Anglers World, April 1963
By Benjamin Pond
In this first article concerning salmon fishing, we must get down to the basic facts, in other words, we must explain the whole thing from A to Z.
To begin, we must compare fisheries, good, average and bad, yes, there ARE bad ones, as some of you may find out when you have paid your season's money.
But it is the cash required for a season, or a shorter period, that is of importance to most of us. "How much will it all cost?" you may ask.
Well it need not cost a lot of money, for a season on an average beat, not so much as some of us spend on fags.
To give an example: a friend in Boscombe, who for many years fished one of my beats, regularly sets aside £40 for each forthcoming season to pay for the fishing, also another £12 to cover bus and tackle.
This chap does not earn a big wage, he is caretaker and boilerman at a school, and can only fish on Thursdays and Sundays. Now his average number of salmon per season was eleven and he usullly kept two and sold the others for about £7 each.
Thus you will see that he annually spent about £52 for his fishing and it returned over £60 to him, and also he had the thrill of landing these fish.
Further, we must be rational about all this, both for and against; you will realise this when I say that he was on a water where fish were not at all plentiful or easy to locate, but (and this is a big but), he knew his beat. I shall have more to say about "knowing your water" in another talk, but I ask readers what sign a salmon leaves behind when it has already left the pool?
Now if you think of renting a stretch of salmon water, here is a bit of advice. First, take no notice of the number of fish landed, as stated by the owner or lessee, for instance, 50 fish may have been shared between 150 rods, see? Find out how many rods fish the water, too many rods can ruin Your chances.
Get facts from at least three difierent people nearby, perhaps an innkeeper, a regular angler and the area River Board bailiff.
Your first season may not Produce much sport, it takes one season to get to know just where your fish are, note, I say: "JUST where your fish are." I mean, to within a foot or even nine inches. You see, it is mastering such tiny details as this that means all the difference between getting a salmon or not.
Now I ought to have said, back along, don't be ashamed of selling a salmon. It is no disgrace if your circumstances are not on a par with a rich man or dry-fly purist-how I detest that word.
If you can afford to pay the price, there is some very good fishing on the Taw and Torridge, with hotels almost on the riverbank. Consider the Taw, at Eggisford, half-way between Exeter and Barnstable, they have seven beats (one to each rod), and tiptop catering, and it is a wonderful bit of glorious Devon.
Or, if you want a season ticket, there are several waters on such rivers as the Hampshire Avon, where the cost is not excesslve.
The charge here, on most beats is 56 guineas, for which two rods can fish at the same time, one day a week. By making up a foursome. you can get one day a fortnight for a quarter ticket cost of only 14 guineas. You see, there are ways and means of avoiding excessive expense. If any readers want more details, then write to me, care of this magazine, with a stamped, addressed envelope for reply.
The best time of year on most rivers is from mid-March to mid-June.I never fish before the third week of March, to avoid the kelts, these long thin unclean fish. There is no sense in pulling them out, it usually proves fatal to them, let them go back to the sea.
Kelts have a contracted throat, so if you use a large lure, such as a 2-in. plug, or spoon, they are unlikely to get hooked.
I experimented on the Dorset Stour, feeding hungry kelts by hand with small pieces of pork pie. They would swalllow bits the size of a pea, but reject most decidedly pieces the size of a walnut.
There are waters in Ireland where you can get cheap fishing, also in Northern Scotland, but some of their best months come later in the year.
Tackle need not cost a lot. I go out with less than £15 worth. All except the rod and gaff goes into a small army haversack, sometime I will show the folly of lugging around huge bags of
Being a keeper, I've had to carry much unnecessary gear for anglers only the flask saved the day, sometimes.
If I dare to suggest what rod to select, then I would say an 8 ft. 6 in. two-piece Apollo, I believe about £11. This rod is tubular steel, never wears or goes out of shape, ideal for spinning for pike as well.
I have one of these, which has accounted for hundreds of good fish, both salmon and pike, to 37 lb., also bass.
My reel, a 4 in. centre pin, is a News of the World one, the finest thing I have ever had, and it has done an immense amount of work.I use a good nylon line, never less than 15 b.s. at the start of the season, when the big ones are coming up.
Lures must be of top quality, that means that they must rotate in almost static water conditions, it is the life-like action which makes the fish interested.
Choose a bright lure on a dull day, or if the water is coloured, and a dull lure on a sunny day.
Spiral leads are essential, for two very good reasons. First, you can quickly change weights to get correct spinning depth, secondly, let the knot in your line, where trace is attached,
come midway along the spiral lead, this means that there is no strain upon the knot itself, because any strain is upon the two halves of the spiral.
It is often the practice to join line and trace (also cast to hook) by two Ioops-one loop put through the other and drawn tight. If this is done, you may find the join jammed and not easy
to free, thus wasting time.
So when connecting any tackle with loops, put the larger loop through the smaller; you will find this easy to undo and far kinder to your tackle.
Next time we shall see why salmon are seldom in a pool, and why they take a lure better elsewhere.