Friday, December 30, 2011

On Wednesday one of the regular pier crabbers caught 7 Dungeness in his first pull of the morning. Thursday, another regular caught 13 in his first pull and landed two more throughout the rest of the day. Most everyone else were catching far less, but at least we know that the crabs are here. Boaters on the bay are consistently catching a few Dungies. Outside, the outer bay is definitely showing signs of wear with numbers and size both dropping. You can still count on catching dinner, at least.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Making The Best Of It

OK...I know at we are expected to spend a little extra time with our families at Christmas but it’s hard to stop looking at those online gauges to check the river levels or in my case walk the dog along the river watching for any signs that herald even the slightest possibility that casting a line is worthwhile.

Rain has made up the bulk of the weather over the festive period and has left the rivers and streams in the upper Wye system severely full, but a day or two without rain should bring them back down very quickly, such is the nature of these spate rivers.

On Wednesday I seized my opportunity and sank my waders into the still high and partially coloured river Irfon, the wind was blowing hard and the current was pushing hard against my waders but it was good to be casting a line again.

I had set up a three fly combination which consisted of a very heavy tungsten nymph on the middle dropper with two lighter nymphs either side, these were fished on a short line using my 10’ 4wt Streamflex with a short lob to get them out in the flow.

Heavily weighted dual tungsten 'sacrificial' nymph

The method worked well under the conditions and I caught 12 grayling in just a few hours with some nice fish amongst them. The fish took all three flies but the pink point fly was possibly favourite.

I also snatched a couple of hours today (Thursday) where the Irfon had dropped a couple more inches and was a lovely colour, the wind was blowing even harder but similar tactics proved good again and I was rewarded with some more nice grayling including one which I would consider to be one of my best from this river, a stunning 18” fish which was full bodied and in perfect condition.

Very deep 18" Grayling
As I write this the rain is lashing against the window (as it has done most of the afternoon) and the planned day out tomorrow fishing with a friend looks certain to be put on hold until the New Year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The crabbing is still ok but definitely not red hot. Dungeness numbers in the bay continue to drop with most people still catching a keeper or two but not many limits. The pier catching is erratic with some days being pretty good but the majority of days are slow. The outer bay still has a good quantity of keepers, if you can get there past the bar. The swell has been large and the bar has been breaking, so think twice before trying shoot outside. It is much better to eat crab than have them eat you.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Festive Greetings

Almost the end of another year which has seen some quite adverse weather conditions. The rainfall experienced through much of the trout season was woefully short and some of the smaller streams I fish became little more than a trickle.

For me this year has been quite productive in many ways. Firstly I took up membership of a new club which has given me a lot more waters to fish within my area, these include first class wild trout and grayling rivers which even in the low conditions produced some magnificent fish.

I have also spent much of the year getting to grips with the 'long leader' European style of fishing used in conjunction with a long/lightweight rod, this will not appeal to all but I find it a great way of getting the best out of certain rivers. This style of fishing is becoming more and more popular and rod manufactures are now incorporating a range to cater for this. Amongst others Greys have a range of rods that are specifically designed for this in the XF2 Streamflex range. I have a friend who has built himself a 11' #2 rod which is just a dream when it comes to casting a long leader and light nymphs so I can see a new addition to my rod range for next year!

I am also trying to improve on my fly tying skills which I am now realising is a long term project, but there is always pleasure in fly tying and trying out a new pattern which catches fish.

With a long festive break coming up I'm watching the river gauges like a hawk and hoping the recent high levels drop in time to give me a chance to over-indulge over the next two weeks.

Just leaves me to say that I thank all those that have dropped by to read my blog and those who have posted comments, I wish you all the best for Christmas and hope you all find next year brings you new and exciting experiences.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The good news is that there are less commercial crab pots down on Ten Mile. The bad news is that they're leaving because the number of crabs is dwindling. My catch for Saturday was 26 Dungeness in seven pots in a three-hour soak. We limited on rockfish and caught three lingcod. The outer bay was showing signs of wear as well, with sizes and numbers dropping. Inside the bay was business as usual with some guys doing well and others lucky to catch a few reds.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

So far today two guys have limited out on Dungeness on the pier. Also, if anyone is interested, there is a whale in the bay, directly across from the pier. You can crab and whale watch.

There were some nice rockfish landed yesterday with some of the blues weighing five pounds. They were caught "out off of Ten Mile" along with some nice Dungeness. The outer bay had Dungeness limits for the guys soaking gear there, but you can tell that there has been over five weeks of high-grading going on. The average size isn't nearly as impressive as it had been. The pier is still pretty good if you know what you're doing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The crab bite is slowing down out in the ocean. Yesterday's totals from the four boats that went out, each with two guys, ranged from limits of mostly sport-legal crab on the high side to a low of four. Ten Mile had crab for me last weekend but only barely. We averaged 6 crabs per pot for seven pots on a three-hour soak. The rockfishing was good and we limited out while we waited for the crabs. Some of the best results were off the pier yesterday with at least two people catching limits and the others catching dinner. The early crabber today had three Dungeness by 8AM. Your results may vary, but these midweek pier guys are doing as well or better than the boaters.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

We're having some of the nicest weather of the year and there is hardly anyone here to enjoy it. The crabbing on the pier slowed down again, probably due to the fast currents, but there's still a few keepers coming in. If you run down to Ten Mile be prepared to dodge a lot of buoys. I heard that there's 500 pots just by the Keyholes (Kehoe Beach). There's still good numbers of crab down there, but probably not for long.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Here's a firsthand report from last weekend: "My contribution today is spent 3 hours with 2 traps and a snare around Marker “10” and got skunked! (well aside from some undersize rock crab and a humongous starfish..).  How can crab be so fickle?" Unfortunately the crab is like wealth; it is unevenly distributed. 

Hanak European Grayling Festival - River Dee

This was my first time fishing this team event which is held over two days (3 sessions) on the River Dee around Llangollen. The rain that had fallen before our arrival on Friday had pushed the river up high but as we peered over the bridge in the town we could see that the clarity was still good.

Friday was to be our practice session so we headed on to the river to try out methods and flies for the match. It was to prove tough as expected but we all caught fish in the 20cm and above class (minimum size counted in the competition) with lots of smaller grayling also showing.

Overnight rain had pushed the level up even higher for the Saturday as the 21 teams headed off to their designated beats to fish the first of the two sessions scheduled for day one. The river was still rising during the day and starting to colour up somewhat, but the first day ended well for us and we were lying in fourth place with all of us catching some fish when many teams had blanked!

Martin and Phil Dixon (England Black Gnats) on their way to 3rd place
Our first beat
We guessed day two was going to be even tougher when the rain was falling hard as we made our way to the local curry house on the evening...guaranteed to give the waders some rear end abuse the next day!

Sunday came and it was a grey, damp, cold start as we set off, our beat was further upstream so we hoped it may escape the worst of the rainfall but again the river was ripping through.

A combination of  heavy beaded tungsten nymphs fished through the slower runs and a good dose of steely grit and determination saw us finish with 3 fish which was as good as we could have hoped for.

The final results were read out back at the Hand Hotel in Llangollen and we learned that we had finished in 4th place overall. When taking into consideration that many anglers here were of international standard and this had been our first attempt in this competition we were more than happy with the outcome with many lessons learned for our return next year.

Overall Winners - Italy Caddis
A total of 92 fish caught of the two days proves how tough it was...last year this event saw 321 fish caught in sub-zero temperatures!

Top 10 teams:

1, Italy Caddis
2, Wales Dragonflies
3, England Black Gnats
4, England Damsel Flies
5, Wales Adams
6, Czech Coachmen
7, England Dunkeld
8, England Corixa
9, Wales Grey Dusters
10,Wales Red Spinners

Total Fish Caught: 92
Top Individual: Martin Dixon 12 Fish (England Black Gnats)
Biggest Fish Caught: 47cms - Olivier Dupont (Belgium Stoneflies)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Here's my sons, Cameron and Gage, with today's catch. Cam got a 4.5# copper and Gage caught his first ling (Cam's first gaff job). We limited out on Dungeness on Ten Mile and caught half limits of rockfish in two hours. Other folks did well on the rockfish in front of Bird Rock. There were some nice Dungeness caught on the pier this weekend, but as usual, some did well and others, not so much.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Apparently the crabs were just waiting for everyone to go home. I saw one limit come off the pier by lunchtime today and most of the other buckets have Dungeness in them as well. Steve Towne landed a limit from his boat in the bay before 9:00 AM and another boat landed four limits before 1:00 PM. The currents have slowed down this week, so that might have something to do with the good crabbing as well. Great weather today and more forecast for the weekend.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fly Tying At Our Fingertips

After walking to the bottom of the beat on our chosen Wye tributary fishing venue last weekend myself and fishing buddy (Nick) promptly set up our rods in preparation to work our way up river.

Now Nick is someone who is always looking to try out new innovations that may improve his fishing experience and today he pulled out a something pink that certainly made me look twice (no not that!) it was a Camou French Leader but it was vivid pink in colour and had the obvious benefit of being easily detectable as you follow it down the river.

Nick with a nice Grayling caught using the 'pink' french leader
Anyway the days fishing was pretty average really and with the high winds and drizzly rain making fishing difficult we decided that the local pub was the best option to round the day off. It was here that the pink leader was brought back up where Nick explained it was one of many items that he had brought back from a visit to the FlyFishingPoint shop on a recent trip to the Czech Republic.

 Below: some of the vast selection available online or when you visit the FlyFishingPoint shop

This led us on to a discussion about fly tying and the huge variety of materials that are now available online from our European cousins.

It's the phonomenon of the modern age that we can sit in front of a computer and within a few minutes we have browsed a shop, added items to our basket and paid at the checkout, with delivery of the purchase arriviving within a few days.

A variety of 'Quill Body' nymphs I recently tied with high quality quills purchased from an online Romanian shop
I understand that by doing this we are losing the personal touch that we expect from 'physical' shopping but to have such a huge amount of choice available online has to be good news for us all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I saw a beautiful 7"+ Dungeness landed on the pier yesterday morning. He must have been waiting for the crowd to leave before he made his move. The pier is the emptiest it's been for over a month. The campground and store will remain open over the winter. Looks like some great weather this weekend. The commercial fishermen settled on a price for their crab so there will be a lot more buoys to dodge on the ocean and probably a few less jumbo crab available.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Dungeness crabbing slipped a little more this week. The best report from the pier was a from a fellow that caught six on his best day but was averaging three a day for the week, all on snares. Boaters in the bay were still catching dungies, but the sweet spots are getting smaller and less sweet. The outer bay is showing signs of wear, including empty pots and females with eggs. You can still catch limits out there but you definitely need to tend the gear and move pots that aren't producing. Even Ten Mile can take some effort.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The crabbing is slowing down inside the bay, especially on the pier. The strong currents throughout most of the day probably aren't helping. The strong winds and large swell are making the ocean a definite no-go. Friday looks good for boating weather but tomorrow will still probably be best for eating turkey. Happy Thanksgiving, whatever you end up doing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Lack Of Daylight

The winter daylight hours really do make you appreciate the time you get to spend out fishing at this time of year. Unlike the summer when you have the luxury of many hours of daylight, every hour spent fishing is a bonus at the moment.

On Saturday my trip out to this upper Wye tributary was a late start...arriving at 10.00am I parked up, got my gear sorted out, then ambled down the river taking in all the sights and sounds that attract me so much to river fly fishing.

On the way down the river I met a gentlemen out walking along the river who was the kind of guy you could happily talk to all day, a local man with a vast knowledge of the river and many years experience of fly fishing the surrounding area.

On this particular morning he was walking the stretch of river counting the Salmon Redds (where the gravel on the riverbed is excavated during spawning). He had counted a total of 5 along this length of river which was certainly encouraging on this particular Wye tributary.

At this time of year it is important that when wading on Salmon rivers to be very mindful to steer well clear of areas that look like potential Salmon Redds, these are usually obvious to see by an area of the riverbed that has a scoured, fresh looking patch of gravel as in the picture below.

Large 'Salmon Redd' photographed on the River Irfon on Sunday
By the time I eventually got to my starting point and started fishing a good portion of the daylight hours had passed (note to self... less wine the night before andget out of bed much earlier!!!).
A bit of a frustrating few hours followed with many lost flies (trees, sub-surface snags) and a sense that I never really caught the fish I should have, saying that there were still Grayling caught with a couple of very large fish amongst them. Next time I return I have a new plan to try out...!!!

The best of the day

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This is my son Gage with his crab catch of the day. It was furry and I believe related (distantly) to king crab and box crab. Here's a close-up:
If anyone can put a name to this critter I'd sure appreciate it. 
The Dungeness crabbing this weekend was a bit slower in the bay. The pier was definitely better for those using crab snares instead of traps or nets. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

There were at least two limits of crab taken from the pier yesterday, one limit by a crabber working three traps and one by a crabber working crab snares. The outer bay produced well for the guys crabbing there yesterday, and the reef off the end of Tomales Point has some nice lingcod available for those that know how to fish it. Live smelt would likely work, as well as slow trolling large herring as near the bottom as you can afford.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Good weather so far today, but there's a big swell and a chance of rain for the next few days. There's still crab in the bay, at least. Outside, the outer bay is still good and Ten Mile is fantastic, especially near Abbott's Lagoon. I got a limit of 7"+ Dungeness there yesterday from two pots soaked two hours. The rockfishing was just okay.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Randy from Carson City went home Sunday, so the rest of us have a chance on the pier. There were a couple of jumbos caught there yesterday that Randy missed. The bay still has crab but you definitely need to find the right spot to do well. Don't be afraid to move around if you aren't catching. The outer bay still has quite a few crab but it helps to work your gear a bit to keep the bait fresh and move the pots to the sweet spots. Ten Mile beach has a lot of Dungeness but the numbers may not hold for long, especially after commercial season starts. One crabber dropped five pots near Abbott's Lagoon on Saturday. He checked them in four hours and had an average of 22 crab per pot. He freshened the bait, reset the pots, and returned on Sunday for an average of 9 crab per pot. That's still plenty of crab, but it doesn't look like there is quite as many crab as Fish and Game had projected. The rockfishing over the weekend was slow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The weather was wet and windy for most of today, but that didn't stop people from crabbing. The pier was the same as it's been with a few doing well and everyone else watching. The bay kicked out a nice grade of crab for the boaters that weren't afraid to get tossed around a bit. The ocean had lots of Dungeness but even larger swells breaking across the mouth of the bay. Only two boats went out and both made it back. The second boat rescued a couple of kayakers that got a little more fun than they bargained for.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This picture is from late June of this year but it demands to be seen. On a one hour soak, Randy from Carson City pulled up 37 Dungeness in this pot alone. 8 were big, legal males, 23 were legal-sized females with eggs and the rest were short. Only the legal males were kept. His other pot had 25 Dungeness. This, at the end of the season when the crabbing was "no good." So far today, Randy has 9 keepers from the pier. The outer bay is still kicking out lots of crab but there's a few females starting to show up in spots.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ten Mile has lots of Dungeness. Nate Porter set four pots for a two and a half hour soak and had to throw back eighty keepers. He had tears in his eyes while telling the story. The outer bay is still good and there's decent numbers of crab inside Tomales Bay, but it sounds like there's no waiting at the big beach.

Tungsten Flies And Thermal Underwear!

Waking up early Sunday morning in Mid Wales was a bit of a shocker with the car and surrounding fields white over with a severe frost, my thoughts immediately plunged back to last years harsh winter weather which resulted in a very lean time for me as far as winter grayling fishing goes.

On this occasion though the bright sun soon burnt away the frost leaving a cold but beautiful morning. I headed down to the River Wye but unfortunately Friday's downpour had left it with just a little too much water/colour pushing through it so I dropped back to the lower part of the River Irfon which I knew was running high but relatively clear.

Setting up my 10' #4 Greys Streamflex with 2 heavy nymphs I worked my way slowly through the likely looking areas, the point fly was gently tripping along the bottom where I assumed any feeding grayling might be. The first couple of fish were out of season brown trout which had likely entered the Irfon from the Wye in readiness to spawn, then a move a little further upstream found me my first grayling...nothing to shout about size wise but a grayling all the same.

A few more fish came to hand but on this occasion the bigger grayling remained elusive and after a few hours waist high in extremely cold water I wished I had put some thermals on and then retreated back to the warmth and a hot mug of coffee.

I guess for the next few months heavy flies and thermal clothing will be forefront in my mind when planning fishing trips.
So far today about 15 Dungeness have been caught on the pier. Unfortunately for everyone else, 13 of those crab were caught by one man. He will be watched closely.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Christian Valenti, pictured, and friends caught 42 Dungeness and 38 rock crab on Saturday, and 39 Dungeness and 6 rocks today. All were caught inside the bay, from a boat. The outer bay in 50 to 75 feet of water is holding a lot of crab, but probably not as many as last year.
Yesterday's revised totals: the pier was only good for a very select few with most people catching nothing. The beach casters had a little better distribution on their crabs but nobody really loaded up, at least that I spoke with. Boaters in the bay had widely varied success, with catches ranging from 0 to 41 Dungeness. One of our rental boats landed 18 Dungeness. There were crab pot raiders working other people's gear, so watch your gear closely. Make sure your name is on your gear. The outer bay had really good numbers of crab for those that dared the bar crossing. Today looks bad for trips outside with a forecast of 10 to 13 foot seas.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The lucky crabbers are getting some nice Dungeness on the pier (which opens at 7am). There's a few coming in from the shore casters with snares as well, but so far the average is 0 to1. The boaters are doing better but there's no guarantee of success that way either. One boater returned before noon with a limit from around channel marker 5, very pretty crabs but a little light. The crabs hadn't filled in after the recent molt. The ocean is better than yesterday when a boat got swamped and sank on the bar, but it still isn't quite nice out there either. The three sunken boaters were rescued by a passing boat.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Here's part of a press release from Fish and Game regarding the Dungeness crab opener on Saturday: "The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) reminds sport crabbers that traps and nets for Dungeness crab may not be set before 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 5.

"Crab populations appear to be robust this year, especially in Central California, coming off a record harvest during the 2010-11 season," said DFG Senior Environmental Scientist Pete Kalvass, who oversees the Invertebrate Management Project. "This could mean another great season for recreational crabbers."

Crab pots (or traps), loop traps and hoop nets are all popular methods for catching the tasty crustacean. New regulations this year require hoop netters to raise their nets to the surface to inspect the contents of the net at least every two hours. Any undersized crabs and incidentally caught fish and invertebrates can then be more quickly released. The main purpose of the new regulation is to ensure that each fisherman closely monitors his or her gear and does not allow any equipment to be abandoned in state waters. Trap fishermen should also closely monitor their traps because lost trap gear can continue to fish and adversely impact the fishery by becoming a self-baiting "crab killer". "

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One 14 pound halibut out of a kayak today. The water is cold and clear but this fish didn't care.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Update: Two halibut today, one caught off of Dillon Beach and one speared in the clear water on the bar. The one boat that went for rockfish had no bites until he started slow trolling for lingcod, then he caught three lings and a cabezon. There was another reel-screaming hook-straightener off of Dillon Beach parking lot as well.
Not too much to report on. Sharks in the bay, leopards mostly, and one boat got spooled/hooks straightened three times off of Dillon Beach yesterday afternoon. Lots of Dungeness crab in the bay. Today is the last day of salmon season. Rockfish ends on December 31st, so at least you can fish for them while you're soaking crab pots. Historically, the rockfishing gets good this time of year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A while back I posted on here for the Dillon Beach Tuna Club. They had a few spots open for a long range trip and were looking for someone to fill them. Here's a taste of what you missed:
 Rob Serini and Steve Towne hoist a pair of nice yellowtail (hamachi to you sushi lovers).
Wally Frei poses here with his yellowfin tuna while Bob Warren fishes in the background.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Not a recently caught fish, but a photo recently submitted by Chad Hansen. I don't know how much the halibut weighed but I think we can guess that it bit a jacksmelt. This victory is from July 2007.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

One halibut was caught in the bay on Thursday and a halibut was caught at Abbott's lagoon today. Not too many fish in the report, but not too many fishermen either. The water turned very clear in the bay in the last 24 hours, so it should be a good opportunity for divers on the bar. Lots of Dungeness cycling through the nets on the pier, many of them large, so things still look good for the opener in two weeks.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I didn't see any fish come in yesterday or today, but then again, there haven't been many fishermen either. The water is still warm and brown outside. Actually it was too brown for the divers that tried the bar on Tuesday. The didn't see any halibut, but that's not really a surprise since they could barely see the bottom. There were a couple of halibut caught on Ten Mile on Tuesday but Wednesday's wind prevented a repeat performance.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Here is Herb Hansen of Dillon Beach with his 35 pound white sea bass. He lost the other sea bass but caught three halibut. You may not be able to tell from the picture, but that's a smug expression on Herb's face.

Weekend On The Irfon

With temperatures dropping down to one degrees around Builth Wells over Friday night I sensed that the time was getting near for the box of heavy tungsten nymphs to be brought out of retirement. Fortunately the morning sun soon burnt away the cold mist in time for me to check out the lower part of the River Irfon which was looking glorious.

After much deliberation I decided on a short lined nymph approach, 2 x tungsten beads (2.5mm + 2.0mm) set up on the 10' #4 Streamflex. This can be a highly effective method when the target fish is Grayling and its amazing how close these fish can be to you when you do not make a minimum of disturbance when wading.

With such favourable conditions I had soon accountant for some good sized fish and left the river after a few hours with the self satisfaction you get when you know your chosen method was right and everything goes to plan.

On Sunday I headed a little further upstream to the Cammarch Hotel waters which are marketed by the Wye & Usk Foundation as part of their roving voucher scheme. Day tickets are available direct from the hotel allowing you a choice of beats along this prime stretch of the middle Irfon.

The Cammarch Hotel - Point of purchase for day tickets.

There have been some recent good catches reported from this area so I was anticipating the prospect of latching into a few more of the Grayling that the Irfon is renowned for. Starting halfway up the beat things started slow and after a couple of hours I had only managed to catch three fish, although I did have to share the top part of the beat with a lively pair of otters! (low quality video below).

I then walked down to the start of the beat and found some nice looking water which immediately produced some good sized fish all caught short line nymphing. The session ended when the sun came out from behind the clouds and a rise in temperature brought a few fish to the surface, a quick switch to a duo setup produced a couple more fish before other commitments forced me to leave the water early. 15 nice grayling, plus a few fingerlings and some out of season trout assured that this is a venue I am sure to return to in the future.

As with many parts of the Irfon wading can be a little tricky in parts so I would always advise a wading staff should you give it a try.

'Busy' country lanes around the Hotel!