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Fantastic Fishing in Cuba

23 June 2017 12:37:35 BST

Our store manager Julian Shaw recently spent two weeks in Cuba. As well as doing the usual tourist visits, he managed to find time for a spot of fishing (what a surprise!) and by the sound of it, he had a good time!

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Posted in Fishing Fishing Stories Fly Fishing By Richard JNoP
Location: River Eden @ Armathwaite Beat: Lower House River level: 1ft 2in with a little colour after the snow melt the previous days. Tackle Used Rod: New Guideline 9ft 6in 5-15gm LPXE Microwave. More power than I expected for playing a fish; I was really impressed. Reel: Shimano Technium FD Spinning Reel 4000 Lure: Black and Silver 11gm Silver Bullet, with one hook off the treble removed and the remaining two de-barbed (it catches and releases much easier) Waders: Snowbee Geo 5 Waders and Boots I arrived at 6.30am and a fish showed straight away in the bathing pool. Yet I fished through with no response. I decided to drive down to the Linky pool at about 8.30 and at 9 o' clock, bingo! I had hooked a fish. I landed it by 9.10; it was sea liced and an absolute cracker - about 10lb in the weigh net. After taking a quick snap I then held the fish in the upstream position in the net and slid it out slowly. It took off up the river at speed, another safe catch and release. I took a break and sat in the fishing hut overlooking the river and had a bite to eat. At 11am the grannom and olives were hatching off, so I set up a 4 weight trout rod with a couple of spiders and a GRHE bead. There was a strong downstream wind which was a bit of a problem, but I caught a salmon Smolt, who I hope to meet again in three years time. I also caught some salmon and trout Parr and a couple of 3/4lb brownies, all on the GRHE in 2-3ft of water. Top Tip: If fish are not rising, it doesn’t mean they are not feeding - go deep. Good luck to you on your next fishing trip, I am available for advice Thurs-Sun 01768864211 for any advice you may need. P.S. Snowbee Geo waders are still going have I managed to fish all these years without the convenience of a ZIP….!!! Julian Shaw salmon catch
April 6th 2016 River Eden @Armathwaite – Low House Beat 1’8” and dropping I fished the fly for an hour and caught a really big brownie on Copper Monkey.

Copper monkey tube fly bait

I was using a 15ft Vision Tool.

Double handed fly rod

Rio Skagit Max 750grain with a 15ft tip Floating shooting head cast

This was going well but not covering the areas well at the river height. I decided to change tactic and got my spinning gear out; I was using my 11ft LPXE Guideline Spinning rod. I put on my trusty Flying C in black and silver and fished for another hour, with no response.

I then decided to change to a 13cm Floating Rapala Blue and Silver. Floating lures

I had a solid take after only 5 minutes, and Phillip the keeper netted out a cracking fresh 10lb fish. It was quickly released off the one barbless treble and took off like a steam train. Twenty minutes later, Phillip called me to say Alan who was fishing that day as his guest had just released another fish in the 8lb class, again brand new. The middle Eden seems to have quite a few fish in most beats; these are encouraging signs, long may it continue! I was also asked by Snowbee to test their brand new Geo 5 Breathable Waders. I was seriously impressed by them. The fit on the body of the waders was excellent and also in the foot. The zip functioned really well and the breathability was also excellent. I would definitely put them amongst the best waders on the market, and was so impressed that I sold a pair the next day on my own recommendations! Definitely one to watch this season, great product.

Breathable waders

Former England Youth International and now the Shakespeare European Brand manager, James Robbins answers our questions.   Name: James Robbins Age: 42 Location: Warwickshire Job Description: Shakespeare European Brand manager Likes: All kinds of fishing Dislikes: Cormorants James Robbins 3 Describe a typical day for you? Apart from in the depths of winter I try and fish everyday even if only for a short 1-2 hour session. I often fish before or after work and at least a full day at the weekend.   What age did you start fishing? I got my first rod when I was 8 whilst on holiday in Cornwall. Before that I used to spend hours fishing in rock pools with my hands or a net. My parents used to say I was addicted to fishing!   James Robbins 2What is your first fishing memory? Catching a Chub whilst visiting some family friends in Wales, I was about 9 and remember they had a small river at the bottom of the garden. I caught a nice Chub on floating bread and as no one in my family fished, I truly caught and landed the fish on my own – a big surprise to everyone.   What do you love most about the Sport? I love so many aspects of the sport: The varied environments we fish and the different seasons we experience. I enjoy being competitive when fishing in individual and team competitions and also catching fish on new methods and venues. Most of all I love the comradeships that fishing brings, I think fisherman are a certain breed that are typically friendly, funny and generous. I have many such fishing mates from different backgrounds, ages and countries.   Describe your casting style? Agricultural but effective.   What is your most memorable fishing experience? I have to split this into 3 answers (coarse, fly, sea): In 1991 I represented England in the World Youth Championships in Slovakia, this was a great experience and achievement. I caught a beautiful sea-liced 16lb spring salmon from the South Tyne. This is my biggest salmon taken on a fly and is memorable for the fight and also the fact I was with one of my best fishing mates. My first halibut caught when fishing in Norway. We were fishing for a week in the Arctic-circle with 24 hour daylight. I don’t think I’ve ever fished so hard and intensely as on that trip.   James Robbins 4What piece of kit could you not live without? A top quality hook.   What do you still want to tick off your fishing bucket list? Sea trout fishing in Patagonia, hope to go next year.   Any funny fishing tales you would like to share? I have many but have just read a fantastic book: ‘Terminal Chancer’ by James Galbraith, think it’s a brilliant and very funny book – recommend it.     Your perfect day would be consisting of? My other big passion is skiing so a perfect day would have include both skiing and fishing: Start early with a full breakfast - Skiing off-piste in powder and under blue sky - Long lunch in my favourite mountain restaurant - salmon fishing in perfect conditions and a catching a 20lb+ fresh salmon on the fly – dinner and night out in with my mates……… did ask!   How did you get a career start in the fishing industry? I was a member of the Shakespeare Super-team (match fishing team) and in 2004 was asked to be a consultant for Shakespeare match and coarse products and also help at consumer shows. In 2005 I was offered a full time job as a product development manager for Shakespeare and I jumped at the chance!   James Robbins Any advice for fellow anglers that would like a career in the fishing world? Obviously being a keen and experienced angler is a great attribute when looking for a career in the angling trade. However it’s also important to have experience, qualifications and skills in business sales and marketing. Unfortunately few jobs in trade involve fishing full time!   What is the big thing for your brand this year? Our new Oracle Skagit and 4pc Switch rods will be great additions to our extremely successful Oracle salmon range of rods, reels and lines. For sea fishing the new Agility Tipster rods are generating a lot of excitement with our consultants and the press. They are specifically designed for the UK and reflect the modern techniques of sea fishing with soft tip rods and sporting actions.   Receive a FREE Shooting Head with every Shakespeare Oracle Switch and Scandi Rod View our range of Shakespeare Reels and Spools   Can you give us any advice or useful tips? Don’t be afraid to ask other anglers questions and never stop learning. Also don’t be in a rush to start a fishing session, take your time! Spend time observing the water and keep as stealthy and quiet as possible.  

The Veterans 2015 - Rutland Round 1

12 May 2015 14:05:43 BST

This blog post comes to us from Lindsay Simpson, a long-time competitive fisher who holds the 1st Bn Black Watch 1981 - 96 and MOD 1996 - present. A keen loch-style fisher, Lindsay is also at home on running water and has even won the gold medal and two silver medals representing England on the international angling championships.
Although the Veterans had already had their first match at the Grayling Festival, this would be the first time we would compete in a Loch-style event. As with any team, a lot of work had gone into the preparation for the event: accommodation, feeding and other niff-naff and trivia that took up half my life. You can check out the Veterans' page on the website for more information on the team and sponsors. Most of the team were meeting up at Ronnie’s house. I feared the worst - the man has an extensive whiskey collection and most of the boys are partial to a wee dram. Andy, however, had flown in from Norway and reacquainted himself with road works and traffic jams! He eventually made it to mine by half ten at night. We arrived at the lodge around eight thirty and started to sort ourselves out. Graham and Del were transporting a rather worse-for-wear Ronnie and Jock, but a good dose of fresh air would sort them out. Greetings over, I kitted up and headed up the south arm. the-veterans The weather forecast had looked reasonable with light winds, and initially they were right - a nice ripple and a bit of sunshine on the first practice day. Unfortunately that was not to last, and before long memories of the Army Spring match came flooding back. I was on my own again with the squad being an odd number (seven) and everyone being available. We all fished different parts of the water; this post will concentrate on my time in particular. When I reached Green Banks, there were already a couple of boats working the bund wall and moving down towards me. The conditions were perfect first thing, and if they had stayed this way I think we would have had a cracking day. I could describe all of the drifts, but I will simply cut to the chase by saying I did not catch a fish until I got into Old Hall Bay, and for the number of boats on the water I did not see many people getting much sport. The wind was starting to get a bit cheeky by the time we had reached Spud Bay, at which point we had not between the three of us reached double figures. Worrying! A phone call to the other lads in the north was more encouraging. They had enjoyed some good sport, with Graham losing a cracking rainbow behind the boat, estimated at 4lb. I made my way over to Whitwell and was rewarded with another fish. The day was tough, and without company, long. After several drifts at high speed along the Normanton bank for not a great deal, I jacked it in early to go and collect the keys for our accommodation for the next couple of nights. 20150427-swans_B It was great to catch up with a bunch of pals; it’s one of the few things that keeps my interest in competition fishing. I am not afraid to admit that I snore a bit - a wee bit - so the debate over who was sleeping where was fairly entertaining. Jock being a very light sleeper ended up with Dave; Graham and Del had both brought their own sleeping quarters in the shape of two camper vans. I volunteered to sleep on an air bed in the living room, which left Andy and Ronnie to share the twin. I am not a particularly light sleeper, but even being one floor below I could hear the grunts and the banging of a nearby cupboard in the night. In the morning Ronnie and Andy both accused each other of the crime, to much amusement from the rest of us. And so with a sausage butty and packed lunch under our arms (courtesy of Graham), we were off for day two. The wind was supposed to be much worse today and none of us were looking forward to it. I had cajoled Steve Cullen into coming along and keeping me company for the day, and good company he is - never a dull moment with Steve. The boys all went their merry way while Steve worked the car park...must have been all those boys stopping him for autographs ;-). We eventually got afloat, and got a real peachy drift parallel to the Normanton bank. Steve had a new toy which he is developing for Whychwood - a ten foot rod for a #7, which Steve was throwing all his DI5 expert with ease. I did mean to have a go with it but forgot to get around to it...that’s old age for you. Steve had the best line close to the bank and I was fairly sure it would only be a matter of time before he would connect with a fish. As usual I was wrong, and we got no more than a couple of tentative takes - very disappointing. We headed up towards Dickinson’s in the hope of finding some hungry trout. The trip over the basin was like being in a washing machine, and by the time we had got to the North Arm I had had a good dunking, much to Steve’s amusement. There was only one other boat in the bay, and with the first cast I had a good bang to my flies, as did Steve. A few casts later we had a good fish to the boat, shortly followed by another. Steve, after a subtle change of colour to the blob he was fishing, started boating a few as well. Conscious of drawing attention to our boat I told Steve we would have to move on, but he suggested just one more drift before then. 20150427_standing_B Steve got a little pike which was safely returned. And just as he had sorted himself out, my rod buckled almost in half as an unseen monster took hold and I held on for the sake of keeping my rod and reel. I suspected the worst but was hopeful for a split second that it was a big brownie. I was right - it was a muckle big pike bugger! I don’t like them, I remember a friend of mine having to go to the hospital for a tetanus jab after coming out 2nd in a scrap with one in a boat. Steve said to pick it up, but I told him he could pick it up and I would take a photo. So after a bit of "You’re-a-big-girl's-blouse", Steve hardened the *u*k up and picked up the teeth with fins very very briefly...this explains the poor photo, as it kicked and was unceremoniously dropped back in the water. Under duress I dragged Steve out of Dickinson’s and down the Barnsdale road end bank we went. It was not pleasant out there, so we spent a couple of drifts eating and catching up before deciding to get ourselves into Barnsdale and shelter. It was not particularly busy in there and we got our first choice drift. The fish were hard onto the trees and Steve made the best use of his DI5 40+ getting to the prime spot well ahead of me. A couple of more fish to the boat, and we decided to move on as Steve was on babysitting duty. We had a drift along by Sykes Lane and I managed another fish, but the drifts were rapid. All too soon it was time to take Steve back to the dock. I had contemplated going back out without him, but after the soaking we took crossing the basin, I decided against that. I bid Steve farewell with the promise of another day out soon; it’s not every day you get to fish with a superstar angler, but Steve will get his chance again... ;-) In all seriousness though, I am really grateful Steve could come along for the day as ever. We did a lot of laughing and managed a few fish to boot. I hung around taking photos and chatting to anglers that had jacked in due to the weather and the tough fishing. The team came in, having had a tough but productive practice. But was it worth it? The evening was a little subdued - we had a plan but it was pretty thin, anorexic in fact. 20150427_windsock_B We had all seen the weather - a complete change in wind direction and speed. I have seen this before many times where conditions partly negate the previous day's practice and you kind of have to start from scratch. I had drawn Christian Revelli from the Froggies Fly Fishers; he had drawn the engine but was happy enough to let me drive. His English was so much better than my French thankfully, and we discussed the previous days. He too had found practice tough, and was content to let me take him up to Dickinson’s. As we headed up, I was convinced that I would be joined by half the fleet and was mighty relieved when a chunk of boats headed towards Barnsdale and another shot away towards the Finches. That only left three boats. This could end up really well, I thought. I was first in and pretty much got myself exactly where I wanted to be. An hour or so went by with only a couple of tentative taps, until at last I felt the satisfying take that you just know is going to stick. The first one's always the hardest. Christian brought a fish right to the boat with his nymph,s and there was a tell-tale swirl where the fish had turned away. Another couple of hours dragged by, and Christian nailed one on the nymphs. A short while later he caught another which evaded capture.  When it was time for a change, I went to the bung and was rewarded after only a few casts with a nice rainbow. Time was wearing on, and by half two I only had two fish. The dilemma: I knew it was hard and I was positive that there were fish in front of me. Did I stay and grizz it out or did I go looking? Del had come over to tell me he was going to the Finches and I decided to follow him over; however, on getting there I did not fancy it. I told Del I was off to try Barnsdale. I was not hopeful as the wind was now coming off the trees, which would make fishing difficult. I also expected a bunch of boats all trying to squeeze into the productive area. I was pleasantly surprised to see only one boat, occupied by Jock Royan. I tootled over to see how he was going on, and was chuffed when he reported he had been there an hour and managed six! Outstanding. I got in behind him and went to work. It was not like shelling peas, but if you concentrated really hard you could catch these fish. So with a couple of hours' fishing time left, I started to dig myself out of the hole. Del joined us with about an hour left and started to get into them as well. I watched Jock get on a roll and almost every time I looked up he was playing a fish - good angling! It was hard to leave because the fishing was the best we had enjoyed the whole trip. Coming in late is not an option though, and eventually all three of us packed up and made the trip back. Jock had put a very credible twelve fish in the boat and I had managed eight. Christian had done a bang-up job with four fish, which he was very happy with. Del had worked hard for five. 20150414_perfect_smal After what what had initially been a hard day, I was really pleased, and I wondered how the others had faired as we motored back to the lodge. As I was stripping down my gear, I caught up with the others - Andy with a healthy six; Ronnie with five and Dave who had managed two. Thirty eight fish on a very tough day?? I was over the moon, and fairly happy that we had done enough to qualify. It was a long wait for the results, especially after hearing that Yellowstone had fished its socks off with some big bags coming off too. It seemed to be the only place that had really fished well. On the fish count at least, we had done enough. When the results were read out, I was a little confused when we weren't 4th. But hey ho, we still qualified in 5th (and according to the results, not by much??) On closer inspection of the results, it turned out Del Spry’s five fish weighed only 11oz - either the the smallest fish in the reservoir or a mistake. A chat with Jon Marshal today will see the correct results published on the website in due course. A few words of thanks to AW for running a great competition; John Norris and Greys for sponsoring our team, and the guys in the team that make the whole thing worthwhile. I'm really looking forward to the next round.
You can find out more about the Veterans over on their website, including stories of their catches and previous accolades.
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