Collected Tom at 7.15 and departed south for Grafham. After an good run, we arrived at the lodge about 1pm, had lunch, watched the rain come down, gleaned some info from warden John Mees and headed out onto the water with tales of how hard it had been recently ringing in our ears. We had heard tales of fish between K and G Bouys, on Grafham's north shore and tackled up with Tom fishing nymphs on a floater and me pulling. I had an early follow, but decided it was nymphy and switched to the washing line on my midge tip. A few minutes later the first Grafham trout of the trip was in the boat, with the trusty UV cruncher doing the damage. A few more followed on the Red Head DB and two tone booby, before Tom caught his first Midland Reservoir trout. None of the fish were any great size, but all were welcome and fought well. The were notably more silver than the rainbows we are used to in the north. we decided to finish about 7.30pm, but as I was reeling in to finish off, a trout followed the moving lure (booby on tail). Needless to say, another cast follewed, pulled hard, which resulted in another fish in the boat. Tom cast out again, and with me shouting at him to pull harder (sorry, Tom!) he took another fish, and then another! We came off the water just after 8pm with 10 fish to the boat - a great result on a day when most of the people we spoke to really struggled. Too many of these people were fishing to quickly. For most of the time we fished the fish wanted the flies static and if you fished slowly, you caught. It was only in the last half hour that they were prepared to chase, by which time most of the pullers had gone home! We ended the day at our Premier Inn at Junction 16 of the A1(M) with a good meal and a couple of beers - what could be better?
Friday 13 August
We headed for Rutland Water after a fine breakfast at the hotel, meeting up with my RAF mates Phil Thomas and Dave Newing for a coffee at the lodge prior to going to practice for the match the following day. We had heard there were fish in Rutland's main basin, but better fish at the top of the North Arm, as has been the case for most of the year. Dave and Phil headed off there, leaving Tom and me to bash stockies in the basin. We actually started off at Willows Bay (known to most as Belgrano Bay, in a reference to the old mooring point for the Rutland Belle, a pleasure cruiser that carries passengers up and down the water in the summer, usually keeping out of the anglers way, thankfully. I had a fish early, pulling on a Di 5 and Tom nearly had the rod taken out of hand by a fish that didn't stick, unfortunately. I had another pull before we endured fruitless drifts around Ernie's Point and Stockie Bay, before heading over the the areators just off the Normanton Shore. A drift onto that shore at the blue pipes area produced Tom's first Rutland Rainbow and was closely followed by his second and a couple of fish for me. We went in for lunch, avoiding a particularly heavy rain storm, with 5 fish in the boat and things looking positive for the following day. Dave and Phil found a few fish up north, but they were few and far between - they soon joined us in the main basin. Tom had a purple patch that afternoon with the two tone blob and booby accounting for 3 more fish and with me making a late comeback we ended the day with 11 fish and a good idea of where to start the following morning. Phil Thomas took 5 fish late in the day with a 2" humungous which gave us a decision about starting patterns for the following morning. We returned to our hotel after an enjoyable but very wet day to a welcome meal and a couple of drinks before a reasonably early night.
Saturday 14 August - The Help For Heroes Pairs Fly Fishing Competition
Breakfast in the lodge was enjoyed in the company of many well known faces as we played 'Spot the Angling Celeb' with John Wilson, Charles Jardine, Iain Barr, John Horsey, Steve Cullen (Ed of Total Fly Fisher), Robbie Winram (TF contributor) Rob Edmunds (TF contributor) Gareth Jones (Airflo) and Craig Barr (England Team Manager) among them. David Seaman, former England goalkeeper was also around, but we didn't see him until later. Tom tackled up with his clear intermediate and a blob/booby combination, and I did the same on a mid glass, but soon changed to the Di3. The match was briefed by John Seaton of Anglian after the Town Crier of the local town of Stamford (Lewis Carlin - an excellent angler) did a bit of the old 'Hear Ye, Hear Ye!! After a rolling start on the gun, we spotted Rob Edmunds take a couple of fish very early on, and followed his drift for 10 mins, but it didn't work for us. We quickly moved to the blue pipes and by 10.40 had 4 fish in the boat - going well - split between the blobs and boobies. The next hour saw us each catch one more giving us six in the boat before the fishing died off, probably with the boat pressure. I moved on to nymphs for a while, knowing that Dave Newing had bagged up (8 fish) by 12.15 on UV crunchers, but it was obvious that all around were struggling. A move to the boils (areators) late on saw me hook and lose 3 more fish - bugger - but that was that and we had to be content with 6 fish as we motored in. We eventually weighed in 5 of these (ask Tom!) for a team total of 7lb 9oz and a comfortable 22nd place out of 40 competitors. The rod average for the day was 3.19, so we did not too bad!
After a good meal in the lodge there was an auction and raffle, during which I managed to keep my hand in my pocket when a weeks salmon fishing and hotel accommodation (full board) on the Thurso River went for £1500! Bargain. I did get a subscription to FF&FT for £22, so didn't feel too bad about that! The auction, raffle, entry fees and sponsorship seem to have raised a total of about £12,000, which is a fantastic effort. The main organisers, Graham Pearson, John Marshall, Cliff Waters, Pat Quinn and David Quinn have done a fantastic job in raising so much money. The competition was the most friendly I have ever fished and an ideal introduction to competition fishing. If this is run in the future, I would certainly try to join in again.
Tom and I returned to the hotel for our final night, enjoyed a wee drink before retiring to bed and a return to normaility and the 300 mile trip home. 3 days fishing, 27 fish and a great time had by all. Next year? You bet!!