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Blast from the Past!
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 10:27 pm    Post subject: Blast from the Past! Reply with quote

While rummaging through a cupboard earlier in the week I came across an old diary which contained a record of my trout fishing reservoir trips from 1980. That is nearly 37 years ago or put another way, before some of you were born Laughing so I thought some of the younger 'forumites' might find it interesting to compare then with now. Smile

The diary starts in March 1980 around a year or two after I first tentatively dipped my toe into the world of fly fishing as mainly a coarse and sea angler. Back then I was a 24 year old newly married man and my kids were still a twinkle in my eye, although rather surprisingly I still managed to get 14 trips in that year to Chew/Blagdon, Sutton Bingham and Cameley Lakes. Very Happy

From today's perspective I wince when I see some of the tackle I used back then. My main rod was a Fibatube #7/9 and my main lines were home made shooting heads including one made from cut back #9 Wet Cel 1 DT line. Although this seems heavy now, #8 full lines were the norm back then and the Cortland 444 Peach floater was the go to line but it was too expensive for me back then.

My friends and I also seemed to set up two rods every trip - a heavier rod for lures and in my case a #6 fibreglass rod I got as part of a mail order river kit from 'Bennets of Sheffield' that I used for nymph fishing. My diary suggests that I used a 'White Lure' and 'Black lure' rather a lot (no change there then! Laughing) although I also appear to have had success with a 'Dunkeld (with Jungle Cock cheeks)' Badger Matuka, Baby Doll, Wormfly, Red Tag, Tom Iven's Green Nymph, Black Buzzers and PT nymphs with various coloured seals fur thorax, none of which I use today except the Black Buzzer. No Boobies back then or Daiwl Bachs, or if there were then I hadn't heard of them. Laughing

I've often said on here that when I first started fishing Chew and Blagdon they broke my heart and my diary supports my memory on this. Back then it wasn't unusual for us to fish the morning on one lake and try the other if things didnt work out (something I rarely do today) and it seems more often than not, things didn't work out. My total catch from Chew/Blagdon in 1980 was just 4 fish from 7 trips (0.57 fish per trip!) which explains why I and my fishing companions also traveled to Yeovil to fish Sutton Bingham.

Sutton Bingham was a lot farther to travel but it seemed to provide better fishing for us according to my diary. The catches weren't spectacular but at least we got some pulls and I recorded 9 fish from 4 visits (2.25 per visit) which included a blank in July. Many of my fish came to PT Nymphs and the Green Nymph fished on the #6 weight which proved to be the better approach, especially in the evening.

It was a running joke among my mates and I that after a few blanks at Chew and Blagdon we would have to fish Cameley Lake in order to get our confidence back and my diary suggests it did the trick. Unlike today, smaller stocked lakes were a novelty back then and although we didn't find Cameley particularly easy, at least you knew you had fish in front of you and it was unusual not to at least get a pull. Unfortunately as a small stocked fishery Cameley was also more expensive than Chew and I tended to fish half days because that was all I could afford. Nevertheless, my diary suggests that I caught 6 fish from 3 trips (2.0 per visit) and so it served its purpose very well in giving us our Mojo back. Laughing

One thing the 'kids of today' Rolling Eyes Laughing will find surprising was the size of the fish we caught back then. Most of the fish were yearlings in the 1-0 to 1-4 class and my biggest fish of the season was 2-8 from Camelely. One notable entry in my diary for 18th April 1980 records that my two fish from Chew that day weighed 12 oz and 14oz respectively! In fact the average size of all the fish I caught between 1980 and 1984 from all the venues mentioned weighed just 1-5 so it is worth bearing that in mind when we moan when sometimes stockies weigh less than 2lb! Smile

Before I finish I should add that the above is purely a record of my own results after just starting to regularly fly fish and I'm sure more experienced anglers did far better than me and my friends on the same lakes. However I hope you find this as fascinating to read as I did. Smile

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Memory lane indeed.
My first fly tying materials came from Bennett's of Sheffield and the smaller stocking of trout was pre the rape of the oceans and arrival of cormorants.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Walkers of Trowell was the go to shop when I first started in the early 70's. The only place you could buy Tynex leader material and it came in 40" long sections so you became very adept at tying blood knots. I fished Grafham in those days and we would have to apply for a weekend boat a month in advance and hope you got lucky in the draw. Sweeny Todd's always scored and then stories of Arthur Cove's nymphs started to circulate and the rest is history. Met the guy once and a true gent. Cool

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, that takes you back does it not?

1980 I was living in Hertfordhire so would travel north to Grafham and Rutland on occasion or west to Farmoor which was more usual. I was tying flies semi-professionally and I think it was 1979 that I bought my first carbon rod, a 9' Lamiglas 8/9. Shooting heads were all the rage because you had to chuck it out a long way to reach the fish, didn't you? We bought mill ends from McHardy's so as to make up our heads cheaply. We tried all sorts of backing - hollow braid, Tapeworm, Amnesia.

As far as flies went, Viva, Black Chenille, Sweeney Todd, Baby Doll, Whisky Fly, Appetiser pretty much ruled the roost, though the long leader/deep nymph/indicator method was in use at Farmoor. Not easy with a 9' rod that one, and I guess it was around then that I began to go longer and lighter. I had a friend who was a tackle rep for East Anglian Rod Company, and his patch was central London. Through him I managed to get a 10' #6 Hardy carbon blank at a VERY favourable rate. Other items used to fall out of the back of Charlie's car from time to time including a Gladding Super Aquasink - at the time the faster commercially available sinking line.

As far as catches went, we were quite successful. We didn't catch loads at Grafham apart from one memorable day when it all went right for me and I put 12 fish in the boat to my pal's one. Didn't matter what I chucked out, the fish just grabbed it! We'd try to fish early morning off the dam at Grafham and one day my chum got a lovely brown of about 4.5lbs and I had one about a pound smaller.

Farmoor fish, though, were all around a pound up to maybe a pound 4 ounces. I think it wasn't until I had moved to Wiltshire in 1982 that I caught my first 2lb fish from Farmoor. They weren't that common, but we usually caught a reasonably number of fish. Limits were red letter days. It was 6 at that time, but 3 or 4 was fairly regular.

Makes you think!
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tenet wrote:
Walkers of Trowell was the go to shop when I first started in the early 70's. The only place you could buy Tynex leader material and it came in 40" long sections so you became very adept at tying blood knots. I fished Grafham in those days and we would have to apply for a weekend boat a month in advance and hope you got lucky in the draw. Sweeny Todd's always scored and then stories of Arthur Cove's nymphs started to circulate and the rest is history.

That brings back memories, and how could I have forgotten the Sweeny Todd? It was one of my 'go to' flies back then. I also got my hands on some Tynex from Tom Saville's but couldn't get on with it, although very many good anglers did. Great stuff for avoiding wind knots (or in my case casting knots) as I remember. It gave me a preference for stiff leader material and today I use Riverge for most of my trout fly fishing. Smile

wylye wrote:
. Shooting heads were all the rage because you had to chuck it out a long way to reach the fish, didn't you? We bought mill ends from McHardy's so as to make up our heads cheaply. We tried all sorts of backing - hollow braid, Tapeworm, Amnesia ...


I was also a Mc Hardy's customer and Mullarkeys customer too as they both sold 'mill end' lines by mail order for a very reasonable price. I also remember trying Tapeworm and Amnesia but preferred black 20lb hollow braid. It didn't slip through the rings as well but I found I had less tangles with it. Later on I started experimenting by splicing running line from lighter mill end lines instead which I preferred until the manufacturers caught on by introducing similar lines commercially. Smile

wylye wrote:
Limits were red letter days. It was 6 at that time, but 3 or 4 was fairly regular.

I think BW was 8 fish although Sutton Bingham was 6 and as you say, a limit was a red letter day to dine out on. Catching your limit was the holy grail and a usual greeting on the bank back then was a tongue in cheek 'got your limit'? and the answer as often as not was 'I wish'! Laughing It all seems a very long time ago now compared with today when 20 or 30 fish to the boat hardly raises an eyebrow. Smile

Here is another diary entry which caught my eye from an afternoon session at Chew on Friday October 7th 1983. I was wading out from Walley Bank and fishing close to the dam...
' I decided to fish this area after I saw a fish rise. I started with my Carbon 7/9 rod and a Dog Nobbler ( Shock Laughing ) and after getting a good take I netted a 1lb 10oz Rainbow. After landing the fish I took up the same position again and after 20 minutes caught a 14oz Brookie which fought very sluggishly'.

No, that isn't a mistake. BW stocked a few Brook Trout as a trial and I remember this capture very well. The fish was unmistakeably a Brook Trout with its green hue and white edged fins. Unfortunately the fish was out of condition and oozed milt everywhere which probably explains why the experiment wasn't repeated.

Any more diary entries or memories from years gone by? Smile

Alan Wink
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How the memory fades - of course it was Tom C Savill's for the Tynex not Walker's. They also sold Lamiglas blanks with the handle already fitted leaving the purchaser to whip on the rings. I took advantage of this and used Fuji lined rings for my wet cel 2 shooting head with amnesia oval running line. So yes I once fished on the dark side along with the use of Lee Boards and, after they were banned, rudders. Laughing Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was a brief flirtation with lead core lines back in the early '80's. I was actually casting a lead core shooting head off the bank at Farmoor, idiot that I was. Those things are not really meant for casting. I was using a very large lure, convinced that there was some big trout down in the depths. So, I belted this lot out a few times, caught nothing and wound it in to change to something a bit more civilised. The lure was swinging in the breeze and there were two other anglers walking towards me, and one said the the other, "that guy's caught one. Must be some fish in here somewhere." His mate replied, "yeah, but it ain't very big is it?" The look on their faces when they got closed and saw that it was a "fly" and not a fish was worth the entrance money.

Next time out that lead care caught me a 5lb 6oz rainbow, a sock and a yacht in consecutive casts. Queen Mother Reservoir.

The third time was a very hot afternoon at Walthamstow. An over-energetic cast resulted in an almighty smack in my back and the line & backing in a big heap. When I wound it all in I found that a l/s4 was driven into my back just below the right shoulder blade. Nothing for it but to cut the line, and drive home to visit my local A&E where a young and obviously inexperienced lady doctor made several various attempts to get this thing out. Eventually she asked me if I knew how to do it, so I told her to turn the hook in the wound until the point & barb emerged from the skin. Then cut off the point & barb and pull the rest of the hook out backwards. What she actually did was to cut off the hook flush with the skin whereupon the point & barb disappeared inside my flesh.and could no longer be seen. By this time she was in a bit of a panic so got a scalpel and cut open my back until she could get pair of forceps onto the metal which she then proceeded the pull bodily out of my back! No local or anything.

My lead core days ended forthwith.

By the mid-'80's I was seduced by the competition scene which was still a more or less gentlemanly affair. My first competition was in a fledgling Benson & Hedges round at Wimbleball. For some reason the ranger had released thousands of 10" rainbows. Some of the top sides were coming in with 50+ per man, and even I , inexperienced and ill-equipped as I was, brought 25 to the scales.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a corollary to my post above - Walkers of Trowell took over Tom C Savills at some point in the past. What was once the "go to" purveyor of all things fly fishing now seems to concentrate on coarse fishing. I guess they never kept up with the Sportfish model (glossy mags showing sexy US gear) and subsequent Internet business. Sad
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"she then proceeded the pull bodily out of my back! No local or anything"

Of course this was the time when Men were Men Very Happy

I caught my first trout on the fly at Croxley Hall, moved on to Hannigfield, Grafham and Farmoor.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul Sansom-Timms and his wife Philomena if I remember right. She used to apply make-up with a shovel and up-end the perfume bottle!

I was working for Thames Water in those days - Thames Conservancy Division in Fisheries. We did do trapping experimental work at Croxley and Paul invited two of us to test fish the trout lake. I forget how many we caught, but it was a good few!

Fished Latimer once or twice. One memorable day in 1979 - election day - as a guest of Richard Balm who had a furniture and tackle shop in Burnham. Cold & windy but a limit of rainbows duly obliged.

tenet,

If you can still get it, Tom Savilles Fiery Brown seal fur is the very best I've ever found. Lord knows how many Chew fish scoffed a Fiery Brown Shipmans either as a dry or a "pulled" version. It just glows.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Blast from the Past! Reply with quote

Cracking post this. I started fly fishing around this time as an 8 - 9 year old. My Dad God bless him taking me out on a boat at places like Bewl. I even remember my first rod, a 6 foot fibre glass masterpiece made by my uncle. Laughing

I remember my dad giving me my first fly box full of flies like mullard & claret, silver invicta's, Dunkelds and one of his Hardy Princess reels. Still got it now. Proper Hardy stuff in those days, much better than the crap they serve up these days. As it happens silver invicta's are still the order of the day fishing Bewl.......and yep the line was a Cortland Peach floater.

I still have my Dad's diaries from around this time when he was fishing places like Grafham, I remember the green midge played a big part in his fishing. The old boy would only fish dries or buzzers even in the coldest of conditions, he wouldn't fish anything else. Many times he would blank but back then it was all about taking samples of flies home in glass specimen bottles and trying to copy them. It was a bit more refined back then.

Nice one Allrounder, this has bought back some real cherished memories from my childhood. My Dad's last wish was to have his ashes scattered over Grafham and to be cremated in his fishing gear. This we did. I guess the fly fishing gene was passed over to me, but if I were to talk to the old man now about fishing 6 inch snakes patterns and jelly fritz blobs and even fly fishing for pike Shock Shock I can see the look on his face. Twisted Evil
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Blast from the Past! Reply with quote

Anyone remember Don's of Edmonton? Don taught me how to cast my first fly rod Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tenet wrote:
I took advantage of this and used Fuji lined rings for my wet cel 2 shooting head with amnesia oval running line. So yes I once fished on the dark side along with the use of Lee Boards and, after they were banned, rudders. Laughing Laughing


Wet Cel 2 shooting head? Lee Board?? Rudder??? Shock I bow before the Lord of the Dark Side! Laughing

wylye wrote:
There was a brief flirtation with lead core lines back in the early '80's.

That is a really interesting post Wylye, and a 5lb 6oz reservoir fish was something special back then. Cool
I had an even shorter flirtation with Leadcore which ended after one session. It seemed fine when casting cautiously but developed a mind of its own when you tried to put put some oomph into it! I've got some T14 in the cupboard that I keep promising to make into a shooting head for deep water Pollack but my memory of lead core lines puts me off. Laughing

vic fitzwalter wrote:
.... if I were to talk to the old man now about fishing 6 inch snakes patterns and jelly fritz blobs and even fly fishing for pike Shock Shock I can see the look on his face. Twisted Evil

I can just imagine, Vic! Sounds like your dad was a real gentleman and there's nothing wrong with that. Didn't Don's of Edmonton market a device for preventing or minimising over-runs on multipliers? I've also got an old copy of 'Angling' magazine from March 1971 which includes a review of the best trout rods of the time, including this one from Don's of Edmonton ...



Alan Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I still have a lead core on a reel that comes out occasionally for back fishing for Zander at Grafham and last year I tried it and caught back drifting at Farmoor,not sure I would try casting it on my current rods.

P.S.T still runs Croxley as an expensive syndicated carp fishery ( think one trout lake remains).

I wonder what new anglers ( if there are any) will be talking about in 30 years about current fishing practice.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice post Alan,

There was an anti backlash, birds nest contraption.

From what I remember it was made from curved sprung loaded wire and somehow pressed on the spool, you could apply more pressure if you wanted.

There's been a few of these odd things produced, none have caught on and you can't beat a free running multiplier with no brakes, just an educated thumb.

Apart from one, which has a tournament casting mag conversion, all of my multipliers have had the brakes removed,the spindles polished and I use old fashioned 20W 50 motor oil to slightly slow the spool.
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