Iain Barr catches a magnificent brownie that reminds him of the good old days
THE end of the last Rutland Water season (which ended in Januar y 2017) was arguably the best I can remember in the last 35 years. In the 80s, Rutland was famous for its big brown trout, which often came to lead core line tactics and large lures. Last season saw a brown trout bonanza on all methods and more big browns over 5lb than I can ever remember. It really excelled from October and it was hard to avoid the browns. On some trips, where I was catching 25 f ish, more than half were browns. To avoid them, we fished in the shallower water where the rainbows fed heavily on corixa, while the browns chased the fr y that sat offshore.
Well the abundance of browns, all of which were returned as most appeared out of season, have put Rutland back on the map for its qualit y large brown trout! I took a day af loat with Peter Gathercole on the hunt for resident fish with Buzzers being the chosen method amid calm water at the top of Rutland’s North Arm. We head right for the top, top end of Burley to be precise, and on the slow glide through the waves f ish pop up all over. I carefully turn the boat above the f ish to ensure we drift down to them and incredibly we never see another trout. This is a sign that these are resident f ish, because they’re easily spooked by the engine. Freshly stocked f ish are not usually too bothered by boat engines, especially as we had crept up carefully so as not to scare them.
My set-up consists of my favourite Buzzers with a Cruncher on the top which I always f ish. This gives me one pattern f ishing higher in the water and I use this as my indicator f ly. I don’t mean a bung, I mean as an indicator that the f ish are rising in the water column if several f ish start taking it. The Buzzers will then be swapped for lighter nymph patterns. We drift through the area of rising f ish conf ident we will still catch but a little deeper than planned. Not a single offer. The water is shallow despite being some 100 yards from the shore and ver y clear. We head to the Tim Appletons side of the North Arm and it isn’t too long before we have some action. Two beautifully-marked rainbows of about 3lb come in quick session, both taking one of my early-season favourite Crisp Red Butt Buzzers at approximately six feet down.
Key to successful Buzzers sport
The abilit y to f ish Buzzers static is key to some of the best Buzzer sport. You’ll catch fish on Buzzers that are moved slowly but you’ll catch more – and better qualit y f ish – if f ished static. The method I’m using today is to cast them out and allow them to free-fall for about 20 seconds, then ever y 10 seconds thereafter, I perform a ver y long but slow draw, which makes the Buzzers rise and then pause – allowing them to free-fall again. It’s important to keep a tight line without moving them when free-falling, but always watch the end of your f ly-line
“The flies are on their descent when the line simply tears off with the most aggressive take of the day.”
for movement. We’re lucky as the fish slam the Buzzers hard. I set up with my standard 22-foot leader with four f lies using 8.5lb new G5 A irf lo f luorocarbon. A couple more rainbows follow before we move further down the bank then make the long move to the top of the south. We head down the shore line towards the Transformer where a boat is anchored just 20 yards from the shoreline. I’ve good eyesight and I see both anglers playing a f ish in what can only be four or f ive foot of water.
The Transformer brings back many distant memories as this was one of my dad’s hotspots, well over 35 years ago. I remember running the banks as a child and I was soon reminiscing with Pete over some of the quality f ish I’d hooked and lost here and how this was one of my dad’s favourite spots for evening rises. Fr y time was also good near the ‘tree in the water’ which is still there to this day. We drift the shallows just east of the fence that runs in by the road and two quick, lively rainbows come to the net – both taking the Cruncher on the top dropper. These fish were feeding higher in the water column so I start to ‘short line’ (casting short so that the f lies don’t get time to sink below the f ish) before changing the f ly set-up. I’m soon forced into a change as the next cast rips out my hand with such aggression that the top two f lies are gone. With a bit more colour in the water here, I step up the f luorocarbon to 11.2lb G5. It may seem heav y but its suppleness and f ine diameter make it still feasible for good presentation. First cast I have another lively rainbow of about 2lb 8oz which took another favourite – the Black and Brown Rutland Buzzer. This fish is landed and we near the shoreline so I put a cast parallel to the bank across the engine into about four feet of water. The f lies are on their descent when the line simply tears off with the most aggressive take of the day. I’m convinced that the fish pick up the static Buzzers, feel the hook and bolt giving the almighty arm-wrenching takes we
witness. Watching a trout take an adult buzzer from the surface in a lazy headand-tail motion, I simply don’t believe they naturally take the pupae with such aggression.
I quickly feel the weight of the f ish as it tears behind the boat into deeper water and soon notice that it’s one of Rutland’s infamous brown trout. I give an early estimate of 4-5lb as it turns 10 yards away while starting to tire. With an 8w t rod and 11.2lb tippet I continue to bully the f ish as it nears the boat. Peter catches a glimpse and says it’s nearer 6lb and for some reason I ease up! I reapply the pressure and this most magnificent fish lies in the net – simply stunning. I can’t remember the last brown I killed outside a competition and this isn’t going to be one so it’s quickly photographed and returned. I watch it bolt into the deeps. Taking a moment to absorb the experience, I reminisce the past days on the shoreline with my dad who’s to blame for getting me addicted to f lyfishing! With a beaming smile and full of satisfaction, I don’t care if my line fails to go tight for the rest of the day. With one more drift and a couple more old stories about the bank that faces us we motor to the top of the South Arm looking for more resident f ish. It isn’t to be. One fish of about 3lb gives the weakest f ight I’ve ever had from any trout! It had been in a while with near-perfect silver f lanks but it literally took on the deep hang and just wallowed to the net! That was all the South A rm action. Still mar velling about the big brown, we head to the Sailing Club, which often produces resident brown trout. The wind picks up so I opt for another good tactic for large browns – two Humungus lures on a Di-5 line. Only stocked rainbows come from here today as several guides have their clients f irmly anchored and they’re f illing their boots. A short trip near the lodge where big browns often also hang out yields more rainbows. The day belongs to the majestic big brown. The aggressive take, the f ight and the time to reminisce on the ver y shore I played as a child make this a special f ish to me and despite by best in-season brown being 8lb 2oz from Rutland, this 6lb 12oz fish wins hands down.
“Peter catches a glimpse and says it’s nearer 6lb...I reapply the pressure and this most magnificent fish lies in the net – simply stunning.”
A magnificent 6lb 12oz Rutland brown brings back memories for Iain Barr.
Iain enjoyed frantic action to his Buzzer set-up at Rutland. Better fish come to static Buzzers.
Browns dominated late season last year on Rutland and they’re showing well this year too.
The big brown bores deep under the boat. Iain plays it hard.
Iain’s 6lb 12oz brown is safely returned to Rutland Water.
A long pull on the line lifts the Buzzers up, allowing them to free-fall down again.