To stay or go?

Faced with a bright sun and a flat calm should you drift or an­chor, fish Buzzers or dries?

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents - Words: Rus­sell Hill Pic­tures: Peter Gather­cole

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.

The re­mainer

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.

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