.

We packed up, loaded the truck and made our way back to the presentation. Although we hadn’t caught, it was great to see our friends Paul and Darren on the rostrum in 2nd place. Well done guys and congratulations to Jean Pierre Becker & Yves Hauk, the winners making it a home victory for France.

Well done to all the prize winners.

As we make our way home we are happy, we know we fished well as many others did, it simply wasn’t our turn this year. We have had a fantastic time and met some great people from all over Europe, brilliant!

A special thanks to our sponsors, Carl ( The Bait Master ) Edwards whose support and excellent baits gave us the edge we needed and to Lewington Homes Berkshire Ltd for the loan of the transport that made life a lot easier with all the gear we took.

Now to start planning for next year Lac de Madine is the venue, can’t wait.

See you on the bank somewhere!

Cheers, Ralph Dennett

Editor: Thanks to Ralph for this excellent article and good luck next year mate!!

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Published in Carp Fishing Articles
Wednesday, 26 September 2007 00:00

Fishing Bait Ingredients

EASY FISHING BAIT INGREDIENTS - By Tim Richardson

Using Brilliant ‘Natural’ Extracts!

There are many ways to make very successful fishing baits without using flavours; why not try using very powerful ‘natural ingredients and extracts!

Freshwater flies, bloodworm, insect larvae, water snails, and all kinds of sea and freshwater shellfish like mussels etc, can all be incorporated into your fishing baits, giving a natural taste and crunch factor, and are available from many pet and fishing bait companies.

It is important, to make your bait as different as possible from the ‘normal’ for your water, to give you a competitive advantage.

As an example, I used a bait which was purely based on proprietary ‘coldwater goldfish food’ which instead of being the usual pellets form, was based on natural nutritional extracts like spirulina, impregnated into rice flakes.

I was using this bait as a test bait to find a successful alternative protein based bait. It incorporated daphnia (water fleas,) and spirulina (algae,) together; forming a truly ‘unique’ natural, alternative boilie.

I mixed the flakes with a small amount of semolina, as I did not know how much the flakes (based on ground rice,) would bind. After taking what seemed like literally hours to mould each individual bait by thumb and fore fingers, I convinced myself it would all be worth the effort!

I did not wish to ‘contaminate’ the bait with extra semolina binder and reduce its effectiveness. I prepared ‘hair rigs’ in advance of fishing and carefully dried the paste hook baits until they went hard and tough enough to stay on the rig.

At the lake, as it turned out, within half an hour of casting out, I hooked the lake record fish at that time weighing around 35 pounds in weight.

It was a valuable lesson in the attraction of alternative protein based baits, and the benefits of their use! This was on a fishery where extremely good quality milk protein and fish meal baits had dominated catches at that time!

The author has many more fishing and bait ‘edges’ up his sleeve. Every single one can have a huge impact on catches.

By Tim Richardson. ‘The thinking angler’s fishing author and expert bait making guru.’


For more expert bait making information and ‘cutting edge’ techniques see the expert acclaimed new ebook:

BIG CARP BAIT SECRETS!

www.baitbigfish.com

Tim Richardson is an internationally acclaimed carp and catfish bait-making expert, and a highly successful big fish angler. His best selling bait making and bait enhancing books / ebooks help beginners and experienced anglers alike, to improve and enhance their baits achieving far greater catches of big fish.

His books are even used by members of the ‘world elite’ “British Carp Study Group” for expert reference. Your catches could gain from more understanding, expert bait making experience, powerful insights and cutting edge fishing information and techniques; take a look at Tim’s dedicated fishing bait making website.

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Published in Carp Fishing Articles
Saturday, 27 September 2008 13:04

Piscatorial Past Times

PISCATORIAL PAST-TIMES - By steve Sheppard

Source: Steve Sheppard at Anglers Gifts

My interest in angling began when I was a youngster my father took me to a local soccer match between two local teams that left me scarred for life and desperately seeking a worthwhile pastime. I found it in angling and over the years I have developed a keen interest in anglings rich and varied history. Along the way in my quest for more knowledge of our noble sport I have come across many oddball rumours and tales past down in folklore.

Saturday, 27 September 2008 13:00

Piscatorial Companion

A PISCATORIAL COMPANION - By Steve Sheppard

Source: Steve Sheppard at Anglers Gifts

Now you may think from my title a friend to go fishing with well you are wrong. This is a story going back to a time when men were men, adventure, danger, excitement, was the watch word of the day for the young aristocratic gentleman bent on experiencing all life has to offer. There were many wild untamed parts in the British Isles in those days none more so than the remote lochs and little known streams of Bonnie Scotland.

Saturday, 27 September 2008 12:57

Saving Salmon

Help "save the salmon" in Carmarthenshire

Carmarthenshire's salmon are set to benefit from a new partnership project between Carmarthenshire Fishermen's Federation (CFF) and Environment Agency Wales.

The project – Supporting Catch and Release has been set up to help save Carmarthenshire salmon by encouraging more anglers to release their catch back to the river. Anglers that register their released salmon will also have the chance to win angling-related prizes, and all anglers will receive limited edition CFF badges.

With salmon numbers throughout the county's rivers declining, there may not even be enough salmon to sustain stocks. Action aimed at conserving and rebuilding these valuable fisheries is urgently required. This project should help ensure that our future generations can enjoy the social and economic benefits associated with thriving salmon stocks in Carmarthenshire.

Catch and Release is an effective management tool which is supported by anglers, the Environment Agency, sports governing bodies and international salmon organisations. By practising catch and release anglers can continue to fish whilst still protecting the stocks.

Anglers that register their released salmon will also be entered into an end of season prize draw. An extensive list of reward-prizes include fishing tackle and fishing permits on the prime Tywi and Taf estate and club waters. All anglers releasing salmon will receive limited edition CFF badges, either bronze, silver or gold, according to the number of fish released to river.

The Supporting Catch and Release promotion will be open to all anglers fishing the rivers Tywi and Taf and will run from 16 June until 7 October. Claim forms will be widely available locally to register a released salmon.

Philip Morgan Fisheries Officer for Carmarthenshire said: ‘Increasing salmon release rates on the county's rivers together with other measures such as building fish passes and restoring degraded habitat, will help with the recovery of stocks. All anglers can get involved and play their own part in helping to conserve and restore our precious salmon stocks.’

Garth Roberts, Hon Secretary of Carmarthenshire Fishermen’s Federation added: ‘The rewards of releasing a salmon are modest compared with the value of our wild salmon to the local community. By working in partnership we are able to achieve real benefits for fish stocks on our rivers.’

Source: The Environment Agency

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Published in Game Fishing Articles
Saturday, 27 September 2008 12:50

River Lea at Fields Lock

WHAT A LOAD OF RUBBISH: Submitted by Sue Mcdermid

Uk Fisherman was recently contacted by a justifiably disgruntled angler who raises an issue that all anglers should take note of.

Sue Mcdermid and her partner decided to spend a day fishing Fields lock on the River Lea in Hertfordshire. Their experience was far from pleasurable.

Sue explains:
"My partner and I fished at Fields lock on the River Lea yesterday (7.8.06) and we were appalled by the rubbish strewn about amongst the trees and over the paths near the river. The bins had obviously not been emptied in months and therefore rubbish placed by the bins was being blown all over the place. This is totally unnecessary and if fishermen can be bothered to clear up after themselves then the surroundings should be cleared too to make it a nice environment to fish in."

"This is the worst site we have ever been to in order to enjoy a day's fishing - it was such a shame as we had travelled from Kent and was our first time there."

This raises a general issue concerning care for the environment that we all love to fish in. All anglers have a responsibility to ensure that the venue they fish in is left free of rubbish when they leave. If bins are full to overflowing, then take your rubbish home with you. Fishery owners also have a responsibility to maintain their venues and keep them rubbish free. I don't know who has responsibility for maintaining this stretch of the River Lea. If anyone knows, please let UK Fisherman know.

Edited By Paul Orford
Shame you both had such a disappointing days fishing Sue, but thanks for bringing the matter to our attention.

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Saturday, 27 September 2008 12:46

Fly Fishing For Pike

My Journey into Fly Fishing For Pike - By Steve Hills

Many thanks to Colin at Pike Fly Fishing for allowing UK Fisherman to reproduce this article. Please visit their excellent website at: www.pikeflyfishing.co.uk

I would have liked to write a piece on methods and practices in catching pike on the fly but as so far my experience and skill don't quite reach that far so i thought I would do a piece on how I got started in this wonderful sport of ours.

It all started for me as a natural progression from lure fishing. I spent many hours wandering up and down my local river Nene and various drains throwing lures in likely spots. I had my fair share of good days and mostly bad days.

But then things changed. I suddenly found myself no longer satisfied in catching pike using lures anymore. The price of the next must have lure was too much to pay with regard to satisfaction upon catching with it, and the tackle for this method is nothing short of sea fishing equipment. Unfortunately a necessary evil but no longer fun.

I needed a fresh challenge, something for the mind to dwell upon whilst stuck at work all day. For me fishing is not only about catching fish it should relate to everything about it, sporting tackle being a primary concern. I like to see fish get away occasionally, it gives me the fire to improve my skill and not just to use a bigger hook.

I had heard about fly fishing for pike before but always regarded it as too hard and a bit too up market for the likes of me so disregarded it for a while.

After a few more months of lure chucking I met a chap at work who is heavily into trout competitions. He used to tell me about captures of pike on trout gear and how a few people purposely set about catching pike with the fly.

After hearing these tails a few times I took the plunge and rang a stockist of fishing videos and ordered an American video titled "Fly-fishing for Pike" also another called "Fly fishing for big Pike" by Alan Hanna. I also purchased the books to go with them.

To see Pike caught in this way was absolutely stunning and the seed was firmly sown.

I bought a rod and reel and with advice from my trout fishing friend I tied up a fly. It was a length of black rabbit skin tied to a 4/0 hook with some lead wire wrapped around the head to give it some action. Then of I went to the twenty foot at Whittlesey and my mate offered to come down to teach me how to cast.

After much slashing and thrashing and swearing and wondering what the hell do I want to do this for, things got smoother. After a couple of hours and no fish my mate said he had to go, which left me on my own which strange as it sounds took the pressure of a bit. Anyway I carried on up the drain until I came to a spot where I knew there were a few small pike about from my lure fishing trips. Determined to catch something I made a cast along the bank a short distance and started to retrieve and sure enough thud the rod bent and i nearly wet myself. It wasn't a big fish, about 3lb, but I had never felt anything like it, I have had many fish of this size whilst lure fishing and find they are seriously out gunned by the strength of modern lure tackle. After much panicking and getting tangled up in the line I succeeded in landing my first ever fly caught pike.

I was very pleased to see the single barbless hook had caused no damage compared to some trebles I have used. Upon release the fish shot of as if it had never been caught.

Pleased with my success I cast again along the bank in the opposite direction and after a few nibbles thud the rod bent again this time with a bit more composure I landed and released another pike of about 3lb.

Pleased with my success I moved on in search of bigger fish but then disaster happened my rod sections came loose as I was false casting and split the over joint making it useless.

But that was it, a pike fly fisherman had been born, a better and stronger rod was purchased, also a better make fly line, plus a great heap of tying materials and a few good books. And the most important thing I purchased were some proper casting lessons.

My skill as a Fly Tyer is improving but as for casting and catching...well I'll just have to keep working at it.

I get a lot of satisfaction from the flies alone, every time I make a new pattern I've dreamt up, I get very excited about getting it wet. Many times I'm heading down the drains with the super glue still wet.

Fly fishing has given me everything I was missing, a real challenge but it's not so difficult the challenge can't be met with a bit of practice and determination. My only gripe is that it can depend on the weather a lot more than lure fishing. Some of the winds across those drains make casting a real problem at times but.. hey.. another challenge to overcome.

Author: Steve Hills
Source: www.pikeflyfishing.co.uk

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