19 Dec 2010

How to get started Perch Fishing for Beginners

You can’t buy a better perch fishing rod than a John Wilson Rovex Avon/Quiver, there’s a reason this is Britain’s best ever selling fishing rod, because it is so versatile and excellent value for money! Use the Avon top, the other options are great for a lot of other species. The Avon rod is just right at 1¼lb test curve, ideal for both rivers and stillwaters.

I am like a lot of other anglers, my first ever fish, some 46 years ago was a tiny little stripey, obligingly gobbling up the maggot on my rather unsophisticated tackle. That perch changed my life, I became an angler that autumn day down at the mist covered Roman Villa lake. Whilst we all appreciate a bite, let’s look at bigger perch than that little chap.

Big perch can get caught on maggots, but if you consistently want the big ’uns, you’ll need to be using worms, livebaits or lures. The new found prevalence of the American monster, the signal crayfish have certainly done a lot for the sizes of perch in the last 10 - 15 years. Many more fish over 3lb or even 4lb are now being caught. If you can find a small lake or pond where perch are the only predators, then you can have some fun!

A reasonable sized reel loaded with some line, with 5 - 8lb monofilament will do the job, it sounds a bit strong, but with the excellent line you can get these days, why not err on the side of caution? I would use a 2500 or 3000 sized reel  that won’t unbalance the rod, after all this is about enjoying yourself, not dragging fish up the bank.

There are a number of ways to fish your baits, the simple legered lobworm is a killer, but a float fished or float paternostered live minnow or gudgeon liphooked on a single size 4 hook is about as exciting as it gets. Fish all the areas you’d expect a marauding predator to be, by sunken trees and structure, near reed beds, slacks and eddies in rivers. Use big enough bite indicators to get good bite indication but not too big and heavy as big perch, can be easily spooked by heavy tackle or line resistance.

Try and keep your fishing mobile, looking for the fish, not expecting them to come calling on you. So, there’s no need to camp out with rod pods and all that paraphernalia, just a couple of bank sticks and a roving approach will see you put a bait in front of more fish. Naturally if you are convinced that a huge sergeant-major perch is holed up in a snaggy swim, then sit it out, but in general, keep moving. Naturally, all of the above methods can also catch you specimen sized chub too, so be prepared!

A decent perch will put up a spirited and dogged fight on this outfit, there’s nothing quite like seeing a big pair of red pectoral fins appear as you play a big perch to the net. Talking of nets, you’ll have figured out that I am a fan of big round nets (you can get bigger fish in them) those with ½ to ¾inch mesh are ideal for both river and stillwater and around 18 to 20 inches diameter is perfect.

Big perch have pretty sharp gill covers and of course a spiny dorsal fin but once you have the fish held firmly, then these are not of great concern, bigger fish are always so much easier to unhook too! As with any other fish, get them unhooked and back in the water as soon as you can, if you’re looking for a trophy shot, then get the fish in a keepnet or sack whilst you get your camera sorted out. Like most predators, they tend to be quite fragile, despite their looks, so handle with care and get them back to fight another day.

Chris Leibbrandt has been an angler most of his life, at least 45 years anyway! Known primarily as a predator angler, he is a pretty consistent all-rounder fishing for anything, although river fly fishing and lure fishing are probably his biggest passions. Working in the tackle trade for twenty odd years, he has also run the Pike Anglers’ Club (PAC) and the Lure Anglers’ Society (LAS), being an Honorary life member of both. Chris is currently President of the LAS, and editor of their magazine, Chris is a published writer, designer, raconteur and wit.

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12 Dec 2010

How to Get Started Shore Fishing for Beginners

Most people who take up sea fishing start by fishing from the shore, as opposed to fishing from a boat.  Shore fishing can take many forms and, here, we are going to look at the most basic.  Legering is a method of fishing which involves anchoring a rig with baited hook, (or hooks), to the seabed with a lead weight.  To be successful shore angler, you have to be able to put your bait where the fish are and that often involves casting to some sort of feature, such as a gully or a patch of rough ground.  The nature of the area you fish will dictate what sort of tackle you will require, depending on the distance you need to cast, whether the ground is clean or rough and how strong the tide is, etc.  

Open sand and shingle beaches are, more often than not, devoid of obvious features other than subtle ridges and gullies that have been shaped by the weather and tide.  These can be anything from 30 to 150 metres from the shore so, to fish this type of beach, you need tackle that is capable of casting enough weight to hold your bait in position, a fair distance.  There is no need to spend a fortune on high performance rods.  In fact, a lot of the time, these rods will be too stiff and powerful for those just starting out and will hinder rather than help.  Ideally, you should look for a mid-range rod of 12 to 13ft, with a medium action and capable of casting 4 to 6 ounces.   There are plenty of good quality rods available which won’t break the bank and are more than capable of casting the required distances.  

Because you may be required to cast quite a long way, the lighter the line you use, the better.  This is because heavier, thicker diameter line creates more air resistance when casting and will cut down your distances.  Thinner diameter lines will also create less drag in the tide and will enable you to use lighter leads to hold bottom.   As most open beaches are relatively snag free, you can get away with using quite light line and 12 to 15lb breaking strain is ideal.  To prevent the thin line from breaking under the strain of casting heavy lead weights, a shock leader is required.  This is a length of heavier line takes all the strain of the cast.  The general rule of thumb for shock leaders is 10lb breaking strain for every ounce of weight.  So if you are casting a 4 ounce weight, you need a 40lb shock leader and if you are casting 5 ounces, then you need a 50lb shock leader, and so on.  The shock leader is tied to the end of your mainline and should be long enough to be wound four or five times around the spool of your reel, through all the rod rings and back down to the rod butt.

When it comes to reels, there are basically two options available.  You can either use a fixed spool reel, or a multiplier.  As the name suggests, the spool on a fixed spool reel remains stationary and the line is wound onto it by a rotating bale arm.  When you cast, the bale arm is pulled back out of the way and the line peels out over the front of the spool.  With a multiplier, the spool rotates in one direction to wind line on, then, when taken out of gear to cast, rotates the other way to feed line out.  For a beginner, I would recommend a fixed spool reel; simply because you will spend more time actually fishing than untangling the over runs and backlash that you can sometimes get with a multiplier.  Having said that, most modern multipliers have effective centrifugal and magnetic breaking systems built in, which help to minimise tangles.  Whichever type of reel you choose, this is one thing that you should spend as much money on as you can afford.  Cheap reels are unreliable and don’t last very long in the marine environment.  Trying to save money on a reel is false economy because a good quality reel, if looked after, will last a lifetime.  The reel needs to be able to hold 250 to 300 metres of 15lb line, plus the shock leader.  It must have a good, smooth drag system that can be tightened and loosened off quickly and easily.

If you are going to fish from rocks, or over rough ground, you will need a slightly different set up.  Deep water and fish attracting features will often be quite close in and, therefore, long casting isn’t necessary most of the time.  What is needed instead, is tackle capable of retrieving fish and end tackle away from rocks and kelp before they get snagged.  A longer and more powerful rod is required in these situations.  The length is required so that the tip can be held high whilst retrieving line to keep the tackle clear of the bottom, and the power so the tackle can be pulled free of any minor snags.  You should look for something of at least 13ft with quite a stiff tip action.  As long casting isn’t necessary, (or possible with limited room), the need for a shock leader is diminished.  Instead, a stronger mainline of around 30lb breaking strain can be used right through from the reel to the lead weight.  The lack of a shock leader is also helpful because there is no chance of weed getting snagged on the knot, getting jammed in the rod rings and slowing down the retrieve.  For this sort of fishing I would recommend a powerful multiplier with a fast retrieve and strong gears.  Again, a good drag system is essential.  Some of the multipliers designed for light boat fishing are ideal for rock and rough ground fishing.

Piers and jetties are very popular with people just starting out because they have so much to offer.  Apart from providing easy access and a comfortable fishing platform, they also act as fish attracting and holding features.  Their popularity also means they are great places to meet other sea anglers and to pick up tips and advice.   Because the pier or jetty angler often has access to relatively deep water, long beach casting rods aren’t required.  In fact, the structure itself is the feature that the angler should be fishing to and casting too far away from it will, in most cases, be counterproductive.  There are exceptions, of course, such as the scours and bars that can sometimes be created when the tide is deflected by the structure.  A rod of around 10ft in length is ideal for pier fishing.  Although it can be light, it has to be quite powerful because you may have to bully a hooked fish out of, or away from, the structure.  If you are dropping your bait close to the structure, there won’t be much drag on the line and you can use lighter leads of, say, 2 or 3 ounces to hold bottom.  You can also do away with a shock leader and use a mainline of 15 to 20lb breaking strain straight through.  (It is worth remembering that if you decide to cast away from the structure, there are often tide rips around the ends and heavier tackle altogether will be needed.)  Any good quality reel that is capable of holding 150 to 200 yards of 15lb line would be suitable for pier fishing.  A fixed spool will be more versatile but, as there isn’t any distance casting involved, a multiplier would be equally suitable for the beginner in this situation.  You shouldn’t use the reel to winch fish up the side of the structure, though.  Any fish you catch should be landed in a drop net.

Wherever you fish, make good use of local knowledge.  Speak to other anglers and pop into the local tackle shop for your bait, rather than using the one near where you live.  It is also a good idea to keep a Fishing Diary, so that you can work out over a period of time which tides and conditions fish the best.   

Good luck and tight lines!

Article written by Steve at Tacklebargains.

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27 Nov 2010

How to get started Pike Fishing

A lot of people get fooled into thinking that pike fishing is like carp fishing, only you change the trace to wire. Not so. Generally speaking, if you are going out to catch pike, then you need gear that is made for the job. These days, most carp and pike rods are too stiff, great for casting, but not so brilliant for playing fish. Despite what you read, most pike anglers catch a lot of fish in the 5 - 14lb bracket, so you can easily outgun them.

Most pike are caught within 20 yards of the bank, be it river or lake, of course, the big lakes, lochs and loughs are a different matter, but for the moment let’s just stick to bank fishing our local waters. You’ll need an 11ft or 12ft rod that has a test curve of between 2lb and 2½ lbs. I would say 2¼lb is ideal for most situations with a through to progressive action.

Next you need a reel loaded with some line, either 12-15lb monofilament or 30lb braid, go for a 3000 or 3500 sized reel with a decent drag, you may want a free-spool ‘runner’ type system although I have never used one. Don’t get caught up in thinking you need huge reels loaded with miles of line, that is for very specialised pike fishing that we may come onto in the ‘advanced’ series.

A reasonable rod pod that takes two rods is always usefull, along with some drop arm indicators. I have never used an electronic bite indicator, and don’t own one. I find they are a good excuse to not concentrating on your fishing, but if you feel the need, there are some good ones now available for reasonable amounts of money. Make sure the bobbins are big enough to be seen and heavy enough to create enough tension for good bite indication.

The business end of your pike equipment should always terminate in a wire trace of minimum 20lb breaking strain. You can make up your own, which I find very relaxing or you can buy ready made ones that are all excellent quality. Look for sized 6 or 8 trebles on your rig. These should deal with most deadbait and livebait situations. Use baits in the 6 - 9 inches size, they are perfectly adequate until you have gained experience and may want to move to more exotic and differing offerings. Good deadbaits include seabaits such as mackerel (small ones or cut in half), herrings and sardines, for freshwater look for roach, eel sections and small trout.

Once you get a run, make sure the fish is peeling off line, then wind up to the fish and strike hard, keeping the pressure on. Pike can alternate from heavy and steady pressure to savage runs where they accelerate at an alarming rate. Make sure you have your reel clutch set for this, and remember that they can often take off when they near the net, so be ready for that. Speaking of nets, a minimum of 36 inch arms for a triangular net is a must or use a round net with a minimum diameter of 24 inches.

Once you have your fish in the net, get them to your unhooking mat or long grass and unhook them using long nosed pliers or artery forceps, and you’ll probably want an unhooking glove for this. It is always wise to go with an experienced pike angler to learn how to handle them, look to join your local Pike Anglers’ Club region, there are anglers who are always willing to help you. Other than that look up
www.pacgb.co.uk and you’ll find plenty of assistance of where to go, and who to contact.

About the author
Chris Leibbrandt has been an angler most of his life, at least 45 years anyway! Known primarily as a predator angler, he is a pretty consistent all-rounder fishing for anything, although river fly fishing and lure fishing are probably his biggest passions. Working in the tackle trade for twenty odd years, he has also run the Pike Anglers’ Club (PAC) and the Lure Anglers’ Society (LAS), being an Honorary life member of both. Chris is currently President of the LAS, and editor of their magazine, Chris is a published writer, designer, raconteur and wit.

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26 Nov 2010

Learn how to fly cast with Hywel Morgan "The Complete Cast"

How to fly cast, fly casting tuition video, fly casting lessons, fly casting instruction

“The Complete Cast” is probably the best casting tuition video to date. Hywel has certainly raised the bar as this is by far the best fly casting instruction video we have seen with loads of top training tips and instructions. Hywel starts with the basics and works through to more advanced casting techniques covering the overhead cast, single and double haul right through to the snake roll and more. You then learn how to put your new casting skills in to practice to go out and catch more fish.

If you are looking to get started, improve your casting or just add that few extra yards to your cast that have up till now been elusive this video should be at the top of your shopping list.

Buy it Now...

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20 Nov 2010

How to extend a Telescopic Fishing Rod properly

Des Taylor demonstrates how to properly extend and collapse a Telescopic Fishing Rod, without damaging the fishing rod sections. This is an all too common issue expecially when fishermen are in a rush to quickly extend a Telescopic Fishing Rod.

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12 Nov 2010

Maurice Broome - New Zealand Fishing

4lb brownie caught from a float tube about one metre from lake edge in about one foot of water..Lake Otamangakau (called the big O as the name is hard to pronounce), about 35 km south west of Lake Taupo, which is in the middle of the North Island, New Zealand. Most of this man-made lake is about 2-5 metres deep and is known for trophy brownies...but hard to catch!. Nearby accommodation about NZ$30 per night - like back packers.

5lb rainbow at the Mohaka River and this river can be found from the road Napier on the north east cost to Taupo (called Napier to Taupo Highway) around the middle of the North Island, New Zealand. (nearby accommodation in shearer's quarters about NZ$25 per night)....in summer able to drive down to river's edge.4WD track over farmland.

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Download Maurice's Brochure

In New Zealand we do not normally have to pay any access fee to fish water so as long as the farmer is happy we can fish most places for free except for the required license and gear costs.

If anyone is interested in further information I can be emailed at maurice.fishing@yahoo.co.nz ("fishing" is not my surname).
On an earlier trip this year float tubing to the big O, I came back with venison..but that is another story!! I am willing to assist anyone coming over at a negotiable rate, other than the one day trip.

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6 Nov 2010

Bennetts of Sheffield Update

Following on from our post earlier in the week, the clearance sales planned at the store have cancelled. For latest details, please see the Bennetts of Sheffield web site.

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Team England test the new Fladen Xtra Flexx Fishing Rod

Coming soon to Tacklebargains...

Neil Bryant and Ray Barron from Team England test the new Fladen Xtra Flexx Boat Rods. Constructed using extremely fine basalt fibres as used in the aerospace industry, giving exceptional durability, strength, enhanced fighting action, high torque and lifting power.

The most sensitive and powerful new rods that you could ever imagine!

Come on then Ray what do you think of these new Xtraflexx rods from Fladen. Just look at the bend and power in it.  What do you think?

I mean, you know, I’ve got to be really honest, these rods are brand new, they’re new technology, they’re strong, they’re powerful and we’d like to say unbreakable, but that is a very dangerous thing to say, so we think they are close to unbreakable.

And you know Ray and I are standing here on the foreshore. Ok we may be pulling a couple of anchors in but bye, I wish we did have a double shot of big fish. Just look at the power, you can see it running through the rod, very sensitive on the tip and Fladen have launched a range of these to cover you for Spinning, for Bass predator fishing, and we’ve got some new put over poles and match rods as well  -- So look out for the new extraflexx rods from Fladen Fishing. The rod of the future today – at today’s prices !!!

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3 Nov 2010

Bennets Of Sheffield Ceases Trading

We would like to give people a heads up that Bennets of Sheffield has unfortunately ceased trading.

The sad news was broken to us today, and as such we are helping to spread the word and make anglers aware of the situation. If you are waiting for an order from Bennetts you can contact the liquidators at the following address:

Wilson Field
The Annexe The Manor House
260 Ecclesall Road South
Sheffield S11 9PS
Tel: 0114 235 6780

In the meantime however, there appears to be sales at the store itself each of the next two Saturdays (6th November and 13th November), so if you are around about Sheffield then there must be massive bargains to be had!

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29 Oct 2010

Bait Fishing Tips to Catch More Bigger Fish

I have been guiding overseas and in the tropics for many seasons and it still amazes me what people are prepared to put on a hook.
Fishing with bait is the most popular method of salt water fishing. But buying a block of frozen fish deemed not fit for human consumption is not going to optimise your chances of success.
The days of sticking on any old lump of bait and tossing it over the side are long past. Every now and again you might strike it big, but don’t count on it, effort and preparation is all important.
Don’t get me wrong, fish do get caught on frozen baits, especially purpose caught baitfish such as pilchards and squid, but much of the fish frozen for bait is by-catch, as tough as old boots, and is probably nearly as edible. Many people will use tougher baits because they are tough they stay on the hook longer. It stops the baits stealers.
If you are being plagued and your baits are being nibbled off before a decent fish can get hold then try bigger bait. And walk your bigger bait back down tide , below and further away from the boat , especially when fishing in shallow water , big fish don’t get to be big fish by being stupid and they will stay back from the disturbance of the boat , so drop the bait back down tide and seek out the bigger fish.
There is a simple rule for bait-fishing - the better the quality of your bait, the better the quality of the fish you are likely to catch.
Catch it there.
Bait caught on the fishing ground tends to be the baitfish your prey is chasing, and this makes your bait just that much more attractive than imported bait. Freshly killed bait still retains the oils, blood, and other attractions to your prey.
Any of the normal shoaling baitfish which can be caught at the fishing site will work and used freshly killed will be very seductive. If the size is suitable the bait can be used whole – or if too big, cut up. If cutting up these baits remember to cut across the fish at an angle from head to tail to expose as much of the flesh as possible.
If you are chasing big Snapper or Conger try a ‘butterflied’ bait. From the tail, cut up each side of the backbone, to just behind the head, then cut out the backbone behind the head. This leaves two fillets still attached to the head. Hook the bait between the eyes and fire it out. If the bait is still alive when you turn it into a butterfly, so much the better.
Fillets of freshly caught fish such as yabouy and bonefish make very attractive baits. When freshly caught the flesh is still firm, and will stay on a hook much better than when it has been frozen. Try cutting the flesh into strips, rather than cubes, this will give the bait some added movement in the water.
When using a freshly killed yabouy, take off a fillet, skin it, cut the bait into strips, and rig it with a two-hook rig, wrapping the line between the hooks around the bait strip. This bait-rig has accounted for many large snapper.
The gills of freshly caught bigger baits such as trevally, Spanish mackerel, are top baits. Push the hook through the pea-sized knurl at the top of the gills and send it down. Do not fish gills for much longer than ten minutes without a bite or hook-up, the blood will have leeched out, taking with it the reason for fish to bite.
Catch it close.
Try and keep the bait alive if you can, from the point of capture to the fishing ground. Fresh killed bait will still be attractive even if it does not match what your prey is feeding on. If you cannot keep the bait alive make sure it is kept as cool as possible maybe in a bag on the ice you are taking out to keep your catch in tip-top condition.
It is imperative to keep caught bait either alive or as cold as possible. Keeping dead baits in a container of water is a bad practice. This will actually speed up the process of raising the fish’s temperature, and turn the flesh into mush.
You can use any of the bait rigging techniques outlined above for baits caught on the way to the spot.
Ok, if you must.
Choose frozen bait using much the same judgement factors you would use if you were planning to eat the fish yourself.
Fish that has been well cared for up to and including being frozen will look better in the pack. The fish will still be bright. Any bait that looks lifeless in the pack will probably appear so under the water as well. It is essential that frozen bait should retain the oils and juices that make it attractive to our prey. Bait that looks flat in the pack has probably been left too long before freezing and it is likely that oils and juices have dissipated.
It is for this reason that you should never totally defrost frozen baits.
As bait defrosts, much of the oil and juices leak out. Look at all the oils and blood that is left in the bag at the end of the day and you will see what I mean. Keep most of the bait you have taken out for the trip as cold as possible and only take enough out to cover the next 10 minutes. Many frozen baits such as mackerel and pilchards turn into slush when defrosted and we all know how difficult it is to rig slush on a hook, and how easy it is for the pickers to rip it off. The best condition for frozen bait is a texture something like the packaging foam, firm but not solid.
It is likely that fish have very little means of detecting hot or cold, in terms of food, so bait that is still partly frozen is no problem.
I can only think of one bait that is probably best used after freezing, and that is tuna. Fresh caught tuna is very soft and it is difficult to keep it on a hook. But in saying that, tuna that is allowed to totally defrost becomes next to useless. Try and keep all baits out of the sun whilst baiting up.

What to Look For in the Bait Freezer
When you look at bait in the retailer’s freezer – and don’t buy bait till you get a look at it – look for the following key points before selecting bait:
  • Make sure there is no evidence of oil or blood in the bag or box. This is a sure sign that the bait has either been defrosted or frozen too slowly, and the oils and juices have leeched out.
  • Check that the bait has not been crushed. This can indicate either that the bait has been badly handled, or that the bait has been allowed to defrost. Crushed bait has flesh that is bruised and soft often too soft to stay on a hook. Oils and juices have been forced out of crushed bait.
  • Look for evidence of freezer burn. This may show up as bruising on the skin, or discolouration of the skin. This may indicate the bait has been poorly treated when freezing, or that the bait has been in the freezer for too long. Again, freezer-burned bait will be low on oils and juices.
To be successful in catching more or bigger fish
means starting at the fish’s end of the process:

  • The first thing that must exist is that there are fish to catch where you are fishing.
  • Having found fish, the next important factor is to set up a berley (ground-bait) trail that will attract and hold fish near where you bait is going to be.
  • That is where the bait comes into play – the better the bait, the better the fish that will be caught.
Everything else that follows up the fishing system hook, line, rod, reel, and angler is of no use unless the first three factors are in place. Bait selection and presentation is too often disregarded in the haste to get fishing.
- Richard Sheard, World Sport Fishing

Richard Sheard has spent his life hunting big fish in more than 40 countries. He started fishing at the age of six, progressed to competitive fishing, and then founded World Sport Fishing. Few are as qualified to talk about the techniques, sport and allure of big game fishing as Richard. He currently lives in the UK and spends a good part of each year abroad, fishing and shooting.

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Opening Day on the Rivers… French style!

The fishing season starts with a bang here in our village, I provided the whimper later in the day for reasons that will become clear to the reader after the following few paragraphs.
In Champagnac-La-Riviere there is a local angling club who have what has to be the best idea for the opening of the 1st category rivers and lakes. Essentially this involves starting fishing at sunrise on the 12th March, which incidentally this year gave a high of –2 degrees at that hour, one hours fishing then off to the bar.
Now I enjoy the odd few glasses of the local grapejuice, but not normally at this hour. However with fingers like Captain Scotts and a nose akin to Rudolph, I was grateful for the glass of white wine with cassis waiting at the bar for me. Warm handshakes all round and a quick check on catches (mostly blanks, myself included) and a second glass is “obligatoire”, quickly followed by a third. The warming effect of this beverage, it has to be said, is excellent. It also has the added advantage of allowing the part of the brain which is responsible for talking in a foreign language to function more easily, although not necessarily correctly.
A table for twelve had been laid in the bar, the last supper sprang immediately to mind.
All of the food in our local bar is cooked on site, no radiation roasts here. Our first course was the most delicious French onion soup with garlic bread and although the red wine was served in glasses, it is also applied liberally to the soup too. I do not usually eat a lot for breakfast, or drink alcohol, so kept telling myself it was lunchtime as a huge steak and equally large bowl of chips arrived on the table. Custom dictates that you must drink red wine with the main course. Quelle surprise!! It is now a little after ten o’clock in the morning and my liver is expecting overtime pay. Cheese and salad followed the main course, and yes………a glass of red wine or two, just to accompany the cheese really. Trying to eat, drink and speak french with my lips partially numb and an inane smile on my face was a challenge.
Normally, I was told, we would fish again for an hour or so before returning to the bar for aperitifs, however as the outside temperature was still a balmy zero degrees the breakfast ran into lunchtime. Un Pastis ou un café? I took the sensible option. “Un grand café noir, s’il vous plait, merci.’ I said with a whimper before strolling home for a good long lie down.
- Tony Scott, Fly Fishing in France

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A Fishy Story!

Together with two good friends, Paul and Jess, I decided to go and fish La Mordorée, an old quarry now totally transformed into a magnificent stillwater trout fishery in the heart of the Charente, just 30 mins drive from us.
I had fished this reservoir in the summer to no avail. It can be just too hot for the fish to bother playing. Talking to the owner he told me that it fishes best in autumn and spring.
So……we headed off bright and early one November morning. The colours of the surrounding trees are majestic at this time of year and it was a rather comfortable 18 degrees, hazy sun and little wind upon our arrival.
There was a good deal of surface activity visible. Just what we needed – a bout of dry fly fishing. Tackling up was undertaken with gusto as rise after rise was seen upon the water. Funny how a rise looks like a little target isn’t it?
I had been asked to give a quick refresher on casting techniques to Paul and Jess, so we headed to the waters edge. Edge is the word, the quarry is over 15 metres deep and our bank shelved steeply for about 2 metres and then dropped off into the blue.
I was teaching a change of direction technique to Paul and Jess when a beautiful 6lb+ rainbow rose to my right hand side. As I had cast to my left, this gave a marvellous opportunity to demonstrate a change of direction cast. With a deft waft of the rod and an increasing amount of adrenalin starting to run through my system, I cast to the fish.
Normally shaking hands do not produce good casts, however this time the fly, a grey wulff, landed just in the trout’s window of vision. Slurp!! And it was gone. The fly line started to disappear steadily into the depths as I let out more and more with minimal resistance for the fish. (Now, here’s a lesson to us all……….it pays to remember that 1.5lb tippet tapered leaders are superb for river fishing, but perhaps a slightly stronger breaking strain would have been preferable for a fish such as this fellow.) You’ve guessed it………”ping” and everything went slack, jaws and all.
As the group excitement died down we discussed the why’s, wherefore’s and if only’s as anglers do. Words not worthy of print were spoken in profusion, as anglers do.
This one definitely “Got away”
We fished for an hour or so up until lunchtime, enjoying many rises, takes, and subsequent losses and saw some truly tremendous fish cruising below the surface.
La Mordorée has a good head of rainbows, browns, blues and golden trout and there are black bass too. Mental note: Must catch a black bass!
The French lunch has to be observed. So we settled down at the picnic table for a traditional lunch of pate, bread, cheese and of course a small beer. Not forgetting a “pain au chocolat” for afters.
Recharged we fished on into the afternoon. The wind had gotten up a little so the surface disguised our lines and leaders admirably, whilst allowing our flies to bob around happily in the wavelets.
Paul hooked into a prowling rainbow only for the fish to decide that perhaps taking this fly was a mistake, so he spat it back at Paul, who proceeded to entertain us with a temper tantrum usually not seen after the age of around two years old. Or maybe it was more of a tribal war dance, its difficult to say when you are doubled up laughing. Onwards and upwards…………
Jess hooked into a rather nice golden trout just as he was in the process of paying the owner for our fishing. It looks impressive, but Jess was relieved of the trout and his euros, both got away.
Me…I missed a good few takes, “lack of practice” was the excuse chosen from my book of “Explanations for an empty creel”, however I finally banked a plump dinner plate sized rainbow, so my wife Sue would be delighted, if not a little surprised.
We finished the day by watching the sun begin to set over the reservoir and sipping a beer. A great day indeed.
With my thanks to Paul and Jess.
- Tony Scott, Fly Fishing in France

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Catch and Release or Catch and Cook?

We have lived here in the Limousin now for over six years and have noticed some interesting differences between French and British anglers, and their approaches to fishing.
The following observations are to be taken light-heartedly, with my tongue firmly placed in my cheek. No offence is meant to any angling brethren from either side of the channel.
The most glaring difference is the French attitude of “I catch, therefore I eat” as opposed to most British anglers who prefer to fish more for sport. Of course there are exceptions to this, but on the whole most fish caught in UK waters are returned to fight another day. This has a lot to do with the French palette, which knows no bounds when it comes to eating our scaly friends. Pike, Perch, Zander, and Carp which seldom grace British plates, are found throughout France on menus and in supermarkets. Although I am a keen angler I do not eat many fish. That could have something to do with the fact that I can’t catch them ready battered or bread crumbed.
The French two-hour lunch also features in their piscatorial pursuits. During our various sorties to fishy places, picnic tables were often found close to the riverbanks. Thinking that this was a great idea to place ones equipment etc, I was wrong. The midday bell rings and the French will take an hour or so to sit down and eat. I have to say, the wine, baguette and cheese platter sure beats a crushed, warm sandwich that is hurriedly pulled out of a fishing bag and eaten with one hand whilst fishing with the other.
Having run a fishing tackle shop in UK, I am familiar with the “All the gear, but no idea” syndrome with some British anglers. The French approach here in rural Limousin couldn’t be further from the obsession with owning every conceivable piece of fishing paraphernalia. No such tackle snobbery here. The French rod and reel are designed to be thrown in the back of white Citroen vans (more about these vans later) and whipped out, baited up with a worm, poked through some gaps in the undergrowth and placed in the path of some unsuspecting fish. It’s a fact that the fish that you hope to catch do not know how much you have paid for your tackle. The French understand this and use it to maximum effect. They would not want their tackle budget to impinge upon their food and wine budget. As in so many of things rural and French, there is a wonderful simplicity in this approach to catching your lunch.
When was the last time you saw maggots, worms and other baits available for sale in your local UK supermarket……hmmmmm never, I thought as much. Not so here as most supermarkets happily stock such delicacies alongside the fish counter, albeit in fridges. I can’t see Sainsburys offering the same service or the British public accepting it for that matter. You have to hand it to the French sometimes.
Back to the white Citroen vans aforementioned. Here is a little tip for us British fishermen. If you see such a van parked in a haphazard fashion close to some water on a quiet country lane, chances are there is usually a French angler not too far away who has found a productive stretch of water. We’ve noticed that the ubiquitous white vans are used by hunters and anglers alike.
You do need a Carte de Pêche to fish in France. This will cost you around 73,00 euros per year, although day permits are now available all year for just 10,00 euros per day. These are only valid in the department in which they are purchased. Fortnightly holiday permits are also available between June and September. You can buy all these permits from tackle shops, bars, and supermarkets. In our village, it is the boulangerie who supply them. The good thing here in France, unlike UK, the various fishing clubs do not own the best stretches of water. Anyone has the right to fish pretty well wherever they like, unless the land is private. A superb site for all information relating to fishing in France can be found here www.unpf.fr.
It is rare to see banks lined with angers here, or over packed fisheries. This is a positive pleasure. It enables the roaming angler to do just that. The Limousin is known as the land of 1000 lakes. Combined with hundreds of waters ranging from small fast moving brooks to the River Vienne, which meanders gently through the region, there is no shortage of water or fish. As for catching them….. I leave that to the reader.
Most villages have their own fishing club and set up competitions during the year. It has to be said, if our local club is anything to go by, there will usually be an all day bar and food. Just last week at our yearly competition I was offered a glass of wine at the unearthly hour of 8.00 a.m. Refusing politely, I got the same puzzled looks from our club members as I do when I tell them that having caught a fish I usually put it back.
You may be pleased to know that although there are many differences between French and British anglers, the innate ability of all fishermen to exaggerate the size of their catch using the open hands gesture is an international trait, although here it can be hard to differentiate between the Gallic Shrug and “It was this big”.
On a serious note, when it comes to fishing for trout, the French equivalent of the environment agency are trying to advocate the “ No Kill” policy. Strangely this is written in English. Currently there is a fishing ban for all salmon and sea trout in the rivers in most of South Western France. This kind of legislation helps the fish stocks, the environment and equally important there will be fish for future generations to catch.
I wish all anglers tight lines and singing reels!!!
- Tony Scott, Fly Fishing in France

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