Winter River Fly Fishing for Coarse Fish

Skateboard Dave

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Whetstone - South of Leicester
Hey jerry. Myself and Pete are planning a trip to your local tomorrow.
We're planning to fish the Ouzel where we saw you last year.
Hoping for a load more roach and dace like last time. Doubt I'll be lucky enough to snag another bream- that was a welcome fluke.
We'll be there about 9:30am tomorrow if you are around come and say hello as I doubt you'll get a green card for a day. ;-)

Dee
 

jerryrum

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Doubt I'll be able to make it, family pre Christmas do tomorrow.

I'll see if I can sneak out for an hour or so though.

I've barely fished the Ouzel in LB this year, I tried a couple of times in the summer but there was too much vegetation to cast from the bank and I know, from doing invertebrate sampling, that it's not safe to wade on your own.

I fished one of its tributaries yesterday, it was low and clear but with a good flow.
 

Skateboard Dave

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As a follow up...
Myself and Peter fished the Ouzel on Christmas eve. It was lower, clearer and a touch slower than the last time we saw it in early March. It also didn't fish quite so well probably down to the conditions rather than any change in fish population.
I still managed 20 fish - 7 roach, a tiny perch, 11 dace and my final fish was a gudgeon. That one was a total fluke but very welcome as the two of us are in a comp to get the biggest number of fish and also different species for each session - part of a fly challenge for the Lure Angling Society.
Unusually, Pete battered me on numbers landing 31 fish but his were nearly all dace, just one roach - and we all know roach are much harder to tempt. ;)

For the last 1/2 hour I suggested we have a quick bash on the GUC that was only a field away - rude not too when so near.
Here I redeemed myself with 15 fish in no time taking my total to 35. Pete added just 2 so somehow I'd pipped him in the numbers game 35 to 33 and kept up my 30 plus fish average per session. :cool:

I somehow fluked another gudgeon my 1st ever from a canal, added a rare winter roach (never get many of these out of the cut in cold weather) with the rest all perch.
Pete's 2 fish were both quality perch - far bigger than mine so he wasn't bothered by my tiddler bashing antics.

Hopefully he may add a few pics as he was on camera duty...Pete where are ya?

My best fish came from the weir where the Clipstone brook entered the Ouzel.
From this small, deeper and faster pool I took 3 good roach on a heavy (4.5mm tungy bead) pink shrimp pattern) the biggest around 12oz which is a rare fly capture...from the waters I fish it is anyway.
You been up to that swim Jerry?
You need to wade a fair way upstream through the dodgy gypsy/caravan zone and there are very few good swims on the way so it is all or nothing.
Was worth it for me though as I had 7 fish from that one pool.

That section of the Ouzel is still a descent stretch of river that is easy to catch from in winter. Shame the perch we had last season seem to have disappeared and weird that there are so few chub in it. Two sessions on it and not one chub - not even a tiddler but we've had well over 100 fish out of it! It looks perfect for them and there are plenty downstream so where are they? I'd expect them to be the main species as they are an all of my more local similar sized brooks.
Dee
 

richfish1

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Shropshire & Mid Wales
As a follow up...
Myself and Peter fished the Ouzel on Christmas eve. It was lower, clearer and a touch slower than the last time we saw it in early March. It also didn't fish quite so well probably down to the conditions rather than any change in fish population.
I still managed 20 fish - 7 roach, a tiny perch, 11 dace and my final fish was a gudgeon. That one was a total fluke but very welcome as the two of us are in a comp to get the biggest number of fish and also different species for each session - part of a fly challenge for the Lure Angling Society.
Unusually, Pete battered me on numbers landing 31 fish but his were nearly all dace, just one roach - and we all know roach are much harder to tempt. ;)

For the last 1/2 hour I suggested we have a quick bash on the GUC that was only a field away - rude not too when so near.
Here I redeemed myself with 15 fish in no time taking my total to 35. Pete added just 2 so somehow I'd pipped him in the numbers game 35 to 33 and kept up my 30 plus fish average per session. :cool:

I somehow fluked another gudgeon my 1st ever from a canal, added a rare winter roach (never get many of these out of the cut in cold weather) with the rest all perch.
Pete's 2 fish were both quality perch - far bigger than mine so he wasn't bothered by my tiddler bashing antics.

Hopefully he may add a few pics as he was on camera duty...Pete where are ya?

My best fish came from the weir where the Clipstone brook entered the Ouzel.
From this small, deeper and faster pool I took 3 good roach on a heavy (4.5mm tungy bead) pink shrimp pattern) the biggest around 12oz which is a rare fly capture...from the waters I fish it is anyway.
You been up to that swim Jerry?
You need to wade a fair way upstream through the dodgy gypsy/caravan zone and there are very few good swims on the way so it is all or nothing.
Was worth it for me though as I had 7 fish from that one pool.

That section of the Ouzel is still a descent stretch of river that is easy to catch from in winter. Shame the perch we had last season seem to have disappeared and weird that there are so few chub in it. Two sessions on it and not one chub - not even a tiddler but we've had well over 100 fish out of it! It looks perfect for them and there are plenty downstream so where are they? I'd expect them to be the main species as they are an all of my more local similar sized brooks.
Dee
Great post, I'm going to try to purposely fish for river coarse fish next year. I used to do a lot of it until the mate I used to do this with decided to move away
Isn't it A shame gudgeon don't grow to 3lbs
 

whalebone

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As SKB said, trout and grayling are more active/faster to the fly than coarse fish but that isn't the main reason.

The biggest reason is the way most people fish.
Classic trout/grayling fishing involves casting upstream, the vast majority of the time or down and across but then with very light wt. flies.
Neither of those tactics will produce coarse fish in winter save for the very odd one.
To consistently catch you have to change the way you think and fish. It then becomes just as easy as trout or grayling fishing. :cool:

Fish either directly downstream or with just a very subtle across drift...no more than an inch every few seconds. Also fish flies that will hit the bottom in the areas where you think the fish are...that often means much heavier flies than you may think. A cast made upstream with a couple of mm tungy bead fly attached may hit the deck after only 5/6 foot of drift back towards you. Hold that same fly on a tight line downstream though and it'll be hanging just under the surface in anything but almost still water.

Like when grayling fishing I often(pretty much always!) use a bigger heavier "sacrificial" fly on the top dropper with the lighter "taker" fly dangling downstream of it on the point position.

Coarse fish simply ignore flies/nymphs that drift past then at the speed of the current in cold conditions. I've witnessed this thousands of times over the years...this isn't some theory I have it is a cold hard fact!
In warm water the odd one will take but still not as readily as game fish. When it gets chilly though you need the flies to hover just in front of their noses.

There is a reason my average catch from brooks so far this winter is around 30 fish a session. :whistle:

Dee
Cheers Dee
I’ll give that a go

Chris
 

jerryrum

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I managed to join Pete and Dee on the Ouzel for about half an hour. I managed 1 tiny Perch and a Roach:

ICdXbDp.jpg


Dee, I've never made it up past the gypsy camp, I've always been put off by the stories of them throwing rocks (or worse) at fishermen!
 

Paul T 68

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The main thing is, is to actually get out and have a go.
Try and find an area where you know fish will be present. Then try everything different depths and different retrieves.
I remember one cold winter day fishing a deep section of river, I was just drifting a nymph with no action at all. Feeling fed up I stripped the line in quickly to recast and was bang into a fish.
Next cast I did the same let it drift and sink, then drop the rod low and fast twitch the line back. Again another fish.
The fish wanted to chase a fly, across the flow.
The fish don't read books or magazines, so try anything it might just surprise you.....
 

Paul T 68

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Further to my last post, winter flyfishing can be very hard on you.
I try and make sure I wear plenty of layers to keep warm. I always wear a warm hat that covers my ears, and neoprene or thermal boots that you can comfortably walk in. A flask of hot tea or coffee is a must for me. It gives me an excuse to have a break reassess my fishing and warm my hands. It's also a morale booster.
I also keep things simple I carry less fishing gear, the less you have the less you have to worry about. Fish better with less.
Don't take chances, stay away from steep dangerous banks that are undercut or drop into fast or deep water. Stay away from pump outlet's and flooded weirs. It's no joke falling deep into icy cold water miles from home. If you get out, you will probably find you've knackered you expensive phone.
As for keeping your hands warm fishing, well good luck with that. I have tried every glove going and none of them seem to work for me. I can't flyfish with gloves on, and if they get wet they are worse. You might be ok so have a go and try some. I just take regular breaks shoving my hands in my pockets.
Also take a small torch, for unhooking that big roach or perch at last light. It will also help you on your way back.
Fly fishing in winter is tough, but can also be productive and enjoyable. Oh and everyone will think your cracker's.
Take care and enjoy.
 

Skateboard Dave

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Whetstone - South of Leicester
The main thing is, is to actually get out and have a go.

Despite the crappy conditions over the last few weeks myself and Pete have both been getting out to wet a line when time has permitted.
Canals have been coloured and/or frozen and the rivers flooded yet a few fish have been landed but not my usual 30 per session. :(

After Christmas we returned to the Ouzel at LB hoping to fish the GUC there as the rivers everywhere were in flood.
Unfortunately the semi clear canal we'd fished last time was now super coloured (boats or the rain?) and the hoped for big perch catches I knew were not going to happen. They didn't- 4 tiddly perch between us.
Walking up the canal in search of the next lock brought us to the Ouzel which upstream of LB, surprisingly, looked almost fishable.
Since the canal was so uninspiring we spent the next couple of hours trying various pools on the little coloured brook. I managed a 6oz chub, a roach and nice 12oz perch and Pete also had a small chub.
Hard work but we didn't know that length of river and probably spent 90% of the time fishing empty swims. Far better than not fishing though.

1st December - I decided to fish my local GUC as it's closed to boats all winter so would be guaranteed to have clear water. It wasn't!
I was just a tad disappointed to find it as coloured as the LB length we fished just days earlier.
I decided it was too coloured to bother even trying so marched and marched! After a couple of locks (and about 2 miles!) the water was a touch clearer...enough for me to want to try and fish anyway.:
Fishing near 2 locks I managed 8 small perch, a big fat ruffe and another gudgeon. I seem to have a knack for them this winter.:cool:
Crappy fishing but the local rivers were totally blown and it was my only option.

Today I headed there again - it had to be clearer this time. It wasn't!
It was walking time, again.:mad:
Two locks along it was even filthier so it was plan B time.
I'd had a peek at the R. Sence when out for my Sunday morning run. It looked borderline fishable and since it was only a field away and I was decked out in my Simms chesties...
On closer inspection it was going to be a struggle not to blank - at least 18 inches up, bombing through and with only 6 - 8" visibility. Plus the particular length of river isn't "stuffed" either so I really though I would be up against it. At least I knew the good swims and where any fish holding slacks might be. I thought just 3 swims had any chance of producing.
The 1st one didn't! It looked massive compared to usual - twice as wide and swirling currents of dirty water meant I really wasn't confident.

The 2nd swim was a sharp bend which is usually still and only about 8" deep on the inside. Today it was about 2.5 feet deep and flowing backwards but with a nice slack between it and the main flow a little further across. Plus there is a whole load of sunken tree running across almost the whole width of the river here - chub habitat.:D
I broke my rod down so I was just fishing the top 3 sections and concentrated on the far edge of the nearside backflow.
After several leaves, twigs and small branches the line tightened and I was attached to a fish! A big fish!! It was through the sunken tree before I'd really registered what had happened. It did only have about 3 foot to go to be fair.
I was part gutted to loose what I thought might be my only chance of a fish but also encouraged that something was willing to feed.
Ten minutes later the line tightened again but this time I was ready. Another big fish! I was only expecting to hook small chub as proper ones are rare from the area but this was a good one. It felt even bigger when it ran into the main flow but at least that was away from sunken branches.
Result - 1.5lb chub landed & most importantly no dry net. :cool:
No more takes from there so I went to the final swim which usually holds some dace & and it did today too.:cool:
Two nice ones landed and about half a dozen twitches/taps before the swim died.
I thought that was game over but a near bank slack below a "jam" which is normally barren tempted me to try it. I was glad I did as within seconds I was hooked into an even better chub. This time about 2.5lb which was a right struggle to land. I had to jump in, pass my rod under a semi sunken branch then had to use just the top section to get it to my hand! A right palarva but well worth it.
2 dace and 2 proper sized chub - deff. a case of "get out and have a go".
Dee
 

ausie12013

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Love this thread,I have been fly fishing for course fish for quite a few years now.Going to target some river chub this year my best up to now has been 4lb,that led me a merry dance on my 3wt,Cheers Ausie
 

T_James

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London
So months after creating this thread I finally got out on an urban river I fish sometimes. It was 3C the whole day with gale force gusts, but to begin with I wasn't fazed.

I got fishing first and fished unsuccessfully through a nice run. My pal took over, trying to temp a bright orange koi with a squirmy worm. He ended up with a foul hooked roach for his efforts!

We fished another couple of sections but no fish were caught from either. The cold was getting to me and I'd nearly lost the will to continue - for the first time in my life I couldn't use my hands properly, which I discovered when putting on a new fly. My thumb failed to function when spinning the line to form a blood knot!

We then fished a small weir, which rewarded me with an out of season trout! A bitter sweet capture as I was after chub, dace and roach.
 
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jerryrum

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Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard
The weather has been awful and the rivers have all been too high, but I couldn't sit inside a moment longer so I ventured out on an early lunch hour.

As you can see the stream is still high and mucky, but I caught a couple of Roach

hkdh4gZ.jpg


And what makes it extra special is I was using flies (well, sqirmy wormie variants) that I had tied myself.

HZAEpio.jpg



I bought myself fly tying gear as an xmas present, and this was from the first batch

wFYaf3R.jpg


It definitely feels like a bonus when you catch on something you've tied yourself.

Hopefully the river levels will keep dropping and I can try some other patterns.
 

Paul T 68

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T James, I enjoyed reading your post it made me smile. You certainly know it's cold when you're struggling to tie a fly on!
Yep it's hard fly fishing in winter, but get it right and a big slice of luck and it's very rewarding.
My hands suffer terribly in the cold, and now I need glasses for reading etc. So I give myself a chance and use a slightly bigger fly and leader.
I do this in the hope that the fish will see the bigger fly in the murky water. Also a big bait might be worth them chasing it!
However this is not always the case, again you've got to experiment.
Also fishing throughout the winter, is not a waste of time, even if you don't catch. This is because you are practicing casting, and honing your techniques. Come spring time you will be sharp and focused and things Will be easier.
Chub are a great winter fish as are roach and perch they will feed in the coldest temperatures. Another great winter feeding fish is the ide. Ide will take a fly at any time in both still and running water at all times of the year. This is a great thread keep up the posts!
 

T_James

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Paul, I always fish through the winter, mostly on my nearest reservoir. I've fished for Grayling in the winter also but wanted to try my hand at coarse fish this year.
 

Skateboard Dave

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Whetstone - South of Leicester
The weather has been awful and the rivers have all been too high, but I couldn't sit inside a moment longer so I ventured out on an early lunch hour.

As you can see the stream is still high and mucky, but I caught a couple of Roach

hkdh4gZ.jpg


And what makes it extra special is I was using flies (well, sqirmy wormie variants) that I had tied myself.

HZAEpio.jpg



I bought myself fly tying gear as an xmas present, and this was from the first batch

wFYaf3R.jpg


It definitely feels like a bonus when you catch on something you've tied yourself.

Hopefully the river levels will keep dropping and I can try some other patterns.

Hi Jerry.

That first "roach" looks more like a hybrid to me. (roach - bream).
It's deff. not a full roach.

Glad to hear you've got some tying gear at last.
Should help you greatly if you have the "knack" - some people just can't tie a good fly even after years of practice.
I've seen some shockers over the years from anglers who have tied for half of their lives. :eek:

ATB

Dee
 

shad

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Really enjoying this thread , although we dont have many coarse fish around me I still find it fascinating .
 

Skateboard Dave

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Whetstone - South of Leicester
I was out again this afternoon on the Black Brook - yes, it really is called that.
The R. Sence nearby was still up and flowing as it had been last Sunday. I didn't fancy fishing that again. Last week was enjoyable but I'd much rather fish somewhere a touch clearer. I therefore headed just north of Leicester to the BB which always fines down faster than any other local streams.
I didn't get to it's banks until 12:30 but that is usually enough time for plenty of action.
As I'd hoped it was running pretty clear - actually a little clearer than I'd like but wading from upstream would send down enough artificial colour to make it perfect. You just need to keep those feet moving.;)

I decided to fish the downstream section which is about a mile long ending where it runs into the R. Soar. This is a length I don't know very well having not fished it for several years. The last time it was awful but since then the whole brook has improved loads so I was pretty confident it would deliver the goods.

The first swim below where I entered the narrow river was perfect for a few fish but I only managed to miss a couple of taps before the action stopped.
Wading down through it revealed loads of chub and dace in the upper thigh deep water- I should have caught at least one!
I thought it needed more colour so made my way slowly down to the next pool, kicking the silt margins on route. You have to do this to both sides so I regularly crossed over whenever it was shallow (pretty much everywhere!) and soon had a "smoke screen" to fish into.
What a difference that extra cover made as I caught an 8oz chub. This was under my rod tip from a 2 foot deep marginal slack.

The next wide slow pool was deepest on the far side with some tree and root cover. This really out performed what I though it was worth giving up 3 chub, 2 dace and 3 perch before bites dried.
Periodically, I had to rest it and walk back upstream kicking around in the margins to re-activate the colour. This would result in instant action when the flies went back in.;)
When I finally decided it was done I got a shock as the very tail of the near side was stuffed with better chub. These went everywhere as I waded through them...I should have tried there but thought it was super shallow. :eek:mg:

The action continued from almost every swim but no one spot was as productive as that one. Most "good" holes or runs would give up a fish or two. A wide bend yielded 2 nice perch from under the far bank overhanging branches. A narrow fast run into a wider drop off gave my only double header of the afternoon. Those two fish also being the best 2 of the session - an 8oz dace & a pound chub. Would have made a great photo if I'd got a camera.

The bottom half of the brook changed from shallow and gravel/sand bottomed to slower, deeper and muddy. The fishing also changed from excellent to poor down there. :(
I only added 5 perch from there but lost lots of flies to the branches that had settled in the silt of the slower flowing water.

I should have concentrated on the upper faster swims as I recon I would have topped 50 fish easily but 32 was still a great result.

Fun fishing and plenty of action on a cold winter day...well short "day" as I was off the river at 4pm.

Total : 14 perch, 10 dace, 6 chub & 2 roach.

Back on track for my 30 plus average catch.:cool:

Dee
 
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iainmortimer

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West Sussex
I swap over to perch and pike come winter because sitting behind the vice only puts off cabin fever for so long! Just to prove that I do actually catch on some of the big pike flies I tie here’s one from yesterday. Having got a little bored of chasing wee Jacks on the local canal, myself and a buddy made the 2 hour trek down to the Somerset Levels. Glad we did too because after an hour I netted my first double on the fly.
4dc5b4bc6bf8dc33d4ee106d318ede9a.jpg


We had a couple of other takes but nothing else stuck - we’ll definitely be back before the winters done though.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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Skateboard Dave

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Whetstone - South of Leicester
Yesterday myself and Pete headed out again for some more small brook action.
We decided to meet at one of our favourite banker brooks the Ise in Kettering - tiny but stuffed with coarse fish and the most quality roach I've seen in years.
I'm still to catch a 1lb+ one from it yet despite seeing several shoals in the summer. It's probably those roach which keep drawing me back despite having similar brooks closer by.
Yesterday I had a nightmare- the 50 minute drive ended up taking nearly two and a half hours!:mad: Don't ask.
Not surprisingly Pete was already fishing when I eventual got there at 1:30!!!
We were meant to meet at 11:30. Not the start I wanted plus it was raining pretty heavily with some sleet mixed in as the cherry on the cake.
I almost didn't even want to fish but after rigging up the nightmare journey & the resultant stress was subsiding...thank god for fishing!

The brook was "up" and pretty coloured but deff. fishable unlike most of the streams in England yesterday. It's another venue that takes more rain than you'd expect to be "blown".
Pete had only managed one roach and lost another before I'd arrived so I didn't have much to do to catch up.;)
I soon did that with a nice roach from an open wide swim but that was it from there save for a couple more plucks.
The next area we tried is a winter banker but usually only for 3 or 4 fish.
It's a slower, slight bend which is a little deeper than average but still only about 14/15 foot wide. The near side of this, when it's up like yesterday, is almost still or even slightly backing up. Whilst standing well back I just flicked my 2 flies into the flow and held them tight so they drifted into the slacker nearside. Here there was the added fish holding cover of last years stingers, their dying brown stems extending out over the water forming a 3ft canopy. Luckily this ended just where the slack water started.
Everything about the swim was perfect - depth, cover, slack water next to the main flow and it held fish. The 4 nice perch and 2 roach which I caught in the next 10 minutes proved that. :cool:
Pete also had 4 fish from it so 12 in total was way more than expected.

Below that swim was a swirly pool with a narrow shallower head. I was sure it held fish but wasn't certain my team of 2 were getting down. Out with the BB shot. One clipped on the line just above the dropper knot and the next two tries resulted in another 2 nice roach.

I added odd fish from most banker swims but it was harder than both of us had expected.
Finally I tried a swim which in summer holds loads of good perch. I had 14 out of it up to around a pound when it was warmer. There are usually a few good chub lurking around the far bank alder roots and several roach over a pound in the deeper middle channel. It always gets some attention from me in the warmer months but in winter I really don't know it at all.
I thought the main flow was a touch fast for roach so tried pushing my rod right over the far side to fish the slack far side margin below the jutting out alder...I could have done with 15ft of rod though. I didn't want to jump in to get closer as it's about 4ft in the edge.
That didn't work so I tried the slightly slacker nearside margin just downstream a little. Only one single tap from there but that was from a lovely 8-10oz roach. Not my pounder but a special one on fly from a brook all the same.
Back on with an extra BB and a pound chub came out from right next to the tree roots.
I don't usually do the whole split shot thing but it worked both times I tried it yesterday so maybe I should more often?

Total : 16 fish - 10 roach, 4 perch & 2 chub

All the roach were nice hand sized fish, plus that bigger one & the perch all around the 6-8oz mark. Not huge fish but all fun on a 2/3 wt rod.
Pete ended with 8 or 9 fish. We were both expecting 20 plus but considering the cold it was a good result...not my 30 plus fish average though. :cool:

Is anyone else getting out or is it just us two and Jerry on his lunch breaks?

You've been told how to do it - it's not rocket science!

Dee
 
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lmg

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Nov 25, 2009
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Hi Dave
Can I ask what flies you were using ? I have a little river near me in York that has roach perch and chub but I'm unsure what flies to target them with. also do you fish using an indicator ?

Thanks
Lee
 
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