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FISH OF THE MONTH COMPETITON - sponsored by CLOVEN HOOF...

August 13, 2018

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Brighton Inshore Fly Fishing...

I was first shown how to shoot a straight fly line by my biology teacher, Mr John Sappwell, in the school field during lunch hour one school day. I was very lucky to have him as a teacher. Not only did he run the farm unit, which we more feral kids really loved, he also introduced us to shooting by having us volunteer for beating duties on the local wildfowlers shoot, and he also was responsible for creating a school fishing club, to which I somehow found myself quite addicted to. Hence learning to cast a fly aged 14. Not something many kids from my part of Essex got to do. 

 

 Matthew Roberts controlling a good fish onboard his old Orkney Strikeliner

 

From there, I enjoyed the occasional dalliance with reservoir trout in Hanningfield reservoir, as well as frequent visits to Stambridge Trout Fisheries. All venues around my Essex home. When my friend Nigel moved to Queenborough, in the Kentish swale system, I was a frequent visitor. Nigel would anchor us up and slip us back to where two big mud pillars caused a big wake as the force of the tide left a small creek. At first, we would use big king rag we had dug at another spot, only accessible by boat. Endless bass. So many, it became boring. And then one day, I bought my fly rod along. Suddenly, schoolies were no longer boring... 

 

 Matt adores different species on the fly. He is the only guy I know who has caught a turbot on the fly. Squid and cuttle are frequent bye-catch.

 

I managed to replicate that success with the fly on the River Crouch, at a place where the narrow river turned and suddenly widened. A crease of tide would run from the near bank out into the suddenly expanded width of the river. A lesson about what happens when two tides meet, and an awesome spot to trick a bass on the fly. And sometimes they were as big as 3lb...

 

 Quality fish respond well to quality flies...

 

Then the move to Brighton. Some limited success on the River Ouse, but the open beach frustrated me. Sometimes it was very easy to catch schoolies, and it was often very easy to catch garfish, mackerel and Scad. But bigger bass eluded me, despite being quite catch-able on lures and baits. However, Neptune, or whomever it is that seems to take a shine to me, once more sent luck my way. Its was about this time that Matthew Roberts entered the world of Fishyrob. I get a lot of online requests for information. Quite often people seem to forget that this information is what I sell for a living. But I am quite a soft person, and a terrible businessman. Sometimes, I give it away for free. Well, never actually. Usually sewn into this information is a little hook...

 

 I think the look of contentment sums it up perfectly. Tough, but rewarding...

 

"Im really keen to catch a bass on a fly" he said via a facebook messenger request... A quick stalk of his profile, and I could see immediately two things. 1) He was fly obsessed and 2) He already had a great number of cracking fly caught freshwater fish to his credit. I also noticed he had caught bass on lures inshore on the marina walls. Respect. I thought only I did that... "I got a perfect spot for you" I lied. Well, not completely. I had been fishing a spot 40 minutes drive west of Brighton. With great results on surface lures, deep wading as the tide dropped away, and walking back to shore as it flooded. And from working this ground, I had also identified very similar ground closer to home. "Go to this pub. Park, walk across the road, wade out till your legs are completely underwater and fish a popper" I said. With great authority considering how few bass I had caught on a fly.

 

 I would have to credit Matt for doing all the groundwork on what works off the Brighton reefs.

 

I had completely forgotten about this exchange when, about four days later, I got an excited message. "Thank you so much...." PING... a photo of a 3lb bass balancing in the hands of a very excited young man, a popper hanging out of its mouth. Incredible.. and also, smugness on my part. I KNEW there would be fish there... "Its a shame you dont guide fly on pike" Matt continued... "I guide pike on fly" I said, as if it was the most natural thing in the world...  Again, not a complete lie. I do guide pike. And just because I hadnt been asked for it ever before, doesnt mean I dont  guide pike on fly.....

 

 The culmination of two season determined pike fly fishing on Sussex rivers. Matt with his very well deserved 31lb beast.

 

Which is why, a few months later, we found ourselves enjoying an idyllic day casting fluff along the River Ouse. I was very impressed with Matt's accuracy. And guiding pike on the Ouse is very straightforwards.  With the lures, just keep working the edges, as on this tidal river, there are many undercuts for perfect ambush feeding. With the fly... well... I didnt really know but it made sense to recommend working the edges. Matt worked the edges, and caught pike. He was happy, and so was I. He was so happy he invited me out on a boat he was borrowing in Brighton marina, and Orkney fasliner 16;. How could I say no....

 

 Gurnards can be problematic at times...

 

This in many ways was the beginnings of the Brighton Inshore Fishing project. I just didnt know it. I was still way too scared of the sea to think I would ever find myself skippering a boat. But this is around the same time that "Scooby" was offered to me, to use and keep in running condition for the rare occasions that the owners came to use her. Everything for the reason... 

 

 

 

We would take it in turns on the boats. Both were exceptional craft for what we were doing, but "Scooby" perhaps had the edge for the fly fishing, as in anything other than perfect conditions sitting and casting reservoir style was the only option on the striikeliner. During these trips, I would almost exclusively fish lures, and Matt would fish the fly. A little competition was born. In my logical head, it should have been the lures giving the fly a complete trashing everytime. But that was not how it actually was. Often it was neck and neck, and often fly would win. One memorable session, by about twenty fish... And often, the fish were good sized. We have yet to see a double on the fly, but that is still Matt;s aim. And he is a very committed, focused, and determined young man. And he too skippers a Pirate 21 cc. I will be very suprised if Matt does not find his double this year (2017)

 

 John Cremer with the best fish of the day on his first shore session with "Fishyrob"

 

I cant give Matt all the credit for awakening the interest in the fly, and the desire to make it available to customers. I would share the accolade with another friend, John Cremer. He booked me for lure fishing off the shingle. We went out and he caught some great fish. And he made me laugh. A lot. And then, suddenly when I found myself short for crew on Scooby, I found myself contacting him, remembering he also had a passion for chucking fluff. Another determined guy, I have watched as he has slowly worked it all out, and his catch rate began accelerating with it.  Sizes also, as he slowly began to accept what Matt has already worked out a couple of years prior. Big flies for bigger bass... 

 

 John Cremer with his best fly bass to date, although we both watched open jawed last season when a good double inhaled and instantly spat his popper...

 

Capt Bruce is also a very competent fly angler. He outcasts me on the several occasions we have enjoyed a day together on syndicate waters. He has yet to enjoy the thrill of a spikey on the fly, but in the sea trials period, that is something he is busting to get in on. And for me personally, it has become my mission to persuade everybody that enjoys bass on lures, to give it a go. It is worth the pain of learning something so different to much of what you do now. A bass on the fly, is a most incredible experience indeed.

 

 

 

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