Sunday, 5 October 2014

Tourists-not for the Purists

'I'm sure Izaak Walton would approve of pig-sticking a pellet fed farmed Salmon on a Dog Nobbler, sounds like fun' came the text message. 'Not one for the purist' I replied, but surely fun and enjoyment are what fishing should be all about. So there we had it, it was booked. Nick and I on our annual fly fishing trip were off to Palm Springs, a little puddle in the Leicestershire countryside stocked with farm bred Salmon. Neither of us have ever landed a Salmon before wild or manufactured and these fish are definitely the latter but a catch, any catch would be a personal best.
The website states that it is not the same as traditional Salmon Fishing(understatement) but it is the best chance of catching an Atlantic Salmon on rod and line(true) and that they fight as well if not better than their wild relatives(doubtful!).
I was the first to arrive, met the owner Ben who was very helpful and stood aghast brew in hand watching big fish leaping about all over the place. It looked like it was going to be 'shooting fish in a barrel'. First impressions can be deceptive.

With hindsight I should have taken more photos of the leaping Salmon but I was so desperate to feel the tug from one I concentrated on the fishing. Strong tackle was the advice proffered on the website and I set up my 8weight fly rod with a fifteen pound leader. Ben told us the most productive method was a dark fly, as big as you've got fished slow and deep. I took this on board and started with a black bodied, maribou tailed gold fritz headed lure.
Nothing is ever as easy as it seems though and during the next six hours we tried every lure in the box. We retrieved slow, fast, deep, shallow and all the while the Salmon splashed and leaped. It felt like we were being teased and taunted. Nick lost his temper and on several occasions he shouted profanities at our tormentors.
Having been through the box once I re-tied on the black maribou fritz and skimmed it all along the bottom at a pace so slow it was almost static. Was that a touch? I thought it might have been or maybe the fly just caught some weed but then the weed started to pull back-it was a fish! Sadly it didn't stay attached for very long but at least our spirits were lifted by this lost unseen adversary. I recast quickly, waited for the fly to sink to the bottom and then started the retrieve, figure of eight, extremely slowly. It became obvious that this was what the fish wanted and another took the lure. This time however it was properly hooked, one leap, a few surging runs and before long it was beaten. Not a monster at 5lb 2oz but a stunning fin perfect pb silver Salmon, it really was in excellent condition.

Now we knew exactly what the fish required I gave the exact same fly to Nick and although it took a while eventually it worked for him too and he hooked up to his own hard fighting fish. Our patience had been awarded and he landed his own Salmon just a bit smaller than mine but again another perfect specimen.

We fished on for about a half hour but that was it for the day, quite pleasing that there was a certain symmetry to it.

So our first ever Salmon apiece. I am sure that we will not be rushing back there sometime soon but we came to the conclusion that you have to try everything once-purists might not agree!!

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