Two ambitions today: to try out my new wading boots and to catch a big brown. Wading boots are overpriced in my view, so last time I wanted some I made my own, following instructions I found on Henry Gilbey’s blog. I bought a pair of cheap Dunlop workboots and fitted them with tungsten carbide studs. This is what they look like:
They’ve not been too bad, but I found I wasn’t getting enough grip, they’re pretty heavy (with a steel toecap – not really necessary) and they are a tad small. I take a 9, these are 11s. So I decided to get a cheap pair of hiking boots a size bigger and fit them with longer studs. I found these on Mountain Warehouse for £27.49 including postage:
I wasn’t expecting any sort of quality for that price but thought they’d suffice. I bought some longer studs for about 11 quid. So far so good. But. But. The soles of these things are CRAP. They’re like marshmallow. Anyhow, I put the studs in and hoped for the best:
I’ll let you know how I got on later. Onto the fishing. I wanted to catch a big trout and in Oxfolds Beck there are some stonkers. Not many, since the beck has been badly polluted and stocks are still woeful with nil recruitment. But somehow a handful of big fish have survived – I reckon there are a couple of four pounders in there. I know one pool where some of these brutes hang out and today I was going to pull one out.
Things didn’t get off to a great start. As I togged up the zip on my waders got stuck three-quarters of the way up. It would budge and I ended up having to take the waders off, attach a cord to the zip and wrestle with it like a maniac for 20 minutes. Eventually I got it free. Then when I went round the corner to the field that gives access to the beck it was full of cattle, millions of them, many milling around the gate that I wanted to use. I cursed and clambered back into the car to set off for the other entrance – the one I’d avoided in the first place because there’s usually a bull in that field. There was a bull but he was far enough away not to be a problem.
I got to the pool, which is just through the tunnel in these trees:
And looks like this:
It’s about 4-5ft deep and sure enough there was one huge shadow lurking in there. I didn’t exactly spook it through any clumsiness, rather the fish – probably 3lb – was milling around the pool in ever-increasing circles, and it eventually clocked me and cleared off. But I could make out other fish in there, albeit not so large. I put on a heavy nymph with a tungsten bonce, attached to a 5ft tippet on a furled leader on the 6ft, 3wt Chas Burns rod.
Space was tight and getting the nymph in necessitated pinging it bow-and-arrow style. But I managed it well enough and after the third or fourth attempt connected with a decent enough brown of maybe a bit over the pound:
Moving upstream, the water is really pretty:
I’ve not used a sinking fly on this water before because it has so much weed in it I assumed I’d just keep getting snagged. But today I persevered with the beaded nymph, putting into the islands of clear water between the weed rafts. Lo and behold it worked. I got this one just downstream of the bridge:
Followed some time later by another of similar size but not as handsome:
I did spend about 20 minutes trying to snag one very nice fish that was sipping olives from the top. I pricked it almost immediately with the nymph, which didn’t seem to put it off. Thereafter I went through the fly box, and while it did take a good look at one or two of my offerings was not being fooled. Eventually it did have a go at a size 18 F-fly, but it didn’t stick and the fish didn’t stick around.
Finally, right at the end of the beat I spotted a fish just between the weed patch and log here:
I got the nymph on its nose and it took. It was a rather weather-beaten escapee rainbow of probably not too far off 2lb:
And that was it for the day. I didn’t get the stonker I was hoping for, but I did discover that I could happily fish heavy flies here with success.
As for the boots. They were useless. Even though allegedly a size bigger than my old ones they were tight in the toe. And through the flimsy sole I could feel every pebble I stepped on, and it didn’t come as any surprise to me that the feeble sole couldn’t anchor the studs:
For the time being the bigger studs are going in the old boots and these new boots are going in the bin. Back to the drawing board!