Pick off the pods

Iain Barr and Gareth Jones do meerkat im­pres­sions at Chew Val­ley Lake

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

RESER­VOIRS can be tough at this time of year with warm wa­ter mak­ing f ish lethar­gic and hard to catch. But just pon­der this true stor y for a mo­ment. On a late sum­mer/early au­tumn day last year the rod av­er­age at Chew was less than one fish – tough in­deed. But two an­glers had catches of 17 and 10 fish and they are the two an­glers in this fea­ture. So how did they do it? Well, in f lat calm con­di­tions it pays to stand tall and watch for ris­ing f ish. Trout are ei­ther hard on the bot­tom or just sub­sur­face dur­ing late sum­mer/early au­tumn and Iain Barr doesn’t like driv­ing three hours to Chew only to fish a sink­ing line – he and many oth­ers want to f ish dries. A f ter all, it’s what Chew is fa­mous for. On ar­rival, both Iain and Gareth Jones can see that con­di­tions are tough – hardly any wind and noth­ing seem­ingly hatch­ing. A few fish dimple rise in the calm wa­ter and both an­glers de­cide on a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to see which one works – Iain chooses a wash­ing-line set-up with a Foam Arsed Blob and Cruncher nymphs while Gareth opts for dries. These meth­ods tempt f ish on or just un­der the sur­face. Iain notes that he has never seen so many corixa in and around the weedbeds in Herons Bay, there are lit­er­ally mil­lions of them in just two feet of wa­ter. They love the shal­low, warm wa­ter and silty bot­toms. But an­glers strug­gle at the bot­tom of Herons with Iain catch­ing only one small rain­bow… on a Blob. This isn’t what they want. With so many corixa it’ll be hard to tempt f ish!

Meerkat time

Gareth then stands tall, scan­ning for ris­ing fish. He spots some to­wards the mid­dle of Herons and they slowly mo­tor to­wards them. It’s vi­tal not to mo­tor hard in these con­di­tions. Go gently and give the f ish a wide arc then cut the en­gine so that you drift nat­u­rally to­wards the ris­ing f ish. In these con­di­tions there’s no need for a drogue to slow the drift, but if you do need more for­ward mo­men­tum, use the land­ing net to push your­self along – any thing that’s less likely to spook the trout. The en­gine is cut roughly 50 to 80 yards away from the ris­ing fish and Iain switches to dries, three f ish com­ing fast to his favourite Big Red. He tar­gets each f ish.

Cast­ing short

In these calm con­di­tions, with fish holding close to the sur­face, don’t cast long. You’ll end up ‘lin­ing’ trout and spook­ing them. In­stead, cast a short line, only seven yards from the boat! This offers other ad­van­tages such as im­proved pre­sen­ta­tion, f lies re­main­ing high in the wa­ter, you’re in direct con­tact with the fish and there’s less time spent get­ting the fish to the boat. But the most im­por­tant ben­e­fit is not spook­ing the f ish. Be pa­tient. If you see f ish ris­ing 30 yards away, wait un­til you drift closer to them be­fore cast­ing. When fish are ly­ing deep, you need to cast long… but not when they’re shal­low. Gareth does an­other meerkat im­pres­sion to lo­cate more ris­ers and spies some off Nun­ner y and False Is­land about 250 yards away. A fter lo­cat­ing these f ish, Gareth ex­ploits a small ant fall us­ing Claret Bits and Shut­tle­cock dries, but Iain at­tacks with his FAB/Cruncher set-up. From a f loat­ing line he has four f lies on 8.5lb G5 fluoro­car­bon. A FA Bis six foot from the fly-line on the top drop­per, a fur­ther 3.5 feet to a Cruncher Nymph then a 10 -foot gap to an­other Cruncher with a FAB a fur­ther 3.5 feet down on the point. Each buoy­ant FAB – be­ing so close to the nymph – keeps it well up in the wa­ter right where the fish are. If the wa­ter wasn’t as clear he’d shorten the dis­tance be­tween the two nymphs, but in clear wa­ter this 10 -foot gap re­duces the risk of spook­ing trout. It’s clear that to­day is about pick­ing off pods of fish and not to be so en­grossed in what’s go­ing on directly in front of you.

Read the signs

Lo­cat­ing fish is a huge part of the bat­tle, so learn to read the signs. If a cor­morant pops up from be­neath the wa­ter and f lies off, there’s ob­vi­ously no f ish there. But if one pops up and then swims along munch­ing away or dives dow n again, set up a drift over that area. Sim­ila rly, watch for gulls and ot her birds f ly­ing low to the wa­ter. These are hoover ing up buzzers hatch­ing of f. Fish are sure to be feed ing on the pupa be­neath.


Iain doesn’t switch to co poly­mer leader when fish­ing dries, he sticks with the 8.5 lb G 5 fluoro­car­bon used for his FAB/Cruncher set- up. His f lies aren’t on the wa­ter for more than five or six sec­onds and, be­ing cast no more than sev­eral yards from the boat, it’s a quick lift off be­fore tar­get­ing an­other riser. The fluoro­car­bon doesn’t have time to pull the dries un­der. The other ben­e­fit of course is that you have im­proved pre­sen­ta­tion be­cause the

fluoro­car­bon sinks right up to the fly– avoid­ing the prob­lem of leader on the sur­face.

CdC - match­man’s dis­ad­van­tage?

Iain doesn’t like CdC! When com­pe­ti­tion fish­ing, an­glers know when some­one’s us­ing CdC due to the false cast­ing needed to dr y the feath­ers. In­stead he uses dries with foam in them be­cause they don’t need any Gink or Frog’s Fanny floatant ap­pli­ca­tion to help them float–zero fuss and more time fish­ing.

Mend line

When fish­ing dries on reser voirs, any drag tends to put off res­i­dent f ish. Iain solves this by cast­ing out and then throw­ing in a short line mend via a cir­cu­lar mo­tion with the rod tip. This cre­ates a lit­tle slack line so the f ly re­mains static.

“Lo­cat­ing fish is a huge part of the bat­tle. So learn to read the signs.”

Leap­ing ac­tion. Iain Barr plays a lively Chew rain­bow.

Iain’s FAB and Cruncher set-up caught plenty of qual­ity Chew fish.

Gareth lands a dry fly-tempted rain­bow.

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