Conditions Due For A Change – Early July Reporting

Just watching the RAF Centenary here in London per ardua ad astra (through adversity to the stars)  searching for evidence of the impending flypast,bit waiting for the salmon. No relatives sadly flew for the amazing RAF, my father operated in the last war in a newly formed Army Air Corps as a glider pilot and parachutist. It’s probably as well he was not allowed to fly powered aircraft (his AAC powered training mysteriously cut short) my brother and I used to chortle with great merriment at the seat gripping prospect of old dad  flying. We also think he only learnt to drive in a tank in North Africa !

Up north July began as June ended the relentless heat if dad had  been still around (he loved the sun! large cigar and Daily Telegraph and face of a cooked lobster) reminding him of 4 years roasting his whatsits in North Africa. Not ideal weather reminded me of fruitless trips up to Kildrummy Castle in June on the Don. We still had great holidays early and late fishing , golf and exploring old churches and Castles. You just got to get on with it nothing can be done when high pressure unusually refuses to budge over this usually chilly island in the North Atlantic.

Our first gang in July David E , Boz and Co stoically gave it a bash but the heat, sunshine and only Kielder water just about wrecked their chances. I hear some good food fine wines and laughter softened the misery of near impossible fishing. Farnley is such a lovely place to be its a chance to relax talk rubbish and listen to nature and think sod the fish its not their fault.

Typically the day after Robert W got up at sparrows art and sensed with a few plucks possible opportunities so it was that he landed a lovely 5lb sea-trout.

New potatoes and asparagus anyone ?

Dr Phil A has taken the beat with Grey Court this week and the water temperature is dropping ! The weather much cooler and possible showers coming hip hooray. Fish have been on and off Monday and Tuesday ! Its evident that Sea Trout are definitely in but very few of their bigger cousins. Latest from Phil is 3 sea-trout for the week to 5lb very few salmon seen though.

Small bit of tech advice from Barry Mitchell this AM whilst talking polyleaders he suggested that perhaps abandon the clear hover polyleaders, there is growing evidence from the elite instructors that they may scare fish reflecting too much light. So maybe revert to say 10-12ft fluorocarbon which reflects little light and should help especially in low waters.

Thanks Barry !

Poor returns in a magnificent Summer !

No one expects the amazing contrast of Spring and Summer in the UK so I suppose we have to be thankful. I thought you might enjoy this stunning picture, what is the dog seeing perhaps the ghosts of Roman soldiers, Scots Invading armies? This view from Farnley Scar would have been an ideal look out point for Border peoples? (many thanks Roger N for your lovely picture of Sandy looking up North towards Corbridge)

Many thanks from the Estate to our lovely guests over the past month.   Next up  our lovely course participant Grahame Armitage who thoroughly enjoyed Barry Mitchell’s casting tuition. Grahame took the key elements on board and showed some great skill as the 3 day course progressed. In helping Barry I saw how clearly he breaks down and simplifies the modern Salmon Spey casting technique. Certainly I learnt that we need to watch out for bottom hand creep, get the bottom hand working (easier said than done at times), make the rod ‘work’ watch our anchor point and learn not to kill the cast by overhitting the delivery stroke. Listening to how our cast sounds its possible to detect faults and learning to use our rods power rather than speed and aggression!  Barry Mitchell is GAIA and now soon to be announced has another amazing qualification! Many thanks Grahame we are looking to welcome you back here. Our nest course will be in a few months where we welcome Neil C and his son in September on our second inaugural Salmon Fishing Course! Please contact us if you are interested in a 3 day course which ensures ample fishing time balanced with world class instruction.

Peter T arrived with Martin both new to the beat and keen to get stuck in ! Another very tricky situation but for once some fish were showing a level of interest and Martin managed to hold onto a lovely 10lb salmon as May. Delighted for him and again my apologies for unhelpful weather and river out of sorts. Robson G arrived and was blessed with poor luck, he fished very hard and his companion both gave it a decent go. What to do its been a pretty disastrous season thus far with many things conspiring against the sport we all love.

Starting with Kenny, Davey and Graeme who did their very best early May but only touched a fish or two. To say Davey and Graeme were relaxed is an understatement but very much undispersed with expert covering of the water in the hardest possible of fishing conditions.

Lets think how to change our tactics with water so low and fish not easy to catch.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Keep as far away from your quarry as possible and move with stealth (think heron !)
  • Think lighter / tapered longer monofilament 10ft plus and slimmer smaller patterns. Salmon will take size 16 lures/flies as they have terrific eyesight,  salmon parr feeds on exactly the food as  trout (In Scotland frequently salmon are caught in low conditions on trout fly simulations for many decades for salmon and I’ve managed to succeed in the past tying such patterns when all hope seemed lost)
  • If you have a lighter outfit such as a rod suited to a lower grain or weight  fly line or even decent single handed combination perhaps use this( I’ve had salmon 20lb plus at Farnley on small flies on 7 weight rods its just a battle once you hook them!)
  • Try to not create a large sloshy water anchor cast ( double Spey (!))so perhaps (and think wind direction) a snake roll but don’t use in an upstream wind, also the gentle single Spey and obviously overhead where no backcast obstructions occur. Airborne anchor is the key to quieter casts.
  • Think wet fly tactics for trout the old traditional ways for north country rivers, there is a fair element of skill in fishing a fly(S) to ensure they are ‘lively’ and attractive in the current and where flow is poor we need to keep the fly active do some homework or ask one of local experts (Barry Mitchell and Barry Nichol) to spend some time with you on honing presentation skills
  • We are it seems all pretty well versed in slow and low tactics for high water and the spring but need to adjust when water is slow and low!
  • Dawn and dusk, take a late breakfast, read a book, relax enjoy the nature around the estate and focus on the taking times early in the morning and say 5pm onward to dusk.
  • Finally and very importantly rest the water, salmon if disturbed will find a tree root or rock and rest well away from our endeavours

With all this in mind lets finally think of our rivers and the migratory fish we all cherish that are daily running a gauntlet of natures perils and in yet still in 2018 no end yet in sight of manmade predation on the seas. Given these conditions and all the effort that we are taking perhaps the Government should end netting where the life blood of their catch namely our rivers are in trouble? It cannot be sustainable to harvest sea trout or salmon when the rivers are low for long periods. If these so called farmers of the seas provide no answers to sustainability they are in dire need of reform or their own extinction because a joined up system is one that is fair to all and rightly needed to maintain a healthy run of fish? Anyway its all been said before I’m a member of the STA and Phil Knight does a fine job but we all need to support his organisation and influence the public.

We implore you to join and make a difference!


Challenging Times In May !

We had some somewhat tricky conditions in May. Where has all the water gone (answers please Northumbrian Water …) it was a spring of terrific rainfall and snows and our lakes are testament to the real picture of our spring bounty. Perhaps the fishing people as protectors of the rivers need to hold these private businesses to account because all life surrounds our rivers and the levels need better management .

Anyway that said the fishing has been tricky due to the lack of water, fish are still running spring salmon and early sea trout. I sat at lunchtimes watching the water with rods and it was reassuring to see the odd back of a fish here and there along with people getting the occasional pull. Tony R brought a team which had two Norwegians a Bermudian and then Yorkshire folks for a day! As luck would have it one of the Norwegian gentlemen had a 30″ plus beauty early doors and Tony left a lovely comment ; “Thanks for making the group welcome and its a great venue. Will look forward to fishing it again”. Thanks to them and I wish it had been easier but boy did the sun shine.

Graham L brought his team next in mid May and the sun once again dealt the proceedings a blow with two of his friends missing the last day. Graham great to meet you and your friends, your a great fisherman and the flies you tie were absolutely brilliant. Next time you deserve more !!

Dr Malcom W and his merry men from Norfolk were totally new to the estate so without trying to enthuse them too much (there were fish running in the days before I’d seen so I was hopeful despite the low water). Anyway Andrew Malcom and David enjoyed their trip which included a sea trout and lovely 15Lb salmon. Malcom was broken by a fish too ! IS the beat jinxed we are due a thirty or two but the biggest seem to rightly evade capture, good quality hooks and tough line always here !

A Hardy Pair!

It has been in somewhat unbelievable conditions that our amazing fishermen has braved what can only be described as a hell of a spring. We had only light bookings and although Eugene’s gang fished excellently in the freezing cold on an up and down river meant nothing was doing at all! Towards the end of March I saw some good fish showing at the tail of Dead Tree and one that could only be described as a ruddy monster. (do Seals travel through the Fish Pass !!)

A Motley Crew

Robson G (Motley Crew) and James S popped in late March looking for  a fish and hooked and landed (on the votes cast) a springer, so had the first fresh fish. I unhooked it checked the gills, vent. mouth and it was firm with an excellent tail and an excellent colour so judging by everything I could from experience(Ive fished for salmon from aged 12 and seen hundreds of well mended kelts from the Tweed , Don, Esks. Tyne et al) it was fresh and about 8-9lb and shot off having fought like a tiger and hammered the fly on the surface on the far bank of the hut pool.

Strong !

Kenny’s crew similarly fished incredibly hard caught a kelt, a tigerish chub and trout! One of the team had a pull from a decent fish bottom of dead tree but it failed to stay connected sadly.

Late April and Dominic F  and Wednesday the 24th a belter of about 20lb 11ish AM as the birds started tweeting ! A twenty minute battle ensured hearts were racing until it finally gave in. The hut net which is aged decided to cave in and after a quick snap it was racing off. Well done Dom and Nick (who it is rumoured also had one on but no cigar !)

Champagne Moment

Salmon “Russian Back” To Farnley

Its now late March, the rods have been restless the fishering folk(copyright soon to be adopted by all!) equivalent of stir crazy. Freezing “Beastly” conditions the tyne had ice grue yes looked like the Artic, iced mud on the tracks and a general disenchantment by all. The ruddy moles are turning the place into a war zone ,rabbits chewing all the tree bark…so frankly sod em all! However my friends in the North are optimistic they tell me its looking like things are due for a welcome change, yet still a nasty wind blowing currently but hope that nature will permit Spring to do its wonders!

Our first team hit the river a week back and managed a few days where eventually the river behaved. A beautifully mended kelt was landed by Dave assisted by Barry M followed up by a fresh sea trout on …then off ! (soft mouths OR anglers ?!).

Let me go to Greenland for Summer !

After Dave’s kelt and sea trout miss Kenny decided to concentrate stepped in and after them. He spotted a fish moving through the tail of dead tree, clearly a Fish Counter dodger! Then, sadly hit into one that was very brutal and came off, views being was a very decent fresh one and the river is very powerful there not helped by a biggish river so consolation all round dammit! The gang enjoyed their trip and are back early April. They enjoyed their time in the Golden Lion in Corbridge so I’ll suggest maybe give the place a try! Trip Advisors reviews are decent too.

This morning I’m hearing that fish are showing which is about time, the tides have been very helpful water 40 degrees F. Some rain due in the west but snow up in the hills. So all in all a proper spring for once which might help provide some welcome sport. Fish in the edges if its up, think about the warmth needed and perhaps where a salmon could warm itself. Think perhaps large patterns, gaudy and don’t be afraid to impart some movement to induce their aggression.

Ello l’eau Ello A Life Of Brian

Well done Mark!

The combination of hurricanes and north Atlantic deep depressions (storm Brian) brought an awful lot of rain. Our hardy parties endured frustrating times and yet some fish were caught and some good fresh fish still running. After the trip arranged by tony R Roger followed up with a lovely email to the estate. “just to say how much I really enjoyed fishing your beat, greatly boosted by being lucky enough to catch a fine 14lb salmon the first day..and thanks to Barry for guidance , casting improvements and netting the fish!”. Neil W brought his party up for some days in the beginning of the second week, I really hoped that the river would settle and with some luck success.
As it happened it WAS NOT EASY !! Day one was fishable but Day 2 Neil asked could they fish the lakes and they had a fantastic time with a variety of Browns, Blues and rainbow…no specimens but good sport. Saturday was the day and eventually one fish was kind enough to be caught by Neil’s friend John nearly 13and a half pounds. that’s it for Neil this year and his friends but thanks a lovely chap who knows his fishing.
The next party were a late addition, Mark B who had caught a lovely fish a month or so earlier on the fly came back with his friend who persisted with the fly and both caught fish ! Well done and hard earned when the conditions were not easy by any means.
John M and his pal were joined by Brett Mc all great anglers and deserved some sport but the ridiculous amounts of rain in all directions just meant the river was carrying a massive amount of residual water and new from rains that just would not stop sadly…John and Co called it a day for the season and Brett gave it a game go but the river refused to settle. We had some new clients look at the beat guided by Barry Mitchell and they were lucky to have a fine evening touring the estate and beat. Kenny B saw some fish and was enthralled by the wonderful peace and tranquillity. Looking forward to seeing you in 2018 Kenny.

Mark’s buddy with the husband !

Three Go Mad At Farnley

It was with great anticipation that Tony Rae’s gang of Roger and Norman set forth from Essex winding their way up the A1 and settling in Corbridge at the Angel. Little did they know that to the west the weather gods were up to mischief.

Tony, Norman and Barry M ready to do battle

Barry Mitchell briefed the team and with all sorts of tips encouragement and mastery of the ‘Sausage Roll’ cast it was fairly clear that the salmon would be easily fooled and sport forthcoming!
Alas the river started to misbehave and it started to rise aargh ! Fish were spotted but nothing…then as 4pm arrived bang! Norman hit a fish …relief all round , champagne …!

Norman shows the way

Day 3 ‘not again’ the bloody rain must have been falling somewhere and the river rose like a mighty tyrant even the top of beat marker was in danger of being washed away ! Sorry Lads …and thanks Roger for your lovely WhatsApp notes and pictures …your welcome back of course.

Top of Beat flood

Holmes Makes A Discovery !

….that Farnley is a delightful place in autumn to enjoy with your friends and family! The charming Ralph Holmes brought his team early in October and much laughter followed. It was as much as a social occasion (good food and drink so I hear !) as a lucky one, days of silliness and some very decent catches ! I think 8 fish for the party? Really well done indeed, I may be able to get hold of some pictures and when I do will add to this post. Thanks Ralph and we must chat more. We look forward to the “Return Of Holmes” (with apologies to Arthur..).
Once again Barry Mitchell did the honours and brought his team. Scotland the Brave were represented by Jamie who has a couple of very comfortable nights in the lodge and the new fridge came in handy for some liquid refreshment. The Northumbrian guides fishing team of Kevin A and Barry strove hard and caught a few …but the salmon were really running hard !

Gotcha! Jamie does it again !

Earlier Anthony Turners lovely group took the beat on with Sheila, John and Lucy enjoying the balmy weather and although the fish were difficult to tempt but John got one brilliant stuff!
The conditions were a bit up and down so not easy.

Earlier on in Autumn Chris B’s team in early September had a fine few days (sorry for late inclusion I now have photos to share from Susie and Simon SEE BELOW ! I missed an email from Barry Mitchell sorry ..) thanks and a really friendly bunch , sorry I could not be up to say hi.

Barry and Chris B’s team searching for the Tyne

We found it ..don’t worry it will clear any minute

Simon does it !

Autumn Bliss

A warm sunny day here in late September in West London and the texts are in…. already 3 fish on this fine Thursday and its only 12.30. Barry N and Robert W are having a fine time river has a little more sparkle in and the weather is benign.
Its been a great week so far and I think John M is going to probably drown me at Upper Caberston in October because it is his week..sorry John promise I’ll land a few soon.
Back up to the Estate and in somewhat of a hurry given all the excitement. The action has been at times incredible ! 10 fish one day and its all too easy or so it seems. On the day in question Robert W’s guests had all the action and Robert only a sea trout. The truth is no one put a foot wrong, yet the fish were suddenly on and it was a day of crazy periods of fish slashing at the flies , getting on..shaking off and some yes some landed and released. Good fish in all and up to the mid twenties … nearly all cock fish.
Looking back a week ago Chris Porters team had a great time and really enjoyed their fishing, Barry Mitchell was on hand to witness the thrills and spills including we estimate a 12lb sea trout pictured below.
John M hit the beat on the 11th Sept and his friends had a lovely time for two of the days one day in particular pretty spectacular …the last day was washed off but the two other days more than made up for it ! As he said on his email ‘ 6.30 the river was perfect had breakfast and it was up two feet and the colour of coffee’..Thanks for a great time and reserve next year (my guess is they were too exhausted haha)
2018 is Done !
John had a few :

Chris B and his family and friends fished Farnley for the first time and its a long time since I’d spoken to Chris and promised he would have a great time. As it turned out their friends and family from the locality and family joined the party and all really had the most relaxing and lovely time,as an added bonus fish were caught!
We had a lunch laid on one day and here is the spread in the Lodge

Settle Down Please !

We experienced challenging conditions in August and at the time of writing the river has settled at last. It was a period of variable weather and at times the river came up and down in hours making fishing challenging. The good news was the quality of runs and size of fish being witnessed.
We had a variety of clients out and about enjoying the estate keen to connect. at the end of July Luke O and his team got into some , well done ! Danny J , Decca and Eddie minus Alfie the worlds fastest swimming dog. Danny started proceedings with an excellent fish and then Decca caught two more and thanks to Barry N for some stylish casting tips. Eddie hit home with a fish to round of their trip, it was not easy as the river was up and down.
Thanks must go to Robert W QC for taking some lets where gaps had appeared. His perseverance and the friends he invited had lots of fun some fishing the place for the first time. Robert has the largest of the year currently 26-27lb returned caught on the Jolly Roger a tube fly that’s racking up salmon , time to tie a few more and thanks to Barry N.
Bobby B and his family arrived early August. Farnley are delighted to welcome families and what a friendly team they were! Particularly impressive the little ones and their safety gear and nets definitely ones to watch for the future. Everyone including Bobbies Mum and father in law caught salmon so well done !
Robert W hit the estate again and his guests including Phil G connected , I had a cast or two and connected but it was not my day as I generously shook the fish off for his clients to catch. Dom F and Dave the Elk joined Robert late August and the river was on the high side so not easy , Elk borrowed Doms rod and would you believe hooked into a beast but got it as he handed the rod back the fish saw its chance and goodbye! As the team had lunch Danny J caught a fish well into the twenties I nearly ate my hand, Robert recounted that Elks face told a tale..Dom tipped out his fly box and searched for the one ….the battle had commenced ‘lunch is for wimps’ ! The day after the guys hit the road Barry N caught 2 lost others and Robert W landed a lovely fish, the river had settled.
Neil W and his gang set after their quarry in earnest and great characters they are , the captain Neil landed a absolute beauty , river in good order fish about but the sun beat down from time to time making it a tough assignment.
Finally on the river today on their last day the Anthony T team are absolutely feasting on the beat, good catches every day and a corking double fisher sea trout. Two of the party are new to the sport and are really excelling, many thanks to Neil Lobban who has been guiding and instructing well done !
Thanks also to Barry Mitchell who has been helping clients and in August invited some amazing fishing folk from Scotland and Northumberland. I witnessed such sportsmanship on that day and exquisite casting they also caught a lot of salmon , have to say Barry I think was top rod but these were fly fishers of the highest order. Jamie your
casting was a work of art !
Some pictures from late July and early August if I’ve missed yours apologies and I’m inundated with the most amazing pictures!

the A Team !

Well done the Scottish and Northumbrian fishing , casting , fly tying men. A magnificent fight and beautiful fish in its twenties from Dead Tree with help from the team! Danny gets a lovely twenty plus boy what a fight and safely returned , thanks Decca well netted !! We had a relative of a famous ex London Mayor and leadership contender on site to witness it all he left us all thinking with some wise words !
“There is no point in wasting any more moral or mental energy in being jealous of the very rich. They are no happier than anyone else; they just have more money. We shouldn’t bother ourselves about why they want all this money, or why it is nicer to have a bath with gold taps. How does it hurt me, with my 20-year-old Toyota, if somebody else has a swish Mercedes? We both get stuck in the same traffic.”