"Take a look at this and you'll see just why river fly fishing is so good"
The only chance I get to go fishing nowadays is when I am on vacation (normal life gets in the way the rest of the time) and during a recent week away in the motor home I managed to have a go at river fly fishing in a river in the West Country.
I live in the East (as far east as you can get) and there aren’t many places to go fly fishing in my neck of the woods. If you want to have a go pike fishing, carp fishing, tench fishing, bream fishing or even salt water sea fishing you won’t have a problem, but if you want to go fly fishing the opportunities are limited to say the least. There are a few man-made trout lakes not too far from me offering fly fishing, and I have had a go in the past but it didn’t really float my boat like my recent river fly fishing experience did. The river fly fishing trip was awesome and it has sparked my interest in fishing once more.
I found river fly fishing totally different to the lake fly fishing I did a few years back. If I had to decide between lake fly fishing or river fly fishing I would choose river fly fishing every time. I like time by myself, I like being out in the wilderness and I like being in the middle of nowhere with no mobile signal, no road noise and no buildings ruining the horizon. Wading up and down a natural river with rod in hand on a mission to capture a wild brown trout was a great fun, and something I really want to do more of. I found river fly fishing a real challenge, but great fun nonetheless.
The man-made trout lake I fished a few years back was a commercial fishery, close to side of a trunk road (easy access but very noisy) and full of other anglers all trying to bag a trout or two. It was busy, it was cramped and it wasn’t that great. I know there is no such thing as a guaranteed catch in fishing but that man-made lake is the closest thing and you are virtually guaranteed to catch at least one trout.
I know that fly fishing takes a lot of time, practice and skill to master however lake fly fishing is something anyone can pick up in no time. Before I went to the man-made trout lakes I had never picked up a fly rod, let alone cast a fly and within twenty minutes or so I was able to flick a fly out far enough to attract numerous brown trout. When I was fly fishing at the lake I didn’t need to be accurate with the casting and I didn’t need to spot the fish and cast the fly to it. As long as I could get the fly in the water (which I obviously managed in doing) all I needed to do was sit and wait for the brown trout to come to me, which they duly did. The brown trout in the man-made lake were clearly used to people and as long as I didn’t jump up and down on the bank, it was impossible to spook them or scare them off. Once the brown trout had spotted the fly there was nothing that was going to stop them from trying to devour it.
In my (little) experience river fly fishing is nowhere near as easy as lake fly fishing. The first thing I noticed when river fly fishing was how accurate I needed to be with the spey casting. The river was much narrower than the lake and I needed to think about the cast rather than simply trying to flick the fly as far as possible. The other thing that became apparent with river fly fishing was that I needed to find the trout and cast to them – simply casting the fly in the water and waiting for the trout to come along simply didn’t work. River fly fishing involves actively walking up and down the river looking for feeding fish and trying not to spook them in the process. I found the wild brown trout in the river weren’t used to people and the slightest erratic movement sent them scarpering and fleeing for cover. In order to catch the trout in the river I not only had to spot them but also had to tread carefully so not to spook them, and then carefully cast the fly to them and create as little disturbance as possible – which was no easy feat.
We spent a week on the campsite and every single day I had a go at river fly fishing. The first three days were very frustrating and I seemed to be getting nowhere. I reached the point where I was ready to give up, and then suddenly it happened and everything clicked in to place. I spotted a few small trout rising and taking flies off surface of the water, I positioned myself without spooking the trout, I cast a fly just past the spot the trout were rising, I gently pulled the fly past the nose of one of the fish and wham! It took the fly. I set the hook, the trout took off up river and the fight began. The fish wasn’t huge but it fought hard for its size and put up a valiant fight.
Once I had caught my first wild brown trout I was hungry for more, and I did manage to get a few more in the net before the end of the week, although I spooked more trout and missed more bites than I actually managed to hit. It was one heck of a learning curve, but I really enjoyed it.
The trout I caught river fly fishing were smaller than those I caught from the lake, however catching them was more satisfying and a greater sense of achievement. I can honestly say that my first brown trout out of the river, weighing in at just under half a pound gave me a bigger grin than the first trout I caught from the lake, a trout that weighed six times heavier!
I have now got the bug for river fly fishing, and whilst there are a few fly fishing lakes in my local area (some more have opened since I last went lake fly fishing) there are no rivers that would be suitable for fly fishing. Despite this I am going to invest in my own fly fishing gear and I am going to make it my mission to find campsites on the banks of rivers suitable for river fly fishing for future vacations.