Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Getting it out there: Pt 1

An earlier post described time spent in S. France earlier this year, with Marc Fauvet AKA dude on the stream. I really like this guy, he's warm, witty, intelligent and I count him as a friend. He's also a deadly caster and fly fisher, so there's always lot's to learn from him. Marc has written the following post, the first of two pieces where he introduces his insights and shares valuable wisdom for success on small water.

We'll post Pt 2 at some point in the future, until then enjoy his writing and check-out http://flycastingfrance.blogspot.com/ to view Marc's blog.

Oh, and don't be put off by the pink text, trout like pink and that's what matters...

Getting it out there...

Part 1- the approach

Probably the biggest reason that holds back many anglers from fishing these little streams is the lack of 'normal' casting space. Basically, what we have are obstacles all around us in one way or another, and if we want to present our fly correctly without getting it tangled or stuck into something at every cast, it will be a matter of adapting and using the available space that we do have.

Here, I'll try to point out a few casting techniques on getting the fly out there to the fish but also suggestions on small waters equipment and approach tactics that might help bring back the fun factor in these situations.

If you are used to fishing in wide-open spaces the first thing to do is to adopt a different mental approach and analysis to each situation. Fish in these streams rarely move around much and prefer to keep to areas that funnel food towards them and where they also feel safe.
This means we have a lot of time to decide on the best possible strategy to use in that particular situation.

In these situations the first decision I take is to decide exactly where I think a good presentation will be possible from without being noticed by the fish. The actual cast needed will be decided once the actual fishing position is reached as the perspectives from where I first saw the fish and the one where the cast will be made may differ greatly. This is where having a good repertoire of casts comes handy.

Will I be able to cast without lining the fish ?
Do I need to cast over the shoulder or deliver on the back-cast ?
There's a rock between me and the fish. can i throw a curve mend around it ?
There's different currents going on. Can I deal with this without inducing unwanted drag ?

Those are just a few of the many possibilities that will come up in a
day's fishing. I find that they come up at each cast. I also find that that's what makes this kind of fishing so much fun, challenging and rewarding.

Stealth in all its forms are very important in this close proximity activity.

Camouflaged clothing is ideal. this is a stalk after all. outside of looking cool and being fashionably attractive... , camo clothing breaks up the human silhouette and enable to blend in with the environing foliage. Fishes are always on the look-out for predators and even if we put them back after having caught them, they don't know this and consider us as deadly predators. we do need to move but the fish's perception of our movements will not be as apparent compared to a
'block' of solid color. even if that block is of a subdued color. look into a wooded
area and squint. you'll notice that there are no solid
geometric blocks of one single color.
Another great advantage to camo clothing is that it enables you to eat chocolate like a pig with no-one being the wiser !

Rod flash is a big no-no and all of my rods have had a fine steel wool treatment. No need to dig in, just a thorough sanding of the top layer of varnish makes a big difference and does not affect its performance, durability or warranty coverage in any way. watch an angler who hasn't done this from far away. all you'll see is big streaks of flashing light. Fish don't like this at all and it's one of the best ways to put them down.
As a side line, my Sage TCRs that had a shiny dried blood color now look like sanded wood. Pretty cool.

Some people believe that the flyline's color is equally important and should also be subdued. I don't, as I believe that the line should never be visible to the fish in the first place, whether its in the air or on the water. I find it more important to know exactly where it is and what it is doing at all moments by being able to see it.
A 'natural' or darker colored line will blend in better with its surroundings in the air but will appear as a dark silhouette on the water's surface when seen from below and inversely for a lighter, more visible (to us) line. you chose.

We do need to move to be able to fish but those movements need to be as subtle and as slow as possible. as noted earlier, this kind of fishing should be considered a stalk. Vibrations that reach the fish emanate from walking on the bank or in the water. studded soles can make scratching sounds underwater. hitting or making stones roll around while wading will have the same effect. talking loudly to a friend can be heard under water. rushing through the water causes ripples that
propagate throughout the surface. As Roy Christie points out, an angler moving upstream should be going slow enough so that the ripples that are created don't push up against the current. That's pretty slow, specially in calm waters.
It's always good to remember that senses under water are the same as the senses above water. Specially when one considers that the fish are in their own environment and that most animal's senses are stronger than ours.

Theses notions will of course apply to all water systems but the confined nature of tiny streams oblige us to be even more aware of all elements involved.

Next time I'll talk about specific equipment such as leaders, lines, rods and of course casting in these little streams.

Marc Fauvet

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Leaky waders

I'm a hip wader kind of guy, part due to limited budget, and part because they are cheap and do the job. Sure, there is the odd occasion when I could do with an extra 6" of wading depth, but it never gets in the way of a good days fishing. I've been looking at chest waders recently - and I'm not convinced breathables would work out well on the brushy, thorny streams I hang out on. Neoprene may offer greater resilience, but may prove impractical during the warmer months. And as I said, budgets are always limited, so best to make do with what I have.

And what I have is a two year old pair of green, rubber hip waders. They offer good protection when dragging myself through brambles, at least around the legs, they're not too warm in the summer, or too cold during the winter as long as appropriate socks are worn. They also offer good hand warming properties when required, by sliding your hands inside the thigh cuff.

All sounds pretty good, then. But for the leaky right foot...

The right foot has leaked for as long as I can remember, and I don't think I'm imagining it but, the leak is getting worse. So here's the thing. I know the right foot leaks, and I'm aware at the beginning of each fishing trip that it will end with a wet right foot. And yet, it has never got in the way of the fishing, in fact, whilst "in the act" I am largely oblivious to the slow and relentless ingress of water, even during the cooler Autumn months.

Thing is, this leak is not going to miraculously cure itself, and despite numerous attempts, I have yet to identify the source of the leak. So, what to do? I may have to bite the bullet, and get some new waders, but this isn't a priority with only days remaining of the season.

This situation is at status - marginal dilemma; I probably shouldn't wait until this becomes status - crisis although I have no idea what constitutes a wader crisis.

Rest assured, I'll keep you posted.