The tower of plenty

RobEd­munds re­calls a mem­o­rable fryfeed­ing ses­sion in Rut­land’s North Arm

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Be Inspired -

I’VE been for­tu­nate to catch a dou­ble-fig­ure trout from all four of the Anglian Water fish­eries. Most of my suc­cess comes down to plan­ning and re­spond­ing quickly to ac­tiv­ity at a reser­voir as and when it hap­pens - tak­ing any op­por­tu­nity that presents it­self. The ‘back end’, as it’s known, brings out the child in me. I get very ex­cited at the thought of big fry feed­ers just yards from the bank and, for once, I’m able to get out of bed even be­fore the alarm goes off! Noth­ing stirs up your an­gling adren­a­line more than a big fry-feed­ing trout. The crisp au­tum­nal morn­ings are such a spe­cial time when the nor­mally-cau­tious res­i­dent fish leave the sanc­tu­ary of the reser­voir depths to hunt the fry that of­ten con­gre­gate in the mar­gins of our reser­voirs, usu­ally around the boat jetty or weedbeds. It gives the trout one last chance to pack on weight be­fore the lean win­ter months. Of­ten you can see your quarry tan­ta­lis­ingly near, some­times at the end of your rod tip! Ev­ery year there’s the real chance of a dou­ble-fig­ure fish from the bank; a fish that is at the peak of its phys­i­cal con­di­tion – strong, fast, and re­lent­less – the wor­thy quarry of any an­gler. I think that Rut­land and Dray­cote will be the fish­eries for 2017 if you want to tar­get a big fry feeder. Both cur­rently have a good head of fry in the water and prospects are ex­cel­lent. I stick with tried-and-tested meth­ods when fish­ing for fry feed­ers, fish gorg­ing on fry will not feed con­tin­u­ally all day, of­ten for just short pe­ri­ods of time. You must be ready to take ad­van­tage of th­ese short spells of ac­tiv­ity and have a fly on that is a proven killer. It’s a won­der­ful feel­ing, and to me it epit­o­mises an­gling and the rea­son we all do it. The wait­ing… the an­tic­i­pa­tion of not know­ing when or what you are go­ing to hook next. The tug is the drug! Will it be a 3lb sil­vered-up rain­bow or a record-break­ing brown? Then, once hooked, will you get the fish in or will it es­cape? I’d es­ti­mate that I lose 30% of fish hooked sim­ply be­cause they fight so long and hard.

A day on Rut­land

One of my most mem­o­rable fish came a cou­ple of years ago at Rut­land, and sur­pris­ingly from the boat not the bank. As is com­mon knowl­edge fry love struc­ture and big trout are never far away from a plen­ti­ful food source such as the fry. Of­ten, the cu­mu­la­tive stock­ing and low catch rates, due to high water tem­per­a­tures in the sum­mer months and a dis­tinct lack of an­glers on our wa­ters, mean that there are now more fish than ever in our reser­voirs come early Septem­ber/Oc­to­ber. Many of them have sim­ply hid­den away in the cooler depths, gorg­ing on daph­nia (steroids for trout) and so reach­ing peak con­di­tion and pack­ing on weight. Here’s an ac­count of my most mem­o­rable fryfeed­ing story. I leave Rut­land’s har­bour at 9am and head for the weedbeds around East Creek and the Sail­ing Club – a well-known and con­sis­tent area for big fish in late sea­son. With al­most no wind and gin-clear water it’s easy to find the weedbeds, drop-offs and fry, yet – de­spite my best en­deav­ours – by 1pm I’m still fish­less. Hunt­ing big fish means you must for­sake num­bers for qual­ity! Rather than fol­low­ing con­ven­tional wis­dom by head­ing to the main basin for a few easy stock­ies, I per­se­vere in my quest and head up the North Arm past the Penin­su­lar and into Car­rot Creek. I cut the engine just past the trees on the cor­ner of the bay as I see the begin­nings of a large weedbed. The mo­tion of the boat car­ries me silently along the weedbeds. I lift the engine so it won’t slow the boat down or be­come tan­gled in weed. Sud­denly the weed van­ishes and I’ve found the drop-off. The weed is a safe haven for thou­sands of fry and corixa, yet the trout pre­fer the safety of the deeper water, pa­trolling the edges of the weed and feed­ing on any­thing un­for­tu­nate enough to find it­self in their path.

Minkie on a slow re­trieve

I ma­noeu­vre the boat into po­si­tion as qui­etly as pos­si­ble with the oars. I change my fly to a large white palmered Minkie – it’s un­weighted so I can fish it slowly, im­part­ing as much move­ment into the fly as pos­si­ble. Large trout do not want to ex­pend en­ergy chas­ing fry; they’d rather pick off any in­jured or un­sus­pect­ing fry that hold along the weedbeds. I make my first cast lit­er­ally along the weedbed and start my re­trieve, an ul­tra-slow fig­ure-of-eight with the odd short sharp pull, again try­ing to mimic the ac­tions of a fry. Twenty yards away I no­tice a boil on the sur­face, I strip the line back and cast seven yards

to the left of the rip­ples, hop­ing that the fish is ei­ther mov­ing in this di­rec­tion, or there are other fish in the area – trout of­ten hunt in packs when fry feed­ing. I make one long pull to straighten the line then the usual slow fig­ure-of-eight. Ten sec­onds pass be­fore my rod tip arcs over and the rod is nearly wrenched from my hand. I in­stinc­tively lift into the fish and I’m met with solid re­sis­tance. I know that the weedbed is on my right and to the left is the open water. I ap­ply as much side strain as pos­si­ble and guide the fish out to the deeper, open water. It’s now just a case of tak­ing ev­ery­thing easy, not rush­ing the fish and keep­ing a tight line. The fish is sur­pris­ingly co-op­er­a­tive and opts to run fur­ther into open water, and then I feel the head shak­ing that’s typ­i­cal of a brown hold­ing at depth and putting up de­ter­mined, dogged re­sis­tance. Af­ter a few min­utes, I’m met with my first fish of the day, a beau­ti­fully-con­di­tioned brown of around 4lb, which I quickly re­turn to grow big­ger still. I con­tinue to work my way slowly down the edge of the weedbed. Af­ter an­other 20 yards or so I have a fol­low from a well-pro­por­tioned rain­bow that snatches at my fly as I lift off (I should have re­mem­bered to hang the fly at the end of the re­trieve), but noth­ing else. With the area fished I con­tinue up the North Arm in­tend­ing to fish the vast weedbeds around the Trans­former area. While mo­tor­ing some 50 me­tres away from the tower I no­tice a large boil with a huge dis­place­ment of water, it’s the tell-tale rise of a fry feeder hit­ting the fry. Be­ing al­most flat calm I see the feed­ing fish a good dis­tance away. I never leave feed­ing fish, es­pe­cially fry feed­ers, so I cut the engine and let the boat drift to the tower where the fish is in cast­ing range. I change fly to a Mink Wrap, a fly that has al­most neu­tral den­sity, hang­ing in the water. A slight pull im­parts move­ment into the fi­bres. I cast to­wards the tower, ex­actly where the fish boiled and take up the slack line.

Impressive dis­play

Ba­si­cally, I’m fish­ing the fly static on-the-drop and let­ting any un­der­wa­ter cur­rents move the fly, oc­ca­sion­ally adding a sharp twitch or slow fig­ure-ofeight into the re­trieve. Af­ter just three casts the loop in my line straight­ens and my line slides away. I lift into the fish and the water erupts. A spade of a tail and a huge boil greets me as a good fish takes off and at­tempts to go around the tower. I know I have to stop it straight away or it will be lost. I give the fish as much stick as I think my tackle can take. For­tu­nately, it veers into the open water. I kick the engine into life and mo­tor away from the tower. The last thing I want is to lose this fish, which con­tin­ues its impressive dis­play in the open water, twice tak­ing to the air in an at­tempt to shed the hook. It takes me down to my back­ing three times, then runs to­wards me, and away from me, any­thing to es­cape. Then even­tu­ally, I see its belly break the sur­face. I’m mind­ful not to bully it, or change the an­gle of the fish’s head be­cause this can re­sult in the hook pulling out. I gen­tly guide the fish to­wards the net. At last a big feed­ing rain­bow of well over 6lb. Spoon­ing re­veals half a dozen roach fry all about two to three inches long. An op­por­tu­nity taken, my day is com­plete.

“Af­ter just three casts the loop in my line straight­ens and my line slides away.”

fry. When bank fish­ing, look for rocky struc­tures or other fea­tures that at­tract fish

The Minkie Wrap is a deadly fry pat­tern.

Rob’sfry-feed­in­grain­bow­caugh­t­n­earRut­land’sval­ve­tower.

APop­perMinkie isan­oth­erdead­lyfry­pat­tern.

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