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Jeremy Lucas ....on the Teise

Jeremy Lucas is a well known writer on fly fishing. Here he talks about his third season fishing on the Teise:- 

My third season on the Teise involved generally shorter visits, and certainly fewer than former years. I fished here a fair bit in the spring and then the autumn, but was away for most of the summer. My Teise trips were focussed on those areas I like best, with the methods I like best. I mostly stayed away from Harper’s in the spring months, at least with dry fly, because whenever I mounted a dry, the grayling rose to it and this species being out of season I thought this not really good practice. It was delightful to observe the number of free-rising grayling on this beat, however, and their overall average size. I always feel that the Teise is a very marginal stream for grayling, made viable only by the supplemented flow from Bewl Water and the substantial areas of riffle on beat three (and six).


The nymph worked well for me throughout the beats this year; specifically a Hydrospyche caddis nymph (hydro), size 16, which was accepted as readily by the coarse species as the rainbows. Dry fly was not good for the trout this season, at least for me. Even when there were reasonable numbers of up-wing species hatching, or midges, I observed only grayling or dace rising to them.


The dace, roach and chub in this river are so welcome, and frankly more so than the rainbows which are, after all, introduced. The quality of the stocked fish, though, is remarkable. I really have never seen such consistently fin-perfect rainbows other than on wild fisheries.


The rainbows were noticeably highly localised, during both the spring and autumn. They love a flow of cool, oxygenated water, and wherever we have this on beats two and three, you will find rainbows there. No matter where they are stocked, they will immediately swim - always upstream - until they find this suitable habitat. There are places on these two beats where there are often dozens of trout very tightly packed together and given a nymph swimming through at the right depth can result in four fish in as many casts, which happened to me three times this year. Conversely, of course, there is a lot of water which holds almost no rainbow trout, and here we find the most interesting fishing for other species.


Even where the rainbows are so densely shoaled it is curious how they have minimal effect on other species. On several occasions, I was surprised by a good sized roach which must have been right in among the rainbows.


I find it endlessly fascinating, mapping out a river, or still water for that matter; finding where the various species favour, and learning where they take best, and what sort of fly and presentation. I was usually baffled by the brown trout on our river this year. The few I caught were stocked fish and though these were hugely welcome, I was surprised not to find any wildies.


Beat six remains my favourite section of the Teise. It is now more overgrown than ever, with dams of woody debris and a lot of fish-holding areas that are impossible to fly fish, and much else which requires highly manufactured casting (mostly short-range roll or jump roll casting), but it provides the occasional chance at grayling, dace and chub. No trout for me this year, but the quality of these other species was superb, and the manner of their capture, given that there is so little room for manoeuvre. A dead-drifted hydro on a six foot glass fibre two weight, a mere couple of rod lengths upstream, suddenly stopping in the drift, produced several unforgettable moments for me this season. Strange how an eight inch dace, from ‘jungle’ water on the Weald of Kent, can bring so much joy.


I had a few trips to our reservoir at Sheephurst Farm this year. In the spring, this resulted in some good perch and rudd, but no trout whatsoever. In the autumn, however, the fishing has been wonderful. I have caught the same high quality stocked rainbows that we have in the river, some stunningly beautiful rudd and even two brown trout. I think a lot of members consider the lake to be unfishable because of the weed in the margins and the trees and brambles along the banks, but actually there are at least four places which give reasonable access such that you can put out a long cast, if required, though most of the fish I have caught here have been within ten yards of the bank. A few have taken right by the skirt of pondweed little more than a rod length off the bank.


I have been using a 10’ five weight rod here, which gives a bit more control among the vegetation, and a floating line with a team of two flies. On the dropper I have used Diawl Bach or Hare’s Ear nymph variants (size 14 and 12), with either the same on the point, or a floating fry. I generally use a very slow figure-of-eight retrieve. Almost every fish has come to the nymph on the dropper, though I did have a brownie engulf the fry pattern, and was surprised at how many of the rudd attacked the fry, though none of these were hooked. I so much hope that the club keeps the fishing on the lake. It is special during the cooler months, and adds enormously to the TAOA experience.

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