Report: Halstead & Bolton Spring Salmon Course 2014

Halstead & Bolton

Our 2014 Spring Salmon Course was, as ever, a huge amount of fun even though we arrived to find the Eden at its lowest level in months! With Jim now engaged as a member of the Guideline Pro Team, we had a great array of rods and lines to play with – and we didn't waste any time getting started.

Spring Salmon Course

We began the first morning working on Spey casting. Our six participants split into three slightly more experienced salmon fishers and three complete novices with the double hander. Jim provided the more experienced trio of Hugh Dalgety, Godfrey Holden and Iain Roxborough with a detailed explanation of shooting head systems and they were soon throwing lines across the upper pools of the Warwick Hall beats. I started with the newbies – Peter Alpin, Bill Fazackerley and Alex Ward – working on the Circle Spey cast. It wasn’t long before all three were making rapid progress and making some nice, efficient Spey casts.

Warwick Hall

After such a good start, we refreshed ourselves with lunch in the Warwick Hall dining room (still in waders thanks to the very understanding proprietor Val Marriner). In the afternoon, Peter, Bill and Alex attacked the lower beat, switching to the Double Spey cast. The others continued on the upper beat at Warwick Hall where the odd spring fish was showing. Godfrey had a lovely spring fish follow his Monkey fly right to the bank but it turned away at the last moment. Dinner at Warwick Hall is always an event and, with a few aching muscles, we stayed up perhaps a little later than we should swapping fishing stories in the drawing room. On the second morning, Jim started with a detailed presentation on tactical salmon fishing – this is essential knowledge for modern salmon fishing and few people are better at it than Jim! He talked through the ranges of modern tackle, including the pros and cons of shooting head systems, and then moved on to angles of cast, speed of fishing the fly, unconventional tactics, line management, fly choice and reading the water. Jim gave us the benefit of years of experience distilled down into an information-packed session. Then I moved on to a Skagit casting demonstration to cover the full range of modern tackle choices and a Snake Roll demonstration – in which everyone was keen to join in and was surprised at how quickly they could get this effortless-looking cast to work. Jim finished off the morning with a switch rod session – and again everyone was amazed at how sweetly these small double-hand rods cast. I’m sure there were a few converts! With the sun shining, lunch was taken on the spectacular Warwick Hall terrace overlooking the river. We could have lingered for a long time, but there were new skills and new casts to put into practice. Hugh, Iain and Godfrey worked carefully through Crow Wood and the Coops Stream on the lower Warwick Hall beat – all casting beautifully but to no avail with few fish about.

Alex Ward's First Spring Salmon

It was a different story on the top beat, though, where Alex Ward locked into a powerful spring fish (just where we had been demonstrating in the morning session!) and eventually landed a sparkling springer of around 12lbs – his first salmon. Alex works in the John Norris store in Penrith so we’re pretty sure that tale will be told a few times on the shop floor! Thanks to Val Marriner at Warwick Hall for her lovely hospitality and tolerance of waders and Guideline for the supplies of all the latest kit.   If you’d like to join us next year for the H&B/Guideline spring salmon course at Warwick Hall, get in touch. Dates are 22 and 23 April 2015.  Email - fish@halsteadandbolton.com Phone - 07973 291367   - Bob Sherwood