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Iain Barr’s re­port from the Au­tumn Men­teith in­ter­na­tional

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents - Iain Barr: “Af­ter seven fish, I switched to a Di-5 with two Boo­bies to get down faster and speed up catch rate. A quick hat-trick and I got out of there.”

THE four home na­tions de­scended on the Lake of Men­teith in mid-Septem­ber for the Au­tumn in­ter­na­tional. Scot­land had a very strong team as well as lo­cal knowl­edge. But, as Eng­land cap­tain, I had con­fi­dence in my squad and with good prac­tice, backed by a solid strate­gic game plan, we could win. I set dif­fer­ent boats with dif­fer­ent meth­ods, of­ten putting an­glers out of their com­fort zone to pre­vent com­pla­cency. I as­sessed the two pre­vi­ous days’ prac­tice with vice-cap­tain Ed Foster. It was as I ex­pected, dries and an as­sort­ment of wash­ing-line tech­niques and flies. Wed­nes­day was the per­fect dry fly day and the fish re­sponded well. Some an­glers caught on a size 10 Mi­das while oth­ers caught res­i­dents on the sub­tle size 14 Shut­tle­cock Owls. The fish were very high. I started with the wash­ing-line us­ing two FABs and two nymphs but I had to Gink the FABs to keep them in the film. The fish of­ten swirled at them and – whereas on Rut­land and Grafham if you then pulled the flies they’d chase and en­gulf them – it was the op­po­site at Men­teith. If a fish swirled at the flies or just plucked them with­out lock­ing up, avoid strik­ing or pulling the flies away.

Prac­tice ses­sions

You must try all ar­eas and tech­niques. I put my­self as a roam­ing boat with oth­ers in set ar­eas and meth­ods to try. I’d done enough top-of-the-water. I tried an Airflo fast clear in­ter­me­di­ate with the two FABs and nymphs. I wanted to drop through the lay­ers slowly and fish all depths. Af­ter a few casts, ev­ery­thing tight­ened about 30 sec­onds down near the cages. A few casts later, same re­sult. So, I switched to a Di-5 to get depth quicker and took three in three casts on just two Boo­bies. We headed in be­fore at­tract­ing at­ten­tion. On Thurs­day, I tried the same area but left the flies an­chored deeper for longer. So, us­ing a new FAB – tied with FNF Jelly Fritz – a cou­ple of nymphs in the mid­dle and a Blob, I dropped through the lay­ers and fished deep with Airflo 3ft and 6ft tips. The tip line gave the per­fect an­gle of lift and hold and a more sub­tle ap­proach in calm water. With two lay­ers of fish near the sur­face and to­wards the bot­tom, this gave me a good shot at both of them. I picked off a cou­ple of fish high up, but the ma­jor­ity were deep.

Tackle and method

I used Airflo G5 fluoro­car­bon in 11.2lb – very thin for its strength, which is needed on Men­teith. The lake had a tinge of green so I fished as heavy as I could. The fluoro­car­bon also has stretch, which ab­sorbs ag­gres­sive takes. Sev­eral times the line shot away on the drop, which I guessed to be four to six feet down but most came ver­ti­cal on the hang. Many tapped the flies, a sign of spooky fish. If I knew a fish was there, I left the flies still, for up to 30 sec­onds and the rod buck­led over. I used Airflo Air­lite V2 rods, which bent per­fectly into fish. A rod too soft wouldn’t set the hook on some ag­gres­sive takes we were get­ting! Af­ter a rapid seven fish, I switched to a Di-5 with two Boo­bies to get down faster and speed up catch rate. A quick hat-trick and I got out of there. I’d con­firmed there was a big head of fish ly­ing deep, which I felt were undis­cov­ered. I’d worked Gate­side Bay to find the lies of the fish and they def­i­nitely fol­lowed a line. It’s a big bay and some ar­eas were very quiet but cer­tain drifts and drop-offs held fish. I brought the flies, leader set-up and ex­act map mark­ings to the meet­ing and set the plan out to win gold.

Main event

Eight of our team had boat con­trol so I sent our two best dry fly boys to Ot­ter Bay and six to fol­low me to Cages. Di-lines were banned from the car park to avoid show­ing our in­tent to fish deep. The pre­ferred tip lines were set up ready to go. I drew a Scots­man and headed to Gate­side (Cages Bay). He hooked into a fish im­me­di­ately and I was into my first af­ter three casts, tak­ing the Red Nemo al­most fished ver­ti­cal on the hang. An­other fish fol­lowed and it be­came con­gested and I wanted to go deep quicker due to boat pres­sure. I switched to the Di-5 and two Boo­bies. First cast the rod bent and a stun­ning 8lb rain­bow took the Sparkler Booby, again ver­ti­cal. Sport was slower! A short move to Sta­ble Point saw two more quick fish, both to the 3ft-tip and new FAB. My part­ner moved be­hind Dog Is­land. He was soon into his third fish as my line tight­ened into my sixth, again on the 3ft-tip line and FAB but higher. I stuck with my method and my tally steadily climbed as fish came deep, al­most all static on the hang. Some hit the fly sev­eral times and it was cru­cial not to strike but wait for the rod to bend over! As wind in­creased, tip line con­trol was lost so I switched to the Di-lines tak­ing one on the Di-5 and four on Di-3 fish­ing two Boo­bies. I cast out and let them drop through the lay­ers. It was in Cages Bay that all went tight af­ter about 10 sec­onds and a dou­ble was caught and re­leased. That was 15. Two more quickly fol­lowed and I headed in with 17. Eng­land’s Martin Burgess matched me and Tony Fox came in with 10.

Vic­tory at last!

Eng­land’s wait for vic­tory on Men­teith was over with a 36-fish mar­gin over sec­ond placed Wales, 37 ahead of Ire­land and 38 ahead of fourth-placed Scot­land. It was pos­si­bly the big­gest win­ning mar­gin in the his­tory of the event. Re­gard­ing the top in­di­vid­ual, hav­ing taken my first three fish deep, they were big­ger than Martin Burgess’ three. So my sec­ond Brown Bowl in Scot­land was se­cured hav­ing won it on Loch Leven. My 64cm rain­bow took the best fish award. I took cap­tain gold, top Eng­land rod, top in­di­vid­ual and best fish. I'm very proud of the team per­for­mance by a great bunch of lads.

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