To stay or go?
Faced with a bright sun and a flat calm should you drift or anchor, fish Buzzers or dries?
SUNSHINE and hardly any breeze can be the kiss of death when trout f ishing but ironically it does seem to bring out more anglers. On this bright, calm day Elinor’s car park resembles the entrance to a popular music festival with cars and vans easing into the parking area and towards the boat dock point and tents lined up along the dam end hedgerows. I’m expecting a beer tent to open and a band to start rocking on a main stage! But these guys are here to catch f ish. A re we becoming fair weather fishermen? It’s puzzling that we don’t see quite so many fishing through the colder months when sport can be electric. Any way, Russ Dyer has a mind to fish from the bank, but – after a 10 -minute spell off Pensioner’s Point – soon puts this down to lunacy due to the greater access provided by boats. And given the growing number of anglers we need to get a boat as fast as possible or the bank will be our only option. As we gently row towards the middle we see a few clouds forming over the horizon – it looks like manna from heaven because we need respite from the bright sun for our chances to increase. A stiffening breeze brings the cloud cover but it’s short-lived between long periods of intense sun. When the clouds come, the f ish rise but only periodically. There’s no doubt that fish are ever y where and – because f ishing dries is so visually exciting – we all opt for this method.
To drift or anchor?
We find ourselves with a huge dilemma though. Do we anchor and wait for cloud cover, or drift to cover as much water as possible? I’m reminded of that song by the Clash ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ Russ Dyer decides to anchor, leaving Peter Gathercole and I to drift slowly. Peter’s dr y f ly set-up consists of a nine-foot tapered leader and f ive-foot tippet and a single size 14 Shuttlecock CdC. He’d prefer a size 16 because the 14 looks rather big and sure enough he receives a few splashes at the f ly – a sure sign that the f ish are interested but a scale down in size might be the prelude to a conf ident take. When the cloud cover arrives, Peter is watchful for a rise as we slowly drift. He’s looking for that classic head-and-tail rise where the angler can assess the trout’s direction and therefore where to position the cast, as well as assessing how long the f ish is by judging the distance between head, dorsal f in and tail. He’s fast to respond while I tr y my best to position the boat with the oars. A strike, splash and rod bend sees him gleefully appreciate his ow n skill levels and mar velling at how satisf y ing the take was. A fter all, we all love it when a plan comes together. He clocked the f ish rising, noted the direction, planted the f ly, saw it move over his pattern, waited (you know, enough to say “God save the queen”) and bingo! A quick spooning reveals a mixed bag of beetles, other semi-mashed terrestrials and some worm-like chironomids still squirming around alive and well.
Sticking with the same pattern, he repeats the process, eventually taking another similar-sized rainbow just short of the 2lb mark. But there are long periods of inactivit y and with conditions being tough we accept this perhaps more than we should.
Russ Dyer sees no reason to move. The f ish are rising all around him and he’s waiting for the cloud cover to come in, just as we do. He gets some action but pulls out of a few trout. Russ then goes through the card, tr ying ny mphs f ished straight and with the washing-line technique – concentrating all his efforts at the surface.
We kick ourselves
A quick chat with an angler who arrived after we did and is already on fish number f ive, leaves us kicking ourselves a little. We’ve been so focussed on fishing dries ( because we like the method) that we’ve ignored the ver y obvious technique of Buzzers fished deep and slow. It’s a solution that most anglers would decide upon when faced with bright conditions and trout moving up and down in the water column. On days like these, a team of two or three Buzzers fished at various depths offers a greater chance of success than dries. Dries, although pleasurable, do leave the angler waiting around for long periods until cloud cover brings rising fish. But a team of Buzzers
will keep f lies f ishable all day long. Stubborn Peter sticks with the dries, but Russ – having already set up with Buzzers – sets about his business. It’s not long before his f irst f ish sends water spray ing in all directions and I frantically row to get Peter’s camera into position ( I don’t get paid extra for this – Ed ). Russ has a two-f ly set up fished on a 12-foot leader. From his f loating line, he attaches a tapered leader tapering down to about 6lb. He cuts six inches off the butt end before attaching to the f ly-line and then 20 inches off the thin end. He then attaches a tippet of 6 or 7lb f luorocarbon and two of his Type II Buzzers – a size 10 on the point and a 12, three foot up on a dropper. His T y pe II’s are ver y realistic Buzzers and he has immediate success to a ver y slow retrieve and f ish taking about f ive feet down. If he feels weed pulling on the f lies during the retrieve he imparts a sharp pull to raise the f lies up before continuing his f ig ure-of-eight – this not only clears the f lies of snags but also lifts the Buzzers up allowing them to fall again naturally just like the real thing. He also mends the line reg ularly in the gathering breeze to avoid f lies being pulled along unnaturally by the bowing line. Two fish are quickly taken and another hooked and lost but it’s enough to bring a smile to Russ’ face on a ver y diff icult day. Next time we vow to apply more logic in such conditions and not get caught up in unnecessar y dilemmas about whether to drift or anchor or to f ish dries or Buzzers deep and slow. Do you go with the most effective method or the one that gives the most pleasure? It’s up to you..
“His Type II Mature Buzzers are very realistic buzzer patterns and he has immediate success to a very slow retrieve and fish taking 5ft down.”
Peter’s size 14 CdC rests in the scissors of an Elinor rainbow. Russ’ Buzzer pattern proved successful late on in the feature. A mixed bag of beetles and other terrestrials in the first spooning.
Nymph specialist Russ Dyer uses Buzzers fished deep and slow.
Peter’s second fish of the day again fell to a CdC dry fly.
Elinor fish are wellconditioned, full-finned and streamlined.