Fly Fishing – Youth Development Day at Grafham
Simon Lehane reports from the youth fly fishing development day at Grafham Reservoir.
The development day for novice and intermediate anglers was planned to be in two distinct halves with the session before lunch classroom-based with some casting tuition on the bank, with the afternoon a practical boat fishing trip one-on-one with a mentor.
As parents, students and mentors arrived at Grafham lodge for the 09.30 start the day was overcast, cold and with a steady 14mph wind from the north east. Everybody had been warned to dress correctly for the near zero temperatures, so it was no surprise to see varied trapper hats and ski clothes on display.
The students headed to the warmth of the classroom tutorial with instructor Allan Sefton, while the mentors grabbed fishing kit and headed out in boats to locate the fish shoals for the afternoon session.
The day began by finding out how much fishing each individual had done in order that the tuition could be tailored appropriately. The programme covered boat safety, necessary equipment, rods, reels, lines, flies, how to set your rod up and how to tie knots. The session then covered ‘what makes a trout tick’ as well as trout behaviour, biology of the trout and gutting your catch!
The mentors all returned to the lodge in time to take their students onto the water at 12.30. Better still all mentors seemed in a positive mood as they greeted their pupils and discussed the tactics that had caught them fish in the morning.
The mentor / student pairings took to the water and most boats headed to the north shore of the reservoir. It was at the ‘top of wind’ and the wave was more of a ripple, in fact it felt a coat warmer than the boat dock!
Boats spread from Cove Point, past G buoy, Marlow Bay and the Willows and started to fish. The mentors had mostly decided that it would be more productive for the students to fish at anchor because the fish were close to the bottom.
My student, Joshua Clayton, was happy enough to set up his own tackle and tied on his own fly and it was only during conversation that I realised his father was the head fishery warden at Pitsford Reservoir!
I carefully motored the boat into Marlow Bay near the jetty and ‘dropped the hook’ in about ten feet of water. We had both put on fast sinking lines and I had chosen a Black n Green booby tadpole on the point with a Cat’s Whisker on the dropper, while Joshua had chosen an Orange blob.
I was immediately impressed with the reasonable distance that Joshua could cast, my job to get him catching fish had just become a lot easier, hurray!
A couple of casts and I caught a fish on the Black n Green and it was quickly followed by another. I suggested that Joshua alter his retrieve to the ‘roly poly’ and change his fly colour. He quickly tied on one of my Black n Greens, cast out and success he hooked a fish. He played the rainbow and netted it proficiently. After high fives and smiles he cast again eager to get another.
The weather was dramatic at times with snow storms sweeping across the reservoir and then you would bask in sunshine but there was always the ever present wind chill keeping the temperature near zero.
Joshua had caught his first Graham fish, he went on to catch his largest ever trout (3lb 7oz) and his most fish in a day (7) and I was ‘well chuffed’.
Back at the boat dock there were lots of happy students and proud mentors, more friendships had been forged from the common love for fly fishing.
It was clear that all the mentors had only one aim of the day which was that their students caught fish, and they all did, the largest of the day being a 5lb 8oz rainbow caught by Harry Mason. Even three complete beginners to fly-fishing Joshua and Alex Hoxey-Smith and Alex Farley all caught their first Grafham trout.
Martin Matthews from Norwich caught six trout with his largest being 4lb 11oz. Most youngsters including Jason Pusey and Owen Whittle kept a couple of their fish carefully returning the rest for another day.
Huge thanks to everyone who assisted to make the experience for these youngsters a successful one. Each youngster went away with a goody bag and memories to treasure!