Watch out for trees!

Watch out for trees!

Tracy&James | Sunday, 14 November 2021

Kev’s visit to Wales to stay with Tracy and myself and fish the River Dee turned out to be a bit of a disaster. The river was in perfect order pretty much up to the point when his plane touched down, however by the time he’d driven to our house the river had started rising due to the non-stop rain we’d had that day. This rain continued throughout the night and a check of the on-line gauge in the morning indicated that it wasn’t even worthwhile driving to the river to check it out – the height had pretty much doubled in 24 hours.

Plan B involved a trip to our local fly fishing shop, fortunately this great store is within walking of where we live.  To get there we have to cross the local river to us, the Elwy.  I’m pretty sure it’s not possible for anglers to walk a bridge across a river without stopping for a peer into the water; in the summer it’s possible to see rising trout, albeit small ones, from the vantage point we halted at.  However, this time all that could be seen was a milk chocolate-brown torrent ripping at the roots of the bankside trees.  The dangers of trying to fish in these conditions was also emphasised as we watched a medium sized tree come floating through, no more than a couple of feet out from the bank.  I think the consequences of a wading angler being hit by such a mass travelling at the speed it was would be severe, and it certainly confirmed we’d made the right decision in not attempting to fish. (I’ve seen big trees coming down the Dee when it’s in flood).

The rest of the day was filled with casting practice.  Fortunately Kev is also a distance caster, having represented Jersey at the world championships, so he’s no stranger to standing in a field flinging fly lines.  Unfortunately the rain persisted for the whole weekend and the river stayed massively high, so the planned three days of fishing turned into a casting, walking and sightseeing trip.

Having a trip ruined by the weather is probably the biggest concern for a travelling angler.  It’s this worry that has led Tracy and myself to extend our flats trips from the usual week that is booked at a lodge up to 5 or 6 weeks (DiYing to keep the costs down).  By going for a month or more we figure that if we lose a few days here and there for the weather then it’s no big deal, whereas losing even one day out of a week-long trip feels like a big blow.  It’s also the case that we don’t have to consider the tides, i.e. trying to pick the best week – within an extended trip we get to experience all tidal conditions.

Torrential rain isn’t actually a disaster when flats fishing, Tracy and I have had some pretty epic days in seemingly horrible conditions.  One that sticks in my mind was on Abaco where a storm front had ripped up a load of seaweed which was floating on the shore line where the waves were breaking.  This weed was full of small, orange coloured crabs and the bonefish were feeding on these by sucking them off the floating debris.  As such, they could be clearly seen just one or two feet out from the dry sand despite the very poor conditions for sight fishing.  I remember looking in my fly box and seeing an amber epoxy resin pattern about the size of a finger nail (bought on a whim from somewhere and unused for years) and thinking it’s pretty much the perfect imitation for the crabs I found on the patches of weed that had been stranded up on the beach.  The bonefish agreed, I don’t remember a single one refusing it, in fact they all dived and fought over it.  I think I was getting up to double figures in terms of the fish landed (and good sized bones also) when the hook couldn’t stand the pressure anymore and snapped (the drag applied to each fish was much more than I’d normally apply due to the amount of weed the line picked up during the fight).

Another notable occasion was on Long Island where we’d headed for a spot with a very clear sandy bottom given the forecast for heavy rain.  Sometimes in the Caribbean when it rains it’s like standing under a shower given the volume of water that’s coming down.  This particular day was like that and I did start to question our sanity when standing out in such weather, until I spotted the first bonefish that is.  The rain had flattened the water’s surface, so although the light was poor, it was still possible to spot moving fish at a reasonable distance, certainly far enough to be able to take our time and get a great presentation.  Again, what followed was the sort of few hours fishing that we’ll never forget.

I guess the good thing about flats fishing in poor weather is that you’re never going to get hit by 3 tons of wood travelling at 20mph though.  This week Tracy and I will hopefully be spending a few days on the river so we’ve got our fingers crossed for reasonable weather.  It is Tracy’s birthday (a big one) so we’ve booked some accommodation right on the river bank and a meal in a nice restaurant.  I just hope we’re luckier than Kev with the amount of water that we’re faced with.

Have a great week,