Friday, 20 January 2012

Fly Fish Islay Packages 2012

I've been fishing since I was 7 years old when my Grandad used to take me fishing with a quill float for sticklebacks and small perch on the river Churnet in the heart of the Staffordshire Moorlands. I fell in love with the sport and the beautiful parts of the country that it took me to. I've fished for all kinds of species of fish throughout the UK but it wasn't until my work buying and selling whisky took me to the magical Isle of Islay that I began to truly appreciate what wonderful places that angling for wild brown trout can take you to. I still fish the pools and lakes for carp, perch, roach and all manner of fish but most of all I like to fish for wild brown trout and for grayling.

Islay is a small island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides with a population of around 2000 people. It is famous for the eight distilleries that it is home to, which produce some of the finest single malt whiskies in the world, and for its incredibly diverse flora and fauna. The island has many remote lochs and lochans full of angry wild wee brown trout that will give any angler good sport and there is also the famous spate river, the Laggan that has a very good run of salmon and sea trout.

I have been taking groups of people to Islay for a number of years now, whether they be anglers, whisky enthusiasts, or a mixture of the two, they've all enjoyed the experience immensely and many of them return year after year. I'm often asked what is included in the trips so I thought I would put together a list of what is included for those interested in joining us on one of our future trips.

In May 2012, we are taking a group of anglers to Islay, some of whom have enjoyed previous trips with us and are returning with extra guests. Here is what the cost of their holiday includes:-

Quality accommodation for 7 nights at Finlaggan House on the shore of Loch Finlaggan. 
Finlaggan is one of the most important historical sites in Scotland from there, the whole of the Scottish West coast was ruled by the Lord of the Isles. All towels and bed linen provided and a comprehensive range of facilities for the comfort of all guests. Accommodation for future trips will depend upon the size of the group.

Complimentary Islay malt whisky tasting. 
No visit to Islay is complete without nosing and tasting all 8 of the single malt whiskies that are distilled and matured there. For those who would like to take their interest a little further, visits to distilleries can be arranged.

Complimentary casting Lesson. 
For those new to fly fishing there is the opportunity to attend a complimentary casting lesson before the trip commences, hosted by Peter Arfield of the Bakewell Fly Fishing Shop. This gives guests a head start on the loch and means that they are able to spend more time catching fish than trying to master the art of casting. Guests will have the opportunity to stock up on any consumables that they may wish to purchase prior to the trip.

Fishing Guides
Whether guests are experienced anglers or new to the sport, one of our guides will be on hand to give help and advice and to locate the fish. Each trip will have one guide for up to 6 guests and two guides where there are 7 guests or more. Guides will carry extra consumables such as flys, tippet, leaders and floatant.

We appreciate that for some guests this may be the first time they have ever been fishing, and others may have fished before but not for trout. Rods, reels and line will be available for those who wish to borrow them and consumables such as flys and tippet will be available to purchase from your guide.

For those wishing to sea fish from the rocks, there will be a number of spinning rod and reel outfits for guests to borrow. Consumables such as lures and spinners will be available to purchase from your guide.

Wild Brown Trout Fishing
Fishing for wild brown trout on a number of lochs will be included in the cost of the trip. For those wishing to venture further afield, or who wish to fish from a boat or fly fish for salmon, permits can be arranged. There will be the opportunity to take a brace of fish from the loch.

Other Activities
Other activities can be arranged for guests some of which will attract extra cost.

Salmon Fishing
Wildlife excursions and sea safari
VIP distillery tours

If you are interested in joining us on a fly fishing trip to the magical Isle of Islay, or you would like to discuss the trips further, please don't hesitate to contact me on 07875 405 980. There are more pics and info on our Facebook page, search for 'Fly Fish Islay' and click like to subscribe. If you would like to contact me by email my address is

It would be great to see you on one of our trips.



Saturday, 14 January 2012

Make Way For The Supermarket

We have a new supermarket coming to Leek and it has caused quite a stir. When it was announced that the new supermarket was coming and the plans revealed that the intention was to build outwith the town centre, many protested saying that shoppers would be less likely to spend in the existing shops and that the independents would suffer as a consequence. Most fuses were blown however, when they announced their intention to make improvements to the road layout in town, and when it was suggested that the roundabout at the bottom of Derby Street, heaven forbid, might be removed.

Supermarkets are unfortunately a fact of life. None of us will stop them coming to our towns. We already have a Coop, a Morrisons, a Netto, an Aldi, and a Farmfoods, and the owners of the new supermarket are just after market share. Whether our businesses survive or not will largely depend on how positively we react and adapt to the situation instead of adopting a Canute style stance of trying to stop them coming at all. Certainly a bigger threat to all retail business is the increasing tendency for all of us to shop online rather than locally, the money leaving the local economy immediately and not even keeping local folk in jobs in the supermarket down the road. The message that we as retailers are shouting about through worthwhile schemes such as Totally Locally is don't do all of your shopping in the supermarket and if every adult in Leek spent just a fiver a week in a local shop then that would bring an extra 4.1 million pounds into the economy, safeguarding the jobs of local folk, and maybe even creating a few.


When any business comes to town, they should be incredibly careful about how they treat the environment. Historically, Leek was a very important town to the textile industry. The town was at the centre of the arts and crafts movement, Morris and Sugden both having offices and businesses here. At one time, Leek factories were responsible for the dying of cloth for the entire Catholic Church right across the globe. Consequently much industrial waste was poured into the River Churnet and at one time it was said to be the most polluted in Europe. All this has changed and with legislation in place to protect rivers from industry, the Churnet has  found some of it's former glory.

I'm lucky enough to fish our great rivers in Staffordshire and Derbyshire, the Dove, the Wye, the Derwent and the Manifold being my usual haunts. Anglers throughout the world are jealous of us who fish in these parts because of how blessed we are in scenic countryside, and in the diversity of flora and fauna that exists here, especially our wild brown trout, our grayling, and now, our salmon. I can honestly say though that of all the fishing I do in this part of the country, the upper Churnet is my favourite of all places because it is simply beautiful.

The small stretch of water in the picture above is a bend in the river Churnet right by the side of the road beside the Churnet works where the supermarket and it's related developments are to be built. Before the trees were felled in this spot, I would regularly stop and stand and watch free rising fish dimple the surface of the water was they smutted after small insects that had dropped their or that were emerging from below. The river was under the cover of 2 or 3 trees whose canopy afforded the fish shelter from predators in the form of Herons, and their roots would be a safe place for the smaller fish to hide from the bigger. This canopy was the home of many birds, and regularly, down the tunnel formed by the overhanging branches, kingfishers darted about between their favourite fishing pegs, now disappeared, and so too the birds.

Whilst we are all arguing about not wanting more supermarkets (at least not the ones that sell everything dirt cheap, bring us an Aldi Megastore any day of the week), and about our roads and a roundabout, these people are doing whatever they like, and I fear this is the sign of worse to come. The Churnet in Leek is only just recovering from a major pollution incident that happened within the last few years, it's trout and grayling have returned and along with them kingfishers, salmon and otters that haven't been resident in these parts for decades. I fear for their future.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Angling Resolutions

Happy New Year! It's been a while since I've updated my blog, mainly because I've had very little angling or dramming related to talk about. 2011 wasn't a good year for my fishing in and around the Staffordshire Moorlands. Islay was superb, as usual, despite wetter conditions than usual, the lochs gave up their troot without too much of a fight. In truth, Islay is one of the reasons I've not been out on the rivers of late, it has totally spoilt me, I love the island for it's whisky and it's fishing and it is truly angling and dramming heaven.

I have big ambitions for 2012 and my new years resolutions are built around these. Firstly, I aim to take groups of anglers to Islay on a much more frequent basis. Many of the anglers who joined us on last year's trips have booked up again for this year, and they're bringing more people with them, once you've been to the magical Isle of Islay, it is difficult to get it out of your system. So from March to October, we'll be running a trip at least once every two months so get in touch if you would like to join us. There is sea fishing involved too now as well as the loch fishing for truly wild angry Scottish brown trout, salmon fishing on the Laggan and even a little stalking can be arranged if required....look up and like 'Fly Fish Islay' on Facebook and you will kept up to date of all of our forthcoming trips.

I also intend to fish more back home in the Staffordshire Moorlands during 2012. I really enjoyed my Islay fishing last year and each time I returned home, the rivers were either empty of water or in flood so it wasn't good for the trout season. I've had a re-jig with my fishing tickets, I really enjoyed the Wye but couldn't justify it again purely because I feel that it is just too far away for me to nip out for a couple of hours fishing, consequently I didn't get my money's worth last year. I'll be rejoining LTDFFA, the little syndicate on the Staffordshire bank off the river Dove at Dovedale ('The best parts of Derbyshire are in Staffordshire'), there is a good crowd of anglers in that club and I really enjoyed the craic last season. I've dropped DRAC, again due to waters being too far away, and I've kept LADFFA. This year, the plan is to get out and do a little more coarse fishing especially when the rivers are out of sorts. I want to get back to the waters where I fished when I was a lad and challenge myself to try new techniques and methods that I've never dabbled in!! To this end I've rejoined Leek and Moorlands Fishing Association and Fenton and District so that I can fish Heron Marsh and most importantly, Knypersley Reservoir where I fished when I was at school and loved the place.

My camera has broken which is another reason that this blogger has been quiet, this is a situation that will be put right quite soon, when, with a little help from my mate Jason Snape who took the superb picture above at Dovedale in the autumn of last year, I will purchase a new one.

Here is to a 2012 full of angling and a little dramming ;-)