Oliver Kite, Master Fly Fisherman….

Casting my eye over the ocean that is YouTube and I came across these classics….

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptV1OORfvlI]

Oliver wrote amongst others “Nymph Fishing in Practice“, and invented the Kites Imperial and is synonymous with the Hampshire Avon, in England.

from JesusBoom, www.theboomerverse.com

Avons.

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Avons.

The old name of Avon has been used across the spectrum, ie a boy’s name, cars, tyres, cosmetics and UK counties.  For me the name Avon is associated with rivers, fishing rods and floats.

 This is not to be a history or open discussion of rods only a few ramblings. I say this because the web is littered with heated debate about one thing or another and this is not the place – only gentle musings of what was, is and perhaps may be.

There have been some notable Avon rods in the past and they start with split cane.

There was the Wallis Wizard, a rod made famous by F.W.K. Wallis. I believe he was the Mayor of Nottingham at one time.  His name has been synonymous with the rod, a particular style of casting, the Hampshire Avon and one time record holder for the barbel. A fish caught from the Royalty fishery at Christchurch, Hampshire, England.

Any discussion of cane rods will usually bring in the Wallis rod and the debate may become heated. There is a spectrum of opinion from the devotees who almost feel that they have discovered the ‘Holy Grail’ of coarse fishing rods. There wil be those who use a glass fibre equivalent of the rod and then there is the efficient, computer designed carbon rod.

Where you sit at the table will be determined by your sensibilities. The old cane avon is a beautiful piece of cane to behold and to use. It feels right as you sit in the reeds on a mild summer evening waiting for the float to disappear. I don’t believe it to be as efficient as some would have you believe. There you go – controversy already.

I have had the pleasure of using the Wallis Wizard rods from both Hardy’s and Allcocks and those used by some noteable anglers, but for me the magic ends when I put the rod down. It is not the thing I seek. Many years ago I enjoyed many fishing trips with an angler that used to fish with Wallis on the Hampshire Avon.

The late Claude Taylor wanted his Wallis rod renovated and I was honoured with the task. He always said he would try the rod again and use his old Hardy Wallis reel. There is a picture of Claude in an excellent book by Peter Wheat, and he gets a mention in John Bailey’s book. Claude, however, was a good technical angler for all species and he gave me many insights into the minds of barbel anglers of the period, in particular, his days with Wallis and tea on the banks of the Avon.

 However, Claude wanted me to use the newer Hardy glass Avon which he regarded as a much better rod for all types of fishing. Often we would sit under some old trees and float fish together for carp using the Hardy Avon and goose quill floats. At that time Claude’s sight was good, but as it failed I modified his floats with big sight bobs so we could still fish.

I digress, such is the tide of memory. Claude taught me the Wallis Cast using the centre-pin reel on the Avon rod and to this day I still use the centre-pin and Avon rod ( albeit in carbon ).

The Wallis Avon was a good rod to use at the time, but in many ways the efficiency improved with the Richard Walker Avon rods. Again they were split cane. The Avon rods were the softer rods of the MK IV stable which gave us a set of serious specimen rods covering carp down to tench, roach and chub etc. The Avon styles heralded the birth of the generation of specimen angling. You can argue whether you agree or disagree, but this is not a forum, only a light hearted mention. The historical perspective can be sort elsewhere, although I welcome anyone who has knowledge that may be put on the site with any pictures that they might like to share. As with all cane rods there were different companies producing the rods, or you could buy the blanks and make up the rod to your style. There was also that breed of skilled artisans who would follow the writings and make their own rods in their sheds. I tried many of these home made rods and the attempts were always a joy to behold.

I think the coming of glass rods spelled the end of an era, although cane is not totally dead, only in the mass market. Maybe that’s a pity. Glass Avon rods were produced at 10′ and 11′ lengths and endorsed by many celebrities. I still have a fondness for both my cane and glass Avons. Mainly because I recall days spent in good company on silent pools or meandering streams in search of fish. Each rod has an associated fish which lingers in the mind.

Fibre glass went through the solid and hollow phase with varying degrees of success, but there was the talk of lighter materials having been developed. Carbon, boron, kevlar etc., were all names in the air.

Carbon fibre finally came and we moved into an emotive age of rod manufacture and use. It seems the old skills had gone and been replaced with the "easily" made carbon rods. This was to deny the great skill and knowledge of the scientists and mathematicians who develop such rods and the engineers who design the actual machines for testing and mass production. There were and are, some excellent rods made with many of these companies engaged in space or tube technologies, even car racing.

As you can see there is great scope for emotive debate on the merits of all these rods. Not here. We only seek to peek through the door. There are sites where the debate rages and you can air your view point. Me, I’ll go fishing and be by the waters edge, sometimes using a rod from each of the stables, and I will be transported back to some English water where I sought a particular fish and the emotion of that time, place and moment will be enough.

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Salmon And Sturgeon Fishing.

Note And Photo From:- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Salmon And Sturgeon Fishing.

In this post I’m going to indulge myself.

I have a passion for angling in all forms and last year I took the plunge to explore the Fraser Valley, BC, Canada, for sturgeon and salmon. It’s not an easy task as you stand on the shore of a river which must be flowing at about 4 mph.

The first problem seems to be access. How do you get to the water? Certainly you can see the river from the highway, but it’s down a steep ( 300ft ) bank or across the rugged valley floor. When you get to the shore the edges are covered in shingle and appear to be shallow. Yet wading would not be advisable for the unwary. The depth can drop suddenly to 35 ft. In other areas the banks are tree lined and the water drops to maybe 6ft. It’s a river of great contrasts. That said, there are people who beach fish in the English style ( except you might be using 20 ozs of lead ). If you spend some time talking with the beach anglers you quickly realise that skill levels are not perfect amongst most. However the enjoyment and camping pleasure seems high and why not?

I studied articles and went into the library, but I’m not sure I gained as much information as I would have expected. So the most sensible plan had to be – find a guide. Again this wasn’t easy when you have no experience of choosing a guide. Many suggestions and several phone calls were made. The level of service and help varied greatly, but most did not feel right for the approach of a dedicated English angler. I wanted to learn and catch good sized fish.

I came across Steve Kaye and I include his websites:-

http://www.salmonhunter.com

http://www.sturgeonhunter.com/

He was a mine of information and the styles he discussed were very reminiscent of legering or trotting on the Wye or Hampshire Avon in England. I booked a day and waited in anticipation. We managed to get a day at the beginning of September and an early start had been suggested ( well, early for me ). Steve said 6am. I thought he had to be joking, but everyone starts early in Canada. We met in the hotel foyer.

Those early mornings often see a mist rising from damp ground and this was indeed the sight which greeted us and followed us to the boat launch. Loaded and ready to go, we climbed aboard and were off into what seemed to be a cloud, which had dropped off the mountain. For those who have never been aboard a 21 ft jet boat, here’s a picture as we left the channel and headed into the main body of the Fraser river.

Jet Boat

The scenery was stunning, even if it appeared clouded in mist. There were spots of clear air as we raced along the river surface and saw the tops of mountains risng above the mist. Once  anchored and tackles etc were cast, we had time to settle and have a cup of tea. The mist began to rise and the surroundings became apparent.

This was the upstream view.

Upstream

And downstream.

Downstream

Waiting for a bite.

Waiting For A Bite

It took some time, but eventually the right hand rod tip slammed down to the water and the first Chinook salmon was on. A great fight ensued while Steve hurried to remove tackle we didn’t need and make ready for the netting.

Getting Ready

In fact, the intensity of the fight meant that Steve had to start the engine and follow the fish. Constant strain needs to be applied and no slack line must be given or the barbless hook will allow an escape. In the UK, when in the pub, you know what your right arm is for. With this fish all that right arm practice was certainly needed. I wound the reel handle as fast as possible just to keep pace with the high speed lunch on the end of the line. Bear in mind the fish will be swimming against a 4 mph current and all the strain the rod can apply. It can still win the battle.

Time and pressure eventually won and the fish was netted. A bright 19 lb Chinook. At first I had been reluctant to see the death of the fish, but English coarse angling sentiments gave way when you realise the number of fish that pass along the Fraser and that strict controls mean that one fish for the table becomes a legitimate reward.

Another fish came along, but it put on a tremendous spurt of power before the boat could accomodate the change and the loose line meant the fish could shake it’s head and it was gone.

As the sun rose above the mountains and the air temperature climbed the mist cleared and the late summer heat began to take it’s toll. Inactivity became the order of the day. Everything was still and the rod sat quietly in the rest with the tip bouncing gently to the rhythm of the water.

Lonely Rod

It was time to go after the sturgeon. We made  an upstream run which gave us a welcome breeze until we stopped at the junction of two arms of the Fraser as it separated around an island.

Away Again

Tackle for the sturgeon was considerably stronger. Slightly shorter rods with 130 lb braided mainline and big hooks. Bait was a recently deceased coarse fish of about 1/2 lb. Three  rods were used,and the bite came almost immediately om one of them. The tip vibrated as the fish picked up the bait and then it slammed to the water as the sturgeon took off for Vancouver. The fun had begun. Steve wound in the spare rods, stowed any loose gear and provided the rod belt. Arms were now starting to ache as you felt you might be attached to some primaeval monster over which you have no control. The fish was in charge. Now that everything had been made safe Steve started the engine, unhooked the anchor rope from the indicator buoy and we were off in pursuit.

The strain was incrediable as the fish made a series of very long runs. You gain line, the fish takes it back. Twenty minutes later and it seemed stalemate was going to be the deal. It’s hard to get serious when your energy levels are getting low and every time you pull up the fish it then has it’s turn and so takes back your gains plus a bit more.

After about 40 minutes the battle felt as if it was drawing to a close. The sturgeon started to rise, but it was pulling the back end of the boat round in the current. Surely this wasn’t sensible. “Ok”, says Steve, “I think you might be winning, hold it steady and I will try to get to the bank”. “Why? was my obvious question. “Simple” came the reply, “That fish is about 140 lbs, over 6 ft  and we can’t get it in the boat. So here’s the drill. Oh and by the way when we get the fish watch out for the tail”. The excitement was tremendous.

If you would like to see pictures I’ll direct you again to Steve’s web site where you can see a gallery of great fish.

I  suggest to anyone who wants to experience great salmon or sturgeon fishing, give Steve a call.

PS The sturgeon was carefully returned and lives to fight another day, as I am sure it will.

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A Breamore Barbel.

A trip to Breamore on a fine September afternoon. The river ran with such enthusiasm and was full of promise.

The old Mk IV Avon was pressed into service with a Match Ariel. My standard set up was always a link leger consisting of Swan Shot and a hook of size 8 or 6. Why carry a lot of tackle? Bait on this occasion was corn packed on to the hook, with some hemp and corn in a bait dropper.

Once the bait had settled in the chosen swim then time could be spared for the surroundings. There was the view, the calling Buzzard and then the sight of that great bird. There was that bankside terror, The Little Grebe and all the other birds taht swam past in the parade.

Pride of place went to the tip of the old cane rod which gently nodded in time with the pull of water flowing past. The gentle nodding became a rattle and a slight pull downwards, with an answering lift of the rod. Now the battle had begun and attached to the line was the barbel which had been expected.