The Duffer goes Czech at Chatsworth
By Bill Drew
I visited my first angling fair in early May 2000. It was good. Certainly the sun shone and there were bargains a plenty but two other factors made it a day to remember. First there was a walk with Oliver Edwards and a squad of fellow fishers based on an introduction to Czech nymphing. Second there was the company of kindred spirits.
More on Ollie later but it was excellent to be surrounded by people who spoke the same lingo. All of a sudden seals wool and hare lugs were a sort of Esperanto amongst us. The non-angling everyday looks of disdain, boredom and frequent bemusement were gone. Reservoir, loch or river, the shared love of game fishing made life well . just easier. Like a Star Trek convention without the stick on ears and Klingon we could simply immerse ourselves in our common ground, in this case fishing. No explanations were necessary. I fish therefore I am, or something similar.
I was surprised to learn how lucky I was in my local fishing. I spoke of my season of wild trout for £12 20; a day without seeing another angler on the water; summers centred on popping out for a couple of hours dry fly fishing between tea and dusk. After a while I tamed it down in the face of envy or disbelief. I felt like a lottery winner flashing a wad down the local, so I shut up. One English father and son combo did wax lyrical about their discovery of Scotland and its fishing on a trip from the south. Galloway and the Highlands wild country and wilder trout and so much and so few people and so cheap. I began to wonder where the hell the Scottish Tourist Board was in all this but also to fret on what would happen if the 90% in England really realised what was available to the Scottish 10% and came pouring over the Border. I am half Welsh so I am sure the picture is similar there. On reflection the land is big enough. Leave the stockies once a year and trek North, you know what you are missing and as Chatsworth shows we are all united in fishing.
Before the angry letters pour in yes I have seen Cornwall and Devon and Cumbria and Yorkshire and no criticism of your local water is intended, but for the majority there is more water than you could ever dream of and much of it is in Scotland.
And so to Oliver Edwards a hat of studied scruffiness and an unerring ability to catch fish.
First he showed us how to tie the cast. 20 inch from tail fly to first dropper and 20 inches again to second dropper and yep, you guessed it, 20 inches to braided connector to fly line. The middle nymph was a kind of mini submarine, a size 8 if I remember rightly with 12s on the tail and top dropper. Combing the water upstream at slightly faster than the current was the style. The weighted nymphs were not to snag the bottom, if so they were reduced until their passage was smooth. Flick up, comb down, striking at every stop or movement of the connector and at the end of each cast. Simple as that and for Ollie it was with a nice brownie on his first pass and another 12 or so grayling and trout with 3 or more lost in a golden 1 1/2 hours or so of upstream and Czech nymphing until I toddled off, all hero struck and inadequate. Frankly it was worth the 4 hours drive in either direction for the demonstration alone.
The next week as you can imagine I was pawing at the riverbank ready to nymph. The first effort was a disaster. My rod was too short, I would guess a 9 1/2 would be about the proper minimum and I fished my normal wet fly runs. Mistake numbers two. Edwards fished in the fast water; the churning runs between boulders and on the edge of the current that I would normally pass by. Having brooded over my failure I sallied forth again armed with a decent length rod and after a good talking to my self I forced myself to fish in the " useless" stretches. By Caddonfoot on the Tweed it suddenly clicked. 3 trout later (OK only 1 keepable) all slipped back in an hour and I was converted.
I still prefer my 8ft wand and the dry as I stalk a sipping brownie but when the dog days are upon us or the September currents run strong you will find me czech, or should I say Chatsworth, nymphing.
One final word, and not to a sponsor. At Chatsworth Orvis replaced my breathable waders which had sprung a dribbling leak after a years intensive use without a seconds hesitation. A new pair arrived within 48 hours together with a voucher , apologies and a full guarantee. It was simply that kind of day and to my host John who gave me a day fishing on the Dove to complete the experience, as Arnie would say "Ill be back".
© Bill Drew 2000
This article has also been published in the Magazine "FISH AND FLY": www.fishandfly.co.uk
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