The Orvis Fly Fishing Report: Paul Procter reports on current fly fishing conditions in UK and abroad.

No. 56 Orvis Blog

November 2014
Written by: Paul Procter


Mike’s Dorset Slam was completed with this 7-lb pike.

A Dorset Slam:
26 September 2014 proved a unique and memorable day for Mike Bilson.  As dawn broke he tentatively walked out from the shoreline at Poole in search for sea bass, which were preying on stranded fry during low tide.  Casting into darkness, his crease fly got snapped up by a fish of 2.5 lb, which was duly landed.  Happy with his efforts, Mike reeled in and backtracked to his favourite chalkstream—the River Allen.  Using a #18 parachute Adams, here, he tangled with brown trout, the best of them going 1lb., 12oz.  Not to be confused with a more conventional Grand Slam of bonefish, tarpon, and permit, at this point Mike realized a Dorset Slam (trout, bass, and pike) was on the cards!  Hastily, he dashed to a nearby lake where the gurgle of a large surface lure proved too much for resident pike, which topped 7 lb. To bag these three species in a day is a feat in itself, but to do it employing surface flies only ranks as unforgettable.

Hope for Dales Grayling:
According to those in the know, Dales grayling stocks have taken a bit of a tumble in recent years.  There are all kinds of reasons why, but, hopefully, it seems this delightful species is making a comeback in some areas.  Pro Guide Steve Rhodes has experienced reasonable numbers of them, particularly on the Aire and Wharfe.  More encouraging is the fact that some better fish are turning up, too, as Steve can confirm with spanking grayling to over 2 lb.

Find Steve at:

Deerhair surface lure

Lee’s deerhair surface lure that did the business

A Change of Tack:
Residing in the heart of Wales, Pro Guide Lee Watts pretty much has game fishing on tap for his clients and himself.  And with the trout season but a distant memory, arguably, grayling are his next best bet.  However, whispers of large pike active at Llangorse lake prised him away from running water.  Wielding a 10-weight outfit as opposed to his usually 4-weight wand might have seemed alien at first—though, when double figure pike are up for grabs, Lee quickly adapted!  With summer weedbeds all but gone, he had perfect access to previously unfishable water.  These pike happily responded to surface lures such as poppers and deerhair patterns.

Find Lee at:

Bosnian grayling

Marj Pickthall with a solid Bosnian grayling, after the rivers fined down in early October

Floods Affect Bosnian:
Usually, the UK takes the brunt of any bad weather. However, this year parts of central Europe were subjected to untold rainfall.  Bosnia in particular took a pounding when only weeks ago the rivers finally started to drop back.  Prolonged high water had affected fly hatches, with the fabled Blue Winged Olives suffering a major dent.  Thankfully the fish were as keen as ever to look up, allowing visiting anglers to enjoy top-drawer dry fly sport, especially when using terrestrial patterns.  Delicate flying ants tied on size 18 or 20 hooks were the key.  Although they appeared pretty much as a needle in a haystack on broad chalkstreams, they appealed to some truly huge grayling.

Dire Year for Salmon:
Granted, following some much needed rain, autumn salmon runs might have put smiles on the faces of many, yet the average catch for this season is best described as "poor."  It’s not just UK stocks that have taken a hit either, as many celebrated rivers throughout Europe are suffering the same plight.  All kinds of theories are circulating as to why, with many blaming netting at sea.  Of course, it might be cyclical, too, and hopefully this is a mere blip.  Fingers crossed, 2015 should see us back on track!

Earlier Reports