Letters from Britain #2 with Robbie Bell

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Good Morning Dejon, Good Morning everyone,

I was poaching the other day………

Well actually I wasn’t.

Although if anyone had been watching they would have thought I was.

You see I was deliberately fly-fishing for Brown Trout out side of the season which closed on the 6th of October.


The Scotland Act. 1998 Order. 2006 Article 40

This allowed me exemption from certain offences for the purpose of scientific research provided I had written permission from the owners and occupiers of the river.
That written permission was safely tucked up in a waterproof pouch in a pocket of my waistcoat.

I was also to be fishing under the supervision of the Area Biologist and we were collecting scale samples for analysis.

He had even more paperwork……

And of course any fish we might catch would be returned quickly after a few scales are taken along with some measurements and sometimes a quick photo.

So to all intents and purposes I looked as if I was poaching but I wasn’t……….

Which just goes to show that perhaps we shouldn’t jump to conclusions and not everything is always as it seems……

However names and places have been omitted in just case anyone does jump to the wrong end of this particular stick. (mixed metaphor exemption applied and pun intended)

So I met up with our anonymous Biologist at an undistinguished cafe where we had decided to have a slightly late, unexceptional Full English Breakfast in order that we did not waste potentially the best part of the day stopping for lunch.

We arrived at our mysterious river just after 10.30.

It was quite a windy day but this was a very sheltered spot. It was fairly mild following a cold spell but we did not really know what would happen and thought that perhaps just a couple of small trout would be all the we could realistically expect.
Voyage into the unknown as it were.

I had two rods ready to go. They fit in my pick up truck already made up.
A Greys Streamflex 9 feet 4 weight with a single dry fly.
Just a basic Black F Fly which is the famous fly designed by Marjan Fratnik
Sadly no longer with us.

The other rod was a 13 feet 6 inch Tenkara!

Actually this being a 9 piece telescopic job it would fit in any vehicle………..
In fact it almost fits in a pocket.

I have had this rod for about 3 years but only got around to using it earlier this season.

Great Fun! Although my hand is still going automatically to the non existent reel when I hook a fish! I have landed fish to 1.25 lbs on it and I am sure it will handle larger.
On its business end I had a bung with a home tied cased caddis on the point.
A bit like this.

On the dropper was a Fulling Mill Oliver Edwards Shrimp.

I started off in a riffle and glide with the dry as we had seen a fish rise when we first arrived up but after 30 minutes prospecting I changed to the Tenkara.

Banzai !

A trout straight away.

Apparently Banzai according to some can mean “Long Live the King!”

Well we haven’t got a King but I did feel like one for a few seconds at least.

Up came the Biologist and the science was done and the 9 inch trout safely returned.

Only nine inches but everything is relative and this was one of the sizes needing to be studied as they can be immature and still in “autumn” feeding mode which is one of the research areas.

Next fish was larger but turned out to be a 12 inch Grayling.

Ordinarily I would be more than happy with this my favourite fish but somehow there was a hint of disappointment. Later in the day after my eighth Grayling which are not out of season I was completely over this feeling and just having fun.

In a scientific way of course………….. ahem!

I did get another trout on the Tenkara rod and this time a beauty of around 14 inches.

It was a spawned female. This was confirmed by the Biologist by a quick squeeze of the vent which revealed the ovipositor and no eggs. The fish was in very good condition albeit a tad thin. Large Female Brown Trout are a fairly rare species in this part of the world believe it or not as many of the females decide to become Sea Trout. However our recently introduced slot limits and over 85% catch and release figures should make sure the future is secure.

Early indications from our scale sampling which I have been doing for two years are beginning to conclude that the trout in this river are amongst the fastest growing in the Country. Equivalent to the famous Chalk Streams of Sothern England.
The Test and Itchen and the like.

This will be partly because of their genes but also because of the rich feeding that the river offers.

They are just not hungry which is the best excuse possible when you blank!

Interestingly my Biologist companion only caught 1 grayling but he did manage 5 small trout in the 8 inch or so bracket. He was fishing the Duo.

Remarkable and a further need for more science I fear….. J

By the way all my fish bar one came to my home tied cased caddis fly so it was nice to be outfishing Oliver………… for a change…. J

Until the next cast …….

Best Regards