Monday 31 July 2017

Summer barbels in low water

The summer has arrived without a warning and with it, the low and warm water which makes trout fishing pretty difficult. This year had record-low rain levels in the spring. In fact, I think April was the dries one on record, ever. This means that some parts of the river became simply unfishable or at least extremely hard to fish. There are days when getting a trout larger than 25cm becomes an achievement and there are places in the middle of the current where the usual 40cm gave way to 15cm of depth. That's sad both for the fish and the fishermen.

However, Luxembourg's rivers are a paradise to barbels and these fish thrive in warm water. In fact, they do not seem to mind at all the low debit water and simply flock to the rapids, where more oxygen can be found. The best places can be characterised as deeper spots (1m for instance) directly behind a rapid, narrower section or even a tiny waterfall (they still exist despite the low water but are extremely rare). Actually, I am fishing barbels also in shallower parts but only in places where the current is strong, the bottom is full of stones, and preferably, parts of this rapid section are at least to some extent in shadow. Those spots will however only host smaller barbels, up to 50cm in length. The deeper the hole, the larger the fish and the more numerous the shoal in which they feed. In addition to barbels, such places also attract nases which do not seem to mind the company of larger fish. By the way, some of the nases are at least 45cm. However, they are very difficult to cach with a nymph. A friend has recently got one with a tiny fluo-larva imitation but overall it's quite hopeless to get them interested in your fly. Better stick to barbels and hope to get a nase by accident.

So, back to the barbels. What do we need?

A - a good spot (as described above, or simply located thanks to careful observation of the water. The really good spots reveal the presence of barbels easily: there can be 10 of them in a single hole and when they feed on the stones, they tend to roll over, jump, flash their bellies and in general, make quite a mess).

B - a nymphing set. In my case, it's a 5wt rod, with a 5 or 6wt leader and a fluorocarbon tippet of 0,128 diameter. The tippet could be thicker as well but this depends on the fly. I like to use the lighter ones which means that a thicker leader or tippet will prevent it from sinking fast. Also, on a windy day, the leader will swing and with it the smaller nymphs, causing an unnatural drift. The tippet-nymph ratio needs to be balanced. In general, I try to use max 3,5 mm tungsten heads on my nymphs. Only in really deep places with strong current would I need to use a heavier one. I usually fish with one nymph but two are fine as well. In the stone bottom rivers of Luxembourg, the snags are quite a common occurrence. One nymph makes it easier to navigate it along the bottom and to avoid the most notorious nymph-killing rocks.

C- a nymph. Here, any well tied nymph will do but I found that changing them every 30 min is the key to success. I have caught barbels on copper johns, pheasant tails with beads and cased caddis imitations but below are some of my tested standards: a peeping caddis and a weird, legged creature with a slender body and a jig-like head, which limits snags and sinks quickly. I dont know why but sometimes it takes 20 repetitions with the same nymph over the same stretch of water to get the barbel hooked. Sometimes they seem to prefer natural imitations and sometimes slightly more flashy ones. You need to see by yourself.

All that's left is to patiently investigate the spot selected earlier, using different nymphs and slightly deviating the path of each nymph, time after time, until you catch a hungry barbel. Some days are better than others and in general I would say that evenings are slightly better, at least during sunny days.

I attach some photos of my recent catch below. These barbels were nice and strong, in the range of 60-70 cm in length. Next time, I will try to take a camera and get a short video as well.

Sunday 25 September 2016

Pretty weak trout season - 2016

2016 was quite an uneventful season: the spring was wet and cold, with muddy, high water in most parts of Luxembourg. The rainy weather continued well into the summer. The cold and wet conditions took their toll on the hatches. I witnessed verry few abundant hatches and in any case, they were local and did not last long.

Dry fly was not particularly efficient. You really needed to be lucky to hit the right spot on the right day. The usual popular patterns, such as different imitations of caddis (elk hair, goddard) did not bring me many fish. Even the orange stimulator, which very rarly fails me (especially when positioned close to the banks in the evening hours) could not guarantee success. Therefore - not many posts in the last months and not a single video worth adding to youtube. Sorry for that!

Overall, the flies I used most often and those that did not fail were mostly streamers (such as epoxy fry zonkers or very small buggers - size 12 or 14) and wet flies (all kinds of spiders, preferably with an orange or red hotspot).

In the last two weeks, I also had some success with small cdc mayfly imitations and mosquitoes made of red or grizzly hackle for the wings, polish quills or turkey biots for the body and small coq de leon tails.

Bad weather means a bit more time to practice fly tying. Check out in the gallery some of the flies I tied and some of the fish that fell for them :)

I hope I'll catch something nice before the season closes so that I'll be able to post a video!

Wednesday 29 June 2016

June fishing in Kuolimo lake in Finland

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Monday 2 May 2016

Cold spring trout fishing

This spring has been so cold in Luxembourg that trout fishing has been limited almost exclusively to streamer fishing. An occasional strike on a heavy nymph only confirms the rule: cold water requires streamers, otherwise you'll spend hours and hours in freezing conditions without seeing a fish. The photo below shows the snowfall which greeted me on a frosty Sunday morning, in late April... 20160426_000745.jpg

What should we do when the weather makes our life miserable? We sit down with our vise, feathers, hooks, threads and epoxy glue and...tie nice flies! Here's a small selection of what I prepared for the beginning of the season.

Guess what? It works!


Sunday 10 January 2016

December sea trout on the Baltic coast

Christmas is a great time to try fly fishing for sea trout in the Baltic. Denmark's coast could be the best one in the region but it does not mean that other Baltic countries have nothing to offer. Poland has over 500km of coastline including some really good fishing spots which allow for comfortable fly fishing from the shore.

On the 25th of December, I took my fishing rod, a DIY stripping basket and a couple of flies designed for sea trout: shrimp imitations and a simple streamer known by the name Polar Magnus. You will find many interesting patterns here:

I waded 10 meters into the sea and in my third cast got a nice 45cm trout, a beautiful silver torpedo. A few casts more, and I had another one dancing on the hook (this time a typically coloured brown trout with red dots you might find in any river).

I used a 7 weight rod, with a salt water reel on which I had backing, running line and a 17gr shooting head. My 7 foot leader was composed of 3 bits of fluorocarbon line of varying thickness.

Check out the photos below.

Place: Gdynia Orłowo Time: 25 December 2015

Thursday 29 October 2015

Jesienna brzana na nimfę

Miałem trochę wolnego czasu w sobotę więc wybrałem się nad rzekę by połowić na nimfę. Głównie dlatego, żeby poćwiczyć metodę, której do tej pory nie miałem okazji dobrze opanować. Niby nic łatwiejszego niż taka leniwa przepływanka ale...jakoś do tej pory nie miałem ani okazji ani chęci by się na serio za nią wziąć.

Wybrałem dwie nimfy, klasycznie: cięższa i większa na dno a jakieś 30cm wyżej na krótkim bocznym przyponie mała złotogłówka. W teorii zdobyczą miały być lipienie. Wybrałem więc miejsce, w którym łowiłem już wcześniej lipienie na muchę suchą i mokrą.

Niemniej tym razem miejsce było zajęte przez inne ryby, wszędobylskie królowe luksemburskich rzek: brzany. Nie jest to w sumie nic dziwnego, bo większość rzek należy tu do krainy brzany. Są to cieki o kamienistym dnie, silnym nurcie i znikomej roślinności podwodnej. Typowy jest też brak starorzeczy, mulistych odcinków i innych podobnych elementów nizinnych rzek.

Tutejsze brzany są pięknie ubarwione na złoto, są pękate, silne i niespecjalnie płochliwe. Na filmiku poniżej wyciągam jedną z nich. Druga, podobnych rozmiarów, zerwała mi przypon po 10 minutach odjazdów dosłownie kilka chwil po uwolnieniu jej poprzedniczki.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

October grayling fly fishing on the river Sinn, Bavaria

I had the pleasure and privilege to be invited for a one day fishing adventure on the river Sinn in the German region of Rhön. On that chilly but sunny day and my main target was the lady of the stream - the grayling. Sinn is a beautiful river which flows across fields, meadows and forests and which hosts an impressive population of grayling, brown trout as well as rainbow trout (apparently released years ago by American soldiers from a US Army base nearby). I started off around 9 am and quickly found a spot where timid rises could be observed among the brown-red autumn leaves floating on the surface. It then took me around 1h to find out which exact fly pattern was on the menu. It wasn't a klinkhammer, it wasn't a midge, it wasn't a small caddis pattern. What graylings found too hard to resist was a tiny Blue Dun. I was lucky that I had three of them in my box because it was very difficult to lure the fish with anything else. Of course, by the end of the day all three were completely destroyed and useless. I caught around 25 graylings this day. Most of them in the range of 20-25cm but several exceeded 30cm. It was great fun! The best spots were deeper pools with slow current and a stony bottom. It was useful to keep the fly on the route of floating leaves, as this is where all debris (including insects) was floating as well. Shady areas below the trees, even with shallow water, were also promising. For some reason, I only caught a single trout. Perhaps the flies were too small or the graylings too determined.

I'll try using similar flies in similar places across Luxembourg as well. I'll let you know how it went.

Monday 31 August 2015

Fly fishing mullets from a kayak

Mullets are quite abundant in Spain, both on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coasts, They are most often referred to as múgil, llisa or corcón. If you ask the locals, you will notice that very few are interested in fishing them, despite the fact that it is one of the strongest and fiercest fighting fish around. There is a simple reason for this: mullets feed on plankton and other organic matter which they filter from the surface or scrape off underwater rocks. They also often live in the brackish waters of the river estuaries and the water quality of many Spanish rivers, even if not so bad, is still much worse than that of the open seas. Therefore, mullets are treated with disdain and relegated to the role of 'water pigeons' or 'water rats'.

Mind you, mullet caught in the open ocean (around the Canary Islands, for example) is known for its exquisite meat, comparable to that of a sea bass.

Perhaps the low popularity of mullet among the Spanish fishermen explains why it is possible to encounter huge shoals of these fish, with some specimens reaching a size of 70cm.

The way I fish mullet is simple: a fly fishing tackle with a floating line (7 weight is perfect) and a long, 9 feet leader. The long leader is important because mullets are very shy and flee at any suspicious movement or sound. I have seen big shoals of mullets escape in panic just because a tiny swallow descended towards the water surface to catch insects.

An orthodox fly fisherman would only use dry flies but after 2 days of very meagre results, I decided to adopt a 'reformist' approach. Since mullets feed on surface, in principle an imitation of bread crumbs and bread crust should work. Unfortunately, these fish are not that stupid - I can assure that a mullet will choose a piece of real bread over even the best of imitations. These fish rarely grasp a whole bit with their mouths. What they do instead is to grab the bait carefully and suck it in slowly. That's why I sugggest tying a hook size 10/12 and putting a piece of bread crust that will nicely float for at least a minute.

Cast a few metres away (to reach the shoal but close enough to still see the floating bait) and focus on the hook. It will be difficult to spot the right moment but you need to hook them up the very instant the bread disappears in their mouth. One second too early or too late and it won't work.

After a few days' training, I managed to catch around 2 mullets per hour, which I consider quite an achievement!

Enjoy fishing mullets and check out my video below.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Summer fly fishing in Luxembourg

I managed to go out a couple of times to fish with streamers and dry flies in June. The beginning of the month was great for dries, with the usual caddis patterns (e.g. Goddard) being quite successful. For some reason, mayflies hatched very rarely this season so most mayfly imitations proved to be disappointing. The biggest winner was, rather unexpectedly, an orange stimulator pattern. I had fewer strikes on this one but when I did, it guaranteed a trout of at least 25-30cm.

Last days of June and the beginning of July were marked by even fewer hatches and warmer water which contributed to the trouts' preference for streamers. A white articulated zonker and a roach-like tube streamer reigned in my flybox. I had plenty of fish, including on very warm and sunny days (although the trouts were actually hiding in shady places, under the branches). I also caught my largest trout this year: around 40-43cm, I can't tell exactly because I decided to release the fish as fast as possible, given the high temperatures and lower levels of oxygen in the water.

Check out the compilation of a few recent fishing trips below.

Sunday 31 May 2015

Aland Islands fishing trip

This year, we came back to almost the same fishing spot as 2 years ago - the north western part of the Aland Islands. While last time, the area was swarming with pikes (including the very big ones), this time around the weather promoted perch fishing instead. In fact, the water was too cold for pikes and it would have been better to arrive to the islands 2 or 3 weeks later. Nevertheless, as you can see in the video below, the fishing trip was not a failure: catching dozens of 30cm perches every day is not such a common occurence after all.

Some lessons learned:

  1. It seems there are more chances for big pike with water temperatures above 12 degrees. This week, the water hardly ever reached 11 degrees and that's too cold. I remember catching most pikes in the past when the water temprature was around 14 degrees.
  1. When the water is cold and herring enters the warmer bays from the open sea, pikes prefer small baits. Large jerks proved to be useless while small (even 4cm) baits that we used for perch attracted several pikes, albeit mainly small ones.
  1. If you want to catch big pikes on cold days, use live bait. My friends who fished with live bait had perhaps fewer pikes but all in the range of 60-90cm, while my catch hardly exceeded 60cm.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Spring fishing for trout in Poland - Wierzyca

This year, I had a chance to fish for the first time in one of the famous trout rivers of the north of Poland: Wierzyca. It was a fantastic experience, even though I could not describe it as particularly rich in fish. The trouts are there obviously, but they are hard to catch. Wading is virtually impossible, the riverbed is full of tree trunks, branches and underwater plants. Spin fishing is therefore demanding and implies losing many lures.

Anyway, the nature was so amazing and the landscapes so breathtaking, I would not mind spending a day in the Wierzyca valley even without catching a single fish.

Have a look at the video below and judge for yourselves.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Nice chub caught with a jointed rapala

56cm chub caught on a sunny day in March 2015. Once more, the jointed rapala gold fluorescent proved to be a success! Check out the photos below.

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Sunday 15 February 2015

Trout stream in February

Just a short walk along one of the most beautiful trout streams in the Ardennes. It's still wintertime but the sunny day announces the arrival of springtime very soon...

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Saturday 7 February 2015

Premier chevesne de 2015

Il faisait froid mais avec du soleil, c’était magnifique. Le 7 février 2015 a marqué le début de la saison avec un chevesne de 56cm – un gros cochon typique de la Sûre moyenne. Le leurre - un poisson nageur fabrication artisanale polonaise, une parfaite imitation chabot. Apres quelques heures infructueuses, j’ai finalement trouvé un endroit avec très peu de courant et d’environ 1,5m de profondeur. Pas facile, car en hiver la Sûre coule vite. En bref, un début très réussi de la saison 2015.

Saturday 22 November 2014

Klenie w listopadzie

Tego listopadowego poranka postanowiłem się wybrać na klenie. Rzeka była jeszcze trochę zabrudzona, jednak na tyle przejrzysta by mieć nadzieję na przyzwoite brania. Na wszelki wypadek założyłem dużego, agresywnie chodzącego pomarańczowego woblera. Oczywiście, przysłowiowe lenistwo kleni wymaga skoncentrowania się na odcinkach z wodą stojącą, najlepiej położoną niedaleko głównego nurtu. Zatoczki lub burty brzegowe gdzie prąd nie dociera będą w takich wypadkach najlepsze. I rzeczywiście, dwa ładne klenie dały się skusić na przynętę. Jeden co prawda się spiął ale drugi, większy (52cm) wylądował na brzegu. Ogólnie, udany wypad.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Border Sure beavers

The beavers are well back in the Grand Duchy. This photo was taken on the Border Sure (Sure frontaliere) in a place which quite often sees different anglers. Fortunately the animals don't feed on fish as the latter seem to have almost completely disappeared from the river. Difficult to judge why, perhaps invasive species (gobi!) or cormorants....whatever the reason it's sad to see this water, full of fish only 3-4 years ago in such a devastated state.


Tuesday 23 September 2014

Last days of the trout season

Trout fishing in Luxembourg is slowly drawing to a close, as the 30th of September marks the last day of the season. This year was fantastic, with some big catches early in the spring and regular encounters with 30cm+ fish later on. Last month was perhaps a bit less exceptional but given the extremely low water level, this is hardly a surprise. Nevertheless, as you can see in the video below, I had some fun wading the shallow waters in search of these colourful predators.

The focus will now be on pike and perch. Let's hope there will be ample opportunities to post cool photos and movie clips on Luxembourg fishing for the months to come!

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Truite arc en ciel au leurre souple

Oui, c'est possible de pêcher les truites avec des leurres souples qu'on utilise d'habitude pour la pêche des perches. Une petite grenouille orange (bon, je ne suis pas sûr si c'est une grenouille - en tout cas, un leurre avec deux 'jambes') s'est avérée assez efficace, car j'ai pris une truite au premier lancer.

Une truite arc en ciel en plus, ce qui est assez rare dans nos eaux. C'est seulement la troisième fois dans 3 ans que je prends cette espèce. Elle se bat comme un diable!

Saturday 19 July 2014

Sura river BIG GAME

Just in case, this is not a photoshopped image nor did I skewer the poor animal on the triple. This simply illustrates the efficiency of my crankbaits, able to provoke just everything, from black cat to minnow. I long hesitated whether to take it home but finally decided I would have a buffala mozarella instead that evening.

Sunday 29 June 2014

Big trout evening

The last fishing trip has turned out to be, surprisingly, quite exceptional. After around 1,5 hour I had only one trout slightly exceeding 30 cm and the outlook was rather pessimistic. This time I took a heavier, longer rod and some 15-25 g lures in order to be able to reach the opposite bank. I've never caught anything out there but the grass is always greener..... This time I was about to become convinced that the opposite side isn't really the expected Eldorado. Suddenly, exactly after I shared this opinion with Simon, I felt a strong bite and in few seconds was pulling a big trout around 50 cm long. This, unfortunately, liberated itself not far from me, but, to my surprise, when I tried again two meters to the left I immediately felt a strong attack. This time the trout was successfully taken out and turned out to be my personal record - 62 cm! It took me a while to 'reanimate' it, it is interesting how tired they are even after a short fight (like in this case). It wasn't the end - some 100 m later I caught two more big trout - one escaped but the other made it into my hands and was a beautiful 52 cm specimen. In short, in around 1,5 h I had four trout of 50 cm and more -this was something really splendid and I'm not even sure whether I'll be ever able to repeat this experience. Although I didn't register the fight itself, I did film the moment of releasing both fish:

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