Waters & words

Archive for May, 2013

Big “Nasties”

As the weather gets bitingly cold, and the landscape loses the soft warm comforts of summer, one’s demeanour as a fisherman probably changes.

By that I am suggesting that when you are out there in a cold wind, with waves coming in at you across a large stretch of cold water bounded by drab dry grass, and no sign of anything moving, you are less likely to fish a #18 emerger. Well I certainly am less likely to do so!  Less likely that is, than when it is spring, and a soft breeze brushes a water surface occasionally disturbed by large Trout whose noses appear amongst tiny hatching waifs, and then turn slowly away in a beguiling languid swirl. In those conditions, there are few of us whose thoughts wouldn’t turn to light tippets, low stalking profiles, and miniscule flies meant to deceive.

two and thirty

A #2, and a #30 hook: the extremes of fly size!


But come winter, with dust and wind, and big jackets, and you will find me out on the boat or tube, with a sinking line, and some heavy artillery. It just seems more fitting to the circumstances. The Trout are dark, and the cocks have those hooked jaws that make them look angry, and it seems befitting that we supply them something to be angry at. Something to hit…not to sip!


Up the creek without a net!



There was a time when I was less than diligent about carrying a net.

It was in the days before magnetic net keepers, and at a time when long handled retractable nets were the order of the day on stillwaters.  The problem lay in carrying the net. I’d clip it to my belt, but when I went to crouch down, it would hinge around and the handle would catch me in the groin unexpectedly. I would try shoving it down my trousers, which worked ok until you went down on one knee and it poked you in the sternum. This was also less than pleasant when the net had been used and was wet!


Means fair or foul

Breeding season for us ‘week-end hatchery guys’, brings on some peculiar behaviour. We go fishing with toolboxes, brush-cutters, wire cages, cleaning equipment, poles, thermometers and the like. And on many trips we don’t get to fish at all. But we still have a lot of fun.

While we catch most of our brood fish fairly, and on fly, it is silently acknowledged that to trap them is equally honourable. This requires a good fish trap in the feeder stream.


Fish trap building:





A Photo tip for fishermen

So often we fish a piece of water that is not quite as clean as we would like it. Added to this, it seems that our cameras pick up the brown in the water well beyond levels that we experience out on the stream. The result is a set of photos to which your friends may visibly recoil, even if just a little, or perhaps the pictures will draw the odd remark.

At the risk of misrepresenting the truth, here is a little tip to clean those pictures up, just a little.


Here is your original picture:




Standing still

Many years ago, I used to fish stillwaters with a fellow by the name of Guy, who had bad knees.  I don’t know how bad the knees were. All I know is that when I was crouching in the tall grass or beside a bush at the water’s edge, he was standing tall, because it was uncomfortable for him to crouch.


So I was at an advantage. I could take cover just a little more than he could. So the fish were less likely to see me, and I would catch more fish.


Except that it didn’t work like that. In fact I don’t remember EVER out-fishing Guy. I may have done, but I think I would have remembered that.

So what was it about him that gave him such “good hands”?



Waelcyrge is the Gaelic spelling of the word Valkyrie. And the Valkyries, are apparently winged figures of Anglo-Saxon mythology. They come swiftly over the battlefield after the dust has settled, and choose at random, the lucky souls that are destined to Valhalla (Heaven). And loosely linked to this, the Vikings may have brought to Britain when they invaded, the practice of planting Yew trees in their graveyards, as a means of linking the bodies below with Valhalla above. Yew trees still grow in English graveyards to this day.  The first Viking king of Britain was King Canute, who was famously placed on the beach by his supporters, in the belief that the sea would hold itself back in his presence. It didn’t. He got his feet wet.

And why am I telling you this somewhat shaky history?

Well because Waelcyrge is the name of my boat.

She was made by a master craftsman, who lived in England at the time, and who made her from a Yew tree in an English graveyard, that had to come down. He cut it down, planked it, and made it into this: