Tough Fishing

Yesterday’s tuition session with James was a really enjoyable day despite being a day of very tough fishing.

His wife had given him a voucher for a day with me as a present last Christmas and after exchanging a few emails we opted for a day at Burton Springs. 

James had coarse and sea fished over the years but was keen to get into fly fishing especially after talking to some of his friends from Cornwall who had told him that they target saltwater species on the fly and considering he is based in the forces on the Cornish coast, once he had learned the basics, he had miles of fishing right on his doorstep so no excuses not to get out there and do some!

James picked up the casting quickly.

I arrived at the fishery early morning and the temperature was already rising, not good for trout fishing although there was a bit of cloud cover but the great thing with Burton Springs is that you always have the option to switch to one of the other lakes and target carp on fly if conditions are not favourable for trout.

James arrived around 9.30am, he’d driven up from Cornwall the day before for a night out in Bristol with friends then back down to Burton Springs early on the morning and then he was driving back to Cornwall after our session on the water…..some serious miles!

On arriving at the fishery we had a coffee and a chat about what we would be doing and James informed me that he was a helicopter pilot…….music to my ears! He would surely have good hand eye coordination wouldn’t he? He did not disappoint when it came to the casting, after learning the roll cast he was soon onto the overhead and in no time was shooting line out across the lake and beast of all it was really easy teaching him the mechanics of the cast.

Going through all the different kit.

Apart from the casting we went through all of the kit and what it does in the morning session then after lunch I showed James how to make up some tapered leaders followed by a session on entomology and watercraft. This left us time for a fishing session which after some discussion we both decided to target the carp due to the now stifling heat.

Always an interesting picture to be had on the bank.

Unfortunately the coarse lake was packed with anglers but Adam the fishery manager said that the specimen lake only had two anglers on it and we were welcome to give that a go but warned us that it would not be easy as this is heavily fished and the carp have seen it all!!We headed of armed with a rod and a bag of dog biscuits and found ourselves a swim on a point opposite a promising looking island.

Trying to get the fish feeding.

The first thing to do was to try and get the fish feeding on the surface, not too hard I thought as I had seen a couple of fish moving in amongst the reeds on the island. I proceeded to catapult out a few pouches of biscuits over to the edge of the island….this was followed by every feathered water bird you could imagine from a 3 mile radius descending on my offerings and polishing them off! I scratched my head then realised it must have been because there was only two other anglers on the lake for them to get a free feed off of on the day so we had attracted the whole lakes population of wildfowl. A plan was needed so I fed a bay to my left with the biscuits so diverting the birds away from the island where the fish seemed to be. It was hard work, three pouches to my left and one to the island in that ratio to keep them away.

We were more sucessful feeding the ducks!

We never did get the fish feeding properly in the session and found the only way we could get a take was if the fly was put to within inches of the reeds, the fish just did not seem to want to leave the cover of the vegetation. James managed three good takes from fish but his strike met with no resistance, just a slack line flying back towards us but given time I’m sure he will get his timing right and soon be into some fish but the main thing is now he has all the core skills so he can go away and take which ever fly fishing avenue he so likes.

It needed to be this close to the reeds to get a take.
James sends the fly out towards the island.


The line flies back after a missed take.